June 10th, 2021

Indoor Range Shooting — Tips for a Better, Safer Experience

NSSF indoor range survey pistol shooters Southwick Associates range report
Photo courtesy Silver Eagle Group Shooting Range, Northern Virginia.

Over 8 million Americans purchased their first firearm, typically handguns, over the last year and a half. These first-time gun owners definitely need to train with their new guns. In addition, all CCW permit holders should definitely practice regularly. For many, pistol practice is an indoor experience. Indoor ranges are most convenient for those who live near urban centers, where the biggest threats to public safety currently exist. This article talks about indoor firearms training and the proper procedures you should follow at indoor ranges.

This Video Covers Basic Gun Range Safety Rules and Etiquette

FIVE IMPORTANT SAFETY PROCEDURES for Indoor Ranges

1. Follow the Three Fundamental Rules for Safe Gun Handling
ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

2. Follow ALL Range Officer Instructions
ROs are the first and final authority on any range and their decisions are generally final. Arguing with a Range Officer may just get you thrown out.

3. Don’t Bother Others or Touch Their Guns
Respect other shooters’ privacy unless a safety issue arises. Do NOT engage other shooters to correct a perceived safety violation unless absolutely necessary – inform the RO instead. NEVER handle or touch another shooter’s firearm without their permission!

4. Know Your Range’s Rules
Review and understand any and all range rules and requirements/expectations. For example, what is the range’s maximum rate of fire? Are you allowed to collect your brass?

5. Know What To Do During a Cease Fire
IMMEDIATELY set down your firearm, pointed downrange, and STEP AWAY from the shooting booth (or bench). Range Officers do not want shooters trying to “secure/unload” their firearms in a cease fire situation — they want the shooters separated from their guns instantly.

NSSF indoor range survey pistol shooters Southwick Associates range report

BAD RANGE BEHAVIOR — Five Things NOT to Do at the Range

Here are the five worst behaviors we’ve seen at indoor ranges. These behaviors are both dangerous and inconsiderate. Any one of these behaviors can get you permanently banned from an indoor range.

1. Sweeping other individuals after loading a weapon behind the firing line is very bad. All your weapons should be empty until you reach your shooting station.

2. Turning the handgun sideways while trying to clear a malfunction or insert/remove a magazine. This will point the muzzle at a fellow shooter. Or, after shooting a gun, the shooter fails to clear the weapon and then places the gun somewhere near the shooting station with the muzzle in an unsafe position.

3. Reacting unpredictably when firing a high recoil handgun. We’ve seen people take a second shot by accident with the muzzle way off target.

4. Not obeying range commands — in particular continuing to shoot during called cease-fires.

5. Poorly aimed shooting that hits target frames or carriers, causing ricochets.

Double-Up on Hearing Protection When Shooting Indoors
When shooting indoors we recommend quality muffs with earplugs underneath, offering double protection. When inside an enclosed range, with other shooters blasting away right next to you, you really need effective hearing protection. But you also need to hear range commands and be able to communicate. That’s why we recommend electronic muffs with plugs underneath.

indoor range survey results NSSF

For pistol shooting, we like the latest Howard Leight Impact Pro Muffs. These offer an impressive 30 dB Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). In addition, these muffs are pretty comfortable and offer Headphone Functionality so you can connect to your smartphone, MP3 player, or other audio device. These muffs are a good value. These are an Amazon’s Choice for $56.35.

Howard Leight Impact Pro Electronic Muffs NRR 30