Dangerous shooters at the range

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Dangerous shooters at the range

#1

Post by mewalke » Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:38 am

I think this post is more appropriate for this forum than the Shooting Range forum since it deals with safety issues in general and what I will never do again.

My father came into town this weekend and we decided to hit up the range on Sunday to spend some time together. We visited an indoor range in the north central part of the DFW metroplex. I have been to this range several times and the facilities and the staff have always been great. This particular Sunday they were PACKED.

Whenever I go to a range, especially when it is crowded, I will usually place my stuff on the bench and stand back a watch people for a little bit. With so many people in such tight quarters, all it takes is one reckless person or new shooter to cause a dangerous situation. This particular Sunday everyone seemed to be practicing safe shooting so my Dad and I stepped up to the line and proceeded to shoot.

About an hour and a half in, the shooters directly to the left of us left and a few younger guys took their place. By this time I had become complacent and was not paying attention to other shooters. As I stepped back to watch my Dad work on his revolver skills I noticed one of the shooters to the left was having a little trouble with his M&P. With a loaded pistol, and his finger ON THE TRIGGER he proceeded to turn the pistol so it was pointing directly at the person in the stall to his left and tried to figure out what was going on. I immediately grabbed the RO next to me who was sweeping brass. He intervened and had stern words with the gentleman and showed him some basics about his pistol.

Unfortunately after the RO left the unsafe behaviors started up again. He kept moving the take down lever in the down position and tried to fire the pistol. When it wouldn't work he proceeded again to sweep people multiple times with a loaded pistol. I decided I had had enough (after two more RO visits) and told my dad to pack up quickly but safely and we left for the day.

On the way out I told my Dad about the unsafe behavior and why I felt it was time to leave. To my surprise he said he had seen them sweep people with his pistol and his rifle multiple times but wasn't sure what he should do. We had a discussion that it isn't rude but is everyone’s responsibility to grab an RO immediately and inform them of the unsafe behavior.

I am very surprised the ROs didn't eject the person, especially after 3 visits to the shooter and observing the unsafe behavior first-hand. Going forward I will probably call it a day after the FIRST RO visit doesn't correct the behavior. I'd rather be out a $20 range fee instead of leaving in an ambulance or a body bag.

Lesson learned - safety is EVERYONE'S responsibility. If someone is being unsafe and a single RO visit isn't enough to correct the issue, then call it a day. Better safe than dead.


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Re: Dangerous shooters at the range

#2

Post by bdickens » Mon Jul 29, 2013 11:07 am

I would write a letter to the management and explain to them why they won't be getting any more money from me.
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Re: Dangerous shooters at the range

#3

Post by Excaliber » Mon Jul 29, 2013 11:13 am

bdickens wrote:I would write a letter to the management and explain to them why they won't be getting any more money from me.
I agree.

That's gross negligence on the part of management.
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Re: Dangerous shooters at the range

#4

Post by EEllis » Mon Jul 29, 2013 11:19 am

I was at a big indoor range and was struck by how young the RO's were. While some kids can do just fine it strikes me that when they are all or mostly kids then it's because it doesn't pay much which is hardly conducive to quality work. It also says something about the importance of money over other factors to the business. Of course the small ranges I go to don't normally have any RO's but the counter guys who keep half an eye thru the glass so......


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Re: Dangerous shooters at the range

#5

Post by MotherBear » Mon Jul 29, 2013 11:34 am

mewalke wrote:I am very surprised the ROs didn't eject the person, especially after 3 visits to the shooter and observing the unsafe behavior first-hand. Going forward I will probably call it a day after the FIRST RO visit doesn't correct the behavior. I'd rather be out a $20 range fee instead of leaving in an ambulance or a body bag.
I wonder what the range management would say if you asked for a partial refund of your range fee in situations like that, since their management failed to keep the range safe? My guess is that you wouldn't actually get a refund, but maybe asking would make them think a little harder about how they handle these things. I realize they can't be responsible for the behavior of idiots, but when people continue to be unsafe after multiple interventions from the RO it seems like there's ground to ask them to leave for the safety of all the other customers. And better to ask those people to leave (even if it means refunding their money and losing their business) than have to deal with all of your good customers becoming dissatisfied.

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Re: Dangerous shooters at the range

#6

Post by mewalke » Mon Jul 29, 2013 12:33 pm

I thought about asking for a partial refund, but my Dad and I were starting to get tired and would have probably packed up within the next 30-45 minutes anyway and we had almost 2 hours worth of shooting as it was.

I did inform the manager in front and he said he would go in and talk with the ROs and the shooter in question. Not sure if he did. I think the fact that they were so busy added to the issue. They had at least 5 or 6 ROs between the two shooting lines and it was a different RO to talk to the irresponsible shooter each of the 3 times even though I had notified them another RO had spoken with him previously.

I will probably continue to go back to that range, but will probably avoid weekends during the day. I usually go after work during the week when only half of the lanes are open. As it was on Sunday there was a 30-45 minute wait for a lane, and that is if you were a single shooter or willing to share a lane.

I think for me the experience just reinforced that no one is truly responsible for my safety except me. Even when you have good attentive ROs, they can't catch everything.

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Re: Dangerous shooters at the range

#7

Post by Jumping Frog » Mon Jul 29, 2013 1:11 pm

I've been known to get fairly red-faced myself and tell such a shooter directly that his behavior is completely unacceptable. My view when it comes to range safety is we are ALL RSO's.
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Re: Dangerous shooters at the range

#8

Post by The Annoyed Man » Mon Jul 29, 2013 1:12 pm

You're a better man than I am. I will speak up loudly to the person doing the sweeping. I've noticed that those who do the sweeping really can't be taught a lot of the times. The sensory overload of just being at the range and shooting is just overwhelming to them. Because it occupies so much of their prefrontal cortex, they have little to no processing capacity left over for processing through the safety rules in a calm manner. So repeating instructions about keeping the weapon pointed in a safe direction is an exercise in futility.

I once brought a coworker of my son's and her husband to DPC for a range session. She wanted to give him a range day for his birthday, and my son volunteered me because I have a range membership and a gun collection. I'm always glad to introduce new shooters to the shooting sports, and I said that as long as she paid for the ammo, I'd get them into the range as my guests and let them try shooting a bunch of different pistols. They are both hispanic, she being originally from Mexico, and he from Honduras. Neither of them had any prior gun experience at all. One thing that became extremely clear as the afternoon wore on was that he had that sort of hispanic cultural machismo severely ingrained in his character, and he was pretty dismissive of taking instruction from another man in front of his wife. He generally followed instructions, but you could see that he wasn't really taking things seriously, because it was important to him to maintain a macho insouciance about the whole thing. She, on the other hand, was delightful. And because she followed instructions and wasn't trying to prove anything, she rapidly began to outshoot her husband.

Now, over the course of the afternoon, we started them on .22 pistols, then .38s, then 9mms, then .45s, and finally Big Poppa, my S&W .44 magnum. With the hammer cocked and on single action it only takes an angel's kiss on the trigger to light the fire in that pistol. At one point late in the afternoon, while he was at the firing line and the rest of us were sitting on a bench in the shade behind him. He turned around and unconsciously pointed that .44 directly at us, loaded, with the hammer cocked, and his finger inside the trigger guard!!!! I immediately started shouting and waving in obvious alarm to point that gun away from us down range right NOW! I think that he was embarrassed, but he wouldn't show it because his wife was watching (and she also in the line of fire), and so he reacted with a smile and a wave dismissing my concern because he "Hey man, I'm not going to shoot anybody." After I got control of the pistol from him, and when his wife was not watching, I took him aside and in a low voice explained to him that what he had done was exactly how lots of people get shot dead every year, by other people who mean no harm and who don't think they are going to shoot anybody; and that if he did not follow the safety rules 100% from now on, which had been clearly explained to him, the range day was going to be over.

We lasted another 10-15 minutes, and then I called it a day. Before the scene with that .44, they had asked my advice about what would be a good gun for them to buy for home defense. I suggested a Glock 19, which they got to try that afternoon, and which she was able to handle and shoot fairly well. Her husband scoffed at the idea of a "mere 9mm" and declared that they had to have a .44 magnum like mine. I asked my son to explain to the wife later at work to A) ignore her husband with regard to gun choice and insist on the Glock if they had to have a gun, and B) to not let him have access to any gun in the home until he learned to be responsible about gun safety, even if that meant that she not buy one for now, because he might easily kill one of their children with his attitude about safety.

A year or so later, they invited my wife and me along with my son and DIL to a traditional honduran meal at their apartment for some kind of party. In a quiet moment, I asked the wife under my breath if they have ever bought a pistol. She gave me a knowing look and said no, not yet, because it wasn't a good idea in their home right now. I let it go at that.
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Re: Dangerous shooters at the range

#9

Post by scottmeador » Mon Jul 29, 2013 1:37 pm

:iagree:
Jumping Frog wrote:I've been known to get fairly red-faced myself and tell such a shooter directly that his behavior is completely unacceptable. My view when it comes to range safety is we are ALL RSO's.


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Re: Dangerous shooters at the range

#10

Post by BStacks » Mon Jul 29, 2013 3:29 pm

So you are not going to name the range?

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Re: Dangerous shooters at the range

#11

Post by mewalke » Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:31 pm

BStacks wrote:So you are not going to name the range?
No. The purpose of the post was to call out the fact that we are all responsible for our safety when at the range, not to call out the range. The ROs all reacted immediately, but with so many people there and so many ROs on the line, there was no continuity when the person had to be talked to several times.

Unless I see that happen more often in future visits - I don't intend to crucify the range.

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Re: Dangerous shooters at the range

#12

Post by cheezit » Mon Jul 29, 2013 5:56 pm

i hate to say this but body armor at the indoor range is not a bad idea.

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Re: Dangerous shooters at the range

#13

Post by puma guy » Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:32 pm

The last time I visited my favorite indoor range it was a mad house. Saw the same type of activity and spoke up to remedy it. Told them all weapons down range like the signs stated. I went to the counter, but they were too busy to send any one. Should have just left. Things were OK for a while but then several people were rapid firing their pistol and shot guns. I got hit not once but twice. Got a piece of metal jacket in the leg (wearing shorts). They just looked at me when I told them to stop and I'd been hit and showed them the blood on my leg and the piece of bullet jacket. RO did talk to them. Then just before leaving a guy to the left did the same thing at about the same distance and I saw the hanger react and something come flying at me. Hit my left muff and bounced off my shoulder. :mad5 He was totally oblivious that he had hit the hanger, but it was still swinging when I called him on it. He packed up and left and I did too. I spoke with the guys before I left and they told me it was ladies night and that's why the were packed and had not been as attentive as they should have been. I've been going to this range since the mid 1960's and had never seen any thing like that before so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt this time. There is very little room aisle space in the shooting area so they watch through the glass, but I rarely saw any one that night watching the action.
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Re: Dangerous shooters at the range

#14

Post by CEOofEVIL » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:33 pm

I've RSO'ed at an indoor range that seems to have had similar circumstances to what you just described, So I'd like to kick in my .2 cents regarding this type of behavior.

The range I worked at had 16 lanes - on the weekends it was a MADHOUSE. We regularly had at least 315 shooters come through per day on weekends (normally saturdays, though). Which might not sound like a lot, but it surely is. It resulted in waits of up to 2 hours (no exaggerations - though few people waited that long) for a lane. This was a pay by the hour place. Generally the Saturday crowd would see a median 2 shooters per lane, as most people would just share given the wait time and capacity of the range itself. Just to give an idea of how the range staff was numbered: 2 dedicated to the range desk. The rest of the store had 4 or 5 depending on how things were going that day. Of the 2 dedicated to the range desk, their job was to run the range desk (check people in, cash them out, handle rentals, give safety briefings, etc.) and handle the range itself. Handling the range consisted of RSO'ing for 1 hour shifts multiple times a day during a 12 hour shift, and immediately repairing any damage done to a lane that put it out of commission. For us, RSO'ing was defined as:

- Safety. The obvious making sure no unsafe activity is occurring, and enforcing our rules thusly.
- Providing assistance to patrons whom needed it ("I can't reach my target to change it out", "This is jammed and I can't get it undone!", "Do you have an allen wrench this size?"). I loved helping people with that stuff. More so, we would provide general assistance to those who were having issues with the basics of shooting if, and only if, range safety permitted it; IE: if it was slow and we could afford to divert our attention to it with no ill affect to our other duties. I particularly loved this part. Helping someone like that made me all warm and fuzzy inside.
- Keeping the range clean. This included replacing targets after someone left a lane, spraying and wiping down the lane with a special cleaner, and sweeping up brass. Also cleaning up blood - too many people cut themselves, I' d grown convinced. ;-)
- Repairing the lanes when they went down. Sometimes this meant policing the shooters as they stood behind the firing line empty handed during a cease fire (to make sure your buddies didn't get shot). Sometimes this meant donning a suit and respirator and running (literally) down range to fix whatever issue was going on, with another person, as most repairs could not be done by a single person. So it generally took three people to carry out a range repair properly (keep this in mind).

When you have 8 people shooting on different lanes? Not so much of a big deal. When the range is packed to capacity with at least two shooters on each of the 16 lanes? It got downright impossible to keep up with. You'd have to walk back and forth every 20-ish seconds in order to make sure everyone wasn't doing something unsafe or dumb (at the least). And if you stopped sweeping for more than a minute? The brass would build up on the floor to the point of it being unsafe (brass + concrete floor = WHEE!). Factor in the folks leaving their lane (mostly trashed I might add - brass all over the place, shot off target clips/rods, etc) and having to clean up after them before the next person(s) are sent out to that lane by the range desk staff? Madness I say. We won't even talk about how having to manage all of the above works when you have to assist with a repair.

So when it's busy, the RSO simply can't be everywhere at once. I tried my absolute hardest to watch EVERYONE like an eagle (even those who appeared to know what they were doing, because you never know) while carrying out all the above tasks, and trust me it was by far the most stressful job I could ever imagine having. The idea that if you stop paying attention for a split second, some genius could shoot himself or someone else was ever present. Needless to say by the time your hour was up you were more than happy to get off the range and man a relatively safe counter, even though it was still very stressful (people generally get very irate when they have to wait, and they weren't shy about taking it out on the staff). I never had to toss someone out, thankfully. I like to think that it was because I was reactive and stern enough to stop an issue before it developed and take care of it. The truth is that I was just lucky though. Why? There are simply some circumstances yin which you cannot prevent injury to someone. Example: Someone intent on harming themselves can still do so even if you're only a matter of feet away and watching them. Unless they were exhibiting some type of behavior that would tip us off, of course. We simply can't react fast enough and cover the ground to the person in time to affect a different outcome in extreme circumstances like that, so it's a real possibility. Again, watching people like a hawk is the only real defense for this. I had to deal with folks who insisted on handling their firearms when a cease fire was in effect while staff were downrange for repairs. There was an elderly gentleman who insisted that pointing his tube fed .22 rifle at his grandsons noggin' while reloading it wasn't the least bit unsafe (Oh boy, that one was tough), and the folks who just generally muzzle everyone in the lanes next to them. Usually a very stern talking to straightened them up quickly. Thankfully most folks seemed to realize that the fact that their recklessness could possibly kill their friends/loved ones (and even the range staff) would be "very bad", and they ceased quickly and straightened up and flew right. There were the very alpha and unpleasant guys who would push you just because they couldn't admit to their infringement of safety. I have too many horror stories about that. Even those types would back off when you got really stern with them though, thankfully.

I suppose the point I'm trying to make is this: If you attend a busy indoor range, the RSO more than likely is trying his absolute hardest to keep everyone safe. So if you see something bad, potentially bad, or even remotely questionable, intervene directly. By all means, PLEASE pull the RSO aside after the immediate safety issue has been resolved, but don't be afraid to be the RSO at the moment. We truly, truly appreciate it. We don't want to see folks hurt at all, and seeing someone who is safety conscious help not just us but everyone who is on the range out, is superbly appreciated and we'll show our appreciation in any way we can. The most prudent solution to all of the above issues was to have at least two, if not three, RSO's on duty when it was busy like that (which never was even acknowledged as a solution). On occasion if it was dead enough inside the store, one of us would go help out the RSO, though moments like that were sadly few and far between. Certain management also had to not be there for that, as they would become irate over it because they would view it as us slacking off.
EEllis wrote:I was at a big indoor range and was struck by how young the RO's were. While some kids can do just fine it strikes me that when they are all or mostly kids then it's because it doesn't pay much which is hardly conducive to quality work. It also says something about the importance of money over other factors to the business. Of course the small ranges I go to don't normally have any RO's but the counter guys who keep half an eye thru the glass so......
It's true, a lot of RSO's are young. To be fair and honest, the oldest RSO we had was in his early 30's. The youngest? 20. I was 27 (and college educated) at the time. And you're spot on about the pay - I'll just say that a fast food worker was paid better that majority of us were. We had a cantankerous GM, who would nary utter a word of encouragement to the range staff, that once said after a particularly rough and long day: "We all could make more money working at McDonalds, but we chose to work here. Why? Because we love this, and wouldn't trade more money for it". For me that was spot on. I could have made much more money working a much safer desk job behind a computer. In fact, I took a $10/hr loss in wages from my previous desk job in order to work there because it was in effect a dream job for me. I was subjected to possible lead poisoning, scrubbing toilets and urinals, vacuuming and mopping, and being shot for a very small wage. I loved it at the end of every day though. It's not for everyone, and most folks thought I was crazy for it. So while many of the staff may seem young - and the fact that the pay isn't great are certainly contributors to a high turn over rate - it certainly didn't equate to us not working as hard because we weren't being paid a lot. I can say that every member of my shift felt the same exact way, too. There were of course a boatload of perks that we got from working there that didn't really make up for the low pay, but we were VERY thankful for. We worked hard and went home proud of the work we did at the end of the day. Laziness wasn't tolerated, and not because of the management, but because we all knew what was at risk if we didn't care about carrying out our jobs to anything less that 100%. Except perhaps for the GM who just stood around in the climate controlled shop all day :lol:. He was out of touch of what the conditions actually were on the range, unfortunately.

This is of course probably the exception to the rule. I'm sure that there were many patrons of that range who had a wildly different opinion of how we operated. Still though, the experience I gained from working at a range has forever changed my opinion of shooting ranges and how they operate.

As a final talking point, the owners, while nice people, were not willing to spend money where they didn't absolutely have to, IE: if it meant it kept keeping the business afloat. They may have been able to afford to pay us better, and more importantly, they could have afforded to upgrade certain pieces of equipment on the range that would have contributed to the customer experience becoming better. They didn't want to spend the cash though. Which is guess is "OK" if you own a car wash. It's less "OK" when your business can result in someone being killed, however.

That is of course probably the exception to the rule, though. I've certainly been to ranges where the staff didn't care at all (Younger or older alike), and I never stepped foot in them again. As always, if it looks unsafe, get the heck out of dodge but not before telling the pertinent folks about it. Indoor ranges are certainly, ::drum roll:: hit or miss. I don't blame anyone for not wanting to visit them if they had a negative experience.

To all of you who intervene while on the range and become the RSO: I give you a hearty thanks. :txflag:
Last edited by CEOofEVIL on Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Dangerous shooters at the range

#15

Post by puma guy » Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:13 pm

What I encountered wasn't normally what I have encountered in the 40+ years of shooting at this range. I didn't ask how long they'd been having ladies nights but I 'd never seen it before so maybe they're having a period of adjustment. Being a diabetic and slow to heal I still have the mark on my shin.
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