Crucial points reminded to me yesterday at the range
I could not take it anymore. I had not fired any of my weapons since May, and was starting to get twitchy about it.
A little about me. I refuse to go to an indoor range unless I absolutely have to, and that is generally to test some reloads. The only outdoor ranges in Denver CO open to the public are even more restrictive than the indoor ranges. Outside Denver you are down to "public" shooting areas where if you are lucky you will be one of the only ones there and get disgusted with the amount of garbage left behind and end up taking home 5 times more crap than you brought. If you are unlucky, there will be a pile of people there who really need to take a basic gun safety and shooting class. Beyond that it is getting on the two year waiting list for a membership range.
A buddy of mine keeps telling me about a place he found about 45min outside of Denver where he goes. I finally buckled under, and got him to take me up there.
Anyhow... Here is what was brought back to the forefront of my memory.
1. Specialized training and skills are perishable. This spring I took 2, 2 day advanced carbine training classes and learned a helluvalot. I was no expert, but by the end of the second class, my shooting skills were in the top 1/3 of the people there, and they were mostly LEO and Military (post and active). After 6 hours at the range yesterday, my skill level had returned to the level I was at the beginning of my second class. I was quite disgusted with myself. I didn't use it, so I started to loose it. Accuracy was horrid, reloading was slow, transferring to support side was clumsy (darn sling), remembering to switch to "safe" when I was doing a transition, or switching to a different target, and the ammo that I reloaded that morning was giving me issues (4 to be precise - another thing that I had not done since May). Regrettably I did not get to do any movement shooting due to the other shooters present.
2. I was unlucky. Although it was relatively uncrowded, there were 3 groups of people that came through to do some shooting. I was reminded why I hate these types of ranges. All three groups of people that came through were skirting that hazy line of dangerous to themselves and others (and given the 4 rules of gun safety lecture, since every one of them were breaking at least one of them all the time). No NDs, but made me uncomfortable to be on the line with them behind me. Only a couple of them I was so inclined to give them a little basic firearm shooting instruction.
3. This was more of a revelation. Dressing like what my wife refers to as a "Fanatic Gun Nut" in my Propper A-TACs ACUs, Tactical Tailor MAV chest harness, and keeping my AR slung the whole time did seem to make the others a bit more passive, polite, and open to what I had to say when I approached them about the safety issues. All my my previous outings to places like this I wore the usual jeans and T-shirt, and people were either jackwads or just blew me off when I attempted to talk to them about their firearm handling and safety. I was not an a-hole about it. I was very polite, told them that they were making me very uncomfortable, and explained to them why those 4 basic rules are out there - to keep themselves and those around them alive and uninjured.
4. Another revelation. All the way up to actually firing my first round, I was 99% committed to going out this weekend and buying one of the Troy Defense rifles that came out this month (presuming I could find one). I figure 1k on another basic AR as a foundation to upgrade down the road was not a terrible investment. By the end of the day, that itch to buy another rifle was scratched. It is still lingering in the back of my mind, but I doubt that I will follow through with it. 5 hours and 500+ rounds seemed to be a good treatment, and saved me about $850.
5. Ranges like this mean you pack up a basic outing kit consisting of multiple target stands, and several heavy duty trashbags to do a little extra cleaning up at the end of the day.