By Naomi Moss
The shooting range is a beautiful place. It’s where memories are made. We want to ensure every trip to the range to be memorable for successful targets, happy shooters and calm friends who brought us. One way to accomplish this goal is to know the lingo before you go. We will break down a few common commands and phrases you may hear on the range and explain what they mean. Some of these commands are used more often than others and some ranges have an open policy where the Range Safety Officer (RSO) just watches and doesn’t interact unless needed.
1) “Range is going Hot” or “Range is Hot”
This is used right before people shoot. Be prepared to hear guns fire and wear appropriate eye and ear protection (also known as ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ as in “Eyes and Ears on! Range is going hot!”).
2) “Range is Cold”
People are done shooting. This can also refer to a range that does NOT allow loaded firearms off the firing line. Cold ranges are most common at shooting matches to keep knuckleheads from waving loaded guns at everyone. If it’s a cold range, you may walk around with your gun UNLOADED, yet holstered, until you get to the firing line or are commanded to load and make ready before you shoot in a match.
3) “Load and make ready”
This is the command, most often in a shooting match, to load your gun and make it ready to fire through the course of fire.
4) “Stand By…”
(a) The timer is about to go off if you are shooting a match.
(b) The RSO was going to call “fire”, but needs to wait for some reason. It gives you a chance to relax instead of waiting in the ready position for an eternity.
5) “Is the Firing Line Ready on the Right?/Is the Firing Line Ready on the Left?”
The RSO is asking the other RSO if the people shooting are ready on the right and left of him/her. They will answer “Ready on the right.” “Ready on the Left.” And if everybody is ready to shoot, he/she will announce “Firing line is ready.” If someone needs assistance or is just not ready, this would be an appropriate time for the RSO to call, “Stand By”. The RSO will repeat the commands when he/she sees the person is ready.
6) “Firing Line is Ready” or “Line is Ready”
Sometimes you’ll hear “Line is ready; range is going hot” Either way, the shooters are about to shoot.
7) “Fire” or “Fire When Ready” Shoot the gun! This is the go ahead to fire your gun. Before you arrived to the fi ring line, the RSO should have giving you instructions on how many rounds to shoot and if it is timed or not. Now you can DO IT!
8) “Unload and Show Clear”
When everyone is done shooting, this is when you take the magazine out (or remove the ammunition from the magazine if it is attached) and show the RSO you do NOT have a round in the chamber. Sometimes, you will show your shooting partner that your gun has NO ammunition in the chamber and magazine or magazine well. He/she will do the same so you can check his/hers gun. It is a nice way to double check each other and minimizes accidents.
9) “Slide Forward, Hammer Down”
Usually, this is said right after “unload and show clear”. Once the gun is verified by you and either the RSO or partner, you will put the slide forward, point the gun downrange (safe direction) and press the trigger. This puts the hammer forward on the gun as an extra safety precaution.
10) “Line Break”
Line breaks are called when there multiple people shooting on the firing line and someone wants to walk down range. (Who may want to walk down a shooting range? Anyone needing to put up or take down targets, fi x steel plates, set up something, etc.) The guns must be placed on the table or shooting bench with the action or breech open. Then the shooters must go behind a line that is roughly 10 feet or more behind the fi ring line WITH NO FIREARMS. Once everyone is safe behind the line, people may go down range and do what they need. This ensures no one is near any firearm in any manner when someone is down range.
11) “Cease Fire!” Stop shooting!
No matter what! Even if you have the perfect sight picture and are about to fi nish the trigger press, DO NOT FIRE! This is the only command everyone has the right and ability to say at any time necessary. (I had to call it once on a student who couldn’t see a squirrel playing on the berm directly in back of her target. She almost hit it unknowingly. While you may not hear all of these commands, perhaps it will let you in on the range talk. See you out there and be safe, your life is worth it.