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.
10 thoughts on “Etiquette On The Range”
Very good information and a great reminder. I must have heard these rules many times when I was shooting. I haven’t been able to get back onto a range since COVID-19 began. I live close to San Jose and used to shoot at the 10th Street Range, but it closed and won’t be reopening. I was a beginner when COVID began and was working to overcome the backfire (not sure if that is the proper term). Would love to get back to shooting one day. Right now all I shoot is a camera. 🙂
After 35 years of teaching beginners, the only thing I would add is about clothing. Shooting ranges are no-cleavage zones. Pistols launch very hot cartridge cases, which will search out any chance to get inside a shirt and burn places you don’t want blistered.
The two ladies in the photo are properly attired.
I am preparing a Gun Familiarization/Gun Tryout/Gun Cleaning clinic. During the first hour, we will review the basics and introduce range etiquette, so finding this article is perfect! I would also add the concept of removing the firearm from the gun box or bag (unless I missed it in the list of points). I am looking forward to incorporating these points into my presentation, giving TWAW some credit of course! Thank you Carrie!
I found this article excellent and full of great advice. Especially since I knew to range shooting. Is there a way you can make some of these great articles in “print/PDF“ format? I’d like to print this for my info notebook, but it is pretty long. Thank you so much!
Yes! I’d like to print it too and wondered it there was a shorter format?
Thank you so much for your very comprehensive website. The information for new shooters, like me, has been so helpful., to build knowledge and confidence. I am looking forward to my first online TWAW chapter meeting tonight!
I didn’t know about zipping open your bag, and looking inside to be sure which direction you muzzle was facing BEFORE even removing your gun. Turning the bag around, muzzle facing targets, is really a sign of awareness! Thank you!
Thanks for this article. Don’t touch your gun during “ceasefire” is one range rule I didn’t know. It seems like a no-brainer and shouldn’t need to be stated, but the RSO and others would have no idea what the gun handler’s intentions are. It’s good to state the basics so there are no misunderstandings at the range.
Excellent Points, with one additional thought.. If you bring you own paper targets be aware that some ranges DO NOT ALLOW REAL PEOPLE FACES .. In our politically correct world this is ridiculous, but is a fact of life. My range does allow them, but the NRA & other ranges DO NOT..
Carrie I just want to say you are taking such good care of me. I am a new shooter, I am waiting for my permits to come, and I’m going to the range to try out new handguns so I can make a choice. Your emails are so helpful, have such good advice and are strangely so timely! Thank you so much for all your help. I love TWAW!!