by Phil Whitehead, Owner, MP Veteran Custom Firearms and Ammunition
In a family, or social setting, the act of having a group shooting outing can be fun, relaxing and educational, but rules must strictly be adhered to. Safety first is the primary rule of any family or group shooting gathering.
Shade covering, such as a pop-up canopy, allows for a break from a sunny day and a place for younger ones to escape the sun. Daytime shooting, especially in warm weather, will necessitate bringing water, food for children and hats.
First, consider the ages of the attendees. With younger children, special precautions must be taken. Hearing protection as well as a barrier to prevent wandering near the firing line are paramount.
Children old enough to participate must be under the hands-on guidance of an experienced adult — one at a time. Don’t overwhelm children by a firearm too big or loud for a first-timer. A single shot .22 rifle or a .22 pistol with a limited round count in the magazine or cylinder is a great way to introduce them to the enjoyment of shooting while teaching them the basic shooting safety rules:
- All firearms are presumed loaded.
- Never point a firearm at anything you don’t intend to shoot.
- Always keep the muzzle (or barrel end) pointed downrange.
- You are responsible for anything your bullet hits.
- Remember — you can never undo an accidental shooting.
These rules apply to everyone.
Second, the setup of the shooting area can make it safer. Having a row of tables for guns and equipment is best. Everyone in the area must have hearing protection, and everyone shooting must wear eye protection.
It is best to only have one shooter at a time, so the other adults can watch over the younger ones.
Third, a policy of “hot range” and “cold range” must be used. This way everyone will know when it is safe to move about, to check targets and replace them, and to talk freely. “Hot range” must be announced loudly and clearly, as must “cold range.”
And finally, when finished, please pick up any debris, bottles, cans and target residue, leaving the shooting area cleaner than before you got there.