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Rifle Range Ettiquete for Women

Updated on May 16, 2010

My husband enjoys the shooting sports and can happily spend a day at the range “plinking” away. My interests lie elsewhere, but I occasionally join him because we enjoy an outing together and an hour spent punching holes in a paper target is oddly relaxing.

Going to the range for the first time can be somewhat intimidating for a woman because it is still pretty much a man’s world; often I am the only woman there and frequently the only one shooting. But if you want to give shooting a shot (pun intended), you can have a very good time! Just follow my basic range rules:

Always wear eye and ear protection

Wear safety glasses at all time on the firing line, even if you are not shooting.  If people are firing semi-automatics, cartridge shells will be flying and you could get hit in the eye.  Don’t wear those dofus wood shop kind either.   Make your husband or boyfriend buy you some stylish shooting glasses with tinted lenses.   Peltar Meltaliks makes an attractive, reasonably priced line.  Check them out on the Scheels or Cabelas websites.

Also, don’t’ wear the “earmuff” type ear protectors.   They’re unattractive and muss your hair.  Inexpensive, squishy ear plugs work just fine and are unobtrusive.

Gun Safety

This is too extensive a topic to cover here. Just make sure your guy explains the principles of sun safety before you touch a loaded firearm. Or take a gun safety class.  The NRA has a great safety program.

A primary rule at the range is ALWAYS keep the barrel pointed down range, even when it is unloaded. (You always treat a firearm as if it is loaded). The most common mistake I see women make is swinging around with the gun after they pull off a nice shot. This tends to make people dive for the deck. Don’t do it!

Me and my shotgun
Me and my shotgun

Safety on the Firing Line

Never move forward of the shooting benches when the range is “hot”, i.e. when people are shooting. When time out is called everyone unloads and benches their firearms. When the range master signals the all clear, you can go forward to check your target. If you choose to stay back, you must remain behind the red “firing line”, generally painted on the ground, while the others are forward. DO NOT cross the line, approach the benches, or handle a firearm or anything else on the bench. This freaks everyone out and is a really fast way to get kicked off the range. Wait until the range is declared “hot” again before returning to the bench.


Picking up Brass

Many shooters reload their brass cartridge shells. This is a form of recycling that has become vital due to the surging price of precious metal commodities like gold, copper, and brass. If your guy shoots a semi-auto and reloads, he will appreciate it if you help retrieve the “brass”. DO NOT attempt to retrieve any brass that lands forward of the benches. This is highly dangerous. And do not pick up somebody else’s brass. That is a shooting offense at the range. (Just kidding - but it is extremely bad form).

Be Tolerant

Many “old timers” are not used to seeing woman at “their range”.  I have found, however, that 95% of them are happy to see me there and are jealous of my husband. (“I wish MY wife would come shooting with me”.)   You will be addressed as “honey”, “dear”, and “sweetheart” and they will act amazed if you can even get the bullet on the paper.  They mean no harm.  Smile sweetly, pick up your Glock 31 .357 and make your guy proud by shooting a nice, tight group.

Appreciate two advantages of being a woman at the range

  1. Women at shooting ranges are always referred to as “ladies”.
  2. The ladies room is always clean and well-stocked and there is never a line.


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    • Jack Burton profile image

      Jack Burton 

      7 years ago from The Midwest

      Do not (repeat: DO NOT) wear loose necked shirts or low-scooped necklines. One day you will be very sorry you did not take this advice when you get a very hot brass just out of a chamber fly into some of the more delicates parts of the body through the gap in the material and your skin. Broadbrimmed hats help prevent brass in the face also.

    • rkhyclak profile image


      9 years ago from Ohio

      haha not hardly. We use AR15's for long range competitions. They're the civilian version of the M16. Champion makes the pink muffs and glasses that I love! You can find them at

    • Carol Rossi profile imageAUTHOR

      Carol Rossi 

      9 years ago

      rkhyclak: Well, I'll have to check out those earmuffs! Since I live in California we are not allowed to have those evil ARs. I presume you use yours to knock over liquor stores? lol!

    • rkhyclak profile image


      9 years ago from Ohio

      Loved the hub. I've been shooting since I was old enough to hold up my brother's "Little Joe" .22. I now shoot competitively every once in awhile. I still love a 10-.22 but have grown to like the AR's as well. I actually prefer the earmuff type of protection, especially if you invest in a quality pair of electronic muffs. You can still hear conversation plainly, but blasts are muffled. They even come in pink with matching glasses!

    • Carol Rossi profile imageAUTHOR

      Carol Rossi 

      9 years ago

      Beth and Ivorwen. So glad to see there are other "girls" out there shooting!

    • Ivorwen profile image


      9 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      I've been shooting since I was six, when my dad got us a BB gun. Nowadays, our local range consists of some targets facing a cliff. No bathroom, but it is still fun.

    • Beth100 profile image


      9 years ago from Canada

      Oh sooo true! I began shooting when I was 12, which was totally unheard of (being a female, that is). I loved it then, and love it now. And yes, the women's bathroom is spotless! lol


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