A behind-the-scenes look at a shoot at a shooting range.
As a video production company, there’s a lot that goes on “behind the scenes” when creating the final product you see on screen. In production, especially pre-production, every day brings something new to it. Production is a never ending-adventure that occasionally throws a curveball your way. Some days, this adventure can be as simple as location scouting, script development, or digging through a seemingly never-ending list of talent. Today at On Target Shooting Range, the adventure constitutes pointing a Henry .45-.70 rifle at the heart of the target in front of you.
Yes, you read that right. One of the cooler parts of video shoot prep for a hands-on client is that you get to be, well, hands-on. So, if we were going to be working for Henry Repeating Arms, it would be in our best interest to be educated on how the great lever action guns work. There was a nervousness that surrounded the day. Part of that nervousness came from those of us inexperienced with guns, grappling with the idea of confidently controlling an object that had so much potential to go awry. For those of us who had some experience with guns, our nerves stemmed from the fact that we would eventually have to train others the way we would be trained today. No pressure or anything.
In a few weeks, we would be headed out to Temecula and Colorado. We would be placing guns into actors’ hands – possibly who had never even held a Henry before! – and it was our job to make sure we all knew what to do with them. We would be responsible for lives, so we needed to be 100% confident that we could handle any gun problems that came our way. That is exactly what brought us to the On Target range in Laguna Niguel.
The morning of, we began gathering the large assortment of Henry rifles and accessories we would need to learn about for the upcoming B-roll shoots. Between the various scopes, levers, and mounts, there would be a lot to cover that day. Shana and Tiffany began loading the camera gear that would be vital to filming behind-the-scenes footage. Kelly and Miranda gathered the production binder full of shot ideas and inspirations that we could run by the range officers to have an idea of what would be the most visually appealing, and the safest. With our materials gathered, we piled into Kelly’s SUV and made the hill-filled trek to On Target.
We entered the shop late morning to the sounds of gunfire echoing in from the range.
We were prepared with a hefty list of questions about how to assemble the guns, loading and unloading them, and how to keep them clean and functioning. Well, we thought we were prepared with the list. Turns out we left the all-too-important list of questions back at our office in Laguna Beach, a good 20-minute drive down very-crowded Orange County freeways. Of course, we didn’t realize that until we went to pull the questions sheet out of the production binder. Trying to hide our panic, we began debating who should hustle back to the office to grab the sheet.
“Miranda, can you go back?” Kelly asked. Miranda was our at-the-time intern (She’s full-time now!) so it made the most sense for her to leave.
“Well…. I didn’t bring my glasses, so technically I can’t legally drive. Also, your car scares the crap out of me, Kelly.” Kelly drives a giant tan Escalade that could easily ram through a barricade if the need ever did arise.
“Shoot (haha gun pun). Ok then Tiffany, you go.” Our junior editor, a cute 5’3” life-of-the-party type girl rushed off to retrieve the list as we began to find ways to stall for time. We talked with the range safety officer, Josh, about his military past and how he ended up at this little range in Orange County. We then discussed our own history with guns, which was minimal for most of us. Tiffany reappeared with the list, petrified and vowing never to drive Kelly’s car again, and we were off and running.
Josh and Gregg, the range owner, sat down with us and the extensive assortment of Henry rifles in front of us that would be needed on the actual shoots a couple of weeks later. We needed to know how to safely work and handle each and every one of them. Eleven guns and three hours later, we were Henry rifle experts or at least expert enough to confidently go into the upcoming shoots. We regrouped with some In N Out and prepared to clean up for the day.
But wait, there’s more…
“Oh no, we’re not done,” Josh said as we gathered our things. “It’s one thing to know how to work a gun in theory. It’s another to work it in practice.”
And with that, we found goggles on our head, and ear protection over our ears as we were ushered out onto the range. There, all 11 Henrys were spread out across the range, each in their own station. We would shoot several rounds with each model to make sure we felt comfortable. Our team would begin with the lowest caliber, working our way up to the more heavy-hitting rifles. We started with the Classic Lever Action .22LR, the rifle with the least amount of kick to it. Shooting it was comparable to having someone playfully nudge your shoulder after you make a bad joke.
Josh watched us each load the gun and prepare to shoot it, just like he had taught us. We each fired off a handful of rounds, appropriately discharging and reloading for ourselves each time. We began to work our way to bigger calibers of guns, each with an increase in kick. None gave us trouble. Well, didn’t give most of us trouble.
When it came time to shoot the .30-.30, our second largest caliber, Miranda loaded the gun and prepared to shoot. As she pulled the trigger, the kick from the rifle proved to be more than she anticipated. The rifle reared up, sending the bullet well above the target, right into the metal grip attaching it to the range. The shot was swiftly followed by a loud clang as the grip came tumbling down to the range floor. Miranda had shot the screw between the grip and the zipline to bring the target back, effectively breaking the piece of equipment that held up the target. Josh went to retrieve the piece once the other shooters on the range had ceased fire. He brought it back to show us the damage.
“I don’t know whether to be impressed or not,” he said. “I mean, you clearly missed the target, but the piece you hit was so small it would take a super precise shot to hit it.”
The Henry Lever Action .45-.70
We moved on the .45-.70, the largest caliber rifle in our arsenal, with a little more trepidation. This rifle, being the highest caliber, would have the greatest kick of them all. Half of us were left with shaky limbs and sweaty palms from the sheer power we were holding in our hands. The other half couldn’t be more excited to put another round in the chamber. When shooting guns of this size, your body takes on this strange mixture of calm and fear. The fear comes with the knowledge that you are holding an object that could cause some serious damage if handled incorrectly. The fear intensified for those of us that were holding guns for the first time. The calm came from knowing that Josh and Gregg had trained us well, and we knew everything we needed to keep us safe. The calm gives you precision; the fear keeps you present.
As we prepared to shoot, Josh took extra care to make sure our gun was placed on our shoulders to best absorb the kick. With that, we began shooting. This was the first gun where you could see our bodies violently fighting back against the kick of the rifle. The kick wanted to jerk our shoulders back as we struggled to keep them where they were. We shot successfully, or at least didn’t accidently vandalize any more of the range. We excitedly congratulated each other on not hurting anything (other than that metal grip… sorry On Target). As we were preparing to leave the range, Josh stopped us.
“I have a little surprise for you.”
“There’s one more thing that I think you guys should shoot.” he said with a smirk before leaving the range.
He returned with the Smith & Wesson 500, the most powerful handgun on the market boasting an impressive .50 caliber. To show us exactly what we were dealing with, he offered to shoot the revolver first. Even with his military-trained stance, his body shook from the kick of the gun in his hands. You could see the muscles in his arm straining as the wave of energy made its way through his body. He fought to keep his stance secure from the impact. The sound from the bullet reverberated throughout the range, sending a shock wave through our bodies, even from several feet away. He turned back to us with a big grin and his arms open.
“All right, who’s next?”
“I’ll go.” Tiffany said as she stepped forward from behind the rest of us.
To say this caught us off guard was an understatement. Tiffany is the smallest of us by a long shot. To have her be the first to shoot this monster of a weapon without hesitation was ridiculous at best. She confidently stepped up to the station and held the gun steadily in front of her.This gun was so powerful that Josh had to hold each of our arms as we shot it so the kick wouldn’t cause our arms to go flying.
Tiffany’s shot displayed the same brute force of strength that would be necessary to handle this thing properly. The flash from the bullet leaving the chamber was about as bright as a mini fireworks show except going off right in front of our faces. As soon as the trigger was pulled, this rush of adrenaline flooded your system, the kind of adrenaline that leaves you weirdly smiley and giggly despite the fact you just shot an unbelievably powerful weapon. Our producer and editor Shana was especially giddy after firing off her round, looking amazed by the fact pulling the trigger was something she actually just did.
With that, we exited the range and took off the protective shooting gear. With some final pointers from Gregg and Josh on how to get the best angles of the gun during filming, while still remaining out of harm’s way, we began to wrap up our journey at On Target. What was supposed to be a 3-hours-max trip ending up taking us away from the office for a full 8 hours. No arguing on our part; best office field trip ever.
Something about video production always brings you to a new office.
Sometimes it’s on set, at an actual office, or scouting locations… Our office for that day happened to be On Target. Special thanks to Josh and Gregg! Their help and tips made sure we made it safely and successfully through our Henry shoots so we could share this story with you. Check out the rest of the blog for more IDR Productions experiences! You can also check out our finished Henry commercials here!
Would you like to learn more about video pre-production, or about any other video topic? Reach out to IDR for additional information and answers to all your questions. You’ll discover why we’re Orange County’s premier producer of TV commercials, infomercials, and online videos for a wide range of businesses, organizations, and brands.