Your First Trip to the Shooting Range

Your First Trip to the Shooting Range

If you are a brand-new gun owner or have a friend who has offered to take you shooting, it is perfectly normal to have some pre-range anxiety. Shooting a firearm always comes with certain implied risks, and if this is new to you and you don’t know what to expect, being initially nervous is totally normal. So, whether you are brand-new to firearms, or if you decided to purchase your first firearm during the pandemic, here is a guide to getting you through your first experience at a shooting range.

The Four Rules of Gun Safety

Every single shooting range will make sure you are made fully aware of the safety procedures of their range, whether it is an indoor range or outdoor range. But one fact will always remain the same; you are expected to know and abide by the four basic gun safety rules. These are universal throughout the entire firearms community, and it is best to commit them to memory now.

Treat every firearm as if it were loaded. Never point a gun at anything you aren’t willing to destroy. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire. Be sure of your target and what is behind it.

These are the rules of gun safety that are universally recognized, practiced, and preached at every single range and with every single gun owner. If you cannot abide by these basic principles, then shooting a firearm is definitely not for you. They are universally recognized to ensure the safety of everyone present and in the immediate area of the range. The one other rule that must always be followed when you are at the shooting range, and it is as concrete and gospel as anything on this earth; the Range Safety Officer (RSO) is always in charge. Whatever the RSO says goes. If you are acting in an unsafe manner, the RSO will stop you from shooting and correct you on the spot. If you continuously violate these basic safety rules or the other rules of the range, the RSO can and will kick you off their range. And understand this, it IS their range when they are pulling RSO duties. The RSO is there to ensure that everyone can safely enjoy the range, so one unsafe person can endanger everyone around them. If you ever have any questions about proper procedure of the range, the RSO will be more than happy to help assist you.

Renting a Firearm

If you don’t yet own your own firearm, or if you are in the market for a new pistol, many ranges will allow you to rent a firearm during your visit, if they offer this service at their range. This is a good way of trying out a new handgun before you find out after spending $500 or more that you don’t like it. Typically, ranges will charge a nominal fee to use their rental guns, but most times they will require you to purchase ammunition from them to use in their rental guns.

Safety Gear & Equipment

At a minimum, eye and ear protection will most likely be required equipment. Ballistic glasses are always the best option, but some ranges will allow a shooter to wear their prescription glasses. Most ranges will also mandate that you wear closed toed shoes. You will thank them for this rule as catching a very hot spent shell casing on an open toed shoe will most assuredly make you jump in pain, and you may run the risk of dropping a loaded firearm in the process...a potentially very dangerous act. When carrying your gear to the range, a durable range bag is always recommended. There are many manufactures that offer inexpensive range bags designed to hold and secure all your range gear. The best types of gear bags to look for are ones that have multiple pockets and straps that are designed to hold your firearms and magazines in place. There will also be space available to carry your safety gear and all your ammunition. The range bag is also helpful with separating your guns and ammo if you brought more than one gun or more than one caliber of ammunition. When an extra firearm is not in use, keep it in the range bag along with the ammo for it.

General Rules of the Range

The rules of each range will vary depending on each individual range, but these rules will always be posted, and you are expected to know and follow them while you are shooting. Some ranges limit the types of ammunition allowed to be fired. This is especially true of indoor ranges as some types of ammunition can cause damage to the range itself. Bringing your child with you is a great way to introduce them to the shooting sports in a safe and controlled environment, but keep in mind that age restrictions may exist at the range so call and ask before bringing your child with you. You as the parent are responsible for your child and must know if they are able to handle the specific firearm you are wanting to let them operate. It is also never advised to bring a pregnant woman to the range due to potential lead exposure and you can’t put a set of hearing protection on an unborn child.

Always remember that if you have any questions about the rules or procedures of the range, the employees and the RSO are there to help you. If you are unclear about one of the range rules, ask. If you don’t know the proper etiquette about something, ask. Be disciplined and always aware of where your firearm is pointing when on the shooting bench or when in your hand. Be religious about keeping your finger off the trigger until the moment you are ready to fire. And don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly to get any lead reside off your hands. And above all else, if you see an unsafe act on the range, every shooter on the range is always allowed to call a cease fire. This ensures the golden rule of firearms in that everyone is a safety officer on the range. And once you realize that shooting sports are a fun new hobby, you will most likely want another firearm in short time. [Gunspot] ( is a great resource to find the best deals on thousands of different firearms in all calibers and categories of firearms.

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