Why Do Gun Ranges Ask for an ID? 3 Things to Know

Gun ranges are exciting places to practice your marksmanship and have fun, but operating firearms must be done with the highest amount of safety. 

Safety begins with a lot of range rules to be followed and sometimes pre-checks that must be performed. Some ranges may check IDs or even do background checks.

Gun ranges may check IDs because obtaining the identity of any person entering their establishment is an essential step in minimizing both risk and liability. Age requirements, waivers of liability, participant tracking, and firearm eligibility status are all reasons why a range may check IDs.

In most cases, checking IDs is harmless, but it is still important to determine why these ranges may check yours. Read on for the most common reasons a range may check your identification and when they will run a background check on you.

3 Reasons Gun Ranges Ask for an ID

Ranges will check IDs for the following reasons:

  • Minimum Age Requirements: The range will want to make sure that you are of the appropriate age to shoot. This may be for legal or liability reasons or both.
  • Participant Tracking: For liability reasons, the range may want a record of anyone who was present at the range. In case of damage to property or others, this will allow them to identify the perpetrator.
  • Background Checks: Running background checks allows the range to see if you have a criminal history that may affect your ability to operate a firearm. This practice has legal implications that will be discussed later in this article.  

1. Minimum Age Requirements

While it varies dramatically from state to state, there is usually a minimum age requirement to shoot at a gun range. To shoot alone in most states, you must be either 18 or 21 years of age. To go to a gun range as a minor, you must have a parent or guardian with you. In both cases, you will have to fill out a waiver stating that you are of appropriate age and you understand the rules and risks of using the range.

At most ranges, they only check IDs to satisfy this requirement and cover any liability that may come with letting underaged individuals operate a firearm without supervision. There are no minimum age requirements in some states, but the range may still check people’s identifications for their liability purposes.

2. Participant Tracking

Some ranges may take a photocopy of your ID or write down your driver’s license number. If they do this, they are most likely trying to protect themselves if somebody does something against the rules, damages property, or harms others. Range operation laws state that the range can lose its special license to operate if a preventable incident occurs.

If something happens at the range, the range owners would be able to go back and check who was present at the time of the incident.

3. Background Checks

Some gun ranges may try to run a background check on you the first time you come to their property. The range would want to do this because they need to make sure that you are not a convicted criminal, mentally unstable, or have any other reasons you would not be allowed to operate a firearm.

Federal law prevents all felons from possessing or using a firearm. Additionally, criminals convicted of a violent misdemeanor charge are banned from using guns. 

Lastly, federal law would outlaw anyone previously admitted to a mental institution or deemed mentally unwell from operating a firearm. This definition varies from state to state, but always requires some history of inpatient treatment.

Convicted felons may even be able to retain their firearms right to be able to shoot at a range.

All you need to run a criminal background check is a name, address, and date of birth. Having a social security number may expedite the process, but they can do it without one. If the workers at the range ask for any part of your social security number, you know they will most likely run background checks.

What Type of Gun Ranges Are Most Likely To Check ID?

There are two types of ranges; indoor and outdoor. These ranges can be divided further into public and private entities.

The range most likely gun ranges to run ID and background checks are private, indoor ranges. Private ranges typically will have a more extensive selection of rental weapons, such as automatic rifles and exotic guns, making their liability much higher.

As a result, they will want to be sure you’re fit to handle a firearm before allowing you access.

These ranges may be even stricter in states with tight gun control laws, such as Hawaii, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey.

The type of range with the loosest rules are public, outdoor ranges. These are most common in gun-friendly states like Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, New Hampshire, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah. 

Occasionally, these ranges are set up as “show up and shoot” ranges where you pay a small entrance fee and shoot for the day without any other hassle. You are unlikely to have your ID checked at a range like this.

Can Gun Ranges Legally Run Background Checks?

Gun ranges cannot legally run background checks on individuals who want to use the range or rent a weapon. This is because of a concept called “constructive possession.” As long as the rented weapon stays inside the property, the range is still lawfully in possession of the gun.

If the individual wants to leave the property with the weapon through purchase or long-term rental, the range must then perform a background check. Once the individual goes off the property with the firearm, they are legally in possession, and restrictions are now enforced.


The rules and regulations that gun ranges implement vary from range to range. Not all ranges will ask for IDs, but some have a more extensive screening process. This story of a violent felon shooting her firearms instructor may convince more ranges to start performing stricter checks. This woman was allowed to shoot a firearm without going through a background check.

Contact Action Target

If your gun range asks for your ID and you’re curious why, then just ask! The owners of the range should be more than happy to let you know the reasons behind their request.

With over 30 years of experience, Action Target can help you build the perfect range for your unique needs. Whether you’re building a commercial range that caters to casual or tactical training or a law enforcement range to better prepare your officers, our experts can help with the challenges of building a range. Talk to one of our representatives in your neck of the woods here