Range Etiquette: Essential Tips for New Shooters
The first time at a shooting range can be an overwhelming experience. Both in terms of sensory exposure and convention, the gun range can seem daunting. Fortunately, this will pass after some exposure, but you should still be aware of some important etiquette for enjoying the shooting range. Every shooting range will have slightly different policies, but as a whole most ranges adhere to similar standards and rules. There are also personal etiquette matters for the gun range that compliment or go beyond the official range rules, and can be beneficial to new and experienced shooters alike. Here are some important etiquette tips for the gun range.
Safety Comes Above All Else
At a firing range, gun safety is the most important part of the experience for everyone. It doesn’t matter if it is your first time at the range or your four thousandth, safety in handling and operating a firearm is the most important consideration. A great way to practice safe gun handling and shooting safety is to take a gun safety class or learn from an experienced friend or family member. This will help you immensely when you go to the range. Pay close attention to the range rules for gun etiquette and safe operation and ask questions if you are unclear about anything.
Utilize the Range Safety Officer
The Range Safety Officer is there to assist with anything and everything on the range. For first time range shooters, utilize this person as a resource for any questions you may have. Even experienced range shooters can and should use this person. If you are unsure about something, ask the RSO. For safety and enjoyment at the range, it is important to understand rules, procedures, and have any uncertainties clarified. Safety of yourself and others is paramount at the gun range, and the RSO is there to ensure that safety.
Keep Guns Pointed Downrange
Beyond making sure to always point the gun downrange, whether you are holding in or not, you should also be sure that the weapon is completely unloaded with the slide or cylinder open. This ensures that the gun is safe for the assurance of yourself and everyone at the range. At most gun ranges, this is an official range rule, but even when it isn’t it is good practice. Staying organized and keeping one gun on the table of the shooting bay with any other effects stored away in your bag will help you remember to take this important safety precaution.
Clean Up After Your Session
When you finish your shooting session, make sure to check to see who is responsible for cleaning up the spent brass. In most cases, you will need to sweep up the brass shells in the shooting bay. Check with the RSO to be sure, but it is good etiquette to at least make an effort to do this, even if the range ultimately takes care of it. Also, allow your gun to cool and clean the gun of residual gunpowder before packing it away. This will make it easier to clean more completely later.