Visiting a shooting range as a beginner can be exciting, but also a little intimidating.
Ranges provide an excellent and controlled environment for shooting practice for all levels of expertise, but especially for beginners. There are staff members willing to advise and help, and ranges offer enhanced safety for those starting out.
Here are the top 5 tips for beginners visiting a shooting range – follow these bad boys and you’re in for a positive, exciting experience!
Beginners can start their experience at a shooting range by researching online before they even go. Most range websites list the following information and more:
- hours of operation
- dress code
- courses offered
- group events
- items available for purchase or rental
- frequently asked questions
By checking the range website, beginners will have a better idea of what to expect when they visit the shooting range – and therefore be more prepared for the experience.
2. Proper Attire
Proper attire is essential when visiting a shooting range, especially protective eyewear and ear protection. Most gun ranges will provide protective eye and ear gear at a reasonable cost.
However, if beginners plan to return to the range on a fairly regular basis, investing in personal safety glasses and hearing protectors might be wise. This way, you know you have the proper equipment, can spend less time and money borrowing range gear, and you can customize your protection to fit your needs.
It’s also important to wear proper clothing and shoes when visiting a range, as many of them have dress codes. In addition, firearms eject cases are hot and can fly into clothing, burning the skin.
For this reason, loose-fitting or clothing that exposes large areas of bare skin should be avoided. In addition, it’s best to wear closed-toed shoes at a shooting range for sturdiness and safety.
3. Gun Safety
Gun safety is paramount due to the potential of injury, damage and even death. Practicing gun safety reduces the risk of accidental discharge, negligent discharge and gun malfunction.
There are 4 rules of gun safety that apply at all times, especially at a shooting range. Beginners will be expected to know these safety rules:
- A gun should never be pointed at anything you don’t intend to shoot
- Fingers should not be placed on the trigger until you’re ready to fire the gun
- Be aware of what is in front of the target and what’s behind it
- Treat all guns as though they are loaded
- For added personal safety, beginners should know their gun before they shoot at a range. They should know how to load it, unload it, shoot it and maintain it.
Those who are novices when it comes to firearms can take classes or sign up for lessons before practicing at a shooting range. In addition, safety mechanisms can malfunction, so it’s vital all shooters adhere to the highest safety standards.
4. Realistic Expectations
Even if shooters are experienced with firearms, the expectations might be different than the reality of the experience. For example, active shooting ranges are incredibly loud. Patrons might also be unprepared for the cost of shooting at a range and having to rent equipment.
Target shooting at a range is difficult at first and can be frustrating. First-time shooters might be caught off-guard by the recoil (kick) when the gun discharges and the expelled shell casings. There can even be added pressure on beginners to know all the rules and understand all the commands right away.
The best way to keep expectations realistic as a shooting range beginner is preparation. Taking a training class or even just requesting a guided tour of a range is extremely beneficial in gaining knowledge and setting expectations.
Shooting ranges require a certain level of etiquette beyond simple manners. Range patrons must respect range rules, staff members, fellow patrons and firearms themselves at all times. This range etiquette will allow everyone to have a safe and positive experience.
Ranges establish specific rules designed to protect everyone’s well-being and ensure patrons behave responsibly and safely with firearms. It’s essential to respect the rules of the shooting range and adhere to the authority and guidance of the range personnel.
Visitors should never bring a loaded gun into a shooting range. In fact, at most shooting ranges, walking anywhere with a loaded gun other than the firing line is grounds for immediate dismissal.
Visitors should also understand and follow basic range commands, such as load firearm, commence fire, cease fire and unload weapon. If beginners aren’t comfortable remembering range information and etiquette, it’s best to take a gun training class before practicing at a range.
It can seem daunting to be a first-time visitor to a shooting range, and that feeling can persist while you’re still a beginner. However, preparation in safety, protection, information and etiquette before a range visit is the key to a good experience and hopefully many return visits.