Nebraskans do more that watch Cornhusker football. We shoot, too—and we shoot a lot! Nebraska may be considered a rural state, but shooters in its urban areas need commercial shooting ranges, and they need to be ranges that can keep customers cool in the summer and warm in the sub-zero temperatures we get on the Great Plains. I chose to visit two ranges in the Metro Omaha area in late summer.
Just one-month-old upon our visit
This facility was located on the southern side of the Omaha metroplex. It is a new facility. As a matter of fact, the day I visited they had only been open for 36 days. It is part of a new strip mall area, and you needed to look for it because it didn’t have its permanent signs up yet. Several ground-level banners identified the range.
The walkway to the front door was manicured and well landscaped. A bright splash of color from flowers broke up the tans and browns of the buildings. It was a nice touch.
The entrance was easy to find and immediately inside was the first of several safety signs. As could be expected in a range that had only been open 36 days, everything inside the facility was bright, clean and inviting. The lobby was large, well lit and had numerous tables and chairs for customers.
Sound-proofing was good because you could barely hear the range. One customer was sitting at a table with his laptop, checking his investment portfolio. The range offered a free WiFi connection. That was a first for me with a shooting range. Business seemed steady even for a weekday afternoon.
The attendant at the counter welcomed me and gave me the “rundown” on the facility. I noticed some ammo for sale, and there were snacks and soft drinks available at a nominal fee, but very little else in the way of retail items or accessories. The attendant explained that they would be getting in some clothing and accessories in a couple of weeks, but there were no plans to sell firearms, nor did they plan to have any rental firearms. The range did offer NRA firearm safety and concealed carry classes. No programs or memberships were required to use the range.
The attendant had me read the safety rules and emphasized several points. Safety rules and reminders were also posted around the lobby. I was even reminded of needing “eyes and ears” before leaving the counter.
The route to the range was well marked. A series of windows behind the firing line allowed the range officer to walk by and oversee things. I noted this was done frequently. As with all ranges, brass gets on the floor, but I noticed the customers cleaned up their shooting station with brooms and dust pans provided. I followed suit. The end result was relatively clear/clean floors.
Prices are reasonable. It costs $11 for a lane for 30 minutes or $22 per hour. An additional person on the same lane cost another $6 per 30-minutes. You are not required to buy the facility’s targets, but it had quite a selection from which to choose, and the price is very reasonable. Overall, I had a favorable outlook on the operation when I left and would go again.
Access is tricky, but it’s worth the search
The second range visited was southwest of the Omaha metroplex and bills itself as “Omaha’s Finest Indoor Shooting Range.” Access to the range is a bit tricky due to the fact that no direct entry can be made from the main thoroughfare that goes by the facility. The range is located in what looks like a warehouse district, but is a clean and well-kept area. Signs can be seen from the main road bypassing the range; you just can’t get there when you see them.
Walking up to the entrance may cause a moment of hesitation for a new visitor. A large roll-up door for a warehouse next to the range is what grabs your eye, and you think you may have missed something.
As soon as you enter the facility you walk into a large retail area. Quite a wide variety of clothing and accessories, along with a good selection of knives, greets the customer.
A long L-shaped counter covers two sides of the facility. The staff immediately greeted me and welcomed me to the facility. I glanced through the counter and along the walls behind the counter at a wide selection of firearms for sale. A short walk down the counter created an unplanned diversion. There was a pistol I had been looking for quite a while. They were only too happy to sell it to me. The purchase of the pistol did get me 30 minutes of free range time, so that was a plus.
Normal costs for a shooting lane are $8 per half hour. Memberships are available and provide the benefit of 50 percent off range time and rentals. Other discounts run about 10 percent.
Speaking of rentals, the facility has a very wide selection of pistols and rifles. Cost is $8 for a pistol and $10 for a rifle. You must also buy facility ammo to use in rental firearms. If you feel adventurous, you can rent a fully automatic firearm for $30 and see what that is like. I’m guessing you would shoot up way more than $30 in ammo with one of these firearms. You are required to buy targets from the establishment, but there are quite a few to choose from, and cost is very reasonable.
Safety rules are posted in several places, but no verbal reminder was given. I don’t know if it was the purchase of the pistol that sidetracked us, but I was not instructed to or required to read any safety rules. I did have to sign into a guest book that listed basic safety rules. A sign to put on eye and hearing protection was posted on the door entering the range.
Through this first door was a staging area that provided me a place to set down my gear and begin to get ready for the range. A second doorway granted access to the range and shooting lanes.
As with all ranges there was brass on the floor, but the range has a nice pile carpet covering the walkway behind the shooting lane. If you step on an empty shell case it will compress into the carpet rather than roll under your foot. This greatly reduces the chance of slipping. Big plus!
The motion of the target trolley was jerky, and it took a while for the target to settle down, a detriment if I were attempting any precision shooting.
Shooting lanes were more comfortable (cooler and less humid) than the first range I visited. Lighting in the lanes was a little dim, particularly for targets more than half way down range. Although there is a window that would allow observation from the staging area for a range officer, I never saw one.
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: 2
- Temporary banners were staked out on the lawn, but could be difficult to see as you drive through the strip mall parking lot.
Layout and Setting: 5
- Spacious, clean and easy to get around. Lots of seating and tables available to relax, have a snack or simply chat with fellow shooters.
- Nice classroom and restrooms are easy to find and clean as well.
Retail Product Availability: 0
- Nothing was available at the time of my visit, but products were supposed to be coming. They will probably be in place by the time this report is published.
Rental Availability: 0
- No firearms were available to rent, and there are no plans to offers rentals or sell any firearms.
Staff Friendliness: 4
- Greeted almost immediately.
- All my questions were answered timely and cordially.
- Required to hear, read and sign range rules. Clear and ample safety/rules postings. Range office active and viewed shooters often.
Programs and Memberships: 0
- None available
- I would expect this at a brand-new facility, but the way customers cleaned up after themselves tells me it will be a clean range for the foreseeable future.
- Employees seem to take genuine pride in the newness/cleanliness of the facility.
- Facility has all the makings of a “top notch” facility to visit and shoot in. Every part of the facility was clean and laid out very well. Addition of moving air/fans in the firing line would make it more comfortable for the shooter. Staff was ready to help and answer questions. The decision not to sell or rent firearms may be a limiting factor in the overall success of this range.
Range B Customer Satisfaction Rating
Signage and Visibility: 3
- There are signs on the front and back of the building, but due to the way the building is positioned and the manner in which you have to get to the facility, I felt the signage could be better.
Layout and Setting: 3
- The showroom/retail area felt a little cramped because of the wide selection of items, but you could get around without too much problem. No target clips on the lane assigned or any clipboards or places to hang extra targets. Backer boards on lane needed replacing.
Retail Product Availability: 5
- Lots of choices, lots of clothing and accessories, quality items.
Rental Availability: 5
- A wide array of firearms that would fit almost every shooter’s taste and budget. Prices are very reasonable for anyone wanting to test a pistol or rifle before buying a particular model.
Staff Friendliness: 5
- Greeted quickly and professionally.
- Knowledgeable and willing to take the time to answer questions and show products.
- Although posted conspicuously in several places, none of the staff seemed to emphasize safety and range rules.
- No range officer was present or seen supervising the shooting activities.
Programs and Memberships: 4
- Membership prices are reasonable and allow for nice discounts on range time and targets, modest discount on firearm purchases.
- It does offer active-duty law enforcement and military discounts at reduced rates.
- Showroom/retail area and gun counter were clean and orderly. Range had more than just a little brass on the ground and no brooms or dust pans available to tidy up if you wanted to do so.
- For whatever the facility lacked in the areas of cleanliness and tidiness, they more than made up for in friendliness and customer service. I would definitely go there again.
The knowledge and friendliness of its staff, plus the wide selection of retail items, make the Undercover Shooter’s choice for the day:
The Bullet Hole
10915 Harrison St.
LaVista, NE 68128
402-596-0367 • www.thebh.com.