Posts Tagged ‘west side’

I remember having a terrible time when I first decided to go to the range in West Va.  Lots of people I knew had been there but nobody could give me much info about it.  I remember looking online and coming up with little more than a general idea of where it was located.

So I decided to post this to hopefully help others looking to visit this range.

Directions:

From Harrisonburg, Virginia, you need to head west on U.S. Route 33.  This leads you to within a little more than a mile from the range; there’s no need to worry about other roads until you cross the mountain and enter West Virginia.

When you reach the bottom of the mountain on the West Virginia side (3.4 miles from the state line) there is a road off to the right with a sign indicating there is a shooting range.  This is FDR 151.  There is a very tiny sign that says “151” but don’t be looking for that.  The range sign is much larger and easier to see.  Take this turn and continue for just over one mile.  During that mile there is only one more turn you make (a slight turn to the right) and its clearly marked and easy to see.

Be prepared for a long slow ride.  That one mile takes me about 6 or 7 minutes.  It’s a one lane gravel/dirt road all the way and its full of holes and ruts.  After a lot of rain, there’s plenty of mud as well.  If you have a small car like me, keep this stuff in mind.  FDR 151 is also completely surrounded by trees.  Its entirely possible that after a storm (or even moderate winds) trees could be down in the way.

Once you make it through all those perils however, you’re there.

Set Up:

There are two seperate ranges, one for pistols and one for rifles.  Both have their own parking areas but they’re close enough that walking between them is no issue at all.  There is a bathroom near the rifle range’s parking but it has no running water.  If you intend to wash your hands after shooting (or using the bathroom for that matter) plan to bring your own water.

The rifle range is set up with 7 or 8 benches in a shelter that is covered by a roof.  There are large cans at both end of the shelter for disposing of trash.  Please take advantage of this because this is a free range after all and not frequently maintained.  The pistol range does not have any shelter but if its raining you probably aren’t going to be shooting anyway.

The rifle range is marked out to 25, 50, and 100 yards.  They don’t have the numbers posted but there is a hill behind each set of targets and it’s easy to tell where each is.  Each distance has metal posts with string tied between them for hanging your targets as well.  You should always bring some extra string however; if the string is broken, there is no replacement.  On the left side of the range there is a gravel path that leads all the way to the 100 yard mark.

Rules:

There is a board posted at the rifle range that lists all the rules.  Most are common sense and basic safety things but I wanted to share a few that you might not consider.

1)  They do not allow shotguns.  Many people use shotguns there but its clearly posted that they are not allowed so to be safe just leave the shotgun at home.
2)  No clay shooting.  I assume this has to do with the broken pieces that end up all over the range.  It makes a mess and even the biodegradable stuff takes time to disappear.
3)  No shooting bottles, electronics, glass, or basically any target that isn’t made of paper or cardboard.  There is glass and plastic everywhere from people who don’t follow this rule and its very disrespectful and dangerous.

And always do your best to clean up when you leave.  I pick up all my brass (or steel in my case) and throw away all the targets I don’t keep.  In addition I always pick up some trash that others before me have left.  Its a free range and I try to leave it at least a little cleaner than when I arrived.  If you don’t want to help clean up at least leave a donation (not that you can’t do both) in the locked drop box across from the rule board.  Its a big cylinder looking thing.  Someone has to maintain the area and if it becomes too expensive they could start charging a fee or just close it all together.

Looking out toward targets

Looking out toward targets

There are 7 or 8 benches

There are 7 or 8 benches

Looking from the benches to the parking/entrance

Looking from the benches to the parking/entrance

**  There will be an ammo update this evening between 6pm and 8pm so check back!  **

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I’ve been wanting to go shoot for weeks now, but I didn’t get a chance until this weekend.  I took the opportunity and braved the cold and wind.  I put on my coat and gloves, loaded up my car, and drove to the West Side shooting range in West Virginia.

When I showed up there were two groups of people shooting.  I was surprised to see anyone there considering the weather conditions.  But by the time I got everything out of my car and over to one of the benches, one group was leaving.  So for about 45 minutes it was just me and two other guys.

They had a whole arsenal of weapons with them.  From pistols to high powered rifles and everything in between.  The most impressive was their gigantic 50 caliber bolt-action rifle.  They only shot it four times while I was there (at more than $5 a shot I can certainly understand that) but it was impressive all the same.  The shock wave from each shot could be felt all the way at the other end of the range, and even with my ear protection, it was really loud.  I can’t imagine being on a battlefield where fully automatic guns this size were going off in rapid succession.

After those guys left I was alone for about 45 minutes before another group came in.  These were younger kids, probably just over 18.  There were five of them all sharing one rifle.  When I told them I was leaving they went back to their car and got the shotguns and skeet.  I was very glad they waited until I left for that since it’s against the posted rules.

How I Did:

During the two hours or so that I was there, I only shot about 150 times.  And that was all spread between my AR15, SKS, and SR22.  I spent most of the time working on being more accurate.  Training better, not excessively.  I can’t afford to just blow through ammo like I used to.

With my Ruger SR22 pistol, I worked on double-tapping the trigger.  I would stand with the pistol lowered toward the ground with the safety on.  From that position I would raise the gun, take it off safety, and quickly fire twice (the first shot double action and the second single action) at the target.  More of a self defense exercise.  For the first time trying that I think I did really good.  All my shots hit the target and most were in the center 6″ of the target.  My closest two were 2.5″ apart and my farthest were 5.5″ apart.  As I get better with that I’ll start with the pistol in it’s holster and repeat the other steps like before.

With my AR15, I used the practice time to zero in my iron sights at 25 yards.  Because my red-dot scope is my primary sight, I keep it zeroed between 75 and 100 yards.  My irons are on the side of the rifle at a 45 degree offset.  With this set up I can quickly switch from mid/long range shooting to short range.  In the event my red-dot scope fails (battery dies, gets knocked off zero, etc) I can also immediately switch to another sight with little to no effort.  With my red-dot scope, my AR’s 100 yard 5-shot groups were 4.5″ each.  Not too bad for the guy pulling the trigger.

Saturday was also the first I spent much time with my SKS.  It’s simply a fantastic rifle.  At 50 yards, my first three shots were all in the exact center of the target horizontally.  Once I got used to how it was shooting, I was tearing up the center of the target.  I even pushed it out to 100 yards which is something I don’t usually do with only iron sights.  Every shot hit the target and I was actually really impressed with how I did.  My three 10-shot groups were about 6″ each.  Four shots were in the center 2″ bullseye and the rest were all right around it.  I was supporting the rifle with only my arms resting on the bench.  This thing is really accurate.  Thanks again to Aaron for parting with it.  I love this thing.

All in all it was great to get back to the range.  I forgot what it was like to smell the powder.  To feel the rifle kick my shoulder.  Heck, even pulling the trigger again felt good.  And since my ammo updates are indicating more ammo is becoming available, I think I’ll be hitting the range more often.  At least I hope to . . .

Over the weekend I decided to do some shooting and try to record some of it.  Until now I had no videos of me shooting my guns at all.  I figured I would take this time to try my hand at a series of videos on Youtube.  The video is posted and you can watch it over HERE if you are interested.  It’s less than 6 minutes long and if you skip the parts where I’m talking it’s probably only about 2.

If you don’t want to watch the video you can just keep reading.

Aaron left his Mini-14 with me when he went back for the semester because it wasn’t working correctly.  The gas block had become lose and the bushing had fallen out into the stock itself.  It took me all of about 5 minutes to fix it and I took it with me to the range, along with my rifles, to test fire it.

I shot 40 rounds (2 magazines) through it and it functioned beautifully.  It did feel like it had more kick than my Mini but I think that might just be because his stock is much lighter than my Strikeforce stock.  I had less trouble keeping my rifle on target while shooting at a decent pace.  His was bouncing a lot.  His however does have better iron sights which made initial target acquisition a little faster.

The AR15 worked like a champ as always.  I put a couple magazines of .223 through it before dropping in the CMMG conversion kit and unloading 100 rounds (4 magazines) of 22lr.  You should definitely watch the video, even if only to see the conversion kit in action.  Its one thing for me to write about it a bunch, but seeing how this thing shoots is pretty neat.  The only thing better I guess would be actually shooting it yourself.

I met some nice people at the range; a few were even from my area.  The guy who was set up beside me had a virtual armory.  He had around 4 or 5 pistols, I think 2 rifles, and a shotgun or two.  He was a little bit reckless with his shooting but he was fun to watch.  We talked a bit and he even let me shoot his Remington Versa Max shotgun.  That thing was awesome.  It held 9 shells and fired as fast as you could pull the trigger.  He demonstrates this in the last segment of my video.  If I ever win the lottery, I’m getting one.

I don’t really have much to add beyond that.  I didn’t track my groups or anything like that this time.  I was mostly focused on getting decent videos and having fun.  Subscribe if you like my blog and I hope everyone has a good week.

In keeping with my decision to post every day I thought I would put up a little bit about what went on this afternoon.  My friend Aaron came back home for Thanksgiving and we decided to do some shooting.  He was given a few guns when his dad passed away earlier this year and he brought those along to shoot.

I brought all my guns.  My Mini-14, AR15, SR22, and Sig Sauer 1911-22.  He came with an M1 Carbine, and SKS, a Mini-14, a 357 revolver, and a 380 compact pistol.  We looked over all the guns he brought to make sure they were safe before shooting them but the SKS didn’t pass my inspection.  There was a considerable amount of rust on both the inside and outside of the barrel.  In addition there seemed to be a large chunk broken from the inside of the barrel.  I was disappointed because I was really wanting to shoot that thing.  It was a very cool looking rifle.  All the other guns checked out fine.

The pistols were all fun aside from his 380 compact.  The trigger pull was horrible and after firing the 5 round magazine it made our fingers extremely sore.  The revolver was fun but kicked way too hard for me.  It was a “hand cannon” according to Aaron.  It was still fun to shoot and I would gladly have spent some more time with it.

Very shortly into shooting his Mini-14 we noticed a problem.  One that I was very familiar with.  In the gas block on these rifles there is a “gas bushing” that is pretty much required if you want to rifle to function as a semi-auto.  If it isn’t secured in place the gas from each shot is not properly channeled back to the bolt.  Mine was missing from the day I bought my rifle until I fixed it.  Aaron’s at least was rattling around inside the gas chamber.  We were forced to shoot it as a single shot.  I’m going to fix it for him in the next few days.

The M1 carbine was pretty neat.  I watched him shoot it a bunch and even posted a few videos of it over on YouTube at the bottom of this post.  The only problem it seemed to have was feeding the rounds into the chamber.  After the first 4 shots or so it would start working fine however.  Toward the end Aaron decided to run a few magazines through my Mini-14 since he had plenty of ammo and his wasn’t working well enough.  A video of him rapid firing it is also posted on Youtube at the bottom of this page.


 

All in all we had a great time.  We both got to shoot some guns that we’d never shot before.  And as always it was just good to hang out again since we don’t get many chances anymore.  I might post a few more detailed reviews related to the individual guns we shot but for now this is all.  Check back later!

A few posts ago I mentioned that my dad and I were going shooting at West Side shooting range in West Va.  I’ve been meaning to post about the trip but I’m still fighting off whatever sickness this is.  I’ll be going to the doctor as soon as I get my company insurance activated.

Anyways, we went and we had a good time.  We were worried on the drive over there because our side (the Virginia side) of the mountain was being hammered with rain.  It was a mess and I was glad that Dad was driving.  I hate driving in the rain, especially on a mountain.  When we got to the range however, it wasn’t raining.  We were very relieved.

Dad hadn’t been to the range in many years.  Said his last visit was when he turned 18.  That was over 30 years ago.  He was impressed that it was still up and being maintained.  He wasn’t thrilled about the amount of people who were there and was very unhappy that we had to wait for everyone to shoot before we could go downrange to set up our targets.  I knew what to expect coming in since Ryan and I had gone the weekend before.  The waiting between shots didn’t bother me this time any more than it did the first time.  I guess I’m just odd considering Ryan and Dad were both on the same page.

Dad brought his 270 to sight it in.  The entire trip was based on the fact that he wanted to “zero the rifle at more than 75 yards” for when he goes hunting this November. I think during the hour we were there he shot less than ten times.  I shot 65 rounds through my AR15 (60 .22lr and 5 .223 PPU).  With my SR22 pistol I shot 40 rounds.

Dad made a few minor adjustments, but only enough to make sure his shots were consistently hitting the paper at 100 yards.  He said “if I can hit that at 100 yards it’s good enough for me”.  None of his shots hit within the center 2 rings and only 3 were in the 3rd ring.  I wouldn’t have been satisfied with that, but it’s his rifle and he’s the one hunting with it.  I did fairly well but I wasn’t able to keep track of my shots with the detail I wanted.  My dad would’ve thought it’s stupid to track every shot, just as Ryan does.  So I just avoided it all together.

All in all it was a decent trip.  I personally wouldn’t have made the 45 minute drive (one way) just to shoot my rifle 10 times. I understand .270 cartridges are expensive, but if your going to shoot, shoot.  I wish we had stayed longer but I knew my dad wanted to get out of there so I cut it short so he didn’t have to sit there and watch me shoot.  I was just happy that he wanted to go shooting with me at all.

Well its been a few days since my last post and I thought I would just let everyone know I’ve been fighting off a cold/sinus infection.  Between that and work I’ve just been too exhausted to blog.  But I’m feeling better today, and hopefully tomorrow will be even better.

Tomorrow my dad and I are going to go shooting at West Side Shooting Range in West Va.  In the next few days I’m going to try to catch up on some posts.  I plan to write about the following:

1) 22lr Ammunition Complaints/Complements
2) Wednesday At Top Gun/Pistol Performance
2) Saturday’s Shooting Results

So check back for new posts next week!

Friday, October 19th, 2012:

My AR and setup at Top Gun

Friday evening I had the oportunity to go back over to Top Gun shooting range and I decided to go for it.  It’s been great getting some extra practice with my rifle indoors.  That 22 conversion kit was worth every penny.  During Friday’s shoot I went back and forth between my AR and my Ruger SR22 pistol.

Before heading to Top Gun after work I printed off some multi-dot (1″ bullseye) targets from MyTargets.com.  I like their website since it gives you access to a lot of different types of targets.  As long as you have a printer you’re good to go.

I made sure to bring my bi-pod with me so that I could ensure steady shots while zeroing in.  In addition to steadying my benched shots it also helped steady my freehand shots, as I had hoped.  The extra weight at the end of the rifle added just enough to keep my arm from overpowering the barrel and swaying everywhere.

Bullseyes With Pistol

After sighting in my rifle and confirming that my pistol was still relatively close, I took a few shots at the targets.  I decided that while group size and distance from the center was a good show of accuracy, taking one shot at each little bullseye and moving to the next would be an even better test.  I didn’t do the best and I’m sure plenty of people have done much better, but I was impressed with myself.  I was shooting the pistol freehand from 7 yards and my results can be seen at the right.

While Friday’s shoot was fun, I knew that Saturday’s would be even better.

Saturday, October 20th, 2012:

Ryan and I had been planning to go shooting all week so I was very excited for Saturday to come.  I cleaned up my weapons Friday night and got them ready to go for Saturday.

We decided to try a new range this time (one with longer distances) and as a result we had to drive to the West Side Shooting Range in West Virginia.  Getting there was really easy and we didn’t have any problems finding it.  The road leading in was kinda rough though.  Expect to take about 10 minutes to travel the mile between the main road and the range itself.

The range was surprisingly well set up and maintained compared to the road leading in.  There were two separate ranges; one was for rifles with distances measured out to 25, 50, and 100 yards.  The other was for pistols, measured to just 25 yards.  We spent our entire 3 hours at the rifle range.

Showing the lane layout and other shooters

There were about 9 or 10 lanes (I didn’t actually count them) and all but 2 or 3 were occupied when we pulled in.  We quickly grabbed the first lane all the way on the left and began unpacking our gear.

Being 90% prepared simply isn’t enough.  I always seem to forget something and this time it was cardboard and clothespins. Without those two items it was impossible (or at least very difficult) for us to hang targets.  Luckily one of the shooters who was leaving while we were unpacking was nice enough to leave his for us.  He was just one of the very friendly people we met while there.

Having everything we needed we waited for the next break in firing and went downrange with everyone else to set up our targets.  We started at the 25 yard mark and didn’t move to the 50 yard mark until Ryan was confident that his rifle was zeroed exactly where he wanted it.

My AR and shooting setup

After the zeroing we just had some fun shooting like always and by the end had pushed one of our targets out to the 100 yard mark.  All in all it we had a great time.  There were people there from all age groups; there was an elderly gentleman who brought his family and a father who brought his 9 or 10 year old daughter.  Everyone we talked to was extremely friendly and we got to share tips and look at some weapons we hadn’t seen before.  We saw everything from air rifles to bolt action 22’s to semi-auto shotguns (the website specifies no shotguns but I didn’t see any signs restricting it on site – just be aware if you intend to bring one that it may not be allowed).  It was pretty exciting to see all these different weapons in one place.

I would definitely recommend this range to anyone who lives relatively close.  It will be well worth the drive.  Just be respectful and clean up all your trash and spent casings before you leave since this is a free range.  One group of people can ruin it for everyone so we all have to work together to keep the range clean and safe.