Regardless of his or her skill, each person's visit to The Gun Range begins with a formal briefing from an NRA-certified firearms expert. Safety is the cornerstone of the business, which first opened in the 1950s under its original name, Colosimo's. The NRA instructors also lead classes, including safety workshops and self-defense classes.
Visitors to Banger's Sport Shop greet archery and firearm experts during lessons and inside the expansive pro shop. Archery instructors drill students of all ages and experience levels in the basics of bow technique at a 10-yard indoor archery range, and ready them for practice on a half-mile, NFAA-certified field-archery course. On four outdoor shooting ranges of 25, 50, 100, and 300 yards long, NRA-certified firearms instructors teach aiming and shooting techniques during the introductory-shooting class. Back inside the shop, staffers fill guests in on an array of new and used firearms, compound bows, ammunition, reloading supplies, and hunting gear. An onsite gunsmith is also available to repair firearms or add vintage bicycle bells to ones needing more character.
On Target Paintball keeps 14 fields groomed for high-intensity paintball battles. This means that whether a player wants to engage in rec-ball, speedball, or a friendly game of catch, he or she will likely find the perfect setting for their colorful battle, complete with makeshift bunkers and other obstacles.
At Cedar Creek Sporting Clays, sharpshooters take aim at clay pigeons that launch in unpredictable patterns and angles from 16 automated stations. As gunslingers take in the range's 75 acres of verdant pineland, a member of Cedar Creek's trained staff guides them through the critical precepts of firearm safety and usage before ushering gun-toting groups out to the first station to field any practical questions about the course. Deadeyes peer over the rifle's barrel, marking and shattering discs that launch in variable sequences like milk saucers hurled by enraged housecats. Two different cages accommodate the ambitions of casual shooters as well as tournament-ready gunslingers. Visitors hunting for comprehensive muzzle mastery can learn directly from owner and NSCA-certified instructor Joseph P. Scull, Sr., whose individualized lessons target proper stance, eye dominance, and catchphrase timing.
While waiting for a group of tour participants aboard his kayak on Cape Island Creek, Bob Lubberman made a new acquaintance when a 4-foot great blue heron landed on the nose of his boat. It's not an entirely new experience for the owner of Miss Chris Kayak Rentals and Tours, as opportunities to commune with nature came often as he crabbed and fished as a child from his grandmother's dock. Now he's able to connect visitors to this ecosystem as they independently paddle rented sit-on-top kayaks or as they participate in guided kayak or boat tours.
Paddlers on kayak tours often catch close-ups of ospreys, terns, and other birds, and see diamondback terrapin turtles sunning themselves on the shore or trying to hold their own ice-cream cones. Day and sunset tours let guests explore the wildlife-rich salt marshes, and night tours led during high tide let them paddle over grassy terrain to otherwise inaccessible areas. Guests explore similar territory on tours aboard the Osprey as they watch migrating shore birds or look out on the harbor's historic buildings. Kayak tour guides include an associate naturalist and a Cape May Bird Observatory field associate, and land-based staffers maintain a touch tank on the Miss Chris mooring dock, which they temporarily fill with conches, eels, and other sea life pulled up using open-sided conservation traps.
The United States Marine Corps' AV-8B Harrier defies all logic. Is it a jet? Is it a helicopter? In truth, it's a bit of both. The aircraft and all 22,000 of its pounds can take off vertically and hover in one place—but once it moves, the harrier blasts forward at near-supersonic speeds, making it almost fast enough to outrun the chorus of "Danger Zone."
That impressive display of aeronautical engineering is just one of the attractions at the OC Air Show, including the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, which soar through the sky in complex formations while the U.S. Navy Seals Leap Frogs leave the aircraft entirely and parachute down through the sky. Pilot Greg Connell turns flight into dance within the cockpit of his Pitts Model 12—an aerobatic biplane perfect for executing loops.
While there's no charge for looking towards the clouds, the OC Air Show does offer some premium viewing areas. The Drop Zone adds food and drink, professional narration of the show, and sight-lines right into the center of the action. Sixty-four lucky people also get to watch from a raised VIP Skybox, while even more can go right out onto the water to see fish peek out from the surface, longing for the day they'll learn to fly.