Liberal-friendly (or apolitical) NY-area gun range?
March 13, 2017 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know any apolitical/not-actively-far-right shooting ranges in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut area?

Me (NYC-based) and some friends would like to go shooting. NYC has one gun range, which has a heavy reputation as having staff and regulars who are overtly, grossly, vocally far right, to the degree that I have friends who are avid shooters who refuse to visit when they're in New York. My friends and I are all varying degrees of liberal/leftist, and we'd like to go shooting someplace where we'll feel a little less out of place. We're not asking for Yes We Can posters on the door or anything - when push comes to shove we realize that we are, in fact, talking about shooting ranges and they're gonna trend right-wing - but it would be nice if we could find a range that was just generally apolitical, or at least not vocally Trumpist.

So, question: does anyone know any ranges near NYC (say, within a 60-90 minute drive) that might be a little more comfortable? Or, alternatively, if you have experience at Manhattan's one gun range, is the reputation overblown?
posted by Itaxpica to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Are you asking about pistols or long guns?
posted by dondiego87 at 2:21 PM on March 13, 2017

I've been to that gun range on West 20th a number of times, and yes, I would say that reputation is way overblown. In fact, I can't recall anyone ever having said anything political at all while I was there, left or right -- certainly not the patrons and not the staff either. Of course, as you note, it's reasonable to assume people who work at a gun range lean right, but I've never felt even mildly uncomfortable there, for a political or any other reason. The staff has always been quite courteous and appropriate, at least to me.
posted by holborne at 2:23 PM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'll add one caveat: I haven't been there since January 20, 2017.
posted by holborne at 2:30 PM on March 13, 2017

We shot at West Side for my bachelor party - it was fun enough and other than not terribly enjoying being around a bunch of off duty and retired cops perfectly fine. There was adequate (read:extensive) focus on safety and the facilities are fine. Made up for all the cops by enjoying the whole pig dinner at the breslin afterwards.

the only downsides, in my estimation, are not specific to that range but any that might exist in NYC (even outer boroughs, where there are some) are that you can only shoot long guns (a 22 rifle at West Side) because to have them even rent you a pistol would require you to be a NYC Handgun permit holder, an expensive and time consuming process undertaken by absolutely zero people who do not already own a handgun. Oh, and my brother I law (a Canadian) wasn't allowed to shoot because rules (or possibly laws) - as a Canadian he apologized to them for his inability to participate and we had a good time despite it.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:31 PM on March 13, 2017

Are you asking about pistols or long guns?

Like Exceptional_Hubris mentions, if it's in NYC our only option is a .22-caliber rifle (which is something that came up while we were researching options). One advantage to going shooting out of the city is that we would be able to shoot pistols as well, which is something that we would be interested in but not a must-have either way, but if you have a recommendation for someplace close to the city where we'd have more options than just the .22 I'd appreciate hearing it.
posted by Itaxpica at 2:35 PM on March 13, 2017

I shot a rifle for the first time at the gun range on West 20th. There were a few NRA posters but no one said anything remotely political to me. The instructor was a black veteran. All of the people in my class were young women. I am a young non-white woman and felt completely comfortable and I'm someone who tends to feel uncomfortable quickly in environments that are aggressively conservative. I really don't think it should be a problem for you. I mean, it is New York after all.
posted by armadillo1224 at 2:56 PM on March 13, 2017

If you don't get an answer here, I'd ask the Pink Pistols, which is a queer shooting/self-defense group. They're not going to go someplace they feel threatened.
posted by AFABulous at 2:58 PM on March 13, 2017

All right, it sounds like my concerns about Westside are overblown - thanks for the reassurance, everyone!

That being said I'd still appreciate suggestions on places we could go out-of-city to fire pistols (thanks for the pointer, AFABulous).
posted by Itaxpica at 4:24 PM on March 13, 2017

Thunder Mountain Trap & Skeet is in Ringwood, NJ approximately 45 minutes from NYC.

I have only been there once with a relative who was visiting but I was impressed with the professionalism of the staff and the diversity of the customers. It was during the week in between Christmas and New Years and it was busy.

There were customers speaking Spanish and a good number of South Asian customers. I even saw two women wearing hijabs. People from all walks of life, newer model BMWs and older Tacoma pick-up trucks in the parking lot, customers wearing Carhartts and others kakhis and button-down shirts.

We did have to wait to get on the range a little more than an hour, but it was a holiday week and unseasonably warm. While waiting inside I heard the staff talk amongst themselves and there was no discussion of politics.

My impression was they are running a business, they want customers regardless of who they voted for and it was a friendly environment where safety was the number one concern.
posted by mlis at 4:28 PM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ah, just saw your update, well, Thunder Mountain is shotguns only, hope the info is helpful.
posted by mlis at 4:29 PM on March 13, 2017

This is outside your 60–90 minute window, but could be worth it for the variety. I went to the Sunset Hill Shooting Range in the Poconos a couple of years ago with some fellow flaming liberal academics and we had a great time. I grew up shooting in Atlanta and rural Georgia, so maybe I'm not as sensitive to wingnut vibes, but everyone including the novices seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. They have an ENORMOUS menu of guns to choose from; you pay for however many shots you want and then you move on.

It's about 2 hours from NYC but may be something to consider despite the drive.
posted by dondiego87 at 1:54 AM on March 14, 2017

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