Traveling across the country this year has been quite an eye opening experience. Wherever we went, we tried to find places that we could exercise our Second Amendment rights, meet fellow practitioners, and just get a feel for what the 2A community is like in different states. Now, this is a purely subjective point of view, but we noticed a disturbing trend…especially in the gun friendly states. A lack of locations to “Send It”.
Now, there is no shortage of indoor ranges to choose from, although many of these locations are listed as private clubs. Many of the FFL’s we visited have indoor ranges attached, or are affiliated with one. The problem we found is that there are fewer and fewer outdoor facilities at the ready.
We found ourselves faced with the same dilemma wherever we went in a quest to find shooting clubs, or organized events. The ranges that were once peppered throughout the landscape have fallen victim to a changing economy. As many of the once rural communities in the gun friendly states expand, the value of undeveloped land is skyrocketing. As they say, “Real estate is a good investment because they aint making more land”.
It seems as if the booming economy is making the temptation to cash-in a little too difficult to refuse.
Several of the shooting facilities we visited, or planned on visiting, all have a similar structure. They are comprised of anywhere between 100 and 300 members, comprise anywhere between 50 and 100 acres of land, and have memberships that range between $50 and 200 a year. When you do the math, and see how little that many of these clubs take in, versus how much they have to spend to maintain operation, it becomes evident that an offer from a developer for $10,000 or more per acre is something that many cannot pass up.
Add to that that there is a dwindling of participation in Skeet, Trap, a constant threat from environmental groups, and a never ending attack on the 2A from the media and politicians alike, it is easy to see why there is a trend of taking 2A activities and putting them behind closed doors.
Yes, there are still millions of acres of “Public” land in most states that allow the citizenry to take advantage of the outdoors, but even those available acres are being pushed further into the wilderness as “Walking Trails” and “Bike Lanes” become the preferred activity catered to by the state.
In short, other than hunting season, there are less and less opportunities for Gun Owners to find forums for the sport without having to resort to paying exorbitant memberships to private indoor, or exclusive outdoor ranges. Now, maybe this is a situation wherein the good outweighs the bad, and I am seeing things through a less than objective lense, but the gripe is not only my own. I visited 6 gun stores this week with the hopes of establishing good relationships with the proprietors, and to find locations suitable to do video reviews of firearms and products. Without fail, everyone I spoke with said the same thing. Where they used to be able to drive 15-20 minutes to go to a local venue, they are now driving over an hour to go shoot.
When I asked them what changed, most of them said that their old clubs were now expansive housing developments. It turns out that as the economies in these states improve, the shooting sports are suffering. So, if you enjoy spending your rage time in the great outdoors, and you are benefitting from the economic improvements, you had better start making more frequent range trips and making it more economically viable for them to operate. If not, you may just drive up one day soon and find that instead of looking at a Trap House, you’re looking at a Model Home with 300 lots under development.
What say you…have you noticed a change in your available shooting locations?
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To find locations where you can go out and exercise your 2A Rights, visit the NSSF Website