A Beginner’s Guide to Gun Range Etiquette


Going to the gun range for the first time is an exciting experience, but beginners should take the time in advance to prepare for their first controlled shooting experience. Gun ranges have a specific set of rules designed to keep everyone safe. More than just being polite to fellow gun enthusiasts, gun ranges have rules in place to ensure everyone present acts responsibly and safely with their firearms.


One of the most important rules to remember is the proper handling of your firearm. A pistol or rifle should never be brought to the range pre-loaded, rounds must be removed before bringing the gun to the range. This means you must bring the gun in an empty state from your vehicle to the firing line. Bringing the gun in unloaded, with the action locked open, will prevent the accidental discharge of the gun.

Carrying a loaded firearm anywhere around your local gun range is cause for immediate dismissal. Once you’re at the firing line, it is allowable to load your gun, provided it is time to actively shoot. At the end of your session, remove any rounds from the chamber, remove the magazine or clip, and inspect the weapon to ensure it is completely empty and safe. In the event you need to move to another spot on the firing line, remove any rounds and properly case your firearm before moving.



Here are commonly used commands to become familiar with before you visit a local gun range.

  • Load your firearm – After checking that the range is clear, only the manager can give the command to load rounds. Prior to this command, every gun on the range should be unloaded. Make sure you do not fire your gun during this time.
  • Commence/Start fire – This is the only command that will allow you to fire your gun. Your firearm must be pointed towards the target.
  • Cease-fire – When this command is given, immediately put down your gun. This command can be given by anyone on the range, not just the range commander. Any unsafe or potentially unsafe condition is cause for someone to call for a cease-fire. This command will also be given when targets need to be changed. Do not touch your firearm until the next command is given.
  • Unload weapons – After a cease-fire, everyone will be given the chance to unload their gun.  It is only appropriate to remove rounds from your gun at this time. Do not fire your weapon.  After unloading, make sure to turn on your safety.
  • Enter range  If you need to change targets or take a break, this is the time to do so.
  • Range clear  After everyone has exited the range, the commander will call “range clear” in order to make sure there are no people or obstructions in the way before allowing everyone to start shooting.

If you are a true first-time shooter, or a beginner to guns, you may want to consider taking a gun training class before you shoot at a local range. These classes will give you a better understanding of your firearm, firearm safety, and simultaneously offer knowledge of common range commands. Here are some of the range commands you may hear in a class setting at The Range 702:

  • Load and make ready
  • Commence firing
  • Cease-fire
  • Empty and show clear


The Range 702’s indoor shooting range is continuously in what is known as a “hot” configuration, meaning people are constantly shooting. The Range Safety Officer (RSO) may command a cease-fire to address a safety concern; otherwise, people are constantly shooting.

It is important for any shooter to become familiar with these commands. Please note that the listed names of the commands above are merely representative of commands you may encounter when at a range.

It is important to always check the individual range’s policies and procedures ahead of time. Following the rules on a gun range is crucial to keeping everyone safe. It is up to everyone involved in the shooting sport to take the necessary steps to ensure safety at all times.

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