Know Your Gun Before the Range

Of course, this title probably sounds trite and like common knowledge to most of you reading this, but it’s a very important and scary subject. Instead of just spouting off why it’s important to know the weapon you are shooting, I’ll preface the reasons with a real story that happened to my wife and I at an outdoor range. It was freaking terrifying.

We had gone to a self-serve range in the local mountains one weekend while camping. By self-serve, I mean that you could just pull up and begin shooting whenever you wanted. There are no range masters or hosts at the range; it’s each man for himself, so to speak.

We had set up some paper targets and one of the steel spinning jobs, and were using pistols on a casual Saturday afternoon. We were the only ones there, which was a blessing on a weekend day, as those ranges can get quite busy.

A couple of hours into our shooting session, another vehicle pulled up and a group of adults exited. They spent some time preparing their firearms and yapping, and then they stepped up to shoot. Right next to us. This is bad form when there are only two others at the range, as you likely already know.

There were two men and two women, probably in their 50s. Nobody seemed to know a thing about the guns they were handling. I honestly wonder if it wasn’t their first time shooting at all, but I never did ask.

First up came a guy who said he had a 14-gauge shotgun (a 14 gauge!). Something went wrong and the shell didn’t load correctly, so he started fiddling with it and jerking things about. Well, it went off unexpectedly. Luckily, he had it pointed downrange and everyone had been wearing their ears.

My wife and I exchanged nervous glances and kept our eye on the group of shooters.

Next up was a lady with a pistol. She received a four-second instruction session…

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