Best Indoor Shooting Range in San Diego

The largest gun range in the West opens in Poway



Hair and Make up by Caitlin Ashlee at Quattra Via Aveda Salon

Joseph Graf

As a young woman with little knowledge of guns, I was a bit intimidated by the idea of writing an article profiling a shooting range– but Poway Weapons & Gear is by no means your average range; the space brings to mind the elegantly exclusive airs of a country club far more than the old–school boys club most of us associate with a gun range.

Poway Weapons & Gear

13550 Danielson St, Poway, CA 92064 - weaponsandgearrange.com

This business is the largest indoor shooting range and gun store in San Diego County - a Disneyland for gun enthusiasts - opened in the Poway Business Park for the public and membership to their gun club.

I was lucky enough to get a personal tour from PWG’s founder, John Phillips. After a 24 year career in federal law enforcement and security consulting, and with an inherent passion for training and instructing in the weapons field, Phillips found himself frustrated with his lack of options in the civilian sphere. He quickly found there was nowhere to take his clients or family where he could train them the way he wanted to, or even be treated the way he wanted to be treated at a shooting range. There was simply no option of a high–class range with first–class training in San Diego—until he created one. Phillips began in 2009 with just a retail space, its success inspiring him to open PWG in 2014.

Since opening in the fall of last year, Poway Weapons & Gear has welcomed 110,000 guests through its doors and 30,000 onto one of its three ranges. With 25, 50, and 100 yard ranges, PWG is truly unique; most ranges offer a mere 25 or even 15 yards to practice in. Each range is completely automated with a variety of options for each shooter. Choose your target (varying from friend/foe, playing cards, even golf–themed for you putting enthusiasts) and the system takes over, flipping randomly and traveling anywhere along the rail, near, far and everywhere in between. The 100 yard range offers larger booths, allowing the shooter to stand, sit or shoot prone, making it the perfect place to shoot your larger weapons. If you like to envision yourself as Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, this is the place for you.

Phillips continued to pull more and more tricks out of his proverbial sleeve as we toured the ranges, me writing fervently and glancing about with open–mouthed wonder. He pointed out large doors in the back of the range that can open to accommodate vehicles for special law enforcement or military training exercises. Next, the black sound–proofing walls and the way the doors seal behind us to create a vacuum so that everything —from scent to lead— can be sucked downrange in the facility’s top–of–the–line HEPA ventilation system. There’s always a range safety officer patrolling the massive facility in order to answer any questions guests may have and to ensure everyone feels, and is, completely safe. Phillips continued to point out every way in which PWG works to make guests feel comfortable, and his work truly shows; every inch of PWG is clean without feeling sterile, from the fresh air to the sparkling floors. And my opinion isn’t the only one that proves what he’s doing is working: while the majority of visitors to a shooting range stay downrange for approximately 40 minutes, PWG’s guests stay for an average of 90 minutes, more than twice that of the industry average. Once you step onto one of PWG’s ranges, you literally do not want to leave.  

It’s not just the range itself that makes PWG special. Phillips’ passion has always lay in training, and he wanted to lead the industry in programs and classes; in just a few short months he has done just that. Commonly referred to as “PWG  University,” PWG offers 40 classes ranging from intro to gun safety to training for special forces. Two specially–equipped classrooms offer space for everything from presentations to basic gun–handling. Another thing that distinguishes PWG is its retail space: 3,500 square feet of over $1 million in merchandise, including 1,000 firearms and 8 million rounds of ammunition. Knowledgeable and friendly staff are perpetually present behind gleaming countertops, ready and willing to answer any questions you might have about the incredible retail selection. PWG even offers a VIP lounge with large televisions, lounge chairs and a refrigerator, perfect for your next corporate team–building event, or even your bachelor or bachelorette party.

What I found particularly alluring about PWG is Phillips’ interest in making sure female customers, especially those experiencing their first time on a shooting range, are completely comfortable. Every detail of PWG is designed to make women feel welcome, from a knowledgeable female staff to the elegantly outfitted women’s restroom. Regardless of your experience or gender, whether you’re a first–timer like me or an old–hand like Phillips, once you walk into PWG you’re bound to feel comfortable and even inspired. Phillips mentioned, with a quiet laugh, that some of his female customers refer to Poway Weapons and Gear as the Nordstrom of gun ranges but, in truth, PWG is so much more than that; with its clean and vibrant atmosphere, friendly personnel, and vast opportunities for a day of fun or a cultivating learning experience, it’s your new home away from home.