At the public range I used to go to before it was closed by bubba, I never went downrange without a loaded gun. It worried me to walk away from my things so I took my loaded handgun downrange too. Holstered, but the idea was that if someone started cleaning off my table, I could dissuade them from distance, lol.
On the exceedingly rare occasion that I go to a public range, I'm a bit paranoid about leaving my stuff on the bench. And, I won't go downrange without being armed, or with some one that is armed. I probably look a little ridiculous, looking back at the firing line every 10-15 seconds.
About 10-15 years ago, there was a rather violent incident at that range, where a shooter was killed by 2 "roaming" criminals on an "unsupervised" day (no range officers). The criminals walked onto the range during a cease-fire and started tossing any handguns, ammunition, magazines, spotting scopes, and other valuables they could reach, into the various range bags that were available to them, while cramming attractive rifles into duffle bags they had brought. When one of the pistol shooters on the 7 yard range ran back to stop the criminals, they killed him with a pistol they picked up from another shooter's bench. Then, they started firing down range, to keep the other shooters down. By the time anyone else made it back to the firing line, the criminals had loaded the range bags into their truck, with dozens of handguns and quite a few rifles.
Even worse than that... they came back about 3 weeks later. That time, they didn't manage to get much, but they still made off with a few bags and a couple handguns. The suspects were found in California, a few months later, but few of the weapons were recovered.
They targeted that particular range for the same reasons it makes me nervous:
1. It's RIGHT off the interstate, providing an easy high-speed escape route.
2. It's the ONLY thing on that exit. Once you're out of the parking lot, you have less than 1/4 mile of open road, with no one to stop you, and a perfectly-placed on ramp to the interstate (both directions).
3. The closest law enforcement officers are at least 12-15 miles away.
4. From the parking lot, you have a perfect view of the surrounding area and interstate (miles
in each direction), the firing line, the office building, and the target stands. You can monitor everything
from one location.
5. You can park a vehicle less than 25 feet from the firing line, but keep it out of sight of 90% of the shooters. (15 feet away, and out of sight of ALL shooters, if you're sneaky and park behind the range manager's shack.)
6. There's no surveillance system.
7. If they don't have a volunteer Range Officer for the day, it's simply a 'democratic' "unsupervised" range. The shooters control the line as they see fit. So, no one is left behind for most cease-fires.
8. There are no weapons allowed down range. Since most shooters don't OC or CC, they are unarmed.
Unfortunately, it's still the best range in the area, and the only one I'm willing to go to. ...I just look like a paranoid fool when I'm there.
But, I really don't know if my paranoia would even matter. Fifteen seconds can be more than enough time for some one to pocket a handgun, or grab a rifle and hide behind the bench. Even if they just grabbed it and took off... I may not even make it to the firing line, before they're half way across the parking lot in their vehicle.