Range Safety Checklist

August 23, 2016

Getting ready to go to the Gun Range involves a lot of preparation to be sure you have a safe and enjoyable experience. Each range I unique and rules will vary; however most observe similar rules and the RSO’s have similar commands. If you add a standard safety tips and prepare your range bag, you are sure to be ready for any conditions at the range

Basic Range Safety tips to follow

First, Try not to go to the Firing Range alone. There is safety in numbers. A Range Buddy can help save your life if you are injured. He can also point out safety violations you may not recognize if you are a lone. If you do go alone, be sure to let someone know exactly where you will be and for how long.

Second, Be sure to make out a card that you can carry in your Range Bag of Emergency contacts, Blood Type, Medications you take, any Allergies you have for Responding Medical/Emergency personnel.

Third, Wear appropriate clothes and footwear the Range and season. Bring some spare shoes and socks for the ride home in case the range is muddy.

Fourth, Put your contact information on your expensive equipment in case you leave it behind so someone can return it to you.


Most ranges have a Range safety Officer (RSO) who is there to ensure the safety of everyone at the range. Pay attention to their commands. Here are 5 of the most basic commands.

Cease Fire: STOP shooting immediately. Do not touch or handle your firearm.

Make Safe: Apply your safety, holster your firearm and remove your finger from the trigger.

Range going hot: Live fire is about to begin and you should be listening for the command to commence firing.

Commence fire: Disengage the safety and begin firing.

Range is cold: Live fire has stopped, wait for the RSO to signal that you can change or check your targets.


  1. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.

This is the primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means that the gun is pointed so that even if it were to go off it would not cause injury or damage. The key to this rule is to control where the muzzle or front end of the barrel is pointed at all times. Common sense dictates the safest direction, depending on different circumstances.

  1. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

When holding a gun, rest your finger on the trigger guard or along the side of the gun. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch the trigger.

3. Keep the gun unloaded and open until ready to use.

Whenever you pick up a gun, immediately engage the safety device if possible, and, if the gun has a magazine, remove it before opening the action and looking into the chamber(s) which should be clear of ammunition. If you do not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber(s), leave the gun alone and get help from someone who does.

  1.  Be sure the gun is in a safe operating condition.
  2. Eye and ear protection is required for all shooters and spectators on all ranges.
  3. Use of alcohol or drugs is prohibited on range property.
  4. Members must accompany and supervise guests and insure that they follow all range safety rules.
  5. Full automatic firearms are prohibited, even if legally owned.
  6. All shots must be aimed so that they impact the earthen backstops.
  7. Firearms must not be handled while anyone is downrange.
  8. Never proceed downrange until communication has taken place and it is safe to do so.
  9. Treat misfires as hang-fires and keep the gun pointed downrange for 30 seconds before opening.
  10. Check the bore for blockage on any squib or weak report shot.
  11. Insure that no unfired, live ammo ends up on the ground or in the trash barrels.
  12. Use common sense in any shooting situations not covered by a specific rule. Better safe than sorry.
  13.  Always communicate verbally with other shooters about any activity on the range involving safety. Assume nothing! Always confirm cease-fires.


Everything on this list is not for everyone. Nothing stinks more than to go to the range and forget something, or need something and not have it. Here is a Checklist of items you will want to bring to the range. Go over the list before you leave for the Range to ensure you haven’t forgotten something.

  • Range Membership Badge/Card
  • Driver’s License/Wallet/Purse
  • Spare Vehicle Keys (In case you lock your Keys in your Vehicle)

    NFA Paperwork

    Range WRITTEN Permission Slip (If on Private Property)

    Folding Chair (All Ranges don’t have Seating)

    Corrective Lenses/Contacts (Know your Target and whats beyond)

    Eye Protection

  • Ear Protection


    Magazines/Clips/Moon Clips FOR EACH FIREARM

    Shooting Gloves (Can protect your hands )

  • Ziploc Bags (For Spent Brass if you are a reloader)

    Ammo FOR EACH FIREARM (Save some extra ammo for the trip home/Home Defense) -Baseball Cap/Hat

    Duct Tape (Its good for EVERYTHING)

    BRIGHT Orange/Yellow Safety Vest (Wear when going Downrange)


    Spare Batteries for ALL Optics/Lights/Equipment

    Gun Oil (For when your Firearm is dry)

    Twine (For Targets/Repairs)

    Clothes Pins (For Targets/Repairs)


    Lead Wipes or Baby Wipes (For Cleaning the Lead Residue off before Eating or Drinking)

    Hand Sanitizer

Safety at the gun range is a blend of common sense, courtesy and safety. By bringing the right gear, following the range commands and rules as well as adhering to a few safety tips, your trip to the gun range should be enjoyable and safe.

Nancy ThorneNancy Thorne is founder and principal of Thorne Business Research. With more than 30 years experience as an information research and writing professional in small business, trade associations and large corporate environments. She has expertise in writing blog posts, articles, newsletters and reports for a diverse group of clients in a wide variety of industries. Prior to becoming an independent writer and information professional, Ms. Thorne held research and analytical positions with Bank of America and Citicorp and was a licensed teacher of English.