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 Total Newbie Needs Help Understanding Shooting Range Rules 
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 Post subject: Total Newbie Needs Help Understanding Shooting Range Rules
PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 8:20 pm 
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I just bought my first handgun - a Sig P226 9mm. It just so happens this was the first gun I have ever fired in my life (I'm 37 years old). I shot it during my handgun basic's course and absolutely loved it and was hitting the targets really good so I decided I would make that my first handgun purchase. Now it's time to break the baby in! I'm a little nervous about heading to the shooting range as this will be my first time and I don't want to do anything wrong (legal or otherwise) so I've got a handful of questions that I'm sure all you seasoned pros will get a kick out of;) I hate being a newbie but I guess you have to start somewhere. At any rate, here are my questions...

1. When transporting my gun to the shooting range, I understand it has to be stored in a case and in the trunk of my car. My instructor (Teresa from Bill's North) said there are lots of interpretations of the law, but she advised we carry the ammo in a separate case/bag and have that somewhere in the car - not in the trunk. However, later in the class she mentioned that if you had a shooter's bag, you could just keep everything in it and just have the bag in your trunk. What is the protocol here? And is it o.k. for me to have loaded spare cartridges in the shooter's bag or do I have to wait to load them at the range?

2. Do I have to bring my own targets or do I have to buy the ones at the range? I noticed they had lots of different targets that were for sale for about $2/each. Do I get a generic target included in my range fee or do I have to pay for a target regardless? And is it better to buy my targets at the range or buy them in advance somewhere and bring them myself?

3. What are the exact protocols when bringing your shooter's bag to your shooting lane? My understanding is that you bring your shooter's bag to your lane and then unload all your gear there. Then you load your gun there and fire away. Is that correct?

4. Since I have never fired a gun before (other than 20 rounds during my handgun training), how far should I put the target down the lane? And generally speaking, what is the "typical" distance to put your targets for regular shooting (i.e. not looking to become a sharp shooter or tactical expert)? I don't want to be the idiot who has his target too close or too far away given the gun I'm shooting. I should also mention I'll be buying the S&W 686 6" 6-shot next week so any tips on target distances for that would be helpful as well.

5. As an avid golfer, I'm a stickler when it comes to rules, etiquette, etc. so that last thing I want to do is enter a shooting range and be the newbie that ruins it for everyone else. Are there any other general rules and etiquette I should be aware of when I'm at the range?

Any help you guys (or gals) can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Travis


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 Post subject: Re: Total Newbie Needs Help Understanding Shooting Range Rules
PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:32 pm 
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Travis:

The first thing to do is let the Range Officer know yopu are a new shooter, ask him/her your questions as the answer may be different on different ranges.

The first law is be safe, if you are able to do tha the rest is easy, just ask people. You will discover that shooters want to help (in most cases) and will give you all the advise you want (and some you may not want :D )

HAve fun, shoot safe.

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 Post subject: Re: Total Newbie Needs Help Understanding Shooting Range Rules
PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:51 pm 
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MODERATOR MESSAGE:
#1 below is incorrect. See below.

- Andrew Rothman, Forum Moderator
1. When transporting my gun to the shooting range And is it o.k. for me to have loaded spare cartridges in the shooter's bag or do I have to wait to load them at the range?


If you already have your carry permit you can carry it (loaded or not) and the other law does not apply. Otherwise locked in the trunk is the norm with ammo separate to be on the safe side of the legal interpretation. Assuming you mean loaded magazines and yes they can be loaded and with your other ammunition.

2. Do I have to bring my own targets or do I have to buy the ones at the range?

Can bring your own or buy them at the range. There is no fee for bringing your own and they run about half of range charge.

3. What are the exact protocols when bringing your shooter's bag to your shooting lane?

YES tell the range person it is your first time, never hurts to have them run over the rules one more time and they see a lot of newbys and are very good at explaining things.

Put your eye and ear protection on before entering the range. Let the first door to the range close before opening the 2nd door.

You bring your bag in and put it on the bench behind the station assigned to you. Take your unloaded gun and put it on your station (ALWAYS WITH IT FACING DOWN RANGE). You can load magazines on the bench but do NOT load the gun itself anywhere but on station and again ALWAYS FACING DOWN RANGE.


4. Since I have never fired a gun before (other than 20 rounds during my handgun training), how far should I put the target down the lane?


IMO start at 15 (first line you see at most ranges) and work out from there. For any new gun BTW.


5. Are there any other general rules and etiquette I should be aware of when I'm at the range?


SAFETY is number 1 - INCLUDING - yes you heard it before ALWAYS FACING DOWN RANGE.


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 Post subject: Re: Total Newbie Needs Help Understanding Shooting Range Rules
PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 11:16 pm 
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tvanslooten wrote:
1. When transporting my gun to the shooting range, I understand it has to be stored in a case and in the trunk of my car.

No. It needs to be unloaded, and secured in a case. See MN Stat 624.714, Subd. 9:

Quote:
A permit to carry is not required of a person:
<...>
(5) to transport a pistol in a motor vehicle, snowmobile or boat if the pistol is unloaded, contained in a closed and fastened case, gunbox, or securely tied package.


tvanslooten wrote:
My instructor (Teresa from Bill's North) said there are lots of interpretations of the law, but she advised we carry the ammo in a separate case/bag and have that somewhere in the car - not in the trunk. However, later in the class she mentioned that if you had a shooter's bag, you could just keep everything in it and just have the bag in your trunk. What is the protocol here? And is it o.k. for me to have loaded spare cartridges in the shooter's bag or do I have to wait to load them at the range?


That's incorrect information. There are not "lots of interpretations" of the law, though there are lots of people who don't understand it. "Unloaded" is defined in Minnesota statute:

97B.015 wrote:
"Unloaded" means, with reference to a firearm, without ammunition in the barrels and magazine, if the magazine is in the firearm.

So you can have the magazines in the same bag, next to, or even duct-taped to the pistol, as long as the mags are not in the gun.

tvanslooten wrote:
2. Do I have to bring my own targets or do I have to buy the ones at the range? I noticed they had lots of different targets that were for sale for about $2/each. Do I get a generic target included in my range fee or do I have to pay for a target regardless? And is it better to buy my targets at the range or buy them in advance somewhere and bring them myself?

You can bring your own. I use discarded 8.5x11 office paper. Sometimes, if I get fancy, I draw a circle on the back. :)

It's always OK to ask the range officer. They see a lot of unsafe behavior*, and they are happy when someone WANTS to do it right.


-----------------------------------------
* At Bill's, they shrug and move on. At Burnsville, they CORRECT the unsafe behavior. Guess where I shoot?

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 Post subject: Re: Total Newbie Needs Help Understanding Shooting Range Rules
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:31 am 
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Andrew Rothman wrote:
* At Bill's, they shrug and move on. At Burnsville, they CORRECT the unsafe behavior. Guess where I shoot?
You're just saying that because it's true.

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 Post subject: Re: Total Newbie Needs Help Understanding Shooting Range Rules
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:36 am 
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Quote:
(A)If you already have your carry permit you can carry it (loaded or not) and the other law does not apply. (B)Otherwise locked in the trunk is the norm with ammo separate to be on the safe side of the legal interpretation. (C)Assuming you mean loaded magazines and yes they can be loaded and with your other ammunition.


Andrew, please clarify what is incorrect about that statement. A. is correct - if you have your permit locked in the trunk does not apply. B. May be fuzzy but is not incorrect. (C) is correct.

No fuzzier than this I might ad:
Quote:
There are not "lots of interpretations" of the law, though there are lots of people who don't understand it. "Unloaded" is defined in Minnesota statute:


What would it be called when an officer cuffs you for having your ammo with your gun only to find out later that it is not what the statute says? My choice of words was "interpretation".


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 Post subject: Re: Total Newbie Needs Help Understanding Shooting Range Rules
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:45 am 
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I have been shooting fairly regularly at Bill's North the last two years. Do not take your firearm from its case at the bench behind your lane, do that at the shooting station. Always keep the muzzle pointed down the lane and only ever load it there. Three times I have seen someone take their gun from the bench behind them to the shooting station. Once it was apparently not seen by the attendant, but two other times they immediately came in and issued a warning (one was hard to miss as 3 of us were pointed at and ducked away). Make sure you do not do that. You might want to call ahead and see if Theresa is working. She will often watch the newer people and, if she has time might help you out and make suggestions. She might throw you on one side all by yourself too, if there is room.

Have fun.

Hey, Andrew and Joel. Have you guys had trouble at Bill's in the last couple of years? At Bill's North? I haven't shot much in Robbinsdale. Maybe it is worse there.


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 Post subject: Re: Total Newbie Needs Help Understanding Shooting Range Rules
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:16 am 
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I believe that the confusion on lawful transport of pistols stems in part from differences from state to state. Iowa, for example, requires that pistols be in a locked case.

Also, the text of the revised version of the law now reads:

(4) persons who keep or store in a motor vehicle pistols in accordance with section
4.5624.714 or 624.715, or other firearms in accordance with section 97B.045 provided:
4.6(i) the firearm is unloaded and in a gun case expressly made to contain a firearm, and
4.7the case fully encloses the firearm by being zipped, snapped, buckled, tied, or otherwise
4.8fastened, and without any portion of the firearm exposed; or
4.9(ii) the firearm is unloaded and in the closed trunk of a motor vehicle

So, having a firearm in the trunk does obviate the need for a case (As Andrew correctly points out, a properly cased pistol need not be kept in the trunk, at least in Minnesota or Iowa, though there are some other states that do require it). On the other hand, people who keep their pistol in a range bag, holster, or some other container that doesn't meet the statutory requirements to be a gun case, would want to keep their pistol in the trunk.

And, as Larryflew implies, not all police officers know the law, and for casual rangegoers who aren't themselves confident of the law or comfortable with firearms handling, there's probably something to be said for overcomplying.


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 Post subject: Re: Total Newbie Needs Help Understanding Shooting Range Rules
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:17 am 
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I've found the range staff everywhere that I have shot to be very helpful on my first time there -- and the rules may be somewhat different from range to range -so never hurts to ask.

I mostly shoot at Bill's North - I've seen many safety issues corrected, but I've only been shooting there the last few months.

b

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 Post subject: Re: Total Newbie Needs Help Understanding Shooting Range Rules
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 8:11 am 
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exdrinker wrote:
Hey, Andrew and Joel. Have you guys had trouble at Bill's in the last couple of years?
Not me. I haven't shot at either of the Bill's location in years, and have gone there only when necessary ever since one of their patrons pointed a gun at me, and the range officer, instead of handling that problem, upbraided me for shouting too loudly for him to come and handle the problem.

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 Post subject: Re: Total Newbie Needs Help Understanding Shooting Range Rules
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 9:15 am 
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larryflew wrote:
Quote:
(B)Otherwise locked in the trunk is the norm with ammo separate to be on the safe side of the legal interpretation.


Andrew, please clarify what is incorrect about that statement. A. is correct - if you have your permit locked in the trunk does not apply. B. May be fuzzy but is not incorrect. (C) is correct.

Sorry. A and C were fine. B was wrong. Minnesota law IN NO WAY requires a gun to be in the trunk.
larryflew wrote:
No fuzzier than this I might ad:
Quote:
There are not "lots of interpretations" of the law, though there are lots of people who don't understand it. "Unloaded" is defined in Minnesota statute:


What would it be called when an officer cuffs you for having your ammo with your gun only to find out later that it is not what the statute says? My choice of words was "interpretation".

That's not "interpretation. It's "ignorance." It's also "false arrest" and "violation of civil rights under color of law" and "time for some more training, officer" and "tell me, officer, do you own your own home?"

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 Post subject: Re: Total Newbie Needs Help Understanding Shooting Range Rules
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 9:20 am 
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MostlyHarmless wrote:
On the other hand, people who keep their pistol in a range bag, holster, or some other container that doesn't meet the statutory requirements to be a gun case, would want to keep their pistol in the trunk.

Nope. Pistol transportation is governed by 624.714, which provides for a looser standard than 97B.045:

Quote:
...if the pistol is unloaded, contained in a closed and fastened case, gunbox, or securely tied package.

A range bag certainly qualifies. A holster, of course, would not.

Quote:
And, as Larryflew implies, not all police officers know the law, and for casual rangegoers who aren't themselves confident of the law or comfortable with firearms handling, there's probably something to be said for overcomplying.


There's something to be said for leaving it home, too, which is the safest way to avoid getting hassled by ignorant cops. If you transport a gun, it is your responsibility to know the law. If you're worried about ignorant cops, throw a copy of 97B.015, 97B.045 and 624.714 in your range bag.

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 Post subject: Re: Total Newbie Needs Help Understanding Shooting Range Rules
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 9:31 am 
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Now only if I could do to people what the Army did to us when they saw us do something stupid on the range, they hit us on the head with their metal range paddle. :D Of course we had helmets on, but it sure did get our attention. Before I had my permit to carry, I would load my mags the night before and put them in my range bag. Since I usually take more than one gun to the range, each gun got put in it's case and in the range bag also. Then the range bag went in the trunk or in the back seat of my pick-up since it would be out of reach of the driver (while driving of course). Many people can reach pretty far into their backseat, but as far as I know that meets the requirement for vehicles with no trunk. I always error on the side of caution. Bill's (and most ranges) won't allow you to do drawing from a holster drills for safety reasons. Typically I lock the slide back on my weapon before and after I shoot a mag *if* I'm putting the weapon back down on the rubberized shooting rest just to make sure I know what the status of the weapon is at all times. I'm really anal when it comes to safety and I think everyone should be anal too in that regard. I live by the rule that you never point a weapon at anything you don't intend to destroy and all guns are loaded. I've taught my daughter that all guns are loaded and that anytime anyone hands you a gun and says, "hey, it's not loaded" that you check yourself before handling it any further to verify it isn't loaded even if you just saw them check the chamber. www.Ammoman.com has printable targets that you can print on 8x10 piece of paper here: http://www.ammoman.com/targets/targets1.htm Typically I bring my own targets since they are just too darn expensive for what they are at the range.

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 Post subject: Re: Total Newbie Needs Help Understanding Shooting Range Rules
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:00 am 
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nitzer wrote:
Then the range bag went in the trunk or in the back seat of my pick-up since it would be out of reach of the driver (while driving of course). Many people can reach pretty far into their backseat, but as far as I know that meets the requirement for vehicles with no trunk.

I would be interested in seeing this requirement or Minnesota statute, do you have a link?


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 Post subject: Re: Total Newbie Needs Help Understanding Shooting Range Rules
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:51 am 
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cobb wrote:
nitzer wrote:
Then the range bag went in the trunk or in the back seat of my pick-up since it would be out of reach of the driver (while driving of course). Many people can reach pretty far into their backseat, but as far as I know that meets the requirement for vehicles with no trunk.

I would be interested in seeing this requirement or Minnesota statute, do you have a link?

He's probably talking about the relevant part of FOPA. While Minnesota's rules are more liberal than the FOPA protections, if you abide by FOPA, you should be okay, even though, technically, FOPA should only cover interstate rather than intrastate transport, the language of it is pretty clear (and the emphasis is definitely mine, not the law's):
Quote:
Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.
But, that said, if the gun box/bag is in the driver's compartment, it pretty clearly (well, explicitly, under FOPA), must be locked.

Under MN, law, of course, the container must simple be "closed and fastened," and not a purse.

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