July 2004

Recognizing The Best: Seven Ranges Earn Five-Star Ranking

The Indian River rifle range.

At Gun Tests, we evaluate firearms and give you a thumbs-up or thumbs-down rating based on how the guns perform. Wouldnít it be nice if you could find a shooting range as easily?

There is an easy way to find a topnotch shooting range. The National Association of Shooting Ranges, or NASR, has created a rating system for target-shooting facilities. Facilities can earn up to five stars based on an evaluation of six criteria: appearance, customer/member focus, customer/member development, management, community relations, and amenities.

According to the NASRís rankings, seven facilities scattered across the country have earned the organizationís five-star ranking. They are:

• Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, AZ;
• Indian River County Public Shooting Range in Sebastian, FL;
• Flint Oak Hunting Resort in Fall River, KS;
• Hidden Haven Shooting Preserve in Sugar Grove, OH;
• H & H Gun Range in Oklahoma City, OK;
• Tennessee Clay Target Complex in Nashville, TN;
• Heritage Meadows in Tellico Plains, TN.

The Ben Avery facility, co-managed by the Arizona Game & Fish agency, covers 1,650 acres, the largest public-operated shooting facility in the country. Among the firearms offerings are 5-stand, airgun, bench rest competition, center-fire rifle-outdoor, muzzle loaders, cowboy action shooting, handgun silhouette, handgun/smallbore rifle-outdoor muzzle loaders, practical/action pistol competition, precision pistol competition, rifle silhouette, skeet shooting, smallbore competition, sporting clays, team challenge competition, and trap shooting. Contact the range at 623-582-8313 or log on at basfaz.com for more information.

The Indian River County Public Shooting Range, located about five miles west of Sebastian, Florida, has a separate pistol range with 35 firing stations. It also has a separate rifle range with 29 firing stations. The ranges provide 25-, 50-, and 100-yard-range targets and two 200-yard target firing stations. Both ranges are lighted for night-time use.

For shotgun enthusiasts, the range sports a 5-stand range and a sporting clay course. If firearms arenít your cup of tea, the shooting range has an air rifle and pellet gun target facility. For more information, contact the range at 561-581-4944 or log on to www.ircgov.com/Departments/General_Services/Shooting_Range.

The Flint Oak Hunting Resort outside Fall River, Kansas, likewise offers a full range of shooting opportunities, including 5-stand, center-fire rifle-outdoor muzzle loaders, handgun/smallbore rifle-outdoor 50-yard/meter max, skeet shooting, sporting clays and trap shooting. For more information, contact the range at 316-658-4401.

Hidden Haven Shooting Preserve and Sporting Clays, Inc., is located on 1,030 acres in central Ohio and offers upland game hunting, 5-stand and one of the nationís best and largest sporting clays courses. Shooting instruction is available from certified instructors, and lodging is available on-site as well as at nearby bed-and-breakfast facilities. Hidden Haven is open to the public seven days a week for target shooting with hunting available from September 1 through April 30. For more information about Hidden Haven, call (740) 746-8568 or email the facility at hiddenhaven@ameritech.net.

H&H Gun Range, located at Interstate 40 and Meridian in Oklahoma City, was started by Miles & Jayne Hall, who were not gun owners when they started H&H Gun Range. The current location faces I-40 and is 18,750 square feet with 24 lanes for shooting (six Olympic air gun lanes, 12 pistol lanes at 25 yards and six rifle lanes at 30 yards), large meeting/classroom, gunsmith room, retail area and lobby. For more information, call (405) 947-3888 or log on at www.hhgunrange.com.

The Tennessee Clay Target Complex (TCTC) is located in northwestern Nashville. The facility offers sporting clays, skeet, trap, double trap and 5 stand from Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to dark. Though the range is open to the public, TCTC obviously attracts top-tier shooters, because the complex has hosted the following events in 2004: Ducks Unlimited Continental Shoot, Tennessee State Trap Championship, Tennessee State Skeet Championship, Tennessee State Sporting Clays Championship, and it will host the 2006 Junior World Skeet Championship. For more information, call 615-742-5297 or log on to the rangeís website at www.tnclay.com.

Situated in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Heritage Meadows is just over an hourís drive from Chattanooga or Knoxville off Interstate 75 near Tellico Plains. The facility offers sporting clays, a covered 5-stand course, skeet, duck flush (in which one to three shooters receive 25 to 75 targets coming in over a simulated duck within 90 seconds), and wobble trap. Also, wingshooting for stocked quail, pheasant and chukar, European tower pheasant hunting or seasonal dove hunting, is available. Contact the range at 423-253-2187 or log on to www.heritage-meadows.com for more information.

Our Take: Weíve shot at several of these facilities, and they will make you realize how poorly most ranges are run.

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KMKIII817

More Rugers On the Way
Sturm, Ruger is introducing several new guns:

The Ruger Mark III pistol will be chambered for the new .17 caliber Hornady 17Mach 2 (HM2) rimfire cartridge. The new gun, tagged the KMKIII817, features a stainless-steel frame, 8-inch stainless steel fluted heavy barrel, and checkered Cocobolo thumb-rest grips. It has an adjustable rear sight and a new Weaver-style scope base. The new .17 caliber HM2 rimfire round propels a 17-grain bullet at an average velocity of 1,800 fps, or more than 800 fps faster than the typical .22 LR cartridge fired from a pistol. The Ruger KMKIII817 is one of the new Ruger Mark III pistols which feature a new magazine-release button located on the left side of the frame, behind the trigger guard.

The Ruger P345 is a new .45 ACP pistol with a slimmer stainless-steel slide and a recontoured polymer grip. This new pistol has a 4.2-inch barrel, eight-round magazine and fixed white-dot front and rear sights. The Ruger P345 pistol also features an internal lock, magazine disconnect, loaded chamber indicator, and all-new cam block design, which helps absorb recoil. Two Ruger P345 models are being introduced: the KP345PR and the KP345. The KP345PR features a Picatinny-style rail under the forward portion of the frame to mount popular pistol accessories.

Perhaps the largest overhaul of Rugerís product line is new family of autoloading rimfire pistols, the Ruger Mark III .22 caliber pistols. The new Ruger Mark III pistols retain the familiar grip and overall shape of the Mark II pistols. They also incorporate a magazine-release button on the left side of the frame behind the trigger guard and a visible loaded-chamber indicator. The first Ruger Mark III model is the MKIII512. This pistol has a 5.5-inch bull barrel, adjustable rear sight, and a blued steel receiver. The receiver is drilled to accept the new Weaver-style scope base adapter, included with each pistol.

Our Take: As a feature elsewhere in this issue relates, weíve been less than thrilled with many .17-caliber introductions, so time will tell on the 817. The KP345 will face the same problems as many other short, lightweight .45s: controllability. Reworking the MarkIIs is long overdue, in our view. The new magazine release on the MKIIIs is a good idea.

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New ATF Director
Attorney General John Ashcroft has announced Carl J. Truscott will serve as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), joining the Bureau from the U.S. Secret Service.

Prior to his job in the Treasury Department as Assistant Director of the Secret Service, Truscott served as the Special Agent in Charge of the Presidential Protective Division, where he had primary responsibility for supervising all protective matters relating to the President, First Family and the White House.

Our Take: A change at the top of ATF is unlikely to change how licensees and gun customers are treated. Post-9/11, ATF became much more diligent about its FFL duties, as it should have been. Expect further tightening of the number of license holders as the government seeks to reduce the availability of bomb-making and terror materials.