I’m sure you have heard awful stories of what can happen at a shooting range when people don’t follow the rules or practice good gun safety. Your typical gun range has multiple lanes with many shooters and you probably don’t know most of the people who are shooting nearby. Even when you do, terrible accidents can happen.
Tragedy Strikes When You Least Expect It
On July 3, 2016, Clayton Brumby and three of his sons went to their local gun range in Sarasota, Florida. Brumby was shooting his new .22 semiauto pistol in the end lane. He fired a round and the shell casing bounced off the wall and fell down the back of his shirt.
He reached back to get the hot casing out of his shirt, pointing the gun behind him and accidentally firing a round. In gun lingo, this is called an accidental discharge, or “AD” for short.
Brumby thought the round went into the ceiling, until one of his sons yelled, “Dad, Stephen’s been shot!” Immediately, Brumby looked over at 14-year-old Stephen and realized he had shot his son while trying to fish the piece of hot brass out of his shirt. Tragically, Stephen passed away that afternoon at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
On Dec. 12, 2017, the Hot Wells Shooting Range in Cypress, Texas, had just opened for the day when an employee accidently shot a customer in the head. The victim, identified as 36-year-old Joshua Cummings, was walking through the parking lot when he was struck by a stray bullet.
According to authorities, an employee was working on a hunting rifle when it discharged, sending a bullet through the wall and into the parking lot, where it hit Mr. Cummings, who was about 80 feet away. The victim was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Obviously, these events are heartbreaking for everyone involved. Both the shooters and the people close to the victims will be affected by these unfortunate tragedies for the rest of their lives.
Be Ready for Anything
When it comes to accidental deaths, there are far fewer incidents involving firearms than with things like drowning, suffocation, falls and fires. My point is that statistically, shooting ranges are relatively safe compared with other potentially deadly activities. That being said, you should always approach shooting ranges with safety as your No. 1 priority.
Today, I want to share with you several pieces of must-have gear for any trip to the range. These items can help you stay safe as well as help you improve your training whether you are at an indoor or outdoor range.
- Ear Protection: Not only should you always have eye and ear protection with you at the range, but these are two items I would never go cheap on. I know a lot of people who use the cheap foam earplugs. These can help, but I recommend wearing a pair of earmuffs that form a seal around your ears. This way you won’t have to worry about them falling out or having to wait for them to expand after you put them in. As for eye protection, I suggest wearing sunglasses if you’re training outdoors or simple clear glasses for indoor shooting. Either way, buy a quality pair that fits well. Also, before you go to the range, check to make sure they aren’t all scratched up. This makes it difficult to see through them
- First-aid Kit: Obviously, it’s inconvenient to carry a huge first aid kit around, but I recommend keeping a small kit in your range bag. This kit should include things like Band-Aids, burn ointment, a tourniquet and some QuikClot. While most accidents are just a cut on the finger or a burn from a hot casing, you’ve got to be prepared for the worst
- Toolkit & Cleaning Supplies: When I teach firearm courses at Spy Ranch, it’s common for someone to have an issue with their firearm. It can be caused by something as simple as a bad batch of ammo or something more serious, such as a loose part on their gun. This is why I always keep a small toolkit and cleaning supplies handy, so I can deal with any issues that may arise and get back to shooting. Even if you maintain your firearm and clean it regularly, you never know what may happen. It’s better to be prepared (and don’t forget gun oil)
- Targets, tape and markers: Depending on the range, you should bring your own targets so you can benefit the most from your training. While zombie targets may look cool, they aren’t realistic. I always recommend taking your own targets so you can use ones that will help you become a better shooter. Of course, if you bring your own targets, you should also bring a marker so you can mark off your previous shots and shoot your target multiple times. And you never know what will be the best way to secure your target, so don’t forget tape
- Timer: One of the best ways to become a better shooter is to add a time limit to the scenario. Using a shot timer adds pressure to the situation and will help you become more confident and more accurate with your firearm. I highly recommend using a shot timer when you train. Ideally, you should be able to draw and hit your target in two seconds or less.
Again, safety should be your No. 1 priority at any gun range. Even if you remember to bring all the gear above, never forget these four critical safety rules:
- Always treat every gun as if it is loaded.
- Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Always keep your finger off the trigger until you’re on target and ready to shoot.
- Always be sure of your target and what is behind it.
And as always…