By Henry Hidell
Special to Outdoor Enthusiast Lifestyle Magazine
Numbers don’t lie. Of course, people who cite numbers are quite capable of lying through their yellow teeth. So in the spirit of full disclosure I stipulate that I have not personally visited, tape measure firmly in hand, any of the shooting ranges referenced below. I take their claims at face value – but all come with the highest recommendations.
It must also be duly noted that indoor shooting at licensed ranges is one of the fastest growing sporting activities in America. Women – the fastest growing category of gun owners – and men flock to it for reasons as many and varied as the shooters themselves.
THE RANGE AT THE PRESERVE – Coming in at not only America’s longest indoor shooting range, but also the most intriguingly situated and appointed, is The Range at The Preserve at Boulder Hills. Located in Richmond, Rhode Island and encompassing 3500 acres of what is billed as America’s finest four-season sporting club and residential community, The Preserve is a dream come true for those seeking an outdoor enthusiast’s lifestyle. But let’s focus on its latest addition: The Range.
With four lanes at 150 yards – plus 16 100-foot lanes – The Range is the winner of our “longest” competition. We’re talking poured concrete lanes stretching for one-and-a-half football fields underground. We’re also talking the highest of high tech thanks to Meggitt Training Systems (the industry leader in live fire and simulation weapons training systems supporting military, law enforcement, and commercial range owners) and its touch screen, wireless, 360-degree rotating, Target Retrieval System. Shooters can program limitless targeting options. The Range is climate-controlled and includes FATS and golf simulation rooms and a 3D archery range. And there are no caliber restrictions.
Range memberships are offered at various levels.
The Range is situated in a brand new, 50,000 square foot building that also houses a lounge, vault room, and reach-in humidor. Access to these and other high-end features varies and is available to higher level Range members and to Preserve members and residents – as are on-site pool, tennis, golf, and dining privileges (The Preserve is home to an award-winning executive golf course and a gourmet dining facility).
And then there’s The Sporting Shoppe. Designed in the tradition of history’s legendary expedition outfitters, it boasts 15,000 square feet of retail space where one can view – and purchase – some of the finest and most sought after shotguns, rifles, and pistols on the planet, plus the widest array of ammo and shooting accessories. Looking to order a bespoke long gun from world-renowned FAMARS (custom-designed, hand-built and engraved and costing up to $300,000)? Other fine guns from the world’s most respected makers? Golf clubs, tennis rackets, fly fishing reels and poles, outer wear, camping and hiking gear, survival gear, even formal wear? The Sporting Shoppe has you covered. Dreaming of an excursion to Africa to hunt one of the Big 5, Argentina for the dove hunt of a lifetime, New Zealand for your dream red stag hunt, and so much more? The staff can put you in touch with the globe’s finest hunting, fishing, and photography guides.
The Range at The Preserve is on schedule for a late winter/early spring grand opening. For full details visit www.therange.club.
COLONIAL SHOOTING ACADEMY – With two Virginia locations (Richmond and Virginia Beach), the Colonial Shooting Academy (CSA) may not boast the longest lanes. But its comprehensive approach to gun training, sales, and rentals is simply unsurpassed.
“Safety, Education, Precision”. These are the core elements of the CSA. And they are taken extremely seriously. All skill levels are welcome, and in almost every instance a person leaves this range a finer, more responsible, better-informed shooter than when they entered it.
The CSA gun store offers great selection and pricing on new and used firearms, NFA items, ammunition, and just about everything necessary to enjoy the shooting sports. The “Try It Before You Buy It” program ensures that the customer buys precisely what is right for him or her.
As for training, CSA offers classes at all levels. Special emphasis is placed on concealed carry rules, regulations, and tactical shooting.
The Colonial Shooting Academy is a classic one-stop shop. It doesn’t get much more functional than this.
BEN AVERY SHOOTING FACILITY – A bit of history seems in order here. The Ben Avery Shooting Facility began as an effort on the parts of Ben Avery, Glenn C. Taylor and Jim Beaman, prominent outdoors activists in Arizona in the 1950s, to provide a public shooting facility in the interest of safety. In a letter to the Maricopa County government, Avery summed up the trio’s concerns that the desert around the city had become a “battleground” with recreational shooters and it was a concern for public safety. Upon selection of the current site, Avery helped finance the initial construction with a $5,000 personal loan and $3,000 in local contributions. Construction began in late 1959, and the facility was completed and operations transferred to Maricopa County in 1960.
Originally named the Black Canyon Shooting Range, the facility underwent further expansions with the cooperation of the state of Arizona. With the assistance of the National Rifle Association the facility was selected as the 1970 host of the ISSF World Shooting Championships, bringing worldwide recognition to the region as well as the facility. Preparations for the competition required further development and expansion of the facilities, which saw additional involvement and support from the AZGFD. Phoenix became only the second US city to host the international competition, and was the third and thus far last time it has been hosted in the US.
In 1992 the facility was renamed to the Ben Avery Range.
This world-class shooting range is a City of Phoenix Point of Pride. It has received a Five Star rating from the National Association of Shooting Ranges. This means that it is the best of the best at providing a quality recreation experience and is the first government facility to receive this designation.
Located on 1650 acres in north Phoenix, the facility averages more than 120,000 shooters per year. The facility offers are wide array of target shooting opportunities. This shooters’ paradise is home to a number of regional and national class competitions and other major events.
Ben Avery Shooting Facility is funded by the revenues generated by user fees and federal dollars appropriated through the Pittman-Robertson Act.
With extensive facilities, the Ben Avery Shooting Facility offers a fun and safe environment for all of your shooting needs. Men, women and children ages 5 and older of all experience levels are welcome. Trained safety officers are on the firing line at all times to oversee safety and to offer informal coaching when needed.
The Avery, as seasoned users refer to it, is simply a “must” if you find yourself in Arizona with an itchy trigger finger.
SHOOTERS WORLD – Located in Tampa, Florida, Shooters World serves up the most advanced indoor firing range in the southeast. It features three 25 yard pistol ranges with nine shooting lanes each and a 100 yard rifle range with seven lanes. A reactive steel range features various dynamic steel target systems that offer a shooting experience unlike any other. Rentals of Semi-automatic and Fully-Automatic weapons are available. Closed-circuit security monitoring is conducted for the safety of our patrons and employees.
The Shooters World gun range in Tampa is open to the public with range reservations available only for Shooters World Platinum members. Our viewing area and lounge are secured with bulletproof glass and feature a comfortable view of our pistol range, as well as high definition televisions with surround sound. In addition to complimentary soda, coffee, and water, our lounge includes a milkshake machine and snacks available for purchase.
The firing range has been developed to offer the cleanest and most technologically advanced shooting experience available. Since shooter comfort and air quality were the primary concern when building the Tampa gun range, Shooters World developed the air conditioning and filtration system that is the finest of any public indoor shooting range in the country.
Shooters World is rated a Five Star Facility by the National Shooting Sports Foundation for its commitment to gun range appearance, management, customer service, amenities, customer development and community relations.
In addition, Shooters World is proud to offer ADA-compliant pistol and rifle lanes to accommodate guests in wheelchairs or with special needs. The facility is fully accessible, with ADA-compliant parking, ramps, and restrooms.
Again, not the longest of ranges. But certainly one worth your attention next time you pass through Tampa.