Looking to hone your skills at the firing range? Make sure you understand these fundamental gun safety tips first.

If you’ve never been to a firing range, the experience can be fun and rewarding. However, without proper knowledge of basic gun safety, your first time firing a weapon can turn confusing and even intimidating. Before arriving, get a head start with these firearm safety tips to keep you and those around you safe. 1. Act as if your gun is always locked & loaded -- even when it’s not. The easiest way to avoid accidents at the range is to assume any weapon is loaded and ready to fire at all times. This means never pointing your gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are aiming down range and ready to shoot, and don’t rely on your firearm’s “safety” device in lieu of taking these and other basic precautions.
2. Make sure you know your target -- and what’s beyond it. At indoor firing ranges, it’s usually intuitive what you’re meant to aim at once you enter the galley. However, if you choose to shoot outdoors, it can sometimes be a little more difficult to spot your target. If you’re not 100 percent sure what you’re supposed to shoot at, ask a nearby range safety officer or employee. Ranges are designed so that a bullet that misses its target remains harmless, but shooting at something that isn’t meant to be a target does not guarantee that peace of mind. [caption id="attachment_35815" align="aligncenter" width="718"]Gun Safety Courtesy of today.line.me[/caption] 3. Always wear proper ear and eye protection when shooting. For range beginners, the volume of their own or another’s gunshot can be startling and potentially damaging over time. It’s best to wear ear protection to not only guard your hearing, but also to ensure that the surprise of a neighbor’s gunshot doesn’t affect your firing technique. Make sure to also wear shooting glasses to protect from stray bullet casings, twigs, clay target chips, and more. [caption id="attachment_35820" align="aligncenter" width="698"]gun safety Courtesy of the New York Times[/caption] 4. Make sure you understand the basic mechanical and handling characteristics of the firearm you are using. Whether you rent a gun from a range or bring your own, it’s important to have an understanding of the particular firearm you’re using. The method of carrying and handling firearms differs according to the gun’s mechanical characteristics. For example, some firearms have a “safety” option, others don’t. Some are single-action (most revolvers), while others are double-action (most pistols). Never handle any firearm without first familiarizing yourself with the weapon itself, the rules for loading, unloading, carrying, and handling that firearm, and the rules of safe gun handling in general. [caption id="attachment_35823" align="aligncenter" width="702"]gun safety Courtesy of YouTube: Defender of Freedom[/caption] 5. Be aware of basic range commands. It’s important to be aware of certain terminology or phrases that are commonly used at gun ranges. For example, phrases like “cease fire,” “commence firing,” “at your ready,” and “you may load your weapon” are among the lingo you will hear at most ranges. While it may be apparent what these phrases mean, it’s important to strictly abide by them and to always be cognizant of what either range safety officers or other shooters around you are saying. A firing range is a great place to hone your shooting skills and have fun with your firearm. However, it is crucial that gun safety protocol is strictly followed and prioritized before anything else. By following these fundamental rules, you can operate your firearm with peace of mind and ensure your own safety and that of others around you.

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