Firing Range Etiquette

Firing Range Etiquette

Firing Range Etiquette

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.

, ,

  • Gunluvr

    Can’t argue with that.

  • TAZ MANIA

    Makes a lot of sense…especially the collection of brass (I don’t).

    • Another Disabled Athlete

      The local indoor ranges here (suburban PA) require the customers to clean-up brass – and No food or beverages. Range monitors are too busy observing And enforcing safety.
      They use a sorter to drop spent casings into buckets. I take a baggie and just help myself to a handful or two of the brass in the buckets away from the firing line area after sweeping mine up and packing all of my gear, etc.

  • barleybear

    Two things that ring true to me: unwanted advice and clean up after yourself. Both have been issues at our local sporting clay range recently. It has gotten to the point where we literally have to kick hulls out of the shooting box to have a level spot to stand. I make it a point to clean up the area before I move on, even if the guys behind me have to wait. Lead by example. Unwanted advice is a tough one to deal with because, in most cases, the guy means well. For me, it’s just one more distraction, but you can’t just tell the guy to pound sand. He thinks he’s helping.
    One thing I would add – those that are not shooting (spectators, those waiting their turn at a station or for a bench to open) think about the golden rule. What would you like the people around you doing when you are up to shoot? I’ll bet it’s not talking on the phone or telling dirty jokes or bragging about the awesome weekend you had. I try to be as unintrusive and respectful as possible to those that are shooting and I expect the same.
    Good topic!

  • PaidTriot

    Great article and subject. Thank you for posting it. As a CRSO I wanted to remind everyone that anyone can call a “cease fire” at a range. If there is a serious issue remember to do so.

    • Sig_Sauer

      PaidTriot, Great reminder. At the range I use, when someone calls for a cease fire, all weapons must be placed on the bench and all hands up on the sides of the range glass.

      • 2ThinkN_Do2

        They should be required to step out of the shooting stall; that would be even safer.

        • Sig_Sauer

          That’s a great suggestion and I will pass that on to our range office.

        • Pastor Rick

          Absolutely

  • Bob M.

    Never thought of waiting for my neighbor to finish before sending my target down range. Good idea, will try to do so.

    • Pastor Rick

      Why is that a good idea?

  • VSanity

    I apparently have excellent range etiquette lol.
    I don’t collect my brass because I don’t have a press to make my own ammo (though I’d love one) and also, I think the range doesn’t like it when people collect the brass of range ammo since I think it helps keep cost down. Obviously if you bring your own ammo they can’t say anything (unless you go out on to the range), but I just buy my range ammo from the range since it’s far cheaper than what I can get elsewhere. Also, most of my and other rounds tend to fall forward onto the range. The range I frequent is always busy. Has 15 lanes and most of the time they are filled, so it’s not really practical anyways.

    The “unwanted tips” thing is so true. I always feel like these 50-somethings who set up next to me are just aching to give me pointers but luckily they don’t. There is nothing more I hate than being corrected when I don’t ask for it. I’m accurate and my stance is comfortable and safe, that’s all I care about.

    • Pastor Rick

      Do stress shooting drills and then tell us how accurate you are.
      …”that’s all I care about”…
      I pray to God you’re not ever pulling the trigger when I am around!

      • VSanity

        F*ck off asshole.

        • Pastor Rick

          Proof once again you know not what you talk about. Pride comes before a fall. Not only do I stand behind what I originally said to you, I would love to stand in front of you and say it to your face. I’d like to see if you would disrespect me then. I have more than 30 years of professional training and teaching experience in Personal Protection, CQC and Firearms. Come back when you can use civil vocabulary, otherwise you are irrelevant.

          • Willius Wonkus

            “Pride comes before a fall” Hmmm. Coming from a very prideful person. You’re certainly full of yourself.

  • Scout

    Wow, that little bit really reflects zero time at a range, and still a bit early to
    be making comment. AT most ranges today you pay for your time. Why then
    would you be talking about the jackasses in Washington, or your sexual orientation
    for that matter. PUT THE ROUNDS DOWN RANGE ! IF someone “asks” for advice,
    I’ll give it in the most simplest, shortest format and notify them, “Thats just my two cents”.
    Most ranges for insurance purposes don’t allow brass sweeping / collection
    by non employees. Or unless the range is closed, cleared, cold and everyone is away!
    The brass rule is “its the shooters till he or she leaves the range, and its still on the floor”
    If your talking about a private range, then the above doesn’t apply, except the brass rule.
    I’m not a Football Blogger writing about range etiquette.
    Active duty, reserves and national guard =33yrs
    combat badge and purple heart
    shot competition in high school and national guard pistol team.
    Retired at 65 now and last month I bought a new Kimber Ultra Crimson Carry II .45acp
    At 30ft it prints into a nice 2″ circle! Even with my bi-focals on!!!
    Didn’t like the sights, so I had a set of Kimber tritium night sights put on.
    Now its “SWEET” And why wuld i put night sights on a laser gun?
    1. leaving the battery on will then not tell you when its going to quit.
    2. a laser location can be traced.
    3. night sights are always on.
    4. sometimes ya feel like nut, some times ya don’t
    Good shooting to all, stay sharp, stay safe!
    Scout

    • Joey Riollano

      Thanks for your service to this country Scout. I pray you have a full and blessed retirement.
      Thanks for reading and commenting on the post.

    • 2ThinkN_Do2

      If it’s not in front of the shooting line, you are allowed to recover your brass at the indoor range I belong to. In addition, all shooters are expected to sweep brass in front of the shooting line when they are done. As for paying for your time, I pay for my time, but I can shoot for as long as I want for one yearly annual fee. I can shoot every day of the week if I want. I used to belong to an hourly range, it was a complete rip off. After two years of shooting, the lifetime membership fee with annual renewal has cost less than the hourly place would have and it becomes more economical every year I renew.

    • stanford67

      Thank you for your service, Scout.

  • Pat Fox

    sounds fair and healthy to me!!

  • yikesarama

    There is one safety issue I see violated repeatedly — and this is a big one, in terms of risk. Two variations:

    1. Someone walking around with his pistol, either to show their buddy in the lane next door or discussing features or even reloading.

    2. This one is worse: when a stovepipe or other failure to fire occurs, they stare at it a minute, then walk off with the pistol in their hand to see the rangemaster or the even back to the range pay/check-in location! “Hey what do I do?”

    In both cases, the rule is: leave your weapon at your station, pointing downrange. Then go get help. Or let your buddy come see your super duper pistola.

    Next time you’re at your range, turn around and look at the walls and ceiling behind you. Often there are bullet holes, due usually to people violating this simple rule.

    • pmb61

      “In both cases, the rule is: leave your weapon at your station, pointing downrange.”

      DO NOT DO THIS.!!

      If it is a failure to fire such as a hang fire the LAST thing you want to do is set the gun down. Proper procedure is to stay in the lane with the firearm safely pointed down range and raise your NON-SHOOTING hand to signal that you need help.

      • Pastor Rick

        That only works if there is a range Safety Officer or equivalent. Regardless, since initially you don’t know if you have a misfire or a hang fire ALWAYS count to 30 while keeping the pistol pointed down and down range, then you can either clear the Firearm or table it and get help..

    • Anthony James

      Please if you have anything to add or if I didn’t cover something enough feel free to leave it in the comments section.

  • Matt

    The state has actually threatened to close my local public range because idiots can’t seem to pick up after themselves and follow the rules. Paper, cardboard, cans, jugs, electronic parts, and shotgun shells are always left behind. Signs and trash cans have bullet holes in them. Interestingly enough, all of the brass casings are usually picked up (Gee, I wonder why?). My rule is always leave a place cleaner than how you found it.

    • melitagnm105

      My Uncle Jordan got a 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV by working off of a pc online. Resources w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m

    • frederigoxcz305

      my Aunty Scarlett just got Acura RL by working online at home. he said w­w­w.B­I­G­29.c­o­m

    • Pastor Rick

      Good comment.
      Just remember, you can’t blame the state. Blame the range owners for not enforcing better policy.
      Be Safe.

  • 2ThinkN_Do2

    First paragraph and I already do not agree with what is being said. You don’t go to the range to blow off steam. If you are steamed up, you are likely not in a the best frame of mind and that is not the frame of mind to be shooting a weapon capable of taking a life if you happen to let something slip your mind, due to your attitude.

    • NoBama, NoWay, NoHow

      “You don’t go to the range to blow off steam.”

      Really? Depends how you interpret “blowing off steam”. Don’t tell me no one should go to the range to help work off some stress. That’s a lot different than being so upset you can’t see straight. But, even if you head to the range in the “can’t see straight” condition, by the time you travel to the range, wait for a stall and get set up to shoot, you’re probably going to be in a much calmer frame of mind, no? Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not suggesting anyone should head to the range when they are fighting mad, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what the author meant by “blowing off steam”.

      • 2ThinkN_Do2

        Does it really matter what the author meant, or does it matter more so, what some people might take it to mean? Look around the society we live within, daily there are articles about people who cross the line, it they sometimes do it at the range sadly.

      • GunTotingLib

        I go to the range to practice my marksmanship and enjoy the sport. Guess I am strange

  • Dave

    Smoking is my #1 peeve…..if you are a smoker and at the range. Go far enough away that the rest of the shooters don’t to leave smelling like a ash tray. Be respectful!

    • Brian – Milwaukee

      Anything with eye and mouth contact really is not permitted due to the residue chemicals that adhere to the hands after firing even one round.

      • 2ThinkN_Do2

        I’ve seen pictures from certain places where people actually have a beverage on the counter where they place their firearm(s) in the shooting stall. Why would any range allow this, even temporarily an accident could happen. There should be no beverages beyond hallways outside the range stalls. Even a small spill or sweating drink drip could cause someone to slip and who knows what happens next . . . .

  • SarahJ

    Thanks for the advise! My sister and I were at the range last weekend ad debated giving another woman a tip about her stance, but we figured she’d be more annoyed than appreciative, so we didn’t say anything. Glad now that we didn’t say anything, and I’ll keep this in mind….

    • Pastor Rick

      So you would rather let someone do something wrong than try to appropriately help them?

  • jogotyree69

    I use the same rule as we had to for mountain bike racing or training: you pack it in – you pack it out

  • NoGuff

    It may not be kosher to collect brass at indoor ranges especially, because they do so themselves as part of their revenue options.

  • mwhals

    This is really basic common sense to me and probably many others.

  • Pastor Rick

    I have been a successful and safe Professional Firearms Instructor to LEO’s and Civilians for more than 30 years. No accidents. The MAJORITY of what you said about shooting range “etiquette” is a crock.

    YOU say …”If the advice is not asked for, then you should focus on your own lane and keep any thoughts, comments, or opinions to yourself”…

    I say, maybe you should keep YOUR opinions to YOURSELF, like in this article. I am always watching what others are doing at the range, and if the opportunity provides itself and I can show somebody a proper grip so they can either shoot better or not get their thumb ripped open by the slide, I will do it. Funny how my opinion has ALWAYS been appreciated!

    YOU say …”have the courtesy to wait for them to finish their magazine before sending your target to the desired distance”…
    I say get real! In a real life situation EVERYTHING and everybody is going to be moving. If a target moving in a stall next to you is moving and a distraction, GET OVER IT! Train like you live or stick to shooting Airsoft in the privacy of your basement.

    We are adults and can have “adult” conversations about anything we choose, when and wherever we choose. For many it is very therapeutic and a great bonding time.

    Firearm Safety infused with Common Sense should be the focus, PERIOD!

    The commenters to this post had more useful, honest and practical comments to share than the article itself did.

    Keep your language clean, stay out of your shooting stall neighbors area, and obey the posted safety rules.
    Happy Shooting People, Be Safe!

  • BMorris

    I have the luxury of being able to go to my State’s National Guard Traning Center’s ranges for free, as I am the Force Protection Supervisor (civ contractor) at our JFHQ. That being said; I usually am sharing my range time with well trained soldiers, airmen, and other local and federal LEOs. Every piece of ettiquite discussed in you article is on point. However, as far as advice goes, in this type of setting, seems to always be welcomed from others. Shooting with these types of folks you never know what kind of good tips you may pick up, as most have varied real world experience in different enviornments. Stay safe folks, and happy shooting.

  • Anthony James

    Safety should always be the main goal anytime you are dealing with a firearm.

  • Joe Wiley

    you forgot one item never touch or handle someone’s firearm unless given permission even if it is in your way ask the owner if he will or if you can move it

Quantcast