One of the biggest problems with the shooting sports is that there is no be-all, end-all, definitive guide to etiquette. Miss Manners never published a Sooper Dooper Guide to Shooting Etiquette, and I never recall going to the range for any of my charm and finishing school field trips.
Seeing this glaring omission from the shooting community training curriculum, I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of tips on how to be a nice shooting range neighbor. If I missed anything, please feel free to comment with your suggestions!
1. Case Your Guns.
No matter where you shoot, you have to get your guns from your home to the range. How you move them up to the range parking lot is your business. How you move them from the car to the shooting table involves your shooting range neighbors. Wandering through the parking lot and into the front door of a secure business waving a few guns around is a great way to have a really bad day. The very best way to do this is to case your guns and move them to all the way to the shooting table fully encased, unloaded and with actions open.
2. Check to make sure everyone has ear protection before you start shooting.
Yes, a verbal “Range Hot” command should, in theory, ensure that folks have their ears on. Just in case, I like to be considerate and look around to make sure everyone is hearing protected before torching off my .890 Glock Magnus ++P++P+++.
3. Don’t booger hook your trigger unless you’re in the act of shooting.
As much as we all talk about trigger finger discipline, it’s never too much. With perfect trigger finger etiquette, we will all have a perfect safety record. In the context of this list of “polite” actions, think of keeping your trigger finger visibly out of the trigger as a courteous visual cue to your neighbors. If they see you always handling your gun with the trigger finger out, they’ll feel safer and more comfortable with you as a range neighbor.
4. Be visibly cold to your range neighbors.
Not in social demeanor, but in behavior. When the range is “cold” for target changes and such, make a physical show of acting cold. By this I mean put your guns on the table. Don’t touch them, even if they’re unloaded. Because guns are always loaded right? Again, considering the good range neighbor angle, if you aren’t touching your guns, folks can easily see that you’re not touching your guns. And they feel safe and secure based on your visible behavior. So, looking at it this way, being visibly cold at the range is actually polite.