Common Range Sense

Common Range Sense

A little common sense on the shooting range helps keep everyone safe.

One of the important aspects of shooting is range safety because there is nothing in the design and layout of a range that can protect from us every gun safety mistake a shooter could conceivably make. First and foremost, follow all posted rules, but be mindful of other, seemingly obvious things that can affect everyone's safety.

Fire all rounds straight downrange and use your peripheral vision to track other shooters. In the past, many ranges—particularly police ranges—were comprised of a single, wide firing line. With a line of cops moving along the range to engage targets from varying distances, it was inevitable that people would get out of position, creating a potentially dangerous situation. Today, ranges are more often partitioned with berms, walls or tunnels separating the firing lines, but the caution still applies.


If you drop something like, say, a magazine, never move or reach forward of the firing line to retrieve it until a cease fire is called. Most people know that, but it can be just as dangerous to pick up something that dropped at your feet but behind the line—-a move that can place your head and shoulders forward of the firing line. If you do have to pick something up, be aware not only of where your body is but also where your muzzle is pointed.



What may be okay on a rifle range may not be okay on a handgun range. Shooting at a clod of dirt on a 100-yard berm is one thing. Firing at a clod of dirt on the ground not far out in front of you with a handgun is quite another because it could ricochet.

Practice target discipline. I have seen 30-foot pines on the high berm of a police range take a beating. Shoot only at properly located targets—and keep your finger off the trigger until you're on that target. And don't fire over the berm.


Today's steel reactive targets are great for training, and most are designed to give a little when struck and direct the bullet to the ground. But getting too close to the target can be dangerous, and so can hammering the stand instead of the target itself if you're too close. Be mindful of where you are in relation to the target.


Last, and this would seem to be very obvious, but it's surprising how many people don't do it: Bring only one type of ammunition to the bench at a time. I have seen 9mms fired in .40 caliber pistols, with blown 9mm cases often the result.

Recommended for You

I don't have a distinct recollection of the first time I reloaded a cartridge – it's been a long Ammo

To Cast a Good Bullet

Bart Skelton - June 28, 2012

I don't have a distinct recollection of the first time I reloaded a cartridge – it's been a...

Learn the keys to a successful one-handed draw. Training

Perfecting the One-Handed Draw

Richard Nance - July 02, 2019

Learn the keys to a successful one-handed draw.

Guns are fun, and cheap guns are even more fun. Spend less on the firearm and more on ammo with these 10 low-priced pistols. Compact

10 Cheap Guns Under $250

Evan Brune - September 24, 2015

Guns are fun, and cheap guns are even more fun. Spend less on the firearm and more on ammo...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Dealing with Subcompacts

Dealing with Subcompacts

Jim and Rich cover the benefits and the challenges presented by very small pistols.

Teaching New Shooters

Teaching New Shooters

Julie Golob of Team Smith & Wesson guest stars, joining Jim and Scott for a discussion of how best to introduce new shooters to the sport.

Handgun Basics

Handgun Basics

SIG Academy's Hana Bilodeau joins Rich and Jim to discuss the essential skills all handgunners should master.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Kahr Arms officially broke ground on their new headquarters in Blooming Grove Township, in Pike Industry

Kahr Arms Breaks Ground on New Pennsylvania HQ

Handguns Online Staff - June 04, 2014

Kahr Arms officially broke ground on their new headquarters in Blooming Grove Township, in...

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all others will be judged. Compact

SIG P365 Review

James Tarr - October 31, 2018

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all...

I don't have a distinct recollection of the first time I reloaded a cartridge – it's been a long Ammo

To Cast a Good Bullet

Bart Skelton - June 28, 2012

I don't have a distinct recollection of the first time I reloaded a cartridge – it's been a...

See More Stories

More Training

If you're looking to add an element of fun to your next range day, consider these pop packs. Training

Bring Some Pop Packs To The Range

Richard Nance - July 26, 2018

If you're looking to add an element of fun to your next range day, consider these pop packs.

An ordinary smartphone with slow-motion capability will reveal flaws in your draw stroke you didn't even know you had. Training

Improve Your Draw Stroke Through Slow-Motion Video

Richard Nance - September 17, 2018

An ordinary smartphone with slow-motion capability will reveal flaws in your draw stroke you...

Dry fire training is a great way to keep your skills sharp. Training

Dry Fire Training

Richard Nance - September 18, 2019

Dry fire training is a great way to keep your skills sharp.

See More Training

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.