Your First Trip to the Firing Range

Going to the firing range is fun and easy. It can be a bit intimidating if you have never been before.

The first thing we need to talk about it ammunition. Before you go to the range call and ask what kind of ammunition you are allowed to shoot there. Not all ranges allow all types of ammunition. Not all ranges allow all caliber size ammunition (magnum). Generally you want to use brass case full metal jacket rounds. Several ranges do not allow steel case rounds, which some people tend to buy because they are cheaper. Also, you may want to test some personal defense rounds (jacketed hollow points, abbreviated JHP) instead of the range standard full metal jacket rounds (abbreviated FMJ). Call to verify that hollow points are allowed at your range.

If you own a shotgun or rifle, call ahead to verify that the range allows you to shoot a shotgun or rifle. Additionally, some ranges only allow you to shoot slugs, when you shoot your shotgun (if they allow shotguns at all), so always call to verify.

You can always purchase ammunition from the range, but I find that range ammunition is always more expensive than just heading to Wal-Mart or Academy to purchase ammunition. Most of my range ammo comes from Wal-Mart, and they are usually the most affordable.

Most ranges will loan or rent safety glasses and hearing protection. I prefer to bring my own. I purchased some great safety glasses at Wal-Mart in the gun section. I prefer to wear double hearing protection (foam ear plugs and sound reducing ear muffs). Both can be purchased at Wal-Mart or Academy.

When you walk into the shooting range, let the guy at the counter know that this is your first time at the range. They will have you sign a waiver and also make sure you get a chance to completely and thoroughly read the range rules. Take your time doing this. ACTUALLY READ AND COMPREHEND EVERYTHING YOU ARE SIGNING.

The person at the counter will give you a target, and ask if you need “eyes and ears,” and assign you a lane. Follow the range rules at all time and follow the gun safety rules at all times. Once you pay for your lane, put your safety glasses and hearing protection on and enter the firing lanes. This is serious business, walk smartly to your lane and don’t mess around.

Only manipulate and handle your firearm from your lane box. Do not take the firearm out of the shooting lane box. Hang your target and send it down range. If you do not know how to do this, there is usually a range safety officer on duty patrolling or monitoring the firing lanes. Get this person’s attention and ask any questions you may have. Check your weapon to ensure that it will function properly before firing (look for jams or malfunctions). Load your weapon. Fire at the target only, and fire down range only.

If you are new to this, do not be afraid to let the employees of the firing range know that this is new to you. Ask questions about anything that you are unsure of. Always think safety first. Tell the employees right up front, “This is my first time at the firing range and I am new to shooting. What tips can you offer me to ensure my safety here?”

Safety is your number one concern here. Shooting is fun, when done safely.