Much of the decision is about personal preference, but each range offers a distinct set of advantages (and disadvantages)—knowing the key differences will help you determine which one is best for you.
Before setting out to your local gun range, set some time aside to research the basic counterpoints discussed below.
Indoor shooting ranges offer one obvious benefit: climate control. If you live somewhere with seasonal extremes (like Florida in the summer, or Alaska in the winter) having somewhere to go with the weather element removed is beyond convenient. Another convenient aspect of indoor shooting ranges is their sheer availability.
Even in relatively urban spaces, you can generally find an indoor range close by. Access to amenities is another reason to go with an indoor range—often these locations will have food/beverage services, restrooms, even the ability to rent and experiment with a wider range of firearms than you own.
If you are someone who enjoys a more realistic experience, having every element controlled with probably not do it for you. What’s more, many times indoor ranges restrict the type of weapons that can be fired, the bullets used, and the length of time you can spend in a lane. Because shooters at indoor ranges are in closer proximity to one another, safety regulations may be stricter.
If you’re an avid outdoorsman, well…there’s not going to be much up for debate here. For your breed, it’s about more than just the target practice; it’s the fresh air and challenge of navigating the elements—those expectations that can never be met in an indoor range—that provide satisfaction.
Outdoor ranges provide an escape for many shooter enthusiasts simply because of their more remote locations. Moreover, the versatility of weapons allowed, and the types of target practice—like trap and skeet shooting, for example—are more likely to be allowed here. Often times, you’ll find more opportunities for classes aimed to improve accuracy skills when it comes to firing at reactive targets.
In simple terms, outdoor ranges are fewer and farther in between than indoor ranges. So to find an adequate outdoor shooting range that meets your preferences, it may be more difficult, and require more traveling on your part. In addition, closures due to weather can be an issue when it comes to planning a day on the range. Once at the range. amenities are more limited than those found at indoor ranges, (but that type of “roughing it” may just add to your experience).
No matter which type of range suits your needs, make sure they (and you) always adhere to the 4 basic tenets of safety—only point your gun at your intended target, place your finger on the trigger only when ready to fire, stay vigilant to what’s behind and in front of your target at all times, and lastly—always handle all guns as if they are loaded.
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