Gun safety at the range has always been important to me. I have always tried to lead by example, and you should too.
Everybody is a Range Safety Officer
Range Safety is not just for Instructors or Range Safety officers, but for everybody. Everybody on the range is a Range Safety Officer and should take range safety very seriously. When you see somebody violating rules of gun safety you should take the time to talk to them about it. They will never learn if someone doesn’t explain it to them. Let’s look at some of the common safety violations I see.
Remember we have a local indoor range that has no supervision except on a few nights of the week. This allows the public to come in on those nights and shoot with supervision even though they are not members of the club. This also allows members to shoot anytime with family or friends. When you take someone to the range you should brief them on the safety rules.
Common Safety Violations
Guns are not allowed out of a holster or gun case unless you are in a shooting booth. This seems to be something people don’t think about. You are standing with your friends in the spectator area and you are showing them an unholstered gun. This violates all the safety rules we have ever been taught. Rule #2 muzzle direction is the big one. In the range, the only safe direction is downrange. Step into the shooting booth, unholster or uncase your gun pointing it in the proper direction (down range). Properly clear your gun and properly pass it to the person letting them inspect it. Muzzle pointed downrange at all times.
We have a backbench at the range, and you are allowed to put your gear on this bench and you can even load magazines in this area. What you can not do is have a gun out of a holster or a case in this area. You are behind the firing line playing with an unholstered gun? What could go wrong here? Gun safety at the range is a lot of common sense if you follow the 4 safety rules we all teach.
Pointing the gun left or right while in the shooting booth. When you do this you are violating rule #1, muzzle direction. You are pointing the gun at the person next to you in the shooting booth. This is a bad habit to acquire. Shooting is a social activity usually with family and friends. Somebody will always be standing on the left or the right of you.
Gun Safety at the Range is common sense
Dropping something and picking it up with a gun in your hand. Always clear your gun properly lay it on the shooting bench in the safe position, or holster the gun and then bend over and pick up what you have dropped. This keeps you from pointing the muzzle somewhere inappropriately.
Load and Unload Process
The load and unload process of a semi-auto handgun is something I see people not spend enough time on. There is a right and a wrong way to do everything. I see a lot of people do this procedure incorrectly. Take the time to get properly trained on this process.