I am fairly new to gun ownership, and even before I owned, all of my shooting was done on private property. I went to my first public range yesterday (It is private property, just opened to the public for a day fee, so I guess you call that a public range).
It was an very good experience, here are my positive and negative thoughts, in random order:
+ any day shooting, vs not shooting is good
+ my 10 year old came with me, and though she did not shoot, she had fun watching and loading my magazines
- $10 is not a lot of money, but it is $10 more than I have ever payed to shoot before (unless you consider buying lunch for my friend and having him shoot some of my ammo as a "cost" - but I do not think of it that way at all)
+ Interesting people and their guns:
> The friendly grandfather/grandson combo next to me shooting his S&W .38 snubby, his Ruger P85 (complete with recall work done), and the Nylon 66 just like I have at home (I only brought my P95)
> The friendly older guy (well older than me at least) firing his muzzle loader
> The guy down range who seemed to be having a fun time with his friend, and actually shooting a little less accurately than me with both his autoloader and his revolver. (Yes, I know that I should not enjoy someone shooting worse than me, but it is the first time I have been exposed to this
> The range master (I think that is his title), who was friendly, professional and relaxed as he explained the range rules to a newbie like me.
> The few other people who impressed the heck out of me with their 200 yard rifle shooting
+ The beautify Northern California weather, which is also present when I shoot at my friend's property, but deserves mentioning because it is one of the few perks of living here
- The lack of ability to check my accuracy after each magazine. I did not bring binoculars (duh!). I am used to being able to fire one or two magazines and then walk up the target and check my accuracy. I could not do that of course because I had to wait for a cease fire. I think that this lead to lazy shooting on my part. I let myself get a bit lax in accuracy since I could not check each time. I will have to fix this part of my mental game next time around.
- The lack of variety in how I could practice. I almost always mix up 25, 10 and even 5 yard shooting. I also have been trying to practice point shooting. I did not have an option closer than 25 yards, and I found out very quickly that I am not anywhere near good enough to point shoot at that distance. Well, OK, I knew that I was not good enough before yesterday, but that "point" was driven home.
+ Supporting a shooting related business. In our area, they are few and far between, so any time I can support the underdog, I am happy
- Travel distance. While my buddies place is a bit of a drive, it is not as far away as this range. The socialists here have succeeded in squeezing all of the ranges out of our very large county. I had to drive to the next county to get to this one.
+ any day shooting, vs not shooting is good. This may be a repeat, but I wanted to finish on a positive note, and it is worth saying twice.
Overall, it was a great day. I will go back again, though will aim to go to my friend's place first.