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Need help dealing with newbie shooters on my range


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Old 07-10-2013, 08:16 PM   #21
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Owner

The private gun club I belong to is similar to C3's. All NRA members and we only accept a Max of 700 so our waiting list for membership is about 5 years... I'm guessing because we've stopped accepting "new member" applications.

We are open to the public on Sundays only and I volunteer 6 of these per year as an RSO... mainly because I love teaching safety and really enjoy the environment and the shooters.

Given your lengthy description of the situation, my suggestion would be to make your range a clearly posted PRIVATE club.

Club membership REQUIRES a training course... and membership "caps" can be your "flexible" friend in weeding out undesirables.

As a volunteer RSO I certainly understand the safety concern but...

...I am wondering if it's not a bit overzealous?

All we do for our "Sunday" non member shooting is have them read the Range Rules, sign their understanding, and pay their lane fee... that's it... and we have never had any sort of injury accident in over 60 years of operation.

Of course we do us a minimum of 1 RSO per firing line... "we have 3"

...and I have always found NEWB's to be extremely cautious and more than ready to ask for assistance if they are unsure of what to do.

Of course we are also very selective about who does and does not get to be an RSO... We do not want anyone on power trip because our mindset is 180 degrees from the typical "Range Commando" asshats most folks encounter at most public ranges.

Not saying that's you but... well, you know if it is or not.

We constantly hear from the public how much they appreciate us opening up to them on Sundays for exactly this reason.

We are certainly firm and there is not doubt about "who" is in charge... but it's done in a friendly manner and always with a smile... even if it's someone being asked to leave, which I've not yet needed to do.

Perhaps you have an experienced "retired" friend who uses your range a lot and would enjoy being a "volunteer RSO" for you.

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Old 07-11-2013, 02:11 AM   #22
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No disrespect to all the advice given this far, but sharing pictures and stories of negligent discharges. might convince them that safety matters. Something very visual and very real might be sobering enough to make safety not such a hard sell.

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Old 07-11-2013, 02:56 AM   #23
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Even the most experienced shooters have malfunctions and make mistakes.
You should have both enough liability coverage to not be so concerned and a range officer on duty who can teach range briefings.
You should have emergency plans and procedures all drawn up. Rules clearly posted etc.
Liability is a b!tch but there is no way around it. You're just as screwed if someone slips and falls and sues as you are if they put a round through their foot.
I also recommend you cover the firing line with cameras so WHEN something happens you have it documented.
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Old 07-11-2013, 06:42 AM   #24
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Owner, you are obviously conscientious and very self-aware. You know that you come across as gruff to the general public. It sounds like you like the sport, but worry heavily about liability. Based on your answers, I assume a full-time RSO is out of the question. These are my assumptions preceding my posting of answers.

First, you must get comfortable with the risk your business has. A review of your insurance with your agent as well as a trip to your attorney to update things will help. The insurance agent should approve your safety program and the attorney should make sure your business can in no way make you personally liable for a catastrophic accident.

Second, pre-selling or pre-conditioning the public goes a long way to both informing them and lessening your "abrasive" contact with them. Very concrete rules should be generated and posted on signs both inside and outside of your store and range, at the counter and on your website. Rules for range use should never be subjective, I.e. subject to the way someone holds a gun. Some may have disabilities or genetics that make their grip look strange. An objective rule would be "Both hands must be on the gun when fired." You could even provide a picture chart of acceptable stances and grips, with big "x"s over unacceptable examples. People learn far better from passive examples than active criticism. Quite frankly, bloody fingers are a great educator, just keep band-aids around! No one is going to sue you over a cracked knuckle.

A new indoor modern range near me uses a 4-minute video that must be viewed before there is any range use the first time. In the video, safety rules are reviewed and penalties for not following same are hammered home. Beginning shooters are told to ask any personnel or the RSO if they have ANY questions. Any shooting organization, such as NRA, should be able to provide teaching materials.

Third, If beginning shooters are your biggest worry, have two days a week, Sunday and Wednesday or your two slowest, that are "New Shooter Class" day, another sign that will adorn the shop, range and counter. Provide separate business cards that current members can pass out with class details, so a new shooter understands their first visit MUST be one of those days. Provide a friendly, personable RSO that can teach on those days.

If you cannot afford a full- or even part-time RSO, trade range time with one or two customers who can be friendly, courteous, and are able to train with patience. You have nothing out-of-pocket, but you provide RSOs better able to handle newbies than you are. They only need to work on new shooter days, so it shouldn't be hard to find people willing to help.

Finally, educate your current customers. Explain new shooters may only come on designated days. Tell them what you consider "unsafe" behavior and ask them to report it if they see it. Definitely be firm in your enforcement, but temper it with politeness, much like police do. You are in a selling business to the public, and everyone is offended by something! It is your range, and you will always decide who uses it and who doesn't - the difference is that with signs, education campaigns, RSOs to take the pressure off of you and objective rules that can be quantified, everyone knows EXACTLY where you stand and why, and there is less chance of a negative encounter. You already have customers referring new shooters, so you must be doing something right! You just need to manage it so customers understand everything before they even get to the counter.
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Old 07-11-2013, 08:19 AM   #25
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GSO, It seems to be a great source of stress for you right now to have your range . especially since your a one man operation. If I was in your position I'd probably just shut it down to all for now.
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Old 07-11-2013, 12:44 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tackleberry1 View Post
...Given your lengthy description of the situation, my suggestion would be to make your range a clearly posted PRIVATE club...

...Club membership REQUIRES a training course... and membership "caps" can be your "flexible" friend in weeding out undesirables...

...All we do for our "Sunday" non member shooting is have them read the Range Rules, sign their understanding, and pay their lane fee... that's it... and we have never had any sort of injury accident in over 60 years of operation...

All of the above (and the unquoted rest of that reply) IMO the best advice on this thread.
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Old 07-11-2013, 01:03 PM   #27
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Offer the beginner's class for free and make it a prerequisite for range time. The customers you gain will more than make up for your time. Experienced shooters could be given waivers at your discretion.
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Old 07-11-2013, 01:11 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danf_fl View Post
How about getting a short video on firearms usage and safety (include range etiquette)?

Get one where you are not in it (like from the NRA), and have all shooters view it when they come for the first time.

The shooter signs a liability release form saying that they viewed it.
As I was reading the OP, the image that came to my mind was a couple of monitors in the store playing a 10-20 minute intro-safety video on a continuous loop with an emphasis on the need for further training. OP could throw in advertisements or other useful info as well.

Every problem is a marketing opportunity.
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Old 07-11-2013, 03:46 PM   #29
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The comercial gun range at the Marine Annex in Norfolk, VA has a mandatory video that all personnel must watch prior to using the range. Most users are military or military family members, but even they need to know the rules, and restrictions of the range.

A range I visited in Connecticut many years ago had an issue where someone used the range and shot up the shop vac that was out on the range floor in a corner. Some people can just be stupid, with no regard to the fact that there is personal property around and that property costs money.

It's your range, it's your rules.
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Old 07-11-2013, 03:59 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GunStoreOwner

I don't want to drive away potential business. If an inexperienced shooter wants to get on my range, they can, if they bring an experienced shooter with them or take the beginner's class. But if I'm telling people or putting on my website that it's by invitation only, I'm going to lose a lot of business. Can't afford that.

I do already have folks sign a liability release form. Regarding the NRA training video, that could be an idea. Folks would probably view it as a hassle or tell me "nevermind I'll just go somewhere else."

I started getting a sign going yesterday; I am probably going to have it made soon. It spells out my range safety policy and it will be displayed on the front of my building. 3' by 4' in size or something like that.

In this state, that doesn't mean much. As long as someone has a clean record they can get one; it speaks nothing to their experience level or safety knowledge.

There has got to be a way (ways) to decrease this though. It's been an ongoing problem and I have thought about closing the business several times now because of it. The most recent incident involved a person who was referring people in his gun group to my business, and he sent me a nasty message online saying that he had lots of complaints from newbie shooters who were turned away and treated badly by me and that he wouldn't be referring any more people to my business. Apparently, members of his group are asking him where they can go to "learn to shoot" and he's referring those people to my business, but my business is not here to teach people how to shoot, it's to accommodate people who already know how to shoot or who are willing to take the time and effort to learn the right way. This guy didn't even call me; I asked him to and he didn't.

Maybe the sign will help mitigate some of this, but I'm just not sure. It's overwhelming dealing with this ongoing issue.
The video thing is the best idea most ranges around me do that and if you have seen the video and been there before you get a card so therefore you will know and speed up the process. I believe everything you're doing is correct maybe a little harsh but I thank you for that. You have no idea I've been to the range where they didnt have to do anything but give cash and you'll see beginners waving around firearms like toys like pointing back at the window like get I hit the target lol yeah that can be scary. If I were you I would continue to do what you think is right because it is your business but yes put a room with a tv in it and make sure they watch it. Those videos can actually be interesting. Having range officers should help with the beginners though I'd say you let those beginners come and shoot even if they have no one with experience. Let your range officer help them because they may be the ones that saves someone's life and telling them they can't shoot may turn them away from guns all together. Just my .02
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