Not a good day at the range
I took my two sons, 18 and 14, to the TN Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) shooting range yesterday. My oldest has been shooting with me several times, but Sean, my 14 yr. old has Aspergers Syndrome and has a difficult time handling loud noises. Fireworks, movies, even loud toilets would frighten him and cause panic. I wasn't too sure how he would handle shooting if some guy was next to him with a hand cannon, but I told him if he was frightened we would leave immediately, no questions asked.
Friday night we went over how to load and unload revolvers and pistols, the three main rules of handgun safety, what to expect when at the range and so on, and he picked up on everything pretty quick.
We get to the range, and sure enough, some guy is there with an AK-47 pistol. I asked for a spot all the way on the end so we would be as far away from him as possible, and the range officer obliged.
Everything was going fine, and Sean was hitting the target with a Ruger Mk.II at 15 yrds, but the range officer was in a hurry since the range was closing in just over an hour. He was encouraging people to hurry to change out their targets. Another official asked me to clean up the brass that had fallen in front of the firing line. (They collect the brass and resell it.)
You may see where this is heading. I asked Sean to pick up the brass when the range was cold and we were changing out the targets. Suddenly, the range officer called out for shooters to approach the line and load their weapons. My son in front of the firing line, bent over picking up brass when this guy declares the range hot! He's six feet tall, but because we were on the far end and he was bent over, he didn't/wouldn't/couldn't see him.
I yelled at my son, "GO-GO-GO!" and furiously pointed toward the range master so show him witch direction to run. He has to walk in front of the firing line to get to the only exit. He doesn't understand the urgency and casually walks down the firing line, in front of a few people readying their weapons. At this time I'm yelling (can't remember what) and despite everybody wearing ear protection, they stop what they're doing and turn to look at me. Luckily, I got their attention and nobody fired a shot.
The range master calls a cease fire and the officials come over to me to apologize. The range master blamed someone else for not telling him there was still a person over the firing line.
I screwed up and should have told Sean to hit the deck and crawl under the chain and wooden rails and head directly back behind the firing line instead of telling him to run for the exit. But there was no excuse for the range master being in a hurry and not properly check the firing line.
The range officials all understood their mistakes, apologized, and I'm sure they are going to take steps to ensure this never happens again. I let Sean know I was proud of him and that he did nothing wrong, but I'm not sure he will go shooting again.
Ironically, I was worried about Sean's fear of loud noises and lack of gun handling experience causing concerns. He performed perfectly, and it was the experienced, state trained range master who screwed the pooch. Go figure.