[su_heading size=”27″ margin=”0″]This Mag’s Loaded With Shooters[/su_heading]
Story by Danielle Breteau • Photographs by John Oliver
[su_dropcap style=”light”]S[/su_dropcap]o what does a shooting magazine do when the boss says, “Let’s do something fun!” Well, they go to the range, of course. Silly question!
Before we dive into the details of this outing, I feel compelled to introduce our readers to the ASJ team. Our graphic designers, sales staff, office aficionados, editors and IT folk come from all walks of life, backgrounds and experience. And contrary to what you might think, not everyone amongst us is a shooter – and some had never handled a firearm before simply from never having had the opportunity. Others, on the other hand, are competitive marksmen, hunters, former law enforcement and military veterans. Regardless of everyone’s level, the day was met with great anticipation, even if it was more anxiety and fear of the unknown, by some. This had all the ingredients of a great day.
So there we were, at the Renton Fish and Game Club in Renton, Wash., a suburb of Seattle, and Jack said, “Hold my beer – watch this!” No, no no … that was a different story and a different place. The RFGC is a private club on a sprawling 40-acre wildlife preserve, and nestled within the trees of this paradise are well over 40 pistol, rifle, shotgun and action-bay ranges, as well as trap and skeet fields. The club holds a number of events throughout the year to include cowboy-action shooting, Junior Olympics, scholastic clays, suppressor shoots – the list goes on. The range is beautiful, low key, professional and simply just feels like home where everyone is family.
When our group arrived, we were met by a cadre of instructors hailing from all disciplines of the industry. Some of these guys had long forgotten more than we, collectively, will ever know about shooting and firearms, while others were young-buck tactical trainers with military-like precision. All were clearly capable, personable, gentle with the beginners and very knowledgeable. We knew our group was in good hands.
We had reached out to the club a couple months prior and explained what we had wanted to do. After the initial layout of ideas, how the day should go, the various level of shooters, etc., Jay Burleson and Randy Hill, the ringleaders, or rangemasters, however you want to read that, held their hands up and said, “We’ve got it. Leave it to us to take care of the details.” Having just met these two characters, who appeared to have a perpetual glint in their eye of worldly backgrounds, not to mention a gushing warmth and teasing sense of humor, I knew it would be fun and safe if nothing else. That is exactly what they created.
On range day, not only did our group arrive to an arsenal of shotguns, pistols and rifles set up on three different ranges, but we later learned that the easily over 35 firearms there for our use were all personally owned by instructors who are happy to share their collections. This is not offered by the range, it was a personal gift from the instructors. The idea was to give our group as much hands-on experience with the widest array possible. This would be exciting and empowering for the beginners, and equally as fun for more proficient shooters who may never have tried their hand at a black powder pistol or a semiauto shotgun, or even an AR-15, as was the case for a few of our hunters. There was something for everyone!
Each range was manned by instructors who taught, helped, informed, maintained excellent safety and entertained – yes, I said entertained, the stories were fantastic – and this allowed each student the ability to walk from one range to the next to try whatever they liked, and to stay and work with any system at will. Our group of about 12 never had a dull moment, nor waited more than a couple minutes for any firearm.
Needless to say, the rangemasters at RFGC were extremely well organized, handled our group with the utmost respect and made the day highly positive. This is exactly what you want when working with people who have never handled a firearm or might be a bit timid. Grins and guns were all I could see among our team.
The range offers gear, such as eye and ear protection for those who do not have their own. However, the folks at Sport Ear and Specialized Safety Products wanted our group to have the best of the best. We were outfitted with Sport Ear’s XT4 electronic hearing protection. If you have never used electronically enhanced ear protection, you don’t know what you are missing. Sport Ear has amazing products at a very affordable price. Specialized Safety Products provides a wide array of highly effective, comfortable safety glasses for all types of needs to include anti-fog, rubber nose bands and any color you can imagine. Comfort and style all in one!
For the grand finale, we had a knockdown competition targeting five steel plates. This pitted one shooter against another to lay down their set faster. Whoever finished first won that round! The winner moved on until the final round. Did I mention that anyone could choose any firearm they wanted? This was amusing because I think we had an AR-15 against a black powder pistol at one point, and why not?
By the end of the day, everyone was wonderfully tired, and I cannot even begin to count the number of rounds thrown downrange, but I can say that we have some seriously hidden shooting talent in the graphics and sales departments. Look out, 3-Gun!
The American Shooting Journal sends out a warm thank you to the Renton Fish and Game Club and all of the instructors who made this day unforgettable: Jay Burleson, Randy Hill, LaMarr Hood, Gary Young, Jim Goodnow, Sean Wade and Arrun Ouch. I think we have found our new range and made many new friends! Oh, I almost forgot: Thank you for not making us clean any of the guns! ASJ