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Safety at the Range

Image of Bryan Hill, Founder of Pistol Wizard Bryan Hill / April 25 2021

Ceasefire Etiquette

Whenever there's a ceasefire, first show that your guns aren't loaded. How? Either unload and lock the slide open, or put all your guns in a case.

Why? When there's a ceasefire, that means people are going to be downrange. Range officers then have to be on the lookout for any tragic safety accidents about to happen.

When you lock the slide open or stow your guns, range officers can tell at a glance that your lane has no loaded guns in immediate reach. It makes their job much easier.

Target, Obstructions, and Backstop

Rule 3 of Gun Safety says "Always ID Your Target, Obstructions, and Backstop". How does that work at the range?


Target at the range
The target is what you intend to hit. Just seeing a target isn't enough. It must be the intended target. On a cold range,walk the range side to side and check if there aren't any people behind targets before declaring the range is hot.


Obstructions are things that could be between you and your target. Above we see someone pround of their work. Anytime someone is downrange, you must not fire.


The backstop is what lies beyond your target. Bullets will penetrate through the backstop if possible. In the picture above, the bermwill stop incoming fire. But if you aim too high, shots will sail right over it! Who knows what's back there?

What if you aim too low and hit the ground? It depends. At an outdoor range, the ground is dirt, mud, or clay. It tends to stop bullets safely. At an indoor range, however, the ground is concrete. Shooting a concrete floor will usually cause a ricochet.

Most barriers are concealment,not cover.If you're unsure, assume it's concealment.

Putting It All Together

Now you know the basics. At the shooting range, verify there is no one downrange before you fire. Ensure your shots are going into a safe backstop. You can always take an extra moment to maintain your safety and the safety of others.

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