...from the range today when I heard and then saw a pick-up truck pull into the range parking lot. I have been overdue for a trip to the outdoor range and had decided today was the day to bring along my Marlin 336 and my Remington 141 both in 35 Remington along with a few pistols. Before hitting the range though, I stopped at the Miller County Sheriff's Office to renew my annual nonresident range pass and was happy to see the price had not gone up, still only $20.00 for a one year use of the range. The range is rather primitive although it has decent benches, the firing line area has a concrete floor and is covered by a roof and there are a few picnic tables behind the line. There are no target stands, no range officers, and while the range is usually rather messy, it was pretty clean today. You get what you pay for though and a year of shooting is okay by me, almost as good as free. I just wish they had some better rules on their range rules sign(s), the rules were made up by someone with little good knowledge of being - or experience as - a range master or instructor in my opinion.
When I got there every bench was vacant, the only person nearby was a Sheriff's Officer who drove by in his patrol car. I was happy, I could shoot safely. As I have mentioned before about this range and some others (that actually are free) elsewhere in Arkansas, I do not like to shoot at them when others are present. That is because there seems to be a high ratio of knucklehead shooters to safe shooters and the knuckleheads most certainly are not safety conscious. So, as soon as I realized that pick-up tuck had pulled into the range lot, I started to pack to leave. Yeah, I could have given them a chance to see how they'd be but it was not necessary because the second one of the four of them walked behind me with his gun slung and bouncing on his belly with the muzzle pointed at me. It was odd he had it slung like a lefty would sling it, muzzle to the right; yet, I later saw he was a righty. A few moments later, he was handling his AR behind the line while others were at the benches on the line. At least he did not load it, I think, until he was at a bench.
Now, these four folks, two guys and two gals were courteous enough and said hi to me but the AR belly bouncer gave me some grave concern and I was happy that I was ready to go before they started shooting. The other guy seemed much more range safety savvy. He only handled his AR behind the line with the muzzle pointed up and then only pointed it downrange once at a bench. He then announced he wanted to go downrange, I let him know I was clear and it was safe. I also went downrange to get my target but kept looking back to make sure I was not swept.
Speaking of my target, let me go back to before those 4 folks a showed up. I got a total of 4 shots off with the Remington 141 using Winchester Super-X, 200 grain PSPs. Three of those were spread out in the 7 ring of an already used (by 22 LR shots it seemed) target I found in the trash. The target was a Shoot N See stick on; it was 8 inches across. The 4th shot was just below the target, into the box onto which the target was stuck. I had been aiming dead center of the Shoot-N-See target.
I wondered how differently the other ammo I had with me might do in the same rifle. That other ammo was Hornady Leverevolution, 200 grain, flex tip. I fired off 5 shots of that at the same target also aiming dead center. I was amazed at the difference. See for yourself:
The 4 shots with the Winchester ammo are circled in green, the 5 shots with the Hornady ammo in red. The target was set up at 50 yards. There are open iron sights on the rifle, no other optics. You can see why I'd depend on the Hornady ammo should I use this rifle for hunting or any purpose for that matter.
As I said above, those were all the shots I fired because as soon as I realized those other folks had arrived, I packed to leave. As I was about to put my car into reverse to leave the lot, I witnessed some truly unsafe range behavior on the part of the belly bouncer and the two women. I am going to show you three pictures appearing in the order I took them. Can you see the problems?
Did you see the safety violations? In two photos they are pretty blatant and in one not so obvious. In the event you could not enlarge the photos to see what the safety violations were, allow me to circle them in the same shots below.
In each of the marked shots, there are two people beyond the firing line, both of the women. In the first shot, the woman to the viewer's right is obscured as she passes behind two uprights that block her from view. The other woman (in the purple top) is standing just forward of the line next to an upright support. In the 2nd photo, the woman to the right is now fully visible walking downrange. The woman in the purple top is still just beyond the firing line and on the wrong side of it. In the third photo, the woman in purple begins to walk downrange toward the other woman.
In all three photos, the guy at the second bench from the other end of the range, is aiming his rifle in with what looked to me to be his finger on the trigger. The two women and that guy (the belly bouncer) are circled in red. In two of the shots, their other associate, circled in yellow, is seen seated at the bench but as far as I could tell he was not handling his weapon but is AR was on the bench pointed downrange.
These folks, at least three of them, were
total idiots in my estimation totally ignorant of range safety protocol or just ignoring it. There is no way anyone should have been handling a firearm on the line or behind it while anyone else was downrange, even if only inches beyond the firing line or at the other end of the range. Of course, no one should have walked downrange while anyone was handling guns either. (I should note I did not see who did what first.)
Of course, the belly bouncer also should not have allowed his AR to point at me when he first walked onto the range nor should he have handled his weapon behind the line when both I and his male associate were sitting at benches on the line.
That is the way folks get shot at the range; thus, I drove away. I did not want to see one of those women or either of the guys get shot nor did I want to be shot while sitting their in my car because of their terrible lack of range safety awareness and their terrible lack of range etiquette.
Should I have said something to them - it's a spur of the moment decision based on how accepting I feel the folks might be of criticism of their range habits. Today, there was no way I was going to correct three of four of them and maybe have one of them (or more) take offense and get mad at me because they seemed like the know it all types to me. I have said things before, quite politely at that, to other folks violating range safety and they have flown off the handle in anger. So, I (and you) always take a chance, when saying something about bad range habits, that the person to whom you are saying it will become angry and maybe even confrontational. Bear in mind that person is armed!
Folks like them are why I leave the range as soon as someone else arrives and why I usually turn my car around if I arrive there and someone else is already shooting. I may actually watch a person - if I arrive and he or she already is shooting - to see if I think it is safe for me to shoot but in my experience, at this particular range, someone already shooting there usually is a sign to just turn around and leave.
Be careful out there!
All the best,