Sunday, April 6, 2014

Review - Range Safety Officer AAR 4-5-2014


Perhaps one of the most overlooked position at a shooting range is the Range Safety Officer. This occurs for many reasons – many ranges verge on the “ad hoc” category, say a hillside in a rural area or an old quarry.

Sometimes staff on ranges does double duty – trainer, gopher or range manager so the RSO isn’t a separate and distinct individual.

While common at shooting events and competitions, for the typical range there is seldom a full time RSO available and on duty.

That said, their job and position is critical for both the range and the shooter. The “RSO” is the person who makes sure the range you are shooting on is safe. There are innumerable ways to do real damage to yourself, range neighbors or your shooting buddy. The RSO helps mitigate many issues BEFORE they become a problem and/or danger.

I had the pleasure of training six new RSOs this past weekend. And while the RSO course is one of the “shorter” trainings – and while the class started early enough at 8 AM, before you knew it the clock showed 6 PM when the last grade was copied onto the attendance sheet. While a long day . . . the time went FAST!!! Here is a list of the topics covered on the 5th during the RSO course:

  • Role of the Range Safety officer
  • Purpose of Standard Operating Procedures
  • Basic Inspection Procedures for Ranges
  • Range Rules
  • Inspection Procedures for Indoor Ranges
  • Inspection Procedures for Outdoor Ranges
  • NRA Gun Safety Rules
  • General Range Rules
  • Site-Specific Range Rules
  • Administrative Rules
  • Purpose of a Range Safety Briefing
  • Develop and Conduct a Range Safety Briefing
  • Purpose of having Emergency Procedures
  • Steps to take during an emergency
  • Conduct an Emergency Exercise
  • Define a “stoppage”
  • Define a “malfunction”
  • Demonstrate how to clear stoppages on common types of firearms – including pistols, rifles and shotguns.
  • Demonstrate how to safely take a gun from a shooter.

Add to this a physical walkthrough inspection of the outdoor pistol range, rifle range, trap range and archery range – an hours’ worth of work in and of itself, it’s not hard to see how you get from 8 AM to 6 PM in the “blink” of an eye.

The walkthrough inspections lead directly to range safety briefings. I had one team do the trap range and archery range while the other focused on the pistol and rifle ranges. These were then developed and presented to the class.

Malfunctions and stoppages were discussed and many demonstrated with dummy ammunition. Work included demonstrations on all types of actions for rifles, shotguns and handguns. While this was a very experienced group of shooters, everyone had an introduction to at least one new type of firearm or action that they were not familiar with.

A 50 question exam finished up the day with a required score of 90% to pass the course. I always use exams as reviews of the course. We discuss each question and we pay particular attention to questions a student misses.

Bottom line for the day . . . 6 new RSOs are ready to hit the ranges this summer.

It was a great course – congrats to Colby, Dan, Chuck, Ken, Larry and Loel – good job guys!!


  1. That is good news. Good range officers sometimes get scare with busy schedules that many have. But they are so essential to a safe firing line, along with well trained shooters. Thanks for sharing the news

  2. Congrats to them for being willing to spend the time and learn! :-)