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Q&A: When should you become a Range Officer?


Mr. Apps,

TC from Ft. Mill, SC here and I have a question, in several parts.

What is it you look for in a competition pistol?

I know you have often said you are not a gear guy, but you do make gear decisions in order to play this game and you invest money based on those decisions. Others do as well.

While I know what I look for in a competition gun, I think many listeners, particularly those new to the shooting sports, would be grateful for your insights on this topic. As you have often said, there are many quality firearms out there from reputable manufacturers, and often a decision on which way to go comes down to the individual and what they like over what they don’t.

Yet there are surely some features you look for in a handgun, both competition and self-defense. Without looking to endorse any specific gun or manufacturer, what are those features? What is your logic behind those choices?

I would also ask the same question as it pertains to support gear, such as belts, magazine pouches, holsters, sights and any other sundry items you might feel like commenting upon.

Thanks for what you do and please think hard before shutting down this show. It’s a winner and, I think, deserves more time to find it’s footing. Carry on!


There are definitely criteria that I base a purchase on for a competition gun.

  • I need to be able to reach the magazine button relatively easily. I really dislike having to rotate the gun in my hand to do a reload. I know for some folks with smaller hands that’s just life, but it’s something I want to avoid at all costs.
  • Reliability. Personally, I think if you’re at all serious about competition shooting, your competition gun needs to be able to be just as reliable as your carry gun. If you’re constantly losing matches to your friends because you’re clearing malfunctions, that’s going to get old FAST.
  • Parts availability. Competition guns get lots of rounds through them, and no matter what gun you shoot (yes, even Glocks) you’ll break it eventually. If you got some $300 foreign job that nobodies ever heard of, and you plan to make GM with it, you might should think about buying a few of them, because you might be in a tough situation trying to get parts for that hipster gun.
  • Availability of adjustable sights. Having adjustable sights is a non-negotiable for me, and if Dawson doesn’t make them for the model of gun I’m looking at, I’m no longer interested.
  • Magazines that aren’t crazy expensive. As a Production shooter, I have a LOT of magazines for my competition gun. If they’re really expensive, you’re probably going to think twice about dropping them a lot in practice, which could lead to less practice, etc. IMO, they’re expendable. I’m at the point where I’m probably just going to buy 5 new Glock 34 mags at the beginning of ever season, and not worry about it. If you’re not a Production shooter, this is a moot point. 2011s just have expensive magazines, and there really isn’t anything you can do about that.
  • I’m still a big fan of the “I just like it better” factor. If there are two guns that you can’t really quantify which one is better, get the one that you like the most.



Would you think allowing 170 mags for limited minor would balance the scoring advantage of major with extra capacity of minor? Kind of like how single stack is 2 extra rounds (20% more) if you shoot minor.


No, because that’s already how it works. Currently you’re looking at like 19 or 20rds of .40 (major) in a 2011 magazine, and something like 22 or 23 in a 9mm (minor) magazine.

DVC – Speed Power Accuracy

I’m not sure that minor power factor having less recoil, more capacity, and major having less ammo, and more recoil and major scoring are supposed to be equals. I think since the tenets of the game are speed, power, and accuracy, that shooting major is rewarded with a scoring advantage, and that’s just the way it is.

So, if you’re getting 22 or 23 of 9mm in a 140mm mag, and 27 in a 170, you’re still going to be doing one reload even on the biggest stages, just like the guys shooting Major. Sure, there would be some stages where you wouldn’t have to do a reload, and they would, but I think in that case we’re still talking maybe one stage in a club match, and they’re still getting Major scoring.


Is there a magazine capacity limit for production?

Yes. 10 rounds at the start signal.

Relevant rule: Appendix D4, number 9

“Yes, maximum 10 rounds loaded in any magazine after the start signal”

What this means is that you can load 11 into your first magazine, and put one in the chamber when you’re making ready, leaving you 10 in that magazine when the buzzer goes off.

I mention this because I’ve seen some new shooters only start with 10 rounds in their gun when they could start with 11. The only time you can have too much ammo is when you’re swimming…

Nelson again:

In general when small local matches are held at clubs, are non-members allowed to go? I’m sure every club is different but thought maybe there would be an answer for most cases. I’m very new and just starting to think about getting into competing.

This is a really good question. I’ve mentioned to people who are interested in competition in the past that I shoot at a bunch of different clubs, and more than once I’ve gotten a response that they just can’t afford a membership at a bunch of different clubs.

I can’t either, and thankfully that’s not how it works.

If were talking about people who aren’t members of said gun club, the answer is yes. If it’s a USPSA match, or an IDPA match being held at an otherwise members only club, then yes, it’s open to any USPSA or IDPA member.

Now, some clubs do host outlaw matches that are just for members, but you can be assured that you’re welcome to shoot if it’s a sanctioned match for any of the big types of matches.


Do you think that there should be more stores across the us more focussed around the competitive shooter? Lets face it u cant get the gear that everyone has just walking into your local walmart.

I’m a big free market guy, and I think if there were a big enough market for places to stock a bunch of competition gear in store, they would.

Where I’m at in Raleigh, NC, the competition shooting scene is quite healthy. We’ve been doing a pretty good job getting new shooters into the sport, and getting new matches started.

However, something like 5 or so years ago, a new gun store opened in our area. A few of the dudes that were partners in the store were also competition shooters, and they stocked a bunch of CR Speed belts, mag pouches, and some other things like that. I haven’t been in there in a while, but I remember being in there one time thinking “man, I can’t believe those mag pouches are still here”.

Yes, they could have sold them, and re-stocked, but it didn’t look like it.

I think even in the most healthy competition shooting markets, there probably isn’t enough people buying competition gear in store to justify the amount of room it takes up on the salesfloor. The gun store might stock CR speed mag pouches, but I like the DAA’s. They might have a belt in stock in a 40”, but I need a 36”.

And then you’ve also got people who will use the store like a showroom to see how they like the product, and then buy it on Amazon Prime on their way out the door to save a couple bucks.

I don’t have a business relationship with them in any way, but I think this is something Ben Stoeger Pro Shop has done really well. It used to be that really the only places to get a lot of competition gear were through some websites that looked like they hadn’t been updated since Al Gore created the internet in 1996, and I always felt weird giving them my card number, etc. BSPS popped up, made a well stocked, good looking site that supports mobile, is fast, clean looking, and well stocked. They have a reputation for shipping relatively quickly, etc etc.

No, they’re not a brick and mortar store, and you can’t go get hands on with the product before you buy it, but I think for a niche business like competition shooting is, from a consumer perspective, they’ve got the best thing going.


At what point do you think matches should really change targets during a match? Shot a match recently that had 3 targets on one stage that had only head shots. We were the last squad to get there that day and by that time with sixty some shooters hitting a head target it was basically just a big pile of tape where you couldn’t even really score it correctly and had nothing to really aim at. As a RO what would be your suggestion and is there anything covering this when you take the RO class?

I don’t think it’s come up in any of the RO classes I’ve taken, but I think the answer should be “before it gets to the point that you can’t score it effectively.”


How much experience in the shooting sports should one have before becoming an RO?

I think you should have a good understanding on how things work in competition. Notice I said “how things work” and not “know everything in the rulebook”. I’m only familiar with the NROI program, currently a CRO, so I’m not 100% on what’s in the classes for the other games, but in USPSA you’ll get a good working knowledge of things just from taking the level 1 class. The tests can feel intense, but I think they do a good job of making you research a lot of different things, and learn concepts.

I think if you’re excited about progressing in the sport, both as a shooter and a volunteer, the NROI level 1 class is worth it. I didn’t learn NEARLY as much in the CRO class, and probably wouldn’t go to the expense to take it again if I knew what I was getting.

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.

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