When dealing with firearms, either outside or in an indoor shooting range, it is always necessary to observe safe and proper etiquette.
Whether you are outdoors or at an indoor shooting range, knowing how to conduct yourself around firearms is not only imperative for your safety as well as everyone else’s, it is just plain polite to know what to do and what not to do in a situation involving firearms. This can be rather intimidating for novice shooters and that’s why we decided to cover some of the proper etiquette when at an indoor shooting range.
You can’t do the right things if you don’t know what the right things are, so read on to learn more about what to do when shooting at an indoor range.
First of all, all the regular rules of gun safety apply at an indoor range. This should go without saying, but you need to be just as cognizant of safety at an indoor range as you would be in any other setting.
Most of the time you will find safety rules posted at each range, but if you can’t find them, take a minute and ask an instructor or employee if you have any doubt in your mind. Just remember; firearms are just as dangerous at an indoor range as they are anywhere else. Safety first!
Next, listen to the Range Officer. Pretty much all indoor ranges will have a Range Officer assigned to be on duty while the range is open for shooting. One of the duties of the RO is to tell you when it is ok to shoot and when you need to cease-fire. The Range Officer is there to insure the safety of not only you, but everybody else as well, so make sure and listen to what he or she has to say. This way there are no miscommunications that could result in accidents.
Firearms are just as dangerous at an indoor range as they are anywhere else. Safety first!
Along those same lines, remember not to touch any firearm when there is a cease-fire. During a cease-fire other people will be doing things like changing targets, etc. The last thing anyone wants is to see someone handling a firearm when they are down range. It doesn’t matter if you are loading yours or trying to clean it or even showing it to a friend, don’t touch you gun during a cease-fire.
This is kind of common sense, but you would be surprised how many people think nothing of picking up a gun when there are people down range. Just don’t do it.
Next, don’t bother active shooters. If someone is in the act of shooting, refrain from trying to talk to them until they are done. Don’t walk up and tap them on the shoulder to ask them a question. Simply leave that person alone until they are done shooting. There is one glaring exception to this rule: if you notice someone in immediate danger then it is ok to engage them to let them know. There may be an occasion where you notice a malfunction with their firearm or perhaps someone is down range when they aren’t supposed to be. In cases like this it is fine to try to talk to someone.
Another point to remember is, don’t try to coach or help other people. There tend to be a lot of ‘experts’ at indoor shooting ranges. If you are one of these people, don’t try to help unless you are asked. If you notice someone’s technique is not quite correct, it is not your place to help unless there is some kind of immediate danger. Different people shoot differently, with various styles. That is perfectly ok and it is not your place to tell everybody what they may be doing wrong.
It is ok to watch other people shoot, but don’t hover. You may want to observe the technique or weapon that someone else is using and that’s fine, just give them space. Much like someone reading over your shoulder, nobody wants to have someone hovering behind them when they are trying to shoot. It’s ok to learn and its ok to be curious, but just don’t be the person that not only gets annoying, but can also present a safety hazard by being too close.
Much like the previous point, never pick up someone else’s firearm. It can be tempting when you see that awesome looking Kimber 1911 that you have always thought about buying, but just don’t do it. Most people don’t mind showing off one of their prized pistols if you simply ask, so it’s perfectly to say something like; ‘That’s a great looking .45, may I check it out?’
Just make sure that if they oblige you and hand you the gun, the first thing you do is clear the firearm to make sure it is not loaded. Most people who are experienced shooter will clear a firearm before handing it to you, in order to show you that it’s not loaded.
If for some reason they do not, then you need to do it yourself, 100% of the time.
You should also only ever shoot one firearm at a time. This means, just have one gun on the line at any given time. You may have brought several that you want to shoot, but one at a time is the proper etiquette. When you are ready to shoot the next one, put the current one away and bring the next one out to the line.
Cleaning up after yourself is one of the most important things you can do when you go to an indoor shooting range. If you are wondering, this means picking up your brass. You should also throw away any other debris from ammo boxes, targets, etc that you may have brought with you. There is nothing more frustrating than getting to the range and having to wade through someone else’s brass that they neglected to pick up.
Don’t be that person. Be respectful and pick up after yourself.
Last but not least, remember to have fun. You are at the range to enjoy yourself, shoot some guns, work on your technique, and perhaps learn a thing or two. Don’t be so nervous that you forget to enjoy your time on the range. That’s what it’s there for.