As I go around shooting and working matches and teaching Range Officer classes I see a common issue that really bugs me. That is the common practice of truncation of range commands and called hits while scoring targets.
First, what the heck is truncation? It is removing various words from the published range commands to make them either easier to remember or quicker to say. The best example I can give is “clear, hammer, holster!” Other variations are such things as “If finished, show clear”. And my favorite scoring call, “TWO!” Grrr!
So, you say what’s the diff? (another truncation, eh?)
The range commands are a series of either statements or questions. Each serve a purpose and if you do not use them correctly you are doing a disservice to the competitor and to the match. Several of the commands are compromises we made with IPSC to work to a common language worldwide. If heaven forbid you end up with a non-English speaking competitor, your shortened commands may lead to confusion and misunderstandings.
So, with this in mind, lets break down the range commands and highlight the purpose of each.
“Make Ready”- A statement from the Range officer that the competitor is clear to handle their firearm and prepare for the stage.
“Are You Ready?” – A question that can or cannot require an answer. No answer, the competitor is ready to go. If the competitor is not ready they need to say so in some manner, preferably by saying “not ready”.
“Standby” – A statement to everyone the competitor is about to draw and fire their firearm. It is also a final warning to everyone to make sure they have their eye and ear protection on.
Beep or visible start signal – And the fun begins!!!
“Stop”- A command statement that tells the competitor to stop their actions and hold in place waiting for the next command. Competitors must stop their actions whether they think they did something wrong or not. Failure to do so may result in a sad, dangerous or punitive outcome. (10.6.1)
“If You Are Finished, Unload and Show Clear” – A question to the competitor who appears to have completed their course of fire. Under the rules, the competitor may continue shooting if they are not satisfied they have completed their attempt at the course of fire. By far the most commonly butchered range command. My two favorite variations, “If you are done, unload and show clear (empty)” or “If finished, show clear”.
“Unload and Show Clear”- The command given if the competitor was stopped by the range officer before completing the course of fire. As I have always said, it seems less harsh than “You are finished, unload and show clear”.
“If Clear, Hammer Down, Holster” or “If Clear, Hammer Down, Flag” and for the revolver crowd, “If Clear, Cylinder Closed, Holster” – A series of statements that puts the responsibility on the competitor to make sure their firearm is unloaded and clear. This command was a compromise between USPSA and IPSC to overcome the older IPSC rule that an “Unload, show clear, boom” was not a DQ under their older rules since the range officer called the firearm clear. Skipping the “If clear” part of the statement or just saying “clear” may give the competitor the false impression you as the range officer has seen the firearm is clear. (But you must make every effort to see that it is clear.) TM
“Range is Clear” – A statement the firearm is now clear and safely put away and it is okay to go forward and score and reset.
In my classes I cover the three S-words a range officer should remove from their vocabulary, shooter, slide, and safe! They have no place during the range commands.
Finally, let’s cover the final truncation I dislike. While scoring I will see the range officer walk by a target and say, “Two!” Two what?? Two alphas are assumed by many but is that really what they mean? Be a good range officer and say, two alpha, two charlie, alpha charlie, two deltas and a no-shoot, whatever, and if you are running the tablet, call those hits back exactly, so the competitor isn’t confused, either. It is too easy to get ahead of the person on the score tablet or pad and end up missing targets, especially in larger courses. So, remember you are not paying per word on the range. This is not an old newspaper where the cost of an article was by the word. Use the range commands as they were written at all times and you will be both more accurate and I will not have to card you the next time I see you at a match.