There's a decent range, the Smith Park Gun Range, in Arkansas about 20 miles away from my apartment. It has a $10 registration fee annually for AR residents and a $20 fee for nonresidents like me. I have been there four times now and each time I have been there, only one or two other shooters using the range except for the last time I went when every bench was occupied. I am not sure how many benches there are, I think it's 5, but it is not more than 7 if that many. It is in pretty good shape, the benches and area behind the line are covered and there are picnic tables behind the line that the shooters use to sort their gear and such. The range is 100 yards at most by my estimation. I'd prefer it to be a further distance but it is still more than good enough for most of my shooting. The last time I went, I was there to test fire an Argentine Sistema Colt 1927 pistol. In essence it is a Colt 1911 for which Argentina paid Colt for the rights to make them down there. Initially Colt made something like 10,000 of them for Argentina but some years later, the country started producing them in their own factory under license from Colt. Nice gun, fired well, my only bone of contention with it is that you have to use a good amount of force to remove the barrel from the slide; no clue why but my guess is it was manufacturing tolerance glitch. Anyway, while I sat at one of the picnic tables set up right behind the firing line, waiting for a bench to open, I watched the other shooters with some amusement and with even more grave concern. I got there just as a cease fire of sorts was going on for the shooters to check and refresh their targets. One of the first things that struck me was an old geezer standing bent over his bench fiddling with his AR and the optics on it while announcing to anyone who cared to listen jsut what he was doing. What he said he was going to do was oil the optics to make them work to his liking. Never heard of anyone oiling a scope but what do I know, maybe it works (but not in his case because later he said he was going to throw out the scope).
As for him handling his AR - yes, that was while other folks were down range. Then as I scanned the other shooters who were still at their benches, I saw one guy just closing up the cylinder on a revolver he had just loaded and yes - other folks were still downrange! There was one guy with a young boy of maybe 9 or 10 years of age and that guy sat there loading a muzzle-loader while, you guessed it, other folks were still downrange! The only thing he had going for himself was that he did not put a cap on the nipple until everyone got back to the line and seemingly were ready to shoot. I was literally aghast at what I was seeing and hearing or should I say not hearing. Not one person on the line said anything to anyone - they just started shooting when the folks came back from downrange. No one asked if the line was ready, if everyone had their ears on or whatever. Once the shooting commenced, I noticed the guy all the way on the left side of the line was stepping forward of what should have been the firing line by at least a couple of feet to shoot. He was shooting pistol and the guy immediately to his right (the guy who had been tinkering with his AR while others were downrange earlier) was shooting the AR. I don't know about him but I would have been very uncomfortable to be forward of the firing line with that guy next to me - very uncomfortable; heck I would have been uncomfortable being that much out forward of anyone. The guy to the left shot for maybe five minutes and holstered his pistol and walked behind the line. As he did so, another old geezer who was evidently with him, grabbed a pistol from the picnic table behind that point and loaded it as he walked to the firing line, a distance of several feet. He did that twice with different pistols.
Then, the guy who had loaded his revolver when folks were down range, and who was apparently teaching another guy to shoot, caught his pal pointing a Ruger Mark II he was trying to clear a jam from, at the shooter directly to his left - the AR tinkerer. I had a hard time believing what I was seeing but it was happening right there in front of me. A while later, maybe 10 minutes or so, there was a lull in the firing and the woman at the far right end of the line said in a very low voice, 'I'm going down to my target' or something to that effect and she immediately strolled down to it without getting a reply or any indication from anyone that the line was safe. I probably should have left then but when the lady and her husband (?) came back to their point she told me they were leaving to let me know I could use that bench. I stayed. As I set my stuff up on the bench, the guy next to me, the one with the muzzleloader asked me if I wanted to go down to set up a target. Even if I had wanted to set up a target, I do not think I would have walked forward of the firing line with that group of bozos there (my apologies to fans of Bozo The Clown). Anyway, I was there to test fire that Argentine Sistema Colt 1927 and only wanted to assure it worked properly - so no target needed for me. I fired a box of ammo out of it, was quite happy with the result. Then I got mine arse out of Dodge not wanting to tempt fate more than I ahd already done. Before leaving though, I took a look at the range rules. I had seen them before but I wanted to check to see what they said about handling guns behind the line and about handling guns when people were downrange. What the rules said about those two things was not a single thing! The range is run by the local Sheriff's Office and you can bet I am going to give them a call, or better yet write them a letter, maybe an anonymous letter, suggesting they add a couple or few rules about those things I just mentioned. I'd kind of like to keep shooting there but also want to assure I live long enough to do it more than one or even a mere few more times. All the best, Glenn B