By Dan DeBlasio, Staff Writer, Citizen’s News
As I drove down the dim, wooded Black Forest Road, I noticed a sign that read, “Naugatuck State Forest.” This was the only item assuring me that I was actually still in the borough.
I was headed for my first afternoon outing at High Rock Shooting Association. Commonly referred to as High Rock Range, HRSA is a pistol and rifle shooting range located in the depths of the Naugatuck State Forest.
I am, in every sense, a gun novice. Outside of firing BB guns and air rifles as a kid, I had no experience with guns or had ever been to a gun range. This may change, but we’ll get to that later.
I’m also not from the borough, so when I used to think of Naugatuck, I would shortsightedly envision Rubber Avenue, Union City, Maple, Church and Water Streets and the town green. I didn’t envision lush forests, dirt roads and 100-yard outdoor gun ranges. I guess I hadn’t been looking hard enough.
I was introduced to HRSA by my brother’s friend Pete, a shooting enthusiast and gun aficionado.
Pete is a regular at both the Naugatuck and Bristol gun ranges, and the only thing that’s increased more than his gun collection in recent years has been Mel Gibson’s blood pressure.
The portion of Pete’s collection he opted to bring along last weekend consisted of a .22-caliber pistol, 9 mm handgun, a revolver, and a rifle.
I didn’t know what to expect going in, but after a brief tutorial, I started firing away. I tried every gun and enjoyed each. The sheer power of firing the gun caused immediate exhilaration and was an enormous adrenaline rush.
I also found the intrinsic differences between each firearm fascinating. Aside from the sizes and types, the feel of the gun, the power, the kickback and all of the other small differences were interesting to experience. The price cannot be beat either. One shooter, or a small group, can reserve HRSA’s covered shooting port for $5 per person for the first hour and $1 for every 15 minutes after that.
My trip to High Rock Range has changed my views on a few things.
First off, my favorite band of all time may be Lynyrd Skynyrd, and although it will pain me deeply, I now have to disagree with their song “Saturday Night Special” and the lyrics which read, “Hand guns are made for killin’/They ain’t no good for nothin’ else.” The Van Zant brothers must have never been to the range, because shooting hand guns is also just plain fun.
Secondly, guns— when handled safely, of course—can be a great source of recreation. Shooting is an excellent way to unwind and release frustrations. Also, target shooting is a challenging sport and an exceptional hobby.
Lastly, the borough has many places that I have yet to discover, such as this little location I would have never thought existed in Naugatuck. So from now on, I will be searching high and low for the hidden gems our three towns have to offer. I am eager to see what else there is to discover.