In a previous post I explained the different certification levels that NROI offers. But now, let’s look at how those certification levels play into the different roles at matches of all levels, and how certification level sometimes doesn’t equal the duties assigned.
First, let’s talk about Appendix A1 in all three of the rulebooks. In both USPSA and SCSA matches, App. A1 defines the recommendations and requirements for all match levels. It also specifies the requirements for certified range officials. Currently, SCSA matches at all tiers do not require certified Range Officers. Tier 4 matches must have a certified Range Master, and Tiers 2 and 3 are recommended to have a certified RM but it can be a non-certified RM with NROI approval. USPSA Competition Rules and USPSA Rifle, Shotgun, and Multigun Rules have the same requirements for certified staff and will be the focus of rest of this post.
There are a couple things that are the same for all match levels in USPSA per App. A1. First, there must be someone serving as match director. Second, there must be someone serving as RM. In Level I and Level II matches, the same person my fill both roles (see 7.3.1), but it is often best if it’s two different people. The MD handles registration, squadding, scheduling, stats, and all the administration stuff (see 7.1.7). The RM covers range safety, stage operations, stage staff, and the application of the rules (see 7.1.6). Both jobs have different responsibilities and it is best to not overwork one person with all of those duties.
Local (Level I) Matches
At local matches, there must be a MD and a RM. The RM doesn’t have to be a certified RM, but should be a certified Range Officer or Chief Range Officer with solid rules knowledge. The RM will answer rules questions, do popper calibrations, and listen to scoring and penalty appeals. Usually RMs at local matches aren’t super busy, but someone should be filling the role. As to certified ROs and CROs, App. A1 recommends at least one certified official per stage (or squad) and recommends certified CROs. If your club does not have enough certified ROs/CROs to at least have a few per squad, then it might be time to host a RO class. But, the nice thing about local matches is that they are also a training ground for ROs and scorekeepers (also known as assistant ROs) because certification isn’t required. However, it is good to have certified ROs and CROs to help train the new folks properly.
Sectional or State (Level II) Matches
Again we have the MD and RM, but for these matches if the RM is not a certified RM, he or she must be approved by NROI and the Area Director. Also, for LII matches, there must be at least one certified official per stage. And having that official be a certified CRO is recommended. What is commonly seen at LII matches is a certified RO, CRO, or RM serving as the CRO of a stage and the assistant ROs can be a certified officials or uncertified. And some of the well-known Level II matches are able to draw enough staff that they only accept certified officials. Level II matches are often the first major match for many of the staff and are great teaching and learning opportunities for any who serve as RO, CRO, or RM.
Area (Level III) Matches
At Area matches the RM must be a certified RM and be approved by NROI and the Area Director. We still have a MD, bur certified CROs are required on each stage, and the minimum of one certified official per stage still applies. Again, area matches are big enough to often draw more staff applications than needed and usually have all certified officials on the stages. It is very common to see RMs serving as CRO and CROs serving as RO. You can also see a RO serving as CRO on a stage, provided there is a certified CRO or RM working as one of the ROs. Area matches are also great opportunities for experienced and newly certified officials to hone their skills.
Nationals is basically the same as a Level III match, but no Area Director approval is needed for the certified RM. At nationals a good portion of the stage CROs are certified RMs and many of the ROs are CROs. Nationals is a great place to learn how stages at major matches should run and flow, see some interesting scoring and penalty calls, and to learn skills from seasoned Nationals staff. This is why we have been encouraging less experienced ROs and CROs who haven’t travelled outside their Area to come work Nationals. Folks who work Nationals often take what they have learned back to their home clubs and sections which results in better matches there. And did I mention you also get to watch and RO all the top shooters that come through your stage. If you are interesting in applying for nationals, the staff applications are found on the USPSA website.
In summary, it takes a team to officiate matches. At local matches it is a combination of certified and uncertified folks. At major matches it is people with a variety of certification levels, but they may not be working a job that matches their certification level. Remember that regardless of your certification level, every match is a learning experience. Don’t be afraid to politely question calls of those more experienced and use overlays and the rulebook to determine the proper call. Be open to listen and learn when needed, and to also mentor when appropriate. And remember that USPSA and NROI appreciate all our volunteer officials because matches would not occur without them!