Recent visits to a pair of facilities in the Palmetto State
Being a longtime shooter, I welcomed the opportunity to visit two indoor facilities in my home state with which I was unfamiliar. Both of my experiences proved to be generally positive.
A strip-mall sporting-goods store with a range
This range is located in a strip mall along a major thoroughfare into a large city. The venue is mainly a sporting-goods store, which has been successful long enough to occupy more than one storefront in this strip. However, only one door served as an entrance. Late in the day I entered, finding a service counter for ammunition sales jutting out toward the entrance. Several employees were present there.
The central room had lots of hunting gear for sale. A doorway to the left led to another area with camouflage attire and hunting accessories. I was directed to turn to the right doorway to proceed to the gun range. The range staffer sat behind a counter and was engaged with another customer, who did not appear to be a shooter. Before very long I was asked with what I needed help.
I inquired about buying ammo, and I was directed to go back into the main room. I reported to the ammo desk and was able to get the loads I needed along with a receipt so that I could take that back to the gun range staffer.
The helpful staffer went over the costs associated with time spent in the gun range, as well as fees for targets and rentals for safety glasses and hearing muffs. I saw several shooting lanes behind multiple glass panes right behind the gun desk, which offered a clear view of anyone in the gun range A double doorway leading to the shooting range was clearly marked with the message that hearing and eye protection needed to be on before entering the outer door.
The staffer escorted me to my shooting lane on the range, passing another shooter along the way. The rules concerning range movement were posted on the wall but were not really addressed by the staffer, implying that everyone knows not to leave your lane with a loaded weapon. I remained under the staffer’s supervision until I had loaded and fired a round before that person returned to the gun range desk.
The range was painted black. The electric target holder seemed to have a short circuit in it, so that when I engaged the switch to move the target, it unpredictably went forward or backward. Soon, however, the switch functioned well enough that I was able to retrieve and change targets. The floor in my shooting station was clear of shell casings, and I was told to simply leave mine on the floor when finished.
The range staffer stayed at the desk and was always in a good position to observe the range through the glass. When I exited the range and turned in my rental gear I was given a total for all the fees and was directed to pay at the ammo counter on the way out, which worked just fine. This store was busy with people right up until closing time. Despite the activity, the staff was relaxed and courteous.
A brand-new facility
The second range is a brand-new retail chain operation in a major urban area with malls and big-box type stores all around it. Its large parking lot made for a longer-than-usual journey with gun and ammo in tow. A sign at the front door indicated that guns could be brought into the store for use at the range.
This store is very big and has plenty of space for racks loaded with gear and for browsing. No store staff was present when I entered late in the day, but I wandered around looking at some predator hunting gear before seeing a sign denoting that the shooting range room was in the back.
Upon entering the shooting range area I viewed two desks with a staffer at each one. I inquired of one about shooting my own ammo, and he indicated that I could do that but first I would need to read the rules of the range on a printed page and then sign the liability waiver. We then discussed prices for range time, targets and rental fees for hearing protection and eye wear. I was asked to pay up front for the range time and rentals.
The other desk had an array of guns on display behind the second staffer; these were available for rent. I asked to hold a certain style of lightweight gun with a composite grip, and the staffer was very helpful with information regarding that particular gun and similar models. No rental was necessary, but this staffer was more than knowledgeable about the selection.
The first staffer accompanied me to the range, which is separated from the check-in area by two doors. After passing through the first door he explained that I was required to wear both hearing and vision protection from that point on. The range was compact, but well lit, and had two separate rooms with shooting lanes. Another shooter was firing off rounds as we approached my lane.
The staffer helped me to fasten my target to the holder and then showed me how to send it out to stations that were pre-marked with distance measurements. He did not stay to see me load and fire the gun, and when he left I could not see him in the gun range check-in room. Another shooter entered the range and went to the second room and began firing.
I was comfortable in this modern facility and felt like there was ample spacing for multiple shooters. I fired shots off a few clips and was wrapping up my visit when a staffer came in to remind me it was approaching closing time. I was asked to use the squeegee to push my shell casings forward of the line at the bottom of my shooting lane and was told that they would clean up the casings from there. I put my gun in its case and walked out through the store.
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.
Customer Satisfaction Rating:
Signage and Visibility: 4
● The range is in a strip mall and is not hard to spot, but there are multiple turn-ins, and some of the parking spots are angled, so a “Turn Here” sign could be helpful.
Layout and Setting: 5
● This was an established gun range that looked well used, and I liked the fact that others were comfortable shooting here.
Retail Product Availability: 4
● Ammo, accessories and guns are all available here.
Rental Availability: 2
● I was not advised if they rented guns, nor did I see any on display.
Staff Friendliness: 3
● Some of the staff were looking at mobile devices and others were eating at their work station, which is not the best example of customer service.
● Some confusion at the check-in meant that I was not asked to sign the release form.
● The range was clean of shell casings, but it showed signs of age in several areas.
Comments / Suggestions:
● There is no website available for this range.
Customer Satisfaction Rating:
Signs and Visibility: 4
● Large signage along the Interstate makes this store easy to locate, although it is set back in a large parking lot.
Layout and Setting: 5
● The gun range is a distinct part of this store with its own staff. Well lit, clean and modern.
Retail Product Availability: 5
● This store has it all when it comes to the outdoors. Top-of-the-line brands and labels make it a high-quality shopping experience.
Rental Availability: 5
● The rental guns were displayed well and easy to access, and the staffer knew his guns.
Staff Friendliness: 5
● Perhaps a bit on the tactical side in appearance and demeanor, but that does show they are serious about their firearms.
● First, read their rules and sign their liability waiver. Then enjoy the range.
● New facility, with no sign of wear and tear
Comments / Suggestions:
● Keep up the good work. No wonder this chain store is expanding.
Palmetto State Armory
1040 Woodruff Road
Greenville, SC 29607-4120
864-605-6680 ● www.PalmettoStateArmory.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.