Ever wondered what the difference is between an indoor vs. outdoor gun range? Are you a first-time gunowner and want to know which is the best training facility for you? Regardless of if you’re a regular range visitor or a new shooter, knowing and understanding the distinct differences of the two ranges will ensure you get the most out of your firearm training session.
Everyone has their own training preferences and needs, so make sure to research the specific shooting range you’re considering visiting to see what amenities they offer. Also, depending on the gun range, they could have certain requirements to shoot there or certain etiquette policies you should be aware of beforehand. If you’re a new gun owner and aren’t sure of your preferences or training needs, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable, supported, and informed. This will make your shooting experience so much more enjoyable and beneficial.
Indoor Shooting Range vs. Outdoor Shooting Range
So, what’s the difference between an indoor vs. outdoor gun range? We’ve compared some of the most important factors to think about when choosing the shooting range that’s right for you.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Range
*In some states, outdoor ranges are managed by the Bureau of Land Management and are free to the public.
Benefits of Indoor Ranges
Shooting at an indoor range has many benefits that you might find suit your needs best.
Firearms & Gear Rental
If you’re a first-time shooter or a new gun owner and don’t quite have any preferences, indoor ranges are a great option because you can usually rent or purchase all the gear you’ll need. This can make them more costly overall, but the opportunity to try new and different gear is a huge plus. And because you’ll have the chance to purchase approved targets, ammo, and other products, you won’t have to worry if your personal gear is restricted or not.
While indoor shooting ranges aren’t as flexible as outdoor ranges when it comes to drills and tactical routines, they’re great for basic firearm training and shooting practice, which is usually all you need to get started on your training journey. While you won’t have mobility in your drills, you’ll still be able to practice your speed, aim, and precision.
Probably the most obvious pro of an indoor shooting range is that they’re indoors. This means they aren’t affected by seasonal changes or bad weather conditions. Except for extreme events like hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. you’ll be able to visit an indoor gun range year-round, rain or shine. This makes getting in regular training much easier if you live in an area that’s known for unpredictable weather. And if you suffer from seasonal allergies, you know what a difference being indoors can make in your experience. Another benefit of indoor shooting ranges is that they’re able to easily operate in urban and suburban locations. This accessibility makes it a lot easier for city-dwellers and city police officers to get the proper training needed to responsibly prepare.
One benefit often overlooked at an indoor range is the basic amenities. Indoor shooting ranges will have things like A/C, nearby restrooms, automatic target retrievals, and sometimes even vending machines. Plus, many indoor shooting ranges run a NIOSH health hazard evaluation to ensure their ventilation systems reduce the health risks that come with airborne lead exposure and excessively loud noises. While these little luxuries aren’t necessary for effective training, they sure don’t hurt your experience.
Benefits of Outdoor Ranges
Visiting an outdoor shooting range has its own perks, especially if you love being in the great outdoors.
One of the most popular reasons shooters choose to practice at an outdoor range is that they’re typically way less crowded than an indoor range. Because outdoor shooting ranges require a lot of open space—both in and around the range—they tend to be located outside of cities and heavily populated areas, making them a little less accessible. So, if you like your space and alone time, you should consider an outdoor gun range.
Being outdoors allows you to have a lot more flexibility in your firearm training. Many gun owners who prefer outdoor shooting ranges do so because it allows for a more realistic and tactical approach; you’re able to move around and utilize different angles and techniques. This can be especially useful if you hunt or are in the military, since you’ll be used to operating a firearm in an open, outdoor environment.
Gun & Gear Restrictions
One of the biggest differences between an indoor vs. outdoor gun range is the guns and gear you’re allowed to use. Outdoor shooting ranges typically have fewer restrictions (within reason) on the type of weapons, ammo, or targets you can use. This is another reason outdoor ranges are so beneficial to hunter training—you can practice shooting with your rifle and larger ammo!
Indoor & Outdoor Shooting Range Golden Rules
While indoor and outdoor gun ranges have several differences, they have one very important thing in common: firearm safety. Safety should always be the top priority of any gun owner, so no matter where you choose to shoot, make sure you follow the four golden rules of gun safety:
- Treat every gun as if it’s loaded.
- Never aim a firearm at anything you’re not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
- Always be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.
Whether you prefer an indoor or outdoor shooting range, it’s important to research the specific gun range you plan on visiting. It’ll save you a lot of time and frustration knowing what your local ranges have to offer before you commit to one. Just make sure to consider your most important factors and find a place where shooting can be an enjoyable experience for you. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you get the training you need to be safe and responsible, and that you have fun doing it!
Indoor vs. Outdoor Gun Range FAQ’s
What is the difference in practicing at an indoor shooting range and shooting at an outdoor shooting range?
Outdoor shooting ranges are better suited for mobile and tactical training with realistic approaches, while indoor shooting ranges are good places for basic firearm training and new shooters.
The average fee at an indoor gun range, without any gear rentals or target purchases, varies from $10-$25 an hour. Privately operated outdoor ranges can be up to $30 an hour.
Typically, before you can begin shooting, you must read and sign the range rules and safety procedures. Then you have the option to purchase or rent any gear, or you can head to your assigned firing lane and begin training. Most indoor ranges will outline any specific processes in their procedures, so pay attention to what you read!
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