Ready to go to a gun range? Awesome! Here are 6 safety tips that will help you prevent detrimental mistakes at the range.
#1 Complacency, Not a Good Thing
Be careful about complacency.
We are all bound to do it at one point or another, but this is when accidents are most likely to occur. If you catch yourself getting complacent around the shooting range, don’t hesitate to review these tips.
It is your responsibility to make sure that you and everyone around you is safe when handling a gun.
#2 Four Essential Safety Tips
Firearm safety boils down to these 4 fundamental rules:
- Treat every gun as if it were loaded
- Point the muzzle in a safe direction
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Keep your finger off of the trigger
It doesn’t matter if you’re shooting the best .338 lapua magnum rifle or a Glock 32, these rules should be followed and applied at all times. Additionally, here is a link to an AR-15 Buyer’s Guide for more helpful tips.
Why? Because they are that important. By pointing your muzzle in a safe direction, you are treating your firearm as if it were loaded, letting your buddies know around you that you are a smart, professional gun owner.
After all, no one wants their friend to accidentally shoot them when you have planned a fun day out on the gun range. So every time you are out on the range, whether it is inside or outside, point your gun down range. When handling it, be careful of the things around you, and do not forget bullets can ricochet.
And with that in mind, keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. You cannot ever be too sure.
#3 Keep Gun Unloaded Until You are Ready to Use It
I cannot stress this enough. The only time a gun should be loaded is on the firing line.
When you handle a firearm, open the action immediately. Visibly check the chamber, receiver, and magazine to be 100% certain they do not contain ammunition. If you are using a revolver, press the cylinder release button to make sure it is empty.
In other words, when you enter and exit a shooting range, make sure your actions are opened and that your magazine is removed.
#4 Understand the Range’s Commands
Range Safety Officers (RSO), sometimes just known as Range Officers (RO), are your friends. And like a good friend, you should listen to them. This means that you should also know what they mean when they shout out specific commands.
- Cease Fire
Immediately stop shooting. Remove your finger from the trigger and point your gun down range. Anyone can shout this command, not just your RSO. If you see anything that is a cause for alarm, yell this out. It is better to be safe than sorry.
- Line is clear
This is to announce that all firearms are unloaded and benched.
- Is the line ready?
If you are in a rifle and pistol shooting range, the RSO may ask this to make sure everyone is ready to fire. If you are not, no worries. Simply let your RSO know.
- Commence Firing
Pretty self-explanatory. Basically, you can begin shooting.
- Hot Range
This is not so much a command, but a statement. If the range is “hot,” that means shooters can begin firing. If you are in an outdoor range, this holds more importance because it means you cannot walk down range to change or inspect your target. After all, you do not want to get accidentally shot at.
- Cold Range
The opposite of a hot range. Remember that when you go down range to stay on the walkways. Areas outside of them and outside the target lines are restricted.
#5 Know the Rules of the Range
Make sure to Google the gun range you are visiting and take a peek at their rules. It is important to familiarize yourself just in case the range has a specific set of guidelines you need to follow.
Overall though, nearly every range you visit requires you to wear eye and ear protection. This is for you. You do not want to suddenly lose hearing in both ears, do you? I also recommend wearing closed-toed shoes. Why you would wear sandals or flip flops to a shooting range is beyond me.
Ranges may also restrict certain types of ammunition. For example, some ranges will not allow bullets that contain steel cores because they can perforate targets and because they have a high risk of ricocheting. And with that in mind, tracer, incendiary ammunition, and armor piercing are also prohibited.
And this should be a given: respect the range.
Clean up after yourself. Throw away your spent brass into the recycling bin and your trash in the trash cans. Your mama is not there to do it for you.
#6 Know Your Gun
Whether you’re using a Ruger 10/22 equipped with a scope or a P226, be sure to have a working knowledge of your firearm — especially if it is your first time on a shooting range. This could mean like knowing what the correct ammunition for your gun is.
If you need help, do not hesitate to ask! Some ranges offer lessons, which can be a great way to also learn more about shooting range etiquette.
All in all, shooting ranges want you to have fun and be safe. It may sound cheesy, but it is true. You are paying to have a good time, not to get accidentally shot in the leg.
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