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.

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