In the Range Officer seminar we talk about the desired qualities of a range official: a positive attitude, knowledgeable, objective, and a leader and ambassador for USPSA and SCSA. Let’s review what a range official, at any certification level, can do to meet all of these.
A positive attitude – This one is probably the easiest. If being a range officer makes you miserable and grumpy, it might be time to just focus on shooting stages. Range officials are the ones that help educate new participants, keep the squad moving, and make sure every one has a safe, fair, and fun match. A good attitude helps ensure that those first time competitors want to come back, and also helps encourage others to become ROs. Yes, we all have a bad day here and there, but if you are serving as a range official you should want to do the job. Remember that range officials and competitors are NOT adversaries.
Knowledgeable – No, this doesn’t mean that you need to have the rulebook memorized, but you should know how to look things up (hint, Use the chapters). And that you are willing to learn from the rulebook, from more experienced range officials, and from major match experience. We are all learning and having to reference the rulebook and this includes ROs, CROs, RMs, RMIs, and even the DNROI and his assistants. New situations arise constantly and that is why we occasionally need to update the rules. Good range officials keep up with the rules changes and make sure to carry a current rulebook because the rulebook is always the first place to go.
Objective – This is probably the most important quality of a range official. Can you apply the rules fairly and consistently for all competitors? It shouldn’t matter if it’s your best friend or worst enemy, you should be able to officiate objectively. And if you know that you can’t be objective for a competitor, hand the timer to another RO. This is a sport and ROs ensure competitive equity.
Leader and ambassador for USPSA and SCSA – The best way to lead is by example. There are many small things that a range official can do to lead. At local matches, help run the timer and scorepad and help train new folks on how to do those jobs. At major matches, come prepared with some tools (stapler, staple puller, wrenches for popper adjustment at minimum) and show up early enough to prepare the stage. At all match levels, be willing to help others answer rules questions by checking the rulebook first and if you still don’t know the answer direct them to folks who do (RM at match or email@example.com). And also be an ambassador for our sport and promote safe, fair, fun practical shooting. Our sport is very much about community and local matches and major matches are just as much a social outing as a competition. Competitors and range officials all want to have a great match and good leadership at all levels ensures that.
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