Back to school- Long Range lvl2

I got to spend this past weekend going back to school. It had been a while since I attended a structured course. This past shooting season it became apparent that I needed some outside help to keep progressing. To do so I signed up for the Level 2 Long Range class with Sgt. Of Arms.

I’ve been shooting with the owner Eric for a while, we are both precision gasser guys and he builds some great ones as well as directing a number of matches at Triple C range in Cresson Texas. At the first Quantified Performance match at Arena Training in Georgia I caught up with Eric & he introduced me to Jeff W. Jeff ended up 3rd overall at that match, when we returned for this past Weekend in the Arena, Jeff won it outright. I was in his squad and got to watch the impressive execution. After seeing his capabilities, when I was told about his instructing and a little of his background, I decided right then I would be in the next class.

Finally on a beautiful December morning I rolled over the cattle guard, past longhorns under a pinkish sunrise to assemble on the range near where west Texas begins.
For this particular class you needed Lvl 1 first or a mil/Leo sniper course under your belt, a 1moa capable rifle, magnified optic with exposed turrets, a kestrel with ballistic solver and 250 rounds of match ammo.

We wasted no time getting rolling & started off on rows of 3/4” dots at 100 yards. It quickly became apparent that Jeff is a data driven person. We tested how our rifles reacted to various types of input. We checked scope tracking and deflection. We chronographed our ammo & trued our ballistic solvers on targets at distance. Jeff was full of knowledge on the why as various rifles, optics and accessories reacted certain ways. It was very enlightening to hear the science behind some of the products and methods I was familiar with. We returned to the flat range for a bit and I got really humbled by some of those 100 yard 3/4” dots this time as we ran a challenging series drills with some time pressure as well as getting on and off the gun repeatedly. Lunch was amazingly good barbecue right there on the range.

We spent some time really studying wind, terrain and the indicators available to us as well as a good bit more shooting. There was a little class room time late in the day as we went through some data analysis running examples of calibers, cartridges, chasing widgets and what factors have the most influence on hit probability.

The next day was mostly a mix between shooting positions and wind. A thorough breaking down and refining of the positional shooting you’ll see in most tactical matches was performed. Including how to navigate various common props and stages. Improvements were made in efficiency as a timer was utilized a lot. Then as the wind picked up conditions were perfect and we made the best of it by hitting the real long range lanes to refine our wind reading. I was really happy with the progress made. A personal highlight was being able to achieve a first round impact on a 3moa plate at 1404 yards in 12-16 mph wind with my JP enterprises 6.5 Creedmoor & Leupold optic. By the end I was hitting even small targets inside 1200 yards if not always on the first shot then the second consistently. Good progress was made on my time management as well. I felt like I got exactly what I needed from the course and had a blast doing it.

Signed NS

A Weekend In The Arena

Got to shoot a match this past weekend. Super excited to shoot a gun at The Arena Training Facility since the last time I only took a camera. Left the house around 5:45 Friday morning. Once I got on the highway the car started vibrating. Picked up Chase Lions and we proceeded to start the Aggie tire change after determining we couldn’t drive 11 hours in massage chairs. The very last tire we put the spare on was the culprit. Must have broken a steel belt. After an hour at Discount Tire we were back on the road. Talked a lot about shooting and life on the way. Listened to some motivational stuff. Chase put a ton of emphasis on preparation. A missed turn and close to 14 hours in the car (close to 16 for me) we arrived in Blakely GA. Chase Lions was navigating by the way! We get to the range early Saturday morning. Figured I could get my gun zeroed and a little data on ammo the day before, as I expected to get there in time. Preparation was lacking. Tried to rush a quick fix to no avail. I need to listen to Chase more. Thankfully Chase brought a backup for me to shoot. A “backup gun” that has apparently served this purpose in the past. Got squaded up and gotta say it was a hella fun squad. We had a barrel maker Brandon Haas from T Box Barrel Company, a guy that makes one hell of a precision rifle Eric Lee with SGT OF ARMS. The one he made won the match with the barrel makers barrel I might add, with a little help from Jeff Williams. Some guy who does some evaluating and testing or something for some branch of the military. We had a dude who is simply amazing in his ability to overcome and kick ass no matter how heavy of a gun he is lugging around. An ex swat sniper. A bullet maker and a bunch of other guys that made for one of the coolest matches. Jeff Williams antics and personality were a joy to behold. Might be the least serious, laid back group I have shot with. That is until they started shooting, and dammit they can shoot. They taunted and played off each other in a way that makes it impossible not to have a good time. Kind of stuff where you are thinking, man this group should be in a sitcom. (It would have to be on late night cable). Just watching I learned a ton. Got some great advice on fixes to the gun I didn’t get to shoot. Got some great advice on positioning and stance as well as wind. I even learned about the Dallas Dick from a guy out of Pennsylvania. Didn’t know it had one. The stages ran from 100 yards out to 1000. Shooting off all types of obstacles. On one stage shooting through all types of obstacles. It was meant to be a match which challenged guys with the bigger 6.5s or similar, and the smaller 556. Stages were set up to put them on a more level playing field. I think they did a pretty good job of accomplishing that. All these guys shot great and most of all had a great time.. I think. Ash HessJack Leuba of Quantified Performance and Arena Training Facility put on a tremendous match which ran very smoothly start to finish. The prize table was overflowing with goodies. Everyone who shot got something. I came in 55th out of 80 and actually won a prize!! Went to dinner after and got to talk to a bunch of other shooters including the Extreme Long Range group. They cleared up some misconceptions I had on the sport. Apparently you don’t just aim at the sky and pull the trigger until you hit something. Who Knew. Had dinner with Jeremy Tye who was there helping to celebrate the life of one of his buddies, Bill Guesman, who passed this year. As it turns out I had dinner with Bill the last time I attended a match at the Arena. Super nice and well respected guy that everyone seemed to know and like. A stage was dedicated to him with a plaque all the winners of that stage in the future will have their names engraved upon. When the plaque fills up, it will be sent to his wife. Super cool memorial and a great way to have his memory live on. Can I say again how cool this shooting community is. After dinner it was back to the cabin area for a little AX throwing, drinking and general bullshitery. Found out I might be a better AX thrower than shooter. I even gained a new perspective on hunting from the group. Normally I look for areas 1-2 hundred yards. If I could confidently hit a target at 800-1000 yards would that change how I looked at my hunting plan. Hell yes it would, and in hindsight it would have presented so many more opportunities. We apparently made it back to the hotel and bed at some point. All in all it was a great weekend. And it was a real privilege to meet so many great people and unbelievable shooters. You can see a video of what the match was like @

Don’t Go It Alone

Burglar alarm at a church came out zero dark thirty one night a couple months ago.  I didn’t  normally answer a lot of those anymore and I wasn’t real thrilled about getting out in wet freezing temps but I happened to be rolling around within a stones throw from it so I check up and whip in the parking lot.  I’m well ahead of any back up unit but I proceed to walk the perimeter and check doors and out buildings alone.  

As I reach the back of the building I notice dark alcoves and external but enclosed stairwells.  My John Wayne saunter starts to fade as I recall the rookie that got killed in my neighborhood as a kid when he split from his FTO and went around back of a feed store alone on just such a call.  Then I thought of the local cop a year or two ago that was knocked unconscious behind a grocery store answering an alarm alone.  I consider even the Lone Ranger had Tonto and Batman had Robin.  I check up a bit and just about this time my second unit rolls up and immediately calls out that a guy in a black hoodie is running out from the shadows behind me.  The perp has the jump and the chase is on.  Straight into the pitch black flooded woods and underbrush we crash.  

The perp dumps his flashlight and manages to break contact quickly.  The terrain plays to his short term advantage but I get a good perimeter set and have K9 and air support pretty quick tonight.   With a little time to shiver & consider his odds in the freezing swamp while the sound of helo circles and the land shark announces his enthusiasm as we close in the perp starts yelling that he doesn’t want to get bit and comes crawling to us.  

Then to top it off A couple hours later I get a call from a friend.  

I’d spent some time a little over a year ago lending my ear to a brother from my friend’s agency.  Not everyday you answer a welfare concern on a peer in a motel room. Of course he knew what not to say but I got a vibe that I couldn’t shake.  Went back later even to check on him a second time. In the end listen, empathize & make some calls to ensure people in his circle knew that things didn’t feel right was about all I could do.  Apparently it just delayed the ultimate outcome.  It took nearly a year but He eventually took his own life.  I hope he found peace on the other side.  

I guess my point here is that there is more to survival than cold steel and skill.  Don’t face the world without back up if you don’t have to.

Signed NS

Pro Tip for Long Range Shooters

If there are any in here thinking about getting into rifle competition.
I saw an AAR somewhere that made me think of this. 

I’ve had this card on my rifle nearly 2 years.

Ash Hess talks about shot process, one of the best pieces of advice I have received (thanks Ryan Hey maker of lists) is to develop a stage process.  One of the easier things to change to improve your performance is to minimize the little mental errors and hiccups.

Check your turrets.  Make sure your magnification and parallax are set for first engagement.

Do not have an empty mag or a mag with less rounds than is required for the stage on your person. (You will inevitably grab it if you do)

Find your targets ahead of time, confirm distances. 
(I’ve seen more than one match book be wrong)

A marker you can see with the naked eye to keep you oriented for far targets eliminates a bunch of hunting in a zoomed scope.  (Big time saver)

When dialing or holding multiple ranges always double check your math. 

Little hiccups add up, try to visualize a smooth execution.  You need to have seen it a time or 2 in your head before that buzzer scrambles the eggs.

This is the best advice I can give as a mediocre shooter.  Maybe create your own list, this is just mine & a direct result of mistakes I’ve made.

First Trip to the Shooting Range: Tips for the First Time Shooter

Slightly less than one-third of Americans (31 percent) have never fired a gun. Are you part of this group?

Many people who lack experience with a gun want to learn, they’re just not sure how to go about it.

If you’re interested in learning to fire a gun, it’s best to learn at a shooting range. It’s a safe place where you can learn from professionals and get comfortable handling a gun.

Your first trip to the shooting range can be a bit nerve-wracking. If you keep these tips in mind, though, you’ll be sure to have a great experience.

Learn Basic Range Etiquette

Before you head to the shooting range, it’s important to familiarize yourself with basic range etiquette.

The following are some essential practices you need to engage whenever you’re at the shooting range:

  • Read the range’s rules online before you arrive
  • Always assume that all guns are loaded
  • Remove your finger from the trigger as soon as you’re finished shooting
  • Never point your gun at anything other than the target
  • Always leave the safety catch on when you’re not shooting
  • Show respect for the range officer

Remember to never touch anyone else’s equipment, either.

Get Familiar with Range Commands

A range officer is an individual who’s responsible for making sure everyone is safe and following the rules of the range. From time to time, they may call out certain commands.

The following are some of the most common commands you might hear from them:

Cease Fire

This command means that everyone must stop shooting immediately. The range officer usually calls out this command.

Anyone can use it, though, if they see unsafe conditions on the range. When you’ve heard the cease fire command, you should totally avoid touching or handling your firearm.

Make Safe

When you hear this command, you need to apply safeties, holster your firearm, and remove your finger from the trigger of your gun. It’s all about making sure the area is safe for everyone else.

Range Going Hot

This means that live fire is about to start. When you hear this command, keep listening. The command to commence firing will come soon after.

Commence Fire

When you’re told to commence fire, this means you’re allowed to disengage the safety on your weapon and begin firing. Always listen carefully for this command before you start firing.

Range is Cold

This command means that live fire has ceased. When you hear this, wait for the range officer to tell you that you can check or change your target.

Bring a Friend

It’s a good idea to bring a friend with you for your first trip to the shooting range.

You won’t be able to do a lot of socializing, but having a familiar face there with you can help you feel more at ease. You’ll also have someone to talk to after about how cool your experience was!

Plan Your Outfit Ahead of Time

You don’t need to dress to the nines to go to the shooting range, but you should think about your outfit.

Most people prefer to wear long sleeves and pants to the shooting range, especially if they’re going to an outdoor range. 

Be sure to wear clothing that can get dirty, too. 

It’s a good idea to avoid wearing low-cut shirts, and wear close-toed shoes as well. 

Don’t be Ashamed of Being a Beginner

Whether you arrive alone or choose to go with a friend, don’t be afraid to let the people who work at the range know that you’re a beginner.

There’s no shame in it, and everyone else who’s there was a beginner at some point.

If you let them know that you’re new to shooting, you’ll be able to get some extra guidance and tips on how you can get the most out of the experience.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

Speaking of tips and guidance, don’t be afraid to ask for help, either.

No matter how prepared you are, you still might have questions or feel lost. The sooner you ask for help, the sooner you can start improving.

Remember, the folks who work at the range are there to help you out. All you have to do is ask.

Pack Your Bag Properly

Make sure you have everything you need before you leave for the range. In your bag, you should include the following items:

  • Your firearm and ammunition (unless you’re going to rent from the range)
  • Ear and eye protection
  • Targets (if the range allows you to bring your own)

You don’t need much to have a successful trip to the range. You should make sure you at least have these necessities, though.

Always Wear Protection

Ear protection is essential when you’re at the shooting range.

Millions of Americans are at risk of losing their hearing from the loud noises created by firearms—don’t be one of them.

Be sure to bring a pair of shooting glasses to protect your eyes, too.

If you don’t have these things, you can likely buy them at the range. It’s more cost-effective to bring your own, though.

Clean Up After Yourself

Finally, don’t forget to clean up after yourself when you’re finished for the day. 

Take your targets down and pick up brass casings on the floor in or around your lane. Don’t forget to throw away your trash, too, and return all equipment to its original place. 

Be sure to wash your hands and face when you’re done, too. This will get rid of lead and gunpowder residue.

Find a Shooting Range Near You Today

Now that you know more about how to behave and what to expect from your trip to the shooting range, are you ready to go?

Do you know where the nearest shooting range is located?

If you’ve never been to the shooting range and need help finding one near you, be sure to check out our free search tool today.

We make it easier than ever for you to find ranges in your area.

We also have filters so you can find specific types of gun ranges and learn about the different amenities they offer! You can find everything you need in one convenient location.

10 Essential Items to Pack in Your Shooting Range Backpack

You could go to your local shooting range and there rent all the equipment and you need. However, doing it like this is going to cost a premium, especially if shooting is one of your favorite hobbies. 

Rather than going that route, it would be far better to build your own pack with all the gear needed for a trip to the shooting range. This way, you’ll not only save a huge sum of money, but look and feel the part of a safe, prepared, and skilled shooter.

Building the ultimate shooting range backpack is going to involve packing gear primarily centered around the categories of safety and maintenance.

Here’s a guide to help you build an awesome shooting range backpack you’ll be proud to walk into the range with. 

Safety Gear for Your Shooting Range Backpack

It’s easy to be tempted into neglecting safety as a priority when you’ll only be shooting at a gun range. You figure there’s almost no chance anything could go wrong in such a controlled environment, and even if something were to go wrong, they should have the proper safety equipment to deal with the situation. 

Take the initiative and be a responsible shooter, even if you see others at the range neglecting safety. Following proper gun range etiquette and having the right safety gear in your shooting range backpack is going to allow you to do so.

Here are a few safety essentials to keep in your pack.

Eye Protection

The right eye protection for the range isn’t going to be a cheap pair of safety goggles you might’ve bought for doing a little handyman project at work. 

When buying a pair of shooting range glasses, you’ll want a pair that is durable, fits comfortably to your face shape, and provides ample eye cover. 

By providing complete eye cover, you’ll be protected from the unexpected impact of fragments.

A comfortable, tight fit will ensure your glasses don’t come jarred off your face during your gun’s recoil. It’s also going to allow you to comfortably and closely view through your gun scope to take proper aim.

If your preferred local gun range is outdoors, make sure you pack a pair of sunglasses that meet similar specifications as mentioned already.  

Hearing Protection

Often the most seemingly obvious points are the ones most important to hit on. The same is true when it comes to having the proper hearing protection in your shooting range bag.

Generally, sounds above 85 decibels are considered harmful to human hearing. Exposure to sounds over this level could lead to permanent hearing damage. The higher the decibel level, the shorter-term and less exposure needed for the noise to cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Considering most firearms shoot in the range of 140 to even in excess of 175 decibels, the importance of protecting your hearing at the range cannot be understated. 

Similar things as when choosing proper eye protection should be considered. Proper ear protection is going to be durable, comfortable, and tight-fitting. This way your earmuffs also won’t come off during your gun’s kickback.

Check the noise reduction rating (NRR) on any ear protection you’re considering buying to make sure it’s sufficient for the range.

Pack Equipment Servicing Gear

No matter how well-maintained you keep your guns and other shooting gear, there’s always the possibility that you’ll have to do some at-the-range fine-tuning or servicing. This is especially true if you’ll be spending the whole day shooting.

In either case, you should always have proper gun cleaning and maintenance gear included in your shooting range backpack.

Gun Tuning and Maintenance

Keeping your guns in safe operating condition is a job primarily done before making a trip to the range. Still, once at the range, as you inspect your aiming and shooting equipment before firing it, you may see the need to make some minor adjustments.

In this case, it’s good to carry some basic tools such as a:

  • Scope level for aiming adjustments
  • Multi-bit screwdriver
  • Allen wrench/key set
  • Multitool
  • Gun vise for securing your gun as you service it
  • Small part and tool organizing tray so you can keep track of your tools and gun parts if you do need to take it apart

Gun Cleaning Kit

Each time you fire your gun, trace amounts of metallic residue from your ammunition are deposited in your gun’s barrel.

This is caused by the friction that comes from the high-speed rubbing of the softer metal the ammunition is made of against the harder metal your gun’s bore. This effect is called gun fouling.

This is why, to keep your gun in optimum condition, not just for firing, but to last a long time, you’ll want to keep it clean.

Malfunction prevention is the primary reason to do so. Another reason is that gun fouling can severely affect your gun’s accuracy, especially on precision rifles. A third reason to keep your guns clean is to save you from wasting the potentially thousands of dollars you’ve spent on your gun and firing equipment. 

Primarily, this is a job done at home. Still, especially if you’ll be engaging in an extended firing session, it’s wise to keep a gun cleaning kit in your shooting range backpack. 

A good kit is going to include:

  • Brass cleaning rods
  • Brass bore brushes
  • Metal toothbrushes
  • Cotton cleaning brushes/mops
  • Bore light
  • Bore snakes
  • Bore lubricating oil and solvent

Just make sure your cleaning equipment is adapted to fit your guns’ specific caliber(s).

A Better Pack Means a Better Experience

Now that your shooting range backpack is fully stocked, you should be ready to hit the range for a fun, inexpensive, and most importantly of all, safe shooting experience.

For more tips on gun range safety and etiquette, more gear and purchase guides, and anything else shooting related, check out our blog. Whether you’re a long-time shooter with plenty of range experience or someone just looking to get started with this new, admittedly sometimes intimidating hobby, there’s sure to be something in it for you.  

If you are a beginner to the range, or maybe shooting in general, see if there’s an instructor near you. They’ll teach you how best to use the gear that will make up your range pack and how to be a safe, skillful shooter.

AAR Arena Training Facility Gas Gun match

I just got home from Arena Training Facility in Blakely Georgia.  They hosted a precision gas gun match that was put on by Ash Hess and Jack Leuba.  Both guys know a thing or 2 about precision Gas guns and the guys that shoot em.  Ash & Jack are accomplished shooters themselves.  If you get a chance read about some of what they’ve done in the service & on the range.  Ash is a pretty good author with some real insight, constantly trying to improve the level of marksmanship & effectiveness of our war fighters & LE.  They are both pretty public figures & work for Knights Armament.

I shot a 5.56 AR.  I’ve pieced it together but the real heart of it is a 20” upper from Sons of Liberty Gun Works.  (I’m a big fan of theirs). SOLGW makes real duty grade ultra reliable ARs & Uppers.  I first heard about them several years ago from other Swat guys & they have never disappointed me.

The rifle has a trigger & rail from Geissele.  The high speed national match is one of the best triggers I’ve ever used. The rifle has a stock from Seekins. The grip & sling are from Magpul.  My muzzle brake is a Lantac Dragon that really helps improve shot to shot recovery.    I use one on my precision bolt gun as well.  The scope is a Leupold Mark6 3-18x with the H59 reticle.  I really like that reticle, it gives me the ability to dial less and hold more often for both wind and elevation without sacrificing precision too much.  This can really increase your speed.  The scope rides in a Bobro QD mount, this mount has an impressive return to zero ability if I need to break the rifle down and has 20 moa built in so I can use more of my available scope adjustment and stay in the center of my glass where clarity is the best.

You don’t need a half minute gun, it doesn’t hurt but a solid reliable 1moa gun shot well will get you in the mix.

I use 2 support bags, a. Mini fortune cookie from Weibad and a pump pillow from Armageddon gear. (I actually won a new Armageddon gear sling at the match I’m excited to try out) 2 bags and a good sling is all I feel I need to be stable on most stages.

I use a Kestrel to take weather readings and a program on my phone called Ballistics Arc to come up with my firing solutions. I get my velocity data using a Magnetospeed chronograph.  Never trust the speed listed on your box ammo.  Good data in to a ballistic calculator means good data out.  A solid zero, a true height over bore measurement and an accurate velocity are key to good firing solutions.

I feed this rifle Sierra bullets 77 grain tipped match kings almost exclusively.  Sometimes I hand load them, sometimes I’m lazy or too busy to sit at the bench so I feed it Black hills or Creedmoor Sports factory ammo with that bullet.

Almost without fail I buy or win my own equipment.  There is a misconception that top level shooters get paid or get lots of free gear.  For the most part that isn’t the case.  It dang sure isn’t for me.  I use the stuff I use because I believe it works.  Given the choice between 2 equally functioning products similar in price though my deciding factor will be the companies support of and involvement with the end users.

I’ve been fortunate to shoot with, often squad with, meet & talk to reps or owners of many of these products because they are among us and approachable.  I’ve given feed back straight to owners in person. Many of these companies  give back to the community, their stuff is on prize tables, they loan out gear… it’s amazing really.

You can’t beat guys like Mike at SOLGW, Ryan at Magneto Speed, Tom at Armageddon gear, Joe at Geo Ballistics and several others that are so giving, helpful and hands on.

But back to the match.  Arena Training Facility was beautiful, well appointed, well layed out and is beyond big enough to host about anything they need to.  Including a pretty good sized rifle match and high level rifle training for the son of the president at the same time. (Yeah did I mention Donald Trump Jr. was there shooting while we were and came out to visit with us?)

Scott from RangeRecon traveled with me and we stayed on site in a nice cabin.  We got up the morning of to beautiful weather and after a match brief with the usual safety reminders we got right to shooting.  I believe 55 shooters showed up, some of the best in the nation, probably the world.  Many elite units from Military and Police were represented as well as Training organizations and industry reps.

That might sound intimidating but it shouldn’t be.  You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer or more helpful group anywhere, especially in a competitive setting.  At several of these matches the guys from the Army Marksmanship Unit have been there.  They are always especially helpful and really impressive to watch.  Tyler Payne for example was there helping run a stage instead of shooting, but I’ve seen him in action and think he is probably the best precision Gas gun shooter in the nation.

There were 8 stages, each with a 120 second par time.  Fastest time after penalties wins.  Penalties occur if you don’t get the necessary amount of hits per target in the given time.  A target not neutralized adds 30 seconds.  The majority of targets were 200-600 yards with a few out to 800.  I’d say targets are generally 2-4 moa in size.  This match had a good mix possibly leaning towards a larger target size average.  There was a lot of positional and barricade shooting with some short distance movement but no crazy physical exertion like running or anything.  You need to be mobile but don’t have to be a PT god to be competitive.  (Which is good because I’m no gym stud these days) 

I know some guys had primarily 3gun experience and some had service rifle experience and some were more PRS bolt gun oriented guys.  There was a bit of something that played to the strengths of each of them in this match.  

There were divisions for 5.56, 308 and then open for the 6mm, 6.5 creed/Grendel, 224 Valkyrie or whatever precision wildcat you can think of that is 30 cal or less and under 3200fps.

If you like accurate scoped ARs/MSRs/SPRs/DMRs or whatever you wanna call em and pushing past the 200 yard berm then these type matches are calling your name & this was a pretty dang good one.

As always, my advice is get out and shoot.

Signed N.S.

7 Tips for Proper Gun Range Etiquette

Accidental shootings at gun ranges aren’t tracked, but the good news is they are rare.

However, it’s always best to take safety precautions when you’re around firearms. And, the best way to prevent accidents is to follow gun range etiquette.

Here are seven tips for gun range etiquette that will keep you and others around you safe and ensure you have a great time when you visit the range.

1. Review and Follow the Range’s Rules

There are all types of ranges out there. Each has its own list of specific rules which are often listed near the shooting area or on their website. Take the time to review the rules beforehand for the range you’re visiting and familiarize yourself with them.

It’s a safe bet that all gun ranges have at least a few cardinal rules about gun handling that everyone should respect, such as never pointing a gun in anyone’s direction.

But, they may also have fines for shooters that damage property on the gun range, including structural areas. So read through their list, before your visit if possible, and let their regulations seep in.

2. Always Handle a Firearm Like a Pro

Handling a gun professionally extends to when you’re not actually shooting it. All professional gun owners know how to handle a gun responsibly so no one, including themselves, can get hurt.

This means automatically removing your finger from the trigger the second you’ve stopped shooting. This is a memory reflex which often needs to be developed over time, but it will differentiate you as a gun owner that takes shooting seriously.

You also never want to point the muzzle at anybody or anything other than your target. So when you’re not using the gun, make sure the muzzle is always pointed in a safe direction. When shooting indoors, this means laying the gun on the table with the muzzle pointed towards the targets.

The safety catch should always be on when you’re not shooting, and all parts of the gun including the chamber and magazine should be completely empty of ammo. If someone wants to see your firearm, these safety precautions must be in check before handing it over to another person.

3. Respect the Range Safety Officer

Most gun ranges have employees on hand to ensure everyone is following the rules and shooting in a safe manner. Range safety officers have authority above everyone else visiting the range, so treat them with respect. Listen to them if they give gun range commands such as cease-fire, because that means they’re making sure everyone visiting the range is safe.

This is particularly important when shooting outdoors. The range safety officer won’t allow anyone to go downrange to inspect their targets until everyone has emptied their ammo, engaged the safety catch, and has put down their firearm in a safe location.

Although they may sound intimidating, gun range employees are friendly and willing to help if anyone has any questions or isn’t sure what a particular command means. They can also help refresh your memory on a gun’s components and proper handling. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance if you need it.

4. Remember That You Can Call a Cease Fire

The command “cease-fire” doesn’t have to be shouted by only the range safety officer. It’s everyone’s responsibility on the range to use the command if they see something that looks unsafe.

If another shooter is unwell that’s an excuse to call a cease-fire. It can also be used if someone inadvertently wanders onto the range area. Good gun enthusiasts will always look out for everyone else and the safety of others.

5. Don’t Touch Someone Else’s Equipment

It’s tempting to want to pick up someone else’s gun especially if it’s brand-name gear you’ve had your eye on for a while. However, that unfamiliar firearm may be loaded—plus, it’s just poor manners to touch someone else’s possession without asking for permission to do so.

Most gun enthusiasts are more than happy to share information about their purchase and let someone else hold it, but you should ask first. They need to ensure their firearm is completely empty and they may not wish to be interrupted between rounds.

Don’t touch anyone else’s bag or equipment unless you have permission to do so. And don’t shoot at someone else’s target; this can confuse them and throw off any progress they think they’re making.

6. Don’t Interrupt Another Shooter

It’s unsettling to be interrupted in the middle of a round, even if it’s just a tap on the shoulder. It’s also dangerous; some people may instinctively whirl around to face you while still holding the gun pointed outward.

The one exception is if you see another shooter doing something that can compromise the safety of themselves and others. In this case, most gun ranges will allow you to shout, “Cease fire!” and a range safety officer will handle the situation.

If you wish to talk to another shooter, wait until they’re finished with a round and can safely engage with you. You wouldn’t want to be interrupted when you’re concentrated on hitting your target. Respect another person’s personal space, and their shooting time.

7. Pick Up Any Litter

Don’t leave behind any ammo boxes, water bottles, brass casings (if they’re your own) or other trash. Deposit it in provided trash bins and leave the range neat and clean for other shooters to enjoy.

The one exception is sweeping up other shooters’ brass casings. Some people like to keep their brass.

Follow These Gun Range Etiquette Rules For a Safe Experience

Knowing the proper gun range etiquette will ensure that everyone has a safe and fun time at the range. It also helps you stand out as more professional, even if it’s your first time shooting.

Now that you know the rules about gun range etiquette, it’s time to spend a day at the range. Search for a gun range near you.

Don’t Choke

Lots of people get into firearms with self defense in mind. Fair enough. An old quote is “God made man, Sam Colt made them equal.” I’ve seen a firearm equal the odds. One night an 80 year old man that could barely get around shot a home intruder that was assaulting his granddaughter with one of the biggest pieces of junk 22 LR revolvers I’ve ever seen. The intruder would have physically overpowered the octogenarian with ease had it not been for that old wheel gun. I pulled up on scene at the park one night where 4 thugs had tried to rob an ER nurse walking his dog. Unknown to them, the nurse had taken his CHL class & some training from one of my coworkers not too long before, was wearing a pistol and put it to good use. Nothing is more effective at evening the odds.

But a firearm is not a magic talisman. It is of no use if the person welding it doesn’t have the skill and knowledge to employ it.

The vast majority of our society is not acquainted with violence. If you are going to defend yourself, preparation will help and the mind is the most important tool you possess.

In those life threatening moments, lots of things are happening fast. The more you can do on an autonomous level, the more of your mental capacity you can free up for processing situational data, and the better off you are. Stress inoculation is a term I like to use. Confidence becomes important.

I’m just touching on very deep concepts here. Entire books have been written on the subjects, some experts spend their careers and even their entire lives delving into the finer points.

But for an example normal people may understand: Have you ever heard of buck fever? It’s that phenomenon of adrenaline dump when (especially newer) hunters have a trophy game animal step out in front of them that they’ve been hoping for. Many experience the shakes, become barely able to speak, or make minor errors like forgetting to click their safety while trying to get the shot off under the pressure.

In competition, we have buzzer brain. It’s where the shooter has a stage plan, they have visualized their movements, but when the buzzer sounds or shortly after, some error occurs and the shooter loses track of the entire plan or makes unnecessary follow up errors to exacerbate the situation.

These are examples of a break down in processing power. I have experienced them personally. If minor events can cause this, what do you think will happen in your first life threatening encounter?

Things like this are why training is so important. You need to build comfort & confidence in your weapon handling. The more you push yourself out of your comfort zone, the more you will grow. The brain must be exercised like any muscle. If you experience smaller doses of stress often enough, when that big dump of “oh my God” happens, you are more likely to handle it correctly. 

No matter why you pick up a gun, get out, train, and expand your limits. Stagnation is death.

Signed; NS

Purchasing Decisions

I get into a lot of interesting conversations on the internet about guns. I was having one such conversation today where a fellow was adamantly defending a brand that is pretty widely accepted by experts as inferior. As a matter of fact the brand was banned by name & likely still is, from many police department duty weapon lists. But people make purchases and then feel the need to defend them. You can see it with Ford vs Chevy vs Dodge guys and it’s no less common in the gun world. I find the emotional attachment to a tool such as a truck or a gun an odd phenomenon but it exists. The first thing you’ll hear is “mine has never failed.” Ok, fine but how much & how hard have you really used or tested it? Does one example of non failure negate the ones that did? How much are you willing to bank on that? When faced with this logic the nearly guaranteed rebuttal will be “all brands will have some failures”. That’s true.

The rub lies in the frequency, the severity and the path to resolution. Frequency might be best viewed in percentages and resolution is where customer service comes in. In a self defense gun or a gun I’m taking on a $10k once in a lifetime hunting trip, the frequency better be low and equivalent to the acceptable percentage of critical airplane parts’ failure. In my kid’s 22lr range toy, I might accept a little less reliability. If the severity is low enough, it isn’t dangerous, and the customer service is good enough it’s easily resolved…assuming initial price was low enough to suck me in.
The fellow on the other side of this convo said you don’t need name brand, more costly guns. Well in my line of work, the potential for needing to use my gun is a whole lot higher than most folks and failure has dire consequences.
It’s up to you to assess your situation and decide what you are willing to invest for reliability & what fits your situation.

If I lived in Lebanon, Kansas, I might not need a yacht. And if I lived in Key West, Florida, I probably wouldn’t need a 4×4 with a snow plow. With proper application of logic, you are the best person to assess your personal situation and determine your needs. Then find a source with objectivity, minimal bias, and no ulterior motives to get data from to make educated purchasing decisions.