I’ve never been much of a “gun person.” It’s not that I dislike guns, I’ve just never needed them, much less had to depend on one for survival. But because guns have played such an important part in American History, and in particular, the history of Northeast Tennessee, I decided to give it a shot.

I mean, imagine Daniel Boone without his “Tick-Licker.” Or Davy Crockett without “Ol Betsy.”

The fact is: guns played a crucial part in the exploration and settlement of virtually every part of America.

So I decided to get in touch with my pioneer side, and that ambition led me to The Shooter’s Edge, just off the Bristol Highway in Piney Flats, Tennessee. It’s the area’s only full-service, indoor public shooting range.

The first thing that struck me about this place is how big it is: 21,000 square feet, with 15 shooting booths and automated targeting systems for sending and retrieving targets. You can shoot any firearm you’ve got (with the exception of muzzle loader and 50 caliber BMG), just bring your gun and ammunition and they’ll set you up with your own shooting bay. Or, if you don’t have any guns of your own (or just want to get some practice for you and your family), you can rent the gun of your choice (for a small fee).

Being the novice that I am, my instructor took extra care to make me feel comfortable and answer all the questions I had. But this place isn’t just for beginners. Plenty of expert hunters and military people were there trying out different guns in their own arsenal.

I don’t have to tell you how good I did with my “target practice” (it wasn’t good). But I will say that I never imagined I’d have as much fun as I did.

So whether you’re a beginner who needs hands-on instruction, or an experienced marksman looking to hone your skills, The Shooters Edge is your kind of place. For gun rentals, hours, and more information, visit their website here.