Saturday, July 26, 2008

Guns: Gainesville Target Range

On the whole, I think shooting outdoors is more pleasant (and probably safer) than shooting indoors. Besides ventilation of lead and powder residue (which for an outdoor range is going to be naturally better than all but the best indoor ones) and noise dispersion (shooting indoors is always going to be louder), an outdoor range allows a certain level of relaxation, especially when the weather's nice. Shooting indoors, while still fun, can be like shooting in a dungeon. Regrettably, the only public outdoor rifle range in Gainesville is the Gainesville Target Range, located about 20 minutes from UF:

It's a "sideline business" for Ron Shema, a realtor who has had a lot of success in Gainesville. As you might imagine, getting zoning approval for an outdoor shooting range can be a nightmare. NIMBY is in full force, and even people who enjoy firearms might not like hearing their reports all the time. But GTR is as close to town as you can get.

There are three ranges, a 100 yard range and two 25-yard pistol ranges. GTR is a private club, and the rules are sometimes pretty strict. It's difficult to bring friends and family in to shoot with you, for instance. Joining up requires a two-hour safety orientation and hefty membership fee (understandable), but the orientation is only held on Sunday afternoons (not very convenient). I can certainly see why everyone's anxious to avoid liability, but it's not exactly newbie-friendly.

What finally persuaded me to sign up for a membership were the constant improvements that have been made at the range, including an air-conditioned meeting room and a completely enclosed pavilion housing a couple of restrooms and a water fountain. All shooting positions are covered, with benches, stools, and target stands, and Brian (the Chief RSO) keeps up the grounds and makes sure everything looks nice (there are even flowering plants on the sides of the 100 yard range - very picturesque). It's probably not a great range when you stack it up with the rest of the country, but it beats driving the two hour round trip to get to Lake City all the time.


At 3:17 AM, Blogger James R. Rummel said...

So it costs $200 per year for a membership. (Plus a membership in the NRA and a one time $50 newbie fee.)

Does that get you unlimited range time? Or do you still have to pay for a lane by the hour?

Can you use your own ammo, or do you have to buy it there?

I'm in Ohio, so I will almost certainly never visit this range. But I'm interested in their business strategy.


At 2:34 PM, Blogger Mulliga said...

Unlimited range time - range is open from dawn to dusk, almost 365 days a year (I believe they close for Christmas and Thanksgiving, but I'm not sure).

You can use whatever ammo you like - including reloads. The range provides target stands and such, but sells no paper targets, so you must bring your own.

Keep in mind there's no real staff at the range besides the RSO - the range is not open to the public, after all.


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