AZ Shooter’s World

AZ Shooter’s World is an indoor shooting range with a long presence in Phoenix. Not quite a year and a half ago, they opened an additional indoor range and store in Peoria, in the northwest part of Phoenix. After hearing about it several times and with 110°F temperatures keeping me away from the outdoor range at my normal haunt, the Phoenix Rod and Gun Club, I decided to give AZ Shooter’s World a try.

Like most commercial ranges, they sell guns, equipment and training as well as providing a range in which to shoot. Coming through the front door, you’ll be in the store area.

It’s big. And it’s nicely laid out and easy to browse. On the Sunday morning I was there, a few people came in for shopping but the store was never particularly crowded. The help let me know they were available if I had any questions but were otherwise content to let me look around as I wished.

I liked that.

Gun-wise, they had both kinds, long and short, and also the other flavor of “both kinds,” barrels the same size as the bullets and barrels way too big. The collection of long guns included AR types as well as the hunting variety, all nicely displayed on the wall. Most of what they displayed was new but there were also some very nice used guns for sale.

In addition, there were quite a few hanging racks with all those additions and modifications for ARs that let you make yours into exactly what you want, holsters for handguns from half a dozen different manufacturers, a wide range of cleaning supplies and even a display case with ladies’ tactical purses. And with what must have been double the square footage of that of the Scottsdale Gun Club, the aisles were wide with plenty of room to work around other browsers.

All things considered, the store area of AZ Shooter’s World is bigger and better than that of the Scottsdale Gun Club, their main competitor in a different corner of the city.

Range time in one of the 23 lanes was $15/hr, the same as at the Scottsdale Gun Club. And for those who would use the range on a regular basis year round, memberships were decidedly a better deal at Shooter’s World.

Considering the two clubs, I will give the edge to AZ Shooter’s World. More stock, more space, and you don’t have to pay for the Scottsdale name.

Inside the range, the backstop and bullet trap is shredded rubber at slightly over 25 yards. Bullseye B-16s will be right at home. But you’ll have to do your own timings for Timed and Rapid because other than “out” and “in”, there are no other controls on the targets. That was a minor hit in my book because the Scottsdale Club’s system allows turn-and-face movements for programmable amounts of time, but I can certainly understand that I was in the minority of shooters who would use that capability. For most shooters in Scottsdale, the extra cost of that programmable equipment is a waste. (A couple of lanes with this feature would draw my attention but, then again, specialty lanes would probably lead to longer waits for those when all lanes are in use.)

So, it’s a business decision and I completely understand.

But there’s a problem with just about every indoor range I’ve visited, and that’s the lighting at the firing point. It was less than stellar in Scottsdale and AZ Shooter’s World is no better. Worse, perhaps, because while there is an overhead lamp at each firing point, it is positioned such that the shooter will block the light from what he’s trying to work on. Effectively, there is no illumination unless you lean back and hold the gun or magazine or log book out in front. Such action with a handgun invites violations of rule #2, “Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy,” which, in this case, would include the angled steel plates in the ceiling, the walls, the floor, the end of the muzzle sticking out from an adjacent firing point, etc. After some experimentation, I found that I needed to turn and back against the wall of the firing point while loading magazines, otherwise I simply could not see what I was doing. And while the absence of strong light at the firing point pretty much guaranteed the target would be a bright silhouette behind my sights, the real world is unlikely to be so ideal.

I wanted more light at the firing point.

Almost all indoor ranges suffer another problem, insufficient ventilation. And while the firing points at AZ Shooter’s World were cool and comfortable, some of the heavier artillery in the firing points close to me left the downrange area decidedly cloudy and even the air I was breathing had the strong smell of burnt propellent.

And worse, there was that unmistakable sweet smell of lead. It wasn’t as strong as I’ve found it in a few ranges – ones to which I will not return – but it was definitely in the air. And while ingesting lead is the worst, inhaling it is not much better.

No doubt, filtering the air to remove all the contaminants is difficult and, perhaps more significantly, I’m sure it’s expensive. Good filtering is pricey, has to be frequently changed, impedes the flow of air so the blowers have to work harder and, frankly, keeping that much space (25 yards deep by 10 feet high and 23 lanes wide) nice and cool when the temperature outside exceeds 110°F is gonna take some serious refrigeration and, with it, lots and lots of expensive electricity.

Did you know that the largest nuclear facility in the United States is just a few miles from Phoenix? There’s a reason for that and it’s not just because we have a fair amount of otherwise empty desert. It’s also because in the summertime, we need it.

Remember Doc Brown in the movie, Back To The Future, mentioning that time travel required “1.21 gigawatts”? Well, the three reactors at the Palo Verde nuclear generating station, at full tilt, put out just about 1.5 gigawatts.

AZ Shooter’s World needs to use more of that product on ventilation.

While I was there, one of the four hour Women’s Fundamentals of Defensive Pistol classes was in session. I was told this is their single most popular class, that it is presented 5-6 times per month, and is always sold out. Class size is capped at a dozen for safety reasons as the class includes live fire in the range as well as classroom instruction.

All in all, I enjoyed my visit. It was cool, not crowded (when I went), had a lot of “stuff” to look at including those ARs that I’ve been thinking about and thinking about and thinking about…

And the range, albeit with less than perfect light at the first points, was fine for Bullseye and I suppose if the smoke gets too bad, I could always just step out for a few minutes while the heavy hitters empty their wallets downrange. That never takes long and, when the smoke clears, I’ll resume my Slow Fire practice.

AZ Shooter’s World will be my range pick during the hot summer months. And I’ll probably also be going there for supplies and such when I want to look at and choose between several alternatives.

And now that I know they have several ARs in stock along with the expert help available to help ensure getting a quality product, AZ Shooter’s World is where I’ll go when I’m ready for one. Or maybe two.

Keep ’em in the black!

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