Ever smelled alcohol on someone at the range?


January 19, 2010, 11:57 AM
So the other day I was at the range. I was standing in line and as I did I smelled alcohol. Not rubbing alcohol, booze. (I know there are some physical conditions that can mask as the smell of alcohol on the breath.) but these are rare, at least more rare than someone who's been drinking.

I started looking around and "smelling" around and realized it was the guy in line behind me. He didn't seem "drunk" per se, but after a few minutes of standing around it was pretty clear he had booze on his breath. I didn't think much of it. I had no way to confirm the guy had been drinking. So I left it alone.

I got checked in, went to my lane, did my thing. After a few minutes I walked down the line to get the broom and dustpan to sweep up my first batch of brass and I saw the guy standing in a lane shooting.

My assumption is that the guys at the counter must have judged the guy was okay to shoot.

After I was done shooting, I went to check out and the guy at the counter had forgotten to charge me for my box of ammo. So I reminded him of that and he added it to my bill. But this made me wonder - this kid was obviously in a rush when he was checking people in. So much rush that he'd forgotten to mark down my ammo. So, did he even have time to think about the guy with booze on his breath and make a determination if he was fit to shoot. Again, maybe the guy was fine and what I smelled just smelled LIKE alcohol but wasn't.

Generally, there are some combinations of things I just don't like to be around; one combination is booze and guns.

So, my question is; has anyone ever been in a similar situation? What did you do? It's entirely likely he had not been drinking at all. But I keep asking myself - what if he had? What if my senses and instincts were right?

In retrospect I feel like a screwed up by minding my own business and not at least telling one of the other guys - politely - that I smelled alcohol on someone. On the other hand, I realize I'm not a professional alcohol sniffer and may have just created a big stink for nothing.

At the end of the day, as far as I know the guy was fine and no one got hurt. But if he wasn't, and the kid at the counter was too rushed to notice, I could have been ignoring a situation that go really bad really fast.

So, what, if anything, have others done who've been in similar situations?


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January 19, 2010, 12:04 PM
I haven't been in that situation before, but unless the guy was obviously intoxicated (slurring, staggering, generally acting inebriated) I would have minded my own business.

As you mentioned, there are perfectly legitimate reasons for someone's breath to smell like alcohol, so going by smell alone is not enough (imho) to warrant making an issue out of it.

I would, however, keep an eye on the person. If they started to act strangely, then yeah, I'd alert staff.

January 19, 2010, 12:06 PM
In Switzerland, the old folks use to drink a glass of wine and talk a little before shooting.. and man, some of them really are sharp shooters.. ;)

January 19, 2010, 12:11 PM
I've never smelled alcohol on anyone at the (Members Only) club I shoot at now, but back when I shot at a state park range I witnessed three guys pull up in a pickup, unload their rifles, and then pull out a case of beer.

Nice guys, but I wasn't sticking around for that.

The idea of someone having a drink before shooting doesn't bother me, but trusting the individual to know when to stop doesn't always work (how many DUI stories are in your local paper right now?).

January 19, 2010, 12:13 PM
Perhaps the guy had only one drink or drank like a fish the night before? Were his eyes blood shot, did he slurr his words, or did he stumble when he walked? Does the range post a sign about alcohol? I am not awear of any law against shooting a gun if you smell like boose. You are passing judgement like MADD.
My CCW of 37 years now days says. "Invalid when using or consuming alcohol or illegal drugs"
I am not a cop so unless the person was stumbling drunk I'd leave it alone.

January 19, 2010, 12:13 PM
I wouldn't lay awake at night worrying about it.

Marlin 45 carbine
January 19, 2010, 12:14 PM
not at an indoor range as your situ. some years back at a range I frequent some fellas that were present when I got to a bench went back to the parking area (this an outdoor range on Ntl Fst) and evidently had lunch out of coolers and drank some beers, it was a warm day. they came back about an hour later I was nearly finished. didn't think anything about it myself. pays to be attentive though, granted.

January 19, 2010, 12:16 PM
I am going to a gun show this week end..you know what they serve beer!!!!:eek:
I might have a couple beers and get propositioned by a couple of guns to take them home.

January 19, 2010, 12:17 PM
I might lie awake at night worrying about why I thought I screwed up by minding my own business, though.

If someone isn't fit to shoot, it's pretty obvious.

Someday, we need to stop listening to MADD lie about the evils of the demon booze. They want people to believe that having a beer is equivalent to drinking a bottle of vodka. They have serious psychological issues. Don't make their problems, your problems.

For the record, I don't drink much. I have expensive tastes and a regular guy budget, so I nurse an ounce of single malt now and then, generally at home, while playing with or training my dogs, watching a movie, etc. But I shoot with guys who have a beer after every few rounds of skeet, rest up, and shoot again. There's never been any problem with it, and a properly-policed rifle range is inherently safer than a skeet range. If someone were stumbling around with a shotgun in his hand, that would be different, but I've never seen it.

January 19, 2010, 12:20 PM
Having a drink and being impaired are not the same. If he didn't appear impaired then minding your own business was the correct thing to do. Now if someone was using a cell phone and shooting thats a different story.

January 19, 2010, 12:20 PM
It's perfectly fine to have a few drinks and shoot. Legally, and ethically.

January 19, 2010, 12:24 PM
We've already got one thread dealing with alcohol and drinking up and running.

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