Friday, January 9, 2015

Making and Editing the Rules

This has been an interesting, if difficult exercise. Our club is revising the safety rules for the ranges. Most of them are pretty straight forward, but the committee keeps finding itself tripping over the details.

Here's an example. One general safety rule for all the ranges is that if anyone is going downrange, to change targets for example, everyone on that range has to clear their firearms, put them down on the bench and step away. No one is to handle firearms, ammo, or magazines while anyone is forward of the line. Seems simple enough, right?

What constitutes a safe weapon? How detailed does it need to be? We ended up with this:

6. Prior to anyone going downrange, all firearms should be cleared, made safe,  and grounded on the bench.
    a. Clearing a firearm and making it safe means all ammunition has been removed, removable magazines are out of the firearm, the action, bolt, or cylinder is open, and it is laid on the bench in such a manner that the safe condition of the firearm can be seen without touching the firearm.
    b. While anyone is downrange, DO NOT handle firearms, magazines or ammo for any reason.
    c. If you arrive at a range and people are downrange, do not unpack or handle your firearms, magazines or ammo until all people downrange return. Likewise,  if you wish to leave a range, do not collect or handle your firearms, magazines or ammo while there are people downrange.

I think part c. is redundant, but other felt that it was important to leave that in. We talked about requiring empty chamber flags like the Garand Matches require, whether or not it was necessary to remove magazines if the firearm was already clearly empty with the action open, and so on.

If making laws is anything like this, no wonder they get so muddled up.


Anonymous said...

My club is going to be revisiting their range rules this year (last revised in 2008 I believe), and I somehow managed to get myself volunteered onto that committee. I am not exactly relishing process. If you or your readers have any brilliant insights I wouldn't mind hearing them.

Ed Skinner said...

If the rules are long, no one will read them.

Publish them in two parts, short and long. Print a short summary - four or five rules of five or six words, and then a longer, more detailed discussion.

Shooters will read only the short rules even though both mpsets must be available. Safety officers and safety-conscious shooters will read (and enforce) the longer ones.

Sherm said...

I bought and use chamber flags even though they're not required by our club. No one complains that I'm too careful or that the condition of my firearms is too obvious.

Overload in Colorado said...

I like refilling my magazines during a 'cease fire', and we have nothing against this in our rules.

lelnet said...

Unlike those who make actual laws, you can assume good-will.

It is safe to suppose that no one involved in the discussion of how to word the rules is secretly (or openly) in favor of range users periodically getting shot by other range users.

You can amend the rules with relative ease at any time, if the old ones prove ineffective.

A person breaking the range rules is neither presumed innocent until proven guilty, nor entitled to a trial before the rules can be enforced against them.

And if someone insists on rules-lawyering you, you can enforce the "spirit" of the rules by ejecting them from the range entirely, whether or not his actions technically violated the text of the rules as they existed at the time.

Making actual laws, in other words, is a lot like this...except way worse, because legal statutes have none of those advantages.

(FWIW, I also agree with Overload above...I would not violate a range rule against it, but if there isn't any such, I think cease-fire periods are an excellent time to reload magazines. If the gun is on the bench with the action open and the user's hands well away from it, it is not going to discharge, regardless of what's going on behind the line with magazines and ammo.)

chiefjaybob said...

Would it be easier to create a separate "Definitions" section, where you could specify terms like, "make safe," "downrange," etc., without muddling up the actual rules?

ASM826 said...


That is an excellent suggestion. I'm going to offer it at the next meeting.

ASM826 said...

Ed Skinner,

We do that as well, there is a short list of very simple "Let's not shoot anyone" rules. They are posted on the range and serve well. The document we are working include things like the guest policy, when the ranges are open, what can and can not be shot on a particular range, etc.

Old NFO said...

We allow magazine loading during cold range, but not at the firing line. One note on chamber flags, if you're going to require them, you'll need to have a stock on hand. And please price them reasonably... Agree with Ed too! And yes, C is probably redundant.

Goober said...

I've always trained my proteges that a "safe weapon" is a weapon that a person should be able to look at and know it is safe.

I require everyone to have their actions open, so that i can see them open, or I do not consider the weapon to have been made safe.

Also - is gun. Is not safe.