When thinking about public ranges, typically, safe proficient training does not come to mind. Public ranges are a great resource when they are used properly. They give shooters a free area to go exercise their second amendment right which I completely love. I will occasionally go to public ranges to make sure a rifle or handgun is zeroed before taking a class. Some of the best things to see are families out at the range. Sometimes you see parents shooting responsibly and teaching their kids gun handling skills. There are some great things that happen at public ranges. Let’s be honest though, there are some insanely dangerous things that happen as well.
This weekend, I went to the range with my buddy Tommy who is @boom_stick03. We were running a variety of shooting drills at a public range. After a while, people pulled up to the next bay and started setting up to shoot. About 30 seconds later, we realized they had no eye or ear protection and didn’t know how to properly hold the rifle. Both shooters held the rifle awkwardly and fired without having the stock even touch their shoulders. We took a minute to talk about things and backed off our shooting line to make sure they were safely shooting and were going to try and help them, but before we could the guys were already packing up to leave.
They both shot a full 30 round magazine through their AR and then decided to leave without saying anything or picking up their target. My buddy Tommy and I were both really baffled by their behavior but honestly seeing situations like this aren’t all that uncommon at public ranges. It’s always good to at least say hi or wave to your neighbor at a public range. Being friendly can ease tensions or worries for both shooters and will usually keep things civil. Simple things like eye and ear protection are easy and if people don’t know they need eye or ear protection its never a bad idea to have a quick conversation on it.
The Main Problems With Public Ranges
I think the biggest issue with public ranges is the amount of unpredictability. Using a free public range anyone can use comes with surprises and some level of risk. From my experience, public ranges are used by people who aren’t avid shooters and will shoot every few months to once a year. In the six or seven hours shooting at our public range, we saw a number of different groups come and go with them all doing the same thing mostly.
As a majority, the various groups of shooters did a number of different things but no one set up drills or tried to do anything that would be considered valuable training. I heard countless mag dumps and even people yelling animal noises after shooting every round. Going to a public range can be extremely entertaining but some of the fun is taken away by the idea of getting accidentally shot by someone who isn’t conscious of gun safety. I know the majority of people who read articles on TFB are not the people I’m talking about right now. As a community though, I think it’s extremely important to try and help people who may not know the best way to shoot safely at a public range so there will be more baseline knowledge in the community.
Let’s face it, the majority of public ranges are similar to a dumpster fire. At a distance, they are incredibly entertaining but up close they can be dangerous and sometimes out of control. I’ve met some amazing people and have even made a friend or two at a public range. As a whole though, it’s important to be careful and have safety on your mind when shooting at one. I often try to shoot with a group of people to have more eyes around us.
Public ranges can be a mixing pot of interesting people but range safety isn’t always there. It’s not an issue that should discourage you from shooting, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind. Let me know some of the craziest stories you have from public ranges below. If you have questions feel free to message me on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there!