Speaking of gun range safety...

FrankNmac

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A couple of years ago I went to our local outdoor gun range one morning around 8. Nobody else was out there, so I picked the second from the left lane to set my stuff on the wooden table and walked down to staple my target to the backboard.

As I got to the backboard I saw something move to the left of me in the berm behind the far left lane. I stopped and went to look and there was a person digging lead out of the berm. Even more dangerous, when I stepped over to talk to him I saw a person in the berm behind the backboard I would have been shooting at.

I was more scared than mad about what could have happened when I first saw them. I had a loaded gun in my pocket and stayed aware of what they were doing in case this didn't go well. I wasn't going to escalate the situation, but wanted to be prepared.

The guy in the berm behind my backboard went over to the other fellow. They both were younger men wearing dirty clothes, especially after being in the berms, and both had a couple of white restaurant-sized kitchen buckets. I asked them what they were doing and they said they were digging the lead out of the berms to sell for scrap. I asked them if they were gun club members and they said no. I asked how they got in and they said a buddy dropped them off at the locked gate and they climbed over. He was going to pick them up in an hour from when he dropped them off. He said they had done this before.

I told them how dangerous it was to be doing what they were doing, especially when they both had darkish clothes on and I never saw them until I got to the backboard. I also told them it was a private range for members only and that they shouldn't be coming over the gate. They said they didn't come to shoot and just sold the lead for some money. They said it didn't pay much for lead scrap, but it was at least some money.

They apologized and said they were going to stop and wait back up at the gate for their buddy as he should be there pretty soon. I told them I was more concerned about their safety and what could have happened than them digging lead out, but that they would need to make arrangements to do that with the range officials. They asked if they could take their buckets and lead they had found and I said yes. They thanked me and walked toward the fence. I watched them walk back to the gate and about ten minutes later a fellow pulled up in a truck and they got out and left.

I often think about how things could have gone badly had I not seen the fellow in the other berm move, or if they were armed, or if they weren't armed and I had to use my gun. It reminds me to always keep my loaded carry gun on me at the range so I am never out there unarmed even when shooting and reloading.

I also remember how it is more prudent to deescalate a situation rather than instigate a potential confrontation. I was nice to them, and they to me, so that kept things calm. I kept my eyes on them and ensured we had distance between us in the event something happened, but I didn't stop watching them or start shooting at my target until they left in the truck.

I never go out now without looking around not just on the range, but behind the backboards and at the berms. Haven't ever had a situation like that happen again, but one close call keeps me on my toes.
 
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rlongnt

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They are pretty lucky you saw them.

Once I had a guy run directly in front of my live fire with a SAW. I didn't know if I should have a heart attack right there or beat the living dog $#1t out of him. When it's not your time, it's not your time.
 
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