Always Be Careful at the Range
This is another "Well, obviously"-type Commandment, but it's important, so I'm mentioning it:
COMMANDMENT: BE CAREFUL AT THE RANGE, BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE SHOOTING BOWS AND ARROWS THERE.
Safety is pretty important, but it's a pretty easy thing to forget, especially if you go to the range once a week or more. After a while, the archery range becomes a place for you to hang out with friends, blow off some steam, and forgot about your woes. It's a little bit like that old show "Cheers," but instead of kicking back with beers, you're firing weapons.
And that's the part that's easy to forget: archery is a hobby and a pastime, but a bow and arrow is a weapon. It deserves respect and total attention. The more comfortable you feel at the range, the easier it is to have a lapse of attention, where you are someone else can get injured.
Let's take a look at some of the ways you can be extra safe at the range.
Be Extra Eyes and Ears for the Staff
Let's be honest: the awesome guy / gal who owns your local range is probably not a millionaire. He's probably just a superfan like the rest of us, and looooves archery. If he could hire two dozen staff members to give everyone individual attention, he probably would. Instead, he's hired as many staff as he can afford, and---it's not enough!
The staff at my local range are FANTASTIC. Knowledgeable, courteous, and alert---they're the best, and I love 'em. I am proud to say that they run a tight ship, and I feel very, very safe. I'd feel comfortable bringing my wife, my brother and sister, and my little nieces and nephews for an intro lesson (and I actually have plans to do so! I'm very excited about it).
That said, there's simply no way the staff can pay attention to every single archer at all times. At any given moment, they need to fix somebody's rented equipment, get a new arrival his/her lane, answer the phone, listen to a complaint from Johnny Unhappy, etc. It's a job that pulls people in 100 different directions.
Safety Is NOT Only the Job of the Staff
It's the responsibility of the members, too. If you've got any experience under your belt, it's up to you to help make the range as safe as possible.
If someone drops an arrow and reaches over the line, say something. If someone is about to dry fire a bow, say something. If someone is about to shoot an end without the proper protective gear, say something. If someone is about to shoot an arrow while wearing long, flowing robes, say something. Be polite, be stern, and always be friendly---because the range should always be a friendly place---but speak up. Safety is everybody's responsibility.
And, perhaps most importantly, when the administrators at your range say, "Clear to practice!"---or whatever it is they say at your range---check and be sure that everyone is behind the line. It'll take two seconds and you'll develop an excellent situational awareness.
There's one other time when it's a wise idea to be extra alert at the range:
"Elevated Risk" Time Periods
There's a line in the movie The Departed that I really love:
<<< SPOILER ALERT!! >>>
<<< Don't read any further if you've never seen The Departed, and don't want to learn anything about it. >>>
Leonardo DiCaprio is an undercover cop who is going to a psychiatrist for therapy. He and the psychiatrist get into an argument, and the psychiatrist says, "Why is the last patient of the day always the most difficult?" And Leonardo DiCaprio says, "Because you're tired and you don't give a dang! It's not supernatural!"
He may use language that's a little more colorful than that, but the point is---there are times in any workday where employees are not operating fully. For staff workers at a range, that could be when one crew is retiring for the day and another is coming on board, or at the end of the night, or when a new party of customers comes in to shoot. Be extra alert during times like this, and keep an eye out to make sure everyone is doing the right thing.
Safety First, Safety Always
As I said, most ranges are spectacularly safe places to practice archery (and if they're not, you need to speak up and tell someone---a local authority, or perhaps the Better Business Bureau). The numerous ranges I've visited have all been EXCELLENT, and I'd recommend them without reservation.
My point is that you should always be one of the reasons why a range is safe, and you should not rely on others to create your safety. Be aware of your surroundings, speak up if you see someone doing something wrong, and notify a staff member if you need some help.
Safety first, safety always! We're in this together!