CCW class for deaf students coming up. Any suggestions on how to signal at the range?


I have taught handgun permit, CCW classes for over 5 years now but next month I will have the first class ever with over 20 deaf students. Interpreters will be on hand for the classroom portion but I am thinking about the
range safety issues. Any suggestions on rigging flags or lights for 'Cease Fire'?
Have any of you ever had classes with deaf students before?


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i would think put a person with each student and give them body commands for stopping, ie squeeze the shoulder, squeeze both, tap left, tap right, etc. a light setup may also work , think stop light, but tech is usually trouble.

also think about doubling down on keeping the firearm pointed downrange. I imagine there will be a lot of turning to see the translators, etc.


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That's what I would think would be easiest... would be a hearing person with each shooter, with a prearranged signal such as tap on the left shoulder to indicate a cease fire. The only other visual cease fire signal would have to be located in the target area, or directly between the student and the target area.


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Though I like the idea of each student having a hearing partner, that might be logistically difficult. If so, I'd suggest a string of Christmas lights. Run the lights across the lanes at the shooting positions (tables?) and have them taped or zip-tied down. Plug the string into a surge protector that has an on/off switch. Instruct the students that when the lights come on to cease fire, make safe, set the weapon down with muzzle down range, and look to the range-master/translator for instructions.


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Instruct the students that when the lights come on to cease fire, make safe, set the weapon down with muzzle down range, and look to the range-master/translator for instructions.

I would say it would have to be the other way around - on for hot, off for cease fire due to the possibility of an electrical failure. Maybe that's just my aviation and nuclear power background thinking, though.


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I've run classes with deaf students and always use one on one method and a smaller firing line (maximum 4 shooters).


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Most of your issues will go away if you do range time one on one, or no more than 3 on one. I very seldom have more than five o the range at one time, and never more than two shooting at one time.


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As a person who signs myself, grizzerr and others already beat me to it, keep it small. Also when speaking to the deaf student, talk to the student not the interpreter have the terp behind you so the student can see both of you. Most times deaf/HH students can read lips pretty well and the terp just makes sure they get the entire message. Make sure you have a set of electronic muffs for the terps as well.

A signer uses the dominant hand as well for a majority of the signing and finger spelling which is also the strong hand on the firearm. So if the student needs to ask a question, comment or anything they will most likely want to lay the firearm down. Just go over the live fire situation in the classroom so everyone is clear on what to do, it will most likely take longer on the range dealing with terps just plan accordingly. One of the perks of knowing ASL I don't need the terps :happy:


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Advice: Always face the students when speaking. Interpreters for the lecture part of the course is a must even if the students lip read but not all lip readers sign. Most lip readers really understand about 60% of the information and fill in the rest with context clues. This can get them in trouble in a firearms class. It would be really beneficial to meet the interpreters ahead of time and make sure there are appropriate signs for certain words. If not, make sure the word is something they know or understand because fingerspelling something incorrectly is as bad as not sign. I would also remind you that if you use video in your presentation, there is no way this will work without closed captions.

On the range, having a 1-1 ratio is the best. Agreed upon signals (that have been discussed in the classroom and given in written form) should be used. Caution students to NOT turn toward anyone with a firearm in their hand. Make sure there is a bench, stool, bucket, table, whatever in front of them so allow for the firearm to be grounded if they need to sign a question. An interpreter on hand for that is very useful as well. I touch my student's on the left shoulder to signal "fire" and leave squeezing the shoulder for emergencies. You can get in touch with the NRA who have someone specializing in "Special Needs Accommodations" that might be a really helpful resource.


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Respectfully, I won't teach, and haven't for 30 years, taught more than 5 students in any one class. Regardless of whether the students are in any way challenged or not. I think 20 students, regardless of physical limitations is just too many.

Just my opinion, but best of luck with your class.

Bob R

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I believe RED LIGHTS ON is pretty much the Universal "Range is Cold" Signal.
We have Red Lights on every other post on our Bench Rest Line.
I agree with most above, keep the number of students on the Firing Line at one time limited to One on One with Instructors.
Red Lights for "Range is Cold" is not a bad plan either. Ask if anyone is Color Blind in the Class. Make sure all can detect a Red Light as some Noticeable Color.
Physical Contact Signals will need to be explained to the students. I would do a Cold Run with each Student before going Hot.


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I've done it. We had one teacher/partner for each student and used a tap. This is what I would call a very special class, so if you can't find a certified instructor for each station round up some experienced friends and keep it one on one. Also, don't forget to offer hearing protection. Depending on their hearing loss loud noises might still be a problem.


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I haven't taught a class for hearing impaired but for vision impaired. I like the light signal, and definately one or two on one with a hearing person. I would suggest dividing them up in 4 relay's of 5 shooters. This will assist with control, give the next relay's understanding of what is happening. an interpator is paramount.


New member
Are you in touch with any of the interpreters that will be assisting? Talk to them, they will have the best input in this situation.

Also keep in mind that interpreters need a break, so don't get too long winded and have frequent breaks during the lecture part of the course.

Tactical Perspectives

I have a few friends that are hearing impared and When I taught them, we used lights... a simple high powered flash light.. That is in a in door range. we split the students up so that the center lane was empty. We used a flash light that would stay on pointing down range.. when we had a cease fire the flash light would blink... you will be suprised how attentive they are to the surrounding lights. I had no issue at all. If need be stage one person in center land that can hear.. when cease fire is called they move the light across all lanes.. they will stop.. Just my few words of input..use a colored lens if you want.

I think the advice given by all the posters are all on point-

Have you taken/watched supplementary videos on how to do basic communication with people who are hearing impaired? "stop" "go"

I'd suggest incorporating the two advice given:
1) String lights- LIGHTS ON- for one command, LIGHTS OFF - for stopping that command.
2) Divide the group of 20 into 4 teams. Utilize 4 shooting lanes, with a line of 5 people each.

I'm sure much can be learned by those watching others shoot, as they wait for their turn. And you can give attention 1:4.

That is great that you're giving these classes! Good for you :)

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