Thoughts on Joining a Range Club ~ Warning! Long!!
So I am joining a range club. It shall remain unnamed. In my limited ten year experience with ranges, it is the nicest one I have seen. I did belong to an indoor range in Tucson and it was very professional in terms of help and safety.
This club is much more extensive in terms of ranges, equipment, size, acreage, etc. It's also been around a very long time. They offer just about every imaginable shooting options for men and women. Before anyone flames me, read the whole thread. From the very start it has been an ordeal. Applying for membership online has been an unusually difficult process. They want as much info as you can give them backed up by documentation. There is a required work program you must attend before voting on your membership. You must attend several monthly meetings. All of this must be verified. You must be an NRA member. I gave my number and expiration date but they want the actual card, in person. It takes a minimum of two months before you are voted on, and only when you have completed all the requirements. It's kind of like applying to college - you give them a hundred bucks to apply but there is no guarantee you get it and you don't get your money back.
You must attend a two and a half hour safety briefing, half class, half range, followed by a test. If you show up late, you can still attend but you are responsible for the missed time (i.e., better find out what you missed cause it will be on the test). The meeting started exactly on time. For me, honestly, the instructor reminded me of my basic training drill instructor. No chatter, no cellphones, and he would call you out if he thought you needed it or stop you mid-sentance if he didn't like your answer. Yes, I understand why it is what it is, but I had to do a self talk several times to stay out of trouble. Seriously! As I told my wife this morning. I could have won the argument and been looking for another place to shoot. LOL!!!
What I picked up from this range club is that the administration is no-nonsense. It's their way or the highway and they have no problem telling you that. Incidentally, every range (and there are a bunch) has a motion-sensor camera that records everything. Evidently, it comes in handy for safety violations or "he-said/she-said" accusations of one member to another. Also good for litigation in range accidents (and there have been a few). Now, my problem (MY problem) has been the militaristic approach of the elected members towards the newbies. It's clear that we are not members, we are member-applicants and treated accordingly.("Dial 1-800 WAAAAAHHH)
HOWEVER! driving home from on of those meetings recently I had an epiphany. Yeah, I know. You all had that epiphany three lines into this monologue. It's a shooting range, dipstick! There are at least a dozen ranges and hundreds of members. There is only one Safety Range Officer for the whole place. WE are the safety range officers. We have lead flying everywhere. You are encouraged to call out any unsafe practices. "Cease Fire" means just that. Anyone can call it, everyone will obey. And, just like the Army, you can get killed in basic training and you can get killed on the range. I have seen personally, and heard through DC, nightmare stories of public ranges where yahoo's were sweeping, loading, walking, and firing in every type of unsafe manner.
This place is incredible. Clean, well-maintained, and the some of the safest range defense barriers I have ever seen. I heard they just put a quarter million dollars into one set of ranges this summer. They have every right to choose whom they want (in regard to safety) and to check out your certifications. Imagine letting some guy run a Boy Scout shooting day because he "said" he was an NRA qualified Range Instructor only to find out he was full of it. Try and litigate that puppy if there was an accident. Anyway, I am swallowing my pride, recognizing why they do what they do, and hope like heck I get to be a member!