Jay Henges shooting range
Courtesy Missouri Dept. of Conservation
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Any gun guru worth his or her salt will tell you to avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things. As someone who’s been to more gun ranges than the average guy, we should modify that adage to account for the risks involved when shooting guns next to complete strangers. Avoid stupid armed people in stupid places doing stupid things.

Oh and don’t be that guy! But if you are, here are the three surefire ways to really piss off other people at a gun range.

1.  Muzzle someone

The Four Rules of Gun Safety direct us to always keep guns pointed in a safe direction. Pointing a gun at someone — whether loaded or not — violates that prime safety rule. And, thus, social etiquette.

Most shooters like to shoot without worrying about being shot. Muzzling someone at a gun range isn’t the best way to win friends and influence people, but it is a terrific way to become a ballistic persona non grata, get chewed out, and possibly ejected from the premises.

2. Offer unsolicited advice to other shooters

Speaking of influencing people, don’t do it. I’ve made the mistake of stepping into a nearby lane, tapping a shooter on the shoulder and warning them that their support-hand-over-strong-hand grip was about to result in a bloody case of slide bite. What thanks did I receive? Death stares.

The same thing happened — and then some — when I made the mistake of correcting a young lady’s ugly reared-back stance.

I learned the hard way that it’s best to leave well enough alone. No matter how unorthodox your neighbors’ shooting may be (short of actual safety violations…see above) don’t offer help unless you’ve been asked.

3. Touch a firearm when the range is cold

When the range safety officer (or another shooter) calls cold range, that’s the signal for everyone to drop their magazines, clear their chambers, lock their actions open and step away from the firing line. That’s when all shooters can go down range to tape or change their paper targets, paint steel targets, and maybe move them to another distance for the next shooting session.

If your range has an RSO on duty, he or she will usually do a pass along the line, making sure any firearms that are visible are clear and safe before letting the shooters head down range. Some public ranges even have a line painted on the floor (I’ve even seen ropes pulled to block off the stalls) behind which shooters have to stand during a cold range to keep them away from the bench.

A sure way to get yourself a drill sergeant-style chewing out — and possibly tossed off the range entirely — is to touch a gun (or anything else on the bench) during a cold range. That’s especially true while shooters are still down range.

Some people just can’t seem to keep their paws off their gun or feel the need to fiddle with their gear or load magazines at the bench during a cold range. Shoot often enough at a public range and you’ll probably see (and hear) it happen.

Don’t be that guy. Or girl.

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  1. How ’bout stop the “Staff Writer” anonymous byline? When I was a cub reporter (for pay, at an actual newspaper, about a half century ago) my name was still on there so people knew exactly who f’d up…

  2. 4. Be one of those obese fedora neckbeards with a .50 Deagle worth more than the ’97 Civic you drove to the range.

    • Had a shop foreman like that. Dude made more than all of us and drove the biggest POS F150, but always had “golden guns”. Like holy shit man, after a couple I think it’s time to change priorities. And he lived with his folks! Every truck in the fleet ran… but his own POV didn’t. Numerous times he’d show up via a ride from someone else.

      Went to the range with him one time because he said it was his favorite spot and he was actually a great coworker… but the range was indoors, and he brought all the shit to mag dump in and show off…
      He was always the kind of tacticool patch guy but it never really clicked until I shot with him. Also. obese and a YUGE beard.

      Put in my two weeks lol /s
      But the story is true and I did eventually walk.

    • Careful, some of those Civic’s are sleepers. A friend has a 12pt. caged 2001 K swapped, flexing 825 whp that will burn down a low 9 in the quarter with just changing to slicks on E85.

      All the while ratty looking af with paint blowing off down the track. It’s also daily driven.

  3. I would guess my 2.5″ k frame using loads of bullseye would probably qualify and the 7.5″ 5.56 ar upper wouldn’t be far behind.

    • The last time I went to the gun range I DID offer unsolicited advice to nervous novices. They thanked me(didn’t know how to rack a slide!!!)

    • I was once told by a fellow shooter that my . 30 Carbine Blackhawk 3 lanes away was louder than the .44 deagle in the next lane to the other side. Couldn’t prove it by me, but it is a “different ” kind of loud. And that’s with fast-powder handloads.

  4. Friend of mine and former Marine, his girl friend and I were at a gun store range.
    The girl friend is a pretty blonde.
    Guy comes up and tries to give her some shooting “advice.”
    He was the RO.

      • it stands for range officer. it is a paid person who usually doesn’t bother you unless you are doing things that are unsafe. this guy was making a joke.

  5. I have zeroed my .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor after letting my friends know that I need 3 rounds each at 100yds indoor. They loved it almost as much as I did!

  6. Two autumns ago during a public weekend at our private range (the result of a stupid agreement with the Mn. DNR) we had one guy do the trifecta… some dipshit with a new 10mm pistol was holding with a revolver style hand placement, sliced the shit out of his left hand, pulled a second one handed shot through the (outdoor) range roof above the lane to his right, dropped his cocked / loaded gun on the concrete floor, and after the line was called cold, picked it up and muzzled practically the entire line while dripping blood and cussing his head off. After being escorted to the range office to review the video of why he was being evicted, he inquired about how long the waiting list was and what the dues are to become a member.

    • “After being escorted to the range office to review the video of why he was being evicted, he inquired about how long the waiting list was and what the dues are to become a member.”


    • Reminds me of a range incident video from a couple of years ago. Dude was blasting away as a new shooter with his brand new pistol and caught a piece of hot brass in his shirt collar after bouncing off the partition.

      But, had no presence of mind and violently turned right while pulling at his shirt with the gunm hand, sweeping his head with the muzzle while his finger was still in the trigger guard, and discharged when he clenched his hand around the collar.

      Don’t know if he survived.

  7. I haven’t been to a public indoor range in a while. I use mostly private outdoor ranges. but one thing I saw at an indoor range that was different…

    this guy had a long beard. I mean ZZ Top wanna be down to his waist long. they called for cease fire and a cold range. people did what they were suppose to do except this one long beard guy. the RO approached him and asked him what the problem was noticing he was fiddling with the gun…he turns around and the pistol is hanging from his beard which had jammed in the slide.

    • “I use mostly private outdoor ranges.”

      There are three ranges within close driving distance (under 30 min) from me. One fully private, one fully public, and one with a mix of public/private areas. All outdoor. Due to the huge increase in entry fees (was $12, now $20 per adult), I now only go every two or three months. Annual memberships are now above $300.

      I haven’t been to an indoor in a few years, and that was in NorCal. I’m not a fan of indoor.

    • One time a guy ran out toward the target when the range was hot and everyone was shooting . Needless to say all shooters started yelling at him-lol. Luckily he wasn’t
      injured. I disagree with folks that take issue when others use muzzle brakes. Brakes don’t bother me because I wear ear protection and expect to hear blasting noise at a gun range. If someone gets annoyed about muzzle brakes maybe it’s them that shouldn’t be owning firearms. Unless a shooter is endangering or harassing others there is no reason to get upset at a range. If you get upset, you don’t have the proper temperament to own a firearm. IMO

  8. A friend left the line and walked up to me with the muzzle pointed at my chest. When I moved the muzzle aside with my hand, he stated “it ain’t loaded”. “It ain’t loaded” is not the best response.
    He seemed to think that one can be too safe and hasn’t been back for any range days.

  9. When the range officers are Nazis and breath down your neck and yell at you for stuff you aren’t doing but they think you will.

  10. A long time ago I was muzzled by a hot M1 Carbine during basic training. When I asked him why, he said that a hot cartridge case had dropped down the back of his neck (and he squirmed). Apparently, the range safety NCO didn’t see it happen, since nothing was said. It must have been my lucky day, since I’m still alive.

  11. angle your ejection port so hot big bore brass wedges in your neighbor’s collar.
    i was momentarily alliterate.

    • I explained to a friend the benefit of wearing a “shooter’s cap” instead of flat-brimmed “baseball cap” all the wanna-be thuggers wear. The curved brim of a shooter’s cap more effectively covers the potential gaps around your eyewear, minimizing the chance of hot brass finding its way behind your glasses and provoking you into a spaztic dance while holding your gun.

      Also, don’t arrive at the range decked out in all the latest gear-n-belt-gadgets featured in the gun publications. Much of it is money wasted, and real POTG can see a poser coming a mile away. Just wear comfortable clothing and the items that you’ll be needing, and that actually fit/function well.

      • I find your comment about what to wear somewhat inappropriate. What business is it of yours what others wear? Best thing to do at ranges is to follow safety protocol, mind your own business and be polite and courteous to others.

  12. Be polite. If someone needs advice, ask tactfully.

    Do not be the guy with a Mozin-Nagant in the stall to my left! I might start throwing your hot brass back at you as you aim. If there’s some kind of brass deflection board available between stalls, use it!

  13. The only thing I would add to the list is mistaking someone else’s target frame for your own. I had holes mysteriously appearing on my targets every time the guy next to me was shooting.

    • It’s happened to me a few times where others shot my target. It’s no big deal.
      After all, it’s likely unintentional. On various forums and comments on sites like this, I’ve read folks using phrases such as: burns me up, pisses me off, gets me really mad(and the like). My first thought when reading such comments is that an I’ll tempered person should maybe not be owning firearms.

      • Sounds like your the type who is always making excuses or blaming others for your own bad behavior then telling them to chill out.

  14. We have a free outdoor range where I live but you need a code to get in. Local sports store has the sign up. Never had an issue, except recently…

    I’m 36 meters setting up a zero target for a new AR and everything is laid out on the table. I’m parked at the furthest range but I noticed someone driving through, stopping and collecting brass around the closer ones. This dude walks up to the table as I’m getting done, while trying to talk to me about my ARs can. I never walk down range with anything loaded on the table etc etc, but I do have my sidearm open carry on range days. I can hear him thanks to the earpro, and he seemed genuinely friendly, but as I’m walking back he starts walking up to the AR. That’s when my hand goes on my sidearm, not in a threatening manor but kind of “resting”. He didn’t touch it but walks up and leans in to get a closer look…

    Like… why? Back the fuck up dude. It was just enough to make me nervous and quite frankly, a stupid move. Of course I was there alone and of course I had everything laid out on the table… had I been further than 36 meters I would have never left anything out. But jfc man… WHY?

    At least he didn’t offer advice lol.

    • It was a stupid move. On your part. Why get nervous? Why put your hand on your gun? Lots of folks check mine-and others’- guns at ranges. They might be admiring it, curious about it, interested in buying one like it, etc. You sound a bit overly anxious
      and may very well have an itchy trigger finger. Your the guy I don’t want to encounter at a gun range. But thanks for making me realize there are more people than I thought that may be near me at a gun range with a short fuse such as yours.
      I don’t like any gun regulations, but after reading comments like yours I realize temperament training might not be a bad idea for people like you.

      • lol ok.

        “I dont like leather… but I hear bootlicking can solve my assumptions and overreacting”.

        short fuse lol.. I was walking back and I “rested” my hand. If you don’t like it, maybe step away from the only gun at a 15 table zone on the range. Such a short fuse, we had a friendly conversation and everyone left that day. Such a short fuse, I policed my brass and piles it up for when he returned.


  15. I wash down a couple or three valium with a bottle of Southern Comfort before I go to gunm ranges. It takes the edge off the fck up standing next to me.

  16. We have one indoor range (25 yards) and one outdoor range (100 yards) on BLM land. Neither has a RO. There were a couple of brothers gong to build a fancy range on the family ranch, but then they got hung up with Covid closing the office that was needed to process the last permit. haven’t checked, but I don’t think they ever broke gro9und, which is a shame since they were supposed to be putting in an 800 yard rifle range.

  17. #2, I once made the mistake of telling a neighboring shooter that that the Magpul MBUS sight on his AR was installed backwards, you would have thought I called his mother a whore

  18. An elderly man walks into my cubicle at an indoor range, hands shaking while muzzling me. I calmly asked him to please point muzzle down range and how can I help you.
    Then calmly asked him to take the magazine out and rack the slide(which was not fully inserted). He said he couldn’t get his gun to shoot. I explained he had the cartridges placed backwards in the magazine. I chalked it up as another less desirable moment of gun ownership. But it does make you wonder who might be next to you at a gun range.

    • So you’re saying that you actually met Albert Hall on one of his recent overseas visits…. thank God, I was beginning to think he might just be another alter-ego of lil’ d, like Minor Irritant.

      • …. almost forgot lil’ ds former moniker ” Vlad Tepes “. Read through the comments after the story “There and back again…” for an entertaining series of blasts from the past.

  19. Start using the station immediately to the left of a shooter despite multiple open stations along the firing line. Because every range trip is made better by hot brass being thrown at you….

    And inversely, start using the station immediately to the right of a shooter and complaining about brass flying at you…

  20. I’m very comfortable telling the range staff to get after unsafe gun owners. And I’ve had to only do once so far.

    • And it’s not just customers. I’ve seen range staff point loaded guns at customers in gun stores.

  21. I’ve only had one problem at a gun range in my life. About ten years ago there was an idiot at the range trying to get a magazine into a AK47. He was using his palm trying to slam it in like like an AR15. The problem was while he was doing this he got frustrated and was wildly pointing the muzzle at other shooters. I was with my son and he went over and told him to keep the goddamn muzzle pointed downrange. Plus,Daryl explained the correct way to insert the magazine. I went into the range office and complained. They sent him on down the road.

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