I saw this on a meme on social media and it sort of struck a chord. I get a lot of questions describing a mistake some RO allegedly made at a match, or a declaration by a supposedly knowledgeable RO or local “rules guru” that is completely wrong and not found in the rules, but I have also been guilty of this very thing. Case in point, I was asked recently about a situation where the RM did not disqualify a competitor for being more than 6 feet from a berm and uncasing a PCC. The original sender wasn’t complaining as much as just wanting to know the possible reasons for allowing this. I explained the rule, and then asked, “Who was this? I will try to send him some information and educate him a little bit.” Imagine my chagrin when the original sender said, “Um, well, it was you.” Ope! Once he said that, I remembered the match and circumstances, and I had to admit that yes, per a strict interpretation of the rules, it should have been a DQ, but at the time, he wasn’t pointing the gun at anybody, and was somewhere around 7 feet from the berm or so, with the gun in a cart. And, remembering that match, I was probably distracted by something else at the time. All things considered, it seemed like the right call, and I can’t say I wouldn’t do it exactly the same way again, but I got a little lesson in humility and I haven’t forgotten it.
What does this mean, exactly? Basically, it means that just because you have been doing something one way for years doesn’t mean that it’s the correct way, or even the “legal within the USPSA rules” way. Learning from your own and others mistakes will also help keep you at the top of your RO game. Everybody makes mistakes; the key to getting better is to learn from them.
We should all pay attention to rule changes, and ask questions when the rule or rules either aren’t clear or don’t make sense somehow. NROI continuously puts out a lot of information: in the Downrange News Brief, on the NROI blog (www.nroi.org), and in the USPSA magazine, not to mention by direct email at times. There are training videos available on topics such as using Practiscore, videos and articles about start positions, the 180, measuring magazines—all kinds of topics that are useful in keeping up with the skills and knowledge required to be an effective Range Officer. We continue to add material to our library that will hopefully keep our certified Range Officials current and aware, and field many questions submitted through email@example.com, or emailed directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We all need to be teachable, whether we teach ourselves, or let others do the training, because we all have room to grow and learn as Range Officers. Here are a few tips on getting better that don’t add much to your time burden:
- Shoot more and at different places: I guarantee you’ll have a different perspective.
- Note “best practices” when you see them, and perhaps even improve on them if you can, and then share them with others. There is some wisdom in the old saw: “Watch one, do one, teach one.”
- Get out of your local pond and swim with some different fish on occasion. Whether you do this as a competitor or a range official, or both, it will help get you out of a rut and expand your RO acumen.
- Read the rules from time to time: not all of them; break them down into sections and see if you understand them. Think of some scenario where that rule may come into play and how you might respond, and work that around in your head.
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