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How to Make a Range Officer Nervous

There are certain things that a shooter can do at a match that might not be against the rules, but are certain to make the range officer nervous. As it happens, there are a few things that bother me, that don’t seem to bother other RO’s and there are a couple things that other range officers get bent out of shape about that don’t bother me at all.

Things that are certain to make me nervous:

Unpredictable shooters. Most of the time I can tell from a shooters walk-through how they’re going to shoot a stage, and position myself accordingly, no big deal. Every now and then though, something either goes wrong with their stage plan, or they don’t give me any indication of what they’re going to do, or they just have a crazy stage plan where they’re running all over the place, so I might not be positioned optimally for that.

Putting your hand on your gun before the Make Ready command. This makes me especially nervous on stages with table starts. I’ve seen a lot of DQ’s where the shooter plopped their gat down on the table for a table start before being told to do so. When I’m the range officer on a stage with a table start, if possible, I like to stay close to the table to try and keep this from happening.

Trying to find your ejected round at unload and show clear before you holster your gun. Just slap it in the holster first so I can call the range clear, and then find your round later. It’ll still be there in 5 seconds after your gun is in the holster, and I might even help you look for it.

Folks that just don’t quite understand what to do. Listen, if you’re not clear on what to do, just stop and ask. Ask the Range Officer, or anyone that that looks like they know what they’re doing. It’s way better to just ask than it is to make a mistake.

Things that don’t bother me, that other Range Officers get bent out of shape about:

The flip-and-catch. This is where the shooter racks the slide back in a way that makes the ejected round fly into the air a little, and they the round is caught by his weak hand. A lot of RO types get real bent out of shape about this claiming that it’s more likely to have an accidental discharge, or more likely to sweep yourself, etc. None of this has been my experience AND I’ve noticed that the shooters that tend to flip-and-catch are the shooters who actually practice. I’m really not concerned about a well practiced shooter doing something that he’s practiced over and over and over again that doesn’t break any safety rules.

Shooters who take a sight picture at load and make ready. Generally this becomes a thing when someone who is used to ROing at IDPA matches comes to a USPSA or outlaw match. This isn’t allowed in IDPA, but in most outlaw matches I’ve shot it’s legal, as well as in USPSA. The argument is “what if they have an AD?” well… what if they have an AD at any other point in the course of fire? They get DQ’d and that’s the end of it. Oh, and when they’re in the start position taking their sight picture, they’re pointing the gun at the berm, so even if they do AD, it’s not leaving the bay.

Gear that Doesn’t Suck

I mentioned on the show a while back that I was going to pick up a CAT tourniquet for my range bag. Well, a bunch of folks who have experience using TQ’s told me to look at the SOFT-T Wide tourniquet. Amazon just notified me that it had a small price drop, so if you’ve been thinking about getting one as well, now is a good time.

The News

** Editors Note: In this episode I said “Massachusetts” exactly one time, and then started saying “Maryland” over and over. I meant Massachusetts. My bad.

Last week the Attorney General in Mass “clarified” their assault weapons bad to basically ban ANY AR-15 in the state, among other semi-automatic rifles. I went through and read the actual text of the law, and I think she’s able to do this because it’s incredibly vague. The law uses terms like “similar to” “copies” and “duplicates”. The words copy and duplicate are pretty specific in my opinion, and they don’t define “similar to” in the law, which is now being interpreted by the AG. It’s a bad law, now being made worse because it’s vague and un-defined, in my non-lawyer, college dropout opinion.

Plug of the Week:

This recent episode of That Shooting Show has stuck with me all week. Steve said something like “How can you expect to have a consistent match performance when you don’t have consistent practice.”


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.


  1. Many jurisdictions define the frame and/or receiver of a firearm as being a “firearm”. If that’s the case in the Mass. legislation, any AR receiver would be covered and the configuration of the parts that complete the firearm wouldn’t matter.

  2. Regarding your tourniquet purchase, I carry a RATS tourniquet in my pants pocket every day. It’s a little less bulky, and just as effective, plus, I have it with me everywhere, every day. This isn’t a pros/cons on tourniquet types, the worst thing would be to not have either. I just see it like I do concealed carry firearms and holsters, if its not comfortable you might make the decision to not carry, which is a terrible decision. Something to think about…

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