As a newbie to the firearms culture, I have little knowledge of the etiquette expected at the local firing range. My personal experience is solely with indoor firing ranges as that is what I have available to me. I’m not talking range safety here, which is a completely different topic. Of course being friendly and courteous goes without saying. I mean what is acceptable behavior and what type of dialogue would be ok within the confines of the range itself. When thinking about this I was surprised to find there to be some similarities between the expected etiquette at the firing range and that of what is to be expected at your local watering hole. So let’s take a look at some of the etiquette that should be followed.
The first thing that comes to mind is what is and isn’t acceptable dialogue. The range is not the proper arena for voicing your political or religious views. These topics are much too polarizing to be discussed between strangers who have loaded firearms. Keep all conversation genial and light-hearted. That being said, the range is not the proper place to discuss personal problems either. I know people go to the range to blow off steam, and that is probably a safe and constructive way to deal with personal problems. But don’t share whatever your problems are with the other people at the range. Surely they have their own issues and don’t want to hear about your wife, your financial difficulties, or your crummy boss at work. These things are not what people go to the range for. Many head to the range to free themselves from these very same things, even if just for a little while.
One thing that many people could find insulting is giving unwanted shooting advice. You may be a competitive or very accomplished shooter, don’t tell someone their not holding their weapon properly or they don’t have the proper stance for firing. If the advice is not asked for, then you should focus on your own lane and keep any thoughts, comments, or opinions to yourself. To give unwanted advice is really one of the most obnoxious things one person can do to another. Again, not discussing safety, simply etiquette. If someone is improperly handling a firearm that would endanger themselves or others there at the range then by all means say something or go and get the range master. Safety should always be the first and foremost priority.
When it is your turn to step into the shooting lane make sure you are neat and clean. No matter what the lane may look like be sure to leave the lane as clean or cleaner than you found it. Pick up after yourself. If you have a drink then throw away the empty bottle. If you have empty boxes of ammunition be sure to trash them. Just as you would not want to step into a dirty lane, the person coming after you would like a clean lane to start with. No one likes to walk into the lane and step on all sorts of brass. Sweep up after yourself and throw away those spent casings.
At the range I frequent, they have rigs to attach your target to and a motorized cable system with which to send your target down range. If the person in the lane next to you is slinging lead, have the courtesy to wait for them to finish their magazine before sending your target to the desired distance. It may not be a problem for the person next to you because they may be a seasoned firearms expert, but at the same time they may be someone like myself who is just discovering how to shoot accurately and needs as little distraction as possible. You just don’t know, but assume the person in the lane next to you is a newbie.
We are all aware of the cost of ammunition. This has caused many people to collect their and others brass. This is a great way to keep the cost of ammunition down. If you do collect brass, be courteous and respectful of those whose brass you are collecting. Firstly when the proper time presents itself, ask the person if they mind you gathering their brass, but make sure you do it when they are done. Crawling around on the floor on your hands and knees or using the broom to gathering someones spent shell casings while they are in the middle of emptying their magazine is just ridiculous. Wait until the session is finished and at that point go ahead and start gathering those shell casings.
These are just a few thoughts that come to mind from my personal experience at the firing range. I only attempted to cover etiquette with this article. Safety should always be the main goal anytime you are dealing with a firearm. Please if you have anything to add or if I didn’t cover something enough feel free to leave it in the comments section.