Only except the range was closed.
See, the pistol range at Eagle Creek park is operated by the Indy Parks Department (Stuart Lowry is the director of the Parks Department, by the way,) and is used by the Greater Indy Metro Police for training during the week. On weekends, it's supposed to be open to the public. Except frequently the G.I.M.P. will make use of it on the weekends as well, without actually alerting any of the taxpayers ahead of time that their weekend plans will be disrupted. It's sort of "Shooting Range Roulette"; drive thirty minutes and see if you've wasted your morning or not.
Now, I'm all for our local po-po getting all the remedial marksmanship training they need, and Lord knows that recent officer-involved shootings show that they need plenty, but would it kill Stuart Lowry to let us know ahead of time so that we don't all drive out there and run into a closed and locked gate with no explanation? The shooting isn't free, but it's cheap; I'm sure most people wouldn't mind paying a buck or so more in order to have an official web page with accurate scheduling info. (Or maybe the Five-Oh can shoot Monday through Friday and let us simple civilians shoot on the weekends.)
Anyway, since our primary range had malfed, we transitioned to our backup, which meant a drive down to Camp Atterbury, where the State Bureaucracy of Fishing and Hunting and So Forth runs a beautiful, recently-revamped facility with everything from ammo and cleaning supply sales to a palatial and clean loo. Of course, since it's run by the State Bureaucracy of Fishing and Hunting and So Forth, it's maximum security, lowest-common-denominator shooting: On top of the usual public range restrictions like no drawing from the leather or practicing your rollover prone, there are rate-of-fire restrictions (one round per second) and an extra-safe cold range procedure that stops barely short of handcuffs and a cavity search. Given the demonstrated gun handling skills of some of our fellow range attendees, I wasn't too upset about the scrutineering; come to think of it, maybe handcuffs wouldn't have been out of line while people were downrange.
Further, there are signs on the gate proclaiming no loaded, holstered firearms. But there was no clearing barrel, either. Shootin' Buddy and I tramped off to the nearest berm-like object as the R.O. said "You could just clear 'em right there!", indicating the parking lot by the gate. I just don't get this mentality whereby it is safer to have people fiddle-farting around with handling and clearing loaded guns than it is to just leave the damned thing safely in its holster.
It's not especially excruciating; if you can survive the boredom of, say, an NRA High Power match, this is going to feel like free-form sparring by comparison. Also the standard NRA Three Rules Of Gun Safety are strictly enforced:
- Keep your gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.
- Never climb over a fence with a loaded rifle.
- Don't spill your drink on your Perazzi trap shotgun.
A side note: Atterbury is located hell-and-gone south of Indy, so it was about an hour's drive to get there, and we'd worked up a powerful thirst with a couple of hours' shooting, and so we stopped on the way back at a convenience store in the little hamlet of Two-Mules-In-The-Soybeans to pick up something with which to wet our whistles. The clerk behind the counter, whose witty repartee and dull, bovine gaze indicated that he had arisen from more of a gene puddle than a gene pool, had those big stretchy things in his ear lobes. So, any of you readers that are wearing them to be edgy and hip should stop, because that fad is officially no longer trendy.