The sport of shooting has a new place in McHenry County to call home, and its name couldn’t be more appropriate for the type of facility many feel the county has been lacking.
On Target, a shooting range and tactical training center located in Crystal Lake, offers sportsmen and women a place to learn about, train with, shoot and purchase firearms.
For many, the new facility really is “on target.” The range opened in May, but by the end of July, On Target already had developed a large membership base.
However, one does not have to be a member to enjoy all of On Target’s facilities and services, says Bo Strom, CEO.
And there are plenty of facilities and services to enjoy, says Tom Dorsch, director of operations.
“Our ranges are supported by one of the most state-of-the-art ventilation systems on the market where our members and customers can practice marksmanship in a clean environment,” Dorsch says. “On Target also offers a courteous sales staff, reasonable prices and a comprehensive array of exciting firearm classes.”
“Shooting is a growing sport more than ever,” Dorsch continues. “By providing a shooting resource in a county that was void of what we offer, On Target has become the new fulcrum point for making shooting an enjoyable, hassle-free experience.”
Safety is a No. 1 priority to those at On Target, and knowledge is the key to firearm safety. That’s why the range offers a multitude of classes in its upstairs classrooms for beginning, intermediate and even advanced shooters so that everyone can continue their firearm education.
For those just starting out, On Target has two all-inclusive beginners handgun classes — one for men and one for women — that provide participants with a rental gun, ammunition and eye and ear protection.
The first two hours of the four-hour class focus on classroom instruction and understanding firearms. Afterward, each individual has the opportunity to shoot a revolver and a semi-automatic handgun.
A person does not need a Firearm Owner’s Identification — or FOID — card to participate in a beginners class because he or she will be under the direct supervision of a trained instructor, Dorsch says. By the next intermediate class, however, a FOID card will be required for Illinois residents. Out-of-state residents do not need a FOID card.
On Target’s beginner classes — “Gals and Guns I” and “Guys and Guns I” — have turned out to be very popular, Dorsch says. So is the new “Gun Couples” beginner class, which allows couples to learn about gun safety together.
The “Tot Shots” and “Teens on Target” classes, which are beginner classes for youngsters, are beginning to fill up as well.
“Families would come in [to On Target], and they’d want their 7 or 10-year-old to shoot,” Dorsch says, noting that such an age typically is too young to allow in the shooting range. “But now, they can bring their child in and [have him or her] take a fun, child-oriented safety course.”
Once a child has a Tot Shots certificate, he or she is allowed to shoot in the range with a parent, Dorsch says. Such certification gives peace of mind not only to the parent that his or her child understands gun safety, but it puts other shooters on the range at ease as well.
Hunter safety classes and ladies personal protection classes also are available and quite often have waiting lists. Advanced shooters will find classes that pique their interests, too.
Several novelty classes are offered to sportsmen and women, such as the “Ballistic Mythbusters” class. Course instructors — which include former and active duty police officers, former special forces military personnel and NRA certified instructors — demonstrate the effects a bullet has on different items, showing firsthand what materials are easily penetrable and what objects can stop a bullet.
The “Magnificent Seven” historical class features the seven guns that changed the world and allows participants to sample each firearm and even experience some friendly competition.
Dorsch, a former infantry Marine and Special Agent of the U.S. State Department who has protected U.S. Ambassadors in high threat posts, also served as the presidential security advisor for the presidents of Columbia and Liberia and as the training director for the Office of Antiterrorism Assistance.
His experience enables him to teach additional classes related to his expertise.
“The Intrepid Traveler,” for example, is an eight-hour seminar for those who work or travel overseas and want to know more about personal security in different countries, how to be on guard when traveling and how terrorists and kidnappers plan their operations.
Dorsch’s “VIP Protection” seminar stems directly from his professional background as well.
“We offer dynamic and informative courses that are difficult to find elsewhere,” Dorsch says, noting he also offers private lessons.
He praises his instructors for their own expertise.
“Our instructor staff is excellent,” he says. “They take the intimidation out of firearm education and facilitate the comfort level of their students. The key to precise marksmanship is to feel confident and comfortable with your firearm, and they achieve that. They empower their students to take control of their firearm and use it as a sporting tool or a method of self defense.”
The gun range at On Target is actually two ranges — one for pistols, and a second for rifles, which is a special feature at the facility.
“There is no where else to rent or shoot a rifle in the comfort of an indoor range,” says Judy Claxton, business development manager for On Target.
The 12-lane rifle range is 50 yards long and can handle any caliber firearm, and the 12-lane pistol range is 25 yards.
Shooters are well-protected by either ballistic glass or concrete, and a vigilant Range Safety Officer, or RSO, patrols the ranges in a red vest at all times ensuring the safety of On Target’s customers, Dorsch says, noting that every staff member at On Target has completed a day-long NRA range safety course.
One nice feature is that customers have the option of renting one of 30 popular handguns or 10 long guns — including a WASR AK-47, Kriss Vector, Saiga Shotgun or a Smith and Wesson M&P 15 with three different optic styles — to try out at the range, says Strom. And a shooter can trade out firearms during a session to get a feel for different types of calibers. Eye and ear protection also are available to rent.
Again, safety comes first, and only those 18 and older who have a FOID card can rent rifles and use them at the range, while only those 21 and older with a FOID card can rent and use a pistol. Those younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to use the range.
“However, if a couple is trying to get his or her spouse interested in the sport of shooting, as long as one spouse has a FOID card, the other can use the range with his or her partner,” Dorsch says.
“This allows a person to try the sport of shooting without paying for or waiting several months for a FOID card to arrive.”
On Target already has a strong community presence, as local police departments use the range for training, including the McHenry County Conservation District Police Department and the Crystal Lake Police Department, Strom says.
An added bonus is the ventilation system, which makes On Target the cleanest range in the area, Strom says. Every 90 seconds, the air is exhausted from the entire range and replaced with fresh air, which sweeps smoke and lead particulates away from the shooter.
“It’s about having fun with guns in a safe, clean and comfortable facility,” Claxton says.
For those who walk into a gun shop for the first time, the sight could be overwhelming.
But at On Target, if safety is a top priority, customer relations is right behind it, Strom says.
Claxton says many times women — and even men — can feel put down by gun store staff members who use their own gun knowledge to intimidate customers. But at On Target, a friendly attitude and helpful demeanor come first.
“When Tom and I interviewed people for a position at On Target, we were focused as much on the individual’s character and ability to deliver excellent customer service as we were interested in his or her knowledge of firearms,” she says.
“We wanted a store where everyone, regardless of expertise, feels respected, has his or her questions answered and is ultimately able to make an informed decision about purchasing a firearm.”
The pro shop does buy used guns and has an appraiser on staff, Claxton says. It also offers a full range of gunsmithing services, which customers can seek for gun repair or personalizing their firearms with special features.
And, of course, customers can purchase firearms at On Target from a selection of popular rifles and pistols at competitive prices.
“There’s a lot more here than meets the eye,” Dorsch says.
10Reasons to Choose On Target
1. On Target is a brand new, clean facility built from the ground up.
2. On Target’s state-of-the-art HVAC system is capable of moving 75 cubic feet of air per minute across the firing lines.
3. With 24 positions, wait times for a shooting lane are minimal.
4. On Target offers 12 long gun lanes able to accept up to low velocity .50 caliber BMG.
5. Computerized controls allow you to set your targets just how and where you want them.
6. NRA-Certified Range Safety Officers continuously monitor the firing lines.
7. Classes are designed to meet a wide range of skill levels from Tot Shots to a VIP Protection Class for Law Enforcement and Security personnel.
8. On Target Range has a wide selection of new and rental firearms along with all the accessories needed to enjoy your shooting experience.
9. The full range of gunsmithing services is available.
10. Comprehensive membership packages offer extraordinary “perks” for you and/or your family.
560 Beechcraft Lane • Crystal Lake, IL 60012
815-477-2020 • www.OnTargetSite.com
On Target is conveniently located off Route 176
at the north end of Knaack Boulevard.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday
Memberships are available at On Target, with discounts available for active duty law enforcement and military personnel, seniors, families and corporate groups. Gift certificates for memberships also are on hand.