Customer service in big-city ranges
Like money that burns a hole in my son’s pocket, my three new handguns were making my trigger finger ache for some range time. Saturday was slow to arrive, but when it did I packed up the shooting gear and headed north; my destination was the concrete landscape of Dallas, Texas. Hailing from the country, I am sensitive to good service and hospitality. As a shooting enthusiast, I have spent time at many shooting ranges over the years and regrettably, service at some shooting centers occasionally has been lacking. I had never visited the two facilities I targeted that morning, and I wondered what kind of service I would receive.
Smiles greeted the shooter
I followed the heavy stream of traffic until I saw the sign and pulled in. I had passed this indoor range many times over the years but never ventured inside. After parking my car, I walked to what the original architect meant as a main entry only to find an annoying little note instructing me to enter through a side door.
Just as quickly as I walked in a young woman wearing a red uniform shirt and sidearm locked eyes with me and offered a warm greeting through her widening smile. Her coworker, also in a uniform shirt, turned toward me and offered the same inviting gesture. Behind the counter, a heavily insulated Plexiglas-type window allowed for constant monitoring of shooting activities. At the end of the shooting range window, a host of firearms hung on hooks with rental information posted to the right. The rest of the wall was covered by shooting range rules and membership information.
The young woman had me review the range rules and affirm compliance with my signature before I was allowed to enter the shooting lanes. As I headed to my appointed lane I noticed a range officer giving tips to various shooters; he would continue to assist shooters and monitor safety, never leaving the range while I was present. The floor was littered with
brass casings making the walk to my lane a bit awkward and unsafe. There was a list of range rules posted in the shooting area, but I did not notice any signs posted in individual lanes as reminders. I believe the range distance was 75 feet, and the facility appeared well maintained. The same service and great smiles sent me on my way.
Gun repair for free
Fifteen miles later I passed the entrance to the second range–twice. The only driveway, as it turned out, is off a side street rather than the main road, and traffic was heavy as a result of construction. Signage was good, and what appeared to be the front entrance, in this instance, was actually the entrance. I walked through the exterior doors, through a foyer and, finally, through a second set of doors. It was dusty and disorganized; however, a notice on the front door prepared me for that; they were remodeling.
Midway through the store space I locked eyes with an employee standing behind a counter. He simply watched me walk by while inhaling his lunch – there was no welcome or inviting smile. I continued past him as I surveyed the area for another, more helpful employee. She was also eating lunch, but as I closed the distance she wiped her hands on her sweatshirt and asked if she could help me; she was quite pleasant.
Range rules were scarce. I signed a tablet of lined paper simply acknowledging that I had been there; apparently no assumption of liability or review of range rules was required. While she helped me I happened to mention a problem I had encountered with my .44 magnum. She called for another employee, who looked at my revolver and made a slight repair. While he worked I took a visual inventory of the healthy assortment of rentals on the wall behind him; there were many handguns and rifles, including modern sporting rifles. When the technician completed his work he explained the problem and showed me how to resolve it on my own in case it happened again. He did not charge me any fee and was incredibly pleasant throughout the experience. I hope to meet up with him again one day. He turned out to be the owner.
At my appointed shooting lane, I noticed the only hint of range rules was a piece of paper posted on the door with a general reminder of firearm safety. The shooting area was fairly clean, and only one other shooter occupied the shooting lanes. Like the first facility I visited, the range appeared to be 75 feet and was well maintained. I never did see a range officer during my visit. Still I had a great time quenching my thirst for trigger action and would be happy to return.
|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 technical aspects of range design and operation.
|Range A Customer Satisfaction Rating||Range B Customer Satisfaction Rating|
|Signage/Visibility 2• The lack of signage for the entrance left a lot to be desired, and that is an easy fix. When you are inside the facility and trying to exit, the entrance door and door to the shooting range are next to each other and unmarked.• Twice I tried to exit and started to walk into the mustering area of the shooting lanes. The mistake, I suppose, was partly my fault, but I’m sure others have made that mistake.||Signage/Visibility 4• Exterior signage was good.• I was less than impressed by the lack of access on the main road.
• Interior signage was virtually nonexistent, although a few signs directed visitors to the two indoor ranges and restrooms.
|Layout/Setting 4• The layout of the facility was great. It was open and modern. Product layout left no confusion as to where I might find different product types while shopping.• In the middle of the store floor was a comfortable sitting area with a sizeable coffee table and large assortment of shooting magazines.||Layout/Setting 3• The layout was wide open but still confusing. A lack of product and department signage, coupled with the horizontal display of products in glass cases, forced me to shop by browsing, not my preferred method. I did appreciate the wood flooring and wall coverings, as well as the many taxidermy mounts that adorned the walls. The entire facility had a comfortable, rustic feeling.|
|Retail Product Availability 4• This range had a great selection of firearms, ammunition, shooting equipment and apparel.• I appreciated the ability to stand in one spot and survey the store to locate every product type I might be interested in investigating.||Retail Product Availability 3• A good assortment of firearms and shooting accessories, mostly tactical• Apparel was quite lacking.
• I appreciated the organized layout of handguns; they were displayed in order of caliber.
|Rental Availability 3• Rentals included a wide range of handguns and rifles. Rental prices were between $40 and $80 and included a box of ammunition.• I felt rental pricing could be better by offering low rental rates and mandatory on-site ammunition purchases for rentals.||Rental Availability 4• A diverse array of rental firearms consisting of handguns and rifles, including newer model MSRs.• Rental rates were $10 to $15, but ammunition for rentals had to be purchased on site. I appreciated this method more than the rental program at Range A.|
|Staff Friendliness 5• Staff friendliness and assistance was top-notch. Ten miles down the road I was still deep in thought about the kindness and professionalism I was shown.||Staff Friendliness 4• The staff was friendly. Unfortunately, my first impression was not good. I was not welcomed when I entered, and I was ignored by the first employee.|
|Safety 4• I was forced to read and give my signature as confirmation that I had read and understood the range rules.• Signs were posted in the shooting area, and a range officer was present the entire time I was shooting.
• Range officer spent a lot of time coaching other shooters on fundamentals; I found that extra detail quite impressive. Safety was obviously a priority here.
• The awkward walk through the shooting area is the result of the hundreds of casings on the floor; this was the only unsafe condition I found. The range officer began sweeping the floor as I exited the shooting lanes.
|Safety 2• Lack of focus on safety at this establishment. Range rules were scarce in the main store area, and I didn’t see any range rules posted in the shooting area. There was a note on the door in the shooting lane area requesting shooters to handle firearms safely. Certainly more could be done there.|
|Programs/Membership 3• CHL and various other instructional shooting clinics, including hunter education, are offered.• Memberships include individual, family and corporate at both regular and premium levels.||Programs/Membership 3• This range offers Blue (regular) and Gold (premium) individual and family memberships.• No youth training or programs currently exist although youth accompanied by a parent or guardian may shoot or attend clinics.
• CHL classes and various types of shooting and firearm familiarity clinics are offered.
|Cleanliness 4• The store area was extremely clean and well organized.• The fault in cleanliness was, again, with the casings on the floor of the shooting lane area.||Cleanliness 3• The store floor was surprisingly clean for a remodeling project. It was dusty, but the remodeling signs were effective, well placed and offered a reasonable excuse for any lack of cleanliness.|
|Comments/Impressions• While the lack of signage on entry and shooting lane doors and lack of cleanliness on the shooting lane floor bothered me, overall I had a great experience. The staff’s hospitality and professionalism, the range’s focus on safety and the great store layout made me want to go back in as soon as I had left. This is a great place!||Comments/Impressions• I had a great visit to this range. More focus should be placed on safety. Employee training to create a friendlier, more professional staff may be in order; however, I would still be happy to return to this range.|
|Preferred RangeAlthough the redirect to the side entrance was annoying, the welcoming committee and great service far surpassed my expectations and earned my preference:Range A:
DFW Gun Club, 1607 West Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, Texas 75235
|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.|