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Things You Should Know Before Heading to a Shooting Range for the First Time

August 10, 2015

someone shooting in a shooting rangeEach year millions of Americans head to shooting ranges; some will experience firing a weapon for the first time. The reasons vary from wanting to know how to use a weapon for protection to hunting to sport shooting.  Whatever the reason, shooting ranges offer people the opportunity to handle and shoot firearms in a controlled environment under supervision. The state of Florida does not require a first-time shooter to hold a license, such as a concealed weapons permit, but all ranges have rules and etiquette that must be followed.

Here are some things to know or ask before heading to a shooting range:

What kind of shooting range is it? Essentially, there are two types of shooting ranges: indoor and outdoor. Indoor ranges typically are used for shooting at stationary targets and have reinforced walls and ceilings. Many of these ranges restrict the use of certain types of weapons. Indoor ranges should be ventilated to draw smoke and lead particles away from the shooter and, because of the enclosed nature, some indoor ranges require shooters to wear earmuff hearing protection in addition to eye protection.  Outdoor ranges, which are weather-dependent,  offer shooters greater distances for target practice, as well as opportunities to shoot moving targets, such as clay pigeons.

What is the cost? Depending on the type of range, its size and location, costs can vary. When calling a range ahead of time, ask if there is a membership requirement, are rentals (i.e. earmuffs, eyewear) available, must you purchase ammo from the range, can you shoot reloads, can you bring your own targets?

What are the shooting range rules?  And of course each range has its rules. These guidelines are what help keep everyone safe. It also makes the shooting experience better for everyone. Rules can range from what types of weapons can be fired to what types of ammo are restricted (i.e. black powder), what types of targets are appropriate, and how old must a shooter be.

Here are some of the range rules for the Bill Jackson’s indoor pistol range:

–    Shooters supply their own firearm, ammunition and targets.

–    The minimum age for range use is 21, with these exceptions: handgun shooters can be 18 or older if shooting with parental or legal guardian supervision; .22-caliber rimfire rifle shooters can be 14 or older if shooting with parental or legal guardian supervision. There are exceptions to the age restrictions for military, police or married couples with proper ID.

–    No one under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be permitted on the range.

–    .22-caliber through .45-caliber pistol ammunition is permitted. Magnum loads are not permitted. .22 rimfire rifles are welcome.

–    Each participant must sign a range use liability waiver and pay the appropriate fees before entering the range.

–    All participants must wear the proper eye and earmuff protection on the range at all times.

–    Firearms must be encased and unloaded at all times, except when shooting.

–    Firearms should be loaded only in the shooting booth and must be unloaded when leaving the booth.

–    Any malfunctioning weapon must remain on the range. Notify a gun shop associate immediately for assistance.

–    These are just some of the rules. For a complete list of fees and range rules, visit the Bill Jackson’s gun shop page.