Range Commands


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Range Commands

Questions for all you range officers and trainers….

I am looking for a list of common “Range Commands” for use while introducing somebody to shooting. I have a few of the basics:

Lock and Load – load the weapon and engage the safety
Commence Fire – disengage the safety and begin firing
Cease Fire – stop firing, unload the weapon, put the weapon down or back in holster

But I was wondering if there is list of additional commands for example, is there ea recognized command that tells the shooter to stop whatever he/she is doing but to keep their current position without changing grip or orientation of their weapon?

Thanks for your input.


I'm not a range officer, but here are a few that I can think of off the top of my head:

"At your ready"- Position one, gun in ready position pointed slightly down range but off target, before commencing fire

"Range Closed"- After all weapons have their actions open and deemed clear, and everyone is behind the clear line or away from their guns, then this is called to signify people can go get their targets safely.

"Range Open"-All people are back behind the firing line, no one may now go passed the line. Shooters may go back to their positions.

"Shooters to the Firing Line."- Step to you position. Unpack but not load.

"You may load."- You can load your firearm but no further action can be taken until commanded.

"Unload with action open"- Unload the firearm of all ammunication and present the weapon in such a manner as to show the action and chamber are empty.

"Commence firing."- You may unpack or pack and start shooting.

"Step back from the firing line."-Typically this is called after a cease fire, or unload call. The shooters must step back from the firing line, typically behind another line, and wait for the range master to inspect the situation or condition of firearms before calling an closed range.

“You may go forward to change targets." Range is closed and the shooters can go retrieve targets

On the note of "Cease Fire", it can be called by anyone at any time on the line. And it is usually common practice to repeat the command if you hear it so that everyone on the line is gauranteed to hear the command and stop action.

On the note of stopping the individual in their current position. I have sometimes heard the words "Hold Action" or "Cease Action" used for this purpose. Again, I'm not an official range master, these are just the words I've gotten used to hearing, sometimes from NRA or POST instructors or when I'm out shooting with people who do a bunch of competitive/military range shooting. Every range seems to have slight variations on the same concepts. I'm sure their is probably a more official list, but since no one had commented yet I figured I would throw in my two cents. These are the typical commands I used when putting a newby on the line for the first time.
"Make & Show Safe" - Clear the firearm and have the firearm on the bench with the action open.
"Firing Line is Cold" - No firearms are to be handled, nobody is to be touching anything on the bench near the firearms or firing line. Used to allow shooters to proceed downrange to replace targets, etc.
"Firing Line is Hot" - Shooters may handle firearms and engage targets. Nobody is forward of the firing line.
"Firing Line is Hot for Handling" - No live ammunition present, shooters may handle firearms to case/uncase, demonstrate, etc. Nobody is forward of the firing line.
"Load" - Shooters may load magazines and firearms.
"Range is Hot" - Active shooting is/will be happening.
"Range is Cold" - No live firing is allowed.

You can order the NRA Range Safety Officer materials from the NRA website: Link Removed

Range commands

Ready on the left?
Ready on the right?
Ready on the firing line?
Is the line ready?
The line is ready.

With one magazine load from a closed bolt position.
When the horn sounds the range will be hot.
Engage the target with x number of rounds and return to ready safe position
Cease fire Cease fire
clear and safe your weapon (this means remove all ammo, lay the gun on the bench open chamber up and safety on)
You are now clear to move downrange to inspect your targets
What part of clear and safe did you not understand??????
Get off my freakin range!!!!! (just kidding...but I have had to give that command at Ft Richardsons Sport fire range as a sportfire rangemaster to a knuckle head who could not quit touching his gun while others checked targets)

Just as an aside, If you are the range master, you should be armed at all times in the event that one of your students cheese slides clean off his cracker and tries to take out other shooters like Rambo incarnate
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HAHA I don't think I'd have the patience to be an official range master. Granted, I've been in the acting position in ranges that have not official person, but need someone to keep the sanity. I've had to ask a few people to leave and stop shooting with the rest of us, because they were doing things like that. I can remember sitting at my cell with my hands on my lap because the range was still closed or cold. People were messing around with the targets still. I was ready to leave the range, but was waiting for everyone to get back over the line before I handled the guns to put them away. I had a really impatient person who wanted the cell I was in. He went ape on me for not cleaning up and packing off. Thankfully there was a RM onsite at the time who helped me cool his jets before things got worse. I absolutely hate complacency or disregard for the rules, especially when shootin. I still tend to use the commands when its just three people at the line. People get hot with me, but then they will turn around and walk down line to change targets while the rest of us are shooting. Or worse yet, I will see them loading and fiddling with their weapon as I am down range. ARGG. I don't want anyone hurt by my arm and I would rather not get shot myself. I think a little patience and structure in shooting makes a world of difference. :)

Maybe I'll have to become official someday, when the time and money is there. :)
For a group of students.....

"Group X to the firing line." - self explanatory
"Range is going hot!" - everyone must have eyes and ears on, no one down range
"Load and make ready" - insert a fresh magazine, rack slide, safety on/decock, return to holster or assume ready position
"On the command UP fire _______ at the _______ zone of the target in front of you." - complete course of fire
"UP!" - commence firing
"Reload if necessary." - self explanatory
"Tap, Rack, Bang!" - standard malfunction operation
"Number X, Malfunction!" - if TRB doesn't work, notifies available instructor to assist student X
"Unload and show clear." - eject mag, lock slide to the rear, inspect for clear, show your neighbor, check neighbors clear status
"If you are clear, slide down." - release slide
"Hammer down" - point muzzle at target and pull trigger (if anyone's gun fires a round at this point, we send them, and whoever checked their gun, home)
"And holster" - holster weapon
"The range is clear." - group X may now pick up mags/live rounds and exit firing line

If a single shooter is running a stage with shot timer.....

"Shooter to the line." - self explanatory
"Load and make ready." - insert a fresh magazine, rack slide, safety on/decock, return to holster or assume ready position
"Shooter ready?" - shooter signals when ready with a nod or audible "yes"
"Stand By." - wait for buzzer then begin course of fire
"Unload and show clear." - eject mag, lock slide to the rear, inspect for clear, show instructor
"Slide down, hammer down and holster" - release slide, point muzzle in safe direction, pull trigger/de-cock, holster
"Range is clear"
The single most important range command is "STOP!"

You can say it for any number of reasons. It could be safety related, either the shooter has done something unsafe, a spectator is in a dnagerous position, or the neighbor's dog has decided to chase splatter. In a competition, it could be a popper fell over after the buzzer and by stopping the string early you will save the shooter some ammunition, and the target can be reset.

At practice, it could be that your phone is ringing and your wife is having a baby and your buddy can hold off for a second so you can hear the news.

The most importnant thing is when you say it, you say it loud and clear. As a shooter, if you hear it, you must imediately stop everything. Shooting moving, reloading, clearing, everything. Just stop and keep the muzzle downrange and await directions. Nothing else.

Safe shooting.

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