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.