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Laguna Seca Rifle and Pistol Range (courtesy

“A man shot himself in the chest after his prosthetic arm had accidentally caught the trigger of the gun he was using,” “He was rushed to Natividad Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries and is expected to survive. Although it is up to the victim to release more information, deputies added that people accidentally shooting themselves is a common occurrence at shooting ranges.” Really? . . .

A man committed suicide at my old gun range (American Firearms School). And Nick treated a competitor who shot himself at Best of the West. That’s ten years of my experience. So . . . has anyone shot themselves at your range? How safe is it, generally?   [h/t Javier]

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  1. I’ve never seen anything shot at the range that wasn’t an inanimate target. However, I have never been to a range that hasn’t had holes in the lane dividers, or the benches, or the ceilings close to the line. I’ve never seen those shots made, but someone has left evidence of unsafe acts at every range I’ve been too (excepting military ranges; there’s not much there to leave a mark on).

    • I think I may be going senile. Can’t believe I wrote “every range I’ve been too.” F***kin’ idiot.

        • Thank God above for the concerted pushback against the left’s efforts to implement “common core” in all 50…Still shows that we can make a difference when provoked by such affronts, in particular, on the State Level.

      • It’s supposed to be ‘every range I been at’ 🙂

        I was hit in the foot last time at the indoor range when a .22LR bullet rolled off the bench and landed on it.
        I’m OK, though, thanks for your concern, it was only traveling at about 10fps at the time 😉 The ammo I took immediate cover from, hiding it in a nearby rifle and flung it as fast as I could down range.

      • Guess I failed english 101, cause I still dont know what the problem is with what you said. seemed pretty clear to me.

      • I make no judgements about people’s intelligence for internet typos. I make those kinds of errors all the time, because I never learned how to type properly. I have to look at the keyboard, and focus on one word at a time and sometimes lose the context of the word. I can hunt and peck fairly quickly, but I’m still huntin’ and peckin’. I know damn well when to use ‘their’ vs. ‘there’, for example, and never make the mistake when writing by hand, but when typing…all I can say is thank God for edit buttons.

        By the way, if you get the “your time to edit has expired” error when you submit on an edit here, just click the Save button to submit it again. It has been working on the second click for me.

    • Which ranges in OK? I know H&H in OKC has lots of ND scars, but it’s been in operation for a long time and gets hundreds of customers a week. Never personally seen any dangerous shooters whenever I’ve been there. Maybe some questionable techniques, though.

      • H&H, one out on the I-35 access road north of Norman (I think it’s called Sgt. Everett’s), American Armory and Tactical (also in Norman), and the state range in Lexington.

  2. Very safe because we follow these rules:
    1.Treat every firearm as if it’s loaded. …
    2. Never point a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy. …
    3. Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it. …
    4. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and ready to fire.

    • We have one additional:

      5. Respect the club infrastructure and property.

      It’s a member-run, not-for-profit club, so some jackhole patterning his shotgun against the side of the clubhouse (all of a 20 yard walk from the shotgun boards) helps nobody and hurts everybody.

  3. The driveway to my range is a narrow, winding, hilly, gravel path 1/4 mile long. Once I almost collided with a pickup truck driven by a young man who crested the hill in front of me at a recklessly high rate of speed. He then joined his friend and they shot their rifles for a long time while religiously adhering to all safety rules. He was more dangerous behind the wheel than he was behind the rifle sights. Go figure.

    I’ve never encountered a safety concern at my range, though I saw one guy who was crossing his thumbs on a semi-auto pistol in a way that could have resulted in a nasty injury from the slide. A bystander helped him correct his grip and the 911 call was avoided.

    • That’s pretty much my own experience.
      But you should add that here in Italy, the official national firing ranges have an amount security personnel that exceeds the bullets fired daily.
      If you come from home and take your bolt-action rifle out of the bag, if the bolt isn’t open before the light reflects from it to the eyes of the first smart guard, you’ll hear some pretty loud yelling!
      I prefer private ranges. If you f”k up, you’re thrown out, and curiously enough, they’re even safer.
      Maybe responsibility works!

  4. Our National Forest ranges were closed after an accidental shooting back in ’09 after years of zero accidents:

    Of course that same summer the rafters were dropping like flies, as they do every year on rivers administered by the Forest Service, but for some reason the death toll there is acceptable. Double standard?


    • Well the rafters volunteered for the risk, whereas the people at the shooting ranges had to be dragged there at gunpoint.


      (Rampart Range did show lots of evidence of yahoo behavior, to be fair. I never saw any myself though.)

      • I’m not sure how many times I went to Rampart to see guys up there with 12 packs of beer, shooting the empty cans as they finished them.

        • I lost count of how many times I saw that happen up at Rampart. On one occasion a bunch of city kids came up with their Hi-Points, and someone caught a couple smoking meth on the other side of the road from the parking area (the dump side). They weren’t actually shooting, but had come up to spectate with their buddies, and got run off in a hurry.
          The only other uniquely reckless act that I can recall, was when a guy brought up his single-shot bolt-action .50. He set up on the skeet/shotgun side of the range, and started blasting the cliff clear across the valley with tracer rounds. I think he made about 3 shots before he got run off too. Rampart was mostly self-policing, and one old-timer who was always up their collecting brass did a good job of watching for idiots. It’s a shame it got shut down because of that single ND…. but I think the enviromentalist types had been calling for it’s closure for years, and that gave the USFS an excuse to humor them.

          Rampart was cool, but in the Springs my favorite place to go shoot was at Dragonman’s. That was probably one of the safest ranges outside of the military I’ve been to. I miss going there, and it really sucked hearing about what happened to Mel’s wife. They sold me my first-ever rifle…… good people.

    • There’s still places along Rampart Range Rd that you can shoot, you just have to go a bit further back, usually around the Woodland Park side. There’s a map showing shoot/no shoot areas, Rampart range was the only place that was actually shut down to my knowledge.

  5. My indoor range – all the target carriers have been hit, the rails hit, the walls shot, the benches shot.

    Over the winter we had an Action league in there, We had a couple safety DQ’s — a couple people crossed the 180; 1 guy dropped a loaded gun once (didn’t get it holstered properly as he started to move it fell out). 1 guy once forgot to clear his carry ammo.

    There was only 1 injury once — guy running a revolver, cut his finger on the moonclip while doing a reload.

    That ran from January until May — once per week, I’d say average of probably 18 shooters each week.

    The outdoor range I go to, half the time I’m the only person there. When I haven’t been, everybody’s been safe; When people are downrange no touching the firearms.

  6. I once saw a man cut by brass that ricocheted off a lane divider. And a woman with scorched cleavage caused by hot brass seeking a soft spot to land. And . . . that’s about it.

    BTW, IIRC AFS has had two suicides, both with rented guns. I believe their new policy on gun rentals provides that solos can’t rent a gun unless they already have one with them.

  7. Of the three ranges I frequent, one is indoor only and has RSOs every 5 lanes, one is indoor or outdoor and has RSOs at both, usually only one during the weekdays for outdoor who walks between the three ranges, and the last is outdoor only and the RSO stays in the office with 4 ranges to tend.

    The indoor only, I’ve never had an issue. The indoor/outdoor range has had one incident and that’s when some genius decide to go hot and fire a round while I was down range during a cease fire. The last range I’ve been muzzled with a loaded firearm multiple times. I don’t go to the third this anymore.

  8. Maxon’s Shooters in Des Plaines, IL. I go to shoot there sometimes. I think they’ve had a couple suicides, one not too long ago. From what I heard, two friends went. The guy who ended up killing himself used his friend’s gun to do it.

    This place won’t let you rent a hand gun if you’re by yourself, I think for reasons like this.

    • Gun for Hire range in NJ has a similar rule. If you’re male and by yourself, you can’t shoot unless you have a FOID card. No restrictions for women who go alone.

      • Wow. Shore Shot should have that rule. They have had two suicides that I know of and a gansta’ shoot out. I’m surprised they haven’t been closed down.

        • I never liked Shore Shot. Staff was a bit on the rude side, their prices were high. I liked Brick Armory much better, but looks like they’ve closed shop. Gun for Hire is probably the best place to shoot in North Jersey. Although I don’t know who came up with their annual membership pricing. Way too high.

        • beat me to it about sure shot. that place always seems to be in the news. then again, lakewood is not known for its hunting community

  9. At one of the ranges I used to frequent, shooting from the holster was banned because a guy shot himself in the chest drawing from a shoulder holster 10+ years ago.

    Also, no rifle that accepts magazines could have more than 1 round in the mag, but it was fine for me to put 3 in the internal of my Rem 700 bolt action.

    All the range safety officers (FOWGs all) liked me and when I asked if I could slow fire my AR with three in the mag, with a ten second break between shots it was a universal, “No.” I never saw a serious violation there, but also it is one of the most boring places to shoot that I frequent and overrun with Fudds.

    At a different indoor range I visit, a guy appeared to be taking girlfriend to learn how to shoot. My heart was warmed, but then he produced an HK mk23 and said (not kidding), “Okay, it just sucks to shoot a handgun. You’ve got to just grip it really hard and just go.”

    He then fired about five rounds squinting so hard that I’m pretty sure his eyes were closed for two shots and flinching horribly.

    His SO with predictably little recoil control kept muzzling the deck on the backswing of the recoil finger on the trigger. Zero correct from her boyfriend.

    I asked them politely to slow their fire and remember muzzle and trigger discipline, to which the guy grunted a non-reply. The second time she did it with no correction from the boyfriend I walked over to the RSO and said, “I’d rather not take a ricochet to the face can you please police that lane?”

    After his direct attention things cleared up. I still go there, but I’m wary of first time shooters.

    • Guys with big egos trying to impress their wife or girlfriend are dangerous wherever they go. Not just at gun ranges. Ban them all.

    • I’m not really familiar with the HK Mk23, but “The handgun was designed for offense rather than defense, the size and weight intentionally incorporated to help absorb recoil forces and retain greater accuracy; but this also decreased its ease of use, comfort, and draw speed in defensive situations which require a more conventional, compact pistol.” Sounds like it is a big, heavy, and thus low recoil, handgun…. why were they flinching and suffering recoil so badly? Was it just psychological? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I ‘know’ that .45 ACP can kill your soul with a single hit and all, but… really?

  10. I would like to see the actual statistics from that range. Deputies making off the cuff remarks means absolutely nothing. Opinions, like A-holes, etc..

    • I would read the deputy’s comments to mean, “yeah, we see more accidental shootings at the range than, say, at the day care centers or the tanning booths, but I guess that’s because there are guns at the range”

  11. As a RSO in the military I ran ranges from 9mm to shoulder fired Stinger missles. Never had a safety mishap w injury. I did beat on a pvt’s kevlar helmet when he picked his SAW up and started spraying down range. That was a scary moment. We had a soldier at Campbell kill himself at a live fire range. Early 80s. Sad deal.

  12. I haven’t witnessed any injuries yet, but due to the fact that here in NJ not many people are familiar with firearms, I see plenty of safety violations. Whether it’s new gun owners or people who decided they’ll do it once or twice just for fun, many people make classic mistakes like putting their finger on the trigger as soon as they grab a firearm, laying the gun down pointed to the side and not downrange, walking around with a firearm away from the lane, turning around and almost swinging the gun/rifle around, etc. It doesn’t happen every single time I’m at the range, but when it does and the range officer was busy or didn’t see it, I’ll tap them on the shoulder and politely show how to handle everything safely. They always appreciate it, problem solved.

    Two of the ranges I visit had one suicide each in the recent past, so yeah, that happens too.

    • grew up shooting in the sand pits in bayville and lacey. many people around on the weekends and never saw anyone get hurt. too bad jersey went the slave state route and cant do that anymore.

  13. Generally, I’m the only person out there when I’m at the range. The times others have been there I’ve had the following happen:

    1) weapon was cleared, but action was closed
    2) in a moment of stupidity, I picked up a just-ejected 22 casing for a reason I can’t remember while a friend was zeroing his scope. I dropped it a half second later.
    3) outdoor facility and at the next range over the PD was doing some training. We saw lightning and heard the thunder about three miles away, so we packed up. They kept going.

    That’s about it. Folks I go with and see are usually pretty conscious of what they are doing and how to be safe.

    • “2) in a moment of stupidity, I picked up a just-ejected 22 casing for a reason I can’t remember while a friend was zeroing his scope.”

      The reason *could* be you’re a bit OCD with cleaning…

      The good news is it’s nearly guaranteed you’ll never do that again…


  14. I don’t go to any public ranges. In fact I have never been to a range that government did not make me go to. I live in the country and shoot on my own property. So I guess it’s as safe as I am.

  15. At a range in Lockhart, TX there’s a bullet hole in wall of their instructional room (yes, there is delicious irony there). They left it in place and unpatched (at least on the inside) as a reminder and object lesson to both students and instructors that bad things happen when you are negligent.

    In the end, I suspect that (at best) unintentional discharges occur frequently at gun ranges, but injuries…not so much.

  16. As far as I know, the worst that has happened at any range I have been to is a shooter was mildly injured when his AR blew up.

  17. Never had any safety issues at the public range I go to. They have active attentive RSO’s. The private range I go to is always fine on the Action Pistol nights. 30 shooters once a week and no mishaps – it is very well run. The old timers that shoot bull’s eye leauge (45s one handed) leave a lot of skid marks on the ceiling. But that sport tends to attract only the geriatric around here.

  18. In about 5 years of IDPA-type matches and 30 years of shooting I’ve seen a bunch of cuts and scrapes and a couple of NDs but no injuries from gunshots.

  19. Two ND’s with injury in the past two years at my local range. First one the guy shot himself in the ass, don’t ask how that happened. The latest one was a direct head shot, didn’t live long. Can’t find anything but a one liner in the news though. Both of these involved NGs, so I keep a swivel head at the range at all times. Nothing chaps my hide more that to watch someone try to clear a misfire by pointing the weapon at the divider wall. I ask for the far right lane.

  20. My range is 100% safe when I’m the only one there… Any range is only as safe as some combination of the skill, education, respect levels of shooters as well as the diligence of the ROs. The gun club I’m a member of here in middle Tennessee has only had one incident that I know of in the last 5 years I’ve had my membership. That was a negligent discharge of a .22lr into the shooters own foot.

  21. I’ve never seen one. In 25 years of teaching and just going.
    I did hear of one. Minor injury when a guy shot himself in the azz putting his walther .380 in his back pocket.

  22. There’s be a handful of suicides over the last decade or so at my local range, but nearly all of them were with rental guns. All my time shooting, including time in the military, never seen one ND. I am a 4 Laws nazi. I’ve been near some bad situations and either corrected it or left, depending on the case.

  23. Honor system safe.
    During the colder months it’s great because it’s all locals and people of a relatively high level of base safety habits.

    During the warmer months it gets flooded with vacationing jackasses who break every rule on the books. I tend to avoid the range during those months and spend time with rimfire on my home range.

    Some of the locals have created a sort of RSO/Mentor program where they’ll hang out on a Saturday or Sunday just to correct shooters who skip bullets off the floor or are seen flagging people with their muzzles or shooting stupid targets like trash or soft metal.. Nothing rude or hostile just a polite “you may not be aware but let me show you what you’re doing” kind of thing.

  24. These things don’t happen at military ranges generally because there is real fear, of what will happen to you if you screw up. In the military you could be demoted, loss of pay and or confined to a military like jail for 30 days.

    Unless you make someone bleed through a hole you put in them, you civilians will go home.

    • I’ve known of several incidents at Army ranges involving things such as a disoriented Bradley crews shooting a 25mm through the tail boom of a parked Apache, artillery landing off post, etc. Also one time an Apache had a HELLFIRE malfunction and it flew outside of the SDZ and exploded where it wasn’t supposed to.

      But at the small arms ranges, everything is (usually) so tightly controlled and canned that it would take a real nutcase or ADHD-sufferer to have an incident. All the shooters have to do is whatever the dude in the tower says; no thought required!

      • At the beginning of my second deployment to Iraq, we were in Kuwait doing live-fire ECP training. A green Reserve unit got piggybacked onto our range time, and it was a giant clusterf**k. After one of their course of fires, they brought a couple platoons under the pavilion to do dry runs of shoot-&-advance. One of their female soldiers hadn’t properly cleared her 16 after coming off the ECP range; the RSO gave the order “UP!”, and she put a round through the knee & calf of the two soldiers in front of her.

    • Wasn’t present for this as it happened just before I joined the unit, but I got to sit through the safety brief during the next range and hear about it.

      25mm Ammo for the gun on a Bradley comes in plastic ammo boxes in belts of 25 or 30 (can’t remember) and has to be linked into larger belts by hand. This can be hard to do, since the links are pretty thick, so Joe decides to use a live 25mm training sabot round as a hammer. Needless to say, he hits the primer, it discharges, hits his buddy in the abdomen, hits his ribcage (back rib) deflects, and exits through his collar bone.

    • The only incident on the range I heard about while in the military was a bit more dramatic. A new recruit got pissed off at one of his fellow recruits, and pointed an M-16 at him. One of the red hats (RSO) stopped the situation with a few well placed shots from his pistol.

  25. I shoot at an outdoor IWLA range that has been in use for 50 years. No range officers, except at organized matches, you can shoot and move, draw from a holster, set up barriers and even steel targets in the pistol bays. The rifle range is bench shooting only.

    The sole fatality I am aware of was an off duty LEO who came to sight in his deer rifle. It was in his vehicle, cased, loaded and the safety was off. He opened the case, grabbed it by the muzzle, pulled it toward him, the trigger caught on something and he put a hole in his chest.

    I do believe LEOs shooting themselves in a variety of situations is more common than accidental shootings at ranges.

  26. I used to shoot at a public range in Michaux State Forest PA when I was in college. A woman, her boyfriend, and ex husband, (i have no idea how that worked out….) were shooting a Beretta 92 they had just bought and when it was the woman’s turn they gave no instruction, just loaded it and handed it to her. Well after the first shot and “crazy” recoil she decided to put her left hand on top of the gun in order to keep it jumping up when she fired it. Of course this was a horrible idea and the slide slammed shut on her hand, she screamed and held her hand up and the gun just hung there from her palm. they looked to me asked to help, I dropped the mag and gripped the gun and pulled the slide back and it let her hand go. It was a pretty serious cut. After that they decided to go, I smelled a potential deal and offered $200 bucks to take the gun off their hands (literally & figuratively haha) but they declined.

  27. A lot of indoor ranges in Orlando have stopped gun rentals due to suicide incidents the past decade. The ranges themselves are safe, sure… but the people walking in them are another matter.

  28. I heard this quote about Rule #1 from Pat McNamara and I like it even more: “Absolutely, positively understand the status of your weapon system at all times.” Namely because, in fact, every gun is not always loaded. In training, I have seen guys not know their weapons status and start a timed drill (read that as under some stress) with an unloaded weapon, then futz around with it trying to make it run. Thinking of it this way requires a cognitive thought process – not assuming or do you think, but rather, you must KNOW.

    • If not that, at least “assume the gun is in the ‘wrong’ state until proved otherwise.” In other words, if you want it to be unloaded, assume it’s loaded. If you want it to be loaded (because, say, you’re about to carry it), assume it’s unloaded. Until YOU check it.

      I was for many years flawless about checking a gun to be sure it was unloaded, before doing dry fires, cleanings, etc. I wasn’t so good about making sure it was loaded before putting it on.

  29. The outdoor range in Los Angeles (in the surrounding mountains) is very strict about safety. Boy you better not go near a shooting table during a cease fire. Any small infraction and you will get yelled at. Yes, yelled at, over the mike in front of everyone. They check every firearm on the tables before allowing anyone onto the range.

    I got yelled at once, and later as I was leaving, the guy who yelled at me was very friendly. Moral of the story, they aren’t dicks, but I’m sure they have to deal with dicks almost daily, so their strictness and attitude I think is probably necessary. This is LA, so if there is any incident you know what will probably happen (and I think the range owners know too.)

    • …similar style at the outdoor range here in Santa Clara county; very friendly, very firm, very “don’t screw around!”

    • Sounds like the outdoor range I go to. They won’t even let you take your glasses off during a cease fire.

  30. We have a very small range here near my town. It’s open all the time with a locked gate. Each member has a key.
    I am the Range Master on the rifle range. Don’t do much “mastering, but I keep the place safe, insuring all guns have their action open and that the gun is unloaded, before anyone goes down range.
    About the worst thing that’s happened here, is hot brass going down someones shirt, or putting a small nick in a fine scope.
    I can’t be up at the range all the time, so there’s no control over what goes on when I’m not there.
    There is no way that someone in control can be at the range all the time. We just post the range rules and hope folks will use common sense.

  31. 7 years of range visits here in my part of SC…never heard of anybody shooting themselves (in that time) at any range around here.

  32. Place I used to shoot (club) had one ND. Guy kept a mousegun in his pocket, not in a holster. Had other stuff in the pocket, and something in there managed to snag the trigger when he shoved back in the pocket. Shot himself in the leg. Idiot.

    • Speaking of something going off in your pocket, no, not THAT! You haven’t lived till you’ve slipped a 9 volt battery in your pants pocked, and it came to rest with both contacts on your keys, and a few minuets later, you reached in there to get a hand full of those now, almost melting keys!

  33. Due to the volume of unsafe behavior I used to encounter at the public ranges, i don’t go there anymore. I was certain one of these days I was going to be shot to death by some idiot who “swore it wasn’t loaded”.

    And since the private ranges around here aren’t taking new members (or want way too much money) that means I have nowhere safe to shoot.

  34. Years of shooting, never had a problem except that close call on a live fire movement range. Lifted my SAW to the shoulder, in the sights was the back of Kevlar helmet of a jarhead 5 yards in front of me. Finger and trigger discipline won the day.

    Only other scary moment was at an indoor bow range. Shot our string, cleared range to retrieve, turned around and a kid was drawing bow. Did the loud Marine voice, scaring the crap out of everyone, looked at his father standing next to me and calmly asked if he was gonna handle it. He did and in the right way. 30 minutes later the kid was back on the line. All keeping an eye on him.

  35. The deputies may hold that opinion based upon their own experiences shooting with fellow cops. One range my son frequents near Ft. Lee, VA is closed to non-LEO shooters when the cops are shooting there. My son asked the range owner the reason and the owner replied that it was a liability issue — for the safety of the ordinary non-LEO shooters. He then pointed to the numerous bullet marks on the walls, the concrete ceiling, land dividers, and even the wall BEHIND the firing line saying that almost all of that damage had occurred during LEO training, practice, or qualification sessions. He had no real problem with “civilians” but didn’t want to risk them being injured by careless or negligent cops.

  36. At least one suicide at the indiana(indoor) range I frequent. Yeah I believe it was a rental gun-but there is NO real oversight or range officer around-kinda’ shoot at your own risk(and the ventilation sucks)…

  37. Worst injury I’ve ever witnessed was a tiny laceration on my then-20 year old niece’s finger a couple of years ago. She’d been shooting with us several times before and was careful, deliberate and studious in every step. At this one range, however, they had a nosy, needy, desperately seeking relevancy, old guy serving as RSO.

    He hovered over us in the stall nearly nonstop as we walked through the operation of a handgun she’d not fired before. He’d eavesdrop and offer nods, little confirming “uh huh, that’s right” comments, as though he were the instructor or at least part of our scene. When he would fade back against the back wall and we’d think he was done and would go bother someone else, he’d return to impose on us again.

    Finally, he came clomping forward again to violate our space and he startled my niece just as she was just about to release the slide. The slide snipped her finger slightly at the ejection port, drawing about 1.5 drops of blood. Well.

    That sent Barney Fife into a tizzy and running for the first aid bag. A handful of antiseptic wipes, a squirt of Bactine, and a tiny circular Bandaid later, she was declared rescued and we left rolling our eyes, never to return to that range.

    • Your niece must be smokin’ hot. That seems an awful lot of crazy for 1.5 drops of blood, unless it was a silly ploy to get his meat paws on your relations.

  38. I’ve got a video of one jackass nearly shooting his friend’s foot off with what I could only assume was a newly purchased AR-15. Supposedly it was jammed, so he muzzle-swept the firing line (he was at the left most bench), then proceeded to aim the rifle at the ground (concrete pad) next to his buddy’s foot and attempt to clear the “jam” – inevitably pulled the trigger.

    My friend and I were there with our kids. I always open-carry at the range, and with hands on sidearms, my friend and I *very* politely asked them to leave and go read up on range etiquette.

    FWIW, this was a public range in central PA. All that is required to shoot there is either a hunting license or a state-procured range use permit.

  39. The one actual range I’ve been to was so poorly designed I’m surprised people don’t get shot there on a weekly basis. To get to the pistol range or the skeet range, you have to cross the long distance range. As in, downrange from the bench. And on said long distance range, the 200 yard bench is downrange from the 300 yard bench. I GTFO in a hurry.

  40. We are safety sallies here in Canada. The range I go to has never had an incident and it has been open since 1991. The range operator also said that he is unaware of any shooting of humans by “accident” or otherwise at ranges in Canada.

    Yay Canada!

  41. The range I use now at my friend’s property is pretty safe (he and I are the only ones shooting there).

    I used to shoot a lot at the “glass factory” outside of Santa Barbara, CA where I grew up. I saw a large range of people from those who were very safe to those that I would actually leave the range and come back later. Eventually, my brother and I would watch (via binoculars) people shoot for a while from the ridge up above to make sure there weren’t any nut jobs shooting down below.

    I did have a couple incidents there: one guy opened up full auto on a large rock at very close range next to me and sent some rock chips flying into my face (yay shooting glasses); I was not happy to say the least.

    Another time an older gentleman (new shooter) started firing down range at his target after I had verbally verified with him I was going down range to swap out targets and asked him to hold his fire. When I heard a couple of 9mm rounds zip past me, I fired a couple rounds from my 1911 into the hillside (in a safe direction of course) to get his attention and gave him the arms up, WTF gesture. He stopped firing, thankfully.

    I’m happy I only frequent the place once or twice a year when I go back to visit (sometimes I go to the Winchester range which is a little more civilized)…

  42. The indoor range I belong to is membership only, the premise being that you’re less likely to find yourself dealing with idiots that way. I’ve seen people shoot the ceiling with shotguns though, and (many years later, at a newer facility) they had to ban them. (I don’t know what it is with shotguns and ceilings, unless people are trying rapid fire.)

    A newer range opened up that lets people just stop in and rent a lane (they do have memberships as well). I don’t know how much business they’re getting but apparently at least some people are starting to switch to the range I belong to. I don’t know if it’s the “unsafe idiots” or some other factor that’s causing that.

  43. Only seen two actual shot wounds in 30 years. One, an IPSC shooter caught a bounceback in the lip off a steel popper — perforated the lip, damaged nothing underneath. Two, an active LEO reholstered with his finger on the trigger and put a round into his leg (no permanent injury). Frankly, our primary source of ouchies has always been hot brass down the shirt / inside the glasses.

  44. Never witnessed personally, nor heard through the grapevine, nor read/watched in local media, about any accident or negligence occurring at any of the ranges I’ve ever used. That is five states’ worth of public and private ranges. Now I’m off to find some wood to knock on.

  45. It’s Wisconsin, we know what we’re doing. If people are acting unsafely, we attempt to correct that behavior. If they’re still unsafe afterward, we kick the from them range.

    No accidents at my local range.

  46. Seen lots of holes in the roof,table,seats, floor of some of the pay ranges near me. The public range north of me (in Alabama) has steel sliding doors on the ports with a +24 foot concrete culvert you shoot thru. Super stupid but also super safe I guess. You can bounce .45 slugs down it 😉

    Brings up another topic, I carry my 1911 RIA the whole time I’m at the range, shooting and walking to replace targets.

  47. My local range claims that they have had only one accident; guy shot the tip of his finger off. But then, they have only been in business 87 years; may be too soon to make a statistically valid assessment.

  48. I have seen way too much dangerous behavior.
    One awful indoor range here in San Diego has had a couple suicides that I know of. The last time I was there, some idiot kid was practicing quick draw from a shoulder holster, sweeping my wife and me. I haven’t been back. Every range I know of has the “no solo rental rule”.
    All of the National Forest shooting areas are shut down due to constant trash problems from people shooting their tv’s and such, and wildfires, and too many people being shot. The last straw was when a 10 year old killed his dad a few years ago.
    Now I only shoot alone, at a range with strict RO’s, or in competitions.

  49. The only gun-involved accident anywhere when I’ve been shooting was when a guy somehow managed to shoot the tailgate of his pickup with his 9mm, while using the tailgate for a work bench (I don’t remember what he was trying to do with the pistol).

    He stood looking at the hole, then moved everything off the tailgate and put it up. He regarded the hole for a while, grinned, put the tailgate back down, rolled under it and shot it twice, straight up. When he noticed us all staring at him, he said he figured he couldn’t afford to get it fixed, and a bullet hole from the inside would look really odd by itself, so with two from the outside it would look like a DGU.

  50. I have seen walk-ins do unsafe things, but the RSOs always take care of it. They did have a police officer shoot a hole through the roof during training that was held at the range. As far as this police officers assertion in this article, I suspect he is either full of it, or he is talking about the training range for his department.

  51. I work as a Range Safety Officer at an indoor range in Davie, Florida. Its the newest in the area and the owners put safety at the fore front. Every shooting bay, including the electronic ranges, has a Range Safety Officer. If there is a shooter there is atleast one RSO in the room at all times, sometimes more depending on the shift. There are grates in the floor so brass falls straight through, we have mats for reloaders, that way we do not risk a trip or fall on brass. The lanes are separated by armored barriers, which is a 1/4 thick piece of ceramic coated armored steel sandwiched between to boards of plywood and painted. We also have policies in place that does not allow individual shooters to rent a firearm, as a suicide prevention thing. We have been open for just over two years and haven’t had any injuries worse than slide bite or little knicks. *Knocks on wood*

  52. Crappie reloadsi I suspect from the gun show. The jacket was separating from the bullet and doing a boomerang thing. I got hit in the leg, my wife a little later in the bare shin which drew blood. Range master came over and told them to quit using that ammo. My wife recovered enough to finish the session. She told me she thought she was shot. Kind of she was.

    • I had this happen to me with FACTORY Winchester .45 white box ammo when shooting steel poppers at about 7 yards. I thought I was shot by a ricochet from a buddies .380, but it was my own damn jacket peeling off and coming back at me. I took two, and one was fast enough and sharp enough to stay lodged about an 1/8″ in my shoulder.

      There’s a reason they tell us to wear our eyes and ears, kids!

  53. I go to a specific gun range that’s much farther than other options, specifically because they are very serious about safety. In fact, they have a reputation, albeit exaggerated, for yelling at people over the PA for breaking safety rules. I love that. They’ve been known to ask people to leave for repeated infractions, something I’ve seen other ranges threaten, but never actually do. This range is over an hour from my house and the drive is worth it. This excellent range is Chabot Gun Club in Castro Valley, CA.

    I used to go to a range that’s about 10 minutes from my house. It’s a sheriff department range that’s run for the public at night by members of a local gun club. The the RSOs are simply members of the club that are forced into volunteer duty as a requirement for membership, and it shows. They are always wanting to shut down early, so they can go home and they can be downright lax.

    The last straw was when I got back from target change on their 100 yard rifle range and found a woman taking photos at one of the shooting benches next to several rifles while the range was “cold”. Fuck that noise. I left and have never been back since. For the sake of other readers in the area, that range is Coyote Point Rifle Range in San Mateo, CA. Stay the hell away. Go to Chabot or Los Altos ranges instead. They’re far nicer and serious about safety

    • TiC says: This excellent range is Chabot Gun Club in Castro Valley, CA.

      —July 17, 2015 at 18:53

      What a loss when they closed Chabot. I used to travel from Los Gatos to shoot at that range regularly (helped that I had a girlfriend in Castro Valley). And you’re right: it was the best range I’d ever been to. Never got yelled at. Also, I saw some *awesome* shooters there.

      I’m not a great shot especially with autoloading handguns. So one weekday, I am at Chabot shooting my Ruger MkII bull barrel at a paper target only 20 yards off. The only other people there were at the other end of the range shooting black powder.

      My grouping is stupidly all over the paper, and I’m thinking that I should just go home when a large woman in her sixties (at least), dressed in a frowsy-looking shift took up position at a stall just a few away from me to my left. She loads up a cheap looking nickel or chrome snubby, probably a .38. She puts her paper target twice as far downrange as mine, and I’m thinking: this is gonna be a hoot.

      I was going to take a break anyway, so I watched her target through my spotting scope. And bang… bang… bang. I watched as she put practically every round into the same hole. And she did it over and over again. Knocked my socks off. I never said anything to her, but I wondered at the time if I should ask for her autograph. To this day I wonder who she was.

      I don’t shoot anymore. I was just a plinker and a recreational shooter. Balloons and milk jugs. Never was too good at it, anyway. But man. That woman let me know in no uncertain terms just how bad I really was. Without even intending to.

      That’s the kind stuff that happened at that range, and one of the of many reasons I mourn the loss of Chabot Gun Club.

  54. I shoot regularly at a local range and a family member’s property, and I’ve never witnessed an ND or seen any evidence of one at either. Doesn’t mean it’s never happened, though.

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