March 21st, 2010 10:41 AM
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.
March 21st, 2010 11:12 AM
Um, wow! I don't even know how to respond that is constructive, not for you but for your range masters.
I think they need to change some of their range clearing techniques, like actually look down range (just a thought).
"Don't hit a man if you can possibly avoid it; but if you do hit him, put him to sleep." - Theodore Roosevelt
March 21st, 2010 12:58 PM
We usually go to a WMA (Wildlife Managment Area) range here that has no range officers. Everyone monitors themselves. Even so, then range is called Cold or Hot and is not so until everyone on the line calls out.
March 21st, 2010 01:14 PM
I wouldn't say you screwed up. You gave your son a direction which maybe wasn't perfect, but it worked.
Originally Posted by proliance
I use a big public range (Rio Salado) east of Phoenix, and twice in the past 18 months I've been down range when the RO declared the range hot. I'm not a small guy, but if you're behind a target stand securing the wooden legs from flopping around it's understandable that you might be out of view. But waving my hands and yelling loudly gets the attention of enough people, AND enough people on the line started yelling at the RO to call 'cease fire.' No one snapped a cap either time. Not the most comforting of circumstances but I didn't soil my trou, either.
At a couple of Appleseed shoots (highly recommended, BTW) our instructors drilled into us that everyone on the line is "empowered" to call a cease fire if necessary. I've hung onto that notion, and I think it's good one to spread around.
Re the Appleseed Project: Please take a few minutes to read about this at www.rwva.org. It's a wonderful training opportunity for young and old, male and female. Plus, over half of the shooters show up with .22s so the likelihood of being next to a big boomer is reduced. The most popular gun is the basic Ruger 10/22. They weave valuable history into the marksmanship lessons as well, and it's an enjoyable experience. There are Appleseed events scheduled (if Manchester, TN is near you) in April, May and September this year.
NRA Endowment Member
March 21st, 2010 02:19 PM
+1 on anyone can call a cease fire on any range not just the RO's. Most shooters have the common sense to repeat the command. You keep calling it until you know everyone is on board.
There's no excuse for the RO not visually inspecting the range before calling it hot or waiting for someone to specifically tell him "range clear"- he was just lazy/stupid.
Harder to think about stuff in that kinda situation, but, yeah, he should've just laid down or stayed in front of your booth until the range was called cold.
Here's an easy solution for the range - hang hinged plates outside of each booth with a catch at the top. One color to let the RO's know when everyone is ready to go downrange. Another color to let the RO's know when everyone is back from downrange. And another to let them know you are ready to leave.
Here's our system:
Two plates, one side of each plate is colored green, one side of plate 1 is orange, one side of plate 2 is black.
Both hinged plates are down - top color showing: black - no one in booth or occupants ready to leave.
One plate up in catch - color is green (back of black plate on top and front of orange plate on bottom for 2 plates showing green) - occupants are downrange or ready to go downrange.
Both plates up in catch - color is orange - everyone from that booth is back from downrange and ready to shoot.
No one is allowed downrange until everyone is out of their booths and no one is allowed in a booth until the range is called hot.
And people complain about the rules at MDC ranges ;).
Write a letter to TWRA - an incident like that will get their attention. There is an easy fix.
March 21st, 2010 02:35 PM
Yeah....the only thing I would do different in your shoes is when the RO started calling people to the line is to call "cease fire" or "hold fire"....basically anything to get the RO's attention. If it means others have to wait 30 seconds to begin firing, so be it.....safety is everyone's business.
- know the difference
is a fancy name for crappy fighter
You have never lived until you have almost died. For those that have fought for it, life has a special flavor the protected will never know
March 21st, 2010 03:57 PM
I'm completly understanding of Your, and Sean's, situation. My youngest son also has Aspergers Syndrome. Although mine is only 7 y.o., he has the same reactions to loud noises. I'm still learning how to work with this, but learning I am. He hasn't been to the range with me yet. That'll happen when he, and I, are ready. Won't be too long I think.
Originally Posted by proliance
Getting a stall at the end at the line was a good choice. The RM should have cleared the line himself before declaring it 'hot'.
It sounds like you and your boy did just fine. With a end spot, extra attention needs to be paid, but that's any time, Aspergers's or not.
"Just getting a concealed carry permit means you haven't commited a crime yet. CCP holders commit crimes." Daniel Vice, senior attorney for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, quoted on Fox & Friends, 8 Jul, 2008
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