Range Etiquette 101 What Every New Gun Owner Should Know
When showing up to a range to shoot, it’s easy to get excited. Fight back the excitement for a second before you run out, hang your target and start shooting.
It’s a good idea to look around and take in who else is there and make sure that you are on the same page and have a plan. We’re going to look at a few key items to keep in mind when you show up to the range which will help you to be safe, and get a warm welcome from anyone on the range.
When you show up to a range, if there are people engaged in shooting, put your eye and hearing protection on BEFORE you get out of your vehicle! Many ranges have overhead protection from sun and rain, and it can be very loud. So, put eye and hearing protection on before you get out of the car. Consider “doubling up” if you are indoors (ear plugs plus over-the-ear style earmuffs).
Private Vs. Public
Private ranges usually have a well -established set of rules to keep the range running well and to ensure people are behaving with good etiquette. If you arrive and don’t know the rules, check in, read them, and follow them.
Public ranges also have rules. If the range is staffed, then they’re essentially a private range but open to the public. Your payment and the waiver that you will likely sign means you are going to have to abide by the rules.
Some public ranges are free and unstaffed. Outdoor ranges are ones where you want to make sure you are on your toes and pay attention to who is around you and what they are doing. Just because YOU know and follow rules, does not mean they will. Safety first!
Scenarios to keep in mind, because you might encounter them:
Scenario #1- You show up and Old Man Jenkins won’t stop to let you hang targets.
- If this is a private range, you’re all paying to USE THE RANGE. It’s selfish to sit and keep others from using the range. So walk up politely when they are between shots. Introduce yourself and state that you would like to hang a target and ask if they are going to be stopping soon. If they don’t politely pause what they are doing and allow you to hang a target, it would be out of the ordinary. Most people will oblige you if you let them know what you want to do.
- This also means when you arrive, the people already shooting will assume that you want to hang a target. Have that ready to go when you load your car up. That way, if they stop to talk to you, you can hang your target and they can go back to what they are doing.
- If a person is really problematic, my best advice would be to wait for them to leave, or leave and call the range owner, or just come back another day. No use getting into a disagreement with someone on a range. They can’t stay forever. And if they’re disagreeable, it’s not going to be enjoyable for you
Scenario #2- people are not being safe.
- Whether this is flagging themselves or others, failing to keep their finger off the trigger when necessary, shooting at inappropriate targets…the list can be long.
- Whatever it is, be prepared that you just might need to speak up for your own safety.
- Keep in mind this person could be newer than you, or just less informed. So, speak with consideration and explain you want to help them be safe or better understand safety tips.
- If you see an immediate danger, call “CEASE FIRE” loudly for all on the range to hear. Walk up to whoever is the problem and politely tell them that something they are doing is unsafe and they are not adhering to the rules. Explain that you had to be vocal about it because it’s a sincere danger to him/her and those around them.
- If the person doesn’t listen to reason, LEAVE and call the range owner.
- If you are on a commercial range, go get the range officer. Don’t be shy about calling a ceasefire if you truly fear for your safety or that of others. This is one reason many people prefer going to a staffed range so they can focus on their shooting and not the habits of others. This doesn’t mean to let your guard down or ignore what others are doing…but the option of alerting people in charge means there’s some degree of separation between you and anyone exhibiting unsafe behaviors.