Being a responsible firearm owner comes with many responsibilities, safety being the most important, of course. And understanding range etiquette is an integral part of firearm safety.
Following and practicing good range etiquette, whether an indoor or outdoor range, is always the way to go. It only takes one bad apple to reflect poorly on all responsible firearm owners. Here are a few simple rules and courtesies to keep in mind when you hit the gun range.
FUNDAMENTAL SAFETY – FIRST AND ALWAYS
While this may seem obvious, it’s vital to learn and always practice firearm safety. Sometimes even experienced shooters get too comfortable in their routines and become lax with gun safety. This is never acceptable. You should always be a good student and ambassador of the universal firearm safety rules.
- Treat all firearms as if loaded
- Never point a gun at something you are not willing to destroy
- Know your target and what’s beyond
- Keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on target
FOLLOW RANGE RULES
This goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway – follow the rules of the shooting range you’re on.Shooting ranges operate on fairly similar rules, but each individual range will most likely have unique rules. If you have a specific question, call the range before heading over. This could save you some time and grief. If you’re wanting to shoot your new SAINT™, some indoor ranges may not allow rifles. Most ranges have specific rules about ammunition, also, and don’t allow steel-core (armor piercing) ammo.
LOADING AND UNLOADING
When you are on a shooting line, there are going to be other shooters next to you. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance that the muzzle never points to the right or left of you.
Take extra care when loading and unloading your firearm, making certain to keep the muzzle pointed downrange. If you need more leverage to manipulate the slide, turn your body sideways (versus the gun). This enables you to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, as opposed to pointing it at the person next to you.
During a “cease fire” unload your gun and lock the slide/cylinder open and then step behind back from the firing line while shooters go downrange to tape and set targets. Firearms are not allowed to be handled during a cease fire. Once unloaded, leave the firearms alone and grab everything you need from the firing line before backing across the line (phone, water bottle, etc.). Cease fires are a good time to chat with the shooter next to you, hydrate, send a text or check some emails. Just do all of this behind the cease fire line.
DON’T BACKSEAT SHOOT
How many people are fans of backseat drivers? Probably not many. The same goes for the gun range. Unless someone asks, it’s courteous to keep the technique corrections and tips to your own lane, even if the person next you isn’t using the stance you would.
However, if someone is doing something dangerous, it needs to be addressed immediately. Report the incident to the club officers or, if you are comfortable, deal with it directly.
ONE LAST THING
Make sure to clean up after yourself when you’re done shooting. Any brass, ammo boxes or miscellaneous trash should be picked up. It might seem like a small ordeal, but leaving your mess for someone else to clean up is frustrating for the next person and leaves a less-than-stellar impression.