Outreach on the Range - Help a Stranger

Reaching out to someone new at the range… its not only a nice thing to do, but it might be critically important to someone.
Appreciating Greg Ellifritz’s post on this.


Great story. I’ll have to be a little more observant of who is there.


Generally, I’m pretty slow to give unsolicited advice. Also, I left the range with a half hour wait. With that said, if I saw what the author saw, I would offer to help. I enjoy shooting with first timers.


Same as the others, I tend to be slow giving advice providing they’re acting safely however whenever there is a group with kids in the group, I tend to be a lot more observant.

This past Friday while working RSO, I had a gentleman come up and get a membership and I advised him he needed to watch the safety presentation before shooting and should take him about 20-30min. He said he was aware of the video but that his friend just went through the week before and it only took him about 5min. I advised him that if he were actually paying attention to the video it should take him a min of 20min vs just scrolling through. He assured me that he’s been shooting for over 20yrs is very safe, yadda yadda yadda…and takes 5min to scroll through the video so he can get out on the line and start shooting.

He steps out onto the line and I almost immediately have to start correcting him and I usually try not to be “that RSO” but I did chastise him at one point in front of his family and tell him “that’s why you should have taken more than 5min to breeze through the presentation so you would know all of this.”

Things I had to warn him on…opening his chamber during a cease fire…inserting an ECI into the weapon during a cease fire (and then how to properly put an ECI in as he initially put it in the front of the barrel) and then his son and wife son shooting without eye protection which I loaned to them so they could keep shooting (he and his daughter had glasses on). I was amazed at what over 20yrs of safety had taught him.

And then not 20min later I had the exact opposite example of a father bringing his young son (7yrs maybe, little .22 Cricket rifle) who said he was an experienced shooter but took the time to go through the presentation (he was just getting a membership that day also) and so knew what to do when commands were given and did a good job explaining to his son the importance of going through the safety presentation. He also wore glasses but realized he had forgotten eye protection for his son and so was starting to pack it up, when I intervened and loaned him a pair as well.

And then yesterday I had a new experience…a member and his girlfriend (assuming) who is also a member came up and started shooting rifle…no issues no worries everything, they’re being safe following commands etc. Then they move down to the pistol range and I hear him giving her some guidance on trigger pull and he starts being a jerk about it (e.g. raising his voice, asking her if she didn’t understand what he was saying, acting like a drill instructor vs a boyfriend).

Gotta admit, I wasn’t real sure what to do, not necessarily my place to step in to their relationship, but he was definitely being a jerk. I decided that I needed to go police some brass and move some shooting blocks around at the station over from them (I was at the end of the line when he was making the comments) and the behavior stopped. I happened to make eye contact with the woman while walking to another station and she gave me a slight smile and I gave her one back and kept on about my business.

I so wanted to pull the man aside and say "dude, that’s no way to talk to your girlfriend, especially while trying to instruct her bro. All she’s going to remember is what an arse you were to her and not want to shoot any more (unless maybe it’s at you).

Anyway, sorry for the long range report/vent…short answer is I help unsolicited if it’s safety related, if it’s technique/skills related I ask if I can offer a suggestion or two.


There are quite a few situations I’ll step into… and also some I won’t. The situation in the article I definitely would, and have. Although at the end of the day I’d probably have let her know I was an instructor and given her my card… there’s a rapport built already and she may already have a bond that she might want to build on. I’d give her a way to follow up if she chose to.

The couple thing… yep. I do it. I try to put it in the context of “Here, do you mind if I help her with that? I know when you’re showing someone else it means you don’t get time to do any shooting of your own. Why don’t you get some shooting time in and I’ll work with her.” Or if I think there’s a real gender thing going on I’ll say “Sometimes its easier if the girls do it together”… which will get an eye roll but usually works. If my hubby is there, I usually let him take the lead with the guy and suggest that he “let the girls work on that because they go slower, and you and I can just shoot.”

Where people are basically safe, just not getting it done well, I usually don’t interfere, but I try to get eye contact and a smile in with other women, at least when there aren’t very many on the range. If they look frustrated or scared, I’ll try to get in a “If you get stuck, let me know and I’d be happy to help.”

If they’re not safe… that’s another thing altogether. If it’s my shooting line its very different than if I’m in a public range. And I’ve been known to pack up if the RSO isn’t handing it and unsafe or abusive things are going on.

Well, my problem is this. My range is my backyard, if there’s someone I don’t know there, we’re have big problems…:grin::grin: