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.


brian r said...

There are many trainings including police trainings and CHL classes at the gun club as well. Also, the rule about extending the target all the way to 50' is somewhat lax, and shorter distances are used during the various trainings held there.

For anyone interested in joining, as Zak said, you must be an NRA member, and there is a yearly membership fee of around $100. There are no other fees, and each member is allowed to bring up to two guests per visit for free. When you consider the price of admission for some other shooting ranges, the yearly fee is minimal, especially when you often bring guests. I have been a member for 2.5 years now, and I'm happy to have a convenient place to shoot.

Anonymous said...

I too believe the NRA has done important work. However, the NRA does not speak for all gun owners. I chose not to renew my membership after getting one too many emails and letters filled with fear and hysteria. The 2nd amendment has never been stronger, and yes, thanks in part to the NRA...but also thanks to those who are willing to have a real discussion and who don't resort to fear-mongering, name-calling and doomsday predictions to raise funds, well, to perpetuate it's own organization. I just got a letter from the NRA saying, "Our Second Amendment rights are in grave danger because some NRA supporter like you have not renewed your memberships". Well, isn't that biting the hand that feeds you? guess what, blaming me won't get me to renew. I will continue to support 2nd amendment rights, and have calm persuasive discussions with friends and family and anyone I meet who isn't aware of the perspective of gun owners. And I'll continue to inform people who simply have have their facts wrong. I won't support an organization that plays the same note, fear, which does nothing to inform or educate those who need to be persuaded or educated. thanks.

Definestro said...

Anyone interested in joining, but put off by giving the NRA money can get a free 1 year "trial" membership to the NRA here:

Add me to the bandwagon for liking what the NRA has done in the past, but not very happy with their current political climate.

Anonymous said...

When I considered renewing my NRA membership, I had to weigh the good vs. the bad -even though I don't support their entire rhetoric- and I'm still an NRA member.