A day at the range can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For some it's relaxation, others it's a training exercise, and while others still it's a good chance to prove to your friends that you really are the best shot. It's been a growing hobby for all sorts of people and with this sort of hobby, there needs to be an emphasis on etiquette. Not only because being a good person is the right thing to do, but because in this hobby there is a safety factor that has to be taken into account.
So this is a list that really works as two birds with one stone. These are not only rules to keep you and others safe at the range, but also make sure that you are going to be the person who can be everybody's best friend, and not be “that guy” at the range.
Your gear is your lifeblood at the range. You've got to make sure that the things you're bringing are to the safety and comfort standards of you and everyone around you. Proper ear and eye equipment, along with any additional accessories besides your gun itself are necessary for a range visit.
Just because you can list off the rules of handling guns doesn't mean that you have all of the rules for each range down pat. Take the time to learn the specifics of each range you visit so that you aren't breaking rules you didn't know existed.
Introduce Yourself to the Range Safety Officer
Not only does it give you the chance to make friends with an expert on firearms, you are going to get to learn the mindset and the style of your range safety officer. It's a great way to learn specifics about each range as well as learn more about guns and how to handle them correctly.
Make Sure You and Others Are Ready
It's one thing to be prepared to shoot yourself. Having the right equipment completely set up is a necessity, but making sure other shooters around you are prepared is both courteous and safety conscious.
This is the most obvious bit of knowledge on this list, but so very important that it must be said. Not every range is going to have a full view of the entirety of it. You need to make sure that if someone's equipment is beside you unattended, that they are not making any sorts of adjustments downrange before you begin firing. It is a simple check to make and one that can save lives.
Know How to React to a Ceasefire
If the range officer calls for a ceasefire it must come immediately and without question. As soon as one is called, you lower your weapon and freeze until instructed to do otherwise.
Your business is going to be done in front of you. That is where you shoot and the only place that the weapon should be pointed. You don't want to be the person who is willy-nilly throwing a loaded firearm around like it was a nerf gun.
Walk the Line
In facing forward, nobody should be in front or behind the line. It should be an even and straight segment of bodies that will assure everyone that even if an angle isn't 100 percent in front of you, it will not hit a person who is staggered in a lineup.
I don't know about you, but the idea of hot metal touching my skin is not my favorite vision. It's very thoughtful for people to take a look at where your first spent cartridge falls so that you know the casings aren't going to go flying into another person's area causing a potential burn, or panic.
This goes hand in hand with a ceasefire, but even when not specifically told to make a move by a safety officer, your moves must be made with intent and stern action. A sloppy hand can make a lot of problems very quickly. Intent must be behind every decision you make.
An extra set of eyes can be very helpful on the range. Plus it's a nice day out for people who want to enjoy some shooting. If you have an additional person with you, they may be able to help look out for issues, though it doesn't mean that you get to take a break, yourself.
Just like anything else, if you don't know something, ask. If something doesn't feel 100 percent right to you, don't assume it will be okay. That's a good life lesson for anything, let alone firing a gun at the range. There are people there who do have answers to your questions. Don't make pride lead to a mistake.
We were told as kids to clean up after ourselves whenever we played with toys, ate dinner, or helped our parents in the garage. The same rules apply here. Don't leave a messy station for someone else to have to worry about or pick up.
With all of these rules think about yourself on the receiving end of someone breaking one of them and how unhappy, scared, or enraged you would be to see it. You don't want to be that person yourself, and if you follow these rules you will not be. You'll just have a fun day at the range with everyone else.