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Range Officers Playing Fast and Loose with Range Commands?

Jeremiah in Utah was disqualified from an IDPA match recently because he thought he heard the Range Officer tell him to load and make ready when he really didn’t. Jeremiah said that the RO’s on his squad had been fast and loose with range commands all day, and he thought he heard the command to make ready and pulled out his gun to make ready, and then the RO told him that he was disqualified. 

This is a BIG pet peeve of mine. As an RO it’s my job to basically be the designated driver for the shooters on my squad. I’m working so they can have a good time. It’s not the time for me to be cutting it up and joking around, having conversations, asking people about their new blaster, and most of all, making up my own range commands.

If you’ve been around the shooting sports for any length of time, you’ve certainly heard these before:

“Gas it up, cowboy!”

“Make it hot”

“Grip it and rip it!”

Things like that. If you’ve ever said these things to a shooter, stop it. If you say it to me, expect an unimpressed glare until you tell me the proper range command.

Not only should RO’s use the proper command, but in my opinion, they also shouldn’t be spending a bunch of time chatting with shooters and things like that. When the shooter comes to the line, answer his questions clearly and concisely, and then get things rolling.

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About Lucas

Editor/Head Honcho at Triangle Tactical. Lucas is a life long shooter and outdoorsman, avid concealed carrier and competitive shooter, and a lover of pork fat.

One comment

  1. Perhaps part of the problem is that different disciplines don’t always use the same range commands.

    For example:

    “Jeremiah in Utah was disqualified from an IDPA match recently because he thought he heard the Range Officer tell him to load and make ready when he really didn’t”

    In IPSC/USPSA, the command is “Make Ready”, not “LOAD AND MAKE READY”. The difference is that sometimes a stage procedure requires the competitor to begin t with an unloaded gun. Thus, the “Load and Make Ready” command is not only not universally appropriate, but often confusing.

    The “Universal” Range Commands for IPSC/USPSA are:

    Make Ready
    Are you ready?
    Stand by
    (sound of the timer signal to initiate target engagement)
    If you are finished, unload and show clear
    If clear, hammer down and holster
    The range is clear

    Each command has a clearly defined series of actions which the competitor is expected to perform. And if the competitor misunderstands the commands (or doesn’t clearly hear the command) the Range Officer is (or should be) trained to respond to an unexpected response in a manner which is helpful to the competitor rather than a punitive manner (if appropriate).

    While it is true that the duties of a Range Officer are to insure safety, treat every competitor equally, and insure that safety, range and stage procedures are followed AND score the targets, another very important duty is to be “helpful” to the competitor (as long as that does not result in giving one competitor ‘advantageous advice’ which is not available to all).

    So, sometimes even to ” answer his questions clearly and concisely” is not part of the RO role.

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