I agree with purchasing a factory AR for your first one and building your 2nd. That's the route I went and I was a lot more comfortable building the 2nd when I had a blueprint that I could touch and feel.
There are a lot of ARs that will fit your needs as a range gun. S&W was mentioned and they make a great AR. Again, for your needs, great value there. The Colt is what many consider to be the gold standard as they produce the military M4 carbine. For a civilian rifle, there are a lot of great companies to choose from. BCM, PSA, S&W, Spike's Tactical just to name a few.
I wont comment on the other forums mentioned. If you frequent them, you'll soon see what the culture is like.