Monday, July 19, 2010

Some more thoughts about public ranges.

Getting there early is nice, since it gives you your choice of lanes.

Generally, you want one end or the other, because in an end lane you only need to keep an eye out for sloppy gun handling in one direction.

The far right lane is the one least likely to be downrange of bad gun handling: Your average Cletus is right handed, which means that if he lets one fly down the line while trying to puzzle out a type three malf, it's most likely going to his left. On the other hand, if you take the far left lane, you don't get pelted with brass, and any empties that wind up in your range bag will be in a caliber you shoot.

Since getting set on fire by fellow range attendees really isn't all that common when compared with statistically more frequent occurrences, like getting struck by lightning or bear attacks, I'll usually take the far left if I have a choice and pelt others with my brass, rather than being the peltee. I still keep a weather eye out for errant Cletii, though, in much the same way that I wouldn't stand on a hill in Yellowstone under ominous clouds with a metal rod in one hand and a picnic basket in the other.

It's comforting to hear an older shooter off to your right sharply chastise his younger companion "Now, keep that gun pointed downrange the whole time, even when you're reloading! Don't point it across the line!" It's a lot less comforting to hear it for the fourth or seventh time, because by then it's obvious that Cletus Jr. is not picking up on this particular point of firearms etiquette, but what are you gonna do?


BobG said...

Luckily I don't have to worry much about range problems, I can usually drive out into the boonies in a fairly short time. I've been shooting over 50 years, and I've only been to a range once, and that was when I about six years old, so I wasn't allowed to shoot there.

Joseph said...

The problem with adolescent males is that they usually know everything you ever wanted to know about guns and can't be told otherwise. Adolescent females are much less disconcerting as they tend to listen, unlike their adult counterparts.

NYEMT said...

It's a lot less comforting to hear it for the fourth or seventh time, because by then it's obvious that Cletus Jr. is not picking up on this particular point of firearms etiquette, but what are you gonna do?

Me? Prepare to return fire. I'll even be considerate and shoot to wound. :)

blackwing1 said...

"What are you gonna do?"

After shooting I might even consider thanking the one doing the "correcting", since they might just have saved me from an ND in the other lane.

My worst experience was at a inner-ring suburban range favored by gang-bangers. The only time I shot there was when some yahoo with a high-cap 9mm started waving it around his lane. I left, and pointed out the behavior (still going on) to the range safety officer (who was drinking coffee in the safety of his little Lexan-lined booth). When he gave me the, "Whassamatter with 'em" line, I made the decision to NEVER go back there.

My wife and I are now members at a rural range about 65 miles from home. It's a bit of a drive, but we've never had anyone being either rude or dangerous. It does tend to limit our shooting to 9 months of the year (it's an outdoor range) but the peace of mind is well worth it.

Tam said...


I was probably safe because I had 1.5 Cletii and Shootin' Buddy between me and Cletus Jr.; I figured that was probably enough to stop an errant 230gr .45ACP from the dude's Millennium.

Jason said...

Cletii? Hmm. Let's check the Wikipedia in my brain...

The Cletii: A Roman clan once of the Equestrian Order, the Cletii were known for their family's trait of a slack jaw, an unfocused gaze and asking passersby if "they
was gonna eat that." After the takeover by Julius Caesar, the Cletii were expelled to the furthest hills and valleys of the Piedmont, known today in Italian as "Gli Hollerini."

No wonder they were expelled from the Equestrians...

Anonymous said...

"I was probably safe because I had 1.5 Cletii and Shootin' Buddy between me and Cletus Jr.; I figured that was probably enough to stop an errant 230gr .45ACP from the dude's Millennium."

On IDPA stages where it's turn and draw and not draw and turn I've been know to use the buddy backstop.



Don M said...

What ya gonna do? Helmet and flak jacket sounds appropriate. Perhaps a hefty Scutum.

Boyd K said...

After thanking the responsible teacher you might consider leaving.

Sorry to sound "old" but, if someones repeatedly not getting "safety" then the ranges that I shoot at are close enough to starbucks/ a book store/ the news stand - that I can go kill a half hour enjoyably and know that I'll either return that day or later without undue perforation.

Less importantly then my epidermal intactness: Eventually Cletus senior and the range master's gonna notice that things "get quiet" when Jr shows up. Maybe they can make a point with him using that.

Pignock said...

The geography of my rifle range dictates that the shortest lanes (50 yards)start on the left side and work rightward up to 300 yards. Of course all the target shooters with concrete benches, 20 lb. rifles, 80mm spotting scopes, and calendars for shot timers are in the direct line of ejection of the shooters with autoloaders that typically prefer the shorter ranges and higher rates of fire.

I try to be at the range at 7am so I can be done before the guys who spend all day shooting 20 rounds show up.

Anonymous said...

Poor shootin buddy, reduced to the status of meat shield. Doe's he even know? Or just that gallant.

John said...

A couple of weeks ago, my car was vandalized while I was at the range. So this past Saturday, I went to a different one that I hadn't tried before. The safety rules were marvelously strict and actually enforced.

One that surprised me is that one can't bring a cased long gun to the range. It had to be uncased. Apparently, they instituted this rule when one person dropped his cased rifle on the shooting bench resulting in a discharge.

Anonymous said...

"Poor shootin buddy, reduced to the status of meat shield. Doe's he even know? Or just that gallant."

I'm just used to people shooting at me . . . sometimes it's even men shootin at me.

Shootin' Buddy

Gregg said...

Odd, here at the nice outdoor public range they recently went to a rule where you are not allowed to bring UNCASED firearms to the range.

David said...

I seem to have pretty good luck with taking my kids to our outdoor range when no one else is there. Of course I go late on Sunday afternoons when it is over 105 degrees out there.

For a while I was mindlessly repeating rules in response to my 12 year old son repeatedly sweeping the empty firing line. Finally I stopped reapeating the warnings and just took the gun away from him and made him watch while I shot. Then the next time I went to the range I didn't take him with me because "he could not be safe when he was there."

Now, a year later and he has been CAS shooting now for about 6 months and all the older shooters are very impressed with his determined attention to safety.

My teenage daughter had the same problems and eventually she turned one day and swept me. I took the 1911 with the slide locked back out of her hand and made her go sit in the car. The mag she had just emptied was supposed to be our last shots that day. But once she was settled into the car I unpacked all the guns we had just packed up and spent the next 90 minutes shooting while she watched.

She has been shooting CAS for about a year and the most common compliment I get from other shooters is how safely my kids handle their guns.

The both know that a safety violation will result in a stage or match DQ by the club, but worse will be the 3 month shooting ban by me. So they are both VERY careful.

Last month I took my neice out to teach her how to shoot. She got one warning (again we are at an empty range) the second time she swept the line, I took the gun away from her, and we packed up and went home. We went back the next weekend and she did a great job of paying attention to what she was doing. It took her an hour before she swept the empty range to her left. Before I could say anything she snapped the gun around so it was pointed back down range and started apologizing. I let her stay.

Will said...

Doesn't matter what method of transport into the range you mandate. You will still end up with loaded guns. Plus, if you mandate a checkpoint where some clerk or range worker has to examine each gun for loaded condition, you have created another location for ND's.

I stopped going to a local indoor range for a while, due to having loaded guns pointed at me while at the counter, as the worker was examining incoming guns. Stupid practice, expecting your customers to act as a backstop for errant slugs emanating from mishandling a gun. Just because you work there, doesn't make one an expert on every possible gun. They had enough holes in the walls to prove that point.
Plus, they wanted to drop the slide on an empty chamber, instead of using both hands.

deadcenter said...

I love shooting at the local range during the summertime; 110 in the shade pretty much guarantees I get the range to myself.

zeeke42 said...

I'm so glad I shoot at a private club that's usually empty only 6 miles down the road. There's a lot about Mass that sucks for shooters, but there's a pretty high density of gun clubs.

Tam said...


110 ain't so bad with only 7% humidity, specially if it gets you a range to yourself. :)

Sendarius said...

110 F?

Have you noticed any variation in velocity (perhaps perceived as increased noise or recoil) due to a positive coefficient of brisance with temperature?

OT, but when the Aus. military adopted the Austeyr (F-88), they had to make changes to ammunition AND gas ports of the rifle due to the ammunition getting "hotter" when it got umm ... hotter.

Anonymous said...

One additional mode of public range safety violation that I haven't seen mentioned yet here might be worth conveying.

Some public ranges may have RSOs, but their job is largely to make sure you shoot at paper instead of glass and you pick up your trash at the end of the day. It's up to a consensus of wondering eyes among strangers wearing ear plugs to decide when the range should go cold then blurt out, collectively, "Range cold!"

A sensible person might wait for everyone on either side to put their weapons down, physically back away from the line, and otherwise acknowledge that they'll stop shooting. Occasionally, however, not everyone approves the "range cold!" message immediately, particularly if they're at the end or on the ground and not using a bench.

I've seen this scenario unfold in which an impatient person wanting to adjust his target *ran directly behind* a kneeling shooter and turned down range stumbling directly into the shooter's line of sight. This picture was all the more disturbing since the shooter's magazine was clearly in place, his safety off, and finger on or about the trigger. Luckily, tragedy was averted by the shooter's response which was to find a new safe direction - since down range wasn't - clear his weapon, and shout "FREEZE!"

The Four Rules saved the day here, but it pays to remind people that, at a rifle range, quorum means 100%.

David said...


We shoot most of the summer here in the 105-115 F range. Winters it runs 20-50 F.

I have shot both commercial and home reloads of 9mm, 45acp, 30-06, .308, .223, 38 special, 357M and 45-70. Granted I have no scientific study to back this up, but I have perceived no difference in the performace of the different guns or ammo that we shoot. However you have to remember that there is a couple months between the cold months and the hot months so my perceptions may not be all that accurate.

The main difference is you have to be careful where you set your ammo and guns down at. Drop a mag in the sun and come back 20 minutes later to pick it up and it will likely be too hot to touch. Even though most of our guns have wooden grips or stocks they almost all have metal triggers, trigger guards, hammers, etc. Never lay a gun down in the sun if you can avoid it. If unavoidable, I keep rags in the range bag to cover it with.

The only anecdotal difference I have seen is my Springfield EMP 9MM, which tends to be a little persnickety anyway really seems to prefer the winter over the summer. Not sure why - shooting commercial FMJs in both and I do seem to get a few more FTF problems in the summer than I do in the winter. I don't sense any difference when the gun shoots.

But I agree with Deadcenter - when it is hot we almost always have the range to ourselves. We just bring water, and large brim hats.

Motor-T said...

"On IDPA stages where it's turn and draw and not draw and turn I've been know to use the buddy backstop." - Gerry

Gerry, Around here we call that "buddy armor".

Steve Skubinna said...

Like BobG, I live in a rural area where ten minutes' walk will let me put a target up in front of a berm or hill and shoot all day without bothering anyone. There are times, however, when I do shoot at a range (either sighting in a rifle or my annual qualification shoot) and if possible I take the far right end for the reasons Tammy lists.

Shooting on your own, or with a trusted and well qualified friend, in a rural environment is much more pleasant. It's a pity relatively few shooters have the opportunity.

deadcenter said...


Pretty much what David said. I haven't noticed any changes in performance when it's hot, either with factory or reloads. And, as David noted, you learn pretty quick to not leave any metallic items in the direct sun for longer than you can help it; guns, mags, ammo, ammo cans, whatever, if you're not using it, keep it covered. i keep some old beach towels in my truck for that.

the couple of times we've had rifle or multi-gun matches, it makes me giggle to watch people complain about the heat, but they're the first ones to set the long guns in the rifle racks that are sitting in the sun.

Big hat, sunscreen, lots of water, 1 or 2 gatorades, and I'm good for several hours havin' fun even on days its hit 118.

zeeke42 said...

You'll notice performance differences in temperature if you shoot over a chrono. The degree of difference depends on the powder. Some get faster at higher temps, some get slower. You'll never remember enough to feel a difference, but if you're loading to a power factor for competition, you could definitely get an unpleasant surprise at the chrono stage.

Lame-R said...

By and large, regular patrons know to keep a wary eye on noobs, and one time it was evident just how well they were all paying attention:

I glanced over to my right one time due to some big ruckus, and turns out a bozo had swept his annihilator behind the firing line. Everybody within 10 yards of him was scrambling to keep away from the arc of the muzzle, amidst loud hollering and cursing.

Meanwhile I stood there sedately amused, confident that my 15 yard distance rendered me unhittable by such a goober. Everybody else's reaction time was very good, and clearing a half-dozen guys off the firing line and subsequently getting yelled at by them made quite an impression on the perpetrator.

Karl B said...

One of our nicest local public ranges turned out to be the scene of a homicide today...