Two Ohio Ranges for Members and the Public

Both offer membership or per diem choice

Does your range offer memberships as an added enticement for attracting shooters?  If so, just what benefits will a membership at your facility buy?

These two Ohio ranges open their shooting facilities to the general public, but members enjoy special privileges.  Both outdoor ranges are in east-central Ohio near the city of Zanesville. One is located just south of town and the other about 10 miles north.

Range A

Self-awarded ‘premier’ status

Billing itself as “Ohio’s Premier Shooting Facility,” I had high expectations for this range.  On its website were listed the availability of a pistol range, rifle range, three shotgun courses (two sporting clays and one 5-Stand), archery and even a paintball course.

I arrived during early afternoon on the Friday between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.  Walking into the clubhouse, I met a middle-aged woman seated behind a desk, and I told her that I was new to the range and wanted to shoot a few clay targets.  She said that the sporting clays courses were unavailable, stating the facility was having trouble getting targets for some reason, but that the 5-Stand course was open.

I told her the 5-Stand would suffice, but then added that I was by myself. “Would I be able to shoot the course alone?” I asked.  She said yes, as the targets were set on a delay.  Offering no further help or orientation, she simply said, “Help yourself…”

The 5-Stand course was adjacent to the clubhouse, so I walked over to take a quick look and throw a few test clays before getting my shotgun.  The course was laid out over a steep ravine, and I noticed the various traps were not well marked.  I ran into a problem immediately, as the cord to the electronic, push-button release was not long enough to reach each of the five shooting stations.  In addition, the targets were definitely not on a delay, so there was no way I could shoot by myself.

Returning to the clubhouse, I stated the two problems to the attendant. 

“Okay,” she said. “Looks like I’ll have to pull for you.  Get your gun, and I’ll meet you on the range.”

Once the shooting began, other problems soon surfaced.  Two of the five traps either didn’t work or were out of targets.  One of the three traps that did work threw birds directly into the afternoon sun.  My experience on the 5-Stand range was so disappointing—despite shooting well, at least for me—that instead of shooting two rounds of 25 birds as I had planned, I quit after just one.

As I paid my tab back at the clubhouse, the attendant mentioned that the shooting range was about 20 years old and was in the process of being sold to new owners.  I could only hope that new management will make the necessary improvements, spruce up the place and get it back in shape.  Not only did the entire facility appear rundown and shot up, it also looked as though simple, basic maintenance had been ignored for a long while.  For instance, the parking areas were more mud than gravel.

Before leaving, I inquired about membership.  The range attendant stated that she was a member and that yearly memberships cost $100 for individuals and $150 for families.  What a membership bought was increased range time (9 a.m. to dusk seven days a week), with unlimited use of the pistol and rifle ranges.  Non-members pay $10 per hour for range time and are limited to the weekday hours of 2 to 5p.m. and weekend times of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  There are no discounts for members using any of the shotgun courses.      

Range B

A leased range in a state park

I arrived at this shooting range later the same afternoon, not to shoot but to gather information for a future visit.  Located in a large state park, this rural range is owned by the State of Ohio and leased to an independent contractor for operation.  Shooters can enjoy pistol, rifle, trap and skeet shooting; however, no sporting clays or 5-Stand is available

A male attendant greeted me promptly as I walked into the clubhouse. I noticed he was wearing a holstered pistol.  I asked him about the facility, and he took the time to answer all my questions.  I then asked if I could take a look at the various ranges.

“Sure, but wear these,” he said, handing me a pair of shooting ear muffs from behind the counter.  “Range policy.”

 I like that kind of attention to detail and safety.

Yearly membership fees are the same as at Range A: $100 for an individual or $150 per family.  Membership benefits include a $2 per hour reduced rate on the rifle and pistol ranges and a $1 per round discount (25 clays) on the trap and skeet fields.  Throughout the year there are also members-only events such as special shoots and cookouts.

In addition, members at this range are entitled to free, unlimited FFL firearms transfers. 

“What that means is that you can buy firearms from your favorite sources and have them shipped directly to us,” said the assistant range manager.  “We will then transfer the paperwork on your new gun and run the background check for free.”

Typically, firearms retailers in the Midwest charge anywhere from $20 to $60 per firearm transaction, so if a shooter buys guns frequently, this membership benefit could save some substantial money over a year’s time.

I returned to this shooting range exactly two weeks later, prepared to shoot a few rounds at the pistol range.  I brought a handgun, ammunition and paper targets. As I had noticed two weeks earlier, the shooting stations and walkways at both the pistol and rifle ranges were littered with spent cartridge casings that looked as if they’d been there a long time.  Neatness counts.  Target stands at both the pistol and rifle ranges were also a bit shabby and in need of repair/replacement.

Back at the clubhouse after my shoot, I paid my bill ($6 per hour for range time) and chatted with both the manager and assistant manager about their facility.  What I learned was that they were just completing their first year of a four-year lease.  They said the range had gone through various operators over the years and suffered neglect—even a total flooding in 2005, with pictures hanging on the wall to prove it.  They stated they were slowly chipping away at making the needed improvements.

Local shooters have noticed the positive changes, both in repairs and a new, more welcoming attitude, and they are responding.  For instance, an area Cowboy Action Shooting club has moved its monthly shoots to the range. 

“And we plan to get trap and skeet leagues back up and running again this coming summer,” said the range manager.

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

•    The entrance to the range is well marked, but a sign or two along the main highway and turnoff would help shooters unfamiliar with the range.

Layout and Setting: 3

•    Located on unreclaimed strip-mined land, the range is functional but not the most aesthetic in appearance.

Retail Product Availability: 1

•    Very limited product availability–some ammo, hats, and T-shirts

Rental Availability: 0

•    No guns are rented.

Staff Friendliness: 5

•    The range attendant, a female range member, was pleasant and helpful.

Safety: 3

•    Range safety rules were posted, but no range officer was on duty.

Cleanliness: 3

•    The range was functional, but with improvement could have more eye appeal.

Comments/Suggestions:

•    This range needs some serious refurbishing, both in having it ready for shooters on a day-to-day basis and in making long-term improvements.  Let’s hope the new ownership takes the initiative in making the necessary changes.

Range B Customer Satisfaction Rating

Signage and Visibility: 5

•    Though located well off a main highway—several miles, in fact—the signage was adequate to lead someone unfamiliar with the location to the facility.

Layout and Setting: 5

•    Located within a rural state park, the range provides a pleasant outdoors experience.  Rifle and pistol ranges are separated from the trap and skeet fields, and all ranges are within easy walking distance of the clubhouse and parking area, which is paved.

Retail Product Availability: 1

•    Very little product is available–only a few paper targets and T-shirts–but plans are to increase inventory.

Rental Availability: 0

•    No guns are rented.

Staff Friendliness: 5

•    Both the manager and assistant manager were friendly and helpful.

Safety: 3

•    Range safety rules were posted, but no range officer was on duty.

Cleanliness: 4

•    Spent cartridge casings on both the rifle and pistol ranges were in need of being swept up and either discarded or recycled.  Target stands also needed to be repaired/replaced.  The trap and skeet fields were clean and neat.

Comments/Suggestions:

•    Following years of neglect, the new management at this range appears to have it heading in the right direction.  If they keep steadily working on the improvements, they’ll develop a customer base of loyal area shooters.

Preferred Range

 Both ranges A and B are in need of some TLC.  Under new management during the past year, Range B appears to have turned that corner and is making steady improvements.   It is yet to be seen whether Range A will do the same.  Range B also has the stronger membership program.  All that taken into consideration, my preferred facility is:

Range B

Dillon Sportsman Center

5200 Pleasant Valley Road, Nashport, OH 43830 • www.dillonsportsmancenter.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.

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.

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