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Gun Culture

A Gentleman’s Guide to Old-School Gun Range Etiquette

by Joseph von Benedikt   |  March 19th, 2013 9

When’s the last time you went to a public range and had a horrible day—not because your guns weren’t cooperating, but because well-meaning idiots offered unsolicited coaching, handled your stuff without asking, asked questions or “corrected” your form when you were in the middle of shooting groups, or just plain made a nuisance of themselves? If you’re a regular at the shooting range, I’ll wager it happens to you all too often.

Not so very long ago, guns were regarded as something between tools and musical instruments, and a stranger wouldn’t presume to correct one’s shooting any more than they’d correct the way you use a crescent wrench or finger your fiddle during the schoolhouse jam session.

Don’t get me wrong: There are lots of fine, respectful shooters that are a pleasure to share a range with. I’ve made some greatly valued acquaintances by sharing a mellow afternoon at the range with courteous gun people. But today, every well-meaning mall ninja wants to show off the tricks they picked up at the local tacticool academy, and even stump-sitting, tobacco-spitting handloaders will heave themselves off their seat if they figure there’s something wrong with your ammo—and they’re the ones to fix it for you. Trying to spend a peaceful day at the range can sometimes be akin to standing on a fire ant hill and hoping if you ignore them, they’ll go away.

Recently some friends and I kicked around what we figure to be the most exasperating habits regularly exhibited by annoying range-goers. Here they are, along with are a few old-school gentlemanly tips to help you be the best range stranger you can be.

  • Peter Badyrka

    There is a lot of Good advice in this article. The people that really need it will probably never read it.

  • Edward Wright

    Well some general public ediquitte has slipped out of society in general, and to see it in the range is not surprising. I love to talk with other shooters at the range, because I can see where the gun movement is going. Thats why I plan a whole day, because I know time will be lost talking. But, I do love the slow days when one, or none is present.
    I must live in a different place because NO ONE picks up anothers firearm. I also rarely see totally unwarranted advice given. I do see an occassional neophytes use poor judgement, and when safety is breached I speak up.
    with all that said, this article sounds a little like someone needs a new shooting club.

  • Eric Beauvice Von Wenstrup

    These are outstanding, especially for this younger generation whose first experience with firearms is in the military(especially #5). I feel like some of the young kids who never held a rifle before entering the military fall in love with shooting, but never learned the etiquette often passed down from father to son (mother/daughter, whatever combination you like). Military ranges are so scripted that there is little chance to learn these.

  • Chris ‘Slick’ Hall

    Several of these points are aligned with gym etiquette..

  • Walter Jacque

    I’ve never seen others pick up another person’s piece, but I’ve let competent persons “try out” mine if they’re interested. At ranges I’ve been at, people usually police their casings, even if it’s useless aluminum casings. It’s just common courtesy. However, there are those who don’t, usually those firing off a box of .22. As to “advice” – this I’ve encountered at a firearms dealer, and I thought it was most welcome (this was cleaning a rifle after firing Berdan primers). Otherwise, shooters tend to mind their own business.


    Great Article. Too bad its not available in a format (PDF) that I can print and take to the club (No Internet at club, we go there to shoot!) and post on the RANGE bulletin board.

    Hey Publisher! How about making it available in different formats?

  • Cameron Bissell

    I’m happy we addressed slinging hot brass at the range. last trip I stopped shooting to catch a mags worth of .45 brass that was bouncing off my head. I waited till the man was done and handed him back his brass.

  • Stijn Van Damn

    Great article, but fyi, the page does not show all the tips on Chrome, it only works properly on IE .. On chrome, i click > and the picture moves but the text remains Don’t Coach or Correct Strangers

  • Brian Tackenberg

    Good article. Kinda reminds me of a humorous article I wrote on the 8 Species of Shooters I’ve observed at public ranges; Lots of rage etiquette there too…

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