If you’ve never been to a gun range it can seem a little daunting at first. People wielding firearms, loud noises and rules posted everywhere can discourage beginning shooters. Going to the gun ranges isn’t complicated, they just depend on everyone being safe and responsible. If you want a fun trip to the range, follow these six rules to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyability.
Always handle your firearm conscientiously by following these four main rules: (1) Treat all firearms as if they are loaded, (2) Never point a gun at something you are not willing to destroy, (3) Know your target and what’s beyond, (4) Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Bring eye and ear protection with you as they are essential, and every gun range should require them. Regardless of age or experience, you are never above practicing safety.
Bag your Gun
Range bags aren’t just a convenient way to carry your gear, it is also a way of practicing safety. Unless you carry your gun to the range in a separate case or box, a good shooting bag is a safe and considerate way to do it. Believe it or not, walking into a shooting range waving your rifle or pistol around is not appreciated. Case it safely, unloaded, with the action open, and bring your whole bag to the shooting bench. Once there, remove your gun following posted range procedures.
Listen to the Range Officer
Most gun ranges have a Range Officer (RO.) The RO ensures everyone is using their firearms properly. The duties of the RO are to tell you when it’s ok to shoot, when to cease fire and enforce the rules of the range. Pay attention to them and do as they say.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions
It is completely acceptable to question anything you’re not sure about. If you are not familiar with the procedures of a shooting range, feel free to ask. The range officer and shooters alike will appreciate the fact you care enough to ask.
Treat Fellow Shooters with Respect
Interacting with others at the range shouldn’t be taken lightly. If someone is actively shooting don’t interrupt them and never coach them unless they ask for your input. Always face down range and shoot straight ahead, not to the sides—because you don’t want to alarm other shooters. Never pick up someone else’s firearm unless they give you permission. Make sure it is unloaded and on safe. Most shooters are friendly and feel a sense of comradery with other shooters because of the shared hobby.
Clean up After Yourself
Remember to take down your old targets, pick up brass, throw away your trash and return any equipment/chairs/tables, etc. Other people use the range too, and no one wants to walk up to a dirty lane.
If you follow these rules, not only will you enjoy your trip to the range, so will everyone else.
Have you experienced bad etiquette or unsafe behavior at the gun range? If so, what was it, what happened and how was it corrected. Tell us your stories in the comment section.
About the Author
Roddy Noonan hails from Salado, Texas—a small bed and breakfast town 45 minutes north of Austin that sees its share of weddings and festivals. Currently a communications major at Dallas Baptist University, Roddy is interested in entering the sales and marketing side of business after graduation. Coming from a family of gun nuts who taught him everything he knows, Roddy is a casual hunter, enjoying the few times a year he gets to visit his parents’ ranch in Wyoming.