As one of only two consistently attending Range Officers (of course you're the other one and the host, too!), I'd like to make some of our fellow Thompson Show attendees aware of a few things.
The Thompson crowd is the ONLY civilian group allowed to use the Newark Police Range. Newark doesn't even let some other local police departments use that facility. The Thompson Collectors group should feel privileged to be allowed to use the facility.Unfortunately loutish behavior could cost us a place to shoot.
Safety is first and foremost on any range, but every year more attendees are ignoring the safety briefing Friday night by conversation and on Saturday morning by a "Stylishly" - late arrival. Do you folks have so many places to go shooting that you can afford to behave like asses in public in front of police officers on a P.D. Range.
Then we have the irresponsible shooters who arrive at the firing line without ammunition, hearing protection, magazines, or a gun and expect them (automatically) to be furnished on the spot. The two safety briefings told them what to bring on to the firing line - if only they had listened! To those folks who borrowed someone else's gun to shoot and "FORGOT" to say Thank You - SHAME ON YOU! This type of behavior may result one day in loaner guns not being available. To the couple who ignored the owner's request that you go "easy" on his gun (you know who you are) and you couldn't be bothered to comply with the gun owner's wishes - you won't be setting foot on a firing line again as long as I'm a Range Officer!
I would suggest in the future that we consider banning 50 and 100 round drums at the shoot for safety reasons. Too many people want to do a single pull of the trigger for the entire drum, when they can't control the gun. Houses are less than a half of a mile beyond the backstop embankment at the range.
Some of you folks will remember Jim Warren's letter in the TCN ( a few years ago) about the awesome pressures and responsibilities on the Range Officers - if you don't I'd suggest that you go back through your old newsletters and read it again! In case you hadn't noticed it's been a struggle to staff the range with qualified people and then harder still to get them to return the following year. I, myself, have hosted an annual machinegun shoot for nearly ten years and I'll tell you it's tough to keep making the range owners happy and to keep the shooters from taking safety and the facility for granted. Tracie didn't get written thank you notes from more than four or five people last year. After all the time and trouble he went to, you couldn't take five minutes to say thanks properly?
I'm looking forward to renewing old friendships at the next Thompson Show and making new ones as well.
- B. Sutton Coffman