A few weeks back I spent an afternoon at an east metro gun club in the Twin Cities and I walked away quite impressed. In fact, I learned something about gun clubs that day. It’s not just the facility’s modern equipment and location that makes it so great. It’s the people who all share in the experience and their love for guns that is the true foundation of any successful club.
Now, mind you the Oakdale Gun Club in Lake Elmo, Minnesota is no ordinary club. In fact, with 1,500 members and a waiting list that takes roughly 3 years to get in as a new member, the OGC is one of the largest clubs found in Minnesota. It’s boasts members from throughout the Twin Cities, but predominantly within a 20–30 minute drive from its gates.
Like I said this gun club has all the amenities of what you would expect in a first-class operation. A modern trap range, competition range, various pistol and rifle open ranges, a clubhouse and even a classroom that stays busy with lots of educational activities. Recently OGC spent over $640,000 to update the facility and to ensure it will be meeting the needs of its shooters for many years to come.
But let me get back to what make this or any gun club special. It’s the people. People who care about their passion, but also people who care to share their knowledge and experience with other like minded individuals. And this is what makes a gun club like OGC really stand out from the crowd.
I met Mike Emery, the owner of Northern Rifleman, who also is OGC’s Marketing and PR director. Mike helped me host the first Annual Midwest Fishing & Hunting Bloggers Day at their facility and ensured all bloggers who attended received a top-notch experience at the event. My hat’s off to Mike for all he did to assist us that day even though participation by bloggers did not exactly overwhelm us. But that’s for another story.
I also got to meet one of the other personalities at OGC who made a big impression on me. His name is Michael Gerster who happens to be the club’s legislative director. Michael is a tireless advocate for our shooting rights and spends a great deal of time working at all levels of government to ensure politicians don’t trample on our gun rights. He works with local landowner-neighbors to the club when they have noise concerns, he lobby’s park boards, city/county government, all the way to the Minnesota State Capitol where he advocates for gun owners statewide.
I also met a host of members who are proud of their club as they very well should be. Each year OGC teaches between 400–500 firearms safety students for the MN DNR which I believe is the largest single facility in the state to accomplish that task. Speaking of classes, the OGC puts a lot of emphasis in education. Take a quick look at their class offering HERE. I’d venture to say just about any type of class on firearms or safety a person might need can be found at the Oakdale Gun Club.
Now, you might think why should any of this matter if I’m not a member. Please check OGC’s website before making plans, but much of the facility and education is also available to the general public. While the facility is open year-round to members who pay a fee and volunteer club service hours annually, non-members can also enjoy much of what the club has to offer on a more limited basis. For instance, OGC offers a Novice Trapshooting Night to encourage the general public a chance to get some coaching and participate in a safe, fun, low-pressure environment.
Indeed, I’ve spent a great deal of time touting the wonderful people and opportunities at the Oakdale Gun Club. Certainly, if you are within easy driving of OGC you need to check it out and make some new friends who share a common passion. On the other hand, if OGC isn’t nearby it should still serve as a great inspiration to check out what your local gun club has to offer.
All across this great country you’ll find gun clubs providing opportunities for shooting fun and learning. In many instances they are only a short drive away. If you’ve been considering a gun club membership take the time to act soon. You’ll discover you’re not just joining a club with access privileges…you’ll also be opening the door to make many new friendships with some of the best people around.
©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.