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May 1, 2012 / 1911ryan

Unsafe Range Practices

This last weekend, on the 21st of April 2012, I went to another shooting range. This time I was in Pasadena California and I wanted to try out a range that I had not been to before. The Angeles Shooting Ranges offer an impressive array of target shooting options from automated clay machines, steel pistol and light rifle targets and 600 yard long distance ranges. The thing that really drew me were the steel targets, which are a down right hoot to shoot. They’re reactive, as in they move and make sounds when you hit them. They have lines of the steel set up at, I think, 35 yards, 50 yards and 100 yards. Hitting a target at 100 yards with a pistol is tough business but I think I got a couple of hits. The clay throwers were nice too and since I just picked up a new shotgun, it offered me the chance to get acquainted with it a little more.

When I pulled up to the range I was surprised by the large amount of cars in a very large parking lot. i have never been to a range with so many people shooting at once. I was a little sceptical at first and I wasn’t proved wrong in my hesitations. The place was like a zoo! There must have been at least twoo hundred people there, with about 100 guns being fired at the same time. All of this, while not ideal, is fine when safe range practices are observed. Now, it appears that as the number of shooters increases it becomes a little difficult to police the range and make sure everyone is following safe range practices.

The first problem that I noticed was when two young men came up beside me to shoot their pistol.  I kept an eye on them to make sure they didn’t do anything too terribly stupid, but then again, I watch everyone around me to make sure I’m in a safe environment and contributing to that same safe environment. It wasn’t long before I deduced that they did not have much experience with firearms. While one friend was filming with his iPhone, the other would pose with the pistol lowered but finger still on the trigger, this is a no-no that any knowlegeable shooter will tell you. The second issue was when they laid their pistol on the table pointing to the side with the slide closed. this is another range no-no and thankfully a neighbor shooter from the opposite side corrected them for it. This type of activity makes me very nervous when shooting at a range but that’s what cognizant safety officers are for. But there were only a few safety officer, probably enough for the amount of people but they weren’t paying attention.

The next major issue, and final blow in my mind, was the cleaning and intermediate storage practices at the range. What I mean by intermediate storage practices is this; when someone takes more than one rifle or pistol to the range, while one is being used the other is placed in a storage rack. The storage practice at this range was to lay the guns on a table with the breech open. There is a walk way behind the table and when you walk down it there are numerous guns pointed at you that you are trusting complete strangers to have unloaded and made safe. This to me is unacceptable behavior as a weapon should never be pointed at any you do not intend to destroy. Here’s an example of the table method employed by Angeles Shooting range.

Here’s an example of a safe storage rack.

This style of rack, when used with an empty chamber indicator which is a red or orange visible plastic insert placed into the chamber, is a safe way to store guns. The gun is not pointed at anyone and if there is a negligent discharge it will go into the air and not a body.

The positive thing to take from this is that I am quickly learning which ranges I prefer and which ranges I will never return to. I am very pro gun but I am more pro safety. Maybe my post hasn’t had the original intentions of my blog, to get people out and doing things since this one is scary. But I hope that this will help you to be aware of the environment around you and whether it is hiking in a desert canyon or shooting targets with your favorite .22, one must always keep safety in mind.

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