As a firearms expert at the National Safety Center, I want to stress the importance of safety in the shooting range. The shooting range can be one of the most dangerous places you will visit if not taken seriously. While people are allowed to carry firearms, they are not always trained, and they are not always monitored in a way that can provide an immediate reaction to potential safety issues. While every range has a Range Safety Officer (RSO), every person should be their own RSO. Trust no one and always be aware of your surroundings.
Here are some safety tips to follow when at the shooting range:
- Always treat every firearm as if it is loaded. Even if you know it isn’t, treat it as if it is. Never point a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. This is one of the most basic rules of firearms safety.
- Know your firearm and how it operates. Read the manual and become familiar with how to safely operate the firearm.
- Wear proper eye and ear protection. The sound of gunfire can cause hearing damage, and debris from the firing range can cause eye injuries.
- Be aware of the range’s rules and follow them. Every range has its own set of rules, and it is important to follow them to ensure everyone’s safety.
- Always point your firearm in a safe direction. This means pointing the firearm downrange at all times.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Know who is shooting around you, and be mindful of where they are pointing their firearms.
- Always keep your firearm unloaded until you are ready to shoot. This includes when you are transporting the firearm to and from the range.
- Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during shooting. Doing so can impair judgment and reaction time.
- Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it. Do not shoot at something if you are not sure what is beyond it.
It is important to remember that accidents can and do happen at shooting ranges. In the last few years, there have been numerous accidents that resulted in injuries or even death. For example, in 2018, a man accidentally shot himself in the leg at a shooting range in Texas. In 2019, a woman was killed at a shooting range in Missouri when a man accidentally fired his weapon in her direction.
The bottom line… the shooting range can be a fun and rewarding place to practice your shooting skills. However, it is important to take safety seriously and to follow all of the rules and guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety. By following the tips above and being vigilant about safety, you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable shooting experience
Accidents at the range
The following accidents are just a few examples of the dangers that can arise in shooting ranges if safety is not taken seriously.
In 2016, a man accidentally shot himself in the head at a shooting range in Michigan.
In 2017, a 14-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed himself while at a shooting range in Massachusetts
In 2018, a woman accidentally shot herself in the leg while at a shooting range in Arizona.
Also in 2018, a man accidentally shot himself in the leg at a shooting range in Georgia.
In 2019, a man accidentally shot himself in the chest at a shooting range in Virginia and later died from his injuries.
In the same year, a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed an instructor at a shooting range in Arizona.
In 2020, a man accidentally shot himself in the foot while at a shooting range in New Hampshire.
in 2023, a woman accidentally shot her friend while at a shooting range in Texas.