We've all been there before, our first time at the gun range. It can be a bit nerve wracking your first time if you have no idea what you're doing. I get it, I've been there. I still experience it when I visit a new range. Though, it is a bit different for me now.
Being that I've been in YouTube videos and have been working for the industry for one publication or another for several years now, I worry about if anyone will recognize me. Believe it or not, it has happened (thankfully not that often) and it can be awkward for me (which is why I don't usually do YT vids anymore).
But, that's besides the point. The point is to discuss range etiquette for new shooters. Let's hit a few points of things to remember when you go to the range:
Follow the safety rules:
The safety rules are there for a reason. They're meant to keep you and everyone else around you safe. Know and memorize the rules and put them into place whenever you're handling a firearm, not just when at the range. Check out our podcast on this:
There have been plenty of instances of a negligent discharge happening because someone assumed their gun was unloaded.
Follow the range rules:
Similarly, the range rules are there for a reason. Not only are they there for your safety, they're there for insurance reasons. Not following the range's rules is a good way to get dis-invited and not allowed to come back to the range. And, being that live fire is a necessity to getting better, you don't want to upset these people.
Respect the range equipment:
The gear provided by the range belongs to them and you should treat it with respect. This includes anything that is not owned by you, like target stands, staple guns, benches, chairs, etc. Don't destroy this stuff. If you're selfish, a good way of looking at it is that if you destroy these things your price to shoot will eventually go up.
Look to keep your costs down, if nothing else.
Don't fire upon anyone else's target:
This has happened to me before and it pissed me off so much I couldn't see straight. It was several years ago and I was testing a gun for The Truth About Guns, a website you may have heard of. I don't even remember what the rifle was, but I was shooting it on the line with about seven other people.
I went up to my target to take a picture for accuracy purposes and there were several different sized holes in my target.
As I'm sure you can imagine, it can be hard to determine the accuracy of a firearm when there are at least 2 other guns firing upon it.
Try to leave others alone, unless you've got an emergency:
I love helping others. Lord knows I've been doing this long enough that I can help. However, not everyone shares my desire to help others, and some people will get pissed if you bother them.
It's better if you just leave them alone.
I get it, too. I mean, you don't know why they're there. If they're trying to get into the shooting mindset and they're constantly interrupted, that could ruin their range session. If there is an emergency, that's a different story.
Don't touch stuff that doesn't belong to you:
Something that has happened to me on more than one occasion is other folks coming over and placing their hands all over my stuff. Because I sometimes get guns in my hands before they're released these people are like a kid in a candy store.
Again, I get it. But, these guns don't even belong to me and the last thing I need is for someone else to touch something and break it leaving me responsible.
In the same vein, people are very protective of their guns, and touching it could cause problems.
Give plenty of space:
It can be irritating to have someone breathing down your neck whenever you're shooting. I remember a time when a guy came up and stood just a few feet behind me with a pair of binoculars looking at my target. I turned around and asked if I could help him, to which he pulled the binos off his eyes, looked at me, said nope, and then continued to stare at my target again.
I'm not sure what he was looking at, but I was shooting a very rapid fire string for a gun I was testing that was based on the AK platform. I was shooting it very accurately, but I assume he wanted to yell at me if I hit the target stand.
No gun handling during cease fire:
These rules will vary from one range to the next, but the key here is to not touch your guns, or even load ammo, while there is a cease fire called. When the cease fire is called, people generally go down range to collect their targets (depending on its setup).
It can make people nervous if you're touching your guns while they're downrange which can cause issues or get you banned because it's likely one of the range's rules anyway.
Clean up your brass:
Clean up your brass when you're done shooting it. It helps keep things tidy for the next guy so he or she doesn't have to wade through your lake of brass to get to the shooting line. Some ranges will take the brass and recycle them to help offset costs.
Others don't. Either way, there should be a place for you to put your brass, or take it home with you if you plan to re-load it yourself.
At the end of the day, going to the gun range is a tremendous benefit that you should be utilizing to get better in your defensive training. Some gun ranges don't allow you to practice things that can help you get better, and if that's the case, finding a new range may be necessary.
Or, you could always up your dry fire game or practice micro drills. Either way, getting trained up is key for any defensive situation. Here's a podcast on micro drills, if you're new to the concept:
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.