A great, decade old thread on The High Road forums prompted this article, which is my own roundup/review of different gun shops and gun ranges in and around the St. Louis area. I'm not an advanced shooter or anything, but I enjoy exercising the right to bear arms, and to take down paper targets with some friends!
I'm going to simply give a list of the ranges and shops I've been to (and some I haven't), and give the vitals and some brief impressions (this post will be updated over time as I visit more places on the list):
Ultimate Defense (St. Peters)
This gun shop and range is pretty new/modern, but is usually pretty busy. They sell new guns and rent a variety of handguns and a few ARs ($10/hour, their ammo only). Their ammo is marked up, but not horribly so, and they have a few accessories (lasers, sights, mags, etc.). They offer a variety of classes, and their gun range is modern and well-ventilated, with electronic target retrieval, nice lanes, and the ability to view the range from the waiting area/shop.
The first time you go, you'll need to fill out a packet of information, and they'll take your picture and give you a membership card. Hourly lane fee is $20/hour with $5/hour extra for another person.
Top Gun (Arnold)
This gun shop and range has been around a while, and the range was renovated in the mid-2000s. It's a well-ventilated modern range, and the range staff and counter staff are all pretty knowledgeable. You can rent a variety of handguns and a few ARs for $10/hour, and they prefer you use their ammo. The gun selection and accessories are pretty good, and the place is kept up well.
First time you go, you'll need to fill out some paperwork, and they'll give you a membership card. Hourly fee is $17/hour and $7.50/hour for an extra person in the lane.
On Target (Valley Park)
This gun shop and range has a good selection of new and used guns, and the firing range is modern, with electronic target retreival, good ventilation, etc. I got the impression that the staff wasn't as experienced or knowledgeable as some other places, and the lanes were all full both times I've gone, but the location is convenient and pretty central in the metro area.
You don't need to become a member or get a card to shoot in their lanes, you just need to sign a waiver and lend them your driver's license. Hourly fee is $18/hour and $5/hour for additional shooters.
Mid America Arms (Affton)
After finding that Mid America Arms had the best price in the area on the Ruger SR9c, I decided to purchase mine from this shop, which is by the intersection of Gravois and Heege in Affton, just outside St. Louis city. The staff is helpful, and the store is well-stocked with guns, ammo (reasonable prices all around!), and accessories, and they have a good deal of gear for hunting, home defense, and recreational shooting. I felt pretty comfortable in the store, but I'm guessing your experience will vary a bit from customer rep to customer rep...
Jay Henges Shooting Range (High Ridge)
I wanted to introduce a few new shooters to hangun shooting, and not spend an arm and a leg doing so. I also wanted a more relaxed setting than the tight quarters of an indoor range so the new shooters would be a little more comfortable handling a gun. As it turns out, Jay Henges shooting range in high ridge seems purpose-built for this kind of shooting! They have very generous-sized booths, the lanes are only $3/hour (for as many people as you want—but only two people in the booth at a time), and you can place targets from a few feet to as far as 100 yards! The staff is made up of some volunteers and some paid employees, but everyone was nice enough and helpful.
The only downside to this range was the frequent cease fires; indoor ranges with electronic target retrieval allow for constant shooting with almost nary an interruption. At Henges, there is a cease fire about every 10 minutes, lasting about 5 minutes, where everyone has to put down their guns (unloaded), step out of their booths, and wait for everyone to move/replace targets. It's a small price to pay, though, for the nice range and space, and the extremely low cost!
Other Stores and Ranges I Haven't Visted
There are a number of gun ranges and stores in the St. Louis area I haven't had a chance to visit, but I'd still like to include them in this list (a few with my impressions, since I'll likely never visit them) for completeness:
- Sovereign Arms (Arnold)
- Denny Dennis Sporting Goods (Fenton)
- Bull's Eye LLC (St. Louis city)
- Adventure Shooting Sports (Chesterfield)
- JW Firearms (Barnhart)
- C&S Metall-Werkes Limited (St. Charles)
- Trail Creek Trade Co. (St. Ann) - focus more on classic guns
- Metro Shooting Supplies (Bridgeton) - might not yet have new store/range open...
- Belleville Shooting Range (Belleville, IL)
- Graf's Reloading (St. Charles)
- Mike's Guns (St. Charles)
- Nassau Sporting Goods (St. Charles)
- M&M Guns and Supplies, Inc. (St. Peters)
There are, of course, the big name stores (both up North) of Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops—they typically charge MSRP or something near that price for new guns, and don't give as much/barter for old guns. But they're there, and they sell ammo too. Watch for sales, but support the local gun shops for most of your needs :)
If you're just looking for some 'plinking' ammo (ammo to use at the range), Wal-Mart usually has Federal or other low-end FMJ ammo for a pretty good price (I usually get 50 round boxes for less than $10/box of 9mm FMJ. Sometimes you can get 100 round value packs, but they're often out. Wal-Mart might not be the best store in town, or the most politically centered... but they're cheap!