The saying "practice makes perfect" holds true with firearms. The more you practice, the better your proficiency will become. But if you're planning to take a trip to the local gun range, there are a few written and unwritten rules you must follow.
Wear Eye and Ear Protection
Whether it's an indoor or outdoor gun range, both eye and ear protection is mandatory. Firearms discharged indoors can produce sound levels of 140 dB or higher, which is more than enough to cause injury to the eardrum. Furthermore, shots fired may create shrapnel that can ricochets back towards the shooter, which is why gun ranges require eye and ear protection.
You can usually purchase impact-resistant glasses as well as protective earmuffs from most gun and sports stores. Alternatively, some gun ranges may rent them for a couple bucks a piece.
Don't Shoot Restricted Firearms
Many indoor gun ranges have restrictions regarding the type and caliber of firearms that can be shot. This is because powerful, high-caliber firearms may damage their facilities – or worse, cause injury to other shooters. 50 caliber bullets, for example, are usually off limits. Check the range's rules to determine what is allowed and prohibited.
Don't Destroy the Target Holders
When shooting at the gun range, try to avoid hitting the target holders. Blasting it with a high-powered pistol, rifle or shotgun may destroy it to the point where it can no longer hold a target. Some indoor ranges use pieces of cardboard that can easily be replaced, but it's still proper etiquette to keep your bullets fixated on the actual target and not the target holder.
Don't Side-Swipe Your Pistol
Always keep the barrel of your firearm pointed down range, even when you are racking the slide. Unfortunately, many shooters – especially newcomers – rack the slide back by turning their pistol to the left. As a result, the barrel is pointed towards the shooter to the left. Even if there's a barrier separating the different “lanes,” you should still get into the habit of sliding your semi-automatic pistols with the barrel facing forwards, not to the left or right side.
Don't Coach Other Shooters
No one wants to shoot with someone criticizing their every move. Even if your intentions are honorable, you should refrain from coaching other shooters at the gun range unless you are asked to. The only time when this is acceptable is in situations where the shooter could harm him or herself or others.
Obey the Gun Range's Rules
Each and every gun range has its own rules, so it's important for new shooters to familiarize themselves with the different rules. Failure to abide by the range's rules could result in you being banned – or worse, an injury occurring. Some of these rules are obvious, such as always wearing eye and hearing protection, but others might surprise you, such as “all spent brass casing are property of the range.” If you have a question about a particular rule, don't be afraid to ask the range officer for clarification.
* Image used by creative commons license, credited to losays.
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