Friday, February 25, 2011

Guns: Markham Park Target Range

A few months back, I had the opportunity to visit Markham Park Target Range, a public shooting range in Sunrise, Florida. Markham Park is one of the few outdoor ranges in South Florida, so it attracts visitors from miles around; even though I had to drive over an hour to get there, I wound up running into several other visitors who lived around my neighborhood.

The main range is a 100-yard affair that can support a lot of shooters - 66 stalls, according to Markham Park's website. Each stall has a bench and seat, as well as a metal target stand that can be staked into the ground. There are few restrictions in what you can shoot - black powder, shotgun slugs, and handloads are all allowed. On any given weekend, you'll see plenty of people with AR or AK-pattern rifles (side note: I think combining Drowning Pool's "Bodies" with shooting videos is about as creative as completing a coloring book):

For those who favor the scattergun, Markham Park is equipped with a sporting clays course and plenty of skeet and trap fields:

For the most part, the staff there was attentive and courteous. The range officers weren't in a corner texting their friends; they were walking up and down the line, checking to make sure all chambers were empty, and occasionally helping out when people had a question or problem. In terms of service, Markham Park was about as good as most privately-operated ranges I've been to.

Of course, given that this is a government operation, there were strange quirks and regulations. The waiting room to get into the range was packed to the gills - it felt like the DMV, only with more guns. Even more apoplexy was suffered when I brought my Rossi 20 gauge to the shotgun fields, hoping to shoot a little trap. It turns out they don't allow any shotguns with barrels under 26 inches. Their reasoning?

"With a shorter barrel, people are more likely to accidentally point their muzzles in unsafe directions."

Hmm. Where's my bowcaster?


At 6:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"With a shorter barrel, people are more likely to accidentally point their muzzles in unsafe directions."

That's truly bizarre reasoning. Aside from inconvenient questions about how it could even be true, why doesn't it apply to rifles with 20" barrels?

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Mulliga said...

My guess is that they want to keep novices from bringing in SAIGA-12s and pistol-grip pumps, so they came up with some arbitrary limit (in fairness to the clerk quoted in the post, he rolled his eyes a bit as he offered the explanation).

At 6:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to go to markham to shoot but got tired of dealing with the staff and some of their more stupid rules like the shotgun barrel length limit, 3 gun limit, etc. The staff seems to be on a power trip and enjoys exerting their authority. I prefer to pay a bit more and go to a private indoor range instead.

At 6:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The staff at Markham deals with all variety of shooters which at times can be stressful. I shoot there on a regular basis and I think it's a great range and the staff does a great job in keeping it safe! Rules are made for a reason and if you don't agree with them then just go somewhere else.

At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are Nazis at markham range. I've seen in my last three visits, two separate occasions where a range officer drops someones rifle on it's scope from trying to move it off the bench while the owner was checking his target during a cold line and topping it off without addressing the owner of the matter. If it wasn't for a witness the owner would have eaten the cost for repair. To add to that they don't let you shoot tracers, 50bmg, no rapid, burst or double tap isn't allowed no pistol grip shotties and no smoking ciggs. I would have figured for that kind of f*#king they'd atleast let you smoke. Well that's what happens when the few impose their freedoms so that the majority lose theirs

At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been wanting to find a range that allows black powder.

At 8:22 PM, Blogger Zack Mano said...

First time there today. Wrote this on a YT video review, hopefully will help first timers bc it's not easy.

Great review 👍 I just wanted to comment as a WARNING to any first timers at this range... it is NOT easy following/understanding their rules, and they do not hold your hand. At all. I read reviews on this place and thought I understood how to prevent any problems etc. I read their rules and even went once a few weeks ago just to scope it out and make sure I had it all down. I'm proficient w firearms and have lots of range experience, but I never dealt w anything like this. I wouldn't say they were rude per se, but it's almost impossible for a first timer getting it right, and they do not help you at all. I tried very hard to follow all protocols and the first mistake I made, I went out to my lane and listened to any instructions the range officer gave, but I was wearing ear protection of course, and I did each step as he said, but I heard him say "uncase your weapons", so I flipped the lid of my case w 2 pistols, action open and mags removed etc, of course, and he freaked out. "You just uncased your weapons!". Apparently he had said "I'll uncase your weapons", but I didn't hear him right and he took a few good seconds while I apologized, apparently deciding whether or not to kick me out. I just told him I won't make a move til he tells me exactly what to do and occasionally pulled back my ear muffs to make sure I got it. I get that it's a public park and govt facility, and u definitely feel that! Outside of a correctional facility I don't think you'd experience this kind of brutal detailed rules. But once I caught on, I did well enough, though as u say in this video, the 5 second shot count takes a while to get used to and it really decreases any enjoyment/training ur trying to do. I was there about an hour and saw MANY ppl running into issues w the rules. I respect the safety measures, but damn, they do not make it easy, and u probably have to screw u a few times before u will be comfortable shooting there. The second "mistake" I made was after the range was cold and I gathered my targets, I placed my pistols back into my case. Immediately the speaker announced "do not touch your weapons!", bc I wasn't aware there is a few minutes period for only getting your targets and not casing ur weapons. Now that I know, I'll probably have an easier time, though I'm sure I'll screw some detail up the way they run it. I did have fun and love shooting outdoors, but man, this was not easy, and it is frustrating. I would strongly advise anyone going to this range to be prepared for some serious protocol and getting some mean looks and chastising, even if u are very experienced. I'd be amazed if someone could get through their first time there w no issues. It would help if the staff would more clearly point u in the right direction a bit more, but they're clearly not interested in that. U basically have to go there and be as responsible as u can, screw up a few times, and have enough brains to learn their system, bc they WILL NOT help u do that. I've never had a range experience like this and hopefully I can avoid problems when I go back. But outside of the constricting rules and frustration of all that, and the wasps that attack u as u shoot, lol, I did have a decent time eventually and got some good grouping. I hope this helps someone to have a less difficult time than I did today ;-)

At 2:56 PM, Blogger Davide C said...

The park is nice (I did get hassled some years back when firing off toy rockets with my child though) but the target range is the worst that I have ever experienced. I have been shooting off and on at the rifle/pistol range for over 10 years and unless you can go there during a week day you will need to wait hours for a lane on the weekend IF you get one at all. No matter if you go in the morning or afternoon on a weekend day there is always a long wait, often 3 or 4 hours. This is not due to overcrowding but under-staffing. The website boasts 66 lanes but never have I seen more than 25 max lanes open while dozens wait for their turn?!?! Many of the ROs are also rude and act like police; I believe that this is from the lack of support from the parks system.

Many years ago when I first started shooting at Markham it was much more fun even if there was still a long wait, we could shoot at spinners and the ROs even gave my son and I an old bowling pin which we hung at 100 yards and would try to hit on the swing, it was MUCH more customer friendly. You also used to be allowed to bring more than 3 guns per person and use the back bench to lay out your equipment, I even built a nice range rack to haul my guns, but soon after that the major restrictions started. I was told by an RO that someone had put a loaded pistol on the back bench and it went off into the wall so all hell broke loose. And they were afraid that a ricochet from a spinner would kill someone. I cast my own bullets and they used to let me gather range lead but for some reason (with no explanation) they no longer will allow me to.

I have been hearing for years that the park manager is anti-gun and originally wanted to shut down the range but certain park provisions prevented him from doing so and he has made using the range as difficult as possible? This is a PUBLIC park for ALL residents and should not be used as political fodder. With so few outdoor ranges in South Florida and the Broward Park system funded by tax dollars coupled with the rates for range use more than doubling over the past few years why does it seem so shooter unfriendly?


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