Shooting Range Basics: A Guide for Beginners
Shooting Range Basics: A Guide for Beginners– If you’re interested in learning how to shoot, a gun range is the best place to get some practice in and receive feedback, advice, and instructions from experts. However, it’s important to remember that shooting ranges can be dangerous, and that guns are weapons, not toys. That’s why it’s a good idea to do a bit of research before you go to a range. If you have even a small idea of what you can expect the experience to be like, you’ll feel more prepared and more confident. Here’s a breakdown of the shooting range basics that all beginners should know!
While Safety is Always a Priority, Every Range is Run Slightly Differently.
The first thing all shooting range rookies should know is that different shooting ranges have different rules, rates and fees, policies, and safety procedures. When you’re at a range, you have to follow all of that range’s rules and policies, no exceptions! Just because something was done differently at a shooting range you have visited previously doesn’t mean that’s okay to do at every shooting range.
Similarly, some of the language around gun parts and shooting techniques might vary from one range to another. It’s okay to make mistakes, but make sure that you pay attention to the specific rules of the range you’re at, or else you risk getting in some serious trouble.
At gun ranges, safety is the ultimate priority, and even a small slip-up can be a huge liability for the shooting range, and if the range gets in trouble with the government, there will be fewer resources available for people to practice shooting. Bottom line: pay attention to the specific policies of each shooting range, and understand that there will be consequences for your actions.
Study Up: Prepare for the Shooting Range Before You Go.
While shooting ranges are safe places for inexperienced shooters to learn, you can imagine that it would be less than ideal if everyone showed up the range completely clueless. We suggest preparing for the shooting range in a few different ways. First, whether you have a specific shooting range in mind or are stuck between choosing one of a few different options near you, it’s a great idea to look up reviews that past visitors have left online.
Check out each range’s website, look at pictures, read up on policies, fees, and packages, and look for testimonials that people have left. If you can’t find any reviews on the website, look for reviews on Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Most ranges are incredibly welcoming and all good environments for beginners, but if you find any information that makes it seem like one shooting range is the perfect place for you while another might not be, go with your gut.
Aside from looking up the specific policies and experiences for certain shooting ranges, it’s always a good idea to look up different models of guns. Most shooting ranges will either allow you to bring your own gun, ammo, and other equipment or provide equipment that you can rent by the hour.
If you don’t own a gun of your own, it’s probably a good idea to look up the models of firearms that each range offers. If you can’t find specifics, try and look for websites or articles that break down some of the most commonly used beginner firearms so you have an idea of what to expect loading, firing, and cleaning a gun to feel like.
Another way to get prepared for the shooting range is to simply ask people around you for advice. If you have any friends or family members who have practiced shooting, that’s a great resource to take advantage of.
Having someone to discuss this with in person is often more helpful than looking up testimonials on line, especially if they own a gun of their own and might be willing to show it to you or let you hold it (unloaded, of course! Please note that we do not endorse letting untrained people borrow your firearms).
Of course, not everybody has a person like this in their life, and that’s where the Internet can be a great second choice.
Follow the Rules Like Your Life Depends On It, Because it Does.
As we said before, the number one priority of every shooting range is safety. That’s why each range has laid out a specific set of rules. It’s imperative that all visitors follow those rules to a T to ensure that all the visitors can have a fun, safe, and enjoyable experience.
You can expect some of the details of the rules to vary from one shooting range to another, but there are certain things you can expect to be constant. For example, here are some of the most common shooting range basics:
- Nobody is ever allowed to shoot while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
- Handle every gun as if it is loaded and ready to fire, even if you know it is unloaded.
- Keep the gun unloaded until instructed to load by the range master.
- Even if the safety is on, keep your fingers away from the trigger until you want to shoot. This is a very common rookie mistake and is almost guaranteed to result in accidental misfiring, which is extremely dangerous.
- Never point the muzzle at anything you don’t intend to destroy – that is, aim down range only. Never aim the firearm as a joke. Pointing the gun at the ground is usually a safe bet, but you must understand that firing into the ground, while definitely preferable to firing at someone else, may cause the bullet to bounce or fly off in unexpected directions.
- Eye and ear protection are required at pretty much every shooting range, as well as sturdy, closed-toe shoes. This is because target fragments or brass bullet casings might ricochet in unexpected directions.
- “Cross-firing” is a term that refers to firing across your assigned lane at a different lane’s target. This is strictly prohibited. You must fire only down the assigned lane at your assigned target and at nothing else, including the ground.
- Not only must you know the specific target, but it is important to understand that everything that is around or beyond the target is in danger of coming in contact with the bullet or bullet fragments.
- At all times, guns must be carried with the breach open and unloaded (except for loading and shooting). Guns must also be held in a safe position so that the barrel is under your control even if you trip or stumble.
- Guns may only be fired from a person standing at the firing line and only once the range master or safety officer gives the all-clear.
- The range master or safety officer is the only person with the authority to dictate when the range is open or closed. (At the end of the session, you can expect the range master or safety officer to inspect all weapons before you leave the firing line and collect ammo so that the guns are unloaded.)
- Anyone who is not shooting must wait in the designated viewing area and not step near the shooters. This is not only for their own safety but to prevent the shooters from getting distracted.
- Any individual who breaks any of the range rules or is not following the proper technique will be corrected by the range master or safety officer. A person whose behavior is deemed dangerous will be removed from the range.
- When in doubt, ask for help! This is one of the most important rules on the list!
Don’t be too Embarrassed or Shy to Ask for Help.
Anybody who goes to the shooting range might be there for a variety of different reasons. Some people want to learn to hunt, some want to shoot competitively, others want to feel like they can defend themselves and might be planning to go on to get a license to carry a weapon.
Some people might be simply be looking for a fun new activity or challenge. No matter what the reason, you can expect people of all different skill sets to be practicing at the range at any given time.
It’s important not to be overly competitive or arrogant when you shoot – this can be extremely dangerous. Similarly, if you ever want to double-check the rules or have questions about the technique, don’t be afraid to ask! It’s better to risk a few moments of potential embarrassment than to learn bad habits or risk putting yourself or the people around you in danger.
We guarantee that range directors would much rather answer an inexperienced shooter’s questions than have to deal with safety hazards.
Along a similar vein, you should expect to receive feedback, criticism, and corrections, especially if this is your very first time shooting. It’s okay to be embarrassed or flustered – that’s what the range master is for: to help you learn.
Don’t be upset if you are told that you are doing something wrong – as long as you’re being polite and willing to learn, the range master is not “out to get you,” they simply want to help you improve your technique.
Simply listen to the feedback and apply the corrections, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something. Learning bad shooting habits can not only harm other people around you, but might result in harming yourself, especially if you are not positioning yourself to prepare for kickback, for example.
Practice Makes Perfect.
If you’re serious about shooting, just one or two sessions at a casual, open-to-the-public gun range is not likely to be enough. If you really want to learn how to shoot and are considering someday owning your own gun, you should make time in your regular routine to practice.
It might be a good idea to invest in a monthly or yearly shooting range membership, which will offer you discounts and other benefits like private sessions (of course, the details of memberships can vary from one facility to another).
Remember that the staff at shooting ranges are experts, and it’s a good idea to ask them any questions you might have if you’re interested in taking the next steps towards owning a gun of your own.
The staff can recommend what instructional courses are next to you and are going to be familiar with the local gun laws and licensure procedures of the area, so they probably will be able to give you some pointers about what the process for applying to own a gun is likely, as well as what type of gun would be best for you to own.
For example, wanting to have a gun hidden in your house to protect your family in the case of emergencies is a very different scenario than wanting to get involved in competitions or game hunting, and you can imagine the types of guns that are best for each situation will vary widely.
It is our hope that this brief overview of some common shooting range basics has helped you to feel more comfortable in anticipation of your visit to the shooting range. It’s okay if you’re not sure what to expect, but doing a little bit of research beforehand can make a world of different. Remember to have fun, listen to the rules, and try your best to improve. Good luck!