School Of Shooting Range Etiquette

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When I grow up, I’m going to start a charm school for shooting. You know, like cotillion. That’s where exasperated parents sent we poorly behaved children to learn about proper fork and spoon use and doing the Foxtrot safely while wearing braces. With all my cotillion penance, I don’t remember a single field trip to the shooting range. To me, that spells opportunity.

I have no illusions about the potential difficulties of teaching grown adults proper shooting etiquette — it’s going to be even harder than getting pre-pubescents to dance with each other. The effort will be worth it, however. While finishing school may seem like some form of fatal attraction, shooting manners really are a matter of life and death. Handguns are even shorter than Ryan Seacrest, so it’s far too easy to do things like point them in unsafe directions. You can thank me now for all the lives my schools will be saving. Who knows? It might just be yours.

But shooting etiquette, like prim and proper behavior at the debutante ball, is also about looking like you belong in the upper-crust of shooting society. If you look like a total abecedarian (big word for a newbie), you’ll never be invited to any of those dinner-shooting-vest-attire-only charity fundraisers.

As most people have the attention span of spackle, I figure we’ll have to tighten up the curriculum to a handful of the most important shooting etiquette topics. I’ve come up with four mandatory courses for incoming freshmen.

handgun school

The side slide-swipe shows poor manners to those in the next shooting lane. It may also start an impromptu stampede away from you.

Side Slide-Swipe

You know this range faux pas. It’s one causing the entire shooting line to drop to the floor like Piers Morgan’s ratings — while a shooter struggles to rack their slide.

Many of us have hands and arms mounted on the sides of our bodies and eyes placed up front. Standing at the range, naturally facing the target, the tendency for slide-racking is to point the gun to the side and rack away. It’s a comfortable motion, kind of like tearing open a bag of pork rinds. The only real problem with this method is your gun is pointed directly at all the shooters in the other lanes — and that’s just bad manners.

One of our first orders of business on the curriculum will be to teach proper slide-racking technique. We’ll have people turning to face the support side of their body downrange before racking, so the gun is pointed in a safe direction while they load and unload their pistols.

Bernie shooting

While “Doin’ the Bernie” is a great way to show off one’s hair, it’s also a lousy way to control your handgun and reeks of beginner bush-league.

“The Bernie”

Arguably, the movie Weekend at Bernie’s qualifies as a cult flick and even spawned its own cool dance moves. But does “The Bernie” dance have a place at the shooting range?
You’ve seen this one. The shooter leans way, way back, as if the gun is going to launch a pre-emptive strike at their nostrils. Not only is it a dead giveaway the shooter has had more dance than shooting instruction, it’s really hard to shoot well from this position. Leaning into the gun provides a far more stable platform and helps control recoil.

We’ve developed specialized simulation equipment delivering mild electric shocks every time a student’s collarbone moves behind their belt buckle. While not a perfect system, we’ve found newer shooters can understand the collarbone-in-front-of-the-belly concept. Our graduates will not only look stable and confident at the range, they’ll control their handguns like a boss.

tea cup gun

While the cup and saucer grip is elegant, it’s also dainty, and that’s not a great way to describe good shooting form.

golf

The cup and saucer grip doesn’t work so well for golf either, just so you know.

Cup And Saucer

Lack of recoil control is a malady affecting millions of Americans. Only you can help by using a proper grip. Unless you’re shooting with the Queen, the cup and saucer grip technique is inappropriate. The cup and saucer, or teacup grip, is exactly what it seems. Grasping the gun with one hand, while cupping the support hand below the magazine well would be a great way to catch crumbs if there were any.

As most pistols eject hot brass rather than coffee cake bits, there’s no real need for that cup hand position, right? The challenge with breaking the cup and saucer grip tendency is that’s it’s just so darn natural. For example, when eating loaded nachos, you always cup your support hand under the eating hand in case the cheese falls off. That’s called advanced intelligence.

Just to be clear, a cup and saucer grip is not a compliment or indicator of social refinement. It’s an observation of poor shooting form. Our students will have both hands firmly grasping the grips of their handguns. They’ll be planting their support hand palm on the stock and snugging fingers right up against the trigger guard. Heck, some of them might even be holding on tighter with their support hand than firing hand. That would be something to make Colonel Cooper proud, wouldn’t it?

Shooting Stance

Here, our shooter is in control of her gun, not the other way around. Her balanced stance, shoulders rolled forward slightly and fetching cowboy boots look good. Note: No tea-cup technique. She’s just posing for the camera, so don’t whine about no hearing protection, we already know.

guns

Shooting etiquette is so confusing. I can never remember if you work from the outside in, or inside out. Is it “.22’s and .380’s first” or are they used for dessert? And which one is correct to use with the main course?

Range Frigidity

Normally, being frigid decreases your odds of success with members of the opposite sex, but with our methods, the colder you are, the more friends you’ll make!
Being cold at the shooting range isn’t rude, provided you’re not giving the cold shoulder. When the shooting range goes cold, find the warm spot. That place making everyone feel all warm and fuzzy — is far away from your guns! That means no touching, even though they’re “unloaded.” Our students will know to step away from the shooting line to play a game of Angry Birds or catch up on some important texting.

While our curriculum may sound all structured and rigid, it’s not. After all, going to the range is all about having fun. It’s just a lot easier to meet new friends and have a good time when other folks aren’t worried about how safe you are. If you slow down, and think about how to make your emphasis on safety plain for others to see, everyone can relax a bit, and focus on the reason you’re all there in the first place. To have some fun — safely.

If you wanna laugh some more, go to www.mygunculture.com. Tom’s “Insanely Practical Guides” are great reads! —Roy

American Handgunner July/Aug 2015

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