Understand Basic Shooting Range Etiquette

If you have recently begun learning to shoot, or have recently begun using a shooting range for the first time, then you have probably noticed that the regulars behave and interact with each other in very specific ways. You also may have noticed that they interact with you, as a newcomer, somewhat differently.There is a very specific etiquette used at shooting ranges, and until you learn it, and use it consistently, you will be treated as a novice, and you may notice others exercising a certain amount caution around you. Much of this has to do with safety. Firearms are a serious matter, and experienced shooters will not feel fully comfortably around you until they see that not only do you know what you are doing, but that you treat both your weapon and those around you with respect.


1. Do your homework. If the range you plan to attend has a website, visit it. Make sure you know what types of weapons and ammunition are allowed at the range. Not all ranges are created equally. If you own appropriate ear and eye protection, bring it with you. If you are inexperienced, then arrange to go with a friend who is experienced. Do not expect range personnel to provide you with instruction unless you are willing to pay for it. Make sure that you know your state’s rules regarding the transportation of firearms and ammunition in your car.

2. Most public indoor ranges have an outer office or gun shop connected to them. Before entering the building, you will probably see a sign posted that reads something like “no loaded firearms or magazines allowed in the showroom.” Take this sign VERY seriously. It is not a formality. Before leaving home, or at least before leaving your car, make sure your weapon is unloaded. Also ensure that any magazines you bring are also unloaded. If you are bringing your own ammunition, then carry it in its original retail box if possible.

3. If you are bringing your own weapon, do not be surprised if the clerk wants to inspect it before allowing it on the range. He has the right to do so. He will also want to see your driver’s license, and is legally required to copy down the information. In addition there will usually be a form you must fill out and sign. You will be usually be asked if you are an “experienced shooter.” This does not mean that you must be an expert. They simply want to know that you understand the basics of firearm safety and understand the function of the weapon(s) you intend to shoot. If you are inexperienced, then you should go with someone who is until you feel comfortable in your own knowledge.

4. The fees at most ranges are typically broken down as follows:There is a basic hourly fee for use of the range, charged per lane used. If there are two shooters, you may typically share a lane if desired. Otherwise you will be charged for the use of an additional lane. There is another fee for targets. Generally, there is a selection of targets available at different prices.If you do not own ear and eye protection, these may also be rented for an additional fee.Finnally, ammunition is usually available for sale. Be aware that it is typically a little more expensive than at a sporting goods store or discount outlet.

5. Whenever you present a weapon to anyone for any reason, always do so with the action open. This is the standard way of demonstrating that the weapon is unloaded and safe to handle. Failure to do so will be interpreted as incompetence, disrespect, or both.

6. Always keep the barrel of your weapon pointed away from people at all times, even if it is unloaded. Keep your finger outside the trigger guard except when you are actually shooting (even if the weapon is unloaded).

7. Many ranges offer weapons for rent. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with a variety of firearms, or to try out weapons that you are considering for purchase. There will be a fee for renting the gun, as well as for the cost of ammunition. Typically the range will require that you purchase their ammunition if you are renting their guns. If you are unfamiliar with the gun you are renting, the range personnel will usually be happy to go over its specific features.