Range Safety Talking Points


Range Safety Talking Points


By Gilfner


People that belong to a gun club or range probably don’t need this because the range will have their version of it & go over it every time people are on the range shooting.  I don’t belong to a range, I go into the woods outside of town to a safe unused rock quarry. 




Lately I’ve been shooting with just a few people that I have shot with a lot and know I can trust.  So we haven’t been taking the time to have a range safety briefing before starting to shoot.  But now that I think about it, I regret not doing some sort of safety talk before we began. 


Soon I will be taking a couple of people from work out shooting for their first time.  It’s been awhile since I’ve had new shooters, so I thought I’d take the time to create a talking point sheet, that I can use whenever I go out shooting.  This is all stuff that you can’t go over often enough.  I thought it might be good to provide it for others use or as template to create your own.    I’d like to note thatI deliberately state several times in several different ways, “Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger”.  From my experience as an instructor, if you want someone to hear an important point, repeat it several times in different ways.  Because of this, I kind of bounce around in the talking points. 


Hope this helps, I know I will be using it from now on.

Shooting Safety Talking Points

  • Anyone can call a “CEASE FIRE” if they see or even think they see an unsafe act.

◦     If you hear “CEASE FIRE” called:

▪     Stop firing immediately.

▪     Loudly echo it until everyone has stopped firing.

▪     If needed make your gun safe (unload & safety on).

  • Always keep your finger off the trigger until the range is okay to shoot, the gun is pointed at the target & you are ready for it to go bang.
  • Define the range for that day and what the safe direction to point the gun is. 

◦     Point out any limitations of the safe direction (IE – Not above the lip of the hill/quarry, etc).

  • The best safety for every gun is the one between your ears.  Always know:

◦     where your gun is pointed.

◦     that your finger isn’t on the trigger if you aren’t shooting.

◦     where other people are in relation to your muzzle.

  • Define the firing line. 

◦     This may or may not be an actual line. 

◦     The main point is, never go in front of the person(s) shooting. 

◦     If there may be more than one person shooting, make sure that everyone understands they need to be on the same line or plane.

  • Whenever possible, use the safety on the gun.
  • Never point the gun at something you aren’t willing to hurt or destroy.
  • Always keep your finger off the trigger when you aren’t actually shooting.
  • When needed, we will make the range safe, by ensuring that all guns are unloaded & on safe. Only then will anyone go down range.

◦     Have a second person verify all guns are unloaded & on safe.

◦     Do NOT handle or load any guns while people are in front of the firing line.

◦     It is okay to load magazines that aren’t attached to guns.

  • Everyone needs to have eye & hearing protection in place before anyone starts shooting.
  • Always index your finger off the trigger and on the side of the gun when the gun isn’t pointed at the target.
  • For new shooters, if a malfunction occurs, keep the gun pointed downrange & call/raise hand to get help.
  • Reminders of these rules will be given calmly but firmly.


  • Who can call a “Cease Fire”?
  • When should your finger be on the trigger?


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  1. The quick quiz at the end is a good idea. Makes them actually repeat it, even if just in their head, instead of only hearing it.

  2. I like it good stuff! I take out new shooters all the time and I do a safety breif but I always seem to forget something. Im going to bring a copy of this next time.

  3. Very good ideas for range safety, especially dealing with folks that are not familiar with firearms. During a 30 year Army career, I’ve been on countless live fire ranges. These procedures mirror many of the precautions that we took in the military. A few clarifications/recommendations:
    1) Quarries are great for shooting if they are more sand/dirt than boulders/shale. Rocks cause ricochet rounds.
    2) State specifically the misfire procedures: Drop the magazine, place weapon on “Safe”. Observe the chamber, put the weapon down (rest on cloth, range bag, etc) with the empty chamber in view for (Safety/AI).
    3) Define left and right limits in detail as you state the safe direction of fire.
    4) No handling of weapons while ANYONE is down range, including the loading of magazines. It may be too tempting, or “force of habit” to slap the loaded mag in the rifle.
    5) Go over misfire and hang-fire procedures. (S-P-O-R-T-S for M16/M4/AR15 family of rifles, hang-fire wait for 30 seconds, keeping the weapon pointed at the target)
    6) No running on the range.
    7) If experienced personnel are available, use Safety Officers and Assistant Instructors (AIs) to assist with checking weapons, clearing malfunctions and observing/advising new shooters. Give commands to the firing line (as though you were up in the tower): “Firers, pick up your weapon. Lock and load a magazine. Commence firing”. Then, when everyone is done “Cease fire, cease fire, cease fire! Firers clear your weapon, put it on “Safe” and set it down. Move down range and check your targets”.

    Again, these are only suggestions that the Army uses to conduct safe range operations. OVERALL, GREAT JOB!

  4. I used this while out shooting yesterday and I already want to add something. Make sure everyone knows where the safety & medical equipment are. I have a Level 2 First Aid Kit in the truck. One of the guys I was shooting with showed me where he had an epi pen stored in his truck & I didn’t even know he was allergic to bees! It does no good to have emergency equipment and then be the only one present to know about it. Mr Murphy will certainly join the party and make sure you can’t tell anyone when you are hurt!

  5. Raptor Medic – Good to know the article helped someone. I have the talking points formated in as big a font as possible to just fit on one page, I will get it laminated and leave it in one of the bags that always goes when I go shooting. That way I’ll always have it and the larger the font, the easier it is to read when speaking to the group.

    Irish-7 – Thanks for the feedback, those are all excellent points.

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