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Shooting range safety plan

Discussion in 'Band of Glockers' started by theTactician, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. theTactician


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    Jun 7, 2005
    underneath your bed
    Shooting Range Safety plan

    The primary purpose for this is to address those issues pertinent to shooting range safety. Safety is no accident, it must be planned.

    It is pointed out that safety is a function of management and shooters together, involving a series of decisions to develop a workable safety plan. The plan must be clear and concise so that it is understood by all users. It must continue throughout the life of the project. A properly designed and constructed physical plant does not guarantee a risk free operation. Nor does a well-written document spelling out safety rules and regulations create a safe environment. The human element must be controlled through a positive action plan that combines both physical and psychological aspects into a cohesive, manageable operation. It is incumbent upon range managers to understand the design principles involved in range development so that a safety plan befitting the operation can be developed and used effectively. What follows are the basic elements of such a plan.

    The term "safe range" is based on the assumption that all shooting takes place in the direction of the targets, that users always keep their firearms unloaded and actions open when arriving or departing a range; that firearms are always unloaded except when the shooter is in position on the firing line; that users will use only firearms with which they are familiar and will always use the proper ammunition. There are more, but these assumptions are the basis of a good safety plan. Safety cannot be left to chance! 'Me final step is to add enforcement. Enforcement ties the separate parts into a cohesive and workable safety plan. Remember, a range is only as safe as the manner in which it is used.

    Positive control assures that range facilities are used properly. Users must obey posted rules and regulations and conduct themselves in a responsible manner. Control of a facility implies that appropriate authority is bestowed upon range officers appointed to enforce the rules and regulations. Further, disciplinary action, such as reprimands, suspension or revocation of range privileges, may be necessary to correct errant behavior.

    The expression "safety is no accident" implies the necessity of planning. This plan is both a formal process by which safety is enhanced and a written document with a heading, date, preamble and terms. This document must be approved, signed, published, reviewed at specific intervals and distributed to all range users to study and use.

    All elements of the plan must fit into an integrated, package, best described as "the Four E's": EVALUATE, ENGINEER, EDUCATE and ENFORCE.

    The first step is to EVALUATE the needs of the user and identify what specific shooting activity will be conducted on the facility. Since there are many shooting activities, evaluate each one as it relates to the proposed range site. Each shooting activity requires different design considerations, making it even more important to select the best site and configuration for a particular activity. Note: During these initial phases of the project evaluate several sites to ensure that the site chosen is the best.

    Whatever the choice, it is necessary to ENGINEER the range specifically to accommodate the chosen shooting activity. The use of the range facility outside its design limits violates accepted engineering practices and breeches the basic concept of a safety plan. Using a range for purposes beyond its design is similar to using a chainsaw to cut steel pipe. For example, using a smallbore range for high power rifle. Those who control the range must understand this important concept, and must provide procedures for using the facility will be used correctly.

    Once the engineering phase is complete and the range is open for live firing activities, it becomes necessary to EDUCATE those who use the facility. "Few shooters know how to use a range properly" is the premise on which a user education program, including evening and weekend classes, is based. 'Me user must know the whys and wherefores if he/she are to perform as expected. One class certain to raise a few eyebrows is "How to use a Benchrest." Few shooters know how to use a benchrest properly or effectively. Hence, training programs aimed at teaching supervisors and users how to use a range properly is an important part of the overall safety plan.

    A strong relationship exists among the Evaluation, Engineering and Education processes. However, the final process, ENFORCEMENT, must be added to solidify the safety plan. A quality set of rules and regulations may be almost worthless without a means of assuring compliance by all users. This mechanism provides two types of control: Passive meaning single shooter no supervision; or Active meaning either a range officer is in charge or any number of instructors are on hand to maintain close control. Passive control is practiced more frequently on ranges where individual users are allowed access. On training ranges, active control is the rule. Passive control implies that a more thorough indoctrination of users be undertaken along with instructions on the consequences of any violations. Whatever type is utilized, formulate a comprehensive set of rules and regulations and support them with adequate enforcement procedures.

    Me safety plan stipulates how, when, why and by whom the facility will be used. It is a document used during the planning, the design, the construction and the use of the facility.

    The document should be written on the sponsoring organization's letterhead or official stationary.

    The document should indicate the date of adoption and bear the signatures of the current officers. Highlight subsequent revisions and include a record of when and by whom modifications were made and approved.

    Any revisions should specifically state (1) that they supersede and replace any previously adopted safety plan segments and (2) that previously distributed copies be destroyed. Also establish a review date, perhaps once a year, to assure the safety plan is working and remains relevant.

    The document should include a preamble stating a specific purpose. For example:

    "'The safety plan has been established to ensure the health and safety of those individuals who use or frequent this facility and the community at large. It is a plan developed to assure the continuity of a facility through a concerted public relations effort."

    There should be a terminology section to define clearly terms often loosely interpreted. An example might be 'rifle" which could be interpreted as highpower or blackpowder when it is intended to be smallbore (.22 caliber rimfire) and for a specific range.

    'Me safety plan should divide rules and regulations into categories. Specify range rules according to the type firearm being used.

    Any exceptions to the rules or regulations should be carefully defined to avoid confusion. Exceptions may be printed in a combined separate section. A prime example is alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic beverages should never be allowed when live firing is in progress. However, when picnics or special outings are held on the facility, alcoholic drinks may be allowed but ONLY in moderation, in designated areas and only after shooting activities have ended for the day.

    The conclusion of a quality safety plan should spell out the consequences or action that will accompany any violation of the safety rules and regulations. Any disciplinary action taken should fit the offense with varying degrees of severity. Disciplinary action may range from a friendly warning to being ejected from the facility. Remember, without enforcement, the safety plan is worthless.

    Post the projected review date on bulletin boards and send notices to users so that everyone will know when to check for revisions or submit recommendations for changes.

    Identify specific categories of rules and regulations and publish them in order of their importance to the safety plan.

    Gun handling rules are of primary importance. They should always appear first in the safety plan and be prominently displayed on the range. Several versions exist, but as a minimum, the following rules are suggested:


    b. KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER, and outside the trigger guard, until ready to fire or until the command "Commence Firing" has been given.

    c. KEEP THE ACTION OPEN AND FIREARM UNLOADED UNTIL READY TO USE. On a firing range this means the shooters are in a position on the firing line and the range has been cleared for live firing.



    f. CARRY ONLY ONE GAUGE/CALIBER OF AMMUNITION WHEN SHOOTING. When at a shooting range with more than one firearm, use one at a time and when complete, store that firearm and it ammunition before using the next one.

    g. BE SURE OF THE TARGET AND WHAT IS BEYOND. When on shooting ranges, be mindful also of adjacent areas and act accordingly.




    All. general range rules, whether on indoor or outdoor ranges, should incorporate at a minimum the following:

    a. Know and obey all range commands.

    b. Know where others are at all times.

    c. Shoot only at authorized targets.

    d. Ground level targets are not authorized without a proper backstop. See exceptions for Smallbore Rifle, Highpower and Smallbore Silhouette. Maintain the proper target height to ensure that the fired projectile, after passing through the target, hits the desired portion of the backstop. This will reduce the possibility of ricochets and projectiles escaping the range safety fan or property.

    e. Designate a range officer when none is present or assigned.

    f. Unload, open the action, remove the magazine and ground and/or bench all firearms during a ceasefire.

    g. Do NOT handle any firearm or stand at the firing line where firearms are present while others are down range.

    h. Always keep the muzzle pointed at the backstop or bullet trap. Never allow the muzzle to point in any direction whereby an inadvertent discharge would allow the escape of a projectile into an outer area.

    The Safety Plan should always contain administrative rules and regulations that normally govern range schedules, parking, guest policies, member/user responsibilities, hours of operation, security, program development, range supervision and other items such as sign-in procedures.

    A safety plan links each aspect of the process - planning, design, construction and use - into an integrated program. This program is designed to reduce risks associated with the use of firearms either on or off the range. Further, the plan protects the safety and health of those who live nearby