Though popular with many, shooting can be a dangerous sport. This is the key reason why safety is of the utmost importance. Follow the rules to safeguard against accidents, to keep yourself and others safe, and because often these rules are the law.
Since safety is a key concern at shooting ranges, state laws and specific range rules apply. Always call the firing range to get their details before visiting the premises. Some private range facilities require independent adult supervision and waiver signatures on all range users under 18 years of age.
Generally, any child below the age of eight isn’t permitted inside the range. However, children can watch from the viewing area. Any visitor aged 8 - 18 years must be accompanied at the firing line of the range by an adult. Expect that all shooters will need to sign a waiver of liability, with a parent or legal guardian signing for a qualified child.
To go to a shooting range, you can either be planning to shoot or just visit. Here’s the age range at a shooting range and the general restrictions, but check specifics with your state law and the facility you plan to visit.Age Range General Shooting Range Restrictions and Rules0 - 8 years not allowed on any range. (Don’t leave kids unattended in a vehicle in the parking lot, either!)9 - 17 years accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who has to stay with the child at all times. (Provide proof of age.)18 and above supervision is needed.
To go to a shooting range, you can either be planning to shoot or just visit.
Here are some handy links to sample range rules set by some of the states where shooting ranges are popular.
How Old Do You Have To Be To Go To A Shooting Range By Yourself?
To visit, however, a shooting range by yourself, you would need to be at least 18 years old, or 9-17 years old if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Make sure you register with the range personnel or the range officer in order to be sure, before proceeding directly to the firing line.
What Age Do You Need To Be To Shoot At A Shooting Range?
To visit a range to shoot, the minimum age is 21 years or older, 16 years for a shotgun or rifle, and 18 years for a handgun. Again, call the range to check.
Common Range Rules
Here are some of the most common rules. Please take direction from the range officers:
Generally, no concealed carry or open weapons are allowed in the gun range.
Always keep firearms pointed in a safe direction.
Remember to keep your finger away from the trigger until and unless you are ready to shoot.
Keep your firearms unloaded until and unless you are present at the firing line and the range is declared to be “hot”. Also, all firearms must be kept safe and unloaded especially while exiting or entering the range.
Remember to stop shooting whenever anybody calls ceasefire.
Hot Range: Visitors or shooters must check with others in order to ensure that there is no one downrange. Whenever the range is declared to be HOT, shooters are permitted to commence firing. Shooters can move safe guns to and from the firing line only when the range is hot.
Cold Range: Shooters should always check with others especially to ensure that the firearms are completely unloaded, actions are open and all firearms laid down towards the shooting bench before entering towards the downrange. Also, no person is allowed to handle firearms or even stand at the firing line whenever there is a cold range.
Any rapid-fire with handguns, pistol calibers, or centerfire rifles are strictly prohibited.
While you are present in the shooting range, always wear eye and ear protection. Smoking and beverages aren’t allowed on the firing line. And finally, don’t forget to wash off your face and hands after shooting in order to get rid of any black powder. (While I love the smell of fresh gunpowder, myself--I still wash when I leave.
Remember that shooters should always shoot only from the line of firing whenever the target is in line with their position. Shooting at any items placed on the ground or on targets that aren’t posted at the proper height on the target frame might enable rounds to escape the range.
Furthermore, remember to place all your trash into the trash receptacles and your used brass into the recycling receptacles. Steel core, tracer, armor piercing, and any incendiary ammunition are prohibited inside the range.
Eye and Ear Protection
Eye protection and hearing protection are a must on the range. Consequently, no earbuds, listening to music through headphones, or playing with your phone. (Use common sense--it always amazes me when I visit that I see bonehead mistakes and distractions.)
Rifle Ammunition and Rental Firearms
All ranges usually have gun rentals and ammunition available. In many cases, the best option is to rent a gun and get the necessary ammo on-site rather than bring your own.
Frequently Asked Questions About Shooting Ranges
What Are The Typical Ammo Restrictions At A Shooting Range?
All the ammunition that is to be shot via a rental weapon must be purchased from the range counter. Any other non-jointed rounds of ammunition are restricted till the age of 22. Also, most of the gun ranges across the United States don’t authorize any use of aluminum casing steel base, steel coaxial cartridge, or steel tracer leads with personal firearms.
How Much Does It Cost To Visit A Shooting Range?
It is almost impossible to assess the overall cost to visit a shooting range. It depends on the cost of ammunition and gun rental, protective equipment rental cost, aiming target costs, etc. Annual membership for many shooting ranges runs approximately $200 per person and most of these plans have unlimited use of the range, unlike the typical hourly rental system for a day visit. For anybody who goes shooting more than eight to ten times a year, annual membership is often considered to be a cheaper alternative than paying hourly rates.
What Kind Of Guns Are Available At A Shooting range?
Most of the shooting ranges in the United States have over 135 different varieties of rental handguns, rifles, and pistols. However, if you are looking for any particular model, it is better to check with the range staff.
Am I expected to secure a gun in a safe?
Yes. It’s common sense and the law in many states. Contrary to popular belief, gun safes are not as expensive as you might think. It all depends on the level of protection you need and for what peril. Simple, quick access single handgun safes (like the Browning Pistol Vault PVPORT) can be bought for under $100 and high-end tall and wide gun safe for 49 guns (like the Browning Platinum Plus) will run you close to $7,500. (Note that USASafeAndVault has free curbside shipping, a free gift with purchase, and generally no sales tax.)
Whether you are law enforcement looking to practice shooting or a weekend gun enthusiast looking for fun, a shooting range has rules that are different for each location. Know them before you arrive.
Age restrictions are strictly enforced, so know them so that you are not disappointed when you are turned away.
Safety is paramount and the above rules are intended to do just that. Follow them and have fun.