September 2014 The Undercover Shooter — 03 September 2014


MOUNTAIN STATE DUO

Two indoor ranges in West Virginia offer rainy evening recreation

Recreational shooting and hunting are rich traditions in West Virginia. The Mountain State has an abundance of public outdoor ranges, but when the weather turns cool or damp or sultry and sticky, it’s nice to have access to an indoor range. On a recent rainy evening I visited two indoor ranges in southern West Virginia. Both offered a good shooting environment.

 

Range A

From pistols to rifles

This range is located in a small burg just a few miles from one of the region’s larger towns. It’s a new facility, built from the ground up as a range just a couple of years ago. Although the facility’s name suggests it is for pistol shooting only, long guns of up to .308 caliber (using standard ammunition) are allowed. The range even offers rifle shooting leagues and matches, in addition to pistol competitions.

The range features 10 shooting lanes, with a maximum range of 25 yards. The ceiling features row after row of baffling to reduce noise. A downside of the angled baffling is that target lighting is a somewhat inconsistent. Lighting is fine at standard ranges (such as 10 and 25 yards), but targets can be somewhat dim at odd distances.

One of the shop’s co-owners was working the desk in the open lobby when I arrived and offered a sincere welcome. The other owner was in a small room adjacent to the lobby, teaching a class to two female shooters.

The owner asked if I had shot at the range previously, and when I said “No,” he provided me with a waiver on rules to read and sign. He asked if I was familiar with shooting range safety procedures and even though I said, “Yes,” he still reviewed several basic rules with me, including the absolute prohibition against taking a loaded firearms outside of shooting stations.

The range offers by-the-hour fees or memberships. The owner told me that a membership was the most economical option only if I planned to shoot more than 15 times over the course of the year.

The range offers rental pistols. The rental fee is $10, and I was told that I could trade out same-caliber firearms as I desired. The range requires renters to purchase ammo at the facility.

I chose to use my own pistol, but purchased some ammo, which was reasonably priced.

Shooters are provided one large silhouette target and are allowed to bring their own targets. Small targets must be stapled low on the cardboard target backing and not clipped directly to the target retriever.

Eye and ear protection are provided for shooters who don’t bring their own.

Inside the range, which is accessed through a set of double doors to reduce sound in the lobby, the equipment worked flawlessly, and I was pleased by the effectiveness of the sound baffling.

Upon checking out, the other owner asked if I qualified for the offered “military, law enforcement or NRA discount.” I said I was former military and was given a military discount.

 

Range B

The latest use for an older building

This range is about 30 miles from the first, in one of the larger towns in this part of West Virginia.

It’s in an older building that has been used for various purposes over the years. Interestingly, in addition to the range, the building also features a rental storage business. The storage business area has a different access.

One staffer was working at the counter in the small lobby. He was friendly and welcoming. Several used rifles were displayed on a rack behind the counter, and when I made a comment about one that drew my attention, the staffer said he didn’t know much about that model, but that the owner did. The owner was off-site but the staffer offered to contact him if I wished.

The range does not offer memberships. It hosts tournament shoots and matches, as well as many classes. The range offers fee discounts for members of the military, law enforcement and/or the NRA.

There were no rental firearms on display, but they are available, according to the range’s website.

Eye and ear protection is available for any shooter who needs it.

Shooters may bring their own targets, but they must be full-sized because the target retrievers don’t have cardboard backing. I had only smaller targets, so I purchased two silhouette targets.

After reading and signing my first-timer’s waiver, I headed in to shoot.

The range itself, which also featured double doors for sound reduction in the lobby, features only five shooting lanes. One was closed due to an inoperable target retriever.

One other shooter was inside the range. He was videotaping his shooting with a camera on a tripod and pointed downrange, and offering running commentary — to the camera — on his performance. He didn’t move the camera and his actions didn’t bother me.

The range features modest sound baffling. Target lighting was excellent at all distances, the most common — from five yards out — of which were marked by frayed ropes that dangled from the range ceiling.

 

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

Signage and Visibility: 4

● The range features easily spotted signage and is located alongside a relatively busy rural highway that runs parallel to a busy Interstate.

Layout and Setting: 4

● Having been designed from the outset as an indoor shooting facility, the range features a simple but efficient design and layout. Interior lighting is excellent and inviting. However, lighting at odd-distance targets was inconsistent.

Retail Product Availability: 2

● The range’s website lists a number of firearms for sale, but none were on display in the range’s lobby area.

Rental Availability: 3

● On a whiteboard behind the counter, the range has a modest list of available firearms, but the pistols are not actually on display.

Staff Friendliness: 5

● Both owners were friendly and warm, and presented demeanors that were professional but welcoming. A novice shooter would feel comfortable here.

Safety: 3

● Range rules were posted and all shooters must read and sign a waiver. Windows from the lobby to the range allows shooters to be observed, but no range officer was inside the range itself.

Cleanliness: 4

● Other than some spent brass on the floor inside the range, the facility was bright, clean and well kept.

Comments/suggestions

● Although a modest-sized facility, this new range provides an excellent indoor shooting experience. The range has a Facebook page that features notices on upcoming events and specials, but the business’ website is rudimentary and not very informative, and not reflective of the quality of the facility itself.

 

RANGE B

Customer Satisfaction Rating

Signage and visibility: 2

● The range is located just off a relatively busy city thoroughfare, but can be hard to spot because the large sign is somewhat obscured by another business. The location is also at a three-way intersection, which makes for somewhat difficult access from two of three directions.

Layout and setting: 3

● Although the building was not designed originally to house an indoor range, the layout is functional, if slightly cramped.

Retail product availability: 2

● Several pre-owned rifles were on display on a rack behind the counter, but that seemed to be the extent of available firearms. The range did have plenty of ammunition in popular calibers available.

Staff Friendliness: 4

● The one staffer on duty was friendly and helpful.

Safety: 3

● Range rules were posted, and all shooters must read and sign a waiver. Windows from the lobby to the range allow shooters to be observed, but no range officer was inside the range itself.

Cleanliness: 3

● Outside the shooting lanes the facility itself was somewhat dim, but it was clean and well maintained. The range floor was covered by what seemed to be a day’s worth of spent brass, though not much was on the floor in the shooter’s area itself.

Comments/Suggestions

● Although small, this range provides shooters with a good practice venue without a lot of bells and whistles.

 

Preferred Range

Range A
L&S Pistol Range
35886 Midland Trail East
Caldwell, WV 24925
304-647-4600 ∙ www.landspistolrange.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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