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Old April 7, 2007, 03:20 AM   #1
Join Date: December 15, 2006
Posts: 32
Shooting range rules

I have a newbie question. I tried to search on the web and couldn't find a good answer.

My question is regarding what you are supposed to "SAY" and "LISTEN" for at the shooting range when changing targets, etc., when we are supposed to stop shooting and start shooting.

I often hear about range being "hot", "cold", etc., but when someone says something to want to go downrange to change targets, what are they saying, and what are you supposed to say, and also when we're ready to shoot again, what am I supposed to say/look for?

I think there are a lot of inconsistencies among different people/part of county in terms of whay people actually say and what you are supposed to respond, but if someone can explain a general rule so that there is as little confusion as possible, that will be great, thanks in advance.
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Old April 7, 2007, 04:11 AM   #2
Join Date: March 16, 2007
Location: Lufkin, Texas
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I am glad you are willing to ask the Q. I cannot speak for all ranges, only ours. I am the Range Safety Marshal. We are an outdoor range. Our proceedures are outlined in DETAIL when I give a range orientation to a new member.

There is no specific thing for a shooter to say when wanting to go check a target, put up a new, or take down old to clean up & leave. When a new shooter arrives the one responsible for the firing line watches until they get all gear out & are ready. They say they are ready to set up targets. From there we have specific commands that everyone knows.

Firing Line Captain: Loud & clear.
Make the line safe.
Magazines out, Actions locked open. (Rifle range this includes lever guns & single shots. Pistol range cylinders open. If there is a Kel-Tec .380 on the pistol line that will not lock open it has to have something in the ejection port to hold it open.) Firing lind Captain visually checks each.
Rifle range: Rack your weapons. No rack on the pistol range.
Line is safe. Go check your targets.
(No one does anything w/ a firearm while anyone is in front of the firing line.)
All return & the FLC counts to be sure all are back.
You may load & make ready. Eye protection & ears.
The line is hot. You may fire at will.

If only 2 or 3 on the line we dont require that formal on the virbal. We do require the use of the rifle rack, all mags out & actions locked open, & no working on a gun w/ someone in front of the FL.
Hope this is a help.
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Old April 7, 2007, 08:24 AM   #3
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I've shot at lots of outdoor and indoor ranges. They are all different. Go with someone (to observe, not to shoot) and just watch what they do. If the Range Officer (R.O.) says something or you see something that you don't understand, ask.

Read the range rules, which will usually be posted on a big sign. If you have to go by yourself, leave your gear in the car and just observe the range through one cycle. (hot-cold-hot) Pay attention to how and when guns and ammo are handled. Pay attention to the transitions between hot and cold, when targets are changed, etc. Follow the instructions of the staff and R.O. and THINK before you do something.

When in doubt, ASK!
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Old April 8, 2007, 09:00 PM   #4
Join Date: December 15, 2006
Posts: 32
thanks fellas for the info.
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Old April 11, 2007, 04:11 PM   #5
dirty habit
Join Date: December 18, 2006
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 57
Hey Keita, yep pretty much what these guys have said. I think the biggest things are communication and common sense/firearms safety...Be aware of whats going on around you and if someones doing something that doesnt seem safe/right, let them know its not on...
__________________ a warm gun
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Old April 11, 2007, 05:35 PM   #6
arizona hunter
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Here in the Phoenix/Mesa, AZ area, the Rangemaster will get on a microphone and say "the line is hot". At this point NO ONE can step in front of their shooting bench. When he says "1-minute warning" you have 1 minute to do a bit more shooting. Then he announces a "cease fire" At this time there ias absolutely NO handling of firearms. When he seas that the everyone has stepped away from their bench he says "you may go forward". At this time you can go out and set up targets, check to groups you shot or set up a chronograph if you have one.
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Old April 11, 2007, 07:15 PM   #7
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If in doubt just keep it simple and ask everyone if it is okay to go down range to post/change targets and ask if everyone is ready to shoot.
I learned that cold means no firing and hot means okay to fire but not everybody knows so keep it sweet and simple so everyone knows what is going on.
Have a nice day!
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Old April 13, 2007, 06:59 PM   #8
Guy B. Meredith
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Location: Salem, Oregon
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Go to and check the Range Commands link. These are pretty much the norm where there is a formal procedure. Public ranges are good examples.

At one other club in Richmond, CA we have a bay open on the weekend for holster/pistol practice. There are usually no more than a dozen shooters at a time so we just check with the shooters as to whether they are ready to tape targets and then announce that the range is cold. When we know everyone has taped/set up their targets and is behind the line we announce the range is hot.

There is a formal introduction for new shooters, but most of the shooters are competitors and little explanation/reminder is needed.
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Old April 18, 2007, 03:34 PM   #9
Mike P. Wagner
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Join Date: January 25, 2001
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Different ranges have different commands. At all the ones that I have shot at, they are in fact pretty informal about the exact form of the command.

The one I like to go to is extremely formal about the actions - but not necessarily the commands. There usually a warning about the range going cold in a minute or so, which means, "Shoot what you have in magazine or a cylinder but don't reload."

Then there a "Range is going cold!" type command - that means lay your weapons on the range table, with magazines out and actions open.

When the range is cold, you don't touch any weapon for any reason (you can't put in a case, take it out of a case, pick it up to show anyone, etc.) Touching the weapon for any reason will earn you a visit from the RSO.

The visit may be a gentle reminder, or it may be more in your face. If it's your first attempt, or you had a momentary brain fart when someone asked a question about your handgun - and you admit your stupidity -, the reminder will be gentle.

If you are a multiple offender, or you try to enlighten the range officer as to why what you were doing was really safe, the reminder will get progressively less gentle until you admit your guilt or are ejected.

There was one guy at the range when I was shooting, and he was determined to let the RSO know that it was perfectly safe to put his pistol in the case while folks were down range - to be honest, that's the only time that I have ever heard an RSO raise his/her voice there. The guy was eventually ejected, with a bunch us watching him walk out. My own stereotypical thinknig was that he was a laywer or a doctor, who wasn't used to immediately obeying orders from anyone. As I watched him walk out, I thought, "That is exactly why I drive 20 minutes farther to shoot at this range!"

Most of the time, when the RSO walks over to you, you understand that you have made a mistake and are red-faced.

Then the RSO calls out some version of "the range is going hot", then you can relaod, and shoot.

I have never shot in a formal match, but when I have visited a range, they have all more or less worked like this. When there is no RSO, just talk to the people on the line. Even if they don't use the "hot" and "cold" terminology, at every place I have been, they have been very nice about answernig questions and explaining the terminology they did use.

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Old April 18, 2007, 08:46 PM   #10
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There is only one outdoor range I shoot at around here, but I've been to a few others in different states.

There's not really all that much you should be worried about. If you are unsure about anything, ask someone... preferably someone in a working role at the range. There are no stupid questions about gun safety... only stupid actions like marching unannounced towards your target with 10 people behind you with tunnel-vision and earplugs.

The outdoor range here doesn't have a range officer... it's all informal. Wait till shooting subsides, make eye-contact with everyone and yell loudly "Range cold, I'm going to pull my target" or something like that. Nobody is going to get mad. Probably half the people will walk over and look at or mess with their targets since you did anyways. Give the same courtesy when others ask and unload/clear point your own weapon in a safe direction. Again, be courteous... don't announce a cease fire when someone is obviously intent on shooting or in the middle of firing off a mag. But don't be meek either... larger ranges may have a RO or more formal stuff, but for the most part, common sense rules.

Have fun!
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Old April 18, 2007, 08:50 PM   #11
Mike P. Wagner
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Originally Posted by lockedcj7
If you have to go by yourself, leave your gear in the car and just observe ...
This the best way to start. don't walk up with a weapon in your hand.

PCV Yemen 84-86
Ahalan wa sahlan.
Past results are no guarantee of future performance.
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Old August 19, 2007, 08:18 AM   #12
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Mostly I shoot at outdoor unsupervised ranges.

If there is anyone else there when I arrive, I usually walk around and get an idea of what they are doing, maybe exchange a few words.

I'll wait till the other folks have gone down to check their targets before setting up mine.

Before firing (after checking no one is down range) I get some eye contact with the neighbors, maybe holler out "going hot!", maybe tap my ears if i see they don't have their muffs on.

After each string I usually look around to see if anyone looks like they want to go down range. If so, I safe the weapon, bench it, and pull back my hands with splayed fingers in an 'I ain't gonna touch that thing!' gesture. If there's only the two of us there, I may holler out "safe!". But if there is a third or more person, I don't want to be saying that the range is safe when I have no control over the third person's actions.
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Old August 19, 2007, 12:41 PM   #13
Join Date: June 11, 2007
Location: Midwest
Posts: 71
A couple things: for your first couple times you can give the range your thinking about shooting at a call, find out how busy they are and try to go during a slower time with few shooters. This way you can get a good idea of what the rules are and a little more attention from other shooters or people that work their. Most places I've been to, the people were more then happy to help and answer your questions. Of course there are always people that will try and make you feel ignorant or inferior. Don't worry about those people, I get this type of crap a lot because I'm a bit younger then most at the range.

Another thing, if you choose to shoot a lot indoors you need to think about lead contamination. Anything in that room will end up with lead residue. Your range bag, clothes, skin, etc. Wash up and change your cloths after shooting indoors, and keep your range bag somewhere away from your clean clothes, food, water, children and animals.

The amount of lead from one or two trips is minimal, but if you have people who shoot multiple times a week at indoor ranges for extended periods of time and don't take precautions to limit exposure, well you can see where some problems might arise. Good luck friend, happy shooting.
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Old August 21, 2007, 11:45 AM   #14
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Only thing I can add to the collective wisdom is: If in doubt, always err on the side of safety! If I am not actively engaging a target, I always have weapon clear and action left open, even if I am just looking through the spotting scope. Being overly safe will not get you in trouble, but one unsafe act will.
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Old August 21, 2007, 12:10 PM   #15
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At our place, the following:

Range Saefty comes out two minutes prior to a cease fire and announces as such.

Range Safety accounces cease fire, open all actions, place weapons on safe, and step back behind the firing line. The range is now cold.

When the line is clear, they announce it is safe to go down range and change out targets and clean up brass.

After about 5-8 mins, when the range is clear, the range goes hot again and firing commences.

This loop is reapeated every 20-30 mins.
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