A day at the range should be enjoyable, whether it’s a family affair or you are seeking some much-needed trigger therapy. No matter the reason, you will be sharing the space with a number of people, and you don’t want to be the disruptive or unsafe person on the range.
There are certain things that you can do to make sure to ensure that everyone has a safe and fun time. Following these gun range etiquette tips will not only keep you safe and secure, but it will show common sense, courtesy and safety towards your fellow shooters.
The most basic gun range protocol follows four safety rules. It is important, no matter how experienced you are, that you always adhere to these guidelines:
- Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.
- Never point your weapon at something you do not intend to shoot.
- Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you intend to fire.
- Always know your target and what lies behind it.
These basic rules should apply to every shooter on the range to ensure the safety of all. If you are a new shooter, it is important to commit them to memory.
Learn the Range Rules
Whether you have never been to a gun range or if you are visiting a new one for the first time, there may be additional rules specific to that location. Adhere to each particular range’s safety rules because some gun may allow different things.
For example, some ranges may allow you to draw your weapon from an inside the waistband holster while others may require holsters on the hip. Other ranges may not allow you to pull your gun from the holster at all.
Listen to the Range Safety Officer
The Range Safety Officer is responsible for the safety of everyone at the range. They are almost always NRA certified instructors who have been through a detailed gun safety course. They are in place to protect the lives of everyone on the range.
Don’t be offended if they yell at you for an unsafe action. Everyone is wearing hearing protection, so they need to speak loudly to be heard. Secondly, they want to make sure that you are safe, so they will make any calls they deem necessary.
The Range Safety Officer is the one in charge, but this doesn’t make him the only person who can call cease-fire or stop unsafe actions. Every person on the range is responsible for his own actions, and if you see something that is unsafe, you should call a cease-fire.
Make sure to check with the Range Safety Officer to ensure that you are following all rules. They can be a wealth of information for any firearms questions, so feel free to seek out their expertise. They often enjoy sharing their expertise, and you may learn something new tips for staying course compliant or improving your shot.
Empty Chamber Indicator
It is a good idea to buy an empty chamber indicator. This lets everyone on the range know that the guns you have on the rack are empty. Some ranges even require them when a firearm is not in use.
It adds an extra safety feature that helps keep everyone accountable. If you plan to go to the range with more than one firearm, you will need to have one for each weapon. Even with the indicator in place, any firearms that are not in use should not be handled until it’s time to use them.
Another thing to remember is to never touch a firearm during a cease fire. Even if it’s unloaded with the empty chamber indicator in place, someone may not be able to see the indicator and will not know your intention.
Wait until the Range Safety Officer has cleared the line. After the line is cleared to shoot, you can resume handling your weapons.
Clean Up After Yourself
Every time you go to the range, make sure you clean up your own mess. Most ranges have a broom and dustpan, so cleaning up your brass is simple. Since it is a shared community space, leaving it a mess is not only rude — and it can lead to safety concerns if people slip on the spent shell casings.
It is not the responsibility of the Range Safety Officer to clean up after you. Leave the range how you found it or go the extra mile and make it look nicer than when you arrived. Not only is this a common courtesy, but the staff will appreciate your willingness to clean up after yourself.
This is also a great time to pick up brass if you reload your own ammo. You can even ask your neighbors if they mind giving you their cartridges. This will help you save money and give you more ammo to reload on your own.
Going to the gun range should be an enjoyable experience. Everyone wants to have a good time, but it is important that you exercise caution when using any kind of firearm. Strict adherence to gun safety rules is critical to protect everyone on the range. Pair it with good etiquette and you’ll earn the respect of your fellow shooters and the Range Safety Officers.