How do you make that first trip to the range, gun store, or even a friend’s house to check out a gun or two without looking like a total doofus?
Admit it, we all want to be cool and look comfortable and confident when learning new shooting tips and gun handling skills. Like all new things, especially in the early stages of gun training, learning how to handle guns can be intimidating. Now that Miss Manners’ Super Duper Guide to Shooting Etiquette is out of print, learning basic gun safety and shooting rules is extra hard.
Check out these shooting range etiquette tips and you’ll be safe and look like a pro shooter, or at least a well-rounded intermediate, in no time flat. And, before we start, since we're talking about gun training, you might want to check out how I feel about serious training, here.
One of the best things you can do (besides displaying good manners) is to demonstrate that you are safe at the range. And the quickest way to freak out everyone else at the range is to turn around while holding your gun. I know, it’s a social event, and part of the fun is bragging to your friends when you blow a pomegranate to smithereens. Trash talking your friends is perfectly acceptable, and encouraged, as long as you keep facing the backstop. Don’t worry; they’ll still hear you while you’re facing forward.
If you need to turn around for some reason, no problem. Just set your gun down on the table, pointed down range, first. If you can, make it safe by unloading and opening the action. Doing that every time you finish a string of fire is a great habit that will impress your range neighbors.
Walk the line!
Back seat drivers can be frustrating, annoying and dangerous. So can back seat shooters.
These are the folks that stand way too far back from the shooting line. When that happens, the muzzles of their various firearms are actually behind other shooters on either side of them. Is it the result of some instinctive Dirty Harry reflex to have the drop on everyone else at the range? We don’t know. Yet, as nice as you seem to be, I don’t trust you! Not when you have a loaded gun behind my back!
Step on up to the shooting line. Get as close as you can. Look at the bright side, you’ll be a little closer to the target and shoot a better group! And that makes everyone happy.
While being frigid won't help you make great strides with members of the opposite sex, it will help you become exceptionally popular at the shooting range. When the range goes cold, people can go check their targets and do other maintenance activities out where the bullets fly. It's not the time to tinker with your gun, adjust your sights or show your friends your cool new grenade launcher. It doesn't matter if your gun is empty. Remember rule one; a gun is never empty!
Bonus tip: If you want to look like a real pro, then don’t just put your gun(s) on the table when you hear “Range Cold!” Step away from the shooting table and stay there the whole time the range is cold. This is a super duper move that lets nearby shooters know that you are not messing with your gun(s) while the range is cold. It’s very considerate and they will love you for it. It’s also a great time to socialize with your range neighbors. There’s not much more fun than talking gun geekery with new friends at the range.
Bag your gun!
Shooting bags do much more than just look cool and tactical. Of course they’re a convenient way to lug all your junk back and forth to the shooting range. But using a proper shooting bag is also a safety issue. Unless you carry your gun to the range in a separate case or box, a good shooting bag is a safe and considerate way to do it. If you walk into a shooting range waving your rifle or pistol around, people just might get the wrong idea about your intentions. Case it safely, unloaded, with the action open, and bring your whole bag to the shooting bench. Once there, remove your gun following posted range procedures.
Well, at least question everything you’re not absolutely sure about. If you are not familiar with the procedures and etiquette of a shooting range, feel free to ask. If there are no staff members or range safety officers, then ask a neighboring shooter. Staff and shooters alike will appreciate the fact that you care enough to ask.
It’s a lot easier to meet new friends and have a good time when other folks aren’t worried about how safe you are. If you slow down, and think about how to make your emphasis on safety plain for others to see, everyone can relax a bit, and focus on the reason you’re all there in the first place.