As I’ve mentioned before, TheDoWhat.com is not just about food, restaurants and stuffing my face. It’s also about getting out and doing something fun and/or interesting. So, in an effort mix it up a bit, I took on the challenge of going out, getting my hands dirty and giving The Skyline WMA Shooting Range a once over.
Growing up near this area I have been to this range dozens of times and have sent thousands of rounds down range. When I started TheDowhat.com I could not wait to get up there and shoot some ammo and video for the website. However, It was my fear that the good people of the Huntsville area would find it too far out-of-the-way just to shoot a gun or two. But in my opinion, the drive alone is worth the trip and when you reach your destination, you get to shoot some guns! The range is located on Alabama HWY 146 just northwest of Skyline, Alabama (GOOGLE MAP LINK) , about 45 minutes from Huntsville. Coming from Huntsville on HWY 72, you’ll turn left on AL HWY 65. This will take you through Paint Rock Valley, which is one of the prettiest areas in north Alabama and I think has at least a shot of being prettiest statewide.
Upon arrival you’ll see there are three different ranges available: pistol, rifle & skeet. The pistol range is 50 yards long and the rifle range is 200 yards long. The skeet range is a wide concrete pad overlooking a clearing which slopes downward toward the woods. Because we did not have a skeet thrower or 500 rounds of shotgun ammo, we decided to stick to the pistol & rifle ranges.
On the rifle and pistol ranges there are 9 stations on each range, covered by an awning. The awning itself has been a lifesaver for me a few times because I always wait too late to site in my rifles before deer season and end up having to rush to the range in the eleventh hour and it’s inevitably raining. But, because the shooting area is 100% covered and stays mostly dry unless it’s coming a monsoon, you won’t notice much drop off in the fun you’ll have in your shooting experience.
Before I go into the great time we had slinging lead & talking to the other people who were there, I need to offer a few pieces of advice and knowledge before you head to the Skyline WMA Shooting Range.
1. Admission is free and shooting stations are on a first come first serve basis. However, you must have a valid hunting, heritage, fishing, or WMA license to use the range. These are usually under $20 and are good from September 1st to August 31st.
2. There are no restrooms & you’re at least 15 minutes from the nearest public restroom. Be prepared to hold it or do it up pioneer style. I’ve never seen this as a real issue, but I know some who might be in for a shock if they found this out the hard way.
3. Bring drinks (water, soft drinks, etc.) and maybe a snack or two. You might be thinking you’ll just be there an hour & how strenuous could shooting at a target be? Shooting a target isn’t strenuous, but you’ll be walking up and down the range, going back and forth to the car and who knows what else. You’ll need at least a little refreshment.
4. BRING YOUR OWN TARGETS! This might be the most important one of all. It’s happened to me. I’ve gotten all my gear together, gonna hit up the range and have a good time, only to arrive and realize that my targets are probably going to come from old shot up boxes from the trash can. Don’t make this mistake! You need targets just as bad as you need guns to shoot them. Some folks go all out with professional looking targets and stands, however a cardboard box with a blank piece of paper taped to it is really all you need.
Now, on to the fun part. I had discovered a little while ago that a coworker of mine (Francisco) had never shot a gun before in his life. This made me sick to my stomach every time it was brought up. I decided it was going to be his lucky day and I invited him to the range. Bringing someone into the world of the outdoors and getting some good stuff for the website was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
I packed a couple of pistols, deer rifles and a shotgun and we headed east toward Jackson County. Once we arrived we began setting up and Francisco was finally able to get some trigger time starting with my Glock .40. He was a natural and was able to hit pretty good with it. He only dropped the mag out of the bottom once before he realized it wasn’t attached.
Like just about every trip to the range, we ended up chatting up the folks around us. I let them know that today was my friend’s first time to every fire a weapon and they were astonished saying things like: “he’s handling it like a pro” & “you wouldn’t have guessed it watching him shoot”. I of course credit his superb firearm handling to the instructions given to him by ol’ Bobby D. But nonetheless he was adapting rather quickly.
A couple of minutes went by when a good Samaritan to our left offered his Bushmaster AR-15 to the newcomer, Francisco took the gun & it was love at first sight. It only took about 30 seconds to get acclimated to all the mechanics of the rifle before he began emptying the clip. I’d say this was probably the highlight of the trip and the portion that we talked about the most on the way home. I enjoyed it because Francisco was able to get some trigger time on an awesome weapon and TheDoWhat.com got some great video and a “hearts and mind” story, so to speak. And Francisco enjoyed it because he got to shoot an AR-15. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
Here’s the guns that I brought with me, in case you’d like to talk a little shop in the comment section or Twitter (@THEDOWHAT ):
1. Ruger LCP .380
2. Glock .40
3. Browning X-Bolt .270
4. Ruger 7MM Magnum
5. Winchester pump 20 gauge
Before I go, I’d like to remind everyone to practice gun safety. And treat every weapon as if it were loaded.
Thanks & enjoy!