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As a new shooter going to a shooting range, it is important to understand the terminology and commands at the range to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some key terms and commands you may encounter at a shooting range:

Range Officer or Range Safety Officer (RSO): A trained safety officer who is responsible for ensuring that all range safety rules are followed and that all shooters are conducting themselves in a safe and responsible manner. At many ranges, the RSO may serve the same function as the Range Officer.

Basic Range Terminology and Commands You Should Know

Range Master – The person in charge of the shooting range. The range master is responsible for overall range safety and administration.

Cease Fire – A command given by a range officer or RSO to stop all shooting. It can also be given by any shooter present when they witness an unsafe condition. In that respect, when it comes to safety, we are all safety officers. When you hear this command, immediately stop shooting, unload your firearm, and wait for further instructions. 

Load and Make Ready – This is a command given by a Range Officer or RSO to load your firearm and prepare to shoot.

Standby – A command given by a Range Officer or RSO to prepare to shoot. This is typically followed by a buzzer or whistle to signal the start of the shooting exercise or indicating the range is “hot”. 

Cold – Means no shooting is to take place and shooters are not to touch their firearms for any reason, including uncasing firearms if you just arrived or wish to switch our firearms.

Hot – Means shooters can begin to fire at ready. At this time, firearms can be uncased, magazines or firearms loaded, and shooting can commence.

It is important to follow the commands of the Range Officer and other range staff, as they are there to ensure the safety of all shooters at the range. If you are unsure about a command or how to handle your firearm, always ask for clarification from a Range Officer or other experienced shooter. They will be glad to help.

Following these rules of etiquette will ensure you have many great experiences at the range and will help keep you and all your fellow shooters safe.