Range etiquette is a mixture of safety, manners and being considerate. All ranges are different, but these tips will cover most situations
Follow the Safety Rules
All shooters should be following the four main safety rules anytime they handle firearms, especially at the range. Those rules are:
1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.=
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. (For those who insist that this particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)
3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target. This is the Golden Rule. Its violation is directly responsible for about 60 percent of inadvertent discharges.
4. Identify your target, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.
Follow the Range Rules
Every range has additional rules created for their specific facility. For example, one outdoor range locally wants you to bring your gun in out of the case where they can see it. While this range rule may be odd, it works for their setup. Most ranges want your gun in your gun bag and request that you don’t remove it from the bag until you’re at your shooting station or lane. Range rules are generally posted in several prominent places within the facility.
Listen to the Range Safety Officer (RSO)
The RSO is there to keep everyone safe and enforce the rules of the range. They aren’t there to spoil your fun. Listen to what they have to say and do what they tell you to do. If you disagree with an RSO, handle it professionally and courteously. A gun range is not the place to get into a shouting match. If you believe the RSO is wrong, talk to the Chief RSO or manager/owner of the range.
Leave Other Shooters Alone
I may take some heat about this one, but in general, leave others alone. Do not offer advice or training, as difficult as that may be. Believe it or not, some shooters go to the range to have a good time. They don’t care if their grip is proper or if they’re flinching. They come for fun and stress relief, not to have someone point out all their flaws, give them a lesson on fundamentals or train them to be a competitive shooter.
And while brass is a commodity for those that reload, picking up the brass of someone that is still in the lane shooting is just plain rude. Wait until they leave. Also, be sure that the range rules do not prohibit collecting brass. Many will allow you to pick up YOUR brass but not collect all brass.
Keep your Hits on the Target
If you are shooting everything but your target, STOP! Go get yourself a lesson from a qualified instructor and come back. All range equipment is expensive whether it’s backboards, frames and target stands at an outdoor range or the target carriers, lane cameras and walls at an indoor range.
Clean up After Yourself
Leave the range better than you found it. Take your target(s) down and dispose of them. If you’re at an indoor range, clean up everything in your lane, such as brass, extra staples or empty ammo boxes. It shouldn’t be the RSO’s responsibility to clean up after people. The RSO can better serve shooters by watching for safety violations rather than cleaning up messes.
It really all boils down to treating the range like it was your home and treat those in it like you would want to be treated. So get out there, support your local ranges and have a great time!
Tracy Hughes is a firearms instructor, competitive shooter, facilitator for A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League and the owner of Brilliant Backstraps.