SCAPSA MATCH SAFETY
We all love to have fun but anytime you handle a firearm there is an assumed risk, and that risk can be minimized significantly by practicing strict range safety & gun handling protocols. First, there are the 4 standardized rules of handling a firearm that must be applied but when you are moving and shooting at the same time an additional set of rules are enforced. At almost all of our matches at SCAPSA, we have USPSA certified Range Officers to help oversee competitors while they are shooting a stage. During any USPSA or SCSA match, we keep a cold range and have safety tables where ammunition cannot be present but can be used for general gun handling, inspection, and more. Breaking safety rules can ultimately end up in a disqualification for the rest of that match, but most shooters find them very easy to comply with and still have a great time.
At some point when you are getting ready for a match on the range you will need to get your gun out of its case or bag, and holster it. Any time your handgun is not in a bag or a holster you either need to be under the direct supervision of a range officer or at a safety table. Safety tables are clearly marked and are in multiple locations throughout the range. They are a place where you can unbag your gun, but also inspect your firearm if something has gone wrong, clean it, show a friend or really anything else you want to do with it is completely fine.
There are a few rules at the safety table though. First (in no particular order) is NO AMMO. Having anything that may resemble ammunition that is visible is not acceptable at any safety table is a DQ. The second is to keep any handguns in the general direction that the safety table is pointing. Some tables have arrows where others do not, but it is usually pretty simple to figure out which way is a safe direction. The last is that some safety tables will have a box or border where you can stand. The easiest way to think about it is like fault lines of a stage, and if you are handling an unholstered gun outside of the fault lines, it will end up in a disqualification from the match. The only exception to the safety table rules come when you are handling a PCC rifle. PCC rifles can be bagged and unbagged with the muzzle pointing at any berm and then either going directly vertical with its muzzle direction. The standard safe gun handling rules still apply to PCC when they are not bagged.
The term "cold range" means that no one has a loaded firearm without being under the direct supervision of a range officer. When shooting a match and it is your turn to shoot, the range officer will give you the command "Make Ready" which is the time you can take a sight picture, practice a last-minute draw from the starting position, and you can also finally load your gun. After finishing a stage you will then be given instructions to clear your gun and reholster it, and then after that point, you may not have a loaded gun on the range.
When it is your turn to shoot a stage you will end up being given a series of range commands to get you ready, but then also another set to have you unload your gun, reholster, and clear the range again.
The Range Officer Commands:
Make Ready - This is the first instruction the range officer will give you, and at that point, you can unholster your gun, take a sight picture, a couple of practice draws, etc., but you can also load your gun (if it is a loaded start). Once you and your gun is in the correct starting position, you will be given the next direction.
Are You Ready - If you are ready you can nod your head, say anything you want or just remain quiet. If you are not ready, reply with a good loud "no," and the RO will then wait for you to assume the correct starting position again before repeating the command.
Standby - This is the final warning before the beep will sound. At the standby command, you should remain motionless in the starting position until you hear the tone to start shooting. There are times that shooters may "creep" which can be called by the range officer and the standby command will be then repeated after you reassume the correct starting position.
If You Are Finished, Unload and Show Clear - After the range officer thinks you are finished with the stage they will give you this instruction. At this point, you can reexamine the stage for any missed targets and still re-engage any that you feel you need to. If you are done however you will want to remove the magazine from your gun, and then remove the chambered round. After the case is ejected, you will need to show the RO your empty chamber for their visual inspection. It is very important that you inspect the chamber as well, because at the end of the day it is 100% your responsibility.
If Clear, Hammer Down, and Holster - After you and the range officer have inspected your chamber you will then need to either drop your slide (or cylinder for revolvers) and then point your gun down range at the berm and pull the trigger to prove it is empty. After you pull the trigger, you can then reholster your gun and then wait for the range officers last command. Anytime after the RO starts the If clear, hammer down, and holster, you may not reload your gun. It is to remain clear until you are under the make ready command again.
Range is Clear - At this point, you may leave your final position, retrieve magazines, check targets as they get scored, etc. If you are a competitor not shooting, this is also the point where you can go downrange and help reset the stage for the next shooter.
At any point, while you are shooting the stage you hear the command "STOP" that means you need to stop shooting, keep your gun pointed in a safe direction and then wait for directions from the range officer on what to do next. There are a few different cases where the stop command may be used. Most commonly it is used for prop or safety equipment malfunctions, but there are other reasons it may need to be used. It will be yelled if the shooter commits a safety infraction like breaking the 180-degree rule, accidental discharge, or a few other offenses that require the shooter to stop. If this ever happens to you, it is required that you listen to the range officers instructions and waiting until you hear the "Range is Clear" command before asking any questions. .