The Ware Gun Shop houses an NRA- and state-certified shooting range in its basement.
During courses, instructors supply rental firearms equipped for laser exercises or live-fire ammunition.
Despite its store's name, the staff at Ware Gun Shop does't just sell firearms—though it does feature a changing stock of equipment and accessories from brands such as Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Beretta, and Remington. Each week, the firearms experts—each of whom holds certification from the NRA as well as the Massachusetts State Police—conduct a safety course and explain the proper way to handle firearms.
Along the main stretch at Hilltop Paintball, one recalls the Old West while spying the silhouettes of two cowboys leaning against wooden structures and dangling signs swinging in the wind before a camo-clad anachronism emerges from behind a wagon wheel. The stranger locks and loads a paintball marker before hightailing it to one of seven terrains with scenario games, such as Alien Planet and speedball. In order to win matches, he and his teammates must navigate obstacles, including stacks of logs, hay bales, and clones of Barney Fife. In airsoft matches, they play a paint-free game with similar principles to paintball, and an onsite target range gives them a chance to hone their aim. To shake it up, they can practice putting at an 18-hole mini-golf course, try their hands at Nerf Dart Tag, or refuel at the barbecue and picnic area. The facility also accommodates larger groups for special events such as corporate outings and birthdays with custom packages, and a private party tent is available with advance reservations.
An outdoorsman since birth and G. Loomis–endorsed guide, GSOutfitting's owner, Eric Gass, grew up hunting and fishing the Pioneer Valley and Berkshires. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Eric returned to guiding and now fishes and hunts with his faithful gordon setter, Duncan, by his side.
Eric leads fly-fishing trips aboard his 13.5-foot Aire drift raft, as well as local hunting trips for turkey and grouse. GSOutfitting also trains gun dogs and companion dogs, ensuring every hunter will have a loyal sidekick during the season.
With its main lodge built during the era of the Founding Fathers, Orvis Sandanona serves as one of the oldest permitted shotgun-shooting clubs in the country. Given its history, it's no surprise that the diverse 20-stand sporting-clays course has been chosen to host many prestigious competitions. Lush greenery and wooden fences also extend to both the modern skeet and five-stand courses, where onsite specialists teach the English Churchill method of shotgun hunting. In addition, fly fishing instruction comes in handy during guided fishing trips arranged by the staff. The clubhouse's dining room—whose ceiling beams and wooden accents give it the vibe of a colonial tavern—serves as a cozy spot for lunch or dinner.
A distinguished marksman for the US Marine Corps who trained his fellow Marines in pistol and rifle shooting, Sergeant Matt Foster now helms a team of coed firearms instructors. Teaching classes such as the NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course, an state pistol-permit class, and a women's-only session, the instructors rely on a TPI training method—an acronym for Total Participant Involvement—that emphasizes one-on-training and encourages students to go at their own pace to maximize skill retention.
The NRA-certified instructors of Your Pistol Permit have one goal: to instill in their students responsible handgun practices as outlined by the National Rifle Association. To do this, they lead the NRA Basic Pistol Shooting course, blending both classroom and range training so students feel comfortable handling a firearm and auditioning for the next Police Academy movie. Along with demonstrating the proper mindset needed to responsibly operate a handgun, instructors teach terminology, stance, loading and unloading, and firearm cleaning. They also offer private instruction for clients who prefer training tailored to their skill level.