In addition to keeping guests safe by maintaining range rules, the staff also leads classes—including the NRA First Steps Pistol Orientation and Handgun Qualification License Course—teaching students firearm basics such as how to aim or clean a handgun. The range also connects to a pro shop, where a gunsmith repairs and customizes arms.
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.
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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.
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.
The old warehouse didn't seem ideal to house much of anything, but the rent was cheap once George Bennett offered to make all his own renovations. Drawing from a background as a builder, he created his own architectural plans, and he and a friend set to work on construction. For months, George arrived early in the morning to demolish old partitions and install lighting and windows. As the transformation neared its finish, the pair mounted new walls, spread mulch floor covering, and set up targets and quivers in the 8,000-square-foot archery range. George invited the National Shooting Sports Foundation to examine his facilities and received a four-star rating.
Now, more than a decade later, arrows sing through the air, slipping percussively into three types of targets. The targets sprout up from a tree-dotted floor under rustic wooden rafters along the indoor, climate-controlled range. Traditional targets stand 45 yards from the shooting area, and computer-controlled moving targets in the form of three-dimensional deer, beavers, and wolves trot across the range, challenging archers to pin them with warning notes addressed to loudmouthed owls. Additional animal targets positioned closer to the shooter's area allow traditional longbow and recurve bow users to test their marksmanship. To prepare for successful shooting sessions, visitors peruse the pro shop's racks of compound bows from the Mathews series as well as Mission gear and Matthews Officially Licensed Products. Quivers brim with Carbon Tech arrows, and George and his staff make other arrows by hand, which George sometimes inscribes with Deer Creek's logo with the care of a painter autographing his children.