Ben Avery

Last weekend I went to the Ben Avery range, which is located a bit north of Phoenix.
For the price of $7, I was afforded access to one of the crown jewels of shooting ranges. The main rifle range has 67 firing positions, and allows any firearms (including full-auto, which several people were shooting that day) with caliber restrictions on the .416 Barrett, .50 BMG, tracers (fire risk), and AP. The main range has target positions from 5 yards to 200 yards, with other ranges including excellent shotgun facilities and a 1000 yard range, not to mention archery facilities.
Each firing position has a sturdy, stable concrete table and steel-and-wood seats that are well-maintained, sturdy, and comfortable. There’s a screen between each position that prevents shooters from being struck with brass from the neighboring positions. Every aspect of the main public range was well-maintained, in good repair, and modern.
There’s a substantial number of attentive, well-trained safety officers that routinely walk the line, check that guns are cleared during cease-fires, and answer questions. I was extremely impressed by the safety officer’s professionalism; in my experience it’s not uncommon for RSOs to be somewhat curmudgeonly, old-fashioned (“Why do you need an ‘assault rifle’?”), and the like, but the Ben Avery staff was excellent. Even the cashier (they take Visa and MasterCard, in addition to cash) was polite, cheery, and professional. There’s a hot dog and drink vendor in the parking lot, right near the grassy field and playground for children.
While I was there, I was also impressed by the extreme diversity of people there. The staff was a mix of men and women of all types, both old and young, and the shooters included a mix of just about every conceivable group: men and women of every skin color, age group, size, shape, and experience level were there. There were women in their 20s who were training with expensive match rifles, a grandfather teaching his grandson to shoot a .22 rifle, a middle-aged black couple shooting what looked like a matched pair of revolvers, a couple who looked to be in their early 30s shooting a suppressed .308 rifle, and some folks shooting full-auto at the extreme end of the range. I overheard several languages being spoken. In the parking lot, vehicles ranged from pickups to Priuses. Open carry was common, but by no means ubiquitous. Truly, a cross-section of humanity, all coming together for a fun, safe afternoon at the range.
I’ve written about a few ranges in the past, many of which were well-equipped and praiseworthy, but I’ve never been as impressed with a range than I was with Ben Avery. The Arizona Department of Game and Fish runs a fine range, and I’m glad such a place is not terribly far from where I live. Like the Swiss, Arizonans take shooting seriously.
One of the best experiences of the day was being (politely and cheerily) told to “please take a number and we’ll call you when a lane opens up” — even with the economy not doing so hot, there’s evidently enough people interested in shooting that they’ll take the time and resources to head out to the range that there’s a waiting list to get in, even with 67 public firing positions. Truly, this is why we win.
In addition to being so massively impressed with the range, I also got some shooting done. I re-zeroed one of my ARs for a new ammo and was shooting some targets at 25 and 100 yards. While the rifle is as accurate as ever, I’m woefully out of practice and my groups were embarrassingly large, especially considering I was shooting from a bench. I really should go to an Appleseed shoot at some time.
Anyone in the Phoenix area want to go shooting on a semi-regular basis?

10 thoughts on “Ben Avery”

  1. Long time reader, first time responder. I go to Ben Avery every other weekend, and you go on my off weekend, how’s that for luck? I’d gladly meet up with you there for some shooting!

  2. I’ve been to Ben Avery several times. It’s nice, but I’ve been spending most of my time lately at the Joe Foss range in Buckeye Hills. It’s less crowded and the range officers are even nicer. Cons for Joe Foss are: no shotgun but slugs (until the shotgun range opens), and no screens between lanes.
    My buddy and I have been going there regularly in prep for the October Appleseed. The lack of screens is a little bit of an issue, as the guy to the right gets sprayed w/ .22 brass, particularly if the one on the left is shooting standing while he is prone.
    I’d be interested in meeting up sometime, but probably not before December.

  3. If you’re still living in the vicinity of where I think you are, I think you’ll find Rio Salado a whole lot closer.
    I recently took a trip to JG Sales & Prescott and found myself driving past the Ben Avery exit about 1 hour after departure. Rio by contrast is only 29-25 minutes away.
    Not sure about the daily fee… I pay $95 yearly for the family and then every visit is free…

  4. Ben Avery’s nice but I’m thinking about a membership to PR&G so I can go during the week and not have to deal with the public. I need to renew at Rio, too.
    Always up for some shooting.

  5. The peeps from Great Satan, Inc., Danno from Sand Castle Scrolls and myself have made a semi-regular thing of shooting the Thursday Night Steel matches at Phoenix and Gun (although Danno’s had to miss the last few times because of other obligations). We’d welcome the company: We meet at about 5:30 every other week or so and are usually done by 8. Great Satan and myself will be there tomorrow, if y’all can’t make it, drop us a note and we’ll do it sometime else.
    Also, Kevin Baker and I are getting something together for the 6th of November in Casa Grande, details here.

  6. Ben Avery, Rio Salado, and PR&GC… three reasons for me to skip the venues local to Tucson and make a roadtrip north. Of course, it helps that I can bunk at a friend’s house the night before while I’m up there. Although I’m neck-deep involved with the 4th Sunday multi-gun match (Cactus League, on the practical pistol ranges past the Long Range and Silhouette Range at BA), I must confess that Rio matches have better props and PR+G multi-gun (on the same weekend as Cactus multigun) has a kick-ass match. That said, Cactus has a super-cool Halloween Match (4th Sunday) coming up — you can shoot four stages of pistol and/or two stages of pistol-rifle and/or two stages of pistol-shotgun.

  7. I only go there because they are the only rifle range nearby and I don’t have a truck to off road to pioneer, table mesa or seven springs or I would do that. A 1.5-2MOA at 50 yards with irons on a bench is probably pathetic. Didn’t try at 100 but I bet would of been terrible. I don’t go as much as I should but then again when you don’t have money to buy ammo period you simply can’t shoot. And with hunting season coming up I need to get back into practice with my .270. I could only get around 4MOA at 200 yards on a bench with a 10x scope and the mule deer hunt is getting close. I would practice more but .270 noslers are not cheap. And I have little to no money.
    They treat you like children. To me there condescending and imply the feeling you have no idea what your doing saftey wise and should not be trusted. The hot dog thing is new. Just more crap for the announcer to repeat over and over and over and over. But they did manage to clear a jam where the casing got stuck up on top of the bolt in the upper.
    I would like to go to appleseed but they need to have it at Ben Avery. At the other 2 I simply cannot go, to far to make 4 trips.

  8. I think you meant to say ‘they CAN treat you like children’. Partly because there ARE a bunch of grown children there most of the time, I don’t remember a single visit when someone wasn’t trying to fiddle with their firearm during a cold range, and continue doing so even after being yelled at repeatedly. You must understand the sheer depth of their responsibility, where a single act of neglect could spell instant death; and unless the person responsible for the accident is peering down their own barrel, it is usually someone else bearing the brunt of their mistake only because they trusted the range officers enough to turn their back to fellow, possibly inexperienced and/or dangerous shooters.
    No one likes being yelled at, but it beats the alternative, like serious injury or death because of someone else’s neglect. No, I don’t work there, but I do appreciate their attentiveness as I carry my target stand down range, and so should anyone who has shot there and lived to tell the tale of cranky RO’s.

  9. i will be coming out to phoenix soon i have a savage 110 ba …in .338 lapua mag. will they let me use the 1000 yard rang ? any info on this will be great thank you

    1. Probably not. There normal range only goes out to 200 yards and while they do have a 800 yard range I have never used it,

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