You’ve purchased your firearm, equipped it with a high-quality upper receiver or handguard (from PhantomUSA), and you have mags and ammo; you are now ready for your first trip to the gun range. We’ll cover some typical things to expect while you’re there, like selecting the correct range, range bag musts, etiquette at the range, and post-range cleanup.
Location, Location, Location
Going to an outdoor or indoor range is up to the shooter’s preference. Choosing a gun range isn’t rocket science, but it can significantly impact your experience and even your performance. Still, outdoor shooting ranges offer the opportunity to have the range to yourself, especially in the case of bad weather where fair-weather shooters may opt to stay indoors.
Member-only ranges are also something to consider. Not only will it likely weed out the random people who might do some dangerous things, but other benefits include sometimes getting discounts on merchandise or classes. Another option to consider is finding someone with a decent acreage somewhere in the country and setting up targets that bullets will not ricochet off.
If you currently do not own a range bag, we highly suggest that you pick one up because it offers an area where all your necessary items for the range can be found and organized. Some of the things you’ll want in your range bag will include ear protection such as earplugs or a headset, eye protection, some accessories like grips or rail sections to add to your weapon and some tools. Tools that you’ll want on the range will be a multitool, cleaning kit, an AR front sight post tool, gun oil, and some bug spray/ sunscreen in the case of an outdoor range. Ensuring that everything has its designated place in your bag is vital to ensure you know when you’re low on something and need to replenish it.
The very first not on gun range etiquette is being familiar with the four rules of gun safety, which are:
- Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
- Always ensure the gun’s muzzle is pointed in a safe direction and not at someone.
- Have your finger off the trigger until your target is in sight and you are ready to shoot.
- Always know what is beyond your target.
Check out our blog on the 4 Key Rules to Gun Safety for more information on those rules. Some other etiquette rules to be aware of is the difference between a hot range and a cold range. A desirable range means you can load your gun and fire it at the designated targets; a cold range means that you need to step away from your weapon and do not touch your ammo for any reason until a hot range is declared again. Ensuring that you do not shoot at the wrong target is also very important as it can cause a very frustrating situation with other shooters at the range. Finally, be polite to both the range staff and those enjoying the range with you. Showing respect and courtesy can come back to you tenfold, making it more critical.
Post Range Cleanup
After a fun-packed day at the range, cleaning your gun is highly recommended to ensure proper functioning for future uses. If you are an AR owner and need some tips on cleaning your weapon, check out our blog on how to clean and lube your AR-15 with photos. Make sure to reload magazines but do not load them into your gun. After cleaning your firearm, check all your consumables like earplugs and the like, reorder more if you’re low. Make sure that everything you’ll need is back in your range bag for the next trip.
The biggest tip for going to the range that we can leave you with is to have fun and use every trip as an opportunity to learn and experience something new!