View Full Version : A range event question

04-07-2009, 11:48 AM
As some here know, I've started up the 'Second Saturday' evening range social/plinking events at the old San Jose range, a free event open to the public, particularly to offer basic safety/proficiency familiarisation for new shooters, but also as an enjoyable barbecue/potluck social event for 2A people and gun freaks generally.

Part of the event will be a bit of simulation, such as can be improvised, of the old 'county fair shooting gallery' ambiance, with cartoon, silhouette, swinging/moving targets for the 22's. (any help with 'shooting gallery' type targets would be appreciated)

The question of the moment is this.......if, as part of the event, we set up an informal match, in which each shooter uses the same rifle, an old match grade 22, fires on a 10-bull standard smallbore target, with rounds from the same brick, so that everything is the same for each shooter, could this be structured as a 'pool', in which each shooter puts 'X', a dollar or a $5, whatever, into the hat, highest score winning all (no 'cut for the house'), would this be a legal 'game of skill' or an illegal 'game of chance'?

Would anything of this nature be considered 'gambling' and purely illegal?

Conversely, if we do a 'game of skill' like that, in which the shooters risk nothing, the winner to receive, say, a pie or something provided by 'the house', would that be more acceptable from a legality standpoint?



04-07-2009, 11:59 AM
I'm no lawyer, but I can't see how anyone would not consider that a game of skill.

04-07-2009, 12:06 PM
Hi Carla!

Whenever there's money involved with the possibility of a cash prize, Big Brother is more than likely waiting in the wings to rain on your party. I've never hosted a shoot like you described, but I can at least tell you what we've been hearing from the fishing side of the world.

We have a small bass club and according to Fish and Game, if you have place positions (1st, 2nd, 3rd, Big Fish, etc.) and hand out money to winners (doesn't matter what amount - big or small), they will fine you for not having a permit.

Sucks majorly when your intentions are well meant, and you want people to have a good time.

Maybe there's a lawyer in the house who can shed more light on your question, but thought I'd give my .02 to you.

Best of luck -- sounds like a fun event!

04-07-2009, 12:18 PM
Actually, I think I made a mistake in the question.

I've always heard it said that a 'game of skill' is generally legal.

I think my question is more on the order of whether any event which includes a 'game of skill' in which the participants risk, and may lose, some $, or may win some $, or item of value, would legally required to have some sort of 'entertainment licence' in order to be in compliance with local laws.

Would it make any difference in the legality, or otherwise, of such an event, that 'the house' does not take 'a cut' of the proceeds, or charge a fee for providing the venue?

In short, my own take on this is that it should be no different from an office 'sports game' pool.......but I don't want to take any risks with potential legality issues, and would rather not have to pay a good bit of $ for an attorney's formal opinion.



04-07-2009, 12:45 PM
What if the prize weren't money, but instead some kind of item? Then this game is not really much different than those hokey games that you pay real money to play at Great America, Disneyland, Dave & Busters, etc.


04-07-2009, 4:02 PM
What if the prize weren't money, but instead some kind of item?

Like ammo !?!

04-07-2009, 8:43 PM
I think with everyone is using the same rifle, ammo, sights etc., wouldn't it be better to shoot for group size as opposed to score? It twould save alot of time. As far as the pay out its not gambling, call it a match with an entry fee & a cash award.

04-07-2009, 11:22 PM
Well, upon reflection, since this is meant to be a 'fun event', not anything like a formal match, we might try a simple, easy target shoot first.

How about this, for now?......no cost for entry, everyone gets the same rifle and ten rounds from the same brick. Everyone fires on the ten bull target, but with only the best five counted for score, which allows for sighters, to determine hold-off for different shooters. (finding the hold-off, if any, with an unfamiliar rifle/sights is a fair test of skill, right?)

We get a nice high quality pie from a good bakery, winner gets the pie, and may choose either to take it home with them, or cut it, and share it out with the other participants.

We've already had some 22 rounds donated for the event, and we'll spring for the cost of a pie.....hey, its just a 'fun event'.

Later on, if a sufficient number of shooters are interested, we could do a 22 match on the terms dogpopper and tba02 suggested.....that sounds good to me......... : )



rumble phish
04-07-2009, 11:56 PM
It wouldn't be considered "gambling" and yes, it would be perfectly legal in that sense.

Sounds like loads of fun!!

04-08-2009, 9:01 AM
I would be interested in this being so close to Santa Cruz. What range are you talking about? The wife and I would be game for some friendly competition.

I am also in the process of having some steel targets fabricated. They should be done by next weekend.


04-08-2009, 2:59 PM
Hi, Mike.....and everyone....

The event will be at the old San Jose range, located at 1580 South 10th St. in San Jose, on this coming Saturday, the 11th, beginning at the close of 'public hours' (use fee hours) at 5PM (1700) and continuing til everyone has done enough shooting for the evening, or around 2300-ish.

The event is free.....no charge to anyone, you are our guests.

We plan to bring a small barbecue to set up on the picnic table outside, and some hot dogs for everyone. We plan to borrow an electric coffee pot.....could someone bring styrofoam cups, paper plates, etc., and maybe a small ice chest with some soft drinks and bottled water?

This is our project to promote the Second Amendment in a small way, with a social/plinking event for the public, especially 'new shooters' and young people.

Any 'shooting gallery' type of targets would be appreciated......if you can find, on the internet, and print out some animal silhouette, or cartoon type paper targets to bring, please do. Ordinary copy paper, which can be taped to a cardboard backer, would work nicely.

We may not use Bin Ladin or other human photo targets, tho, for political reasons. (particularly, we may not use photos of Hitler or Mussolini, the 'patron saints' of the 'gun control' movement)

Simple directions from the 280 freeway are to take the 10th St. South exit, continue south-bound on 10th to cross Alma Ave., and then look to the left. You'll see the fancy new City ice rink, then the sign for the old range, which is immediately south of the ice rink. Turn left into the range car park, in the driveway just a few feet north of the sign.

You shouldn't have any trouble finding the range, but if you do, the range phone is 275 1738, call for help.

Mike, if you can provide the use of some metal silhouette targets, that would be greatly appreciated. If you would care to bring a 'pot-luck' dish to share, and/or some 22 rounds, likewise.......I'm thinking that a 'old style county fair shooting gallery' ambiance will likely use a lot of 22 rounds.

We'll be bringing our old Winchester pump 22's, the types commonly used in the old shooting galleries. Bring 22's or centre-fire handguns, but we do have a restriction on handgun rounds, due to the old-style backstop at the range. We must restrict mag handguns to lighter loadings, such as 38 spl in 357, and 44spl in 44 mag handguns.

45ACP rounds must not be military hardball....any other bullet type, such as TMJ, is alright. The reason for this is that there have been a few 'bounce-backs' with hardball, and we dare not risk any bounce-backs when young people are present.

I will enforce my 'muzzle discipline fetish'.....which is, no muzzle may point at a human being at any time, even tho the weapon may be in a 'show safe' condition.....and that also means that I'd really appreciate experienced people helping to 'keep an eye on' young people and 'newbies', and politely reminding them of this whenever appropriate.



04-08-2009, 3:36 PM
I will do my best to get with my machinist ASAP. I am in the process of building a 5 plate and multiple single plates. They will all be reactionary targets, meaning - you hit them, they go PING and swing. I will also speak to him about some small animal targets also (good idea).

I may be overly optimistic about making this Saturday's event. The wife just informed me we have some plans on Saturday (bday party) and that would really limit my time with my machinist. I will know more in the next few days and will report back here.

Having never been to this range before, I do have some questions...

Is the limitation on caliber only associated to the Country Range?
Is this range set up for anything past 25 yards?
Would this be only a .22 event, or can we use the range as we normally would? (outside of the friendly competition part)

Thanks again Carla.

04-08-2009, 6:01 PM
Hello again, Mike,

The old S. J. range is an indoor 50 foot range. It was the old police training range, many years ago.

Some reaction targets would be just wonderful for the 'shooting gallery' ambiance. I think it may be prudent to limit them to the 22's, tho, until we can be really certain that there's no hazard of a 'bounce-back' with stronger handgun rounds.

We'd like to see you there, but if your other commitments make it impossible this month, well, there's always next month, and the months after.

If all goes well, meaning that enough people attend, enjoy the event and would like it to continue, this Second Saturday event will be an on-going regular event.