A local gun club opened their range near Ridgeland for service members to enjoy for free, Oct. 16.
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. -- The day offered several types of pistol ranges, a rifle range and skeet shooting for service members and their families to enjoy.
“I started this range more than 20 years ago because I had nowhere to shoot,” said Russ Keep, owner of the range. “I wanted to offer a day out for our troops to fire off some rounds and have a good time for free.”
It was also a day for younger and older generations of service members to learn from their experiences together.
“So many of our club’s members are Marines, including myself,” said Keep. “We really enjoy getting to spend time with newer Marines and other younger service members.”
Many came out to showcase their weapons and allow others to shoot them, as well as practice and compete for bragging rights.
According to Keep, a lot of the skills service members gain from the day can transfer into a tactical scenario and provide a great outlet to practice.
“As Marines we get a lot of time for physical training, but learning how to better fire weapons is something we do not get to practice every day,” said Sgt. Zachary Hoopaugh, a motor transportation mechanic with Marine Wing Support Squadron 273.
The club’s multi-target movement pistol range allowed the service members present to practice some movement while firing a pistol in a safe and controlled environment.
“The day was a great opportunity for service men and women to get out and become more proficient with their weapons while having a great afternoon shooting,” said Keep. “I believe a lot of the skills they practice may well in fact save their lives one day.”
Beyond the tactical lessons learned it was also a constructive event to share with your family. Many shooters used this time to learn about self defense shooting and share it with their loved ones.
“This was a great opportunity to spend time with my wife before I deploy,” said Maj. Jared Santos, a pilot with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533.
The range surprised many service members with the amount of things they could do.
“It is a well put together range, a lot of fun, and I hope they do it again soon,” said Hoopaugh. “I came out with no idea what to expect and I was very impressed.”
The event did not bring out huge crowds, but it did not stop those who came from firing rounds with new friends.
“We are really open to having the military out again, and plan on holding more of these events in the future,” said Keep.