There are unspoken rules of etiquette within the shooting community that should be observed at the range. Sometimes you don’t find out about them until you have done something wrong, and are on the receiving end of some harsh criticism. To save you from having to learn the hard way here are seven ways you can be a respected shooter the first time – and every time – you walk into the range.

  • Travel smart. Etiquette begins in the parking lot. Keep all guns cased and empty unless you are actively using them for concealed carry, and do not un-holser your concealed carry firearm while on the range. And do not handle your firearms directly while you are outside.
  • Be friendly. Our range employees are there to help you and make sure that you have a safe experience. Remember that their job requires them to keep an eye out for potentially dangerous customers, so make sure that you present yourself in a friendly and approachable manner at all times.
  • Dress for success. At the range this means wearing the appropriate clothing and footwear, but most importantly it means coming prepared with the right ear and eye protection. Research beforehand the best eyes and ears for you, the kind of guns you plan to shoot, and your own personal needs.
  • Respect the 180. Always adhere to the 180 Rule. Unpack your gun with the muzzle pointing in a safe direction (pistol pouches and Bench Bags help with that), and avoid clutter at your station so you can safely pick it up and put it down. Keep each gun in the slide locked open position and pointed in a safe direction while not in use.

  • Keep it simple. You’re here to build your skills, not to impress anyone, so work on shooting one gun well instead of being mediocre at 10 different guns. If you want to work with more than one firearm, dedicate a specific period of time to each one.
  • Don’t be a jerk. Failing to follow all of the safety rules isn’t the only way to get a bad reputation at the range. Arguing with staff, refusing to take correction, and acting like a know-it-all are all behaviors that you should avoid. Remember, what’s most important is we just want everyone to be safe.
  • Pack up and leave safely. When you’re done shooting, don’t rush to get out. You may be tired or still have adrenaline in your system, either of which can cause you to miss safety steps. Take it slow and pay close attention to how you pack up your guns.

Even if you aren’t a great shooter right out of the gate, keeping these seven guidelines in mind will help you to earn respect. Demonstrating yourself to be a responsible and disciplined person is the best way to ensure that you will be welcomed with open arms by the shooting community, with all of the helpful advice and friendly competition that that involves.