Shooting guns in NJ
December 20, 2006 2:53 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to spend a nice New Jersey day shooting a rifle. Can I?

A friend of mine who is learning to target shoot asked if I'd like to try shooting as well. We'll both be in Northern NJ for Christmas, and were thinking of going somewhere this Saturday. Is it actually possible- practically and legally- to find a place in NJ (or Upstate NY, PA, or anywhere within an acceptable drive's radius) to find a place where two newbies can pay to rent guns and, under safety and supervision, fire them off? We're looking either for standing target or skeet facilities, most preferably rifles as opposed to handguns.

For clarity, the issues at hand are:

1. We do not ourselves own real guns, nor are we licensed to own them. We are trying to figure out if it's legal to rent them for the day in a regulated, legal environment.

2. Though we both have experience with simulators and air rifles, we have never fired real guns. We are not members of a rifle club or the NRA, nor do we wish to join, which some places we've looked at require, nor are we certified for any use of real firearms.

3. We'd like to do this on Saturday, so if we need to fill out forms and wait, we're screwed.

4. Our utmost priority is safety, which is why we're not just paying a farmer to let us shoot behind his barn for two hours (it has been offered). We actively seek and respect the safety advice of any trained professionals who can assist.

5. We are aware this is a highly, HIGHLY unlikely situation, but I figured, what the hell, why not see if it's doable.

Thanks in advance for any tips from people who actually know what they're doing.
posted by XQUZYPHYR to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total)
I suggest using this to find some ranges, then calling them with these questions.

(Anecdotally, we did exactly this about 10-15 years ago. Just a bunch of kids shooting 22's indoors, after a 5 minute safety briefing. In NJ, but I'm not sure of the details since I wasn't in charge.)
posted by smackfu at 3:09 PM on December 20, 2006

Best answer: Thunder Mountain near Rt. 287 has skeet shooting - you might call them and ask what if it's possible to rent.
posted by nicwolff at 3:13 PM on December 20, 2006

I'm not in your area, but I've done this a lot. If you're 18 you should be able to rent a variety of guns, but it'll cost you. In my area you can blow $100/person to rent a gun and buy ammo from the range and shoot for an afternoon. They'll probably charge you a non-member range fee, a rental fee, possibly a fee for targets and eye+ear protection (cheap though), and you'll pay out the wazoo for ammo. Ranges in my area encourage you to be a member and keep range fees for members to a minimum by charging non members an arm and a leg. They also mark up their ammo prices in the shooting range to turn more profit, like a theater selling popcorn, and prohibit bringing in your own ammunition. It may be easier to find a handgun range in the phonebook, you can then call them and ask around for a public rifle range you can rent at.

Shooting is loads of fun, and if you go often enough you can get benefits even without owning a gun. One handgun range I go to will let regular customers pay one rental fee and then try out as many different handguns as you want. You can also meet cool people who own wide open fields and lots of guns, then you buy cases of dirt cheap ammunition and spend all day blowing the crap out of anything and everything for next to nothing!
posted by Science! at 3:34 PM on December 20, 2006

Looks like lists tons of ranges by zip code you can find some by you and ask them any questions.
posted by Science! at 3:38 PM on December 20, 2006

You can do this very thing in Mesquite, NV if you're willing to go that far.

The Oasis Casino is in Mesquite, and I've been to their gun club, rented a shotgun, and my wife and I had a good old time shooting clay pigeons on their range.

I do own guns, but I had no permit, nor was there any waiting period, other than the thirty seconds it took them to run my credit card.

I'm well aware that NV is a hell of a long way from NJ, but on the chance that you'd consider doing this, you'll want to fly into the St. George, UT airport, and NOT McCarran in Vegas, because Mesquite is about a 3-4 hour drive from Vegas, but only ~1 hour from St. George, UT.
posted by SlyBevel at 4:38 PM on December 20, 2006

b1t0t: Residues may persist for days, weeks or months if the clothing is not washed... I imagine they could depending on the sensor.

I didn't see point 4 about safety. You can shoot behind a barn and be just as safe as you are in a range, or safer depending on a range. But showing a desire to learn safe shooting techniques will go a long way towards building rapport with the staff at a range. They'll also be able to recommend a safety course if you want to pursue that.
posted by Science! at 4:38 PM on December 20, 2006

Coincidentally, this is exactly what I wanted to arrange for a friend and I as a holiday present. Apparently Oregon isn't too big on the renting of guns, though, which means I'll have to ask around my friend base to see if anyone's got a shotgun or two to lend me.
posted by redsparkler at 5:07 PM on December 20, 2006

Best answer: In addition to the other excellent advice in the thread, I would also like to add: you may want to specifically consider shooting a .22. The ammunition is exceptionally inexpensive. Because it's a smaller round, there is no recoil and the noise level of the gunshots is significantly reduced (this is really a good thing for beginners who could easily get turned off to the shooting experience by having ringing ears and a sore shoulder.)

In terms of the skills you learn, there is no significant difference between a .22 and a much larger, more dangerous bullet; to shoot either well, you will have to understand aiming, breathing, and stance. Might as well get this experience with an inexpensive round.

Finally, and this could be important: most ranges will let you shoot a .22 rifle indoors. Indoor ranges are typically handgun only (the backstops can't easily deal with the power if rifle rounds). The .22 round fired from a pistol is the same one that gets shot from a rifle. This could be valuable knowledge to someone who wants to shoot in the cold of December in New Jersey.
posted by quin at 5:10 PM on December 20, 2006

behind the farmer's barn is a lot safer than a gun range. last time i was at a range (many years ago) there was a gal in a low-cut blouse at the next station. the guy on the other side of her fired a semiauto at his target. the semiauto ejected a hot cartridge case, which flew through the air and landed...right between the gal's tits. she spun around in my direction and there i was, looking right down the barrel of her gun....
posted by bruce at 10:54 PM on December 20, 2006

A dear friend of mine still bears the scar on her chest from exactly what bruce described above. Semi-autos put brass everywhere. If you are bringing a lady to a range, make sure she wears a buttoned up shirt.

Here it should be noted that the friend was an Australian/ South African Goddess who reveled in stripping down to a bra and showing anyone who cared to notice that she was burned by a flying cartridge casing.

Needless to say, she was very popular at parties.

posted by quin at 11:05 PM on December 20, 2006

Response by poster: Just called Thunder Mountain, nicwolf; they're open Saturday and the beginner's trap shoot includes gun rental. Barring weather I'll be heading up there Saturday. Thanks!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:16 AM on December 21, 2006

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