Proper Range Etiquette
Going to the range might be a little nerve racking at first, knowing the proper etiquette can be even worse! I have some tips that will make your first trips to the range more comfortable and enjoyable.
Take a friend
My first tip is don’t go alone. Not only is it just more comfortable and fun to go with a friend, but you can also encourage one another too.
Make sure to have your eye and ear protection with you and if you have a loading assist such as the Maglula – bring that too. They will make loading your magazines a breeze. Or if you have time and extra magazines, prepare them ahead of time and get them all pre-loaded.
Prepare a Head of Time
Spend a little time before you go and visit the range website. You can get a sense of the layout and get a head start on knowing the rules specific to the range and how to properly bring your gun into the establishment.
Rules are King
Of course always follow the four rules of gun safety. With the amount of times you will hear these rules, you will know them by heart soon. There is never a time when you shouldn’t follow the four rules, after all etiquette is based on rules isn’t it?
Proper etiquette also includes listening to your range officer. Range Safety Officers are responsible for running a safe range. When they call a “Ceasefire” stop shooting. When they give the ok and call the range “Hot” shoot. Range officers or “RSO”s are there to keep you, other patrons and the range staff safe. They can also be a great resource for you if you have any problems with your gun, ammo or have questions!
Never touch your gun, or any other gun, during a range cease-fire, this is a universal range rule. There are many reasons that an RSO might call a cease-fire; someone might be changing targets, there may be a safety concern, or one of a number of other reasons. Even if your firearm is not loaded, do not touch it until the RSO says it is ok.
When others are shooting, leave them alone. Do not interrupt them, tap them on the shoulder, or try to get their attention. They are in shooting mode and breaking their concentration could be dangerous. The only time there is an exception to this rule is when the shooter or a bystander is in imminent danger. It isn’t your job to coach others or correct their techniques. Unless you see them doing something that is dangerous, leave the coaching to instructors.
Only shoot firearms that are allowed by your range. There are many ranges that do not allow certain types of ammunition, high-powered rifles or other long-guns. These restrictions should be listed on their website and posted at the range. If you aren’t sure, check with the RSO or another knowledgeable employee at the range.
Look, Don’t Touch!
This tip may be obvious when it comes to proper etiquette, never pick up anyone else’s firearm without explicit permission. You might be interested in seeing how the gun feels, the weight, the fit in your hand, but it is never ok to handle someone’s gun without asking. Most people when asked will be excited to let you handle it and tell you all about their favorite features! When you do pick up another person’s gun, make sure you check that the gun is unloaded, as always.
Clean up, Clean up, Everybody Do Their Share
Be respectful of the range and other patrons and clean up your area when you’re finished. Pick up any casings, used targets, or anything else you might have accrued while you were shooting. This may not be a rule but it is proper etiquette and the next customers will be very grateful!
Lastly, have fun! Going to the range shouldn’t be stressful, you are going there to learn new skills and do what you love to do. As long as you are following the four rules and these etiquette tips, you should have an awesome time!
Want to learn more about being prepared? Read the article Making the Decision: Part 4 – How Do I Use A Gun?
Or read more about training with your gun here
Want to find a range near you? Check out the TWAW Shooting Chapters, They have chapters all over the country that meet monthly to help make shooting and learning more comfortable for women.