This is the fourth article by Susan.
For her background and shooting resume, click here.
I was going to give this section a snappy name like Oops, I Forgot To Mention... - but Im guessing that there may be more than one of these Misc. articles full of leftovers/leftouts, so Ill just number them.
I have been going along on the assumption that any readers will know certain basics - which may be incorrect. Thus, Ive decided to insert a bit of basic info here for those who may need it. If you see a glaring omission, feel free to e-mail me and make suggestions.
The plan was to make this short and sweet - if you are in need of
additional info, my suggestion is to take a class (gee, Ive
mentioned that a time or two, havent I?) where all of this
should be answered for you in much greater depth.
3 FUNDAMENTAL RULES OF GUN SAFETY:
There are three fundamental gun safety rules which should be understood and followed without fail - both on and off the range. They work in conjunction with each other so that if something goes haywire and one, or even two safety rules have been broken, the other comes into play and can still keep things from turning into a serious problem. Engrave these into your mind... repeat them like a mantra...
1. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. This means different locations/directions in every instance - but no matter what, it means that if a gun were unintentionally discharged, it would not cause injury and would cause the least amount of damage. Remember that indoors, walls are typically not strong enough to stop a bullet, and floors and ceilings may have people on the other side of them, even if they cannot be seen. Refrigerators, bookshelves (the long way, not head on), structural beams, etc are just a few locations that could be considered a safe direction indoors. Outdoors, down toward ground (not pavement or rock) is probably safe, remember even a round from a .22 can travel over one mile!
2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. Training properly from the beginning to rest your index finger along the frame of the gun will keep you from inadvertently putting your finger on the trigger. Your finger should not be placed on or within the trigger guard or on the trigger until ready to fire.
3. Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use. This one is a bit tricky. If the gun is used for target shooting only, then it should be kept unloaded with the action open until it is at the range, on the line, and being readied to fire. If we are speaking about a firearm used for personal protection, then the gun most typically is kept ready to be used at all times. Remember though, especially for a gun kept for personal protection - if it is not under your direct supervision (and in your sight), the opportunity for access by an unauthorized user - either adult or child - is much higher.
After all that is said and done, ALWAYS TREAT EVERY GUN AS IF IT
SHOOTING SAFETY REQUIREMENTS:
Some ranges may be a bit relaxed on requirements, especially for outdoor ranges and/or for observers. And some folks may spend time in open areas, doing some plinking in places they feel is safe for shooting where there are no rules. The following information is for your shooting safety and well being, no matter where you are - whether you are shooting or observing others shoot.
EAR PROTECTION - Because hearing loss is cumulative, each and every time you place yourself in a position where you are subject to noises above a safe level, you will continue to suffer more hearing loss. This loss can be subtle, but it is still causing irreparable damage. Ear protection is mandatory for observers and shooters - even air rifle competition shooters are known to wear hearing protection.
There are different types of hearing protection available - broken down into two distinct groups - in the ear and over the ear. Since most people will shoot at ranges where there will be other shooters around, any hearing protection you choose should have a minimum Noise Rating (NRR) of at least 28 - and higher is better. This is to protect you from not only your own gun, but from others that may be firing more powerful (and louder) guns.
In The Ear
Disposable foam ear plugs - some offer decent protection. The straight sided plugs are not rated high enough to be used as the only form of ear protection while shooting. Most tapered plugs are rated for higher levels of noise, including gunfire.
Reusable ear plugs - again, be certain to obtain plugs rated specifically for shooting.
Banded reusable ear plugs - these also are broken down into different ratings of protection.
Over The Ear
Foam or liquid filled ear muffs dampen all sounds. These work well and reduce all surrounding sounds to a safe level, unfortunately they reduce normal sounds as well. It is sometime impossible to hear range commands or instructions without lifting an ear muff to allow sound to enter. Down side to doing that is that sooner or later someone will shoot when your ear muff is not yet back in place. Be certain to check NRR and get ear muffs rated for shooting, not just for machinery and general loud noises.
Electronic ear muffs use microprocessors to allow normal sounds (such as voices) to be heard through the built in microphones, but will instantaneously dampen down louder sounds such as gunfire. This type is especially useful on the range to hear range commands. You do, however, need to check batteries and it is a very good idea to carry a spare set of batteries and/or a backup set of ear protection - even if its only a set of ear plugs.
Some people will take extra precautions by combining an in the ear with an over the ear keeping sounds well below danger levels. This is an excellent idea, but a down side can be that it may be difficult to hear verbal instructions or an emergency Cease Fire command.
EYE PROTECTION - Another piece of safety equipment that you should never be without on the range, even if you arent shooting. Hot gasses, unburned powder and hot ejected brass from semi-automatics (yours or someone elses) can do serious eye damage. Glasses or goggles made specifically for the shooting sports are made with tough materials such as polycarbonates and have been tested to withstand high impacts without shattering. Some styles are available with side shields and others will fit over prescription glasses. They come in many lens colors, frame styles and sizes to fit even junior shooters.
OTHER IMPORTANT STUFF TO KNOW -
Some of this pertains to women more than men... some is fairly generic. Its been learned first hand and observed, thought about and fine tuned. You may never hear this from men, some because theyve never thought about it, some because they like eye candy.
Food and Drink - Not a good idea on a range. There is a lot of residue floating around a range, and ingesting contaminated food or drink is only going to give you a larger dose of it. I suggest that you dont even chew gum while on the range.
Hair - Keeping your hair tied back securely can save you a lot of problems while at the range, whether indoors or out. Wind blowing your hair in your face is distracting... flapping a hand that is holding a gun while trying to control your hair can be dangerous to yourself and others. Ive seen this first hand. Tying hair back also keeps it from tangling in your earmuffs. I keep a small zip lock baggie in my range bag with a handful of hair ties, that way Im never without and can give one away if anyone needs one.
Hats - Work well in conjunction with both hair ties and eye protection. Flying brass - yours or someone elses, can and will find its way behind your glasses. Trust me, this hurts. It quite probably will not damage your eye from impact, but hot brass is painful on your eyelid or your cheek. Wearing a ballcap with the brim low will prevent this from occurring.
Earrings - If you tend to wear big or dangling earrings, a good idea is to keep an empty 35mm film canister in your range bag and toss your earrings in there before shooting. Large earrings can keep earmuffs from seating properly on your ears and studs can sometimes be painful. Lastly, earmuffs can get hung up on earrings and wont make your day pleasant.
Low Necklines - Have their place, but I dont recommend them at the range. Flying brass is HOT and although you may get plenty of male volunteers to help you remove it - dont take chances. I suggest wearing a crew neck and full length shirts (no bare midriffs), even if its shorts weather.
While were on the subject of clothing, be certain not to wear very loose, flowing clothing. You dont want to get any clothing caught in guns - either the slide of a semi-automatic or the cylinder of a revolver. The potential is also there for loose clothing to be torn or damaged on benches, target stands, etc at the range.
I also suggest that you dress in layers. Indoor ranges tend to be kept cool, which help keep you from perspiring, this prevents absorbing harmful chemicals and residue through your skin.
Sensible Shoes - Almost goes without saying, but I have seen women show up for instruction in shoes and boots that Id break my ankle walking in. Stick with flat or low heels, sneakers, walking or hiking type footwear. You dont want to be tripping on brass, uneven floors, etc. on an indoor range or who knows what on an outdoor range... especially while moving with a loaded gun in your hands.
Clean Up - When done shooting, wash a minimum of your hands immediately. Begin with cold water and no soap, slowly warm the water and use a detergent type soap. It is highly recommended that you change your clothing as soon as possible and wash range clothes separately. At a minimum I would keep them separate from childrens clothing. If you end up with a jumbo sized range bag, Id suggest tossing in a roll of waterless cleaning towels.
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