The Unspoken Rules of Gun Range Etiquette.
(Photo by Lindsay Attaway: WikiMedia Commons)

With the surge of new gun owners in the last couple of years, expect to see new people at the range. Ideally, they will have had some sort of training when they purchased their new firearm. However, that might not be the case with every one of them. So, their etiquette on the gun range might leave a lot to be desired.

The Unspoken Rules of Gun Range Etiquette

I will admit, like most people my mind is often focused on current events and the war unfolding in Ukraine is no different. I know it might seem a little strange that I would bring that up here, but bear with me.

As we now know, the government of Ukraine has eased restrictions on carrying firearms for protection. And as things escalate, they are even distributing firearms to any citizen willing to stand and fight for the country. But many don’t know how to use those firearms and are just now starting to train with them.

The situation there is far different from our situation of new gun owners heading to the range here. But there are many similarities. As we all know, firearms are a very serious thing and when put into the hands of inexperienced people they can be downright dangerous. And while we may not have new gun owners flocking to ranges like in Ukraine, the situation may cause a sense of urgency in some here to practice with their newly acquired firearm.

They need to know the basic rules of range etiquette and the best place to start is the four cardinal rules of gun safety:

  • 1 – ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction
  • 2 – ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot
  • 3 – ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use
  • 4 – ALWAYS be sure of your target and what is beyond it

While almost everything can be encapsulated in these four rules, and adherence will prevent catastrophe, range etiquette goes deeper. Whether it is the rules of the range, listening to the Range Officer, or just trying not to piss off the experienced shooters, it is good to know how to behave on the range.

Real Talk: Your Thoughts on Gun Range Etiquette

As we like to do with pertinent topics, we reached out to you the reader, on Facebook, for your thoughts. As usual, you did not disappoint.

Of course, things started off with a bang, pun intended:

“Don’t bring a gun that is smarter than you are.”

Honestly, I’m not sure if the commenter is against smart guns, or people dumber than a chunk of steel. But I really think it could go either way here. We’ll just leave this one up for interpretation.

Likewise, another reply suggests staying away from the range if you are ignorant of the rules:

“Simple……If you don’t know don’t go!!!”

While I understand the sentiment, they’ll never know if they don’t go. As we are currently winning the war against gun control, we should encourage people to join the cause, not discourage them. There is plenty of room for all in the Second Amendment and it’s our job to help instruct new shooters. Especially those close to us, as one reader points out:

“Take your girl friends [sic] and teach them how to handle and shoot guns!”

Where Are You Pointing That Thing?

It is literally rule number one, and it is the first one for a reason. But there are those who don’t fully appreciate the importance of muzzle control. But there will usually be people around to point it out:

“Gun pointed down-range!”

However, the following discussion helps clarify when it is and is not appropriate to point your gun downrange.

“Don’t handle guns when people are downrange!” states one reader plainly.

In agreement, another reader signals consequences, “That’ll get you kicked out of most ranges when they call a cease fire.”

This leaves the original commenter to point out the potential risks of private ranges, “As it should. The range I’m a member of doesn’t have RSOs roaming about as it’s a private, members-only range. And I see it all the time. Really frightening.”

Get Your Brass Out of Here

The more you shoot, the more it piles up. Nobody wants to shoot on a dirty range, and you shouldn’t leave it to staff to clean up after you. This isn’t your momma’s house. But something tells me the following reader has run into this problem a time or two:

“Range Etiquette: Pick up your brass.”

However, before you go all “good Samaritan” and just start picking up everyone’s brass, remember there are people who reload. Not everyone will appreciate your kindness, because they may be planning to take that brass home with them.

“Don’t pick up other people’s brass unless they specifically give you permission,” says a reader who might not like people touching their brass.

Although ranges typically have the rules posted, one rule always applies at every range: the Range Officer rules the range. It doesn’t matter what you think of a command from the RO, you do it. Period. Anything short of that will most likely result in removal from the range.

Have fun, but most importantly, stay safe.

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