True Story: Tough Range Safety Officers Gone Berserk

Exposed: Overzealous Range Safety Officers

Have you ever had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Overzealous Range Safety Officer?

I was wrong. I realize that. And I admit it.

Yes, I had technically, though unintentionally, just broken a rule.

It was a slow Sunday afternoon and for most of the shooting session with my wife and her father, we had been the only ones on the private access range.  When I was done shooting, I dropped the empty mag from my .45 and locked the slide open, checking once and then again that the firearm was clear. It was.

Keeping the firearm pointed safely toward the floor, I turned, took the two steps to the cart where my case was lying open and still pointed down, closed the slide and laid it inside. That’s where I messed up.

A moment later, a large guy was tapping on my shoulder, identifying himself as an RSO (a Range Safety Officer) and explaining the scope of his authority. He told me they had cameras rolling at all times at the range and he could go back, look at the video and write me up for any infraction of the rules and bring me before the board. He didn’t realize my father-in-law was the member, and I was simply a guest. I still wasn’t sure of what I had done.

I’m sure veteran public indoor range users reading this are probably shaking their heads. They know where I messed up. That’s right, I hadn’t cased my gun inside the station.

It’s a common rule at many public indoor ranges, which are often crowded, and must ensure firearms are always pointed in a safe direction-near universally downrange. It makes perfect sense, and I should’ve known as much, though I admittedly do most of my shooting on private property, at less crowded outdoor ranges with more space or at events where, while safety remains a priority, shooters are often switching between multiple firearms, either to actually shoot or to take photographs. In most of these situations, shooters aren’t dealing with cased personal guns, but shooting firearms taken from a single table or area behind the line. The times I have shot at more crowded public venues, the only place I had to put stuff was inside the station, so casing and uncasing my handgun in the station was inevitable.

I honestly had never thought about it beyond that. I follow basic safe firearm handling practices by ensuring my gun is unloaded when not on the line and pointed in a safe direction at all times. The RSO’s wife had been watching through an observation window at the rear of the range and alerted her husband. The dude chided me, noting in that moment I laid the gun in the case, it was technically pointed to the rear of the range. I politely listened. I hadn’t cased the gun inside the station, so I made no arguments. I let the guy finish, thanked him for pointing out my mistake and finished cleaning up. We again spoke before I left and enjoyed a cordial conversation. He wasn’t a bad guy.

But Are We Cutting Off Our Nose to Spite Our Face?

While you won't see this guy on the marketing materials for your local gun club, he's the reason many shooters don't want to join or renew, at least one study suggests.

While you won’t see this guy on the marketing materials for your local gun club, he’s the reason many shooters don’t want to join or renew, at least one study suggests.

As I thought about it later though, had I been checking out the range as a prospective member, the incident might have put me off a little. My treatment hadn’t left me feeling very welcome. I didn’t mind the guy calling me out, but he could’ve done so by simply informing me of what I had done wrong and pointing out why it was an important rule to follow. I would’ve left feeling appreciative and better informed, not feeling like some reckless lug.

You can never be too safe, but spend any time at a range and it’s a good bet we’ve all run into that overzealous RSO who treats his responsibility like he’s running the Gestapo. It’s a put off for sure and the type of intimidating behavior cited as a top reason in a Southwick Associates survey of why three out of four shooters don’t belong to or frequent ranges.

More importantly, it’s a teachable moment lost when a person is made to feel foolish, and quite possibly a chance squandered to make that shooter a safer, supportive member of the shooting community.

Has This Happened to You?

What do you think? Safety officers are tasked with keeping the range safe for everyone. It’s a huge responsibility. But does this responsibility always demand gruff action regardless of the infraction or can the response be dialed down to match the situation? Have you had a similar encounter either as a shooter or as an RSO? If so, how was the situation handled? We’d love to get your thoughts. Share them on our Facebook page or leave comments below. Some of the best comments will be shared on the Community Page of an upcoming issue of Gun Digest the Magazine. Doug-Sig

76 thoughts on “True Story: Tough Range Safety Officers Gone Berserk

  1. badmac

    I’ll make a follow-up comment: I would not want to be a RSO at a civilian range. Having been to a number of them, I have seen men and women with bad attitudes, slightly tipsy, overly disrespectful, range-regs be damned and just plain in the wrong place. I have even seen range staff screw up and have the holier-than-thou attitude.
    And some indoor ranges have many of the same problems.

    Good thing there are plenty of ranges to choose from.

    1. ScottS

      Badmac, you have hit it on the head. This isn’t a matter of JUST members, or range users, or JUST range staff, it is both sides. I’ve dealt with RSO’s who have had no business near a firearm nor a range, who are there simply for the self aggrandizement and power trip, just as I have been on ranges where the shooters should have their “trigger fingers removed” (proverbial statement). The biggest fact that needs to be dealt with is RSO’s NEED to be trained NOT to be Adam Henrys as all that does is creates animosity and removes the ability to teach range users to be safer on the range. Abuse of Power just creates more problems and encourages idiots to act up. On ranges where the RSO knows how to approach people when the situation is over, as in the example, without acting like a bully (as in the example) there are less issues with the idiots who are shooting. The ONLY time it is appropriate to act “hard” is during the violation, IF the RSO catches the violator IN the act.
      These folks commenting with flagrant indignation that we need to back off on the RSO’s need to open their eyes and realize these are NOT military ranges where the attitude is part of breaking the individual down to rebuild them as a tool of war.

  2. ShortRound45

    You said “We again spoke before I left and enjoyed a cordial conversation. He wasn’t a bad guy.”

    It doesn’t jibe with rest of your story. You should go back to range, show the RSO what you wrote and apologize for what you wrote about him on the spot.

    YOU made the mistake. Don’t divert attention to the RSO.

    You are in a position of import, no? That should not excuse you from expected behavior. The RSO was doing what he should have done. You should have been humble, contrite and accepted what he said. Perhaps you were. Clearly though, given your written piece, it didn’t sit well with you.

    A question as well: did you close the action on your pistol as you put it in the case? Yes? No? I can’t tell from your story. It would have made me nervous if I had been on the line next to you.

    Speaking of how people might react, you can rely on me to never buy another product from Gun Digest. That’s how you made me “feel”. Perhaps you ought to consider what you say and how you say it.

    1. rbrittne

      Hey shortie….Its jerks like YOU that make people not want to go to public ranges….You sound like a whining little crybaby…Waaaaaaaaaa.Awwwww did you get your little pathetic feelings hurt? Gundigest as well as us shooters don’t need your “purchases” Go cry in your chocolate milk!

    2. ScottS

      Again, I have to say, NO YOU are wrong. You also, as with almost everyone one here have missed one major point, THE RSO FAILED IN HIS DUTIES. He did not observe the violation. It was reported second hand, and he even admitted he would have had to roll security tape to see if it did happen. He let every member of the club down. This is a bigger issue than the mistake made by the shooter, who was trying to make a point that RSO’s have a crummy job to do. As for your question it was answered in the text. but you did not pay attention to that either. YOU owe the author the apology.

  3. PlantLady

    Never having been at a public shooting range…I’m not sure what is meant by “cased my gun inside the station.”? Can someone please explain?

    1. Doug HowlettDoug Howlett Post author

      Hey PlantLady,

      That simply means where the line of fire is set or rather, where you will be standing when you are shooting. I should’ve probably wrote “at the line” as it is often worded in range rules. Correct me if I’m wrong on this RSOs out there.

      Hope that helps.

      1. HenryGB

        I don’t get it either…so the tables are a couple feet away in back, but they want you to case on the firing line!?!?
        Do they have tables on the firing line too?

  4. RobertR

    Having served as the Range officer in several police departments over a 35 year time span I’ve definitely seen my share of ‘mini-Gods’ or just plain jackazzes. These guys generally have never achieved anything in life and now they’ve got POWER! In the LE field these guys can cost someone their livelihood and they love it. They can destroy someone if they so much as feel like it. I enforced essential range rules and never cost anyone their career. Also NEVER had an accidental discharge. Had one older gentleman who was a bit sloppy and he came as close as anyone ever did of being sent home for the day.

    Agree that the liability and anti-gun attitude isn’t helping us but having jerks enforce rules that really aren’t necessary isn’t helping either. Common sense goes a long way and there isn’t much of it around these days.

    1. ScottS

      The rules like it or not must be enforced, and not ignored. BUT as you state many become mini-gods. They enforce the rules like a traffic cop giving a speeding ticket to a nun with his service piece drawn

  5. badmac

    I was an .50 cal. BMG instructor and range officer for same while in the military. Of course I used the outdoor range at FCTCL Dam Neck, VA. Being a usually busy range, I shared it with other RSO’s and their men using other weapons. Most days on the range were orderly and systematic, but then at times some RSO would get bent out of shape for something minor and completely disrupt the range. A short RSO meeting would set things straight again.
    On the other side of the coin, I have spent a lot of hours at outside ranges as a civilian. One unfortunate incident occurred at a range in Grand Prairie, TX. I won’t go into details here either, but the infraction was my fault. The RSO was all over my ass but I kept my mouth shut. I packed up and left. I suppose some prior experience helped me keep my cool. Besides, there were plenty of other ranges to get my business.

    1. ScottS

      fault or not, An RSO’s first responsibility is to safety, their second is to the users of the range and then the general membership. If the infraction is done and over with yes they need to EDUCATE, BUT not disrupt the operation of the range. Too many RSO’s forget this, and let their ego take over, be it due to the fact the user made them look bad or they get to dress someone down. The most effective RSO’s educate without public humiliation. In doing so they earn respect not spite.

  6. earlsworkshop

    You aren’t serious. Are you?
    You consider the Range Safety Officer as “Going Bezerk”?
    For what? Identifying himself, explaining his duties and informing you that video cameras are used to help enforce range safety? Sounds to me that you’re a little over sensitive.
    I’ve only been to an indoor range once and it was in the back of a gun store. No RSO there, just posted rules. Common sense required.
    I used to go to a very nice public outdoor range in the last town I lived in. There was no Range Safety Officer there either, except for when there were organized shooting events. Otherwise there was only a caretaker/groundskeeper that lived on the range. But there were gun safety rules posted everywhere. Problem is, no one seems to pay attention to the rules. And they get confrontational when you point out simple gun handling or range safety violations.
    Personally, I don’t belong to or frequent ranges anymore because of the unsafe practices of my fellow shooters.
    If a Range Safety Officer gets in your face, its because gun safety is an important issue. If the RSO sits around and waits until someone gets hurt or killed because of some stupid mistake, you’ll ask why the RSO didn’t do his job.

    1. ScottS

      You are obviously inexperienced with range safety officers then and are out of your element in this thread, In my 40 plus years of shooting, I’ve seen all kinds. the bottom line always comes out that an effective RSO is the person who KNOWS when to get hard and when not to. They do NOT create confrontations, they prevent them. They keep people safe by understanding embarrassed individuals tend to not concentrate on safety as they should, they understand that even the most safe shooters can be distracted by someone on another lane who is NOT breaking any rules, and creating a confrontational situation is bad for all involved, the Good RSO needs to have tact and strength of character, and be able to BE a hard ass when needed but not walk around intimidating shooters, making them nervous because that will cause mistakes to happen. Safety isn’t created by causing animosity, it is cultured by communications, and the wise use of authority when it is NEEDED

  7. ChuckM

    I am a local outdoor range RSO and see this type of infraction (and much worse) on a regular basis. As others have already stated, it could have been handled in a better, more friendly, manner, but lets not forget there was an undisputed infraction of the rules, that I am sure Doug agreed to abide by when he entered the range. That being said, I personally look at my job as an RSO as two-fold. One to insure safety of the range users, and second to promote member relations with the club. The two dont have to be mutually exclusive when an RSO is a mature, responsible adult, not a wanna-be on an ego trip. The same can be said for impolite police officers, public agency clerks, or anyone else who’s job it is to interact with the public. There are good and bad dimeanors displayed in any profession. The problem with it involving shooters is that there may only be one chance to correct it or the mistake could be easily fatal to someone or mean the end to an enjoyed pastime/range for many other users.

    1. ScottS

      Thank you! While I agree that the RSO in question needed to use more tact, I saw it as a bigger issue of failed safety. The RSO openly admitted that he did not personally observe the infraction. Where was he? what was he doing that could not wait until that round was over? The long and short is he was negligent in his duties if his wife had to be doing his observing for him… This matter really SHOULD be brought up to the board of the club for this reason alone. As you so aptly state a mistake can be fatal. I deal with life and death situations daily. If I make one wrong choice, someone can, or WILL die, it is black and white in my instance. This is why I take this situation to heart. There is no room for mistakes in safety with firearms

  8. Leftibug

    When my 11 year old son received the first rifle of his own, I took him to a local range. My father gave him a vintage Golden Boy 22. Since it was my son’s first time at this range they put us at the far end with a dozen benches between us and the nearest shooter. We were talking to the line officer at the range for a couple minutes after the cease fire. He was a fan of the Henry rifle. After he moved on we started toward the targets but went back after a couple steps when we noticed no one else had moved down range. The Range Master berated me on the loud speaker and told me I must leave the range. The Line Officer came to my defense, but I told him it was my fault and that the RM was right, we should leave. I appologized to my son for dissapointing him in front of both of them. He was already confused and upset to the point his eyes were tearing up. I did not want to make things worse by forcing a confrontation in front of him. (That happened later and is another story) I explained to my son that safety is too important to have any tolerence. My intent was to make this as positive a learning experience as I could, considering. Fortunately there was another range 45 minutes away where we had a good orientation with his new treasure.

  9. LoneStarTexian

    There needs to be a re-education program for RSOs. The demeanor of them can make or break public attitudes toward gun owners. To demean/harass a shooter in the name of safety is destructive. Private admonitions of safe gun handling improves range safety without embarrassment. I was once yelled at for reaching across the yellow line during a cease fire to pick up a target off the ground. I observed other abuse while I was there also. Maybe he thought was a TI with a bunch of Marine recruits. I’ll do business at another range thank you.

  10. bocam48

    While I think it is important to follow a range’s rules, I am constantly surprised by people in positions of authority who don’t really know how to use tact during teachable moments or during the enforcement of rules. When people are in danger, there is a need to act firmly and decisively. But in the cases cited above danger was not the primary issue.

    We’ve all run into police, security guards and other authority figures who do their best to make you feel small in any situation. And we’ve also run into those steady folk who quietly tell you what you did wrong, listen to your explanation/apology, and then take appropriate action. Dangerous situations, on or off the range, can be defused or de-escalated with thought and tact. The people who’d rather play the tough enforcer still need training IMHO.

    1. tomar8manT

      yes you are right ! I myself have bumped into these morons also.but it gives me great satisfaction and I’ve seen this in more than one way ,and that is:they know or makeout they know there job but other things in life that you are suppose to know ,these shitz especially range officers have limited intelligence in life!

    2. ScottS

      All too often these hard asses are the do as I say not as I do types. I’ve had the misfortune of having to escort more than a couple RSO’s off the premises due to their excessive abuse which had crossed the line, and lead to charges being filed. There is NO EXCUSE for such action.

  11. Attorney Paul

    RO was correct – muzzle down range only, empty and locked open or not. The alternative was to holster locked open then walk away from the line.

  12. Kenji Kingsford

    I had a similar incident at a range in San Bernardino California. I was an active member of a gun club as they had nice facilities for rifle as well as trap shooting.
    I was shooting a timed string with an FN FAL when the range master came over the loudspeaker and started screaming at me for rapid firing my weapon. I walked over to him and explained that it was not rapid fire to start with and if he had an issue he could have approached me in a civil manner rather than screaming over the loudspeaker system. He became extremely belligerent, so I informed him that I would be leaving and not ever return and they can be sure that when my membership expired it would not be renewed. Haven’t been back since.

    1. ScottS

      sorry to say this but you failed when you did NOT file a complaint against the RM. AND demand a prorated refund, thus forcing action on the part of the club. You can count on the fact that the RM did not tell anyone what you had said to him. We need to take charge of abusive situations and correct them. The unwillingness to do so and just let it pass is what has brought our nation to it’s knees. An injustice is an injustice no matter if it is on the range, in the media or in the courts. While the idiot was screaming on the PA someone else could have been pointing a loaded firearm cross range, and he would not have noticed. Thus correcting such issues become OUR responsibilities to correct in the name of everyone’s safety.

  13. gundog1951

    First of all you should have known better!

    Second, yeah, the guy might have handled it better. But as a RSO, I have seen stuff that would make you quit going to ANY range. Stuff that would scare the crap out of any sane person. So don’t get huffy because he was doing his job.

    How many shootings are caused by “unloaded” guns? Or by people who just had a small lapse in judgement? Even if you had been a regular at this particular range, he should have pointed out that you had been careless.

    And if you didn’t know the rules at this range, you should have. I’ll wager that they were posted right in the booth.

    1. tomar8manT

      you must be a low lime or you would take feedback in a more justing way as it was explained.Question:?Can you figure that one out doggun? Post that in your gunbooth!

    2. RHOlsonJr

      Seems like your making excuses for poor behavior. One common problem with some Range Safety Officers or Range Officers is their need to live off of the adrenalin of drama. We have a safe range and corrections are made the the negligent or wayward handler while leaving all the drama at the door. An RO or RSO who behaves in this manner is stripped of duties.

      To you I say, “Don’t get huffy” because you live off of drama.

    3. ScottS

      This is in no way an excuse for the RSO who had failed to do his job correctly. He was Not observing the shooters, his wife was, He wasn’t doing his job she was, He didn’t even know if the infraction even really happened and he openly admitted it. THAT is NOT a responsible RSO and he NEEDS to be replaced for the safety of all the range users

  14. MTO67

    I am a RSO at a busy public range. I am no stranger to this exchange. We as adults, hate when someone points out that we have some how broken the rules. It angers us and it makes us say and do silly things like write an article on how the RSO hurt our feelings. I get it. The RSO could have done things a little differently but put yourself in his shoes. Your incident may have been one of several rule violations that day that he responded to. His other interactions may not have been with persons as polite as you, Doug. Our range makes sure that you read the rules when you come in for the first time and posts them in several areas of the facility. We personally tell EVERY customer that all firearms must be cased and uncased at the firing line. I have told many patrons right on the range, only to have them violate that rule MINUTES later. I know that I, as well as the other shooters on the range do not appreciate being swept by any firearm loaded or unloaded. An RSO’s job is simple, yet complex…. Make certain that everyone on the range is safe and having fun as well as protecting the facility from unneeded liability. Membership comes second….way second. I would rather have 500 safe (live) members than 1000 dues paying cowboys. The media loves to report gun crimes and accidents. None of our ranges need the bad press!! I get it, this guy bent your nose out of shape. Learn from it. The next time I’m on the range I will try to be more “sensitive”.

    1. Ted

      “MTO67 says: July 15, 2013 at 4:23 pm

      I am a RSO at a busy public range. I am no stranger to this exchange. We as adults, hate when someone points out that we have some how broken the rules. It angers us and it makes us say and do silly things like write an article on how the RSO hurt our feelings. I get it. The RSO could have done things a little differently but put yourself in his shoes. Your incident may have been one of several rule violations that day that he responded to. His other interactions may not have been with persons as polite as you, Doug. Our range makes sure that you read the rules when you come in for the first time and posts them in several areas of the facility. We personally tell EVERY customer that all firearms must be cased and uncased at the firing line. I have told many patrons right on the range, only to have them violate that rule MINUTES later…”

      So, it is all right for RSO’s to go berserk because there have been other incidents earlier that day. Jump all over a person’s butt for not understanding the rules… For being the fifth person chewed out…

      Let’s review the rule you stated, “…firearms must be cased and uncased at the firing line…”. Is that rule absolutely clear to you? It sure isn’t to me.
      What do you consider is the firing line?
      Is the firing line clearly marked? And I mean Clearly?

      There is never a reason to become belligerent, abusive, disrespectful or overbearing! A rude abusive rant begs for a rude abusive return rant back and confrontations erupt further.

      An RSO who is verbally abusive should not be an RSO. Period! No thanks for the poor volunteer you say? How often have you thanked an RSO for their assistance? Yelling RSO’s are not likely to receive thanks, from anyone.

      No stranger to this exchange? Adults hate to have their errors pointed out? Angers us? Well yes, if the error is confrontational in front of an audience. Quietly, and I appreciate the education. Loudly and I don’t return and I sure don’t tell anyone what a great place to shoot it may be; or as I wrote earlier, I talk to the officers of the club about RSO manners. I’ve never met a club officers who support RSO’s abusing or embarrassing any member or guest.

      A first rule is that rules are easily understood! Just because YOU know where a firing line technically is does not mean anyone else understands. Are the chairs immediately behind the stall are part of the firing line. Oh sure, after the customer is chewed out by a RSO with hemorrhoids, that customer and everyone within bellowing distance will then know what the RSO considers the firing line.

      I also disagree with your perception that there is a choice between 1000 paying cowboys or 500 live members. What you’re telling us is that a shooter is either a cowboy or a safe live member and that there is a 50% chance a person is one or the other. I do not believe that 50% or even 15% of shooters are dangerous cowboys.

      Educate them if needed, do it as a fellow human, not as a licensed avenger.

    2. ScottS

      As an RSO YOU didn’t even get it… The RSO in question NEVER saw any infraction, threatened to rewind video to find any and threatened to write them all up… He was NOT doing his job. HE was negligent in his duties. And THAT is more dangerous than the rule infraction that happened since it left ALL the members of the club at risk, even those who were not present.

  15. TargetMaven

    I agree that Range Officer may have been slightly overbearing in asserting his authority at first, but overall it sounded like a helpful conversation and that your visit ended well.

    In contrast, my first visit to a private range here in Silicon Valley – with my young son in tow, no less – was so ruined by an RSO on the warpath that we will never be back, much less join. That guy seemed unhappy to have us there from the first minute. Not being members and not being escorted by a member, we were surprised to find that we were to check in at a window on one of the ranges, not in a separate room, and that we should have donned ear protection before approaching the range. Strike one with him, I guess.

    OK, fine. But he then proceeded to run at us and bellow loudly over every minor confusion over their rules and procedures, including once when I simply grabbed the only available stapler and went back out onto the range a second time during a ceasefire after a target flapped loose. Still not certain what that last one was all about, to be honest, but we were done talking to that guy, and done with that place. Maybe that was just him having a bad day, but the other guy in the office scowled at us later too, as if we were annoying him by asking for help disposing of a couple of misfired rounds as the rules require. Like I said, we’re done with that place.

    In contrast, the range officers at the public county range 20 miles down the highway have only gently chided us when we’ve gotten forgetful, and I recently saw one of them being clear but very very civil with guy who did exactly the same thing you did (but with a big AR).

    We now go to that public range exclusively, happily pitching in to clean up as needed, and glad to see our taxes and hunting license fees well spent. But to be honest, we prefer the controlled chaos of the local private indoor ranges when shooting handguns and lighter rifles, where there are no timed ceasefires unless there’s a match going on, and the safety officers are have a much lighter touch. But that’s another conversation.

    1. ScottS

      having been a partner in a private range that employed RSO’s and a life long range user. I find words such as your’s vital. The arrogance of some RSO’s has cost more ranges the ability to bring new shooters into the fold, caused more people to become anti firearms because the see an antisocial attitude prevail, and quite honestly caused more than one range to fail. You have done the right thing with your son, and have taught him that there IS a better way, AND there is no reason to stand for any unwarranted abuse in life.

  16. camaride

    OK so you are saying that what the way you conduct yourself at a private range is different and not as safe? You are doing a disservice to all shooters by scaring them off with your story. Take it like a man keep your mouth shut and don’t write up stories like this. There is no such thing as too safe. I am a RSO, pistol, NSCA shotgun instructor and I can tell you it is the older guys that reply “I’ve been shooting all my life so don’t tell me how to handle my firearms” We are not talking about jaywalking. This is serious safety protocol and there is no wiggle room. Everyone must follow the rules, no exceptions and just cause you have the ability to get on your soapbox doesn’t give you the right to dis. these RSOs.Obviously you resent being corrected. Very typical.BTW we do not need members at any club that are not safety oriented and write up disparaging stories in national media because they were called out on their unsafe practices.

    1. ScottS

      Have you ever taken a reading comprehension course? you definitely need one, along with an anger management course. First off he did not make any negative statements about the safety issue, quite the opposite, about how, where he normally shoots allows the development of bad habits, but you would rather be a horse’s ass than realize that. Secondly being an arrogant RSO, such as the several I have terminated and walked off MY range for being abusive and not doing the job they were supposed to do, since the abuse created greater safety issues, YOU missed the fact that the RSO in question was NOT doing his job, was not observing the shooters, but was told about it by a third party, went up to the shooter threatening to roll the security tale and nitpic out EVERY violation and write then up. You are no RSO YOU are a petty tyrant and are pissed because your type of behavior was called out. People that exhibit that type of behavior has a clinical name. It’s Sociopaths. And your rant fits the profile perfectly.

  17. Firearmslawyer

    A recent experience drove home why very little margin should be given for range-rule violations and that immediate and impressive responses should be made to those who violate the rules, even unintentionally. I was observing a tactical handgun course being conducted with 8 students and 2 instructors. All had been advised in writing and during classroom that the firearms were not to be manipulated behind the fire line. After no less than 10 iterations on the line and after 5 hours of fire time, one student, while at the loading bench, simply pulled his 9mm from the holster, stated that it was “unloaded”, pulled the trigger only to send a round through his hand, a steel mag on the loading bench and into a range bag.
    This interest of ours, as enjoyable and useful as it is, can be very dangerous to ourselves and others. This is not golf or fishing. The ramifications of anything but strict attention to detail can be horrific and long lasting.
    So, while someone might get their feelings hurt by being corrected, I am not so sure its not worthwhile in the end. IMHO

    1. ScottS

      You neglect one MAJOR FACT. where were the instructors at this time? one instructor per four students, why did they NOT require the handguns be inspected and locked open with magazines removed unless on the line? These INSTRUCTORS failed right from the start. these were not experienced Shooters if they were “students” Rule number one with every class I teach is instructor inspection of the firearms in use to ensure they are cleared. They are then locked open, wheel gun courses do not allow for holstering a piece unless it is cable tied after inspection. The situation you site is a different situation, BUT is very relevant as far as the need for absolute range safety. Where the biggest similarity comes in is that the parties responsible for safety in both instances failed. The RSO (and I can not hammer on this enough) had not been on his post and did not personally observe the infraction. Where was he? again he had to make threats to exert his authority because he did not see it himself, he was negligent in his duties, as were the instructors in your example.
      The issue isn’t about hurt feelings. it is about effective enforcement of range safety, alienate someone, ant there is zero effectiveness. Turn them into a hot head and you just escalate the situation and the RSO will be ignored by him and everyone he tells about the RSO’s abuses.

  18. Chick

    Yes, they carry it too far sometimes. One time after my son shot his 600yd leg, in across the course, one guy came loudly complaining to me that my son had not removed the magazine from his rifle. I looked toward my son’s rifle, laying on the open hard case and pointed out the empty chamber device protruding through the ejection port. He said the magazine still needed removed. I removed it and showed him it was empty. (at that time, there was not a magazine block device on the market). After I placed the rifle in the hardcase and closed it, I carried the rifle to the truck, then turned and found the loud mouth out by his truck. I walked over there and in no uncertain terms, I told him that his loud behavior was very inconsiderate, and he had done nothing but embarrass my son and myself. The rifle was unloaded and had an empty chamber device protruding through the ejection port. Furthermore, no one was even handling the firearm. I told him that he could have come to me as a gentleman, and spoke in a normal tone, and there would not have been a problem, but, if he ever pulled that crap on me or my son again, he would be in for a quick and thourough ass whipping, so he better put his brain in gear, before the next time he put his mouth in motion. There was not any unsafe acts taking place.

    1. tomar8manT

      They must know that Zimmerman character hmmmmm. A true wannabe like these guys? They(range officers are sometimes good but show there true self ,which isn’t much. The real good range officers can be watched on Terry Mcguile’s videos which he discusses on every subject of a true range watch! Google his name you’ll see, he applauds people like you!

  19. hardcase

    At the risk of sounding namby-pamby, this should have been handled as a learning experience.

    The RO should have explained what the rule was and why it was in place. Then, based on the violator’s response, gone from there – as in, if the response was, “Yep, you’re right, I should have cased it on the firing line. I’ll be sure that it doesn’t happen again,” then everything is cool.

    If the response is more along the lines of, “Hey, I think I know how to handle a gun and I don’t need you to tell me anything,” then an upgrade to “Here’s what happens if you do it again” is in order.

  20. malakisi

    While it may seem he was over doing it.. you’ve got to look at it like this. While you know what you’re doing, there are a lot who do not. And in these times an unintended discharge means the end of your club by the vicious media. They would LOVE to pour salt in any wound they can find to help fuel the anti-gun movement.

    1. RHOlsonJr

      STOP making excuses for character flaws. A substantial part of range safety supervision is temperamental suitability. I see a great many anecdotal examples here of extreme cases of negligence. This sort of stuff (accidental discharges and wanton waiving of muzzles) is rare and does not happen to this degree on our ranges. Perhaps something is lost in presentation during new member orientation/initiation? The leadership is FAILING to convey proactive range safety expectations?

    2. ScottS

      the term is NEGLEGENT Discharge. and the issue isn’t that the RSO was overdoing it (even though he was, the greater point is the RSO was negligent in that he didn’t even SEE the offense, and learned about it third party, and then threatened to roll security tape and write up Every infraction found. This is bullying, not doing his job, and not observing it himself was negligence. Was he too busy bulling someone else to see a real infraction? these are very real problems for EVERY member of the club. even those who were not present, since while he was playing god another person could have been shot due to improper safety practices.