Getting Started - Safety (Part 4)

Posted by George on 5th Nov 2016

This is the 4th part of a series that is about getting you started in competitive shooting. These articles are more of a walk through, as opposed to a complete discussion of the topics.Don’t be shy, ask for help getting started.You will find most revolver shooters will gladly show you the ropes.

Everyone should have had a handgun safety course and you should be comfortable with safety at the range. In this part I would like to talk about safety at a match combined with range etiquette. All safety is important but not part of this topic.

First of all most matches are held at COLD ranges. A COLD range means no walking around with loaded guns. If you have a concealed pistol as you drive up you must leave it in your car. It is just that simple.

Now how do you get from your car with your gun in a gun case to the line and be ready to shoot. Gather all your equipment (your gun is still empty and in a case) and get to the shooters meeting. There will be a mandatory shooter's meeting before these matches. Meet some shooter's, say hello to other shooters (cause you are not a jerk). Then get yourself ready. Put on your equipment less gun and ammo. Find a safe table. Safe tables are places where you may handle your weapon. NO AMMUNITION IS ALLOWED AT THIS TABLE. At the safe table get your gun out, you may put it in your holster, practice draws and dry fire.Keep it empty and pointed in the berm (a pile of dirt). Holster your empty gun and leave so that other shooters may load up. If you ever want to adjust your equipment, come over to a safe table without ammo and make the adjustments.Keep your gun holstered till you are at the line.

Next after the shooter's meeting find your way over to your starting stage.You will be given a stage briefing by the Range Officers (ROs) and given time to walk through the stage.A shooting order will be established. Load your moon clips onto your belt and get ready to be called.When it’s your turn you become under the direct control of the RO.Tell the RO you are a new shooter and would gladly take all the help and advice they have to offer. The RO will say:

Going Hot! (The RO is announcing that we are going to start shooting)

Load and make ready.(It’s now time to load your revolver)

Are you ready?(When you are ready, say yes)

Standby (Wait for the buzzer)

STOP (Immediately stop and wait for further instructions from the RO)

If you are finished show clear, close the cylinder and holster.(Do just that)

Range is clear.(It’s OK to go forward)

Every type of match might have a slightly different set of commands.But they are easy to understand and follow.Just PAY ATTENTION!Watch what other shooters are doing, ask questions of the ROs.Tell them you are a new shooter.

“Breaking the 180” We need to add one more point. When you are the shooter, your gun must ALWAYS be pointed down range.Down range is defined as the direction toward the targets.Up range is defined as the direction from the targets to the shooter.The 180 is a line that is at right angles to the down range direction.You may NOT break the 180.That means point your gun up range.Swinging your gun more that 90 degrees either side of the down range direction is a match disqualification.Your shooting is all over.

Considering we are running with loaded guns, opening doors or windows with loaded guns and shooting at moving targets, safety has to be a major consideration.And it’s your responsibility to keep it safe.

One last topic that is not enforced in all shooting disciplines is passing the muzzle of your gun past a body part.Typical example is a shooter with a cloth holster.It’s sticky and difficult to draw.The shooter grabs the gun with one hand and grabs the holster with the other.That act of drawing the gun causes the muzzle to pass over the arm that is retaining the holster.Not all disciplines will call this out.It’s BAD, don’t do it.It can be a match disqualification.As you get into opening doors your non gun hand can easily be placed in front of the muzzle.Watch out.Helpfully point out when shooters are making these errors. Don’t make a big deal of it just quietly explain what you think you saw.

Shooting safety is a lot like Tea with the Queen.Using the wrong fork is a social flub and you won’t get invited back (to the Queen’s tea). And it’s the same with unsafe gun handling gun techniques.Keep performing in that manner and no one will want to be around.There are shooters that I will not squad with.They are too dangerous for me.

When you're done with a stage thank the ROs for being there and working the match.