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Safety: Range Expectations & Operations

**NOTE: The following is just a summary of Big Springs Range rules and all Lower Range activities must follow the Big Springs Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in its entirety. You can download the Big Springs SOP here: Big Springs SOP


RULES SUMMARY Download the PDF version here.

This summary is to be used as a tool for safety briefings and as a method of quickly locating general safety rules in this SOP. This compilation does not address all areas of the SOP, and is in no way a substitute for knowledge of and adherence to the complete SOP.



All participants are responsible for adhering to this SOP and to the instructions of the RSOs and Instructors responsible for the activity. All participants will be responsible for a self-assessment prior to participating in any activity, and will report any health/medication/emotional issues that may impair performance.   All participants will know and adhere to the following safety rules, as well as all applicable expectations of behavior in this SOP:




  1. Assume all weapons are loaded.

  2. Be aware of muzzle position at all times. Avoid covering anything with your muzzle that you are not willing to shoot.

  3. Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire.

  4. Be sure of your target. Consider its foreground and background.


These rules should be explained in the safety brief to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings.


B. Mandatory Roles: 

All users must designate an Instructor or NRA Certified RSO who will be responsible for ensuring the practices below, and will be the party responsible for range administration and condition of the range upon completion of training. We will need a copy of the persons RSO card and instructors insurance.






2. All weapons will be safe, cleared and inspected by an instructor/RSO upon completion of training/shooting before leaving the range.


3. Weapons will be inspected for live rounds when they are transferred.


4. Weapons will be inspected by an instructor for live rounds in a designated safe area before allowing on-range weapons-cleaning to occur. If LE shooters are returning to duty after completion of training, they may reload their duty weapons while pointing downrange or in a clearing barrel under the direction of an instructor/RSO prior to departing the Big Springs complex.


5. Ensure all hazardous training is covered by a risk analysis performed and approved by the using organization.


6. The Range Use Log will be completed prior to leaving the range each training day.


7. Ensure Big Springs Complex security is maintained during non-normal hours by securing the gate upon exiting the complex.


8. No training or shooting activity will commence prior to the inspection of the range facilities and equipment for proper and safe operation and the delivery of a range safety brief.


9. All targets are safe and approved, and placed according to this SOP, unless specifically approved otherwise by designated Training Group personnel.


10. All target frames, target stands, range props, and range equipment are returned to their appropriate location, and any damage or discrepancies are reported to the Training Group Coordinator. Used paper targets will be removed from target backers and disposed of in the trash barrels.


11. The hot range flag is flying prior to occupying the range, and is lowered and stowed appropriately as the last party vacates the range.


12. All brass, trash, and live rounds are policed up and correct disposition is made of same at the completion of any evolution.


13. Any and all range signs are obeyed.


14. Smoking must occur only in designated areas. DO NOT leave butts on the ground.


15. Required communications equipment is checked out, op-checked prior to the start of firing/training, and returned at the completion of the event.


16. First Aid kit is on-site and complete.


17. The emergency plan is understood, and redundant communications channels exist to summon first responders, as per the incident response plan.


18. Prior to occupying the range, RSO/Instructor will check fire warning conditions and implement appropriate fire prevention controls as directed by designated Training Group personnel.


19. All other provisions of this SOP are strictly adhered to.


C. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)


All persons on the training facility grounds shall:


1. Wear proper attire during all Training Group activities. Hats with brims or helmets will be required when shooting on steel targets closer than 50 yards. Body armor of a level suitable to protect against the highest caliber being trained with will be required for all instructors, students, and observers engaged in live fire training in the Live Fire Shoot House or any similar activity when more than one shooter is involved.


2. Wear eye protection that meets or exceeds the requirements of ANSI Z87.1-2003, Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection, if within 20 yards of a firing line, or further, if directed by an RSO or instructor. Eye protection also will be required anywhere weapons are assembled or disassembled for cleaning or maintenance, and in weapon-cleaning areas. Side shields, goggles, or wraparounds will be required for eye protection when shooters, instructors, or observers are within 25 yards of steel targets.


3. Wear approved hearing protection with a minimum noise reduction rating (NRR) of 26 decibels within 20 yards of a firing line, or further, if directed by an RSO or instructor.


4. Training Group Coordinator, instructors, and RSOs may prevent the participation of any individual whose attire or equipment is considered unsafe for the training.


D. Loading and Unloading


All authorized users will load and unload all weapons under the supervision of an instructor/RSO:

                a. On a range, weapon pointed downrange, and within the range limitation indicators;

                b. Into an appropriate bullet containment device; or

                c. At a safe area designated by the RSO/Instructor in charge.


E. Target/Facilities

All authorized users are responsible for the following general tasks:

a. Properly dispose of damaged target frames and used targets.

b. Inspect berms and backstop before and after each use for the presence of any potential ricochet producing surfaces or general degradation. Check steel targets for dents, bows or bending, cracks, and holes.

c. Notify designated Training Group Personnel if any Big Springs training apparatus is damaged.


F. Steel Targets

Observe the following minimum shooter-to-target distances for steel targets when firing non-frangible, ammunition:  

a). 7 yards (21 feet) for pistols and submachine guns

b). 7 yards (21 feet) for shotguns with buckshot/shot

c). 25 yards (75 feet) for shotguns with slugs

d). 50 yards (150 feet) for rifles firing service ammunition, unless prior approval is obtained from designated Training Group personnel.

e). Shooter-to-steel target distances for frangible ammunition will be established in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

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