November 2013 The Undercover Shooter — 06 November 2013


VARYING OPTIONS IN ALBUQUERQUE

Indoor and outdoor options for visitors and locals

New Mexico is one of the nation’s most firearms-friendly states, making it an inviting destination for sports shooters. Whether tourists are on vacation or businesspeople are on a trip to the state’s largest city, if they wish to find time to shoot in the area, they have options, both indoor and outdoor. TheUndercoverShooter

Range A:

An outdoor public range with scenic appeal

The state’s biggest city decided to build its own shooting park to fill the void of disappearing wide-open spaces. Located on vast, open, rangeland where visitors will hear the shooting long before they can see the facility, this public range allows customers to check in at an office located inside a portable metal building painted tan to match the sandy countryside.

Here they’ll receive a free target after paying a fee of six dollars and can then head down to the shooting line where they’ll be greeted by one of the several NRA-certified staff members on duty.

It was a warm, sunny, autumn weekday when I visited and found plenty of others at the range.
During an ensuing cease fire one of the range masters approached me for my ticket and then directed me to a large metal shipping container where I could pick out a wooden frame upon which to attach my target. Upon my returning to the firing line the staff member gave me a safety briefing and then assigned me to a shooting station under a shade canopy equipped with a wooden table and bench seat.

My neighboring shooters were very friendly, helping to acquaint me with the range procedures like cease fires during which shooters are ordered off their stations while staff check all firearms to be sure they are unloaded and safe before shooters can head downrange to see their targets. Being an Army veteran I found the efficient and orderly operation of the range very familiar and comfortable and learned many other military veterans like to shoot here, too.

After a round of target practice on the pistol and rifle range I toured the sprawling facility but before leaving policed up my brass and donated it to one of my helpful neighbors who was a handloader.

The public facility includes separate ranges for law enforcement personnel, competition shooting matches and a very well equipped skeet and trap shooting range featuring a long row of inviting shade trees.

This public range has played host to the NRA’s National Police Shooting Championships for many years and was the site of this year’s U.S. Open Skeet Championship, too.

I took my lunch in the shade of one of those nice trees and enjoyed the view of the towering white clouds amid a brilliant blue sky hovering over the far off mountains and marveled at what a fine public facility had been put together for me.

Range B:

An indoor range that met my needs

Shooters looking for a place to burn some ammunition in Albuquerque will find a brand-new indoor range located just off the freeway in the middle of town, where for $20 they can shoot all day.

This range is one of a few owned by the same company. It was built to replace another that is closing while yet another is slated to open soon on the city’s rapidly growing west side.

Shooters will find an air-conditioned range featuring mechanically operated, distance-adjustable target hangers and plenty of ammunition for purchase, along with a variety of different guns to rent, including fully automatic military-style firearms.

The staff here is eager to help and more than willing to show shooters the latest firearms and other retail goods designed to entice shooting sports enthusiasts.

The shooting range is separated into two unadorned concrete rooms with partitions between each station and plate-glass windows at the rear, which allow observers to watch the action.

The facility has a spartan, industrial feel to it, and is fairly atypical of what I would expect from a serious indoor shooting range.

Shooters must sign a waiver after reading the facility’s safety rules and wear eye and hearing protection, which is available for those without their own.

Visitors to this establishment can expect to encounter plenty of law enforcement officers utilizing this range along with shooting enthusiasts attracted by the appealing rental program and retail offerings. Those new to the sport will find an impressive array of professional services available including private instructions, concealed carry classes and other programs.

The facility is located in a strip mall where shooters can relax after target practice with a beverage at the establishment next door or do some browsing in a nearby fly-fishing shop.

For those seeking a quick trip to the range where firearms can be rented or purchased and ammo and other necessities can be bought, then this place fits the bill quite nicely. It certainly served its purpose well except for the dangerous accumulation of empty shell casings littering the slick concrete floor during my visit.

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: 4

  • This public shooting range on Albuquerque’s vast, vacant west mesa is fairly easy to find because the road ends there.  Visitors to the remote location will find a roadside sign at just about the same time they may begin to feel lost. Maps, easy directions and more information about the park can easily be found on the Internet.

Exterior Appeal: 5

  • A visit to this public shooting park is a scenic treat with expansive views stretching for miles. The outdoor facility is neat and orderly with shade canopies covering the shooting positions.  The tidy, modern skeet and trap courses feature a rarity out on the desert as each position boasts shade trees planted there by considerate volunteers many years ago.

Interior Appeal: 3

  • The outhouses are clean and well equipped. The check-in office offers refreshments and targets for sale. The range offers two air-conditioned clubhouses available for rental to groups.

Retail Product Availability: 1

  • A bring-your-own-gear range, although a cold soda and foam ear plugs along with a fresh paper target can be purchased at the office. Bring cash or checks. No credit cards accepted.  No guns or ammo for sale here

Staff Friendliness: 5

  • Staff are all NRA-certified instructors and public employees. They are sticklers for the rules and run the range with military efficiency while managing to do so in a friendly and helpful manner.  Safety is obviously a top priority here.

Range Safety: 4

  • Safety rules are provided to each customer. No waiver is required.
  • Eye and ear protection encouraged but not specifically required
  • Range use is overseen and regulated by staff at all times.  Shooters provide additional oversight in this communal setting.

Programs/Membership: 2

  • Shooting range is open to the public for a daily fee of $6, and annual passes are also available.  Information is on hand within the office regarding shooting clubs that use the facility through which memberships are available.  Information regarding private instruction by a variety of vendors including concealed carry license classes, etc. is available at the office also.

Range Mechanization: 0

  • Wooden target frames are provided, which must be manually inserted into post holes set at various distances on the range. Shooters can install and retrieve their targets during cease-fire periods.

Cleanliness: 4

  • Spent shell casings are routinely picked up by staff and customers. Trash cans are plentiful and conveniently placed. Customers and staff keep the facility well tended.

Comments/Impressions:

  • This facility is a great example of good public policy at work as it provides citizens a safe, well-run facility to use within an urban environment, which helps cut down on the ill-advised and illegal use of improvised shooting areas on surrounding public lands.  This facility provides a model that other communities might be interested in adopting.

Range B Customer Satisfaction Rating

Signage and Visibility: 3

  • Big sign visible from highway. Easy to find with directions from online service such as Google or Bing maps.  Shouldn’t be confused with company’s two other locations

Exterior Appeal: 3

  • Nothing to write home about here. Located in a newly developed strip mall fronting the freeway, next door to a state office building and across the street from a storage rental facility

Interior Appeal: 4.5

  • A new building with a clean, airy, industrial feel to it
  • Central service counter surrounded by wall displays featuring a variety of firearms and other retail products for sale. Good selection of rental and retail products on display under glass counters
  • Shooting lanes can be seen from retail area behind plate-glass windows.
  • Two well-lit, air-conditioned 12-lane, 30-yard-deep shooting rooms featuring mechanical target holders

Retail Product Availability: 4

  • Typical products available from most retail gun stores with an emphasis on the latest military-style firearms
  • A good ammo selection despite current supply problems
  • Wide variety of firearms available for rental to use on the shooting range including handguns in standard calibers and styles, numerous rifles and some fully automatic firearms

Staff Friendliness: 5

  • Well staffed with several helpful and professional employees on hand

Range Safety: 3

  • Safety rules conspicuously posted. Customer must read safety regulations and sign waiver form before shooting.  Eye and ear protection required and available if needed.  Range use monitored by staff
  • Numerous spent shell casings on concrete floor were of serious concern to the Undercover Shooter.
  • Staff could be seen checking on shooters through windows but otherwise did not enter rooms and interact with customers during this visit.

Programs/Membership: 4

  • Shooting range is open to the public for a $20 fee.  Memberships are available, which provide steep discounts on some goods and services.  A good selection of training programs are available including individual and group instruction on basic and advanced firearms use and concealed carry license classes.

Range Mechanization: 5

  • Mechanized, adjustable-distance target hangers made for easy target practice.

Cleanliness: 3

  • Concrete floor was littered with spent shells during visit, but otherwise was clean and well lit.

Comments/Impressions:

  • Overall this is a nice, new, shooting range with plenty of friendly, helpful staff, a lot of different firearms to rent and plenty of ammo to be had.
  • The location might prove difficult for some first-time customers to find, but a call to the facility or use of an online mapping service should alleviate that problem.
  • Staff should prominently place a good-sized broom in each shooting room so customers can sweep spent shells out of their rental lanes. This is a serious safety issue that should be addressed.

 

Preferred Range

Both fulfilled the basic need for a safe shooting place, but the outdoor facility provided a more unusual experience with eye-popping scenery and a lot of friendly people that made it this Undercover Shooters’ choice.

Range A
Albuquerque Shooting Range Park
16001 Shooting Range Access Rd., Albuquerque, NM  87120
505-836-8785
www.cabq.gov/parksandrecreation/open-space/facilities/shooting-range-park

 

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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