RangeRecon: New Online Directory for Gun Enthusiasts
Eve Flanigan 12.31.20
Online matchmaking is nothing new, but now there’s a new service to connect gun lovers with the people, places, and things they need. RangeRecon.com is a brand-new resource for the shooting community.
This website is designed as a national clearinghouse for local use, to locate and connect with gun stores, ranges, events, instructors, and firearms education. Like Shot Trackers, the gun records service we recently reported on, Range Recon appears to be targeted at the millions-strong population of new (or relatively new) gun owners. Unlike Shot Trackers, Range Recon is designed to be funded not by the end user, but by the businesses that serve new shooters. In the six weeks or so since I first became acquainted with this website, it’s picked up some well-known national sponsors.
The video/blog learning portions of the site are off to a strong start. There’s a basic introduction to what to expect at indoor ranges, definitions and demos of a few kinds of shooting matches, and some interviews with industry professionals regarding products and competitions.
The range, retailer, and instructor directories are set up on a searchable map. While it would be impossible to check every location against whatever search engine is being used to populate results, it serves as a good place to start a search and get connected to locals who know the real information. The retailer list for my area, for example, appears to use the ATF licensee directory. Most of the parties listed on the results are not public stores. However, a call to any one of them is likely enough to get a new resident or new shooter pointed in the direction of a good retailer. The range listing is accurate for my location and is one of the few that gets the exact location of the public range correct — it’s famously inaccurate on the map of that search engine company sometimes called ‘Big G.’
The instructor directory seems to be based on Range Recon membership. A search of my home area doesn’t produce state-licensed concealed carry or other instructors certified by NRA, US Concealed Carry Association, and the like.
Under “Matches,” the directory fails to yield a listing of area USPSA and SASS groups, which would be the sort of contacts to logically include here. Hopefully the completeness of the service will improve in this regard.
Range Recon is based in Texas, so their “Hunting Leases” directory uses a title that’s specific to the state vernacular. And unless one accepts cookies from the site, the map ALWAYS centers on Dallas. Still, no useful information came up here. Same for the “Women’s Groups” heading, which has me wondering if other sub-groups, i.e. Pink Pistols, as well as clubs without exclusive membership, will want their own special categories in this age where social identity seems to seep into everything. At least for this writer, the shedding of cultural labels and focus on the activity is a prime reason why range time is so enjoyable.
As a new effort to engage and educate newcomers, Range Recon is a good start. Its operators would benefit from providing information up front about what benefits may come from creating an account. Right now, there is no apparent reason for the log-in page. Extending a hand to sponsors and putting them in more prominent locations would surely help sustainability of the site and help users connect to advertisers’ wares. This is a site that needs to develop before it spreads its wings, but has the potential for great reach and influence if done well.