When some friends mentioned a shooting range nearby where we could try shooting firearms, we were hooked. Different groups of friends we talked to all recommended the same shooting range – Jackson Arms in South San Francisco.
Jackson Arms has both pistol and rifle lanes, but the rifle lanes were closed when we visited. Reservations are required and they fill up fast. We had made reservations almost a month earlier for their ‘Novice Shooter Package’ which was $50 per person. The package included 25 minutes of classroom time where they acquaint the participants with safety rules, correct procedures to hold, load and fire the gun etc. The package also included lane rentals for about an hour, eye and ear protection, a couple of target sheets, .22 caliber gun, 50 bullets and free gun upgrades.
We were a group of 5, none of whom have shot a firearm before in our lives! So the classroom instructions were vital for us. The instructor told us what to do, what not to do, the correct posture, correct gun usage etc. In the classroom we also got to try out inserting an empty magazine into a pistol. The instructor also told us stories that involved gun users and didn’t have a happy ending. I have never before felt so much fear and respect for a gun before! Well… I had never held a real gun before either. So I guess it is sufficient to say that a gun is a very powerful piece of metal in your hand and it can create a deep reverence in you! Use a gun with utmost caution and concentration.
Eye and ear protection were provided. Before entering the indoor shooting range we were shown how to load a magazine with bullets. Each shooter is separated from the shooter in adjacent lanes by bullet-proof walls so that you don’t pay the price for your neighbor’s carelessness. The first thing you need to get used to in a shooting range is the deafening sound of gunfire which most of us have never heard before. Never take off your ear protection and you will get used to it soon enough as you concentrate on your gun and your target. The empty metallic shells dispensed from the gun are hot and if they hit the exposed parts of your skin, it can burn your skin a little bit, but it isn’t so bad at all (I have experience). Thanks to the instructor who gave us a heads-up about this, I didn’t panic. It is important that you don’t panic, jump up and down and cause the gun to fire in unintended directions including yourself.
We started off with a .22 caliber pistol which is the best to learn the basics on. After 50 shots, we upgraded the guns and tried out a .45 caliber Beretta, a .45 caliber Sig and a .44 caliber Magnum Revolver. The revolver looked fancy and was interesting to use. The .45 calibers had a bigger recoil. The gun upgrades were free with the package we had signed up for, but needed to pay for the bullets for the guns we chose. Fancier the gun, the more expensive the bullets. We bought 50 bullets for each of the 3 upgraded guns and it cost us about $65 total. It was fun to try put different guns, but personally, I would stick with the .22 calibers – small, sweet and easy to use!
I really loved this activity. If you have steady hands and can follow instructions on how to aim, you can ace this! I found pistol shooting to be much easier than archery where my arms began to hurt after repeatedly pulling the bow. Here the recoil of the gun is something you need to deal with, but it wasn’t as tiring as archery.
I would love to return to this place. I have heard it can get pretty crowded on weekends though. They run specials on some nights like the Ladies Night on Monday when rentals are half off. NOTE: You will need to bring at least one another person with you if you want to rent guns. They don’t rent guns to single individuals due to the risk of suicide attempts.
I would highly recommend the shooting range and pistol shooting to all novices like me. But always remember that you will have a loaded gun in your hands and guns can mortally wound if not used with caution.