Which is better: Outdoor shooting ranges or indoor ranges?

Published June 19, 2013 by
Filed under NRA, Practice, Training

Owning a gun is great thing, but owning a gun and shooting it on a regular basis is even better. Having a gun in your house isn’t going to make you safe anyomre than having a car on your driveway is going to get you to the corner grocery store: You have to learn how to use it safely and efficiently for it to do the job it’s supposed to do.

So what does it actually cost to shoot on a regular (monthly) basis? I visited some of the indoor and outdoor ranges near me to find out what a monthly practice session might cost a new shooter. My assumption is that you’ll go to the range and fire 50 rounds of ammo from a 9mm pistol at three different man-sized targets, which based on my experience is about what most casual shooters do on a typical day at the range.

Ranges: Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club (outdoors), Ted’s Shooting Range (indoors), Caswell’s Shooting Range (indoors), Phoenix Rod and Gun Club (outdoors), Scottsdale Gun Club (indoors) and Shooters World (indoors).
Lane Rental: One person for one hour
Ammo: 50 rounds of 9mm FMJ. For ranges without ammo sales (PRGC, Rio), I used the price of a box of 9mm at my local WalMart.
Gun Rental: A 9mm pistol for one hour. For ranges without gun rentals, I used the cost of a typical quality 9mm pistol ($540) spread out over 12 months.
Membership: One year’s individual membership. Range memberships at Ted’s is for 14 months not a year, so I reduced that amount for comparison purposes.

Just Visiting Lane Rental Ammo Gun Rental Monthly Cost Yearly Cost
Rio Salado $5.00 $13.00 $45.00* $18.00 $756.00
Caswells $15.00 $21.00 $7.00 $43.00 $516.00
Ted’s Shooting Range $14.00 $18.00 $9.00 $41.00 $492.00
Shooters World $15.00 $15.00 $10.00 $40.00 $480.00
Scottsdale Gun Club $15.00 $14.00 $14.00 $43.00 $516.00
Phoenix Rod and Gun Club $14.00 $13.00 $45.00* $27.00 $864.00

With Membership Lane Rental Ammo Gun Rental Monthly Cost Yearly Cost Membership
Rio Salado $0.00 $13.00 $45.00* $65.92 $791.00 $95.00
Caswells $0.00 $18.90 $0.00 $48.07 $576.80 $350.00
Ted’s Shooting Range $0.00 $18.00 $4.50 $44.17 $530.00 $260.00
Shooters World $0.00 $14.25 $5.00 $40.08 $481.00 $250.00
Scottsdale Gun Club $0.00 $13.00 $0.00 $44.67 $536.00 $380.00
Phoenix Rod and Gun Club $0.00 $13.00 $45.00* $71.75 $861.00 $165.00

* $45 / month reflects the cost of owning your own pistol, spread out over 12 months

So for just a couple hundred dollars more per year or so, memberships at Rio Salado or Phoenix Rod and Gun look like a real bargain, right? After all, that price includes a new gun, and they have long-distance rifle ranges as well.

Not so fast.

First off, they’re outdoor ranges. Not bad now that temperatures in the Phoenix area are leveling off, but that sucks when it’s 115 degrees outside or, for colder climes, if it’s winter and the snow is waist-deep on the ground.

Secondly, both outdoor ranges have a minimum distance that you can set up targets, about 8 yards or so. Not a big issue for some, but if you’re trying to train a new shooter it can get discouraging for them to shoot and shoot and shoot and not see decent groups on the target.

So which should you chose?

That depends on your needs. I use both on a regular basis. I’ve been a member at Rio for over 5 years. I like their public range, and I like the people. But I won a year’s membership to Caswell’s last year, and I’ve come to appreciate the comfort of indoor shooting and the convenience of reserving a lane in advance.

It comes down to what kind of a shooter you are. A public outdoor range membership is great for people who know what they want in a firearm and don’t need (or want) to try out new guns. However, indoor rental ranges are the perfect to get into the shooting sports: For less than $50 a month, you can try out many different firearms and find the one(s) that suit you best and lets you grow into firearms ownership at your pace.

Either way, there are no bad choices: The worst day at the range is still better than the best day in the office.

 

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