How to Write a Shooting Range Liability Waiver

a woman at a shooting range

In our litigious society, a gun shooting waiver of liability is an absolute necessity for gun range owners and hunting excursion businesses. A shooting range liability waiver holds your patrons accountable for their actions or the actions of those in their party to protect you against frivolous lawsuits. 

Whether your aim is true or your patrons are seasoned snipers, accidents can happen. Waivers are a key component of your legal defense and also likely required for you to be able to apply for business insurance. We take a look at what a standard foolproof waiver should look like to protect your shooting range business from legal damages.

The Legal Risks Are Real

You don’t need to look far to find an example of personal injury lawsuits against shooting ranges. 

In the case of McMahon et al. v. Rockwell Tactical Group LLC in 2020, Darin McMahon was shot during gun training live combat exercises after the instructor failed to swap a live firearm for a training gun and shot McMahon through the neck. This horrible injury, which obviously would never have happened if proper safety protocols had been observed, left McMahon a quadriplegic with estimated lifelong medical costs of $8.1m. 

While this case is clearly the fault of the shooting range staff, injuries can be caused by other participants or even self-injury. A strongly worded waiver will ensure that in cases where you were clearly not negligent in your duties as a shooting activity operator, you can not be held liable for injuries that occur during those activities.

How do I make sure my wording is precise and most likely to protect me against legal action in the case of an injury?

Laws regarding negligence and liability change on a regular basis, so it definitely pays to review your liability waivers often. You may find that a previous form that a person had signed which would waive their right to sue for negligence is no longer enforceable due to recent updates to related waiver. shooting and gun handling laws.

To ensure their legality, all waivers need to contain key elements like an exculpatory clause, an indemnity clause, and an assumption of risk. 

  • The exculpatory clause removes liability from one party during the course of the contract and waives the right to sue for negligence.
  • The indemnity clause transfers responsibility for liability due to loss or damage from the business to the person signing the contract. 
  • The assumption of risk shows that the person signing the contract agrees to assume the risk inherent to the activity that they will participate in. 

All of these are critical elements to ensure that a contract is legally binding and can protect your business from legal action. The most important thing you can do when drafting your waiver (or any legal contract) is to consult a lawyer with experience working with other ranges. Only they can ensure the terms and conditions in the waiver are legally enforceable in the state or country you do business in.

What are the risks I need to make my customers aware of?

Waivers aren’t only a legal defense for your business, but also an opportunity to make your customers aware of the various risks involved in shooting activities including: 

  • The risks of handling firearms and being near others that have firearms in their possession
  • The risk of ear damage from noise
  • The risk of injury, paralysis, or death from ammunition, target pieces, and shot from other guns
  • Ricochets from targets or projectiles
  • Inclement weather conditions and animals or insects found in the wild
  • The risk of property damage by others or flying debris or projectiles

You should also outline a series of firearm safety and range safety rules that your customers must acknowledge and agree to follow, as well as an acknowledgment that they are of sound mind and body at the time of the activity, and that they are liable for any damages that occur due to their own mishandling of a firearm.

Here is an example of those points to include in your waiver. If any of these points later turn out to be true (that they were intoxicated, for example) or they blatantly ignore safety rules, it will be in clear violation of this legal contract they signed:

  • I agree to follow the range/activity safety rules outlined by [your business name]
  • I am not under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • I will not use drugs or alcohol while handling firearms or participating in shooting sports
  • I have not been denied the purchase of a firearm through lawful means
  • I am lawfully permitted to possess and handle a firearm
  • I have previously attended gun safety training programs or training courses, or will be attending one as a part of this activity
  • I have not been convicted of a felony or of domestic violence
  • I am not depressed or having suicidal or homicidal thoughts nor have I made plans to carry out an act of suicide or homicide
  • I understand that if I have rented a firearm it is not permitted to leave the property or be used in a manner other than what was specified at the time of rental
  • I will seek instruction from a Range Safety Officer prior to handling any firearm I am not familiar with
  • If I do not understand a range rule or procedure or feel there is a safety risk to myself or others I will notify a Range Safety Officer immediately.
  • I understand that I am responsible for any damage to myself, property, or persons by my use or misuse of firearms or actions while on site.

As we previously mentioned, it’s important to consult a lawyer when drafting a waiver. If you need a place to start, however, here are a couple of examples of shooting range release of liability waivers from the web:

The benefits of using an electronic waiver service

When running your business, the last thing you want is to have a bunch of paper waivers floating around, let alone store them. Let WaiverForever make your waiver signing easy and safe.

Shooting ranges love WaiverForever for its ease of use and options for sending waivers to clients. Not to mention no more paper waivers to store. 

Our waiver service works in browsers on both desktop and mobile – just send them the link or set up a QR code, and you’re good to go. Waivers are stored securely in the cloud, and our security protocols support legal digital signatures.
We encourage you to learn more about WaiverForever and start your unlimited free trial. It’s time to streamline your processes and protect yourself against our litigious society, now and well into the future.