Ben Avery Shooting Range hits the fun target

I'm no Annie Oakley, but with first-timer's luck, I'm learning the ropes at the Ben Avery Shooting Range.

- I'm no Annie Oakley, but with first-timer's luck, I'm learning the ropes at the Ben Avery Shooting Range.

It has to be one of the best places to give it a shot, with manager Matt Schwartzkopf showing me the ropes.

"See how the action lock opened?" he asked. "That's when it's out of bullets."

Seemingly a perfect sport for Autumn Cali, a photographer by profession who's taking her talent to the range, she's with a group of friends from all over the world.

"The first time I came, I nailed it," she said. "They were like, 'You're a better shot than I am,' but photography is my main focus, so I think I've already got my eye for a target."

Here, they are all encouraged safely with plenty of rangers on hand to help.

"The safety factor, they make sure there is someone on top of you right away, not to discipline you, but to make sure you're doing it the right way," she said.

In that way, the Ben Avery Shooting Range is staying true to its original purpose.

It was created by an Arizona journalist years ago, hoping to create a safe place for people to fire their weapons.

"He wanted to provide a facility where people could shoot in a safe, friendly atmosphere versus going out into the desert and shooting in the desert where people would leave trash out in the desert and destroy stuff," Schwartzkopf said.

It's 1,600 square miles of property in north Phoenix that offers everything from cowboy-mounted shooting to bow and arrow hunting and even competitive sports.

It's a place for every type of shooter with 22 pistol ranges.

"I guess it's a competition within myself," Jim Gaver said. "I have Parkinson's and if I do real good then I'm real pleased with myself."

Sure of herself, with the help of Ben Avery rangers nearby, Autumn Cali feels confident.

"At first, it's a little intimidating," she said. "The guys know how to load them, what they're doing, and when we first got here, we watched the safety video, so I felt more comfortable after that."

It's an open space that's dedicated to a popular sport that even a beginner can enjoy.

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