Pre-range classroom orientation

Prior to the “range day,” we recommend that a classroom range orientation be held. This orientation should cover:

  • Meeting/pairing with mentors/guides
  • Range master
  • Range/safety rules
  • Equipment
  • Ammunition

These topics are covered in more detail in the following sections.

If possible, we recommend that an air gun range be incorporated into the classroom orientation. With a little creativity, an air gun range can be set up almost anywhere, including your classroom. Shooting an air gun prior to shooting a “real” gun will allow participants to practice firearms handling, develop basic shooting skills, become familiar with range commands, and potentially alleviate some of the anxiety that they may feel. An air gun range should be run exactly the same as a high-powered rifle range and all safety rules should be followed.

Range Master

If your range is not already staffed with a designated range master, one should be appointed. Having a designated person familiar with range rules and operations be clearly in charge of the range will help ensure the overall safety of the range day.

Ideally, the range master will go over range rules prior to allowing the range to become “hot.” Although the range master is in charge of the range, anyone who sees any unsafe condition on the range is empowered to call “Cease fire!” Safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Range Safety Rules

Most ranges have range rules conspicuously posted at several locations around the range. If possible, we recommend that copies of these rules be obtained prior to the range day, and distributed to and reviewed with all participants.

Generic range rules include:

  • Always keep firearms pointed in a safe direction.
  • Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  • Firearms must be safe (unloaded, magazines removed and actions opened) when entering or exiting the range. Keep your gun unloaded until you are at the firing line and the range is "HOT."
  • Cease Firing: Immediately stop shooting when anyone calls "Cease firing."
  • COLD Range: No one is permitted to handle firearms or stand at the firing line while there is a cold range. Shooters must check others to ensure firearms are unloaded, actions open and firearms laid down on the shooting bench before going down range.
  • HOT Range: Shooters may move safe guns to and from the firing line only when the range is "HOT." Only shooters are permitted on the firing line. Everyone must check there is no one down range. When the range is declared "HOT", shooters are permitted to commence firing.
  • All shooters are responsible for their bullets staying within the confines of the range. Shooters may shoot only from the firing line at the target in line with their position. Shooting at anything or anywhere else can result in rounds escaping the range.
  • Respect the Range: Participants should place trash into the trash receptacles and spent brass into the recycling receptacles.
  • Protect Yourself: Wear eye and ear protection. You should wash your hands and face after shooting.

Eye and ear protection should be required for all people who are at or near the firing line. The program normally provides eye and ear protection for all participants and instructors.

In addition, many programs adopt a policy that directs shooting instructors to control all ammunition, or at least control ammunition until the instructor is confident with the participant’s ability to safely handle and operate the firearm they are using.  It is also important that participants search all clothing that is used at the range  for live ammunition prior to returning to the classroom.