As you may know an outdoor range generally does not have a stall with visual blinds on either side of you to block your view of the shooter next to you firing the giant S&W 500. Sometimes if you shoot at an indoor range these blinds, that are somewhat bulletproof (Only to certain calibers. The downside to the blinds is not being able to see that shooter with the S&W 500 who could potentially accidentally fire through the blind), can loll you into a state of complacency for gun handling. Today I’m going to take you through the proper gun handling at an outdoor range, which is more conducive to gun handling in a real-world situation.
A common, but deadly mistake
First things first. For some reason people tend to think – and I’m not sure why – the side of the gun is really cool. If you’ve ever shot at an outdoor range and have been called out by the range officer for the following reason, I’m about to tell you why you were reprimanded. Something you cannot see in an indoor range while standing in the stall, because of the blinds on either side, is the shooter on your left and/or right, but at an outdoor range there are no bullet-proof blinds. So you have to be very careful about where the muzzle of your firearm is pointing. For those of you who may fuzzy on the “muzzle,” I’ll quote my boss who says, “It’s the big thing that goes ‘BANG‘ with the hole on the end.”
This may seem obvious to most people – Don’t turn your gun and point it at someone else, but you would be surprised how often this error is made when moving from an indoor shooting range to an outdoor. Indoor ranges, while you should still be mindful of this rule and keep your firearm facing downrange, do allow you to become lazy with gun handling, because of the safety features in the design of the room.
Let’s say for example there are five shooters on your left side and five more to your right. You cannot turn your gun to the side to admire it, because there’s no telling if it may still go off. Some shooters fire several rounds, then in their enthusiasm or rookie error, turn the gun to ogle it’s design and beauty, then return to firing the remaining bullets in the clip or revolver. Yes I’m serious – It happens very frequently. Those remaining bullets as you turn to appreciate the aesthetics of your gun, can still fire if you’re not paying attention and even if you are, it can still fire severely injuring or even killing the shooter next to you. Penalties for that are much worse than being yelled at by a range officer. That’s also the reason they have range officers.
Range Officers – Contrary to popular opinion they do not exist just to annoy you
Keep this in mind too, range officers are just doing their job. It’s their job to keep everyone safe and having a good time. Don’t get upset with them and take it personally if you’re scolded for doing something wrong. Bad things can happen in nano-seconds on a shooting range so a range officer has to be quick to catch small errors that can lead to life changing events.
Here is a list of things to keep in mind at an outdoor range:
- Keep your muzzle pointed downrange at all times
- No rapid fire
- Ears and eyes must be worn at all times
- When cease-fire is called, make sure your gun is empty, locked back and/or cylinder out or broken open.
- Never pull that trigger till you know you’re on target.
Just a hint: If you line up your sights and wait three to four seconds before pulling the trigger, in that small period of time is your, “focus sweet-spot.” These are just some tips to keep you and the shooters next to you stay safe and having fun. Remember always that while target practice at a range is a great time – you are still holding a loaded weapon.
Check out Tenoroc Shooting Sports & Training in Lakeland, FL on Tenoroc Mine Rd.