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Home on the Range Day

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Yesterday was your big chance to get guns pointed at you by professionals instead of amateurs!

Industry Range Day at SHOT opens the festivities of SHOT week with a firing line of leg-pain inducing length, where you can try to get the intricacies of a product explained to you by someone attempting to yell over the din of some other dude doing mag dumps ten feet away.

You can test for yourself the precision of a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle at a staggering whole one hundred yards while simultaneously discovering how effective the muzzle brakes of the company in the next booth are. You’re discovering this because they’re practically blowing your hat off your head while you’re struggling to get eye relief on an unfamiliar optic.

You could be forgiven for thinking this was a .44 Mag instead of a .38 Spl.

You could be forgiven for thinking this was a .44 Mag instead of a .38 Spl.

Industry Range Day is a chance to see a staggering variety of truly unusual shooting techniques. One pro shooter who we won’t name because he’s one of the nicest guys in the industry had taken to snapping surreptitious photos of some of the more exotic grips he saw while helping media shooters. “Holding the gun wrong” tends to lead to subpar shooting, which is why if you step up to the line, run the gun as though you know what you’re doing, and turn in a reasonable performance on the target, the company reps often appear startled.

You won’t get a ton of trigger time on any one gun, since you’re limited in the amount of shooting you can do in the interest of keeping the line moving, but a careful observer can pretty quickly notice which guns are problem children. Look around the booth. Are bottles of lubricant or tools out and handy, as though they’re seeing frequent use? That’s a clue. If you linger while watching a couple different people shoot, and you hear “Huh, it normally runs fine!” said more than once, that’s also a big clue.

A half-empty lube bottle in easy reach is a clue.

A half-empty lube bottle in easy reach is a clue.

You can usually gauge a company’s target audience by the accessories fitted– if any. If you wander into a booth by an AR builder with whom you weren’t familiar, noting whether the demo guns feature Trijicon and Aimpoint or Sightmark and UTG will send a signal about what to expect from the hardware to which they’re bolted. (Vice versa if the new-to-you company’s an optics maker.)

A time- and feet-saving shortcut is to stop passing acquaintances and ask, “Seen anything cool so far?” and work off their list. This is also a chance to gossip about which guns you think will stay vaporware and which are destined for sales greatness.

As a bonus, the linear format of Range Day makes it nearly impossible to get lost, unlike the show itself.

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