How to Prepare For Your First Trip to a Shooting Range

Few things are more intimidating than going to a range and firing a gun for the first time.

However, a trip to a shooting range is a fun and educational experience. Range staff members are eager to help novices learn how to properly handle these powerful machines.

Whether you want to learn how to survive the end of the world, or you’re just interested in a new experience, here’s what to expect your first time at a shooting range.

How a Shooting Range Works

There are two types of shooting ranges: indoor and outdoor. Indoor ranges are more common in populated urban areas, while outdoor ranges will be in less populated areas.

A shooting range is divided up into lanes. Shooters stand in a designated area and shoot across an open area with targets at the end. Behind the targets is a backstop to catch the bullets and shrapnel and prevent dangerous ricochets.

Public ranges are available to anyone. You don’t need a license or any experience to shoot at a range. You’ll only need to go through some safety training and sign a waiver, and you’re always free to ask staff for help.

Generally, ranges charge by the hour. The base price of going to a range is usually not more than $10-$15/hour. If you end up being a frequent visitor, most ranges offer an annual membership that can reduce or eliminate the range fee.

If you own a gun, you’re welcome to bring it, provided it’s unloaded and in a case when you arrive. You can also bring your own ammunition, ear protection, and safety goggles.

If you don’t own a gun or equipment, most indoor and some outdoor ranges offer rentals. This is a great way to try out different guns before you buy or to practice with different calibers.

Safety Procedures

Before shooting, you’ll go through a brief safety course – often a video – of gun etiquette and range rules.

You’ll likely hear these four rules of gun safety repeated several times:

  1. A gun is always considered loaded
  2. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot
  3. Don’t point at anything you aren’t prepared to destroy
  4. Know your target and what’s behind it

Along with general gun safety, you’ll learn about rules of that specific range. These guidelines often include to not aim at the ground, ceiling, or walls, to never shoot behind the firing line, and to never shoot across lanes.

Individual ranges may have additional restrictions, such as what guns or caliber is permitted. Many indoor facilities only allow pistols and shotguns, so you’ll have to head to an outdoor shooting range to try out long range rifles.

Take Your Shot

Once you’ve learned about the rules, signed the paperwork, and prepped your equipment, you’re ready to shoot!

For new shooters, it helps to bring an experienced friend or ask one of the range staff for help. They’ll be able to give you recommendations on which guns to shoot first for the best experience. They’ll also teach you the right way to hold and aim the gun as well as the correct stance.

With some practice, you’ll be able to proudly take home your own paper target with some pinpoint shots.

Looking for more ways to have some fun and get your fix of adrenaline? Check out our sports and recreation blog.