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Gun ranges are a fantastic resource for firearm enthusiasts to practice and hone their shooting skills. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced shooter, adhering to proper gun range etiquette is crucial for everyone’s safety and enjoyment. Read our comprehensive guide on proper gun range etiquette, from what to bring to ceasefire protocols. 

A Few Key Terms for Proper Gun Range Etiquette

Understanding common terminology used at a gun range is essential for effective communication and safe participation. Before we dive into the rules of the range, let’s review a few terms you may come across:

Range Officer

An individual responsible for overseeing safety and ensuring that all range rules are followed. Range officers give instructions, supervise shooting activities, and ensure a safe shooting environment.

Firing Line

The area at a shooting range where shooters stand or position themselves to shoot their firearms. It is typically marked and indicates the boundary where shooters fire towards the targets.

Bench

Refers to a table or platform where shooters can place their firearms (unloaded and locked) and other shooting equipment for stability and convenience. This is often used in rifle or long-range shooting.

Backstop

A barrier or structure situated behind the target area that’s designed to stop or absorb bullets safely. It prevents bullets from traveling beyond the designated range limits, ensuring safety for surrounding areas. At indoor ranges, the backstop is simply the back wall; at outdoor ranges, it may be a berm, soil embankment, or other structure. 

Ceasefire

A command issued by a range officer to halt shooting immediately. All shooters must empty their weapons, lock the slide or cylinder open, place them on the bench, and move behind the firing line. A ceasefire may be called for safety or practical reasons. They are often called during equipment malfunctions or when safety officers need to do range maintenance. 

Downrange

The direction towards the target area. It is imperative that shooters always keep firearms pointed downrange, ensuring that the muzzle is always facing the target area when handling guns.

Cold Range vs. Hot Range

Range officers will call out the words “hot” and “cold” to indicate when you are permitted to fire your weapon. “Hot” indicates that there are active shooters and/or that you may fire your weapon. During this time, no one is permitted to cross the firing line. A “cold range” indicates a range where firearms are unloaded, with actions open. This is the only time anyone is permitted to go downrange, and it may accompany a cease-fire command.

Remember, if you’re ever unsure about the meaning of a term or unclear about range rules, always ask a range officer or staff member for clarification to ensure a safe and enjoyable shooting experience.

Gun Range Etiquette 101

Now that you are familiar with some common shooting terms, it is time to review basic gun range etiquette. 

1. Read the Range Rules

Just because you are familiar with one range’s rules does not mean they apply to another. Take care to review the specific rules of the range you are visiting, including safety gear requirements, weapons restrictions, and outside target permissions (Inner10 requires you to buy your targets at the range). 

Follow range rules to the letter and ask for clarification, if needed.

2. Respect Range Safety Officers

This is one of the most important rules of gun range etiquette. Range Safety Officers (RSOs) should be treated with the utmost respect (as should the rest of the staff). RSOs exist to maintain a safe and fun shooting environment. Do not speak when they are issuing commands and follow every direction without question. If you need clarification on how to complete an order, be sure to ask. 

3. Clean Up

Cleaning your lane of debris, like empty ammo boxes, brass, or trash. This is not just proper gun range etiquette. It is actually a requirement at many gun ranges, since it ensures both safety (no tripping on refuse) and an enjoyable experience for the next shooter. 

4. Be Courteous to Fellow Shooters

Being mindful of lane neighbors is also a crucial aspect of gun range etiquette. Leave conversation for when the range is cold and avoid being too loud. Observe your surroundings and take extra care when loading and unloading your weapon to demonstrate your commitment to safety. Only shoot at your own targets and never, ever, aim the gun anywhere but downrange.

5. Stay in Your Lane

Both figuratively and literally. Stay put in your shooting lane and mind your own business. Even if you are dying to correct the shooter next to you or offer other advice, keep it to yourself unless they ask you first. 

6. Know When to Quit

Everyone has an off day, which can be frustrating. However, if you find yourself angry enough to yell, swear, or even throw something, take a break or come back another day. 

7. Call Ahead

Many ranges allow walk-ins, but double check by calling ahead or viewing the range’s website to see if you need to reserve a lane before visiting. Inner10 does not require reservations-come on in! Lanes are first come, first serve. 

Indoor Shooting Range Omaha

By adhering to these guidelines for gun range etiquette, you contribute to a safer and more enjoyable shooting experience for yourself and everyone else at the range. Always prioritize safety, respect range rules, and be considerate of others to ensure a positive environment for all shooters.

In addition to adhering to proper gun etiquette, practicing shooting is a critical component to responsible gun ownership. In Omaha, Inner10 is a premium destination for the community. We are a state of the art shooting facility where you can practice your skills in the lane or in one of our fun tournaments. Go online today to reserve your lane or a class. Be sure to check the schedule on the homepage to view upcoming IDPA shoots and other competitions.

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