Step inside any range, whether it’s an indoor shooting range or an outdoor one, and you’re sure to hear similar terms. Read below as we detail what you can expect to hear and experience during your first trip to the range, and learn the rules of etiquette, both spoken and unspoken, that are shared by those who discharge firearms in close proximity to one another. Though it is not imperative that you understand exactly what is transpiring around you, this knowledge will put you at ease and allow you to quickly comply with whatever command is being given.
You are bound to hear the terms “hot” and “cold” during your visit to an indoor shooting range. If guns are being discharged, the range is “hot” and therefore not safe. When the range is deemed “cold,” you will be able to check your target and replace it (if need be) with a new one. Some ranges have lights similar to traffic signals to designate “hot,” “cold,” and caution. Green gives shooters full reign of the range, yellow alerts them that they will soon need to take cover, and red renders the range hot and alerts everyone to treat the situation accordingly.
When that range is “red,” do not touch your gun at all. Though you may see no problem with reloading while others change out their targets, not everyone will agree with your lax treatment of a cold range. Therefore, don’t even touch your gun until the indoor shooting range is pronounced “hot” again.
If you are asked to “make safe” your firearm, this simply means that you must open the action and take all ammunition out of the gun. If there is a magazine, you must take it out. The safety on the firearm must also be engaged. This step is to ensure the safety of everyone on the range.
“Muzzle discipline” is a way of describing the very act of handling your gun that involves self-awareness at all times. Shooting is not an activity to be handled with levity. If that muzzle even looks as if it is pointed at your neighbor, especially when the range is hot, you may be viewed as an unsafe individual. Remember to treat your firearm and your neighbors with respect. Take very close care with how you are handling your gun. Remember that the NRA describes safety in very common sense terms; this means that it does not take a test for someone to know whether or not they are doing the right thing in regards to handling their firearm.