(Updated) We have posted about range rules before, specifically the issue of ammo restrictions and brass retention policies.
Another set of rules that many shooters encounter is restrictions on the amount or frequency of shooting.
While it is common for publicly-accessible ranges to exclude full-auto weapons, certain ranges take the principle farther. Some ranges limit the number of shots you are supposed to take without a pause between them (a “5-shot rule” or a “no rapid fire/double-tap rule”). Others limit the number of rounds you put into the magazine. One range (according to a commenter in this post by SayUncle) doesn’t allow semi-auto rifles to be fired with a magazine inserted!
One rule I am seeing more and more is the ban on drawing from a holster to fire. There goes your realistic self-defense practice. My club has this rule, but they offer an IDPA shoot weekly with a range officer present, and I believe that the holster rule does not apply there.
Why impose such rules? One claim often made is that “insurance requires” that the range impose such restrictions. Is that a legitimate claim? I am not aware of any specific provision of an insurance policy that specifies a ban on rapid fire, let alone defines it, but I cannot claim to be an insurance expert.
Another claim is that rapid-fire is often uncontrollable, and can lead to rounds heading over the berm into populated areas, or into the walls & ceiling of an indoor range. It might also lead to target holders getting shot up. Plausible? Sure.
Some assert that the fire restrictions are a concession to appearances, and to the neighbors of the range; to ensure that the sound of gunfire doesn’t sound like a re-enactment of the siege of Khe Sanh, which might give listeners the impression that the range caters to trigger-happy people.
There are those who say that these rules are an example of “selective enforcement”, that responsible people will be allowed to break them, but that irresponsible or unsafe people can be barred from using the range by using the rules as a pretext. While I appreciate the sneaky subtlety of that approach, I am leery of any form of “selective enforcement” because eventually an idiot, bully or asshole will be placed into a position of making such decisions.
And others ascribe the imposition of these rules to rampant Fuddism. And that is a more common reason than it ought to be.
To play devil’s advocate for a moment, most shooters who have spent significant time at a range can recall seeing people there who did not inspire confidence with their safety procedures.
There was the nitwit who showed up at a public range where Crapgame & I were shooting, between the mandated ½ hour ceasefires, but didn’t want to wait for the next one; so he sprinted straight out to the target holders with his frame while the dozen or so people adjacent to him on the long-gun range were blasting away. Yes, they stopped shooting, when they saw his stupid ass downrange. But looking through a scope zoomed all the way in gives you tunnel-vision, and it was pure luck that someone’s first glimpse of that dolt was when he appeared in their crosshairs.
Then there was the “navy seal”. I deliberately put that in quotes, without capital letters, because the person in question was a “navy seal” in much the same way that I am Bridget the Midget. (Not, not Brigid! Different spelling, and a whole different person.) This douchebag “navy seal” (or so he claimed) shows up at the range in a tight white t-shirt and a Beretta 92 in a shoulder holster (promptly exposed when he shed his jacket), with a younger dude he was trying to impress. And of course, this clown plunks his range bag and gun case down right next to me. Of course.
After putting his target on the 100-yard line, the “navy seal” then removes a folding-stock SKS conversion (with the buttstock removed) from his bag, and inserts a humongous aftermarket detachable magazine into it. Then, with the stock still folded, he takes hold of the SKS by the pistol grip, with his left hand holding the bottom of the magazine that rested on the bench like a fulcrum, and starts firing wildly. The gun sways back and forth in the “navy seal’s” weak grip, nearly muzzle-sweeping Crapgame and I several times as he runs his mouth with absurd tales of “navy seal” exploits for the benefit of his companion.
And then, with the SKS empty, the “navy seal” tosses it onto the bench, crouches, draws his Beretta and starts sending rounds towards the target at 100 yards as fast as he can pull the trigger. At least he held his right forearm with his left hand, for stability.
Crapgame and I had seen enough to convince us to depart the “navy seal’s” vicinity ASAP, before we took some friendly fire. We then sought a private range where hopefully the number of idiots would be reduced.
And for the most part that has been true. But there is always some guy/girl who makes you nervous to be next to him/her. How do you make rules that stop the stupidity but allow responsible shooters to practice realistically? I don’t know that you can.
So, yeah, I can understand some of the reasons for fire restrictions at a range (even if I disagree with the logic, and the rule that it spawned).
In the end, we all have to learn the rules at the ranges we use, and find a range where the rules (and the culture that created them) are compatible with our own.
If you don’t like the rules at a range, you have some options: