When I teach the RO seminar I always tell the class that taking the seminar will not only teach you how to officiate, but also help improve your game as a competitor. Why? Because if you know the rules, you understand what is allowed and not allowed and also can be an advocate for yourself if you encounter an official who may not know the rules.
I am not criticizing any person who steps up and officiates, we appreciate all our volunteers who serve as range officers, chief range officers, and range masters. We also know that the rulebook is rather long and sometimes complex and that some folks don’t have the time, nor desire, to really study the rules. Yes, we have some officials who are rules nerds, and others who know enough to run the timer and may only have an issue when something unusual happens. The Question of the Month polls over the last few years have definitely demonstrated that we have some different interpretations of the rules out there, but hopefully the posts discussing the results have clarified things. And remember, ALL OF US are continually learning when it comes to the rules.
How can you learn the rules, as a competitor and/or certified official? Taking a RO seminar is probably the best way, but we understand that some folks aren’t able to give up a weekend to take the course. Another good option is to read the rulebook. The USPSA and SCSA rulebooks are available on the respective websites. Read a chapter chapter here and there until you are through the whole thing and I’ll bet you find some things you didn’t know or misunderstood. And re-reading it might help you understand it even more. And of course the NROI Blog (you are already here!) and NROI Podcast are also great resources. The blog is one post a week which takes less than five minutes of your time. The podcast is released twice a month and can entertain you on your commute.
And of course the best way to learn the rules is to ask questions. Whether it is at your local match, with local certified officials, or emailing NROI at email@example.com, folks in our sport are happy to help. Has a spirited discussion occurred at your local match over the number of penalties? First, consult the rulebook, then the person serving as RM, and if post-match you are still confused on what the correct call should be, email us and we will try to clarify it.
It is everyone’s responsibility to know the rules, even at the basic level. If you are an experienced certified official, help clarify rules for new competitors and share your knowledge with competitors and new range officials. If you are new to our sport, don’t be afraid to ask questions. We are all constantly learning!
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