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Old January 21, 2010, 01:28 PM   #1
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Explain the "cold range" vs "hot range" terminology

I was looking to visit a range that had rules about no loaded guns except in the portal. (Quote in that rule: "This is a cold range")

Also I've heard some forum members mention that they don't like the "cold range" concept. (Quote: "All ranges should be hot ranges")


I thought they were range commands that allowed live fire or not. But from the usage I've heard more recently, they sound like they are a permanent state of being for some ranges.

What specifically defines these terms?
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Old January 21, 2010, 01:33 PM   #2
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These are general explanations.

Other ranges may define conditions more narrowly.

A cold range is a range on which all firearms are to be unloaded at all times, unless the shooters are actually standing on the firing line.

A hot range is a range on which all firearms are (presumed to be/allowed to be) loaded at all times.

As noted - there may be other variations on these definitions.
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Old January 21, 2010, 06:49 PM   #3
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In my club when a range is called COLD all guns are unloaded and you step away from your firearms. Plus when a range is cold it's not time for you to walk up and unload your guns This is called most times for people to change targets. A hot range is that shooting allowed until called cold for what ever the reason
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Old January 21, 2010, 07:16 PM   #4
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I have never been to a range where there was anybody else shooting. But going on Firearm rule #1 I would consider the range "hot" at all times, as " All guns are always loaded, ALWAYS".
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Old January 21, 2010, 07:32 PM   #5
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Sometimes the difference depends on what sort of shooting or training is taking place at a range, and/or who is conducting it.

Civilian ranges often must worry about liability, and their insurance policies might dictate what is and is not acceptable.

Military ranges, for example, are not required to be concerned about some of the issues that civilian ranges must be aware of.

Quite often, on a range (or set of ranges) that may have more than one firing line - it is the LINE that is called "hot" or "cold", to allow shooters to inspect their targets, deal with some malfunction, etc.

The firing line for a course of fire, generally run by range safety officers (who may have different names in different environments), can often be "hot" or "cold" independent from whether a range is designated as a "cold" range or "hot" range.

Knowing the rules of any range you are on is the responsibility of the shooter, and the fact that the rules are different on different ranges makes it worth your while to ensure you familiarize yourself with the rules whenever you find yourself on a range you've never been to before.
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Old January 21, 2010, 08:06 PM   #6
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At my local club we have pretty much the same definitions of hot and cold as above:

When a person wants to go downrange, they request permission to go " cold" and turn on the switch that turns on the red lights above each station. No one is allowed to touch a firearm when the range is cold - even to put it away.

Once the targets are changed, then they announce that the range is " hot " and the lights are turned off. Members may load and fire as they see fit.
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Old January 21, 2010, 10:34 PM   #7
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Put it into context....

Every range is different in how it's set up and run (operated). So, you kind of have to understand what the terms are in how they are applied to that specific range..... but in general.

Hot Range:
Let's say you go to an indoor range with some sort of automatic target system - the firing line is all established and you go through the doors and into the range. The range is almost always "hot" as people are shooting at their own pace. All gun handling is done on the bench of the firing line and you can start shooting whenever you are ready.

Cold Range:
Same scenario but the range is indoor or outdoor but they don't have an automatic target placement system. Meaning you have to go post your targets out in the bay. So, in order to keep everyone safe to do this the range goes "cold" meaning typically all firearms are unloaded and placed on the bench with the action open (no magazine in the gun either) and everyone steps away from their firearm. Once it's established everyone is "cold" everyone goes and places their targets out and once everyone returns the range returns to a "hot" condition (meaning you can commence shooting).

Another way this is used is for the shooting sports competition of IDPA or USPSA or any other practical pistol competition (e.g. steel plates or cowboy shooting). All ranges are cold. In this sense everyone has a holstered firearm (per their rules). The firearm has been cleared (meaning nothing in the chamber) and it has no magazine in the gun. The only time you are allowed to touch your firearm is on the firingline and only when you are up to shoot. So, there is only one person that is "hot" and shooting at a time.

So, apply the ideas of hot and cold in terms of what the specific range and purpose you are looking at doing.

It's all about safety - when someone feels they are safe it's time to go back to basics. Safety is everyones business, regardless of your status.

So, if you find yourself handling your firearm and someone is in front of you... you are not obeying a basic gun safety principal. I am a member of a local range that has two benches (one is the firingline and the second is for a safety area). You would be amazed how many people will start handling their firearms on the second bench behind people shooting.

If you have any question on safety - do a youtube search on "DEA gun safety". He shot himself in front of a whole classroom of kids and co-workers.

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Old January 22, 2010, 09:19 AM   #8
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i have been wondering about this terminology too

i understand that cold range means no loaded guns except on the
firing line

i also understand that the term has various meanings depending on
what range you are at and how they interpret it

but my question is: (accepting that there are various interpretations)
what about your carry concealed weapon?

if i am shooting at a range alone, at what ever time of the day, i always
have in the back of my head the possibility that some one might
think that a solo person at a range might be a good opportunity to
get some "free" guns, if you know what i mean...even if i lock myself in

even if it is a cold range, i usually have my concealed piece ready
to go with one in the pipe....

it might be breaking the rules, but i really wouldnt want to get caught
flat footed

i also realize that it could get me barred from the range, but i have
to weigh the risks and make my own choice....

if i am in the woods, the whole question becomes moot...
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Old January 23, 2010, 02:24 PM   #9
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You'd have to consult the range staff to see how they apply their rules.
if i am shooting at a range alone
If you're shooting at the range alone how could it be an issue?
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Old January 23, 2010, 09:06 PM   #10
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I belong to two clubs one is outside and has many different ranges, one for rimfire, one for highpower rifles, one for pistols, and then the shotgun, ranges, blackpowder and archery...

The rules are the same on all. when the line is hot shooters can step forward to the shooting positions and load and fire. By agreement or by the range safety officer if its busy, or in a match the line is called safe.

When the range is safe, the safety flag is down guns are on the bench magazines out , slides and bolts open, and the red flashing lights are on. The line is inspected and all shooters can go down range and change targets. No one is allowed forward of the yellow safety line, no gun or ammo handling. WHen target changes are complete the line is called hot flag is raised and shooters may step forward of the yellow safety line to load handle and fire.

Shotgun ranges are hot while the birds are flying shooters are in position and rounds are being shot, trap skeet, sporting clays. The Line is called safe and all shotguns are made safe racked in a RACK and then shooters may go down to put cases of birds in the automatic throwing machines.

My indoor club is a bullseye pistol club the same rules apply but the bullseye commands are called,and the line officer inspects all firearms before the shooters go forward to score. Cold= safe. The club room is always Cold or safe no handling of loaded firearms, holstered is ok.
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Old February 9, 2010, 01:58 AM   #11
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but my question is: (accepting that there are various interpretations)
what about your carry concealed weapon?
This is exactly what the concept of a "cold range" was meant to address.

And, this IS a military concept!

A "cold" range means that the only guns handled are the ones properly presented at the firing line, or shooter's box. All other weapons are unloaded and cased (or holstered) at all other times.

When you come onto a "cold" range, there is a designated unloading area at the entrance. This is specifically for you to unload ANY AND ALL loaded guns you have brought to the range. This includes your duty weapon and your concealed carry.

At civilian ranges, this is usually a condition that you must agree to in writing before being allowed onto the property to shoot.

In many practical shooting sports, and in tactical training, this concept is an absolute MUST for the safety of all involved.

Last edited by wilkersk; February 9, 2010 at 12:56 PM.
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Old February 9, 2010, 04:04 PM   #12
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The club where I shoot tolerates a loaded CCW, provided you don't touch it at the firing line.

In other words, they treat it as a separate function from shooting at whatever range you're using. (Shotgun, pistol, .22 rifle, high-power rifle.)

I haven't asked, but I imagine that proper protocol, if you just had to shoot your CCW piece, would be to return to your vehicle, unload and case it, and carry it to the firing line as any other gun. Load and fire during a "range hot" period, gun down and step away during "range cold".

Muzzles have to be downrange at all times, until unloaded and cased.
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