Capital City Comparison

Two indoor ranges, one young, the other sweet sixteen, provide similarly positive experiences

Columbus, Ohio—the Buckeye State’s capital—is home to more than a million people, and the Undercover Shooter visited two indoor ranges (among several in the area) that cater to this Midwestern city’s urban pistol, rifle and shotgun shooters.  Range A has been in business not quite a year; Range B was established more than 16 years ago.

Range A

Especially friendly to law enforcement, firefighters, military and members

With 5,000 square feet of firearms showroom and 12 state-of-the-art firing lanes (each 75 feet in length), this new range has immediate eye appeal from the moment you walk in.  I arrived first thing on a weekday morning and was greeted promptly by a friendly employee standing behind a gun counter.  I told him it was my first time at the facility, saying that I wanted to shoot a handgun I had brought along, and he directed me up a few stairs to the range.

The range check-in area looked much like a café, with small tables and chairs neatly arranged around the room, and a large flat-screen TV on the wall broadcasting a morning news program.  I told the attendant that I was new to the range and wanted to shoot my handgun.  He first had me read and sign a two-page liability form, then checked my ammo (no steel allowed), requested my driver’s license for identification and assigned me a shooting lane.  My shooting lane rental fee ($13 per half hour or $20 per hour for nonmembers) included one free paper target, which I thought was a nice added “extra.”

I mentioned to the attendant that I was surprised to see half a dozen other shooters already on the range ahead of me so early on a Tuesday morning.  He explained that on Tuesdays members are entitled to free range time.  I also later learned that membership carries with it significant privileges at this range, so much so that there are four levels.

Membership levels 1, 2 and corporate are for civilians, and a separate membership category is reserved for active or retired law enforcement officers, firefighters and military personnel.  This range is definitely law enforcement-friendly; parking spaces near the front door are labeled “police cruisers only.”

Once to my shooting lane, I found the electronic touchpad controlling the target operation difficult to understand—not at all intuitive.  Even the written instructions posted on the wall of the shooting bay were not all that helpful, but I eventually figured it out.  Once I felt comfortable and somewhat settled in, I took my time in shooting 25 rounds at various distances with my 9mm Smith & Wesson M&P Shield.

Checking out of the range, I spent a few minutes chatting with two employees and browsing the showroom before leaving.  The selection of firearms, holsters and other shooting accessories was impressive, well displayed and well lighted.  Membership discounts were clearly marked on the merchandise “specials” being offered.

Range B

An aromatic greeting

Just a few miles outside the Columbus outer belt—to the northeast of the city—is the small, upscale town of New Albany, Ohio, the location of this shooting range.  I arrived just past noon, and I was immediately greeted by three employees standing behind the gun counter sharing a bag of freshly popped popcorn.

“Would you like a bag?” one of them offered.

I had to admit that the popcorn smelled delicious, but I declined, explaining that I had just had lunch.  Nevertheless, I had never been greeted at a shooting range in quite that way before, and it made me feel welcome.

The facility was very similar to Range A in layout and design, and I explained to the employees that I was new to the range and wanted to shoot a handgun I had brought along.  I was first required to enter a small side room and watch an eight-minute range safety and orientation video.  I found the video very well done and helpful, especially in explaining the operation of the range’s electronic target-system controls.  As a result, I later had no trouble manipulating the target as I had at Range A.

Before shooting, I was required to answer a few written questions and sign a liability form.  My driver’s license was then requested, my ammo checked and I was assigned a shooting lane.  Once on the firing line I shot about 25 rounds.

For the most part, my time at this range was a pleasant, fun experience, except for the shooter in the lane to my immediate right.  About the time I was finishing up, he began firing a rifle.  I don’t know what caliber the MSR was, but it was uncomfortably loud!  I was even wearing double hearing protection (foam ear plugs inside shooting earmuffs), and the sound still bothered me.

Upon checking out, I took a few minutes to look over the showroom before leaving, finding it to be very similar to Range A.  There was a large selection of firearms, holsters and other shooting accessories, and all were well displayed.  Off the showroom there was a small lounge area—furnished with couches and overstuffed chairs—where shooters could relax while talking and comparing scores.  The lounge even contained a popcorn machine, which explained where the previously mentioned fresh popcorn had come from that employees were munching.

I left thinking that my experiences at both ranges had been so similar and so positive overall that it would be a very difficult decision choosing a preferred range.  Should I pick the newcomer or the well-established facility, and what nuances would ultimately tip the scale?

UNDERCOVER SHOOTER SCORECARD

Each category is rated on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest score.

Editor’s note:  The Undercover Shooter is an experienced recreational shooter but is not trained in the technical aspects of range design and operation.

Range A Customer Satisfaction Rating

Signage and Visibility: 5

• Located along a four-lane city street, range is well marked with a large sign and is easy to find.

Layout and Setting: 5

Located in an urban setting, with the layout of the firearms showroom and shooting range spacious and well lighted

Retail Product Availability: 5

Many firearms and other shooting accessories available for purchase

Rental Availability: 5

• Many firearms, as well as eye and ear protection, available for rent

Staff Friendliness: 5

Employees seemed genuinely friendly and willing to assist shooters anyway they could.

Safety: 5

Safe gun practices were emphasized throughout the range and firearms showroom.

Cleanliness: 5

The entire facility was very neat and clean, including the restrooms.

Comments/Suggestions

• My main suggestion for this range would be to make the electronic-touchpad target control more user friendly for first-timers.  A hands-on demonstration by the range attendant would have been helpful.  I also thought the two-page, single-spaced liability form a bit much; in other words, too much information to read and digest quickly.  For example, I noticed that the shooter checking in before me (also a first-timer at the range) didn’t even bother reading the information on the form; he just signed his name.

 

Range B Customer Satisfaction Rating

Signage and Visibility: 5

• Attractive, white building sits along a state route and is easy to locate.

Layout and Setting: 5

• Located in a suburban setting, with the layout of the firearms showroom and shooting range spacious and well lighted

Retail Product Availability: 5

Many firearms and other shooting accessories available for purchase

Rental Availability: 5

Many firearms, as well as eye and ear protection, available for rent

Staff Friendliness: 5

Employees seemed genuinely friendly and willing to assist shooters any way they could.

Safety: 5

Safe gun practices emphasized throughout the range and firearms showroom

Cleanliness: 5

The entire facility was very neat and clean, including the restrooms.

Comments/Suggestions:

• Having been in business a long time, this range seems to have thought of almost everything that could make a shooter’s visit the best it can be.  The owners are also savvy marketers.  For example, in the men’s restroom just above the urinal is posted a printed list of 20 basic firearms accessories most shooters need.  Every man using that restroom will see the list, and all the products mentioned are for sale just outside the restroom door in the showroom.

Preferred Range

Handgun, rifle and shotgun shooters will all have a high-quality, safe experience at either one of these two excellent indoor shooting ranges, as both are very well run and offer all the amenities.  That said, I am happy to recommend both facilities, and that says a lot for Range A, which is so new.

Range A

LEPD Firearms & Range

999 Bethel Road, Columbus, OH 43214
614-999-1009• www.lepd.com

Range B

AimHi Shooting Range

10299 Johnstown Road, New Albany, OH 43054
614-939-4867• www.nasr.com

 

All reports, comments, impressions, opinions or advice expressed in the Undercover Shooter column are solely those of independent, recreational shooting range consumers and do not necessarily represent those of the National Shooting Sports Foundation or its affiliates. Neither the NSSF nor its affiliates make any warranty or assume any liability with respect to the accuracy or reliability of any information provided by Undercover Shooter contributors. Readers are encouraged to and should perform their own investigation of the information provided herein.

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