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What Should Everyone Know Before Their First Controlled Shooting Experience?

Making your first trip to a gun range to shoot in a controlled environment can be an exciting time. It may even become your new favorite hobby! To fully enjoy your shooting experience, there are things you can do to ensure you are safe and comfortable with a firearm. Always remember to be safe, follow range etiquette, and use sense. Here’s what you need to know.

Man shooting rifle at indoor range

Gun Range Safety

Before ever shooting a firearm at our Las Vegas gun range or any range, you must learn and follow the four basic rules of gun safety.

1. Treat your gun as if it is loaded.

Do not assume that a firearm is not loaded. Whether it’s yours or someone else’s, inspect every gun you touch to make sure it is clear before further handling. Even if you think your gun is not loaded, treat it as if it is.

2. Point the muzzle in a safe direction.

Never let the muzzle point at or sweep another shooter or anything else that you do not intend to shoot.

3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.

Your muzzle and sights should be on target before you place your finger on the trigger.

4. Make sure there is a backstop beyond your target.

Bullet casings at shooting range

A backstop catches rounds and prevents ricochets or over-penetration. Indoor ranges have walls and bullet traps, while outdoor ranges have hillsides, banks, or walls. Trees, lakes, or fields are not backstops. If there isn’t a berm or a trap behind the targets, leave. Find a safe shooting range.

Range staff and other customers may not notice that you are rigorously following the safety rules. But they will see when you break the rules. Being unsafe can endanger yourself and others and get you expelled from the range.

Gun Range Etiquette

Outside of the four basic rules that apply to all shooting and handling of firearms at the gun range, there are also other rules of etiquette you should know. Examples of gun range etiquette include:

  • Carry your gun unloaded and in a carrying case. Keep it in the case when you are not shooting.
  • Enter the range with your gun in a case so you will not be self-conscious about carrying an exposed firearm into a new place. And you won’t draw attention from the staff or other customers who will wonder why you are carrying openly. Until you make your intentions known, they won’t know if you’re a customer or somebody who may be dangerous.
  • Don’t cause others unnecessary stress by talking loudly, creating distractions, or critiquing other shooters.
  • When you arrive at the range, carry your firearm, cased and unloaded, to the firing line. Set the case on the table so that your gun is already pointing downrange when you open the case. You’re already keeping your firearm pointed in a safe direction.
  • If there is room on the table, keep your carrying case on it, so you can place your gun in the case when you are not shooting. You will have an easier time packing your weapon when it’s time to leave, too.
  • When you are not shooting, unload your gun, open the action, and place it in the case or on the table, pointing downrange.
  • When you leave, unload your gun and put it in the case to carry it out. You will be safer, and it will be easier and more comfortable to carry the firearm.

If you have questions about shooting etiquette, you can always ask the trained professionals at the gun range. They are there to support you and ensure everybody feels safe. Other range behaviors are not about safety or etiquette, but comfort and health.

Use Sense at the Gun Range

Outside of formal rules and general shooting etiquette, it’s essential to exercise common sense before your first shooting experience. Here are some things to consider:

1. Dress for shooting.

A semi-automatic firearm ejects a spent shell after every shot. These shells can land anywhere and bounce off walls, ceilings, tables, or other shooters.

  • Don’t wear sandals. Proper shoes will protect your feet from hot brass. Shoes also will keep your feet clean, warm, and dry at an outdoor range, and warm at an air-conditioned indoor range.
  • Don’t wear a loose-fitting t-shirt. A collar will protect against hot brass down the shirt.

If you are holding a gun when you get burned by an ejected case, your “Ow, that hurts” dance may cause you to wave your gun in unsafe directions.

2. Wash your hands.

When you finish shooting, gunshot residue will be on your skin and clothing. It’s a contaminate that you don’t want in your eyes or mouth. Wash with soap and warm water before you touch your face or eat.

3. Ask for help.

If you are new to guns (or trying a new kind of gun), ask for help. Books, magazines, and videos by reputable instructors are good sources of information and training. Our Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Shooting Range Experience is also an excellent resource to help you before you go to the range.

If you still have questions while you’re there, ask staff members. They can teach you how to hold a firearm, load and unload safely, or the differences between target loads and defensive loads of ammunition. Also, booking a 1-on-1 training session can help you feel more comfortable and confident before handling a firearm for the first time.

las vegas shooting range

Book Your First Shooting Experience

Whether you are a first-time shooter or an experienced shooter on your first trip to the range, you need to know safety and range etiquette. You may not know everything at first, but you can understand basic expectations. If you are sensible, strict about safety, and ready to learn, your first shooting range experience is sure to be fun and memorable.

To book your first gun shooting experience, contact the team at The Range 702. We have everything you need to shoot, including an extensive gun vault, protective equipment, and a fully-trained staff to guide you.

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