Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Range Stories...

I'd always heard a few, or read about them on the Internet, but my trips to the range had always been uneventful - aside from the fun I'd have with the stuff I brought, of course.
Since my range of choice has for all intents and purposes been effectively shut down, I have been going to one that's quite a bit further away and quite a bit more expensive to shoot at - two factors which have contrived to make this a much less frequently enjoyed pastime.
It's a little less, shall we say, polished than the one I was used to, too.
Anyhow, the last couple of times I've been there have been... interesting.

Back in November, I took my dad and the kids out there for a plinking session and a young guy sets up next to us with what looked to be some pretty old, dirty guns (later verified when he offered to let me shoot his Llama 1911 clone, which was the filthiest gun I'd ever seen). About half an hour into his shooting session, he turns to me with the remains of his crappy old TEC-9 in his hands, and a wide-eyed look on his face.
He'd been blasting away with this thing, shooting as fast as he could pull the trigger and reload, when it pretty much disintegrated in his hands. First time I'd ever seen a kaboom, and I have to say, I wasn't surprised given the type of handgun and the condition it was in. We all felt a little more comfortable when he finally packed up his gear and split.

The next trip I took out there was a little more unsettling.

I had gone with a friend who had wanted to test out a couple of ARs that he had just put together in a very legal, CA-compliant manner. It was a weekend morning, so the place was fairly full.
During one of the ceasefires, a US forest ranger (the range is on leased National Forest land) ambled by to inspect the firing line, paying particular attention to the black rifles that were present - looking for bullet buttons, etc, I imagine. He paused by one, then worked his way up the line, pausing again at our station. He then returned back to the first one, fiddled with it for a couple of minutes and asked loudly whose gun it was. The owner stepped forward and they began to talk - too far away for me to hear. After a few more minutes, the gun owner stepped back, raised his arms and the ranger frisked him. They talked a little while longer, in between the ranger talking on his radio, and then the ranger bagged up the rifle and escorted the guy to his truck. The whole firing line was held up for this entire time, and there was definitely a feeling of tension in the air.
It totally killed my friend's desire to have anything more to do with his ARs that day - we spent the rest of our time popping away with .22s - and it sure spooked me too.
I kept an eye on the goings-on around the ranger's truck, and after about half an hour, the guy was released along with his rifle. He promptly packed up without a word and boned out.
So he must have had a completely legal rifle.
Very chilling effect this whole scene had on the rest of us there, though. The whole lot of us stood there mute, while this whole thing went on. I got the very clear impression that this officer was not a fan of the black rifles.
Climate of fear indeed. I haven't been back since.

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