Being from around Chicago, good outdoor ranges are hard to come by in a reasonable radius. My dad and I have found one, the Conservation Club of Kenosha County, that we quite like, but it's a bit of a hike, and not the sort of trip we can arrange spur of the moment. This means that we are essentially restricted to indoor ranges around Chicago. We have a couple we have used many times, but never been particularly satisfied with, as they are short, dirty, not particularly well run, and of occasionally dubious clientele. The complaints were never enough to make us stop going, but it wasn't the experience it could have been.
Considering our dissatisfaction, we looked with great interest on the announcement of a new range opening up in Lombard, the Article II Gun World Range. With initial opening set for the first couple months of 2011, we got email updates with pleasure, until the updates contained more delays than good news. Seems the city of Lombard wasn't keen on a new range opening, and put up every inch of red tape possible, and there were several problems with contractors doing bad work. The net result of all this is that the range finally opened last Wednesday.
Seeing as I was home for Thanksgiving break, Dad and I decided to check it out on Friday, as we are not crazy enough to even consider black Friday shopping. When we got there, the staff was friendly and helpful, and I spent a while wandering around the cases trying not to drool too openly. They have some very interesting, beautiful, and rare pieces on display, though I am not knowledgeable enough to know what exactly I was looking at most of the time.
The range was entirely filled when we got there, so we were put on a waiting list. While we waited, we wandered around the shop in front for a while before being called to the firing line. I gotta say, this is the nicest, cleanest range I have ever been on. Whether or not it will stay that way remains to be seen, but considering the industrial air filters they have going, I'd guess it will stay cleaner than most. They have I believe three 75-foot typical ranges, and one club range, also 75 feet. They tested the ranges with a .50 BMG, so everything currently in the armory is fine for shooting there, including the Mosin Nagants.
The biggest difference between this range and the others around Chicago has to be how it's run. The other ranges, there may be one or two people behind the counter, and there they stay. The ranges themselves are inhabited solely by the shooters. At Article II, there are quite a few people behind the counter, a range officer outside the three ranges, and a range officer walking through the ranges making sure everything is functioning well. For people in more gun-friendly areas, this may seem like no big deal, but by Chicago standards, this was quite a nice feature.
There are still a few minor bugs to be worked out it seems, such as the line for the target carrier in the next booth popping out of its track a couple times, but the range officer fixed that quite quickly. Other than that though, the entire experience was excellent.
I was somewhat surprised as I ended up shooting at my best, with about a 5" group at 75 feet with a Ruger Single Six, despite not shooting for several months. It's an interesting type of shooting, when the front blade obscures most of the target. I also shot <2" groups at 30 feet with a Ruger mkII 22/45, and nice tight groups with a pt1911 in 9mm and Kel Tec P3AT. Perhaps the improvement has something to do with rock climbing improving my grip strength, or perhaps a more pleasant shooting environment had more to do with it.
I was thoroughly pleased with the entire experience, and can recommend without any qualms Article II Gun World range to anyone in the Chicago area. Considering we now have a good place to shoot, we may need to expand the armory some.... the one major arsenal hole at the moment is an EBR, (Evil Black Rifle) so perhaps that should be the next acquisition.