If you’re looking to learn the fine art of marksmanship – the basis of armed self-defense or any other shooting discipline – indoor ranges are where you start. That’s where you learn the tano kubwa of firearms: safety, grip, stance, breathing and trigger control. They’re safe, supervised and satisfying. Most indoor ranges offer a wide range of firearms to sample, free advice (not all of it sound) and provide instruction at low and sometimes no cost. But indoor ranges can intimidate beginners. So here’s three tips for enjoying your first trip(s) to the firing line . . .
1. Bring your own hearing protection, “double up”
Guns are extremely loud. While most people understand that a standard 12-gauge shotgun blast is dangerously loud, a 9mm pistol is even louder (150dB vs 160 dB). Either sound is loud enough to create permanent hearing damage. One shot. Even if you diminish the sound to “reasonable” level, gunfire can be dangerously distracting and cumulatively harmful.
Some indoor ranges are louder than others, ranging from really loud to ridiculously loud. (Sound insulation is pricey and can present a fire hazard). Some ranges are more crowded than others. All indoor ranges are louder than outdoor ranges. All indoor ranges require hearing protection.
But there’s hearing protection and there’s hearing protection. If you want to enjoy shooting at an indoor gun range, places where people fire incredibly loud long guns as well as pistols, don’t use the ear muffs that the range provides. Bring your own hearing protection, ear muffs that are both comfortable and effective.
Look for hearing protection with the highest possible NRR (Noise Reduction Rating). I have sensitive ears; I won’t wear ear protection that’s rated at anything less than 30 NRR. And then I double-up; I insert foam plugs and then don my protective earmuffs as well. This creates two barriers against the sound; a practice that I recommend no matter what muffs you choose.
Problem: you may not be able to hear an instructor or hold something resembling a conversation with your shooting buddy.
That’s why a lot of people use “electronic ear muffs,” cans that amplify sound and then cut out for a gunshot. They’re slim (a bonus for long gun shooting), way cool and excellent for outdoor ranges (where the aural assault is radically diminished and I still double-up). But they typically offer an NRR in the low 20’s. That’s not enough for me.
I tell my instructor to yell or use hand instructions. Or schedule my instruction for times when the indoor range is relatively uncrowded (where I can hear him or her through my passive muffs and ear plugs). Or, better yet, take instruction at an outdoor range, where I can move and shoot and not risk hearing loss.
2. Be situationally aware
The rabbi (one my first and best gun gurus) doesn’t frequent indoor gun ranges. “Dozens of strangers with guns, what could possibly go wrong?” Not much does go wrong. There’s the statistically insignificant incident of suicide – a messy business. I know a one-off of murder (a mother shot her son). Your biggest risk: yourself.
You MUST practice basic firearms safety at the indoor range with religious fervor. NEVER point your gun anywhere but downrange. ALWAYS move slowly and carefully when manipulating your firearm. If something goes wrong – the gun doesn’t fire, it jams, etc. – STOP. Wait. Think. Keep the gun pointed downrange. If you can’t sort it out, slowly place the gun down, muzzle pointing downrange, walk away and contact a range safety officer.
Yes, well, your neighbors may not display the same discipline. They are a genuine danger. Watch them. If someone is unsafe, place your gun down, walk away and contact a range safety officer. Do not talk to the person who’s being unsafe. If there are a bunch of yahoos nearby, leave the range. Try again another day. The rabbi recommends keeping a second loaded gun on your person, but that’s him.
By the same token, identify your nearest emergency exit – as you would anywhere, anytime, anyway. Again, indoor ranges are safe – as long as you are. But it’s a place – another place – where you should raise your situational awareness and be prepared to take action, should action be required.
I know I just recommended raising your situational awareness. And now I’m recommending that you relax. These two mental states are not mutually incompatible. In fact, learning how to combine the two could save your life should ballistic push come to shove. It will also help improve your performance in a wide range of disciplines and activities.
Why not relax? You’re in a place where The People of the Gun are having fun exercising their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Individually. Together. There’s a tremendous sense of camaraderie at indoor ranges. Shooters are almost always friendly and helpful. They often share guns and shooting tips.
Range etiquette is simple enough. Be safe, be polite and relax. If you have “stupid” questions – how do I put the target on the carrier? – don’t sweat it. Keep your gun pointed downrange. Ask. If you’re shooting badly, relax. Bring the target closer. Slow down. Speaking of which . . .
Newbies often experience an adrenalin rush at the range. That’s great if you love endorphins, and who doesn’t? The issue there: adrenalin creates time distortion. You tend to rush things without knowing it. (Rushing isn’t good.) You have to force yourself to relax and slow down. The trick to mastering your physiology: breathe. Slowly and evenly.
Pause between activities. Get to your lane. Stop. Look around (see situational awareness: above). Control your breathing. Take your gun out. Stop. Think about what you’re going to do. Control your breathing. Load your gun. Stop. Think about what you’re going to do. Control your breathing. Do it. Stop. Think about what you’ve done. Control your breathing.
Shooting at an indoor range should be safe and fun. If it isn’t, something’s wrong. It could be you, your gun, your shooting partner or the range. It could simply be a bad day to shoot. Don’t stress. It’s better to keep your session short and try another day.
Generally good advice (and I’m with Rabbi on his recommendation for being armed).
One nit to pick: nowadays, outdoor ranges have many of the same restrictions as indoor ranges, so just selecting one at random will not guarantee any particular options (like moving and shooting or drawing from a holster). If it is a supervised range, or even one subject to random checks, you still have to know and follow any range-specific rules. Unsupervised ranges, for all their freedoms, also have their own unique set of hazards, such as a higher potential for assault and theft (if I was a BG looking to score a gun, I know where I’d go), and lack of immediate medical assistance, if the shooter were to become incapacitated. As this article is aimed (pardon the pun) at newbies, perhaps a supervised and/or indoor range SHOULD be their first stop (and maybe second and third, as well) , with more advanced techniques on an unsupervised outdoor range coming later in their program.
Weigh the options, and choose carefully.
@DJ9: I agree with you about the possibility of assault at an unsupervised range. Here in Oklahoma we have unsupervised ranges provided on state Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs.) A few years ago a 73 year old veteran was shot and robbed of four guns at one of them. http://www.newson6.com/story/16117945/man-shot-multiple-times-guns-swiped-at-wagoner-county-shooting-range
Oklahoma resident, also. I’ve heard many mixed stories about the WMA ranges. Seems like it’s best to avoid the weekends and to never go alone.
3 1/2 yeas since that shooting of that Veteran. Do you know if they caught those [email protected]? Interesting also, there are no comments on any of the articles on the incident.
Good points. Text amended. Thanks!
That is rock-solid advice and a great article.
And be prepared for the worst; take your trauma kit with, just in case.
Cannot second this enough. EMS at most of the local outdoor ranges is 15+ minutes away. Closer to a half hour if we’re out on someone’s property. Got a good basic trauma kit and I know how to use the various pieces. Made sure to get one for my folks too (with an extra tourniquet for each).
DJ9, Good point re: outdoor ranges. Up in the Great Northeast, guns are still bad, so most outdoor ranges that I have been to re just as restricted as the indoor ranges I have shot at. This also counts for private indoor ranges at clubs.
The only time that I have been “allowed” to practice defensive maneuvers is when I’ve taken classes and, to a lesser degree, when I done IDPA. The pits at the Harvard Club range are very nice with high berms on 3 sides of each pit.
RF, I like your suggestion of notifying a range officer at a public range rather than say something directly. I have commented on things like muzzle sweeping and gotten some nasty looks. This just happened at a gun show check-in in Marlborough. Even though I knew that the revolver was unloaded, and it had a cable tie through it, the guy swept me and I said something–politely. He gave me a nasty look and said that he didn’t sweep me. Duckhead.
Oh, and very nice lane size in the picture! I’m going to guess that it’s somewhere in TX.
I do like those see-through lane dividers in the photo. At the indoor range where I shoot/volunteer, the solid (steel-lined) dividers are not only bullet-resistant, they are range-safety-officer-vision-resistant, meaning we have to be almost straight behind any given shooter to actually see what they are doing. Not great for general situational awareness, or heading-off minor problems before they erupt into major ones.
Maintenance/replacement costs must be high, though; ejecting brass has to chip the heck out of the surface of that plastic.
4. Read the rules. Carefully. Each range has its own restrictions on caliber, rapid fire, etc.
5. You’re paying by the hour, and an hour goes by fast. Make the most of it by organizing your stuff and maybe loading some magazines before you get there. It takes longer to load a magazine than it takes to empty it.
6. No one will care how accurate you are, as long as you aren’t putting holes in their target.
Every range I have been to frowns on bringing hot magazines in with you.
There’s no such thing as a “hot” magazine, but that’s another reason to read the rules beforehand. Any good range will have their rules posted on their web site.
None of mine do. They don’t want a hot magazine already in the gun, but they don’t care if you’ve got some preloaded.
If the range is so iggorunt as to think a loaded magazine is somehow dangerous, I don’t need to be within rifle distance of that range.
Re #5: this will vary by range. All the for-pay ranges in the area are per-day rather than per-hour.
Gotta ask-how much for all day? Where I am, generally it’s in the area of $15/hr/person. So I take my 2 boys and pay $45 an hour, or portion thereof. So you take 2 others along, and get “all day”, how much do you pay?
Most of the ranges around me are $10-15 and shoot all you want. A couple of them even have “leave and come back” privileges on the same day. I’ve done that with friends in from out of town, especially those unfamiliar with guns and gun ranges. An hour or two of shooting, break for lunch (where we talk about what happened, ways to improve, etc.), and then back for another hour or two.
I live in Delaware. There is an outdoor range in *shudder* Maryland that is at a state forrest. They charge $10 a day, but only have limited range officers. I, being against the restrictions put in place by the Maryland legislature, don’t put the $10 in the envelope. (Think what you will about that, but I’m not going to give my monetary support to an anti-freedom states coffers.) It is a “Bring your own target stands, Call your own cease fires” kind of range. Nice and quiet if you go at the right times. I generally avoid it though as I usually go to my friends private club in *double shudder* New Jersey. The only upside to the Jersey range is that I get to drink my friends home brew beer when we’re done.
The ranges up here that I go to don’t charge by the hour. You go in and shoot until you are ready to leave. No time restrictions and one price. Most folks get tired of shooting after a while anyway. I suppose they might say something if you come in for lunch and stay until dinner time.
People don’t get tired of shooting. They just run out of money for ammo.
No outdoor ranges in my area (in my county I think) allow for movement OR holster-drawing. Two indoor ranges allow holster draw, and they both allow limited rapid-fire as well.
Tulsa has one of the best ranges for move and shoot training: the United States Shooting Academy (USSA). You may have seen it on the TV show The Best Defense.
And watch out for the intense muzzle flash and kick from your .22LR match target pistol, when shooting at 50-yard targets. Probably.
A reference, I assume, to that recent POS propaganda article at Salon.
What a load.
It’s not a problem until you load that special “22 Long Rifle” stuff.
“.22 Caliber Long Rifle”.
Largest public indoor range in my state, only issues is a handful of suicides over the course of decades. Only real restrictions are on rapid fire of long guns (if they’re not class 3).
I’ve cut my session short a few times because something didn’t feel right. Whether it was me, the people around me, or all in my head, sometimes it’s just better to go do something else. But more often than not I’m wishing I had another few hundred rounds.
You just told people to raise their situational awareness, and then immediately followed with an instruction to relax. There is only one Chuck Norris.
Pay attention to what’s going on around you, but don’t get wound up over it.
The loudest sound I’ve heard in my entire life was a 9mm handgun going bang indoors when it was supposed to go click. I’m happy nobody was hurt, and glad it wasn’t the gun I had in my hand. It was just as much my fault as my friend’s though, as I had made the assumption he had cleared his firearm.
So if I can add a safety rule, “NEVER get complacent with the safety rules!!!”
A note to those doubling-up: Yes, it does make a significant difference, but 1+1 doesn’t equal 2 when you do that. In other words, if you add earplugs that advertise 20 dB reduction to muffs that advertise 30 dB NRR, you don’t get a 50 dB reduction. Doubling will usually only get you an extra 5 dB noise reduction. Which is why you don’t want to sit next to the guy at the outdoor range with an SBR and a brake, because even through your double protection it’s going to hurt.
Side note: don’t be that guy. Please don’t put a brake on a gun you intend to bring to a public range unless you absolutely have to. Your lane neighbors don’t appreciate getting blasted with muzzle brake exhaust.
Thank you for “brake” and not “break.”
I have never been to an indoor range because they’re all private clubs, accessible by invitation only. The only “public” indoor range I know of is somewhere on the far side of the next county. My only other option is the public gameland ranges, which are heavily restricted (no rapid-fire/full auto of any kind, no more than 3 rounds loaded for rifles, 6 for handguns, violation is a $400 fine and revocation of your range permit)
Sometimes Pennsylvania isn’t as gun-friendly as it appears, either.
Not sure where you are in PA, but mine are not like that – other than the state run ranges ran by the game wardens for zero’ing your hunting rifle/shottie. My public ranges are pretty cool. But you can’t be a hack. They don’t mind if you shoot fast, as long as you keep it on paper – and you can load your mags all the way up, even shoot your AR and bring your NFA item too (as long as you show your stamp). It sounds like you are talking about State ranges.
Yeah. The state ranges are the only ones I have access to. All the other ranges around here are private clubs that don’t allow non-members access.
Oh, and always remember NOT to yell; ‘AHHHH die die die’ as you are shooting sideways with your gat at your target and the targets on either side of yours.
(sorry, couldn’t resist)
Couldn’t add anything to the article. But along the line of indoor range rules, the new Colonial Shooting Academy here in VA Beach has an interesting rule which, in my opinion, actually creates more danger than it might prevent. They only allow one gun on the bench at a time. Now, I can’t speak for the rest of you, but when I go to the range I lay out a number of guns in caliber order. Much of my technical practice is with my M&P22C. I then move to my EDC 9mm. But my 1911 and usually a wheel gun are last in line. It seems to me their 1 gun rule forces folks like me to be swapping guns in and out of the firing line unnecessarily. And the way I see some folks behave on a range, that could be down right dangerous for the rest of us. Any thoughts?
I’ve not seen that rule, but my further question is “Where are the other guns supposed to be?”
Good article, but it misses a main point. Beginners aren’t going to move and shoot, shoot and move. They’re busy learning the basics of presentation, sight picture, trigger press, grip and recoil management. That’s why they’re called “beginners.”
Most of us started at square ranges. Square ranges served us well and still do. The square ranges helped us build basic skills and imbued us with self-confidence once we learned how to cluster shots in that little red circle. Going back to polish those basic skills time and time again is important. The tacticool stuff comes later, if at all.
Good points. Text amended. Thanks!
“Beginners aren’t going to move and shoot, shoot and move. They’re busy learning the basics of presentation, sight picture, trigger press, grip and recoil management.” True, this.
Unfortunately, if we can’t figure out a solution to the problem we will continue embedding WRONG self-defense habits in beginners. These will be difficult (perhaps impossible) to train-OUT of them as they progress beyond the beginner stage. We will rear-up another generation of target shooters, not self-defense shooters.
(I’m respectful of any of the shooting sports: hunting; marksmanship; IDPA; etc. Nevertheless, these are NOT equivalent in respect of growing the population of 2A defenders. We need to build the community with urban dwellers who are primarily attracted to the idea of becoming MINIMALLY competent at self-defense.)
I’m interested in knowing if anyone has any ideas for training a beginner simultaneously in move-shoot-move as well as presentation, sight-picture, trigger-press and grip.
It seems to me that the beginner MUST first train with a cap-gun (or AirSoft) in a living-room type of environment. Maybe
– first learn to move-present-move.
– then, move-grip-present-move.
– then move-grip-present-sight-picture-move
– then move-grip-present-sight-picture-trigger+bang-move
Only when these skills are pretty well embedded, go to a square range and experience recoil.
If the living-room training is conducted with laser pointers, better laser-firing and laser-targets, ideally with sophisticated laser gear, the training should be far more effective; probably more effective than could ever be managed at a square range.
So is the you “shouldn’t use electronic ear-pro indoors” myth truly a myth? I’ve always heard conflicting opinions, some say they are fine, others say that electronic ear protection is fooled when used indoors because of the sound reverberation or something along those lines. I’ve had one sales guy at a sporting goods store tell me that some ear pros not by design will amplify the shot sound instead of quiet it if used indoors, which could be bad.
The electronic muffs will transmit the sound when it’s at a safe level. So you’ll hear some of the echo but it won’t be harmful.
Either myth or by now sued out of existence for a company that stupid.
My Howard Leight set is sensitive enough to trip on a manual staple gun “shot” when hanging a target. 🙂
There is a small delay between the sound hitting the headphone mike and it deciding whether to pass it through to the speakers or not; and there is a noticeable pause between the time they trip off and resume sending stuff through … found that out with the staple gun while talking with a friend.
I would love to have an outdoor range but here in Arlington they don’t exist. You work what you got.
Wonder if laser tag or paintball might be a good way to hone your skills for outdoor shooting ? Could be fun as well with the right protective gear. Get a group together, choose teams and go for it. Anyone do that for fun and to sharpen your skills a bit ?
While I like the advice on doubling up hearing protection and being organized complaining about indoor ranges is a mute point. Where I live it’s indoor pistol range or nothing as the only outdoor ranges nearby (within 45 minutes) are invite “membership” only. And no I’m not moving because I have student loans that need to be paid before I can afford a pay cut.
Find a local gun club rather than a range open to the public. 1) Fewer people 2) You get to know the people 3) Fewer rules needed since its a smaller group of people 4) You have a chance of getting stupid rules changed
The annual membership is typically less than range fees if you shoot very often and knowing who is handling guns on either side of you is priceless
Also, the hours can be better. Ours is keyed entry and you’re allowed to shoot 6am-10pm 7 days a week except for range events (classes one Tuesday a month, occasionally other stuff) and they do the monthly meeting one saturday and one thursday a month to inform members of club finances, events, etc). Beats the hell out of the noon-6pm at our public range.
Only go to indoor range to try out a new gun by seeing if sights need adjustment. Try to pick up new pistol at gun store on a Thursday (husband’s golfing day) since use my discretionary funds to purchase. Go to Red’s South Austin on a Monday, due to discount for women all day. Rarely spend over an hour there. Staff/Range Officers are are always polite. Have no idea how other shooters are, I mind my own business, they do as well. Lanes separated by floor to ceiling concrete/large brick construction, so relatively safe. Ladies Shooting League uses outdoor range reserved solely for us, so can do shooting drills on the move, and shoot from behind a barricade.
Stand in the bay farthest on the right.
Get some industrial grade earmuffs. Those things ROCK and are infinitely better than the 24.99 Walmart ones. THey’re not super cheap but they’re not that bad either (60 bucks) and last forever.
The low-profile Peltor muffs (Shotgunner?) at Walmart are very high-quality, although being low-profile, they probably don’t have the highest noise reduction rating. They are still very good ear protectors; I have about 5 sets in various range bags.
And the cheap-o “industrial” grade at certain import-tool stores isn’t very good at stopping noise OR being comfortable, so shop smart, wherever you shop.
Yeah, I don’t buy cheapo stuff. I got a pair from my father in law that works in a refinery 🙂 Electronic, and *really* nice. I think you can get pretty good non electronics for like 30 bucks though if you look around–high 20s to about 30 decibels. Beats those foam ear plugs IME
Proper clothing should be another bullet point, especially for women. Hard to relax when hot cases are flying into low-cut shirts and open-toe shoes/sandals.
GREAT point Mike. Hot brass down the cleavage could result in a gun pointing in several very unsafe areas in a hurry. That would NOT be a good scene at all. Thanks for bringing that up.
Gun safety at the outdoor ranges is just as important as the indoor ranges. Maybe a bit more so. One of the outdoor ranges that I go to has NO dividers between the lanes. So, if someone breaks the rules it could go very badly for another shooter. OTOH, they have several volunteer range officers and they seem to do a great job keeping an eye on the shooters.
Just a note for RF concerning the electronic muffs. You are correct on most counts, but you can double up wearing foam plugs and then turn up the volume on the electronics until you think you don’t have ear protection, and have serious protection when the gun goes off. There are very limited venues, however, where this is worth the price of entry. I did it for 5 summers at the National Matches, and at the end of that time my electronics collapsed in a heap after sweat-caused corrosion vaporized the wiring.
Re electronic ear muffs:
I use R-01902 Impact Pro Electronic Shooting Earmuffs from Howard Leight. NRR 30, takes AAA batteries, has a line-in port, and costs all of $68.11 on Amazon.
I also have a pair of behind-the-head band Caldwells and while they are more convenient with hats and (I find) more comfortable, I almost never wear them … The NRR is too low for indoor range use.
A couple of tips from my own experiences of just buying a gun and figuring things out from reading as much as I could but not taking any classes:
Research proper grip before you go, practice this grip and dry fire before you go. Once you can dry fire it without moving the sights, just know that once live ammo goes of in your hand you’ll have to re-conquer your natural flinch. Everyone here, and everyone there at that range went through this so it’s nothing to worry about.
If you’re totally brand new to shooting, take it slow. If you haven’t been on a range before, even with hearing protection the gunfire around you can make you jump. Take time to acclimate. This applies to your fist time firing a significantly bigger caliber than you have before. My first time with a .44 magnum put me fully at square one after getting used to my .45.
If you’re unsure of what the pistol is going to do in your hands, put a single round in it, fire that and work up as comfort and confidence allows. This applies for any increase in caliber you are unsure of.
It’s very easy to point the gun in a wrong direction, especially if you notice something about it you hadn’t noticed before (I noticed the shiny magazine showing through the gab between frame and slide on my XD and almost turned the gun sideways to look), but it’s also easy to keep it pointed down range.
If something goes wrong like it doesn’t fire, before you set the gun down, still pointed downrange, drop the magazine, but don’t yet rack the slide to eject the chambered round. After waiting for a bit you can get a range staff member to help you out or you can find or ask about the buckets they have for dud rounds and put the dud into it. If you’re not sure what to do, ask someone who works at the range. It’s ok to leave your pistol sitting on your little table, it’s common for people to do this and buy extra targets or more ammo, or ask for help with something, like you are doing.
Don’t worry about appearances, ‘real’ gun guys respect those who take time to make sure and ask questions when they aren’t sure much more than those who try to fake it through to look good.
When you’re done, don’t just ‘unload’ the gun, clear it. Lock the action open so you can see completely down the grip of the pistol and can touch the chamber and feel and see there is no round in it.
The “stop. Wait. Think.” line from this article is probably the best single piece of advice in the firearms world. If you did not know the rules of firearm safety you could derive them this way…don’t do that though, research them first. When you dry fire before going to the range, stop. wait. think. if you have any niggling doubt in your mind as to the gun being loaded, check it, lock the slide open and look. When you’re loading the gun at the range, stop, wait, think. Has your finger slipped into the trigger guard? remove it, touch the slide with it. If you have to turn our body sideways for anything, stop, wait, think. Do it such that the gun remains pointed downrange. Did it fail to go boom but go click instead? stop. wait. think. It could be a hang fire, drop the magazine first, you can never go wrong dropping the magazine at a range. Keep the gun pointed downrange, this is a good opportunity to make yourself relax, breathe deeply, let your shoulders drop, and get used to the sounds of gunfire around you. If you set the gun down, do so while keeping it pointed downrange. Get help from the staff if you have any doubts at all about what to do. About to fire your first round at the target? Stop. Wait. Think. Check your grip, then align the sights, then slowly pull/squeeze/whatever the trigger so that the sights don’t move. If this is your very first time, it should feel like it’s taking too long, nothing is wrong here.
Don’t let any friends you’re with pressure you. Don’t let yourself feel pressured by the things they have told you before going to the range. Take your time, make yourself relax as frequently as possible. You will get tense here and there, take time, stop and relax again, rinse, repeat. You don’t have to remember everything all at once, except for all four safety rules.
When you’re done, don’t unload, but clear the gun. Call it what you want but know why I make that distinction and make sure the gun has no chambered round. Lock and pack it all up as per your state and local laws, and if the range has the soap for lead residue, use it, but wash your hands on the way out.
I started to add a few things based on my experience and it turned into my own little thing, oh well. Hope it helps someone.
As a relative newcomer, I have to say that a positive experience at an indoor range made all the difference. Newbies should find a range that either employs or knows and works with one on one instructors. I took a couple of lessons (which were not very expensive in the grander scheme of things) that got me over all the newbie willies. If I had tried to just rent a pistol without any personal training, I seriously doubt I would be writing this today. At least for me, the cheapie range ear muffs are enough most of the time (9mm or .380), although it is not pleasant when someone in the next lane is shooting a .44 or even a .45. I am fortunate enough to have access to two NWS outdoor public ranges fairly close by. They have been unsupervised when I have been there. I have not seen police or park rangers. People have been courteous, and super careful about respecting the cold times and looking about in all directions when someone calls hot. I have been out alone near sunset, and it was really great having the whole place to myself and the SKS. Nonetheless, I am always concerned when I go to the one that is too far from civilization to have cell phone coverage. I prefer the other one with good cell phone signal even though it is more crowded. Just too much opportunity for an accident or a medical emergency to happen to me or to someone else, and I really prefer to having quick access to EMS. Agree with previous poster about putting one round in to get used to a new gun or caliber. That is how the instructor started me off. That is how I have continued. Bought an SKS and had read about slam fires. Yes it was clean. But I loaded only one round. Made sure. Loaded two. Made sure. I still have not seen a need to load more than five. It’s just target practice and I do need to be able to see the results.
Brush teeth, use mouthwash. Because you’re going to be right in someone’s face, shouting to be heard.
Great article, my favorite
ALWAYS move slowly and carefully when manipulating your firearm. If something goes wrong – the gun doesn’t fire, it jams, etc. – STOP. Wait. Think.
Great article, RF. There are a couple dozen tips an experienced shooter could give a newbie at the range, and sometimes you will find some busybody doing just that…confusing the heck out of the noob. You know what they say about opinions…
As a barely above total noob status shooter, here’s my lessons learned.
To focus on basics to learn good habits (rather than bad ones that take twice as much time to fix…ask me how I know…;)
1. Recommend hire an experienced, patient coach for at least three lessons, early on…
He/she will keep you safe, keep Mr SelfImposedExpert off your back and off your dime in the lane rental, and help you stay relaxed knowing you arent committing some doofus move thats out of range protocol…
2. Take your time. Ask the most senior range person, ideally the Range Master, to explain the formal and informal rules, and then just hang out for awhile, watching how it goes…you will start to pick up the way the range works, and which shooters knows what they are doing, and which ones you DONT want in the lane next to you…
You can move if the .454 Casuls in the lane next to you is distracting….;)
Or the Joe Biden wannabe hipfiring the 870 rapid fire is making you nervous…
3. Lastly, if you aren’t having fun, you arent doing it right…
These are great tips for beginners! And can’t agree more about the ear protection and to double up! Those ranges can be very loud, so its important to wear protection! Thanks for sharing!
You made a good point that situational awareness is also a huge thing to look into when planning to go to an indoor firing range. I’d like to go to one someday because I recently had a fascination towards weapons. Trying to shoot a gun accurately would surely be a great experience.