Going to the range for the first time can be very intimidating, especially if you are new to guns. Listed below is an introduction to firearms safety. I’m pretty sure that any avid shooter can recite this list flawlessly as it is usually the first thing you learn. I hope this helps, and I am so excited to welcome you to our community!
- Treat Every Gun Like It’s Loaded
This means that when you’re getting ready to go to the range, you’re pointing your gun in a safe direction, removing the magazine, and locking the slide back. Look down the chamber with your eyes to be 100% sure there is no ammunition in it before putting it in your range bag. This also applies when you’re putting your gun back into your safe when you get home. It’s a really good habit to check your gun (or anyone else’s gun) for ammunition every time you pick it up. If someone told you to grab their curling iron off the table would you just stick your hand right on it and risk getting a 3rd degree burn? No, you wouldn’t because you’re smart. You would make sure its unplugged first. This is the same principle.
- Keep Your Gun Pointed In A Safe Direction
I’m going to combine two rules here. Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction AND never ever point your gun at something you don’t want to shoot. Don’t point your gun at your friends. Don’t point your gun at your loved ones. Don’t point your gun at yourself. You get the idea.
I’ve had unloaded guns pointed at me dozens of times while working in gun shops. Let me tell you, not a pleasant feeling. Getting swept by someone’s firearm is unsettling, and you should never put anyone in that position. Make this your mission – to be cautious of where your gun is pointed every time you pick it up. Every range you go to and every person you shoot with will appreciate it! Also, don’t be afraid to tell someone to keep their muzzle in a safe direction if you see them sweeping others.
- Know Your Target and What’s Beyond It
This is important on and off the range. When you’re on the range the targets will usually be positioned in front of some sort of backstop. This could be made of shredded tire, dirt, sand, ect. The backstop is safe to shoot into as long as nobody is downrange. Never shoot over the backstop (yes, it does happen) because you can’t always be sure of what’s beyond it. There could be houses, a highway, ect.
This rule is especially important if you’re using your firearm for home defense. Your ammunition will go through drywall! Know what and WHO are behind the wall you’re aiming your gun at. This can also relate back to the second rule. If you’re pointing your gun at someone’s bedroom then that’s not a safe direction. There’s a bunch of different tactics for home defense that I’ll write about in other articles. These tactics will help you formulate a plan that works for you and keeps your loved ones safe.
- Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Ready To Shoot
This is the one that everyone seems to have trouble with. It is paramount to get into the habit of keeping your index finger off the trigger until you are 100% ready to fire your gun. That means keeping your index finger above the trigger guard every time you touch your gun. The gun will not go off unless the trigger is pulled. Keep yourself and everyone around you safe by keeping your finger off the bang switch until aimed at your target. Muscle memory is key with shooting, and before long you’ll be holding your Windex spray bottles with your finger off the “trigger” too.
Lastly, if you have any questions just ask! The gun community is full of incredible, and super kind people. Most ranges have instructors that work there, and if you want any help all you have to do is ask. A lot of times they’ll even have shooting competitions and some fun classes that you can sign up for. Knowledge is power, and it’s no different with shooting. I’m of the belief that if I’m going to carry a gun for protection, then I’m going to be efficient as heck while using it. See you at the range!