Friday, August 20, 2010

My Favorite Gun Range is Closed

The Boston Gun Range, which didn't live in Boston but rather Worcester, has been closed apparently for some time now. I hadn't been there in probably three years, but I've gone there a number of times while living in the Boston area and I always had fond memories of the place. The employees were always friendly, professional, and promoted a safe and comfortable environment. If you wanted to talk shop, they would talk shop. If you wanted to go there, do your business, and leave, you could do that as well.

I fired my first Glock 19, my first CZ-75, and most importantly for me, my first Browning Hi-Power at the Boston Gun Range. I fired semi-auto versions of both the M-4 and the AK-47. I was shooting at the range with a friend when his rented .44 magnum blew it's cylinder in half, ripping away the top strap and knocking it through the ceiling tiles. I got to see some older family members shoot for the first time in years, and discovered that some people never lose whatever it is inside you that puts 'em all in the 10-ring even decades after the last time you picked up a handgun. I even got to "compete" (and by that I mean, watch while also doing our own shooting) against some law enforcement types a few lanes down, and we shook our heads looking at their groupings, easily twice the size of most of ours (hint: "tactical" pants don't make you a better shot).

Here is an article from 2007 about this happening.

Here's a blog article commenting on this decision.

Another blog article about this event.

What bothers me about this situation is that the gun range's policies were apparently perfectly acceptable for a number of years until there was an incident, at which point, like the policeman in Casablanca, authorities are "shocked, shocked!" to discover that regular, law-abiding citizens can rent a firearm there for use on the premises. Really? I was there shooting while the local Sheriff's department was doing their training, so I'm sure a fair number of law enforcement personnel had come and gone through the premises while it was in operation, and they must have been aware of the rental policies and procedures. Never mind the fact that the range must have documented these procedures with local law enforcement when it first opened. And, let's not forget that they published their policies for rental on the internet, for the whole world to see. To let the the gun range operate in peace that way for years until it's "suddenly illegal" just bothers me, as the place apparently had a good relationship with law enforcement, who should have stood up and defended the business.

As a writer and gun enthusiast I enjoyed being able to go to a range and seeing, handling, and firing a number of firearms in order to build familiarity and understanding. I grew up in rural areas and I have been shooting since I was probably six or seven years old, when my dad cut down the stock of an old bolt-action .22 rifle so it would fit me better. Moving to Massachusetts, I lost touch with my "shooting roots" here until I discovered the gun range, and now it's gone. Thankfully, there is a range in Manchester NH that I hope to visit soon, since it's not that much further away.


ReflexiveFire said...

That's really sad actually. Typical knee jerk reaction that only serves to hurt the local community and diminish individual rights. I'm fairly certain that woman would have committed suicide one way or the other regardless of the license requirements.

By the way, what do you mean that tactical pants don't make you a better shooter? Surely long side burns and facial hair narrow you're shot group by at least one minute of angle!?!?

J. E. Badelaire said...

The day I was shooting with the CZ-75 was the day the Sheriff's department was doing training of some sort. They all showed up in their "tactical" outfits and their thigh holsters and all that other crap, on a lazy Sunday morning no less. It was really embarrassing that at 25 feet I was shooting groups that I could cover with my hand, and they were shooting groups I couldn't cover with a dinner plate.

The guys running the range weren't particularly impressed with the Sheriffs either. Apparently although there were at least eight of them, they tried to only rent two lanes, even though policy was no more than two people could rent a lane at once. I guess the cops were real dicks about trying to cheap out on the lane rental, which didn't endear them to the store personnel.

ReflexiveFire said...

I don't doubt it, most police officers shoot once a year, some seem like they haven't shot since they graduated the academy. Granted it's not a police officer's job to run and gun like a SEAL or Ranger but c'mon... I think part of it has to do with the fact that they work in shifts and no one wants to pay over time for cops to come into work just to go to the range and train on basic marksmanship.

Alex Galletti said...

I'm so sorry to hear what happened. There are events that come unexpected. You can still find other shooting ranges which you'd be comfortable with.