Range Orientation and Safety Briefing

  1. General

    All participants and spectators at Action Training Group, Inc. (hereinafter ATG) events must abide by all ATG protocols and any procedures in effect at host ranges while the ATG conducts live-fire events or other ATG activities are being conducted. The following guidelines will normally control the activities of all shooters, volunteers and Range Safety officers before, during and after any range events or handling of firearms:

    1. Cold Range: We run a cold range which means there is no handling of firearms and all firearms must be unloaded until the Range Safety Officer (RSO) gives the command to Make Ready.
    2. Unloaded Firearms: A firearm is only considered unloaded when there are no chambered rounds and no inserted magazines, even if the magazine is empty.
    3. Firearm Handling: Absolutely no handling of firearms even if the firearm is in the holster. Firearms shall remain unloaded and holstered, until you are at the firing line and the RSO gives you the Make Ready command. Absolutely no handling of firearms behind the firing line, except at the safety table.
    4. Safety Table: A Safety Table will be provided where unloaded firearms can be handled and where handling of magazines and/or ammunition will be strictly prohibited. The Safety Table shall remain free of any magazines or items containing ammunition except for that which is stored on the shooter's person. The only exception to handling magazines and/or ammunition at the Safety Table will be for those who arrive that are carrying. You may unload your firearm at the Safety Table or downrange (preferred) provided an RSO is present.

    Any violation is grounds for disqualification from the event and/or remedial action at the RSO's sole discretion. Disqualification means not participating in shooting for the duration of the event.

  2. Four Basic Rules of Firearms
    1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
    2. Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to shoot.
    3. Know your target and what is beyond it.
    4. Keep your trigger finger on the frame if your firearm is a semi-automatic, the barrel of your firearm if it is a revolver, the stock if your firearm is a rifle or shotgun. Never put your finger on the trigger until the gun is pointed downrange, the gun sights are aligned on your target and you are ready to fire.

  3. Range Commands
    1. Down Range: means that shooter, RSO, scorers, target tapers, brass police, etc. are going down range to perform their respective duties. After the RSO gives the command Down Range everyone (shooter, spectators, and etc.) will reply Down Range to acknowledge that the range is COLD. Handling of firearms when during Down Range is absolutely forbidden.
    2. The range is going hot: After everybody has cleared Down Range the RSO will call out The range is going hot twice.
    3. The range is hot: Upon those commands, everyone needs to put on their safety glasses and hearing protection.
    4. When everyone has eye and ear protection the RSO will call for the next shooter.
    5. Do you understand the course of fire? If the shooter doesn’t understand or has questions, the RSO will explain the Course of Fire.
    6. Make ready: A shooter may insert a magazine and/or load ammunition into a gun and re-holster.
    7. Is the shooter reader ready? This is a question, and the shooter should be given a few seconds to indicate that (s)he is ready; i.e., the shooter is ready.
    8. Stand by (followed by start signal): This command should be issued in a loud but calm voice, and followed by a delay of two or three seconds
    9. Begin: Depending on the range and course, the signal to start will either be the verbal command Begin, or a machine beep.
    10. If there is a malfunction that the shooter is unable to clear, keep the gun pointed downrange and raise your support hand. RSO will give you instructions to clear or hold position. (Especially if there is a potential for a hang fire or squib.)
    11. If you are finished, unload and show clear: Drop the magazine and open the slide, or cylinder if shooting a revolver and remove all live ammunition.
    12. If you are clear, hammer down and holster: Point muzzle down range and pull trigger to ensure the cylinder is cold. DO NOT USE DE-COCKERS. The purpose of dropping the hammer is to prove that the chamber is empty. It is the third check in a triple-safe system. It is intended to make the gun fire if there is a round in the chamber that both the shooter and the SO have failed to notice.
    13. Range is clear: Indicates that participants are free to proceed down range beyond the shooter's location when (s)he completes a Course of Fire". The RSO has discretion to also announce "down range" and other participants should then confirm by responding "down range!"
    14. Muzzle: If at any time the shooter's muzzle starts to approach the 180-degree mark, or walls and ceilings when shooting is in a building, use this command to warn the shooter that he or she is about to point the muzzle up-range.
    15. Finger: At all times, the finger should be out of the trigger guard unless actually firing or preparing to fire. If the muzzle is directed in any direction except that of a target to be engaged, the finger must be out of the trigger guard. Watch the shooter during loading, movement, reloading, and unloading to ensure that it is.
    16. Cover: When applicable and as per course description. If more than 50% of the shooter's upper torso, or any part of the shooter's lower torso is exposed to any unengaged target during the course of fire, the SO or Scorekeeper should call out "Cover!" Note that the Scorekeeper should be in a much better position to make this call, and should do so, in order to allow the Safety Officer to concentrate on the gun. If the shooter immediately moves to correct the cover violation, then no procedural penalty should be issued. However, if the shooter is shooting or moving too fast for the cover warning to be noted, then a procedural penalty should be assessed. In simple terms, warn the shooter if at all possible, otherwise assess the penalty.
    17. Stop: Anyone can say Stop; Safety is Everyone's Responsibility! FREEZE immediately and wait for further instructions. Stop is now used lieu of cease fire.

  4. Emergency Procedure
    1. Identify who will be in charge of emergency situations and medical personnel
    2. Location of First Aid equipment and supplies and location of designated emergency vehicle which shall be prepared for easy access and departure.
    3. Keys should be in a location known to participants or with a designated individual so that medical personnel can be in the back assisting the victim while going to the nearest emergency room.

  5. Hygiene & Clothing Guidelines
    1. No loaded guns in rest rooms.
    2. Be aware of lead contamination and hygiene issues regarding eating, drinking, or placement of hands in proximity to the mouth or nose while on the range or cleaning a gun. Remember to wash hands and face with cold soapy water or body/hand wipes, before going to lunch and at the conclusion of the event.
    3. All participants and spectators shall wear eye and ear protection.
    4. Hip holster and magazine holders should be worn on a belt on the hip.
    5. A cap with a bill or brim is required to protect against debris and hot brass.
    6. Cross-draw holsters, leg holsters and shoulder holsters are not permitted except for law enforcement and military personnel engaged in certain events approved in advance by the RSO.

  6. RSO: Things for which RSOs and all participants and spectators should watch.
    1. Trigger finger position on SERPA style holsters upon depressing latch.
    2. Leg position when drawing from holster – isosceles most problematic and moving off the X.
    3. Support hand position during the draw and re-holster.
    4. Garment interferences – conceal presentation, when holstering, potential for muzzle to lodge in folds of bulky clothing or a pocket during presentation.
    5. Muzzle and support hand positions during malfunction assessment and clearing.
    6. Fishing technique in gun presentation (muzzle high arc) – watch trigger finger. Correct this quickly.
    7. Safety and De-cocker engaged when holstering – ask owner if pistol is so equipped and to use it when holstering.
    8. Insecure revolver handling during reloading (fingers should be through the frame and holding the cylinder).
    9. Ensure backstop coverage from likely shooting positions to likely targets, with margins of safety.
    10. Consistent side-by-side single line when multiple shooters on the line.
    11. During shooting on the move, keep shooters from hugging the barriers or barricades due to potential tripping hazards.
    12. Shooters on the line moving to pick up materials from the floor while the range is still hot
    13. Area security when we’re conducting downrange exercises; is equipment guarded from theft?
    14. RSO must watch the people during the events (especially the shooters), not the targets.
    15. Muzzles must never sweep any part of a shooter's body or muzzle others on the range.

  7. Beginning an Event
    1. The MC will introduce range personnel, mentors, volunteers and the Chief Range Safety Officer (CRSO).
    2. The CRSO will then introduce his or her team and explain the following to all present including any spectators:
      1. Range-Facility Rules and Lay Out, including firing area limits, spectator area.
      2. Range commands and Four Basic Rules of Firearms.
      3. Safety related procedures and makes sure new shooters are properly oriented. Know the layout of the range; clearly communicate any safety hazards, identify First Aid personnel, supplies and communications such as telephones for calling 911.

  8. Informational Materials
    1. Provide a written course description and objectives of each Course of Fire (COF) or event.
    2. Course descriptions are to provide an overview of the event with stage descriptions and (COF) clearly diagrammed.

Safety is Everyone's Responsibility!

We are all learning together and having a good time. We cannot effectively provide protection with a firearm unless we make gun safety the highest priority!