This National Shooting Sports Foundation range safety video pretty much tells a newbie what they need to know about not doing something stupid at a gun range. But not everything. There are a few range safety tips that the NSSF, instructors and the range staff aren’t going to tell you, ’cause they might scare the proverbial horses. The three most important of these involve other people. People who might harm you. Here are Robert’s Rules of Order, in no particular order, in order to keep you safe and secure at your local gun range . . .
1. Know when NOT to shoot
Shooting involves a lot of prep work: assembling and securing guns and ammo, choosing targets, finding time in your busy day. Peer pressure is in play; you don’t want to lose face with your shooting friends. Shooting is a buzz; something you really look forward to. In short, there’s a lot of psychological momentum moving you towards the firing line.
Stop. Look around. Is there anybody or group of bodies that look suspicious? Are your spidey senses tingling? If you’re getting a bad vibe, SLOW DOWN. Reconsider your options, especially the one where you walk out the door, alive and intact. If you’re with a bunch of pals, a sudden headache or desire for food will let your exit, stage right, without wimping out.
Don’t be in a rush to return. If at all.
2. Know when to stop shooting
Maintain situational awareness. Keep an eye on what’s going on throughout the range. Have a lazy little stroll up and down the line. If you see someone who’s unsafe—muzzle discipline, too much joking around, anything—STOP. Do not lecture them. Leave the line. Rat them out to the range officer (discreetly). Don’t start shooting again until and unless you see that the miscreants have changed their ways. If they haven’t, leave. In any case, move lanes. Get as far away from potential trouble as possible.
3. Carry a spare loaded gun
Gun ranges are not known for murder and mayhem. But it does happen. Click here for something the NSSF isn’t going to show you: a video of a woman who shoots her son in the head and then kills herself at a gun range. Note: she could have just as easily topped the weight-challenged individual in the nearby lane.
If something bad goes down, you may need immediate access to a firearm. Some gun ranges let you carry, some don’t. While I would never suggest violating gun range rules, CCW permit holders may wish to keep a small loaded revolver or similar in their pocket. Above all, don’t let your guard down at the gun range. Ever.