Anyone who hasn’t visited a supervised shooting range before might feel a little bit overwhelmed when they do finally visit one. After all, there are rules in place and safety protocols in place that might seem confusing or daunting but are simply there to keep you safe. And that’s not even taking into account the pressure a person might feel having to fire their weapon in front of a group of strangers.

Fortunately, a first-time range shooter can take some pressure off of themselves by learning what to expect before they visit a supervised range. Towards that goal, we’ve decided to write this guide on this subject. This guide is designed to serve as a primer for anyone who has been thinking about visiting a supervised range and wants an idea of what to expect.

The Basics Of Gun Safety

Before anyone heads out to a public shooting range, they’re going to want to learn the basics of handling their firearm. This can be done by taking a shooter education course or a hunter education course in the area where you live. Although each of these gun safety courses different slightly from one another, they basically educate the public on some of the fundamentals of firearm safety. We’ve listed some of these basics below:

  • Treat Every Firearm As A Loaded Weapon, Even If You Think It’s Unloaded.
  • Only Point Your Weapon At What You Intend To Shoot.
  • Be Aware Of What’s In Front Of The Target, Next To The Target, And Behind The Target.
  • Always Check Your Firearm For Obstructions Before Firing It.
  • Always Keep The Muzzle Pointed In A Safe Direction.
  • Store Firearms And Ammunition Separately.
  • Keep Your Finger Outside Of The Trigger Guard Until Ready To Fire.
  • Never Drink OR Do Drugs While Handling Firearms.
  • Never Run Or Jump With A Firearm.
  • When Not In Use, Unload Firearms.

Take The Time To Learn Public Range Lingo

Another thing that the novice shooter should do is to learn some of the basic lingoes that might be used on a public firing range. Each range usually has a Range Master—someone who is there to make sure that the directions and the rules of the range are followed. When giving instructions to shooters, the Range Master might use some of the following terms, so it’s useful to learn what they mean.

Firing Line

This line runs parallel to the shooting targets and is what the shooters stand behind to shoot at the targets.

The Range Is Hot

If the Range Master says the Range Is Hot (or alternately, The Range Is Off), then people are actively shooting and no one is allowed to cross beyond the firing line.

Commence Firing

When this command is given, then shooters may begin to shoot their firearms.


When this command is given, shooters must cease firing immediately. Shooters should also unload their weapons, remove their magazines, and step back from the firing line.

The Range Is Cold

If the Range Master says the Range Is Cold (or alternately, The Range Is Off), then all shooters have stopped firing and it’s safe to move forward of the firing line to check or set up targets.

Learn The Rules Of The Range Beforehand

As we said earlier, every shooting range is different, so it’s important for the novice shooter to do their homework beforehand. Most ranges have a website where they post their shooting rules and whether the shooter is required to bring their own targets or if they’re provided by the range. Since some shooting ranges also have dress codes, it’s important to know these before you visit so you’re not turned away at the door.

Dress Appropriately

When visiting a range, it’s important to be dressed properly. Of course, if the range has a dress code, you’re going to want to follow their rules, otherwise make sure that you wear tight-collared shirts, pants, and maybe a baseball cap if you’re using an outdoor range on a sunny day.

Eye & Ear Protection

Although most ranges will rent eye and ear protection for you to use while on the range, it never hurts to pack your own shooting glasses or earplugs for shooting. Make sure the glasses fit well and that the earplugs are graded for the shooting range.

Don’t Forget To Dress Your Weapon

It’s also important that you have a good case for your weapon. Most gun ranges have rules about carrying an uncased weapon, so make sure that you’re gun is unloaded and securely cased before heading to the range.

Arriving At The Gun Range

Once you have a basic idea of what to expect at your local gun range, it’s time to actually pay the range a visit. If you’re visiting a supervised range, then one of the first things that you’re going to want to do is to check-in with the Range Officer or Range Master. At this stage, you’re going to review the safety rules and probably sign a waiver stating that you understand the range’s safety procedures. At this time, you’ll also pay your range fees.

Once that’s done, you’ll be assigned a shooting lane number and, depending on the range, may also be given a target and firearm action indicator. After setting up your targets in your lane, you will then usually retrieve your cased firearm from your vehicle. You will then be ready to use the lane for shooting targets.

Some Last General Tips

Before we conclude this article, we would like to give all of our readers a few additional tips on proper shooting range etiquette and staying within the rules of the shooting range. With that being said, below are some tips you’ll want to keep in mind during your trip to the range.

  • Don’t Distract Other Shooters While On The Firing Line.
  • Feel Free To Ask For Help Or Guidance.
  • Follow The Rules Of The Range.
  • Some Lanes Don’t Let Shooters Pick Up Brass, So Find Out If That’s The Case Or Not.
  • Wash Your Hands After Picking Up Brass.