If you’re heading down to the gun shooting range for the first time, you might be nervous. But the truth is, a firing range can be quite a safe place, so long as you practice good safety procedures and remember the following tips.
Gun Shooting Range | Safety Tips for Beginners
1. Keep Firearms’ Safeties On Unless Shooting
First and foremost, the safety of your firearm should always be engaged, regardless of its type, if you aren’t planning to pull the trigger in the next 10 seconds.
Safeties are included on your firearm specifically to prevent it from accidentally going off, and they serve as an extra safety precaution in case you forget the following tip.
2. Point Firearms at the Ground or Downrange
The next most important rule of thumb on a gun shooting range is to keep your firearm pointed either at the ground or down the range at all times.
Down the range means that your firearm will be pointed toward the targets “down” the range's length. Never point your firearm up or generally into the air and never point it at another individual under any circumstances.
Even if you are certain that the firearm is unloaded and the safety is engaged, you should never willingly point your firearm at another person.
You never know if someone else might have put a round into the chamber between the last time you emptied it and picked it up again.
3. Unload Your Gun Until Shooting at the Firing Line
Speaking of loading, unload your gun at all times. Do this until you take up a firing position at the firing line and prepare to pull the trigger.
This includes making sure that your weapon’s magazine is removed from the grip or the receiver. Also, check if there isn’t a cartridge active inside the gun after having been fed a magazine.
If you don't know how to properly unload your weapon in both respects, find someone who can teach you and get into the habit of keeping your gun unloaded until you're about to shoot.
Again, in conjunction with the three above tips, this will make it all but impossible for someone to accidentally fire a shot when they don't mean to. This lowers the risk of injury and will help you enjoy the firing range for a long time to come.
4. Never Walk Downrange Unless the Range is “Cold”
Another great gun shooting range safety tip is to never walk down the range unless you are certain that the range is “cold” – that is, all other firearms are unloaded and are laid down on shooting benches.
This ensures that no one will accidentally be firing downrange while you are walking to a target to bring it back for examination or to retrieve brass.
It’s dangerous to walk downrange even if you are wide of the targets; people miss (very badly sometimes), and bullets can ricochet and cause injury or death.
5. Clean Up After Yourself
One last safety tip involves cleaning the range so that it looks excellent when you leave it. This means picking up your brass, placing trash into the correct receptacles, and not using incorrect ammunition on the targets.
If the shooting range is dirty or difficult to navigate, it may be dangerous for the people who come after you. More than anything else, it’s a sign of respect to clean up the range after you’ve enjoyed it.
Stay Safe and Enjoy Shooting
All in all, a gun shooting range is only as safe or dangerous as the people using it make it. If you follow the tips above, you’ll be able to enjoy your time at the range. You'll even become a better marksman without any danger at all!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 17, 2020, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.