Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Range Review: Johnson Creek Gun Club, PDX
Yesterday I was able to shoot at The Johnson Creek Gun Club as the guest of a member. The Johnson Creek Gun Club is a member-run, wheelchair accessible private pistol range in S.E. Portland. The range is clean, reasonably well ventilated, and well stocked with targets and other necessities visitors can buy on the honor system.
The range is pistol only, though apparently .22 rifles are also okay to use. One good aspect of the range is you must bring your own ammo. This makes it cheaper to use than some other ranges and lets reloaders bring in their own, providing it meets club rules against magnum and other high-power loads. The range uses overhead wires maneuvered by hand cranks (see next picture) to move the targets out to the maximum distance of 50 feet. At least one of these malfunctioned while I was there, but for the most part they seemed in good repair.
There are ten lanes altogether and about half were in use when I went early in the afternoon. Other shooters present included families with young kids and several women; there was no macho posturing going on--everybody was friendly and under control. The place has a very good vibe to it. The only drawback is the range rule that targets be extended out to the maximum distance of 50 feet, so if you want to practice closer shooting that would be technically against the rules. (At least one shooter was shooting at 15 feet while I was there but no one said anything.)
The reason I am not a member of this well-maintained club is its requirement that all members first be members of the NRA. The club website says, "Johnson Creek Gun Club is NRA affiliated and requires NRA membership of all its members. It is quite possibly the only 100% NRA club in the area." Like most gun owners, I'm grateful to the NRA for its past work in promoting gun rights, safety and training programs. But I find membership in that organization an increasingly hard pill to swallow as the NRA increasingly identifies itself as a right-wing political organization. These partisan actions include such actions as Wayne LaPierre speaking at CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference) where he referred to gun ownership as a "conservative value," and the NRA's over-the-top, histrionic attacks on Barack Obama last fall. As a result, I've let my NRA membership lapse and don't intend to renew it until the organization tones down it rhetoric as a de facto branch of the Republican party.
However, if you're already an NRA member (and I know several members of the Democratic gun caucus who are members at Johnson Creek) this is a close, convenient location for PDX shooters that I recommend using. If you're a member of the club or know someone who is, please consider allowing waivers to the NRA requirement by allowing membership in genuinely non-partisan pro-gun groups, e.g. Oregon Hunters Association, to be substituted by those who feel the NRA no longer represents our values.