I was over at the used tire store the other day, getting a flat repaired and the subject turned to reloading. Did they have any lead wheel weights for sale? No, came the reply, they were all pledged to go to a fellow who cast fishing sinkers out of them. All of them? Yep, every one. That's a heck of a lot of fishing sinkers, I observed. Yep, he's got a right successful little business. Competition comes in all shapes and sizes. From there the conversation moved on to the old "best places to shoot" discussion. I bemoaned the fact that if I wanted to shoot I had to drive all the way down south and west of town to the Helena Wildlife Management area -- a trip of about 50 miles one way. Had I heard about the "new place" up in Blount County? No, I hadn't. I have since learned about Greenridge Shooting Range and visited there yesterday.
First of all, from Pinson it is less than 20 miles up AL Highway 79 to the range -- a significant savings. The "new place to shoot" has actually been open for about a year and they are constantly improving the ranges. The proprietor, Mr. Billy Cook, gave me a tour and I was impressed with several things right off the bat. The shooting positions at both the pistol range and 100 yard rifle range are not only shaded in shooting houses but, wonder of wonders, THEY HAVE CEILING FANS TO KEEP YOU COOL! Compared to the open air benches at Helena where the July Alabama sun can fry your brain and make your weapon too hot to touch even before you begin firing, this is like being at the Hilton.
Mr. Cook tells me that the 100 yard range is being moved soon to a 100/200 yard layout (the earthwork was plainly visible from the rifle shooting house and they are well on their way.
The other thing is that someone is always there to supervise the shooters from the video cam system in the club house and Mr. Cook is not shy about intervening to help younger shooters or when a safety issue seems to be arising. Helena is a wide open public range whose only supervision comes when the ranger drops in every now and then to check to see if he can write a ticket for using the range without a hunting license -- by no means a cheap ticket, I assure you. This leaves the range unsupervised 99.5 percent of the time and the quality of shooters range from the experienced and well-behaved, to inexperienced "newbies" who occasionally wander out to their targets without getting the "cold range" gentleman's agreement to the drunk and malevolent gang bangers and meth cookers -- "Here, hold my joint/beer and watch this." (I've actually had to shoot at Helena with a shooting buddy as a designated security man who stands behind the line out in the parking lot with a sharp eye and a loaded weapon to make sure nobody gets felonious on us.)
Greenridge also has a skeet range and Mr. Cook tells me that he is working on developing an archery area in the near future. They also have a basic firearm course taught by certified instructors.
Of course, as with all private ranges the question arises, "How much?" If you just want to shoot for the day, it's fifteen bucks, which includes a target. Most folks join the club on the following scale:
$225.00 per year - single$190.00 per year - single with NRA Membership$325.00 per year - family (includes spouse and children up to 18 years old)$290.00 per year - family with NRA Membership.
There is a $35.00 one time initiation fee the first year and you get a safety orientation when you join.
Compared to other shooting clubs around here the prices are competitive and, because Greenridge is a new club, you don't have to wait for somebody to die before you get a chance to join.
Greenridge is open Wednesday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM; Saturday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Sunday from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
One last note on a subject that both moved and deeply impressed me. The Cooks lost their young son Jeremy to heart disease and afterward the Cooks determined to do something to help out other parents in their situation. That something is the Just Keep Smiling foundation. If you get a chance, go to their website and read their mission statement.
I expect I'll be writing more about Greenridge, the Cooks and Just Keep Smiling in the future.