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Old February 18, 2015, 09:16 AM   #1
Kimio
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How do you approach people & unsafe firearms handling?

We all have been there, heck, we've likely all been guilty of doing it. Unsafe firearms handling is seen every day, be it from friends and family or from other range patrons.

That being said, I'm wondering how some of you all go about talking to someone you may not know about their unsafe habits. This can be something as simple as muzzling/sweeping others, finger on the trigger etc.

The reason I ask is that a friend of mine went to the range with me for the first time a few weeks back, and he must of violated at least several of the rules of safe firearms handling, namely keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times, magazine out of the firearm until at the line, treat all firearms as if they're loaded at all times. (which is a little shocking IMO give he's Army Reserves)

It was a bit unnerving, but I wasn't quite sure how to approach this situation, and I know the guy. More recently, he made some comments about how he was firing an unknown surplus Mauser, which left me a bit puzzled.

I was thinking about next time, just pulling him off to the side when we're at the range, and politely ask him to be more mindful of safety. I'm not trying to embarrass the guy, I just want everyone to be safe.

A similar situation happened a while back, except with another range patron that I did not know. Part of me just wanted to pick up and leave or go to another bench, but that's not solving anything, and is leaving others at risk. I feel a bit obligated to at least say something, but am unsure quite how to approach a stranger in this particular situation.

Any suggestions?
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Old February 18, 2015, 09:42 AM   #2
sirgilligan
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I was at the range and a scout troop was there. This young man had just loaded a 22 rifle, raised it up to aim at the target and suddenly thought he should ask he leaders something so he turned around, still holding it in the firing position, swept it across everyone and pointed right at his leader while he was talking.

After getting back up, I left.
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Old February 18, 2015, 09:44 AM   #3
BarryLee
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If it’s a friend I simply talk to them like an adult no reason to embarrass or berate, but to educate. If it’s a stranger at a range I approach the range employees and let them address the situation.
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Old February 18, 2015, 09:47 AM   #4
geetarman
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You have to be careful, but firm. The object is to change behavior and not to embarrass.

When I take someone to the range for the first time, I go over the rules beforehand just so there is no mistake.

Unless I know he is a "shooter", I will be at his bench and we will shoot turns and not at the same time.

The public range where I shoot is staffed with Range Safety Officers and first time shooters are introduced to the range rules through a video as well as short indoctrination.

I keep a pretty close eye on people I do not know at the range who are shooting to try to observe bad habits.

I tell the RSO in charge when I see that unless it is so egregious as to require intervention at the time.

I have absolutely no qualms about calling an immediate "cease fire" when someone really fouls up. Usually the RSO will see it and do something about it before I need to.

I have asked the RSO to watch closely if I see someone being unsafe.

The goal is to keep the sport safe and curb unsafe behavior with the minimum amount of disruption.

Most of the time that is better accomplished with a quiet word and gentle pushing of a muzzle that is sweeping the line.

I often shoot with off duty police and they have no issue with taking control of a dangerous situation.

We have had people banned for life for a single occurrence of very unsafe behavior. I think that is what is needed.

For most people, gentle correction works best.

If you rant and rave and embarrass someone in front of their peers or children, I can almost guarantee you will have lost someone who may have a lot to add to the sport. We have some people at my range who refuse to shoot on days a particular RO is on duty. That is not good.

I know when I got back into shooting, I asked the police officer to observe my shooting and correct any unsafe behavior. I also told him I would probably bristle at being corrected but in spite of that I would listen and change.

He did and I did change. I am a safer shooter because someone took the time to point out my mistakes without being a jerk about it.
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Old February 18, 2015, 10:33 AM   #5
g.willikers
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If someone is going to the range with me, unless I know for sure they know what they are doing, I go over the basics with an empty airgun before even leaving the house.
If a stranger at the range does something unsafe, I do speak up, explaining that many shooting ranges have been closed for what they are doing.
If they take offense, tough, good ranges are getting hard to find.
The best line so far has been from a good friend to an offender of a muzzle sweep:
"Do that again and I'm gonna' take it personal."
My approach is more like, "Can I show you how to do that so you don't scare anyone - again?"
Sometimes, of course, they just don't listen.
Like the old guy who continued to shoot at his targets while folks were still down range, even after clearly calling a cease fire.
So, I took the bolt from his rifle with me when I went down to change targets.
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Last edited by g.willikers; February 18, 2015 at 10:40 AM.
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Old February 18, 2015, 11:45 AM   #6
Shotgun Slim
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In my opinion everyone at any given range owns the safety rules. I have learned not to be shy about pointing out violations because you can see that violators are much more likely to shoot someone (me) else rather than themselves. I have been missed by about an inch from being kneecapped by a guy's " unloaded" 45. The first approach is always a nonconfrontational mention of the offending action directly but quietly to the person. No need to embarrass anybody at first. 99% that gets the job done. If it's a newbie with no ingrained safety mechanics I will invite them to join in on what me and my friends are doing which is usually some type of IDPA practice which involves a lot of gun handling and presents many good opportunities to teach muzzle control,holstering,etc. Sometimes in spite of really trying to be firm but nice there is the hardass with the loud buddies or the old guy who has "always done it his way" who make it too uncomfortable too continue to shoot with. In that case I can point out that they are being filmed by club cameras and I will also begin to film them with my phone.for evidence in a formal complaint to the club Board. That has stopped all but one person who was soon thereafter barred from the club. I do not recommend tolerating safety violations because no good can come from that. Your safety is up to you.
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Old February 18, 2015, 03:09 PM   #7
Skans
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Depends.

If its a friend who has limited experience with firearms, I might say "Hey, the range officer will get on you if you don't keep that gun on the bench when you're not at the firing line and your muzzle pointed downrange at all times."

If it's a friend who has lots of experience with firearms, I would say something like "Dude, watch your muzzle - you're worse than Barney Fife with that thing.

If its a newbie, I take time to explain etiquette both before hand and during a shooting session. I don't shoot while newbie is shooting. I stand behind him/her and monitor them closely.

If its just a couple of strangers next to where I'm shooting, I start watching them closely; if I catch them sweeping I usually just look them in the eye and sternly point to their muzzle - that does it every time I can remember. If they are total idiots, I start packing my stuff and leave. I might say something to the R.O. or range owner on the way out.

Last edited by Skans; February 18, 2015 at 03:15 PM.
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Old February 18, 2015, 03:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
(which is a little shocking IMO give he's Army Reserves)
There seems to be a delusion that being in the military makes one capable with weapons, but the truth is they get very little training if they are in a non combat MOS

Just point out what they are doing incorrectly, and explain why it's not acceptable at all
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Old February 18, 2015, 03:58 PM   #9
Snyper
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Quote:
I was at the range and a scout troop was there.
I would never be more than arm's length from a kid I'm teaching, who is holding a loaded gun, and most especially if it's someone else's kid.

That was the instructor's error
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Old February 18, 2015, 04:29 PM   #10
Erno86
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Dive and head for cover...or just call the RSO.

But usually I approach the perp and ask him if I can make a suggestion --- But the problem with that --- he might take off his hearing protection just to hear you --- while other guns are firing nearby --- so you might have to talk in a louder volume.
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Old February 18, 2015, 05:20 PM   #11
CowTowner
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Quote:
or just call the RSO.
How can I assist you, Sir?
I get this everyday I work on the range.
And I handle it pretty much the same way every time.
A calm and pleasant tone of voice advising the "perp" of the rules and what he/she was doing incorrectly that caused his/her co-patron angst.
Also, I make darn sure they understand that asking the RSO questions is actually allowed and encouraged.
I also explain that I'm there to make sure everyone leaves the range in the same physical health as when they arrived. And the customer's help in this endeavor is required.
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Old February 18, 2015, 05:55 PM   #12
tekarra
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Politely but firmly address the fault and issue proper instruction.
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Old February 18, 2015, 07:49 PM   #13
FITASC
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Quote:
How do you approach people & unsafe firearms handling?
Unless there is immediate danger, then you approach them carefully, politely, quietly and tactfully. That way you avoid embarrassment, and help keep things from getting out of hand.
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Old February 18, 2015, 10:39 PM   #14
KEYBEAR
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After shooting Registered Trap for over 40 years I could write a book . People that shoot two or three times a week for years do the dumbest things .
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Old February 18, 2015, 11:44 PM   #15
SIGSHR
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Yes, I thought the Army did a poor job of marksmanship training and safety instruction. I met very few gun people during my Active Duty years, some more in the Guard and Reserves.
Regarding that Boy Scout sweeping the firing line, when I was involved in a junior shooters program the rule was, if you had a question or a problem, you kept your firearm pointed downrange and you raised your FIRING hand showing you wanted attention. If an adult saw a young shooter either in difficulty or not following rules he came behind him and tapped him on the shoulder, the shooter made his firearm safe and lay it down-none of this Army nonsense of bellowing out a man's name and then getting angry when he turns around with the weapon in his hand.
Likewise the kids were told that clowning and horsing around is done OFF the firing line AFTER the guns have been cleared-and secured.
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Old February 19, 2015, 01:23 AM   #16
ninjarealist
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At the ranges I go to the range officer is usually quick to step in when people are shooting unsafely. I shoot at Knob Creek a lot and the range officers patrol the line like hawks. I got yelled at one time just for gripping the gun poorly and giving myself slide bite. I was learning at the time, so it sort of embarrassed me, but I appreciated that the range officers cared so much.

I shoot at an indoor pistol range a lot and they do a great job too but are more lowkey about it. If you aren't a regular they inspect your weapons and ammo to make sure the gun is safe. The range officers have a camera on each lane. I've never seen them stop someone while they were shooting but then again I've never seen the range officers have cause to do anything.

I guess these experiences have made me feel that good management can create a safe environment at shooting ranges and that sort of makes me unwilling to go shooting at any other kind of range. Firearm are too dangerous. I don't want to go to a range that isn't well policed.

So in short, I don't think an individual should have to get involved with a safety situation that they have no responsibility over. If you go to a range where unsafe practices are unnoticed or ignored by range officers, I would go to a different range.
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Old February 19, 2015, 10:01 AM   #17
CowTowner
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Quote:
If you go to a range where unsafe practices are unnoticed or ignored by range officers
Although I try to see everything happening on my assigned range, I don't have eyes in the back of my head.
Our regulars know this and are quick to tap me on the shoulder and let me know if I missed something. Oh, and I do occasionally have to sneeze or have a drink of water. RSO's are human after all. And those who take the job seriously, try their level best to maintain a safe environment for everyone.

Communication is the key. When you've cleared your firearm, get the RSO's attention and pass along your concerns. Most will thank you for it.
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Old February 19, 2015, 12:46 PM   #18
Jim567
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I always find myself saying muzzle management - muzzle management.
There was none when I was in the army!
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Old February 19, 2015, 02:36 PM   #19
Chaz88
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I don't think an individual should have to get involved with a safety situation that they have no responsibility over.
I disagree. When I give group safety briefings and train new shooters I stress that safety is job one and everyone is responsible. I make it clear that although I will be watching and enforcing safety rules everyone else should be doing the same thing, I can not see all things at all times. Anyone can call a cease fire for any reason and should if in doubt. I do not ask anyone to become the range "enforcer" but everyone should be able to, at a minimum, recognize a problem, call a cease fire and get me involved. Most of the time a polite reminder from a fellow shooter is less embarrassing and more productive than getting the RSO involved.
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Seams like once we the people give what, at the time, seams like a reasonable inch and "they" take the unreasonable mile we can only get that mile back one inch at a time.

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Old February 19, 2015, 02:40 PM   #20
Husqvarna
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this is no place for being polite and care about their feelings

CALL THEM ON THEIR FAULTS RIGHT AWAY

it is a lesson that needs to be taught as fast as possible, the outcome if something goes wrong is too big.

When I shoot pistol we are not even allowed to handle our guns when a MARK order is issued

as a hunter I am around oldtimers mostly and I am sickened by their lack of muzzlediscipline and how they don't show clear and whatnot
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Old February 19, 2015, 02:45 PM   #21
Chaz88
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this is no place for being polite and care about their feelings
Again, I disagree. Being polite and not going out of your way to overly embarrass people helps avoid simple things escalating into major confrontations. If polite is not working then it is time to call for the cease fire and have the RSO straighten it out.
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Seams like once we the people give what, at the time, seams like a reasonable inch and "they" take the unreasonable mile we can only get that mile back one inch at a time.

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Old February 19, 2015, 02:49 PM   #22
ninjarealist
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@CowTowner

Well I used the term unsafe practices in plural because what I was trying to imply is that, if this is a regular occurrence (not simply a rare one) then it suggests negligence on the part of the range in my opinion. Of course range officers are human and have to take breaks and maybe that's why every range I've gone to has at least three if not more range officers on duty at all times.

Now maybe it sounds to you like I'm making unreasonable demands because I don't want to have to get involved myself. It's true that I don't want to get involved but that's not the problem here. The problem is that if the range officer isn't watching everyone then who is? The other shooters? You say that Range Officers are only human and can't catch everything. Does that mean to suggest that the other shooters at the range should be expected to constantly monitor each other?

That's why the buck has to stop with the range operators/officers and that's why it's their responsibility to always be vigilant. Because no one else can be expected to do that. And if the range officers can't be held responsible, then who can?
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Old February 19, 2015, 03:36 PM   #23
CowTowner
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Quote:
Of course range officers are human and have to take breaks and maybe that's why every range I've gone to has at least three if not more range officers on duty at all times.
Where I work, I have at least 3 other officers and a Range Master on duty. I agree with the premise "safety in numbers".

Quote:
Now maybe it sounds to you like I'm making unreasonable demands because I don't want to have to get involved myself.
Nope, didn't take it that way. Sorry if you got that impression. It is my responsibility to make sure you and everyone else leaves the firing line in the same condition you arrived in. Minus a sore shoulder if applicable.

That said, I had a customer not long ago, mistakenly load a .308 Win cartridge into a 25-06 rifle. Did I catch this? Sadly, no. His muzzle was pointed down range and he wearing appropriate safety gear (eyes/ears). But I did not check to be sure he had the right ammo in his hand before he loaded and fired it.
Was there a KABOOM? Oh yes, there was. And I was 4 feet away from it.
No, he was not injured, thank goodness. But I grabbed my kit and had him in my control within seconds.
Is this my fault? I say no. I can't check every round that a shooter puts into his/her breech against the chamber size on the gun.
**I should add that the customer had both caliber rifles with him. How a .308 Win cartridge made it into the 25-06 box is a question I'll always have.**

Some things are out of our control as RSO's

Quote:
Does that mean to suggest that the other shooters at the range should be expected to constantly monitor each other?
On a controlled range, no. On some club ranges I have been to, yes indeed!
But those did not have RSO's and members were expected to "police each other" I don't belong to any of those clubs, BTW.
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Last edited by CowTowner; February 19, 2015 at 05:30 PM. Reason: Addtional Info Added
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Old February 19, 2015, 04:30 PM   #24
Erno86
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The last series of public hunter sight-ins at our range {AGC at Marriottsville} last fall, had at least one of the hunter sight-in volunteer's check the caliber designation of the bore, and the ammo that the shooter intended to use in it.

Also...the first pre-fire smokepole cap must have the muzzle pointed at the backstop berm when fired.
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Old February 21, 2015, 09:35 AM   #25
Dashunde
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Happiness is having an empty range all to myself and younger brother.

He's been chewed out a few times, but never made to feel stupid, just enough that he understands a tiny mistake can kill either one of us.
IMO shooting paper fails to leave the correct impression of what a gun can do.

Guns are funny things... they sit there so silent, so deceptively innocuous, lulling many into complacency... until the instant they are not silent or funny.

Last edited by Dashunde; February 21, 2015 at 12:29 PM.
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