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    Here begins your journey into the mind of everybody's favorite asian, and I don't mean Jet Li.
What follows is the somewhat inane, mostly irrelevant, and self-important ramblings of a man on the brink of madness.
Welcome... to the Chu.

Sunday, February 12, 2006
 Range Review: Vandalia Range & Armory    [L]

Shooting ranges in Dayton are a rare thing - and one that fits my qualifications even rarer. There are several criteria I look for in a range:

1) Safe atmosphere - At the very least, the clientele should be well-versed in the proper safety techniques. Having a Range Safety Officer is a big plus, as long as they're not too anal.
2) Membership benefits - If I pay for a membership, I expect full free use of the facilities. Some ranges have "memberships" which merely grant them a discount on the range time. Forget that - I don't ever want to be concerned with how much time i'm spending at a range i'm a member of.
3) Guest policies - Another big part of why I'll become a member at a range is their guest policy. One of my main reasons for joining a range is so that I can teach people how to shoot. Not in an official capacity, at least not yet. The teaching and instruction I do is purely non-profit, I pretty much just take friends who've never shot before, teach them the proper handling & safety, pay for their range fees & ammo, etc. One of the best ways to combat the false myths and bad impressions of firearms is to teach people the correct way to handle guns. The most effective method of bringing a gun-controlling liberal (redundant, I know) around to your way of thinking is to take them to the range. You explain how everything works, you remove the mystery that makes guns so frightening. All of a sudden, they're having fun, then they start to question a lot of their core beliefs (and no doubt about it, gun-control is a core belief of the liberal mindset).
4) Range policies - Some ranges have interesting requirements. Some require factory ammo only, some are FMJ ammo only, some are pistol-only, or store-bought ammo only, etc. Most of these rules are harmless - but some can make or break a good range. The real question is, how many people do these idiosyncracies affect, and how much of an impact will they have?
5) Good Facilities - The absolute last thing I consider is how good a range's facilities are. While computerized lane systems, state of the art ventilation, lounge areas, etc. are nice, they don't hold a candle to safe environments and guest policies for me. They are merely a nice bonus.

With this in mind, I visited the newly-opened Vandalia Range & Armory on saturday...

VRA is a new gun store with a range, in Vandalia, OH. With it being a brand-new facility, everything is sterile and clean. While I like sterile & clean, it definitely is missing some of the "homie-ness" of older gunstores. I suspect that once a few months pass, they'll grow into that.

The shop area is nice and clean (and somewhat bare), but prices seemed kind of high.
Their store stocking policy is that they're mostly going to stock the kind of firearms that can be used at the range - so don't count on seeing any ARs there, it's going to be mostly pistols/carbines/shotguns. The few things I saw in stock were near MSRP prices, but perhaps they'll decline as they do better business. I imagine it's hard getting a store started and established (and therefore better able to reduce the profit margins in an already slim business).

Their range is very nice, but their policies are a very strange: (CHECK UPDATE)
You have to use their ammo, doesn't matter if it's their guns or yours. They sell reloaded CCI Blazer 40 S&W for $8.25/50. So the prices are in line with 100 rds of winchester whitebox from walmart. I asked them a little bit more about this policy, they said it's for liability reasons - for instance, if you reloaded your own ammo, KBd, and hurt the person in the lane next to you. I asked then, what about factory box ammo, and they still said it's not allowed. They seriously need to rethink their policy, esp. considering that guns can be finicky, what if their ammo doesn't work in somebody's gun? Then that person just wasted their money on range fees and ammo. And what if their reloads destroy someone's gun? What's their liability then? The only realistic rule I can see concerning ammo at a range is a "factory boxed ammo only" policy. I really hope VRA comes around on this.

In order to use the range, you had to read several forms and sign release waivers. Their liability forms/waivers are very exhaustive and very specific. While it was nice to see the basic safety guidelines outlined, I thought they went a little overboard with it all. In reality, though, the RSO will probably not be that strict. I was able to practice drawing from the holster (which was disallowed in the waiver) after I asked the RSO if it was ok with him.

The range itself is really nice - 10 lanes, split 5+5, with an RSO with each half. There is a small shelf for loading mags and whatnot behind the lines. Each lane has a computerized control for the target, you can set a specific distance in feet, as well as have it turn left/right, move forwards and backwards. They said that they'll eventually program it so that it'll do all that stuff automatically. There's also a person outside the range monitoring everything that goes on.

I asked them about their membership policies - if you're a member, you can
-have access to the lounge - little waiting room kinda thing, with a TV, kitchenette, and they'll eventually have a CCTV showing the lanes.
-free range time, limited to 1 hr if they're busy.
-free targets
-quarterly member-only events/raffles
-GUEST POLICY: I specifically asked them about this, it seems that they'd be fine with you bringing guests occasionally, you can share a lane for free, or I think they said they could get another lane for 1/2 price. Either way this is a huge win for them (in my book) over Sim-Trainer.

My Verdict on VRA:
It's my hope that if enough people badger them about the ammo policy, that they'll give in and just say no reloads vs. no non-store ammo. This is really not that big of a deal for me, since their ammo seems to work ok in my gun and the prices are in line with WWB ammo. But this will be HUGE sticking point for a lot of people.

The range is a lot closer to me than Target World, safer than Target World, less restrictive than Sim-Trainer, and has better hours than Sim-Trainer. As far as the immediate Dayton area, I think VRA is probably the best we can get.

Once they change their ammo policy, it'll be a real winner.

UPDATE 02/14/06

Apparently, enough people complained about their ammo policy, and after reviewing their legal policies, they determined that they can allow people to bring in factory boxed ammo.

That's it, i'm getting a membership.


Thank Chu for providing this info, but can't you find a safer hobby? Guns kill people Chu! Please realize that you are looked up to by young ones and that you need to take responsibility for the power that you have. Just yesterday, Dick Chaney about murdered someone due to his gun. Guns are bad Chu!

By Anonymous Jeff, at 2/13/2006 05:44:00 PM      

Guns don't kill people, Dick Cheney kills people.

Usually, with his bare hands.

By Blogger Chu, at 2/13/2006 05:48:00 PM      

Just to provide another viewpoint (since this page comes up long before the gun range itself from a Google) :

It's a very nice shop. Kinda small, and a much heftier focus on handguns than on long guns, but the place was clean, well-lit, and people were friendly. Price tags were prominent, and individual guns were kept organized.

By Anonymous gattsuru, at 7/06/2006 09:24:00 PM      

VRA is a great range. Friendly, clean, involved, customer oriented. The best way to prevent deaths from guns is to educate and arm the populace.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/01/2006 01:22:00 PM      

Chu I just found your blog and appreciate this review. I've been meaning to check this range out myself. Do you know what grain the bullets they use in their reloads are? I shoot 165gr WWB from Wal-Mart currently since they're close to the Speer Gold Dots I'll be carrying with.

By Blogger Anthony, at 3/13/2007 08:28:00 PM      

good info. FYI December07 VRA now building a rifle range. I just got my unlimited membership. I bought my Berreta PX4 there and the price was only $30 more than gun show/Gander Mountain prices. But thats a small price to keep a range/store in town and support a small business.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/05/2007 06:39:00 PM      

I actually drive from Springboro to shoot at this range, passing two other indoor ranges along the way. I like that I can bring a friend and that you don't have to join or be a member - although I'm considering becoming one as I'm sold on their staff and clean well functioning ranges. I'm also excited to report that they're adding an underground long gun range since you didn't mention it in your initial report. I will also likely acquire my permit there as well. They've earned my business by treating me the way I would treat my clients.

By Anonymous Jon, at 1/18/2008 03:05:00 PM      

^^^ speak up ^^^