We all know that practicing proper gun range etiquette is very important. You don’t want to make a bad impression by being the one who doesn’t put their target down when they are done shooting or by making a mess of the range.
Gun range etiquette is a set of rules that are followed to maintain safety and courtesy at the shooting range. These rules are not always obvious, so it is important to know them before heading out to a shooting range.
It is also important to follow the safety rules at all times. For example, never point your weapon at another person, keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire, always keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction and be sure that you have an adequate backstop before you shoot.
The next time you practice proper gun range etiquette, think about these tips, and make sure that they are followed.
Shooting Range Rules And Etiquette
I know you’re getting ready to go out to the range, but before you do, there are a couple of safety rules we want to go over. All ranges are different and have different rules, so be sure to read them thoroughly.
Visiting a shooting range requires proper etiquette. Here are some tips and tricks for avoiding problems at the gun range, from the basics to the specifics. Besides keeping you and others safe, learning etiquette will prevent you from looking out of place.
You’ll feel more confident during your practice if you know the right precautions and procedures. Then, once you’ve visited a few times, you’ll feel more confident, self-sufficient, and comfortable speaking with the regulars.
1. Let Yourself Enjoy The Process
It is important for newcomers to take their time. It is common for accidents to occur when people rush, and there is no need to move too fast.
You might feel overwhelmed by the first time you go to a shooting range, much like you would in any new situation.
The consequences of making a mistake can be severe, and many rules and procedures must be remembered. The people around you understand how you feel, though. All shooters, regardless of their experience level, started somewhere.
2. When Not In Use, Keep The Gun Unloaded
There is something exciting about going to the firing range for many weapon owners. When it’s time to shoot, make sure your weapon is unloaded. Both experienced, and novice gun owners can be negligent by loading a gun and letting it sit for a short period of time.
The risk of getting injured or worse is high if someone picks it up thinking it’s an unloaded weapon. It’s always a good idea to eliminate the possibility of an accident before it happens if you’re a responsible gun owner.
3. Don’t Forget To Clean Up
The range is a place where common courtesy goes a long way. Make sure you clean up after yourself after using a facility, just as you should anywhere else. If there is any brass, ammo boxes, or miscellaneous trash, pick it up before you leave.
It will not only be appreciated by the staff but will ensure everyone’s safety – no one will trip over your debris.
4. Become Familiar With Commands
Most firing ranges, particularly those with instructors on-site, use commands to ensure the safety of their customers.
While shooting at a target for the first time, these commands may seem confusing or overwhelming. You should be aware of two common range commands, even though each range uses its own terminology.
- Ceasefire – stop firing immediately
- Commence fire – you may begin to fire
Use the safety mechanism on your weapon to engage a ceasefire order and aim the muzzle in a safe direction. For safety reasons, taking out the clips and ammunition from the gun is also a good idea.
5. During A Ceasefire, What Should You Do?
RSOs can call for a ceasefire at any time during a session. Shooters must step behind the fire line, unload their guns, lock the slide or cylinder open, and unload their magazines.
Take all the necessary items for the break before stepping back since you can’t return past the line until the RSO permits. Putting these rules in place ensures the safety of everyone.
During ceasefires, shooters and staff can inspect the equipment, set up new targets, do range maintenance, or check equipment. The shooters are responsible for keeping those who venture down the lanes safe.
Passing the line or touching any gun during a ceasefire is prohibited. You can relax behind the firing line as long as you are behind the firing line.
Take advantage of this opportunity to meet your neighbors and get to know some of the regulars. Then, rehydrate and clear your mind before refocusing your efforts by responding to text messages or reading a few emails.
The RSO will call a command to commence firing once no one is downrange and everyone is ready to go. Following that, individuals are permitted to pass the line to handle their firearms.
It is also possible to call for a ceasefire if the shooter notices a problem, such as a malfunctioning gun or a person wandering down range. In order to verify that everyone hears the command and follows it, the RSO will repeat it.
6. Loading And Unloading Safely
In order to avoid injury, you should take extra precautions when loading or unloading your firearm. Active shooters are likely to be on either side of you, as are people on break, so it’s imperative you keep them in mind.
In this case, following one of the universal safety rules is especially important. Keep a good grip on your firearm when loading and unloading it, and keep the muzzle pointed downrange at all times.
To ensure your muzzle points at the targets and assures a tight hold, turn your body sideways rather than the gun. This will keep you from accidentally turning the gun towards your neighbors while keeping it safely angled downrange.
Also, bring a well-maintained firearm. If you notice any issue with your gun, take it to the in house gun smith for a quick gun service.
7. Be Respectful Of The Range Safety Officer
There are usually Range Safety Officers (RSOs) on-site at most facilities. In addition to making sure shooters observe proper etiquette and operate their firearms safely, they are responsible for making sure they follow the rules.
They often yell out commands, such as initiating ceasefires or telling shooters when it’s okay to carry on.
You should be able to avoid problems as long as you follow range rules and listen to officers. The RSO will let you know if you do something improperly and are unaware of it.
Do not try to coach someone who is acting unsafely. Instead, let the RSO know so they can handle it. Many people have a negative perception of RSOs because they are portrayed as mean, but they have to shout in order to be heard by shooters.
These commands are not meant to be taken personally. There are many potential risks associated with an RSO’s job and being strict can prevent problems. It is important to respect RSOs because they have a hard job to do.
Make it easier for them by following all rules and safety precautions. It won’t be necessary for them to single you out if you listen carefully.
You are also welcomed to ask any questions you have, and do not to assume anything. RSOs are there to assist you with any questions you may have.
8. Be Sure To Read The Range Rules
Each range operates according to its own set of best practices, in addition to the universal best practices. Therefore, the best thing you can do before going in for a session is to become familiar with the range’s specific regulations.
As soon as you arrive at the facility, you must comply with all of their requirements and expectations. Maintaining this level of safety is an easy way to earn the respect of regulars and staff.
Once you have reviewed the rules, most ranges require you to sign a waiver acknowledging that you understand and agree to abide by them. The waiver protects the facility from being held responsible if someone injures themselves or another shooter. It is standard procedure to do this.
Before bringing your gun to the range, be sure to check the range’s maximum rate of fire and ammunition allowances. In most indoor ranges, handguns are the only weapons allowed, while high-powered rifles are prohibited.
Since indoor ranges aren’t designed for anything outside their posted limits, adhering to this limit is crucial. Always err on the side of caution, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Tell the staff you’re new to the range and introduce yourself. Your consideration will likely be appreciated, as they are there to help you with whatever you need.
A shooter who is not actively shooting can also answer your question while you’re in session. Interrupting a person in mid-session is only appropriate if there is an immediate danger or noticeable malfunction.
Ask shooters in between sessions for advice or recommendations if they are free between sessions. Perhaps you’ll even form a friendship.
Be aware that some range rules may not apply to other ranges even if you are familiar with them. Therefore, whenever you have questions about a center’s regulations, it’s best to read them thoroughly and ask them.
9. Make Sure You’re There
Experienced firearm owners know the difference between being present and just showing up. You should leave all distractions in your car or turn them off while training at the firing range.
Putting your phone down can be challenging in our modern world of social media consumption and 24/7 availability. However, you should take this step if you value your safety and that of those around you.
It is not always easy to practice proper gun range etiquette. It can be hard to know what is right and what is wrong in every situation. But, when you follow these guidelines, you will be able to avoid some of the most common mistakes that people make when they are at the range.