Range Etiquette (or, How Not to be That Guy!)
If you have had any formal firearms training, you are familiar with the Four General Firearms Safety Rules. In addition to those rules, however, there are some established and customary range practices you should be familiar with.
- Once you’re on the firing line stay there until you are dismissed by the instructor. It is very poor form to walk off the line without permission. The instructor will give you an opportunity to get more ammunition, hydrate, or do whatever you need to do. It is hard enough for the instructor to observe and control everyone on the firing line as it is. Help him by staying in your assigned spot on the firing line until given permission to leave it.
- Do not handle your firearm off the firing line. The instructor has to focus his attention on the firing line, so he should not have to watch out for people behind him with guns out. Your handgun should not be out of the holster unless you are on the firing line, facing the backstop, and you have permission to do so.
- Do not dangle your handgun by your side. Unless you are at the ready or on target the gun should remain in the holster. If you blow a shot, don’t throw up your hands or drop them by your side with a gun in your hand. Keep the gun under control and again, if you don’t want it in your hands put it back in holster.
- Don’t turn around with a gun in your hand and sweep the line, the instructors, or observers. Always holster the gun before walking off the line, picking up any object, or doing anything else not directly involved in firing.
- On the firing line there should be no casual chatting. Wait until you are off-line to talk about your performance, or anything else with other students. When you are talking you cannot be listening to the instructor’s comments, to range commands, or to other important input. An exception would be when you are acting as a coach for another shooter, however, if the primary instructor begins talking you should stop talking and listen to him. You can resume your coaching when the primary instructor is finished.
- Immediately obey any instruction or command from the instructor. Do what he says first, and you can question it later. There may be circumstances of which you are unaware.
- Electronic hearing protection is such an asset that it really should be mandatory equipment for a shooting class. With electronic ear muffs, you will pick up tidbits from the instructor you may have missed otherwise, including hearing coaching directed at other students. The same coaching may well apply to you.
If you will follow these guidelines you will be safer, your classmates will be safer, and just as importantly, you and they will derive the maximum benefit from class.
By Tom Givens