Range Safety

Range Safety

(Originally posted in March 2018. As we begin a new year, this is an appropriate re-post.)

Range Safety

The paramount concern when conducting firearms training or practice is safety. The central premise of continually observing firearm safety is if we observe the fundamental safety rules in all our dry-fire training, practice, cleaning, and maintenance, then doing so in a live fire environment will be second nature. Range safety is the primary concern in a live fire environment.

Safety Rules

There are several versions, or lists of safety rules, but they all revolve around the same premise: keeping the shooter, and bystanders safe. All ranges will have some variation of the following rules:

a. Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction.
b. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
c. Always keep the action open and the firearm unloaded until ready to shoot.
d. Know your target and what is beyond.
e. Be certain the firearm is safe to operate.
f. Know how to use the firearm safely.
g. Use only the correct ammunition for your firearm.
h. Wear adequate ear and eye protection.
i. Never use alcohol or drugs before or while shooting.
j. Store firearms securely so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons when they are not in use.

Most ranges post their safety lists conspicuously to remind participants of their responsibility for range safety, and most ranges also post procedures and telephone numbers to call in case of an emergency.

General Range Rules

Every range has some set of range rules to ensure a safe shooting experience. The following list is a minimum set of ranges rules that all shooters should observe, regardless of the range at which they are shooting.

a. Know and obey all range commands.
In many instances, ranges are informally organized. That is, there may be no range officer, and no centralized form of range control that stops all participants from shooting when targets require attention, for example. When there is no centralized range control, all participants must coordinate among themselves when the range is safe.

b. Know where others are at all times, whether they are shooting or not.
Shooters often bring people with them who do not shoot, but simply observe; be aware of where they are as well.

c. Shoot only at authorized targets.
Some ranges have restrictions on the distances at which targets may be engaged. For example, steel, or reactive targets may have a minimum distance from which they may be shot. Other ranges may prohibit “head” shots to prevent shooting into ceilings, or over berms.

d. Unload, open the action, remove the magazine and ground and/or bench all firearms during a cease-fire. Some ranges require a “empty chamber indicator,” a device that is inserted into a firearm’s chamber that prevents a round from being chambered, and is obviously visible, during cease fires.

Empty chamber indicator (ECI)
Pistol with inserted ECI

 

 

 

 

 

 

e. Do NOT handle any firearm or stand at the firing line where firearms are present while others are down range.
Virtually all ranges have a prominently marked safety line (a firing line that is usually painted red) that participants must not cross when firing is under way. Some ranges may have a secondary safety line behind the firing line, behind which non-shooters must stand.

f. Always keep the muzzle pointed at the backstop or bullet trap. Never allow the muzzle to point in any direction whereby an inadvertent discharge would allow the escape of a projectile into an outer area.

Range safety is an individual responsibility. In most cases, disregarding safety or range rules result in ejection from the range, and may result in prolonged temporary, or even permanent, bans.

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