By Brandon via concealednation.org

There is absolutely no excuse that anyone could come up with that would justify what happens in the video above. Posted on YouTube by user Super-Tactical.com, you can see the scary scenario unfold right before everyone’s eyes during a shooting competition. As Super-Tactical.com wrote under the video, “Remember folks, safety is everyone’s responsibility and things can happen when we get complacent” . . .

This video will stay up to help show what can happen when we are not diligent.

The outrage demonstrated by people watching this just goes to show how safe our sport really is. Incidents like this are beyond rare but we must do our part to keep it that way.

85 Responses to Pro Tip: Make Sure the Range Is Clear Before Starting the Next Shooter

  1. WTF. Where is this? Please let me know so I never go there.

    You’d think the guy would have split when he heard shots fired. Lets stay in the course and get behind the targets??

    Suicide by Competition shooter?

    Clear the course people.

    • many times there are several stages running at once in various range areas, all separated by different Berms.
      It is likely the guy down range, having ears on did not know that course had started in his area thinking the fire was next area over.
      I Want to know why when it was discovered, no one was screaming “CEASE FIRE” at the top of their lungs….

      • What they guy is doing, is covering (“pasting”, putting stickers over) holes in the targets, made by the last shooter. Multiple people (usually shooters awaiting their turn to shoot) will usually help repair targets between shooters, so the competition can progress as quickly as possible.

        This is a very scary, but excellent example of what happens when people get complacent about safety, and when “group safety” slowly takes over from “individual safety” procedures.

        The RSO for each shooting bay has the responsibility for making sure the shooting bay is clear of people before allowing the next shooter to load and make ready. In theory, that is why the fake walls are either made of screened fencing and/or are elevated so you can see under them; they are supposed to represent solid objects like walls and buildings that the shooter cannot see through or around, but safety officials MUST be able to tell if people are still present in the shooting bay before starting the next shooter. By constructing them in the manner they do, it allows RSOs and other safety officials to look under and through them to check for people, but in this case, no one was actually doing it. After a bunch of shooters, some RSOs and other safety folks start to get complacent and just “go through the motions” of checking the bay; moving their heads from side-to-side, asking “Range clear?” without actually waiting to hear positive input before proceeding, and assuming that “the group” will tell them if there is a problem. The above video is an example of the results of sloppy safety practices.

        A quick glance can tell you the bay is clear if you only have a handful of steel poppers downrange; for anything else, a person should be walking a circle through the entire target array, or two folks (one on each side) should walk down past all barriers and LOOK for people, return to the line, and signal the RSO that the bay is clear. And most importantly, the people looking for people must be expecting to SEE people (call it “looking hard”) when they check the range bay. If you don’t expect to see anyone downrange, then guess what? You probably won’t see anyone when you go looking. EXPECT people downrange, LOOK for people, PROVE to yourself that no one is there before giving the “bay clear” signal.

        This video should be included as mandatory viewing as a part of all RSO and shooter safety briefings — forever.

        • Further review of the YouTube comments and the video seem to indicate the guy was actually picking up brass, not taping targets. If you run that section of the video forward and back with the video controls (I use QuickTime), you can faintly see something that might be a roller-cage-type brass lifter being pushed around. Based on my past match experience, it may have been the previous shooter or a friend recovering brass for that shooter, or it may have been a “range brass scrounger” who swoops in and vacuums-up brass whenever he can, to sell or reload himself.

          The points above still stand, with the addition that brass scrounging/gathering should NEVER be allowed during the active portions of a competition. That is the primary reason that most well-run matches are run as “lost-brass”; you don’t get to keep/recover your brass at all, which can help prevent delays and this type of safety problem.

        • This video was shown in my NROI RO training course. It was used as an example of an RO screw up that nearly cost someone his life.

        • “Why would a deaf man need ear protection?” Glad you asked. I am 100 percent profound deaf. Certified. I started out not wearing ear protection bec I’m already deaf, right? What could go wrong? What went wrong is, I stood too close to my buddy shooting .38+p and took a ear full of vibrations/air blast and it hurt like heck for days afterwards. Now, I wear “EARS”. Always.

        • The physical parts of the ear are not always damaged for 100% deaf people. Allowing these parts to be destroyed could ruin the chance of medical advancements could correct their hearing.

    • Hearing protection, maybe? I wear mine the entire time and a pistol in the open like might sound like someone shooting nearby.

    • Not his fault. He was putting up new targets. Ear pro on, shooting in the bays to either side, in all likelihood. He had no way of knowing the shooter in his bay had started. The fault was with the starter who didn’t make sure the range was clear.

  2. With earpro in and others shootings in other lanes, it would be hard to tell that people have started shooting in the lane that you are fixing targets (I assume that he was counting hits or attaching new targets). Still, the range should have checked before sending the next shooter.

    • Yeah I don’t necessarily blame him for not being able to differentiate between those shots and others, but both he and the other guys should have been communicating.

  3. Looks like they got used to several ” Hot ” sections going at the same time. So it was less clear where the ” safe ” area was. And tunnel vision perhaps ? Why did NOBODY call immediate cease fire when they rounded the obstacle and saw others ? Everybody is a range safety officer.

  4. WTF was that?? Some dumbass checking targets?? I thought I had seen everything on a range as an instructor before. But nothing as stupid as a person on a live range checking targets. What a dumbass.

    • I think was a range assistant doing the target taping and reset of the stage.

      My guess is Johnny timer man didn’t wait for the all clear before he started the next shooter.

  5. Let’s be totally clear about something. In USPSA it is the Range Officer’s (the guy running the timer 99% of the time) RESPONSIBILITY to visually confirm that all targets have been reset / taped and that the range is clear AND SAFE for the next shooter. This RO should messed up royally and should have immediately been replaced by the match CRO.

    • Yup.

      This is why you have RO’s. An RO is supposed to mind the safety on the range. Not scoring, not running the competition, not anything but range safety. The RO is supposed to be checking and double-checking these issues, and the RO should be able to shut things down immediately if there is a problem.

    • Maybe the RO should NOT be the guy running the timer so he can concentrate on being the RO instead of, you know, running the timer 😉

  6. The entire club / chapter should be shut down… revoked.

    This is a MASSIVE failure on MULTIPLE levels / people.

    It’s truly inconceivable how this could happen.

    • No, it is a failure of the RO. It is the job of the RO to make sure the range is safe before declaring “range hot” and allowing firing to start.

      A RO with their head on straight would have swept that range pit to make sure that there was no one downrange before allowing the next shooter to start.

      • NOBODY else there could see what was going on? You’re telling me they have just ONE person that is supposed to be aware of the range. Nobody else?? Really?

        I just got certified as an RSO, and one of the first things we learned was that ANYONE on the range can call “cease fire.”

        • In that type of competition (IPSC or practical shooting), the other shooters are probably behind the entry area of the stage. They could not see the guy pasting or brass scrounging because their view is obscured by the “walls” erected as part of the stage. There’s supposed to be no one else other than the shooter and timekeeper within the stage boundaries, which will be the berms on the left/right and the rear of the stage area, and the rear “do not cross” line.

          No one should be standing on the berms, because there are probably shooting stages in the pits on the other sides of those berms, as well as the possibility of high rounds coming out of the stage in the video.

          I’ve been on pit-type stages in IPSC shoots with more complicated set-ups like this, and with the sight obscuring barriers in some stage designs, your ability to see downrange is very limited, and sometimes you, the other competitors, are well back from the starting point for the stage. This is why it is necessary for the RO to take full control of the range, and walk it from the downrange side back out to the starting point – every time.

  7. Don’t know what to say other than that was one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen. Watch the video again at about the 20 second mark. Watch the location/angle of the dust coming up from the berm. Wow, just wow.

  8. Match should be cancelled on the spot. Although the RO is the guy with the ultimate responsibility, the failures were on multiple levels, including the guys wandering around taping targets with no situational awareness and the other competitors who should have been observing. Time for everyone involved to have some real soul searching, some real safety training and procedure changes before anyone pull the trigger again.

  9. What is really scary is if you look at 0:18 the shooter puts rounds in the immediate vicinity of the guy downrange. How he didn’t see those is beyond me.

  10. OK, here’s where I’m going to do a little rant about how IPSC and other shooting competitions are worth jack for street situations.

    When did you first see the guy taping targets? I saw him as soon as the camera cleared the barrier at 0:27.

    The shooter, so homed in on the targets and his pistol, is oblivious to the target taper until after he’s swept him and was about to engage the targets to the shooter’s right side. The shooter is clearly not using his peripheral vision.

    If that had been a street situation and the target-taper not been a target-taping bystander, the shooter would have long since been in trouble.

    Situational awareness. IPSC ain’t teaching it to you.

    • You saw him because you were looking for him. You knew what was going to happen in the video. The shooter wouldn’t have any expectation that someone was there

      Do we have any information on what happened next? Did someone report the RO? Get his certification revoked? Report the club for such an error?

    • Uh, I would hazard a guess that most people aren’t participating in competitions as training for a street situation. They are competing in a sporting event because they like it.

      • That’s fine. But in admission of that, the USPSA and IPSC should remove the word “practical” from their association names.

        There’s nothing “practical” about this type of competition. If I’m ever in a DGU, I can assure you that the one handgun I’m least likely to have on me at the time will be my 21-round 9×21 race pistol (complete with four-port comp), and it is even less likely that I will be wearing the holster I used for IPSC. If I’m ever in a DGU, I’m not shooting against a clock, I’m shooting to preserve my ass, plain and simple. The prize for winning a DGU is living another day.

        That’s the point I’m making. There’s nothing “practical” about these competitions.

        • You’ll be glad to learn I have contacted the USPSA, and they have agreed to rename themselves the USSMPTTSFKDBNAPANTSDGSA (the United States Somewhat More Practical Than Target Shooting From Known Distances But Not As Practical As Needed To Satisfy Dyspeptic Gunsmith Shooting Association). Problem solved?

        • Please let me know when you can get the NFL to change to NAL. I figured NHL was already taken. There is very little foot in American football.

          Shooting fast and accurately in a competition is always fun and good practice. It’s not tactical training so what it’s a sport. People should get over it. It was “practical” in its early days. Way more practical then bullseye that is. If you want to argue the finer points of tactical finesserie and getting docked points for dropping mags with around in them try IDPA.

  11. That happened to me. Me and the other three guys on my team were setting steel back up. We were behind a wall at a 3 gun match when the next shooter started. He didn’t get that far before we were screaming and throwing our hats over the wall.
    The match director chewed some @ss after that one.

  12. The most amazing this is the majority of comments on this post were from folks that have very obviously never EVER been to an event like this – let alone competed in one.

    It is no wonder the anti-gunners hare having such an easy time.

    • How the hell can you blame less experienced shooters for not knowing about specific safety procedures used in specific types of competitions, if they have never seen or participated in that kind of match? For the first ten years of my handgun shooting “career” there were no such matches being held within hundreds of miles of where I was living/working, and no Internet video clips to watch, either. And according to you, that would be my problem, and should still “know” how they are run?

      “You don’t know what you don’t know” isn’t just a catchy verbal expression, it’s a fact.

      Just because YOU know about it, doesn’t mean everyone else has magically been informed of it.

  13. This is why you have set tape guys. Letting any ole tom dick and Harry to run out and tape just to save a minute or two is a bad idea. failure on the RO completely.

    • Unless the “set tape guys” are also the people who check and signal that the shooting bay is clear, it would not prevent the exact same thing from happening.

      • Added: From further review of the video and the YouTube comments, it appears as though the person was picking up brass with a rolling-cage-type brass sweeper. Most well-run matches are run as “lost-brass” to prevent delays and safety problems like this, so I think most of the comments are still valid.

        • So, picking up brass is the problem? Not the stupidity of wearing earmuffs instead of using mufflers? Not the failure to, say, look around and see if anyone is about to die?

          If I don’t get to keep my brass, I either shoot steel-case or I stay home.

        • No, incorrect/inattentive/poor RSO/ROing is the problem, as said above, multiple times.

          And if you think suppressors are the answer in any way, you need to pull your head out of … the sand and wake up. These are matches where speed and accuracy (USPSA) or speed, accuracy and concealment (IDPA) are key factors. Putting a half pound 6-inch extension on your pistol that slows down the draw, makes concealment impossible, and (usually) blocks the sights is a non-starter, even if you handed them out for free before the match. And that’s all before we get to the stupidity of adding a can to a revolver…

          Not gonna happen.

  14. I’m seeing another issue here, and that’s the explosive growth of “shoot on the move” disciplines. Years ago, matches were small. You’d have 6 squads of 5 guys per squad. Today, some matches have 6 squads of 20-24 per squad. Those number are both good and bad. It’s good because the shooting sports are growing. It’s bad because those matches take all day to shoot and the squads are unmanageable. To this point, few match directors have been willing to either raise match fees or cap the entries available. Both options will work to keep numbers squad size more manageable. The other option for IDPA and USPSA is to require organization membership and classification to be able to shoot the match. I’ve never been to an IDPA match where more than half the shooters were IDPA members.

    I can only image we’re going to see some more safety issues like this as the number of competitors grows.

  15. A few thought after watching that a few times O.M.G….

    1) The RSO should be relived RoD on the spot! period! And should spend the rest of his life knowing how close he/she was to getting someone killed/wounded !

    2) Got to give the shooter major kudos for cease firing [I do believe he saw the guy first] and saying [appropriately so] “what the fu@k”…! As he already knew how close it was!

    3) Some [or maybe one, and I’m not picking on anybody.] have mentioned situational awareness in the shooters drill, he is not there to learn street fighting, there are schools for that. Not at an IPSC or equivalent event that is timed. and on a “cleared range” where all eyes are on him to follow the proper safety procedures! Which I believe he [the shooter] did to great effect this day!

    4) The unfortunate guy on the range checking/repairing targets is one lucky b@st@rd! and he should spend the rest of his life hugging his wife and kids till he is an OLD MAN with grand babies on his knee!

    This was a life changing event for all involved [And a lesson to us all out here in the world]

    And that’s about all I have to say about this, good shooting to you all, as I slowly lurk back into the shadows

  16. Another potential problem is the Maze Stage. Lots of blocked sight lines, lots of the range obscured by visual obstacles, movement around the range blocked by framing and other stuff. This makes re-setting the stage more difficult, promotes tapers climbing through stuff and (most importantly) makes a quick visual sweep by the RO to clear the stage very difficult.

    At matches with a handful of shooters, it’s no big deal, but with impatient squads of 20 dudes lined up to move through, it simply increases the probability stuff like this is going to happen. Attitudes and procedures that were sufficient to keep things safe when matches were 30 dudes on an afternoon simply break-down under the increased traffic of competitions with 100+ people.

  17. Wow, Just wow.

    I use ear pro religiously, but I’m always concerned about shutting off one of my senses when I’m at the range. With ear pro, I surrender the ability to hear things that I can’t see. Of course, it’s better than permanently surrendering my hearing, but it’s still disconcerting.

  18. And this is why, when I RO, after everything is pasted and scored I walk the entire stage from the back to the start position making sure everyone is off the range and make an announcement to clear the range. It’s my responsibility as an RO To make sure the people in my squad/on my bay are kept as safe as possible and I don’t think I could stand myself if something like this happened with a squad I was running.

    Also, FWIW, commenting on here when coming through the FB page on an iPhone is a major pain in the ass.

  19. Both IPSC and IDPA rules would have ended the match at that point in time due to an RO’s gross safety violation. The RO would lose his credentials and the Range Master would be fined. I suspect that is exactly what happened. Our sport is dangerous which is why safety violations are strictly enforced. Hell, I’ve been Match DQ’d in IDPA for repeated “finger” violations here in Texas and was just fine with the RO’s call.

  20. Maybe it would happen even less if we didn’t have to wear earmuffs, but instead, just put mufflers on the things, you know, so that people operating deadly weapons would be able to, like, communicate and talk and stuff…

    Including suppressors in the NFA has proven-out to be nothing more than an insidious plot to MAKE things like this happen. Maybe it was just misguided back in 1934, but proving it doesn’t do what it was advertised to do, and leaving it on the books… Yes, it very much is a plot to causes things like this.

    Almost every visit to the Hernando Sportsmans’ Club resulted in at least one observation of the range being called hot by old deaf range officers, while old deaf guys were still down range checking/replacing their targets… Old deaf guys with earmuffs and guns. Because the government says so.

    • I agree with you that silencers should be encouraged and no held behind a wall of permits and tax fees, but I also think people should be using electronic ear protection. There is no excuse not to, even the ones that cost $40-$50 are cheap enough and work well enough to help.

    • Dustin, give the gun muffler thing a rest.

      If you think suppressors are the answer in any way, you need to pull your head out of … the sand and wake up. These are matches where speed and accuracy (USPSA) or speed, accuracy and concealment (IDPA) are key factors. Putting a half pound 6-inch extension on your pistol that slows down the draw, makes concealment impossible, and (usually) blocks the sights is a non-starter, even if you handed them out for free before the match. And that’s all before we get to the stupidity of adding a can to a revolver…

      Not gonna happen. EVER.

  21. The most baffling part; the guy downrange turned to look after hearing shots behind him, and just stood there gawking… I would have been eating sand so fast…

  22. The most important question hasn’t been answers. Has anyone found out where this clown show was staged? That club should be permanently banned, but in case it hasn’t been, they should be publicly exposed so people with sense can stay away.

  23. Absolutely crazy – when I was shooting comps that were 3 hours drivetime each way, the RSO and his partner used a 2 person verification. One checked the range and which was confirmed by another and it worked well.

    Those RSOs took control of the range as they should.

    You can muddy the waters by claiming guy picking up brass or pasting targets couldnt hear with ear pro, yada, yada, yada but fact remains the RSOs are at fault here.

    The fact remains this is not just a one time incident – there is usually a pattern of complacency that leads up to this point. Just glad no one got killed.

  24. This is why, when I shoot a match like this, I stand where I can see both downrange and the RO. I don’t move until the range is clear. Its not “my job” to check but I don’t want anyone getting hurt.

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