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Your first trip to the range can be intimidating. Here are some tips on how to have a successful experience.

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Range Etiquette Transcript

Randy Newberg: Hey, folks! Randy Newberg here. We all know that this last year has brought a record number of first-time gun owners and hunters. And if you are one of the members of that club, welcome. We’re happy to have you here.

First Trip to the Shooting Range

Hopefully by now, you’ve been able to do some dry firing and really get to know how your gun operates. When you’re ready to start training with live ammunition, your local shooting range is a great place to start. But for newcomers, it can be a little intimidating if you’ve never done this before. Fear of accidentally breaking a rule, making a mistake, or just not knowing the ropes can be pretty overwhelming.

I’m here with Nosler at the Redmond Rod and Gun Club in central Oregon. And what we want to do today is give you five basic points—the five points that will make you comfortable and safe at any gun range. Let’s get started.

Know Your Range

Every shooting range is going to be a little different. So, it’s really important to know a few things before you arrive.

  • Visit your range website or give them a call for basic information like range fees and hours of operation.
  • You’ll also want to consider what target distances that range offers and whether that range is an indoor range. Or is it an outdoor range? Indoor ranges are typically catered towards handgun training, and the targets are usually somewhere between 25 and 50 yards. You’ll often find longer target distances at the outdoor ranges, and those ranges can be from 100 yards all the way out to 500 yards.
  • You'll want to be aware of any specific range restrictions, and I’ll give you an example. Some ranges only allow a pistol or rimfire shoot. And a lot of ranges, they might not even allow shotgun shooting unless they have a designated shotgun area.

  • Next, you want to make sure when you show up, you have everything that you need to have a safe experience while you’re here at the range.
    • Things you should bring to the range include necessary items like eye protection—now that's pretty much a requirement at all ranges; ear protection, like earmuffs, earplugs, and/or both; paper targets for practice; and a gun rest if you’re shooting a rifle.
    • A few more items you may want to consider are maybe some markers to label your shots if you’re using the same target for several groups.
    • I always bring a pair of optics with me. Sometimes it’s my binoculars and sometimes it’s a spotting scope because that offers this high level of clarity and magnification were right for my shooting position. I can look downrange and see where my shots are hitting without having to physically go and check it. And most importantly, don’t forget your firearm. And make sure you have the correct ammunition for that firearm.
  • Your gun must be in a case when you arrive. And do not, under any circumstance, carry a loaded firearm onto the range. And before you leave your house, double or triple check that your firearm is empty.

Range Commands

Almost every range will have range officers. We call them ROs for short. They run the range, and their sole job is to make sure that everyone stays safe. What they say goes, so make sure you’re paying attention to RO commands.

The RO will let shooters know when the range is hot, which means it’s OK to shoot. Sometimes, you’ll hear the RO announce the range is cold or cease fire. And all shooters must unload, lock their firearms open, step back, and wait for permission to go downrange before checking or retrieving their targets.

And finally, there are a few unwritten rules of range etiquette, and those rules are here for a reason. We all want to have a safe and enjoyable range experience.

Range Etiquette

You’re going to find that most folks at the range are some pretty friendly folks. They like to talk guns and shooting. But the time to talk guns and shooting is during the breaks or while changing targets during a cease fire. These are the perfect time to say hello, maybe introduce yourself, and ask any questions you might have.

With that being said, remember this. Try not to disturb the other shooters while they’re actively shooting or when they are handling their firearms. These things require a lot of focus, and even a well-intentioned conversation can distract shooters from the task at hand.

And finally, leave your range better than you found it. Pick up your trash, and clean all the rifle firing stations. Police your targets. Pull your targets. And all that is just kind of common sense, but it's definitely a courtesy expected from all of us who are shooting at a range.

There you have it, folks, a few tips for you to be safe and confident out here at the range. And just remember, you’re not alone. There are millions of new shooters coming out to the range. But when you come here, practice safety, be confident, and have fun.

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