View Full Version : Range etiquette: Was I out-of-line?

March 10, 2001, 03:49 PM
At a recent visit, I arrived at my private club range to see an older man firing a string from his 1911. He relaxed as the gun recoiled, and this allowed the muzzle to rise up and point at the tin roof of the line. The ejected brass kept deflecting off of it, and those that struck him caused him to be visibly distracted. All the while, he maintained his finger on the trigger. I 'patiently' waited until he'd shot it to slide lock and benched it before I approached.

I then recognized his partner as his son, whom I'd met the weekend before 'sighting it in for (his) dad". I greeted the two men and politely asked if I could handle his .45, which the elder readily allowed. I then demonstrated his exaggerated movement as the gun recoiled, and his distraction at the flying brass. I pointed out the hazard involved with his muzzle and maintaining his finger on the trigger.

I ended by saying that a stray shot may injure someone, and could cost us all the use of our club.(Something similar to that). The son remain seated and quiet; but, his father emphatically agreed, and seemed genuinely concerned and thankful for my sincere advice. At no time did I present myself as terse, rude, condescending or less than genteel.

Shortly thereafter, I was waiting to go downrange with my target. I heard them discussing what was obviously a failure-to-extract of the 1911. Not sure if their gun was yet cleared, I asked if they were having an extraction problem. The son spoke out a LOUD, FIRM "No thanks, man, we're fine". I guess he assumed that I was all too-ready to pounce on them with some more 'advice'.:( Yes, I would have tried to assist, if asked; but, I was really concerned about not walking downrange when their gun was still hot!

My question to is: Was this sour grapes on the son's part? Or, did I overstep my bounds by finishing with comment on the loss of our club? (It is on county-owned land, and leased by us.)

George Hill
March 10, 2001, 06:22 PM
Don't worry about it. You acted EXACTLY as I would have. Proper response to a potential problem and then offered assistance as needed. They declined the assistance - there option... But you offered it.
100 cool points for the day.

Bud Helms
March 11, 2001, 07:59 AM

Double Naught Spy
March 11, 2001, 09:18 AM
You can be perfectly nice and helpful, but that does not mean people will appreciate what you do. You did fine.

March 11, 2001, 12:17 PM
--I ended by saying that a stray shot may injure someone, and could cost us all the use of our club.(Something similar to that).--

This may be the source of the anger. You probably didn't need to preach much about the possible outcome of a stray shot. IMHO, simply pointing out that it could happen would be sufficient. Everyone knows a stray shot is a bad thing, and I'm sure this fellow simply didn't realize the danger.

March 11, 2001, 02:50 PM
Thanks everyone. In hindsight, maybe my final comment was overboard.

Point Blank
March 11, 2001, 04:11 PM
In my opinion....yes you were out of line.Who's to say that it was the first time the older gentlemen handled a firearm and was being trained by his son??They were the only ones shooting that day you stated....untill you arrived.When i taught my wife to shoot i am glad no busybody was there to interrupt us!!!In my opinion you could have invited yourself a hostile attitude by one of them.Myself...i probably went back to car and fiddled or shined up my pistol while waiting for them to finish.

March 11, 2001, 06:03 PM
Victor you did fine. Your concern was safety and the range property. Granted, if they were the only ones shooting and at the range, they were only a danger to themelves. Some people have a hard time accepting constructive advice. They can feel that they are really being put down by a someones that feels superior, I am sure that was not your intent. Being a past NROI certified range officer as well as RO for a local club, I have seen advice given and taken well and I have seen people one and leave the range. I for one would have appreshiated the help from you that day.

March 11, 2001, 11:11 PM
I think you handled the situation correctly. The number two rule is never point your gun at anything you don't intend to shoot. Number three says keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on the target. Plus you were polite. Bonus point. There's too many folks with guns out there full of ignorance and bad attitudes. Thanks for getting involved on behalf of all responsible gun owners. It's unfortunate that, as "Point Blank" stated, "...you could have invited yourself a hostile attitude..." . Try not be deterred from doing the right thing. Stay safe.

March 12, 2001, 10:17 AM

You handled the situation correctly. Safety is everyone's responsibility. A gun should never be pointed upwards, over the backstop, especially with a finger on the trigger.


It doesn't matter whether this was his first time handling a gun or whether he'd been handling a gun for 40 years. His handling was unsafe and needed to be corrected immediately.
Here in MA, I know of one range that has been permanently shut down because of a single stray round. I know of another club that has had to realign their outdoor range and install overhead baffles because of a stray round. And a I know of a third club that spent $400,000 in legal fees alone to keep their range open after a stray round incident. In none of these cases was someone injured (thank goodness). It was completely appropriate both to point out the safety violation AND to point out the possible consequences of a stray round.

Safety is YOUR responsibility. If you see an unsafe situation, speak up NOW, before it is too late.

NRA Certified Instructor
NRA Certified Range Safety Officer