Range Safety

Range Commands

The following are examples of typical range commands:

  • “The range is active”
  • “Cease-fire”
  • “The range is no longer active”

Range commands and signals vary between shooting sports, ranges and jurisdictions. Be sure you are aware of and clearly understand the commands used in your area. If you are unsure, ask the Range Officer or a local official before you go to the range (Appendix G: Visual Range Signals and Devices – RCMP CFSC/CRFSC Student Manual).

Safety procedures on approved range

Every range has rules of safe behaviour. These may vary but will normally include the standard ones shown below:

  • The muzzle must always be pointed down range.
  • The action of any firearm must be open at all times, except when actually shooting.
  • Firearms must only be loaded, unloaded, and discharged at the firing line.
  • No firearm is loaded until the command to load is given by the Range Officer.
  • Fingers must be kept out of the trigger guard and off the trigger until the firearm is pointed down range.
  • Upon the command “cease-fire,” all firing stops at once. Firearms are unloaded.
  • Actions are opened. Firearms are laid on the mat or on the table. Their muzzles point in a safe direction down range. The shooter steps back from the firing line, behind the “cease-fire” line.
  • The Range Officer will inspect each firearm before allowing anyone to go forward of the firing line.
  • During a “cease-fire,” no one will handle firearms or ammunition or return to the firing line. At this point, wait for further range commands before any further activity.
  • Persons not engaged in changing targets down range should stand well behind the cease-fire line.
  • Use hearing and sight protection.
A diagram of a shooting range with direct supervision

Range Layout with direct supervision

Additional range safety suggestions

In an emergency, anyone can call a “cease-fire.”

  • There are other rules we recommend you follow:
  • Minors and guests, who do not have a valid Firearms Licence, must be under direct and immediate supervision while shooting. Check with your range for any further restrictions.
  • Firearms should be checked by the Range Officer on the “cease-fire.” This is to be sure that all actions are opened and no cartridges are in the breech.
  • Unloaded firearms not in use are to be placed in the designated area with the action open or kept in a case. They should be moved with the muzzle pointed in the safest available direction or cased at the firing line.
  • Never allow horseplay, careless handling of firearms or any other distraction while shooting is in progress.
  • Make sure that you are using the correct ammunition for your firearm, and as approved by the range.
  • Never shoot at target holders or other range equipment.
  • Do not discharge firearms outside of designated range property or posted range use times.

Direct and immediate supervision is defined as the supervisor being within arm’s reach of the shooter at all times when shooting activity is being supervised.

Where shooting activities are regularly scheduled, the CFO for a province or territory must issue an approval under the authority of the Firearms Act. Such ranges are subject to rules and procedures that may differ from province to province. Check with your local authorities.

Range courtesy

There are certain standards of range courtesy. Rules and procedures vary between ranges. Check and obey local rules. Some of these standards are listed below:

  • There should be a safety briefing before starting.
  • Sign in to the firing range upon arrival, if required.
  • Avoid interrupting or distracting others when they are shooting.
  • Do not smoke on the firing line.
  • Ask the owner’s or shooter’s permission before handling that person’s firearms or equipment.
  • Leave enough space between you and others to ensure safety.
  • If firing particularly smoky firearms, shoot from downwind of other shooters on the firing line. Black-powder firearms are especially smoky.
  • Do not fire on other people’s targets, targets not directly down range from yourself or any target that may disturb others.
  • Those firing semi-automatic firearms should take a firing point where other people will not be disturbed by ejected casings.
  • Rapid firing may disturb shooters sighting-in or doing deliberate target work.
  • When the line is clear, clean up after shooting, pick up cartridge casings and take down targets.
  • Put away any range-owned equipment you have used, i.e. sandbags or bench rests.