The idea of shooting a gun has always intrigued me, but I never tried it. The opportunity came up this past week, and I visited local indoor shooting range Blackstone Shooting Sports – outdoor ranges are for members only and are located outside of Mecklenburg County.

It was obvious that my friend and I were newbies to guns and shooting, and the staff at the gun range were patient with us. I was impressed with the seriousness with which they conducted business. They were informative and knowledgeable about the process and enthusiastic about our willingness to give shooting a try.

We were required to watch a video, sign a waiver and then choose our paper target design. Zombie Nazi was sold out so we settled for Vital Dude.

We tried out four different guns – Ruger 22, Mark 4 Target Pistol, Ruger 22 Long Rifle and a Sig Sauer Legion. The staff helped us choose the guns based on our interest level and size of our hands. The 40-ounce gun was too large and heavy so we went with the Sig, a gun used by Navy Seals.

After an hour, I was physically and mentally exhausted from the experience. I am proud of myself for trying the sport and I truly enjoyed it, but I think I may walk away with my battered Vital Dude and cross shooting off my “try it once” list.

PRO Tips

Wear a crew neck shirt. One friend told me that a hot shell casing ended up down the front of her scoop-neck tee shirt. She got it out but not without jumping around with a loaded pistol in her hand.

Bring your up-to-date photo ID. At check-in, they will ask you for identification and keep it while you are using the facility.

Plan for a two-hour experience. Although you may only plan on shooting for an hour, listening to the safety procedures and choosing guns and ammunition take time. Just loading the guns with bullets is a process – don’t believe what you see in the movies.

Protect your eyes and ears. For a small charge, you can rent eye and ear protection. If you wear eye glasses, bring them.

Share a lane, guns and ammunition with a friend. If this is your first time at a gun range, share the cost and experience with a friend. Lane and gun rental and ammunition costs add up. My friend and I split the $90 bill for one hour of shooting four different guns.

Look for coupons and special pricing. Some ranges offer lower rates for women, date nights and first responders. Groupon has several coupons for Charlotte locations.

Take a class or private lesson. Shooting ranges offer pistol shooting, self-defense and introductory classes. Most individual lessons may be tailored to your specific needs.

Become a member. If the experience left you wanting more, consider becoming a member. VIP lounges, special pricing and benefits are offered to members.

Local Gun Ranges

Blackstone Shooting Sports
2001 Wilkinson Blvd
(704) 414-6020

Carolina Sporting Arms
8055 South Blvd
(704) 554-9511

1200 Industrial Drive, Matthews
(704) 849-2828

Point Blank Range
10726 Monroe Rd, Matthews
(704) 899-5898

The Range at Lake Norman
10913 Bailey Rd, Cornelius
(704) 895-3155

Photo credit: Blackstone Shooting Sports, Vanessa Infanzon, JoAnn Roth

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