I’ve shot in USPSA since 2008, and I finally got around to taking the Level 1 Range Officer course last month. I sincerely regret the delay.
As a bit of background, the National Range Officer Institute or NROI is part of USPSA, and administers the Range Officer functions for the sport worldwide. They write the rules, and give training around the world on how to run matches safely.
In all the years I’ve been competing, I have to confess, I have never run a competitor through a stage as the main RO, the one with the timer. I’ve not been certified so I’ve never felt qualified, even though I feel I know what to do.
Part of the problem was the USPSA didn’t put on many training classes in our area. But when I heard about this one, I signed up as quickly as I could.
Thus began the journey . . . .
The class instructor was Kevin Imel, a veteran RO and Instructor from Washington state. His teaching style was very easy going, and it was obvious he had been there and done that.
The class is divided into two days, a classroom day devoted to the Rules, and a range day where we got to see the Rules in action, and show that we knew what we were doing.
There were 30 people in our class, and as we introduced ourselves, I found that most of us had been shooting USPSA less than 5 years. Skills ranged from D Class shooters like me, up to World Champions. Seriously.
We were all asked why we were taking the class, and most of us responded like me: to learn more about the sport, and to give back by refereeing and making the sport safer. The best answer, though, came from the aforementioned World Champion, KC Eusebio, who said he was taking the class so he could DQ people.
Kevin then went through the Rules, from front to back. I have to admit, I had a passing knowledge of them coming in, but not very thorough. Kevin fixed that.
We covered all the Rules, along with examples of the usual kinds of things ROs come across. There was a lot of lively back and forth with the class, and a lot of “what if” and “there was this one time.” But in all, I really got a lot out of the day.
I won’t say that Day 2 was more interesting than Day 1, but, after all, USPSA is about shooting, and on Day 2, we shot.
First, though, we set up the stage according to the diagram and written stage briefing. This is where you find out there is more to the setting up of a stage than it seems. To someone like me, who pretty much shows up and shoots (yes, I do help break down afterward), there was a lot more precision involved in how the targets are aligned and set. I admit, it took us a couple of goes at it to get the stage set, but soon, we were ready to shoot.
There are 2 tests involved to receive RO certification, a written rules test and a shooting test. The shooting test actually has 3 parts. In the first, you are the shooter. You shoot the stage safely and according to the rules, and the RO instructions.
The second part involves you acting as the main RO, the one with the timer. This is the one who calls out the stage commands, and a lot of us, having shot in other sports, were a little confused on some of the commands. But, we all eventually got them right.
The main RO is also the one who scores each target, and, as it turns out, there were wonderful examples of difficult calls all day. But again, we all learned how to do it.
The third part involves running the clipboard, and I have to admit, I never gave this role much serious thought in the past. In truth, this person has RO authority, and is the one who is supposed to look downrange and be sure each target is engaged.
In all, I made it through fine.
One note – KC Eusebio ran a really good shooter when it was his time to be the main RO. The shooter finished the stage with no penalties and no safety infractions.
But KC disqualified him anyway. After all, it was why he came to the class.
Oh, and he autographed that shooter’s book.
The last part of the class involved completing a written test over the rules. Each question required not only an answer, but we had to list the Rule number(s) that supported our answers.
I finally sent my test off to Kevin, knowing I had aced it.
Of course, I didn’t. But I did pass – so, but the tenth of next month, the USPSA will have at least one more Certified Range Officer, and, I suspect, 30 in all.