Ok, well...I've been a bit lazy so I've got 2 reports here.
On February 5th, I took my wife shooting for the first time. I'd taught her the basics of site picture, breath control and trigger control as well as the 4 rules in our kitchen using my XD40 service. After a couple of weeks of half-hour-per-night sessions, she finally said "I'm pretty comfortable with this. I'm not sure there's much more to learn before I go to the range." So, on Sunday the 5th, I took her to the range for the first time.
We went to the Gig Harbor Sportsman's Club
and the first thing I handed her was a Winchester model 9422 lever gun, obviously in .22LR. She'd never HELD a rifle let alone fired one, but she proceeded to absolutely embarrass me. We only shot at 25 yards, but she shot better groups than I did. At the end of the day, I gave her some mini-mags to shoot and she got even better. On our way out, I gave her my XD to try with 5 rnds in the mag. I had it loaded with some HSM reloads. 180gr, 1000fps. Hot loads. I warned her that this would be a LOT more bang than the 22. She pulled the trigger twice and decided she was done with that. I made her fire the other 3 which she did, but that was enough of that for her. However, one of the range officers competes in 3 gun and happened to have a very nice Smith & Wesson revolver (I have forgotten the mode) with him. It was chambered in .38, had a 4.5" barrel and he had some soft hand loads for it. He asked if she'd like to try it and she said sure. She then proceeded to punch the center out of the target at 20 feet. By this point it was getting towards time for me to go to work, so we left.
As we spoke about that range day, her responses were generally affirmative, but not what I would call enthusiastic. "Yeah, that was ok. I could do that again at some point." The following day, we were invited over to a good friend's house for dinner and socializing. Since the little rifle belonged to them, I set about tearing it down for a DCLA prior to returning it. I got it put back together and went to put it back in the car. She suddenly got this sort of sad look on her face and said "We're...not going to keep it?" Gotcha!
On the 23rd, we went back to the Gig Harbor Sportsman's club. We got her new rifle sited in (See other post for details
) and proceeded to enjoy the day. Once again, I started her out at 25 yards where she managed to shoot a 3-round mickey mouse followed by a 4-round clover. When I shifted her up to 100 yards, she had problems with site picture because I zoomed the scope in, but hadn't explained properly how to acquire a proper site picture with the scope zoomed in. So that was my fault. Once I explained how to get proper eye relief and site picture, she tightened right back up. By that point, she was about 40 rounds in and was starting to over-think it, tensing up before shots and such. So I got to shoot the last 10 rounds in the box. Got myself 10 rounds in the x ring at 100 yards. So we both managed to shoot pretty durn good!
The rifle range at the Gig Harbor Sportsman's Club is pretty nice but does leave a few things to be desired. It is laid out with target lines at 25, 50, 75 and 100 yards with berms at 30 and 105. The shooting benches are old and show years of use and abuse, but they are stout and don't move even when someone plunks down down heavy steel on them. The firing line is covered and they run propane heaters when it is cold out allowing all weather shooting. The range officers I have met have been universally competent, friendly, willing to help when you want it and not when you don't. They're very good at keeping a 45 minute shooting rotation to allow for target changes and any necessary shooter changes. There are only 7 lanes so if there are lots of shooters, you have to rotate. That's fine, but the range is not open on my days off, so I have to go before I head in to work. That means that I might get only 1 45 minute session or, possibly, no range time at all if things are really busy. But for all that, they do an excellent job keeping things moving and shooters safe.
The pistol range is in the same building as the rifle range. When you come in the front door, the pistol range is on the right, rifle on the left. There are 6 lanes for the pistol range as well. The pistol range offers shooting out to 25 yards with a concrete, dirt and wood trap to fire into.
The membership at GHSC is pretty darn affordable. $60 per year for a family membership which they define as everyone in a given household. Additionally, it is $4 per shooter per day. So, in my case, I paid $60 for my wife and I. It costs us $8 to go shooting. For that $8, we get the whole day to shoot (give or take necessary rotations). You also get to alternate between rifle and pistol.
The club offers 2 large skeet ranges as well as an archery range for the stick-and-string crowd. You sort of get the impression that the pistol/rifle range was added as an after-thought. The pistol/rifle range is sort of in a back corner. They could easily have had another 50 yards and I think it's a shame they didn't take it. But it is what it is.
The club is easy to find, but only if you already know where you're going. They have a large sign out, but it's only visible from one direction and that is NOT the direction that most traffic approaches from. Even so, most people drive right by it at least twice their first time out. Once you've got the location figured, access is actually pretty darn easy.
I'd recommend this range for anyone in northern Pierce county or southern Kitsap county.