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?

Uh-oh

My updated C&R came in with my new address.
I think I can hear my bank account bracing itself in anticipation and fear.

Sorry

Sorry for not posting more about shooty-related stuff. Things have been rather busy on my end, and I simply haven’t had time to go to the range recently.
That said, I am ogling a Swiss K31 rifle quite mightily, and once my C&R comes back with my updated address, I suspect that it may be in my future.

*jawdrop*

As mentioned not too long ago, I purchased a case of Prvi Partizan M855. I haven’t taken it out to the range yet, but their M193 is outstanding, and I suspect the M855 will be excellent as well. Having all my AR mags filled and still have about half a case in the closet is a good feeling. Still, I think I may have misplaced a few mags in the move, so there might be more that need filling.
It’s good to see that some ammo prices are coming down and availability is going up…but the price differential between 9mm and .45 ACP is still absurd. As an apples-to-apples comparison, I picked the same brand and common bullet weight in each caliber: 115gr 9mm and 230gr .45 ACP, both with FMJ bullets, both by Magtech.
9mm: $199/1000
.45 ACP: $420/1000
I realize that .45 ACP does require a bit more resources (the bullets are twice as massive and the cases are a bit bigger) to manufacture, so I expect the .45 to cost a bit more, but they’re still both exceedingly popular (at least in the US; I don’t know about the global demand for .45) and you’d think that economies of scale could bring the difference in price down a bit.

Note to Self

Using brake cleaner to clean a gun can often help get carbon and other gunk from crevices where q-tips can’t reach. It’s also excellent at removing all oils, grease, and other petroleum products from metal.
In that regard, it’s very handy.
On the other hand, when the spatter and overspray from the nozzle happens to land on — and partially dissolve — the vinyl cover one’s wife put on the patio table to keep away dust, it’s a bit more of a liability.

Fun with UPS

Last week, I ordered a case of ammo from Ammoman. It shipped on-time, and was out for delivery on Friday when the tracking page reported “THE APARTMENT NUMBER IS MISSING OR IS INCORRECT. UPS IS ATTEMPTING TO OBTAIN THIS INFORMATION.”
Odd. I called up UPS, and they had the wrong apartment number. They tried delivering to #ABCD instead of #ACBD (( Numbers masked to protect the guilty. )) Thinking that was weird, I checked the invoice from Ammoman. Turns out that I fat-fingered the keyboard when I had entered my order, and the wrong apartment number was in my order, which was dutifully provided by Ammoman’s shipping department to UPS. Oops.
“No problem”, I thought, “UPS would surely understand that typos occur, and allow me to simply correct this mistake over the phone.”
Alas, it was not to be; the sender is the only one who can change the delivery address, even when such a change is minor.
I call up Ammoman, get their after-hours sales guy, who informs me that the ladies in shipping have just left for the long weekend. I explained the situation, asked nicely, and he agreed that he’d give UPS a call. In fact, he did more — he called one of the ladies from shipping who was only a minute or two away, and she came back to call UPS. Fantastic.
After work, I checked UPS’s tracking system again, to find that the system reflected an address change. To double-check that everything was in order, I called UPS. Evidently Ammoman provided the correct apartment number, but UPS screwed up, and simply removed the apartment number from the delivery address. Somehow, I suspect my condo’s management office won’t know what to do with a case of 5.56mm NATO.
UPS insisted they couldn’t do anything, as the shipper needed to make the call. I explained that the shipper had made the call, even after they had closed, and UPS screwed it up. I politely insisted that it’d be much easier all around if they simply corrected the address and attempted to deliver again today (after all, it was still on the truck and they can wireless update the driver’s tablet). After some time on hold, they said it’d be impossible.
“Fine”, I said, “just have the local depot hold the parcel for pickup, and I’ll get it tonight before I fly out to a friend’s wedding.” The agent says she’ll try.
The agent calls the local depot and, sounding excited, announces that they’ve been able to update the address, and they’ll deliver the package on Tuesday! What, Tuesday doesn’t work for me, because I work in Tucson and won’t be in town to pick it up until the next Friday? I wanted it held? Oh, I’m sorry, that’s impossible; after the sender made the change of address, there’s no way for them to hold the package.
I explained that attempting re-delivery would be futile, and it’d be much simpler to just hold it for pickup, and would they please call the local depot to ask if they’d do it. After another interminable delay on hold (frequently interrupted by the agent apologizing for being on hold — I don’t care about waiting, it’s fine, don’t bother coming back on the line unless you have something informative to say), they said the local depot would hold the package and, in fact, would call me directly to make sure they got everything straight.
A short while later, the depot called and everything seems to be in order. They’ll hold it until next Monday, and my wife (( I’m still getting used to saying that. )) said she’d stop by sometime after work (she works in the same town where we live, and can stop by the UPS depot later in the week) to pick up the ammo.
Moral of the story: check your address prior to submitting an order. Spending 10 seconds to check that everything’s correct beats 30 minutes on hold with UPS. The local depots are considerably more flexible in dealing with various issues than the corporate call-center people. Also, Ammoman’s shipping ladies are awesome. I should send them flowers.

Sale on Prvi M855

Ammoman sent out an email saying they have a special sale on Prvi M855. $349/1000 (shipping is included) is a pretty decent price — normally I’ve seen it sell for over $400/1000, without shipping, from other merchants.
I’m a big fan of Prvi’s M193, but have been looking for M855 for a while, and snapped up a case while it was available.
Update: D’oh. AIM Surplus has it for even cheaper, even with shipping taken into account. Of course, I discover this after I place the order at Ammoman. Live and learn.