A while back, I wrote about getting to the range. But what do you do when your “range” is compromised? In my case, my “range” was shut down due to people’s idiocy, namely blowing up propane tanks, TVs and leaving a mess. It was a Tragedy of the Commons, and to this day, it remains closed. I was heartbroken as there’s nothing like shooting some paper, enjoying your well-maintained firearms while blowing off steam from the weeks of office drudgery.
Honestly, it hurts to lose a favorite place. Maybe it’s a hiking trail, a favorite bar, golf course or in my case, gun range. After lamenting to my coworkers about the lack of places to shoot, my new boss let me in on something. You see, not too far away, there’s a wonderful gun club situated in a forgotten town in the rust belt of Western Pennsylvania, on top of a scenic mountain with 60 acres of hunting ground. It turns out that the president is also a coworker. Even better, my boss invited me out to this place to check it out and have dinner. The best part is it’s $20 a year to join. Sign me up.
What’s weird about life is that when a door closes, oftentimes, another door opens. In my case, sure I had some great times at the range, but so many times would I go only to wait and have every Fudd, shithead college kid or range chode show up and ruin the good times. I was ready to give somewhere else a chance, and I’m so glad I did.
So, me and the Mrs. drove up through the hills and hollows of Western PA. The range is a sight to behold. Atop an old mountain, it features a shotgun range for clays, a pistol range and a rifle range with distances at 25, 50, 100 and 200 yards. The sunsets are beautiful, as you can see for miles, and the forgotten hills of old coal mines are dotted with sleepy railroad towns. Winding creeks feed into lazy rivers and the picture could not be any more perfect.
My boss greeted me and pulled out a key to the front door. Members have keys, and you can’t get in unless you can unlock the door. The place is adorned with large deer heads and a random taxidermied raccoon peeking out of a tree stump hung on the wall. People still smoke inside and the place even has a pool table and a jukebox. We sat down around an old, well-worn bar and I took it all in. You can tell there have been many a Steelers game watched here.
My boss was drinking some Maker’s on the rocks, which I was told is $3 along with $1 domestic drafts. “My kind of place,” I thought to myself. The bar was crowded. As I looked at the menu I saw all my favorites: fried bar food. A dozen wings for $6 and $3 burgers. I could feel myself getting fatter just looking at it.
We drank and he introduced me to the regulars. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, like a country version of Cheers. As it neared 7 p.m., Jeopardy came on. One of the other members is a Jeopardy savant and plays the entire bar (which he shits on everyone). I came to find out the club hosts many events, from shotgun shoots for which the winners receive their prize in the form of slabs of meat, veteran benefit dinners, different themed parties and Sunday poker games. There is even a bookie. Sporting a Cheshire cat grin, I threw in a three-team parlay (I hit 2-3, thanks to Baylor). I’m in love.
The gun club is a magical place. I’ve only been a member for a few months, but it already feels like a second home. I’ve never actually seen people use the range, but hey, any place with $1 beers (Yuengling if you’re wondering) is a great place to be. I see many visits to shoot, have dinner, and throw a few cold ones back in my future..
Image via Shutterstock