It’s more complicated than which fork to use with which pistol.

In most situations, etiquette acts as a guide to social niceties. On a gun range, etiquette plays a more crucial role of keeping everyone safe. Failure to follow procedures and rules while shooting can disrupt everyone’s experience and place people at risk.

Here are the three most important factors that must remain top-of-mind when going to a gun range:

Pay attention

The single most important rule at a gun range is to pay attention to instructions. A shooting range with people discharging multiple firearms is a dynamic environment where status can change instantly and verbal instructions are given. If unsure what was said or what to do, always ask the staff. They’re there to guide you and offer suggestions and help.

Pay attention to the Range Safety Officer. Occasionally, there may be a call for a ceasefire. The Range Safety Officer will shout instructions, letting you know what to do, where to stand, and when it’s safe to resume shooting. These instructions must be followed immediately. You will also hear the Range Safety Officer calling “Hot” and “Cold”, indicating when shooting has commenced or stopped.

Follow procedure

These shooting fundamentals apply almost everywhere at all times:

• Keep the muzzle pointed downrange until you’re ready to shoot

• Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire

• Understand when to stand at the firing line and when to step back

• Stick to your lane and your targets

• Learn the proper way to load and unload your gun while at the range. Understanding how to hold your firearm while prepping it is essential for your safety and the safety of shooters on either side of you.  

Take care of your gear and yourself

Following these basic safety tips will help you avoid unnecessary risks:

• Wear safety glasses and ear protection at all times. Keeping your eyes safe from debris and your ears safe from loud noise is a must.

• Have a proper gun case or shooting bag to transport your firearm.

• Don’t rush. Most accidents happen when people are distracted or unfamiliar with the range. Take a few extra seconds to double-check your equipment and surroundings – it might prevent a costly mistake.

• Clean up after yourself by ensuring ammo boxes, brass, and trash have not been left behind.

Going to the gun range is a great experience that, like driving a car, includes essential rules that must be followed. Absorbing these 3 crucial points of etiquette will allow you to have fun while steering clear of risk, along with avoiding angry glares from fellow shooters. 

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