Whether you’re a new gun owner or a long-time firearms shooter, proper gun range etiquette is one of the most important parts of range safety. An exciting day of target shooting practice can easily be spoiled by someone who is unaware or simply inconsiderate of good range manners. Make sure your trip to the range is fun, safe, and effective with these gun range etiquette tips.
What Should You Never Do When Going to the Range?
Any experienced firearms owner will tell you the most important rule of gun range etiquette is safety. That means any behavior that endangers yourself or others is simply unacceptable. Unfortunately, many shooters seem to minimize the importance of safety at a gun range because it’s a controlled environment. But accidents can happen anywhere, and the range is no exception.
A common safety mistake new shooters tend to make is not paying attention to where they’re pointing their guns. The adrenaline rush that comes after pulling the trigger can take a while to get used to, and when you’ve just shot a gun for the first time, you can easily get lost in the excitement. So, make sure you always follow basic gun safety and always keep your firearms pointed in a safe direction.
Tips for First-Time Gun Owners at a Firing Range
There are a few etiquette tips for first-time range-goers that can really help you get the most out of the experience.
- Let them know you’re new. They’ll help you get started.
- Ask questions. Clearing your confusions increases your safety.
- Clean up after yourself. This is common courtesy!
Planning Your Trip
Proper range etiquette starts before you even get to the range. If you’re a first-time shooter or simply want to make sure you’re practicing good range manners, here are some things you should consider when planning your trip.
You don’t have to dress up, but you want to make sure you’re covering sensitive areas for safety reasons. Appropriate range attire includes:
- Higher necklines
- Close-toed shoes (NEVER wear sandals)
- Pants (not shorts)
- Hats (optional, but helpful when visiting outdoor ranges)
Prepare Your Gear
Many ranges will let you rent firearms and purchase things like targets and ammo, if needed. But if bringing your own gear, make sure your range bag includes:
- Gun and gun case
- Ammo and ammo box/case
- Approved targets
- Eye and ear protection
Gun Range Etiquette Best Practices
Once you’ve arrived at the range, there are some common courtesy practices that show you respect the range and the other shooters around you:
- Some shooting ranges require you to reserve range time before visiting. Make sure you contact your local gun range to see if this is something you need to do.
- Read and follow the gun range safety rules and procedures exactly. They exist for a reason and are strictly enforced.
- Listen carefully to all range staff members, especially the Range Safety Officer.
- Stay in the lane you’ve been assigned. It’s rude (and unsafe) to intrude on other shooters’ space.
- NEVER aim a firearm anywhere other than downrange, and only shoot at your own targets.
- When you’re ready to leave, clean up after yourself. Don’t leave any trash or gear behind.
- If you’re a regular range shooter, do not assume someone (especially a woman) wants/needs your help. If they want advice, they’ll ask.