Sometime back, when I first got interested in shooting, a friend wanted to give me a few pointers so we decided to go shooting. I was aware of an indoor range nearby but he insisted on driving out to the desert. I realized his choice when we arrived. Once there, my friend set up a simple target, and proceeded to work on his presentations from the holster. From a Bianchi style draw, with hands in the surrender position. This is something the indoor range would never have allowed. Nor would they have allowed the fast-paced shooting we were working on. And I fully understand why. There is always the possibility that someone with little or no training might try and emulate what they saw, without understanding the finer points of firearm safety. As a result, the possibility of a negligent discharge increases. So, we drove out to the desert and set up our own range. There are a few places in Southern California where one can still engage in such a practice. But those open spaces are fast disappearing and those left are more than an hour drive from most of us. And then, the area might be trash strewn, or filled with people more interested in drinking beer than proper firearms practice. I have seen it first hand and have even worked law enforcement in those places. Some of the shooters in our public areas do not prescribe to the four rules of firearms safety – or even know such rules exist.
There are a great many public ranges in the Southern California area. Most of them have similar rules to the general indoor range. No rapid fire. No drawing from the holster. No movement. No multiple target engagement, and no steel targets. All of these are rules that are predicated on the lowest common denominator. If you want more flexibility for your shooting practice, you can either build your own range on your property or find a shooting range that will allow realistic practice.
California Tactical Academy has several ranges where you can practice realistic shooting scenarios. You can move, draw, fire rapid strings, and a variety of other real-world practice. There are several ways to gain access to these ranges. One is to wait for a shooting match that features such scenarios. That is not always convenient and the shooter is locked into whatever the match director has laid out. The other is to rent a range for the afternoon. This can be economical if you share the range with other shooters. The third way is to get a membership for a particular club/range. The club membership will allow the shooter to access the various ranges when they are not otherwise occupied for a match or event. That typically translates to 6 or more days a week of availability for the members.
Let’s take a look at the economics of a membership. Let us use the example of a long-range rifle shooter who wants access to our public range, for the 800 to 1000-yard targets. If they practice twice a month, the yearly cost is almost $500. For $400 a year, they can have virtually unlimited access during our open hours. Additionally, once the yearly waiver is filled out, the member simply checks in and heads to the range. It really simplifies the process and what I have seen is that people tend to feel compelled to shoot more to get full value of their memberships. Which is great. More practice, more fun, more time outdoors.
California Tactical Academy also offers other range memberships. There are memberships to the various clubs which frequently have props, facades, and barricades so people can practice shooting around barricades, room and building clearing and the like.
Range memberships don’t just make sense for the advanced shooter. They are an excellent idea for the beginner shooter who wants to work their skills in a distraction-free environment. The nice thing about having a range membership to, for example, our Deadwood Boys club, is that you can come out on a weekday, and have an entire bay to yourself for practice. No one else to distract you. No egos. Just you, your tools and your targets to work what you want to work on. You cannot improve if you don’t practice and having a range membership is a great way to position yourself to practice. For the advanced shooter, having nearly unlimited range access is the best way to confirm you practice and move to the next level. Want to work El Presidente drills. No public, indoor range would allow such a thing. If you are a precision rifle shooter, the X-3 or the new rifle valley might be an excellent choice. The steel targets are frequently placed, the props are already on the stages, and you have the chance to work your shooting from a multitude of unusual positions. And if you like both rifle and pistol, California Tactical Academy offers discounts for multiple range memberships. I frequently see the better match shooters exercising their membership. It is no coincidence that the best shooters also have range memberships. They understand that to improve, they must practice.
If you like to shoot and are in the Los Angeles or Southern California area, consider a membership at California Tactical Academy. It’s the next best thing to having a large piece of rural property, but without the constant brush clearance and county taxes.
We’ll see you at the range.
About the writer
Military and Law Enforcement Veteran
FBI certified firearm instructor
MP5 and Sub Machine gun instructor
Defensive tactics instructor