Stories|Tales of An Range Safety Officer

Working at Battlefield Vegas is like working at Disneyland for adults. I think we are kinda shifting to more of a Disney World status with our inclusion of an outdoor range but, that’s one man’s opinion. At, our new outdoor range you have the opportunity to shoot flamethrowers, shoot a round from a tank, shoot artillery pieces, and much more. So, for those people wanting that ultimate experience, they can get it.  It is a place where people can make most of their gun dreams come true. That’s why I call it Disneyland for adults.

Commentary: I know Disney probably won’t take kindly to that analogy but, it’s true. I’m not trying to tarnish your precious name Disney. You have mess up enough shit without my help. Prime example: Star Wars. 

People come from all around the world to shoot firearms they have only seen in movies, tv, and video games. Our selection of firearms in our armory is deep. Like putting people to shame deep. Our armory is the most photographed armory on Instagram. Our armory is so deep make you wanna slip you mama! Ain’t that right Willie? 

I believe when gun enthusiasts come to Battlefield Vegas it’s like the welcome to Jurassic Park scene. Instead of it being dinosaurs they see, people are seeing firearms instead. For the vast majority of enthusiasts it is the same type of awe and wonder. Customers walk-in and the front desk welcomes them to Battlefield Las Vegas I just imagine the Jurassic Park music playing in their heads. 

Working as a range safety officer (RSO) at Battlefield Vegas I field a lot of questions on firearms. I mean a lot of questions. Which is par for the course because I work with them everyday. I get easy questions like, “What type of ammunition does an MP-5 shoot? Do you prefer AK’s or M-16’s?” I might field military related questions, “Did you serve in the military? How long did you serve? What branch were you in?” Sometimes customer ask very specific historical questions about firearms. A lot of those questions I don’t know. I know a lot about firearms but, not every detail of about them. The question I get asked by far the most is, “Do you love your job?” 

That is a complicated question. It should be an easy answer right? Wrong. It is so much bullshit and nonsense you have to deal with as an RSO it is mind blowing. Literally, almost everyday a customer asks a question or does something so counterintuitive with a firearm it blows my mind. I’m like where did that come from. I just demonstrated how to properly hold, aim, and shoot this firearm. 

So, when people ask me that I kinda hesitate and say, “uhhhhh, yes and no.”

Then, the customer asks, “Why is that?” 

Here is why people. It’s simple. Like any job you are going to have a love/hate relationship. That applies to every person. The majority of the time you will think you have the best job in the world. While other times you hate your life. Just like any other job in history. My ratio is 85/15. Eighty-five percent of the time I enjoy my job and fifteen percent I hate it. Which I think is a good split in my opinion. 

For the love of the game 

I love my job. This is the best job I had outside of the military. It is an absolute privilege to expose people to firearms and to share my passion of firearms and shooting. Everyday I get to see the joy and excitement from people having the opportunity to shoot a firearm they have seen in a movie or video game. Having the ability as an RSO to change someone perspective about firearms is also a bonus. Working at Battlefield I deal with new shooters all the time. This job grants me chance to remove their misconceptions about firearms and provide good information if they have any questions. Changing someone views on firearms is awesome to me.  

People have been told guns are bad for decades now. So, they have this irrational societal fear concerning firearms. To break that wall down and show that you can have fun and be safe with firearms. It is always a challenge but a challenge that I will always accept. Education is key.

I am thankful for this job. I come to work with people I enjoy working with. We can laugh, talk and discuss and not get sensitive about a subject. I work with veterans so we all for the most part have the same sense of humor and view of the world. So, those shared experiences allows us to mesh well. 

Management is great and our owners are awesome. They have treated me like family and been there when I need it. If they every needed me in anyway I would be there for them. I love working at Battlefield Vegas. I love my work and I love what I do. Very few people have that but, I do and I’m thankful for that. 

Even with working with great people and having awesome management doesn’t mean I have to deal with work related stress. Most of it comes from customers. I’m in an service industry so customers can be difficult. Consumers  want to get the bang for their buck. So, I understand that perspective. 

There are certain types of customers that drive me up a damn wall though. I’m usually a relaxed and reasonable man but, there are some customers I go 0-100, really quick on. These customers fall into a few different archetypes for me. 

Here are a few of the customers archetypes that drive me up a damn wall. 

The Know It All Customers

First, you have the know it all customers. These customers usually come up to the counter with a cocky demeanor. It’s reminds of a peacock spreading its feathers showing off to everyone. Or trying to show they are the alpha in the situation. 

Here is a excellent example of a know it all. The customers come up and I introduced myself, “Good afternoon. My name is Andrew I will be your range safety officer. Have you shot before?”

Customer, “Yeah, I shoot all the time at home. I own a couple of AR’s and pistol.”

I respond, “Cool. Let me give you a quick safety brief.”

He leans in and says, “Hey, man I don’t need a safety brief I shoot regularly. No, need to waste your time. Give me the eye and ear protection and let’s go.”

From there I look at him confused and say, “Sir, this is my range and I have to give a safety brief before I head on to my range. I wouldn’t go to your local range and not expect a safety brief. So, let me do my brief.”

From there the customer usually fights me from there about the situation. He explains “how often he shoots” or “I know how to handle weapons”. It’s like a little kid trying to explain to his parents why he can play with the big kids and he won’t get hurt. 

The customers that usually fight me at every turn like this are usually my worst shooters. You try to explain how to shoot a pistol, rifle, or shotgun the answer they give is, “Yeah, I know.” Or you don’t need to explain it to them because, “I shoot all the time.” 

These customers tend to not know how to properly handle or shoot a firearm. They have no sense of muzzle awareness and trigger discipline and the usually shoot like shit. The vast majority of them do at least with my experience and I have been doing this for three plus years.

As, soon as a customer comes up to me and says, “he doesn’t need a safety brief” or “I know what I am doing.” That is when I immediately don’t believe a damn thing coming out of your mouth. My experiences with those customers have been nothing but frustrating experiences. Know it all customers stress me out. 

The Customers Who Don’t Listen

Next, we have customers who don’t listen. These customers will literally not listen to me and do the opposite of what I told them. The crazy part is they will ask for advice or help and still do the opposite thing.

Its like when Charlie Brown is listening to an adult talk and all he hears is, “Wah Wah Wah Wah.” The same phenomenon happens with customers. Its in one ear and out the other.

You might be thinking it’s a language barrier. Nope. Wrong. It’s not. Most of the times I have problem with this are with people who speak English. They will ask a question about how to shoot better, properly hold a weapon, or look through a scope. They will nod and shake their heads. I will hand them the weapon back and they will do the complete opposite of what I just said.

I’m nice of enough to reinforce the knowledge I just gave them to help customer as they shoot. These people will continue to the exact opposite of what I advised them to do. Then, when the shoot horribly they ask me, “Why did I shoot so bad.”

I reply, “It’s because you weren’t listening to a word I said.” 

Then, they will give me this lost and bewildered look like they did everything I said. It literally blows my mind every time. 

Mentally I’m like, “Damn! Don’t ask for question if you are not going to listen. Essentially you are asking a pointless question with no real want to help yourself.” 

It irritates me so much when customers do that. As, an RSO I try to be helpful and informative as I can so you can have a safe shooting experience. Once I notice you are not going to listen I let you do your thing and I leave you alone. I just make sure your safely shooting the weapon and not doing anything dangerous. Like the old adage says, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” 

Customers Who Are Unsafe With Firearms

The final thing that will make me go 0-100 real quick is when a customer is unsafe with a firearm.  Which happens a lot the to be honest with you. People do some very dangerous stuff putting themselves and myself in danger. I believe the lack of safety comes from unfamiliarity and firearms ignorance. Either way I see so very dangerous stuff on a daily basis. 

When it happens it’s hard not to want to put them in the wall. The Marine in me wants to disarm with and deliver a swift kick to the chest. This is not the Marines and I deal with paying customers trying to have a good time. So, I have to change my approach. Yet, there are some times I want to leave my boot firmly planted in someone’s chest or face and scream, “This is Sparta!” While watching them fall in slow motion to the ground. 

The most common unsafe practices I run into are with handguns by far. When instructing new shooters handguns are a nightmare because it is so much a shooter can do with a handgun. Handguns are compact in size and high maneuverability. It’s a powder keg of danger. There are three common highly unsafe practices I see customers do with handguns.

First, on the list is customers point handguns at me or themselves. I see this the most often and it makes my heart drop every time I see it. A customer will be pulling the trigger but not enough for the weapon to shoot. I notice this and slowly pull the weapon towards them why they are pulling the trigger..

Then the customer will say, “It won’t shoot.” 

As, they are pulling the handgun towards them I am pushing the handgun away from their face. From there I will explain why handgun is not firing and tell them not to point a loaded firearm towards their face.

Second, dangerous thing they will do with a firearm is something I call fishing. Fishing is when a customer takes a shot and pulls the gun towards their body with barrel of the firearm titled towards their head. It looks like the reeling in a fishing line. To me at least. When I see this I shut the whole game down for a moment. I grab the gun empty the chamber and magazine and demonstrate what they just did. To allow the customer to see how dangerous what they did really is. 

Last, thing customers do that really grinds my fucking gears is when the have a question for me and point a firearm at my chest. Instead of just turning their head and asking me the question. Instead they choose to turn their whole body towards me with a loaded gun. The vast majority of the time there finger is on the trigger. 

Every time a customer does it I say in my head, “What the fuck are you doing!?” 

I instantly correct those deadly situation. I grab their hands, remove their finger from the trigger, and force them to point the firearm down range again. From there I explain that you can ask me a question by turning your head and not to point a live firearm at me. Sometimes, they personally don’t think the did anything wrong. Which sets me off on the inside. I mean I get livid about that. That’s you not realizing the danger of these weapons. That type of ignorance and lack of perception I do not like at all. 

I put this reason last because it is the most dangerous thing you can do to an RSO. During that time we have to remain professional and collected so nothing more dangerous happens in that moment. Like the customer accidentally pulling the trigger. Which is my worst nightmare. 

At the end of the day I love doing my job. I love introducing people to firearms and teaching people about firearms. I enjoy working at the Disney for adults and letting people shoot the guns they always wanted to. To also have the ability to change people perspectives about firearms. To let customers know and experience that you can have fun and safe time with firearms.

My job has its headaches too cocky customers, the customer who won’t listen, and the unsafe customers make my job stressful. I take it all in-stride though. No, job is perfect but, I enjoy coming to work everyday. I enjoy the people, the environment, and being able to do something I love. 

Do you enjoy your work? What is the craziest thing that ever happened to you on the clock? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for Reading 

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