Skill Builder: Home on the Range
Practice makes perfect for all kinds of shooting enthusiasts.
By Nancy Herron
After you’ve purchased a rifle, bow and arrow, handgun or shotgun, it’s time to try it out. Where can you go to practice, or compete?
Whether you are looking for opportunities indoors or outdoors, in the city or out in the country, you can try your hand at all types of shooting at a shooting range. Shooting ranges offer a safe environment with range safety officers; many offer on-the-spot help and rent equipment.
One great place to find a shooting range is www.wheretoshoot.org, hosted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The website offers a dandy search filter to help you find a range based on the kind of shooting you’d like to do, describing range features, programs and even special services like lodging and campsites. You can also conduct a general Web search or call your local chamber of commerce.
Let’s take a look at just a few of the many kinds of shooting sports and ranges across Texas.
Families especially might enjoy archery and air gun ranges. Communities are adding archery as courses in their parks and recreation departments. Youth in the Texas-NASP (National Archery in the Schools) program know the safety rules for archery, so range time is great as a follow-up for the family or after-school activity. USA Archery clubs can prepare Olympic competitors. Some ranges offer 3-D targets and training for bow hunting. Air guns are an economical opportunity for marksmanship, and competitions are available from the local level up to international contests.
Handgun and rifle ranges are popular both indoors and outdoors. You’ll find fellow shooters in target practice, sighting in or trying out a new firearm. Watch some of the many excellent videos on range safety and etiquette so you’ll know what to expect and what’s expected of you at a range. Be sure to check out the Project ChildSafe video to learn how to talk to children about gun safety and discover tips on adjusting your conversation to the age of the youth.
No shooting skills journey is complete without trying moving targets. Shotgunners enjoy trap shooting, where a mechanical thrower flings a clay pigeon (a saucer-shaped disk like the one under a flower pot) at different heights and angles. Skeet shooting ups the ante with two throwers at different heights and different shooting stations to vary the shot. Five-stand shooting and sporting clays offer courses with multiple shooting stations and throwers to provide a variety of challenges.
For tips on hitting moving targets, read “Patience, Practice, Persistence” in the August/September 2015 issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.
“Three gun” competitions — where you compete with a rifle, shotgun and pistol — are growing in popularity. Ranges offering these competitions are set up with obstacle courses and use different firearms for a high-action experience.
Enjoy living history? How about trying muzzleloaders or cowboy-action shooting? Cowboy-action shooters often sport period costumes and use firearms (or replicas) of the Old West. These friendly clubs welcome novices and new members. Competitions at the national level demand shooting and moving skill as competitors dash between shooting stations in a period setting.
With so many shooting sports choices and ranges available, you’ll have years of enjoyment and a very impressive checklist of adventure! Get inspired at www.wheretoshoot.org.