There’s a lot to see and do in this great country. You might enjoy checking out the Beer Can House in Houston, Texas. Or maybe you’d care to see the 55-foot tall Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota. No? How about Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Museum in San Antonio?
If you’re more into shooting than bizarre tourist attractions, you might enjoy our list of some of the coolest shooting ranges in the United States.
When traveling for business or pleasure, be sure to check out these ranges if you’re in the neighborhood. No guns with you? No problem. Most of them offer on-site rentals.
West Point, Kentucky
Claim to Fame:
Home of the World-Famous Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot. If you want to shoot cars, appliances, or most anything else, this is the place.
If you ever have an urge to swing by Fort Knox, where all of the gold may or may not be depending on which conspiracy theory you follow, head about 12 miles north and you’ll end up at the Knob Creek Shooting range.
Unless you’ve living under a rock or in a no-gun-rights state, you might have heard of the world-famous Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot. This is the annual event where all the folks with Class III gear like machine guns, cannons, and crew-served weapons gather over a weekend to blow up cars, trucks, appliances, and the occasional boat with millions of rounds of ammo and countless pounds of Tannerite expended.
What you may not know is that Knob Creek operates year around as a range. And the best part, in their words, is “really cheap range fees.” You also might like their liberal target policy. As long as you don’t shoot irritating stuff like glass and electronics, you might be able to perforate more interesting junk than sheets of paper.
If you don’t have guns with you, no worries, you can rent them on site.
Claim to Fame:
You can shoot machine guns from helicopters. Need we say more?
If you want a bucket list experience, head on down to Bryan, Texas. Located near College Station, about 100 miles North / Northwest of Houston, you’ll find Helibacon. As you might guess, this experience involved a helicopter. Better yet, it involves shooting from a helicopter. Better still, you can shoot a machine gun from a helicopter.
You have a plethora of choices to structure your shooting experience of a lifetime.
First, try your hand at feral hog hunting from the sky. You still must pick up a Texas hunting license on the way there, but this is no sport hunt. Feral hogs have overrun this part of the country and are causing massive damage to farmland and crops in the area, so this is a depredation hunt designed to control the exploding hog population.
As a result, you may dispatch anywhere from a few to a dozen or more hogs during your two-hour flight. By default, you’ll complete you skyborne hog hunt with a semi-automatic AR-15. However, to make your day special, upgrade to a full-auto M16.
If you’re not into hunting, but are keen on helicopter shooting, you can choose an airborne range shoot.
To keep you occupied while on the ground, be sure to take advantage of Helibacon’s ground-based machine gun range. As a Type 7 Federal Firearms Licensee, the company has a large variety of full-auto firearms you can try. Among them are the Glock 18, Browning 1919, AK-47, M16, Thompson SMG, H&K MP5 F, and Uzi.
Raton, New Mexico
Claim to Fame:
Largest outdoor shooting and hunting range. On site accommodations, a perfect vacation spot.
The National Rifle Association Whittington Center, about 175 miles northeast of Santa Fe and just shy of the Colorado border, the Whittington Center offers most any kind of shooting experience you can imagine.
Operated as a non-profit, it’s largely funded by donors, so the fees for lodging and shooting are very reasonable.
The place is big. The “range” encompasses over 30,000 acres and includes 17 distinct shooting ranges and lots of undeveloped property for hunting and other activities.
You’ll find several silhouette ranges, each dedicated to unique variations like small-bore, black powder, pistol, and long-range pistol.
Other ranges are set up for IPSC, high-power rifle, bench rest, multi-purpose, and even a dedicated sighting-in bay. There’s even a museum and, as you might expect, a pro shop.
If you’re into hunting, the Whittington Center has plenty to offer. You can choose from guided or unguided hunts for bull elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, spring turkey, and black bear.
Be sure to check the website for detailed information before you plan your trip as some hunts require draw hunt applications.
As a destination, the property offers a wide variety of accommodation options from suites, cabins, family cabins, rustic cabins, RV campground, and rustic camping.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Claim to Fame:
If you want to shoot most any types of machine guns, this is the place. Oh, and shooting a belt-fed machine gun from a helicopter.
When in Vegas for work or play, it’s easy to zip on over to the Machine Guns Vegas indoor facility as it’s located just off the strip. There you can enjoy some trigger time with a wide variety of semi-automatic and full auto firearms. To get the full experience, check out their package deals that allow shooters to test a variety of guns by theme.
For example, the Femme Fatale package gets you trigger time on a Glock 17, MP 5, and M4.
Or maybe you want to check out the guns used by the British Special Air Service. The SAS package lets you shoot an HK 33, MP5, Glock 17, and a “sniper rifle.”
The Full Auto package lets you pick your favorite six and to turn cash into noise at maximum velocity.
Machine Guns Vegas also offers an outdoor facility in the Nevada Desert where you can spend a little more quality time with big guns including a Barret 50, a Browning 1919, M60, and M249 SAW.
Outdoor packages include a variety of options ranging from a simple $150 basic shoot to a $1,600 deluxe extravaganza. If you really want to do it right, sign up for their helicopter shoot and let loose with an M249 SAW at ground targets.
Richmond, Rhode Island
Claim to Fame:
The Range offers the longest indoor shooting lanes in the country.
While beautiful the summer, the northeast can present some challenges for winter shooting. Sure, you can shoot in the slush, snow, and wind–but if there’s a more comfortable and drier option…
The Range at the Preserve at Boulder Hills took a novel approach to solve the year-around shooting dilemma. They went indoors.
Indoor ranges certainly aren’t unique, but indoor ranges that support rifles with no caliber restrictions are something else altogether. Oh, and that’s not all. How about a 150-yard maximum distance, all of which is located in the climate-controlled confines of a luxury shooting club?
To solve the challenges associated with big-caliber rifle shooting indoors, the folks at The Range went underground—literally. As you can see by the photos, step one in range construction was to dig a hole—a big, long one. Once that was complete, concrete and reinforced floors, walls, and ceilings completed the basic infrastructure.
If you’re going to embark on such an industrious project, you might as well go all out. The Range offers 33-yard standard shooting lanes, all underground. That’s longer than the vast majority of indoor ranges that usually max out at 20 or 25 yards.
Until I ran across this facility, the longest indoor rifle range I’d found was just 50 yards long and it had aggressive caliber restrictions. That was because of the risk of penetration in the above-ground facility.
If you’re going to shooting in a climate-controlled range, you won’t want to be trekking back and forth changing targets. The Range uses wireless target set and retrieval systems to make your life easier, and so you can shoot at your own pace without having to wait for ceasefires. And if you want a change of pace, the facility also includes archery ranges and golf simulators, again all indoors.
The Range includes a full-service pro shop with guns, ammo, gear, and gun rentals. You can sign up for variety of training classes including NRA Basic Pistol, Ladies Pistol, RI Pistol Permit, Tactical Carbine, Drawing From Concealment, One-handed Shooter, and more.
Claim to Fame:
Shoot at the Headquarters of the National Rifle Museum and follow up your visit by perusing the National Firearms Museum—a can’t miss.
On the outside, the NRA headquarters looks like any other office building. Inside, besides all the desks and coffee makers, you’ll find a few surprises. One of those is the indoor shooting range. It’s 50 yards long, wheelchair accessible, and open to both NRA members and the general public.
The longer 50-yard range is friendly for rifles and shotguns (slugs only) and the unique backstop system allows calibers up to .460 Weatherby Magnum for rifles and 500 S&W for handguns.
This range is great on its own, but for a day-long outing, plan to also visit the National Firearms Museum on premises. The museum offers 15,000 square feet of firearms history. In its 15 galleries you’ll see over 3,000 firearms ranging in age from 700 years old to present day.
The collection behind the scenes is near infinite, so at any given time, contents of the galleries are updated with new items. The museum is a must-see for any firearms enthusiast.
Garden City, Kansas
Claim to Fame:
If you’re a member, or go with a member, you’ll have 24-7 access. That means shooting at night to hone your defensive skills using accessories like lights and lasers.
Call Kansas what you want, the heartland, flyover country, or home of the Chiefs. Whether you live there or are just passing through, you’ll want to check out the 160-acre Sand and Sage Rifle and Pistol Club. Founded way back in 1962, this is an NRA-affiliated range that’s open whenever the weather allows access.
As you might guess by the photos, Sand and Sage is an outdoor range, but one with a twist. If you’re a member, or go with a member, you can shoot outdoors 24-7. Yes, that means at night. In the dark.
If you want to practice and train with lights and lasers, this is your place to duplicate dead-of-night conditions to see how you’ll perform with your chosen night gear.
Sand and Sage offers a picnic area with running water and electricity for mobile homes so you can stay right on-site if you like. Range bays are configured for various purposes, including bowling pin matches, cowboy action shooting, general shotgun, and even a bottle-and-can-plinking pit.
If you want to participate in something a bit more structured, check out one of the regular events. You can sign up for cowboy action shooting, bowling pin shoots, CMP High-Power rifle, Bench Rest Varmint Silhouette, USPSA, and Black Powder.
Claim to Fame:
Virtual reality training and entertainment using simulation firearms.
F.I.R.S.T. Shot is all about virtual shooting where you can immerse yourself in video scenarios to test your shooting and judgement skills without the normal risks associated with real fire and brimstone guns. In fact, the F.I.R.S.T. name translates to Firearm Interactive Range Simulator Training. Think in terms of a cross between gaming and a live-fire range where you can move beyond the console and into an in-person experience.
While video presents the target environments, shooters use life-like guns with realistic recoil sensations.
Combine that with the training curriculum offered by F.I.R.S.T. and you can hone your skills by experience lifelike scenarios under the guidance of certified instructors.
Try your skills first, make your mistakes, get some real-time coaching, and put your corrected skills back into action – all without safety risks. It’s a great way to learn de-escalation and shoot / no-shoot tactics and judgment skills.
The virtual training environment is also ideal for new shooter orientation and training. Instructors can present an infinite array of target types to engage the student and offer real-time feedback. Without the flash, bang, and actual recoil, students can focus entirely on shooting fundamentals.
F.I.R.S.T. offers simulations for all ages. That, combined with the lifelike but simulated firearms, makes the experience a great introduction for new shooters.
To keep the interest high, you can choose from scenarios like taking down hungry zombies, wearing the sheriff’s badge in a Wild West town that’s been overrun with outlaws and bandits, or even a balloon animal jungle safari designed for younger shooters.
Shooters can also compete against one another in target-shooting games or just do a little target practice.
Oh, and one more thing. Since F.I.R.S.T. is a virtual shooting range, there’s no need for that pesky F.O.I.D. card required. Being just south of Chicago, that’s important for those visiting from the Windy City area.
Park City, Kentucky
Claim to Fame:
All-inclusive shooting resort. With the right connections, you can shoot in pitch-black, underground caves.
Not far from the National Corvette Museum (that’s a great side trip benefit) is the Rockcastle Shooting Center. Nowhere else in the country can one find an all-inclusive “shooting resort” that includes outdoor ranges of all types, training programs, long-range shooting opportunities, a hotel, restaurant, winery, golf course, and frequent shooting competitions to the tune of 50+ per year. In other words, Rockcastle is a one-shot stop for the shooting enthusiast.
If you want to go big, book your stay at the 100-room on-site hotel. They won’t bat an eye no matter how many gun cases you tote in from the car, because, well, that’s why they exist. Except for non-shooting guests along for the ride, you won’t run across anyone in the lobby who didn’t bring guns.
Rockcastle has numerous outdoor ranges scattered around the 2,000-acre scenic property including 50-yard pistol bays with berms on three sides, 100 to 250-yard general purpose handgun and rifle bays, a 200-yard “cowboy town” range, and the Thunder Valley 1,600-yard rifle range.
If you like scatterguns, no worries. The property also includes a 12-station, 100-target sporting clays course, a five-stand field, and a wobble trap setup. If all of that isn’t enough to keep you busy, try the wooded 3D archery course.
Here’s the real kicker. Rockcastle is located in the heart of cave country and one of them has been converted into a shooting range.
Assuming you’re game to slither through a small hole in the ground on your belly to gain access to the winding and pitch-black cave, you’ll navigate twists and turns to encounter targets of opportunity along the way.
It’s more fun than should be legal when using lights and lasers. You’ll have to find an opportunity such as an event or special tour to gain access, but it’s well worth the trouble if you can do it.
If you decide that Rockcastle is the cool place for your shooting game, then you can even move there permanently. The property also houses the nation’s first and premier Second Amendment Shooting Community. Buy a lot, build your house, and live in peace knowing that your neighbors will have your back.
Claim to Fame:
Not only does the raceway offer first-class shooting facilities and training, you can race Grand Prix cars.
Yes, you read that right. Raceway. Race cars and guns? When you think about it, the pairing makes a lot of sense. Both activities are supremely noisy and require a lot of land. With a bit of intelligent property layout, it’s a great combination that’s safe and fun.
Here you can stay on site as it’s a full-service resort facility with multiple types of lodge and villa accommodations.
Pro tip: Be sure to book a room over pit row. Yes, mechanics in the garages under your room might wake you up in the morning, but watching formula cars get prepped in pit row from one side of your room while seeing others zoom past on the straightaway on the opposite is well worth the early wake-up call.
Scattered around the raceway and Grand Prix tracks are seven different shooting ranges for handgun and rifle use. The facility also offers a Tactical Training Complex complete with simulated urban environment, a live-fire shoot house, and classrooms.
If you’re into shotgun sports, you’ll enjoy the two skeet ranges.
In between your shooting sessions why not take a racing or performance driving class from the Skip Barber School of Racing while you’re there and get in on some driving yourself?
Claim to Fame:
Leading edge competition-ready facilities just like the pros use.
Home of the most iconic rifle and pistol competitions anywhere, the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s (CMP) Camp Perry facility is home to national championships of all types. What’s not as commonly known is that the CMP operates other ranges where you can shoot anytime using the same leading-edge facilities.
The CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park is arguably the most advanced outdoor shooting facility anywhere. Located near the famous Talladega Speedway, this 500-acre range offers 200, 300, and 600-yard rifle targets.
Here’s the cool part. The target system is a leading-edge electronic system that requires no down range setting, pasting, or retrieval. Leave your spotting scope at home too because the scoring system is electronic. The special rubberized target material detects the location of hits and displays them on a monitor at your shooting bench, making it as easy as it gets to hone your rifle skills.
If you want some variety, bring your handguns and shotguns too. CMP Talladega also houses 50 and 100-yard general purpose ranges, 15 action pistol shooting bays, trap, five-stand, and a sporting clays course.
Source: Range 365