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Ben Avery Shooting Facility

Now that I have a new hunting rifle and scope the most important thing to do to prepare for hunting is getting them sighted-in and familiarizing myself with the new gun.  While many people target shoot in the desert, I wanted a more stable and dedicated destination.  Luckily, in North Phoenix we have the largest publicly operated shooting ranges in the country--Ben Avery Shooting Facility!

Ben Avery is right off the I-17 a few miles south of Anthem.  From central Phoenix it's about a 30 minute drive that conveniently takes you past a Sportsman's Warehouse and Dicks Sporting Goods for any last minute ammo, target, or shooting accessory needs.  It has ample parking for shooters and spectators; much more than they need, actually...the lot was maybe half full this Sunday when I went, but the range was on a brief wait.

This is a bring your own gun and ammo range, so make sure you're prepared.  Don't be like me and forget to buy new target rounds and have to resort to $2/shot hunting rounds.  Also, before going into the range make sure your firearm is in a case.  Once you've got that down, go on inside to check in and pay your range fee.  It's $7 for adults, less for kids.  That rate gets you your bench and lane for as long as you can shoot.  If, like me, you show up without your targets they have multiple options available for purchase.  If you decide you need a more-stable shooting base you can rent a Lead Sled and if you need to see your shots better you can rent a spotting scope--each require you to deposit your ID. 

If it's your first time at the range you'll have to watch a 7 minute intro video before hitting the range.  Everyone is required to wear ear and eye protection on the firing line so make sure you have yours (I just use sunglasses, no need to buy something special).  Once you've paid and are ready to hit the range go to the range master booth to get your lane assignment. 

You obviously can't go set up your targets during live fire, so if you get there on a break you can either rush to tape your targets to a frame and get it set up, or wait the approximately 15 minutes of firing time until the next break.  You won't be able to uncase your gun until the line is active again, though.  Targets can be placed at 5, 25, 50, 100, and 200 yards.

The benches are concrete so it might be helpful to bring a tacky mat to ensure a stable shot.  When I used a rented lead sled my gun stayed still in the sled, but the hard plastic feet of the sled slid across the bench too easily to be very steady.  On my next visit I'll probably take a small door mat for better traction.  Also, if you're tall like me (probably anything 6'2" and above) you might find that the benches are way too short to shoot comfortably unless you have the gun incredibly high off the bench.  For most of the day I was shooting in such a crooked-neck position that I'm still sore a day-and-a-half later, and my shooting suffered for it.  Next time I'm going to go with a couple different camp chairs in hopes I can find a more suitable height if turning the stool on its side doesn't work.

The firing line is under roof so you're saved from the sun while shooting, but you're still in open-air so plan for the conditions as needed.  They do have some basic refreshments and there was a hot-dog cart in the lot last weekend, but at least take plenty of water for summer visits. 

All-in-all BASF is a great resource for practicing your shooting or just having a good time.  And, best of all, fees from the range help support Arizona Game and Fish Department. 

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