Postcards from Tradocia

what’s wrong with people?

Yesterday the Pontiff and I took the long drive to the Oakdale Gun Club to try out my new rifle (pictures coming soon!). I had never visited Oakdale, but had generally heard good things about it, so I decided it was time to investigate.

This was in spite of the generally unwelcoming feeling one gets from reading their website – it’s obviously a club geared primarily towards their members, but membership is both extremely restricted and fairly expensive. They also have a range duty requirement for members, which I suppose is reasonable, but to me it just conjures up images of being on range detail in the Army, policing up brass and loading magazines and what have you, which really I’d like to avoid if at all possible.

We pulled up to the range at around 3 PM, and it was beautiful – sunny and maybe fifty degrees, a nice breeze…a perfect day for outdoor shooting. Unfortunately, it was not to be…

Inside the clubhouse, there was a sort of hangdog-looking older guy sweeping the floor, wearing a member’s pass around his neck. To me – and the Pontiff agreed – he looked like a recruit who had forgot his rifle somewhere and he had been sentenced to clean the clubhouse by some drill sergeant somewhere. Approaching the counter, I waited for the old guy behind the desk to finish his phone conversation, taking out my wallet as I did so (which is really the internation signal for “I want to give you money in exchange for goods and/or services”). He hung up the phone…and promptly turned away, ignoring both of us to strike up a conversation with some other member about the proper handloading technique for a 230-grain bullet in .45 ACP. The Pontiff and I glanced at each other, a little confused; did the guy just not notice us, or…?

After another minute or two, he said, “hold on, let me take care of this” and turned to me. He asked me what I wanted – as if it wasn’t sort of obvious, considering the location. I said I wanted to buy a couple of range passes; incredibly, he reached for a pile of gift certificates and said, “oh, you want to buy someone some range time? They’re five dollars a piece.” A little brusquely, I replied, “no, I want to shoot today.” Seemingly a little miffed, he said “oh” and then asked if I had a safety certificate.

Note that it’s not a general requirement in Minnesota to have any kind of certificate to fire at a range; however, on Oakdale’s site it says “Shooters under the age of 18 must show their DNR Firearms Safety Certificates before they can purchase a range pass.” Those of you that know me (or have seen enough pictures) know where this is going…

A little dumbfounded, I said, “well, I have a pistol permit – is that good enough?” (You have to be 21 to own a pistol in Minnesota.) “No,” he said bluntly, as if I was presenting my Cub Scout membership card. At this point, I think my mouth literally fell open; he looked at the Pontiff, sort of like he was my dad or something. The he asked how old I was – not in a courteous manner, mind you, but more like “how old are you, little boy?” Again staggered, I had to think before replying – “I’m twenty-six years old!” “Oh,” he mumbled. He then asked how many guns we had, etc., so I figured we were in. No problem, right?

So it was $30 for the two of us to shoot. Neither of us had any cash – typical for me, since I usually just slap down my check card whenever I make a purchase. Seeing the credit card machine next to the register, I asked (cordially as possible), “do you take credit cards?” Once again, I was flabbergasted when he said, “No, cash only.” The Pontiff and I stared at each other, speechless. I started to ask where the nearest ATM was, when the guy said, “Why don’t you guys pack it up and come back when you have some money.” Still not registering that this old fart had just insulted me to my face, I asked again where the nearest ATM was. His response? “I have no idea.” With that, I think he told us to “pack it up” again and so we turned and left. Needless to say, we didn’t return, nor will we ever.

Excuse me now while I devolve into furious swearing.

What the FUCK was this guy thinking? Is it Oakdale Gun Club SOP to treat everyone who looks under 40 as if they’re a shitbag not worthy of common human courtesy? I swear, it was the most rude and humiliating treatment I’ve ever received anywhere, gun-related facility or otherwise – and there are a lot of rude gun shop and range personnel out there. Thanks to the singlehanded efforts of this one orange-hat-wearing old fuckwad, Oakdale has lost at least one and maybe more potential new members – and judging from from the photos on the site, the membership isn’t getting any younger. But really, it just jives with the feeling I got from the site, which was totally unwelcoming and was basically “fuck off.”

Why was this guy such an asshole? I’m almost certain that it was a combination of our young age and the guns we were shooting (or going to shoot, I should say, since no shooting occurred). The Pontiff looked dashing with his spiked hair, reflective aviators and leather jacket, while apparently I looked like I had just crawled out of day care and left my diaper on the side of the road. He must’ve thought us young whippersnappers had just robbed a convenience store, bought a couple of Glocks, and thought it’d be cool to go shoot gangster-style.

Really, it’s the attitudes of human shitpiles like that guy are a major reason that shooters in general and hunters in particular are getting older every year – if you don’t have gray hair, it can be a real pain in the ass to get even cursory service at a gun store or range. These fucking old cocks need all the help they can get, and I’d love to provide it – if only I could find a place that didn’t treat me like shit.

So, I hope the membership of Oakdale feels good about belonging to such an elite bunch of cocksuckers, because if they keep up this method of recruiting, the place will go belly-up in ten years when all their current members drop dead from old age.


  1. Spike

    A little Hitler.

  2. Pamela

    Hope you don’t mind but I fired off a nasty email at the club. Asses doesn’t begin to cover their behavior.

  3. Bruce Bethke

    First off, I’d like to thank Pamela for bringing this to my attention.

    Secondly, I’d appreciate it if you’d contact me directly, as I’d like to have at least a chance to change your impression of OGC.

    Third, there is absolutely no excuse for how you and the Pontiff were treated last Friday. I know who did it, and corrective action will be taken. For what it’s worth, though, this is the bane of running a member-owned, member-operated club. If it wasn’t for the old retired guys, we couldn’t be open on weekdays at all, but some of them do tend to view the place as *their* private property and resent having to let anyone else in. Also, he should have explained to you that our credit card reader has been down and we’ve been trying to get it fixed since October 1, instead of just blowing you off the way he did. I find it almost — but sadly, not really — unbelievable that he did that to you.

    Fourth, I don’t understand why you think membership in OGC is “extremely restricted.” Please explain.

    Finally, I’d appreciate any suggestions you have for making our website more welcoming, and I’ll make sure they get into the hands of both the PR director and the webmaster.

    Again, I want to apologize for the way you were treated, and I’d appreciate being given a chance to change your impression of our club.

    Bruce Bethke
    Vice-President, Oakdale Gun Club
    Lake Elmo, MN

  4. The Pontiff

    I’m astounded at the power of the internet sometimes. I didn’t get around to writing to Oakdale yet, and already there is an apology for me waiting on your site. Well, if nothing else, that’s really something. Furthermore, I appreciate Bruce’s apology. The real bummer about it was that I’ve never actually went to a gun range (besides the army run ranges obviously) and this sort of underlying “we’re better than you/pack it up” attitude is exactly why I didn’t. Its also the reason that gun enthusiasts are, like Delobi said, aging and losing a battle of attrition. I would also add that we did manage to fire the next day in Circle Pines at Bill’s Gun Shop & Range, where they had a lot of younger people working there who were very cool to me.

  5. Tom in Des Moines

    I’ve received similar treatment at some of the guns shops I’ve visited in the past. You would think that with the MSM giving gun ownership a bad name, guns range and shop owners would want to put forth better customer service. But, sometimes if you don’t know everything there is to know about guns, they think YOU are wasting THEIR time. I was lucky to find a shop here in town that has an owner that takes the time to educate his customers and give great customer service. Even though you may pay a little more than Scheels All Sports, it’s worth it.

  6. Desult

    What a schmuck! I am so sorry to hear that you had to deal with the insults and arrogance of such a pompous prick.

    Rant away…

  7. G&G


  8. Jon Leppala

    My blood was boiling with your read. Since I have a computer in front of me, blasting off to Bruce Bethke that if he doesn’t make it right with Iraq vets, and the National Guard, my letter also going to NRA to sanction his club and provide all the publicity possible to point out his members’complete disregard to young shooters.

    Jon Leppala – Oakdale home owner, at Fort Knox

  9. Holly

    Man, I’ve never been a fan of people playing “cards”, such as the race card or the “I’m a vet” card, but if there was ever a time, I would have raised holy hell about how you had just returned from iraq and where the hell did this guy get off treating you, etc.

    More than likely the old guy was a vet, too…which would have REALLY made him feel like shit for treating a fellow vet like such an ass.

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