You’re locked, loaded and ready to go, but you’ve never been to a shooting range before and have no idea what to expect.
Feeling nervous about your first time at a shooting range is completely normal, but knowing what to expect can make your first range experience a truly excellent one.
Understanding some of the ins and outs before your first visit will not only calm your anxiety but will give you the confidence needed for an exciting and safe experience.
Here are 7 things you need to know before heading to a shooting range.
1. The type of shooting range you’re visiting
Shooting ranges are mainly just divided into either indoor or outdoor ranges, but there are also ranges that are catered to specific disciplines or sports. Most indoor ranges restrict the use of high-power calibers, rifles or fully automatic weapons, but for a beginner with a standard hand pistol, you should be welcomed at both indoor and outdoor ranges.
Whichever one you choose to visit will offer its own unique experience. You can usually find indoor facilities closer to home in urban areas whereas you’ll need to travel a bit further when visiting an outdoor shooting range due to concerns of safety and noise pollution.
2. Cost (and hidden fees) at the shooting range
Costs can vary greatly depending on the type of range, as well as if you would like to hire any additional gear, firearms, or ammunition.
If you’re bringing your own gun, you’ll want to ensure it is unloaded and inside of its case before you bring it into the range. When you arrive, you’ll pay your fee to use the range and also purchase ammo/targets to shoot at.
3. Shooting range rules
In addition to the general rules on gun safety, individual ranges usually also have their own rules you need to observe.
The main rule at all ranges will always be Safety First! So besides making sure you understand the rules of the specific range you’re visiting, also follow the general gun safety rules at all times. These rules are:
- - Treat all guns like they’re loaded
- - Never point your muzzle at another person
- - Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target
4. Firearms and ammunition required/supplied
Many shooting ranges allow you to rent or bring your own firearm. If you don’t have your own firearm yet, I would suggest paying a small fee for renting a firearm so that you can test out a few different ones before making the investment.
Certain ranges will check your ammunition for safety before allowing you to use it. This is standard procedure as they need to ensure all ammunition shot in the range is originally manufactured ammunition and there is no home-baked or reloaded ammunition brought onto the range.
5. Proper gun range etiquette
Etiquette is a crucial part of visiting a shooting range. Always be respectful and familiarize yourself with the rules early to avoid being disruptive or causing stress for others using the range.
Follow the fundamentals of safety, pay attention to your surroundings and be respectful towards the range safety officers.
Common courtesies will get you far at the range. Always clean up after yourself by disposing of your spent casings and hulls, and by removing your targets.
6. Don’t walk around with a loaded gun
Firearms must be encased and unloaded at all times, except when shooting. There should be nothing in the magazine and the magazine should be out of the gun.
Also, check that there’s nothing in the chamber or in the cylinder. If you’re renting a gun, or you’re not familiar with your own gun, make sure to ask for assistance.
7. Always wear protection
Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting. Exposure to shooting noise can damage your hearing, and wearing protective shooting glasses will guard against ricochets, hot shell casings, kickback and other hazards.
Now that you have a better idea of what to expect from your first visit to the shooting range, it’s time to go and experience the thrill of hitting that bullseye firsthand! As long as you’re being safe and responsible, you'll be sure to have an unforgettable experience.
CTA: Find a shooting range near you today!
Rene Aguirre is the founder and owner of Bravo Concealment. Rene has been carrying concealed on a daily basis for over 8 years and has been a CHL (concealed handgun license) holder for more than 20 years. Finding a high interest in firearms for many years, Rene started Bravo because of the “lack of” a good concealed carry holster.