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Range Etiquette 101: What Not to Do

If you spend much time at the range you’re probably familiar with the varied and frustrating ways people behave. There you are, just wanting to spend some trigger time with your favorite gun, and here comes some ill-mannered person with zero regard for safety or personal space. But wait—what if the ill-mannered person is you, and you don’t even realize it? In the interest of helping you not be “That Guy”, we’re going to consider some simple range etiquette tips.

Yes, these random objects were being used as targets by people at the range. [Photo: Kat Stevens]

Don’t Use Random Objects as Targets

This might sound strange, but some people will use anything and everything as a target. Over the years, I’ve seen everything from sporting clays duct taped to the berm to baby carrots on toothpicks jammed into the dirt and walls. Understandably, you might sometimes forget your targets or simply resort to using a paper plate, but that doesn’t mean any random, inanimate objects are up for discussion. It’s a good idea to use proper paper or steel targets, depending on the range rules. This not only maximizes your trigger time but also avoids creating unnecessary risks. And aside from the inherent risk of shooting a sporting clay from five yards away with a handgun, there’s the fact that you’re making an incredible mess and leaving it behind. Don’t be the guy who doesn’t use appropriate targets, whatever those may be.

Don’t Invite Yourself Into a Shooting Bay

Some ranges have rules about how many people are allowed to use a single shooting bay. If we’re talking outdoor ranges, especially locations that aren’t monitored by an on-site RSO (Range safety officer), the rules tend to go out the window. A shooter’s space is personal and private. You should never simply stroll into someone’s space and start setting up. Not only is that bad manners, it’s unsafe. If the range is extremely busy and some of the shooting bays are large enough and designed for potential use by more than one shooter, be polite. Ask the person if they mind sharing space; if they decline, move on. If they’re fine with it, be sure you communicate clearly about hanging targets and moving around in the shared space. Even if the range is full, you aren’t entitled to simply take up space where someone else is already shooting.

on the range at gunsite
Mind your manners at the range. [Photo: Jeff Quinn]

Don’t Minimize or Belittle Other Shooters

This might seem obvious, but for some people, it isn’t. And although this one generally applies to men speaking to women, that isn’t always the case. When you’re at the range, you’re likely to see someone who appears to have a gun that’s too big for them or who is attempting a drill or technique beyond their abilities. This is not the time to wander over and offer your unsolicited judgment or disapproval. It should be noted that all shooters on a line are responsible for safety, and real safety concerns should always be addressed. It’s also a terrible idea to make assumptions, such as asking a woman if the guns she’s shooting belong to her boyfriend, husband, or father. Don’t insult random people at the range just because you believe you know best. This leads to our next point.

Don’t Offer Unsolicited Advice

It’s incredibly common for gun owners to approach strangers at the range and tell them how to do better. This advice is often unsolicited and is frequently less than ideal. It typically comes from people who lack the perspective to provide truly helpful advice. Giving advice when it wasn’t requested isn’t always helpful or wanted. At times, it can come across as rude. Failing to take into account a shooter’s purpose on the range and making uneducated assumptions could prove costly to the interaction. If there does happen to be an RSO present, bring safety concerns to them, to ensure the problem is appropriately addressed.

handguns at the range
Never assume you know what someone is doing at the range. [Photo: Kat Stevens]

Be Cautious of Unsolicited Advice

This might seem like an unusual one to include, but it’s true: don’t automatically take random advice from strangers. Understand that there are people who believe they are experts who might not be. A lot of people can appear quite confident despite having limited knowledge of the topic they’re discussing. If it doesn’t sound reasonable or safe, don’t do it. Don’t feel pressured into trying a different grip or stance just because some random person tells you to. There are cases where taking that advice might be wise, but be cautious. Take all advice with a grain of salt, and be polite when informing people there advice is unwanted.

Don’t Shoot Other People’s Targets

Seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes it has to be said: don’t shoot other people’s targets. If it happens on accident, an apology is in order, as is stopping to figure out how you misjudged the point of aim and point of impact so badly. Unless your targets are literally overlapping, there’s really no excuse for shooting a different target. If you are working out sighting issues, let your “lane neighbors” know so they can be aware of possible stray rounds.

handgun and target
It’s a good idea to have a goal for range days aside from just putting holes in paper. [Photo: Kat Stevens]

Mind Your Noise Level

The concept of making sure you’re not excessively loud covers both the gun you’re shooting and how loud you’re talking. Be respectful of other people’s activities. That means not being so loud that you disturb other shooters. And if you’re running a rifle with something like a tanker muzzle brake, consider the impact on fellow shooters. I’m not saying, don’t shoot your gun, just that it might be important to pay attention to proximity to others and act accordingly as much as possible.

As long as you take the time to be safe and polite, you’re going to do fine at the range. What tips would you share with people going to the range for the first time? Share them in the comments.

The post Range Etiquette 101: What Not to Do appeared first on The Mag Life.

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