What should be on everyone\'s mind when we are around firearms? I hope it did not take you more than a split second to think \"SAFETY\". In this day and age, many of us see many stupid things being attempted by people, probably trying to emulate something they saw on the media, be it television, YouTube or what have you.
There are those out there that actually think Hollywood scenes with guns are realistic. Now take a person who goes to the gun range to shoot for the first time. What do you think is on their mind? If they are coming with an experienced person, they may know a little about what to expect. Will an experienced person always put safety first? Have you seen the \"know it all\" person on the range? It seems that in every hobby or sub culture, there is always one of those.
They may get so wrapped up in themselves; they may forget the main thing, especially around guns: Safety First!
All the public gun ranges I have been to have Range Safety Officers (RSO). How does one become one? First thing to do is ask your local gun club or range. Most will say to take the NRA Range Safety Officer class, which is a full day class and cost may vary from location to location. The NRA website does have more detailed information. Some gun clubs may provide their own tailored training specific to their range.
An NRA RSO must be at least 21 years old. RSO\'s will learn to possess the knowledge, skills, and attitude essential to organizing, conducting, and supervising safe shooting activities and range operations. The attitude part is one that will help you the most. You must never think you know it all, and you must be able to communicate with others in a way that shows you really care about their wellbeing. When you are on duty, it is all business.
There are some gun clubs that use volunteer RSO\'s. They will provide the training that is exclusive to their range and may even foot the bill for your NRA training. Of course they will want you to volunteer your services. The club I belong to only asks for 1 day a month.
NRA certification aside, what would you do if you went out to some BLM (Bureau of Land Management) area or even someone\'s private property to go shooting and no one was really in charge? Would you take charge and make sure everything was set up safely for your group? Someone should step up and set the ground rules for that outing. I have been to the desert with small groups of people (and probably 50 guns) and we always designated someone to be in charge. The point was, we had to have someone who was going to oversee our activities and make sure we did not get caught up in all the fun we were going to have and forget safety.
Being an RSO is one of the ways of being involved in our sport/culture. It also gives you an opportunity to learn more about other aspects of shooting. I observe the majority of gun enthusiasts all like to have fun and most all welcome new shooters. We all want them to be safe and help grow our passion.
One item I would like everyone to know, you do not need to be a Range Safety Officer to call a CEASE FIRE for any reason you feel something unsafe is happening on the firing line. Be proactive in gun safety all the time when you are handling firearms and on a firing line.
Be safe out there and set a great example for those around us.
Phil, aka Motorcyclenut, is an RSO at his local gun club which has almost 4000 members. He volunteers 1 day a month at the main range and 4 times a year at the shotgun trap range. He is also a Motorcycle Safety Foundation certified RiderCoach and lives in San Diego with his wife and 2 cats.