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April 6, 2009 2:19 PM   Subscribe

Do ranges exist where you can rent and fire a sniper rifle?

A friend and I bit the bullet and shot handguns at a local gun range (in Philadelphia) a few weeks ago. Neither of us had ever shot a real gun before and it was sort of a life-experience field trip. As we were planning/talking about it, the idea of taking the next step and shooting sniper rifles arose. Does the equivalent of an all-in-one gun range for sniper rifles exist? If so, is there one in the Philadelphia area? If not, what is the minimum amount of effort/money required to be able to fire a sniper rifle?
posted by nomad to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There is a range in the Sacramento, CA area that has a .50 caliber sniper rifle. They charge $20 for 3 rounds. I've never fired it, but standing within 20 feet of it when someone does is enough for me. While this doesn't help with your specific area, I'm just writing to let you know that this type of option does exist. This range also rents out rifles, shotguns and handguns so I'm sure you would be able to find something similar in your area.
posted by sacrifix at 2:33 PM on April 6, 2009

Of course here in Texas you can even rent machine guns for yet another life experience sort of thing, though you do have to be a Texas resident, which many people tend to balk at, for whatever reason.

Here in Austin you can rent AR15's at Reds but it's not but a 100 yard range thus they don't have scopes on them. Still, they're fun to shoot, not sure if you need to be a Texas resident for that or not, I suspect not.

Next time you get down here, shoot me a mefi-mail; my buddy Jimmy just got an AK47 and is usually ready to go to the range for any reason or no reason at all, we could go and have, um, a blast?
posted by dancestoblue at 2:43 PM on April 6, 2009

The blog Snowflakes in Hell might be able to help you out.
posted by Bruce H. at 2:43 PM on April 6, 2009

Well I know you CAN do it in some places - in Philly I have no idea. Here in Nevada, you can fire damn near anything. In the range that I practice my humble .357 at, I swear someone is firing off rocket launchers from the sound of it. Just call around - even the ranges that dont do that sort of thing will probably tell you who does, if it's even possible/legal.
posted by elendil71 at 2:53 PM on April 6, 2009

Length of the range is probably the quality you want to look for. 100m is a waste, you'd want something 400m, 800m or longer. Should be able to make it easier to narrow down in your area.
posted by furtive at 3:09 PM on April 6, 2009

Your first step is defining what you mean by "sniper rifle." You're talking more about a style of shooting (long range w/ glass scope vs. silhouette targets, as opposed to trap or skeet shooting) than a specific weapon.

If by sniper rifle, you mean a big-ass .50 caliber, then yeah, find places that rent that, as there will likely be all kinds of restrictions (or not) depending on your locality.

But if you just mean something like this, or its civilian version, then just about any rifle range offering silhouette targets will be able to accommodate you.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:11 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend that after you shoot a rifle, you find some place to shoot a machine gun. Guaranteed grins for you and your friend.
posted by Addlepated at 3:25 PM on April 6, 2009

Most of the time you are going to be dealing with an outdoor range. The kind of power that a hunting round (sniper rifles are typically just purpose built rifles chambered for standard hunting rounds like 7.62mm, or 7mm Mauser) produces will be damaging to standard indoor backstops and thus berms are used.

Many gun clubs will have ranges where they let hunters zero in their rifles, and this would be perfectly suitable for firing a sniper styled rifle, but I would be surprised if any of them rent something like that as they cater to a crowd that will, by virtue of the sport, already have a rifle.

There may be places in your area that cater to ranged firing, and your best bet is going to be looking at places that support outdoor shooting, just call them up and ask if they rent firearms.

As a completely different suggestion, you may want to consider something a little smaller scale first; any indoor range will allow you to fire .22 rifles, and I've been in more than a few that rented them as well. The .22 is nice for beginners because it's not very loud, it's highly accurate, and most importantly, it's inexpensive to shoot. Good hunting/ sniper rounds can get very expensive very quickly, meaning that you get to shoot less for your money. The benefit of shooting indoors when you are learning is that it eliminates a lot of factors that will add to your inaccuracy; wind, precipitation, cold/ hot, insects. All of these things will conspire to screw up your ability to hit a distant target, and while you are learning the skill, it's useful to be able to control these variables.

Most importantly, everything you learn from firing a .22 will be applicable to larger caliber rounds (accuracy, breathing, compensating for distance, wind, etc) and since you get more bang for your buck shooting the smaller round, you'll get more experience, which will mean that when you do finally go to a range with a proper sniper rifle, you aren't trying to learn to handle a large caliber weapon at the same time as all the other skills. You will already have a framework to operate within, which can be hugely helpful.
posted by quin at 3:38 PM on April 6, 2009 [4 favorites]

Not pointing this out to be a smarty pants kook, but a quick google shows MANY places in your area including some with full-auto. You should have no problem finding a range with a .50 cal.

Those big sniper rifles have internal recoil mechanisms, though and really aren't as fun as they look. The real fun in them is actually hitting a target that's a mile away.

I suggest putting some rounds through a lever action 30-30! It's fun, loud, will kick you like a mule and you'll never forget it!

Have fun.
posted by snsranch at 4:57 PM on April 6, 2009

Here is one in PA: Sunset Hill Shooting Range
It has 4 different sniper rifles including an AR-15 and AR-30. Plus some other fun hand guns and rifles, as well as skeet shooting. Enjoy =c) I did.
posted by pyro979 at 7:16 PM on April 6, 2009

Have you tried going to a neighborhood gun store and asking? They'll be able to put you in touch with a local range that rents rifles.

Or they may let you know of a local shooter who will take you to the range and let you use one of his or her rifles.

If there's a college or university nearby with a shooting club, call and ask if they could recommend someplace to shoot a rifle. They might invite you to a club shoot.

A large majority of the shooting community is very welcoming, and is excited to help new shooters get started.

Also, consider taking an NRA Basic Rifle class. You won't get any NRA propaganda, and it's an excellent introduction to marksmanship and safety. You can find a class here.
posted by LDL707 at 12:15 PM on April 7, 2009

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