Over the almost two decades of training in the private sector I have had the fortune to train at some really nice indoor ranges. As an armed citizen they represent a great location to practice; but you have to be prepared.
Follow the Rules
The most important consideration is to know the rules of the facility. Many facilities have their own site-specific rules designed to ensure a safe environment for all customers. I am well aware there are some very safe shooters, but running training at an indoor range almost exclusively for the last two years I can tell you they are not the norm. All it takes is for you to look at our baffles and even side walls to realize the average customers do not fit the bill. Range safety needs to be designed around the lowest common denominator and if it means certain restrictions then you will need to either play by their rules or find another location. You could always approach the staff to see if there are exceptions. Remember they don’t know you from Adam and I can promise you everyone has asked that question.
Focus on Marksmanship
Even the most restrictive indoor ranges can provide value as long as you adjust your expectations. The biggest suggestion would be to have a plan for how you will spend your visit. What do you want to practice. Some marksmanship at distance or maybe some follow through drills, even immediate actions. Granted, some activities are either prohibitive or closely monitored so have a plan, but be flexible if it is your first time. I see so many customers come through with little regard for marksmanship. It is less sexy than rapid fire or other cool stuff like holster work. Putting in the work to ensure your marksmanship skills are solid is never a waste of time.
Know your Target and What is Beyond
Here is a pet peeve, I get you want to use your own targets. If hanging your own targets creates an unsafe condition, such as hitting the baffles, then don’t be upset when you are told you cannot use them. Rule #4, know your target and what is beyond. If placing them on the target hanger means the shot goes through the target and into the baffles it is not safe and more importantly, you are not a safe shooter. Most facilities have an assortment of different targets to choose from so find one you can achieve your goals. It is not so much a matter of what target you are using as the tasks, conditions and standards. Put some time into establishing those before you arrive.
Set the Example
Probably the best advise I can give folks who frequent indoor ranges is to set the example. Don’t be the example. Recognize there is a lot going on at most indoor ranges. Being professional will go a long way. Not only will the staff recognize a squared away individual, but other customers will as well. At times, you may even be referenced, “See how Steve is doing it, be more like Steve.” Of course, there is the other side to this coin as well, don’t be that guy. Remember, you are a guest. Just because you paid a lane rental fee does not give you access or authorizes you to be a jerk. Don’t take it personally if you are asked to follow the rules or change your actions. The staff has one ultimate responsibility and that is to ensure the safe environment for ALL customers. Follow the rules and set the example.
Indoor ranges will continue to be popular, but they are a business with a bottom line. Take advantage of these facilities even if you don’t like the rules, there is always an opportunity for growth.