IDPA Range Commands and Safety
Colonel Jeff Cooper’s Four Basic Rules of Firearm Safety have appeared in books, videos, and training courses for decades. They are the basic fundamental safety rules that any shooter either in competition, just out at the range or at home should be following every time they touch a firearm.
- Treat ALL guns as always loaded.
- Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target.
- Identify your target, and what is behind it.
The Range Commands below are standard commands that are to be used at every IDPA event. They DO NOT change from place to place. While each individual shooting range may have some particular rules that pertain to the range you are shooting at the Range Commands given by the Safety Officer (SO) are the same. This ensures continuity and a clear understanding of these commands.
This is the first command given to each shooter starting the action of shooting a stage. This command signifies the start of the Course of Fire (CoF). The shooter will make sure that their eye and hearing protection is in place. It is also notification to anyone in the shooting bay to check that their own eye and hearing protection is properly fitted.
When the shooter has proper eye and hearing protection, the SO will issue the Load and Make Ready command. The shooter will prepare the firearm and magazines to match the required start position for the stage. Typically, this is to load the firearm and holster. After loading the firearm, holstering will be performed by the shooter while standing with the proper care to insure the firearm is free of anything inside the trigger guard and the muzzle is oriented away from the shooters body for safety. Additional options may include non-typical loading or staging of equipment. The shooter will then assume the starting position necessary for the stage. If the shooter’s firearm is not to be loaded for the start of a stage the command used will be “Make Ready.” Any additional actions that appear as a rehearsal are not permitted.
After “Load and Make Ready,” the SO will ask the shooter “Are You Ready?” If ready, the shooter should respond verbally, or by obvious nodding of the head, but may also choose to stand ready. If there is no response from the shooter in approximately 3 seconds, the shooter is considered to be ready.
If the shooter is not ready when this question is asked the shooter must respond “Not Ready”. If the shooter continues to not be ready, the shooter must take a step out of the starting position. When ready, the shooter will assume the starting position and the “Are You Ready” question will be asked again.
The shooter is expected to be ready to proceed approximately 15 seconds after the “Load And Make Ready” command. If the shooter is ill prepared and needs more than fifteen seconds to get ready, the shooter will be advised that the shooter is being given approximately 15 seconds more to prepare. If the shooter is still not ready after that period, shooter will receive a Procedural Error penalty and will be moved down in the shooting order.
This command is given after the shooter is ready. This command will be followed by the start signal within 1-4 seconds. The shooter may not move or change positions between the “Standby” command and the start signal, unless required to do so by the Course of Fire (CoF).
This command is given when the shooter’s finger is not obviously and visibly outside the trigger guard when it should be, as noted in the IDPA Rule Book section 2.6. The shooter is not required to hear or acknowledge the command prior to scoring.
This command is given as a warning when the muzzle of the shooter’s firearm is pointed near a muzzle safe point. The shooter must correct the errant muzzle and continue with the stage.
This command is given when something unsafe has happened or is about to happen during a stage, or when something in the stage is not correct. The shooter must immediately stop all movement, place the trigger finger obviously and visibly outside the trigger guard, and await further instruction. Failure to immediately stop and remove the trigger finger from within the trigger guard will result in Disqualification from the match.
This command will be issued when the shooter has apparently finished shooting the stage. If the shooter is finished, all ammunition will be removed from the firearm and a clear chamber/cylinder will be shown to the SO. If the shooter is not finished, the shooter should finish the stage and the command will be repeated.
- If Clear, Slide Forward or Close Cylinder
The SO will then inspect the chamber/cylinder and found if found to be clear, the next command "Pull The Trigger" will be issued and complied with by the shooter.
The shooter will point the firearm at a safe berm and pull the trigger to further verify that the chamber is clear. If the firearm fires, the shooter will be disqualified from the match. This requirement also applies to firearms with a de-cocker or magazine disconnect. For firearms with a magazine disconnect, an empty magazine, or dummy magazine must be inserted before the trigger is pulled, and then removed again. This command is not needed for revolvers.
The shooter will safely holster the firearm.
This command indicates to everyone within the stage boundaries that the range is clear. This command ends the Course of Fire (CoF) and begins the scoring and resetting of the stage.
You should be aware that any unsafe firearm handling will result in immediate Disqualification (DQ) from an IDPA match. As mentioned earlier many ranges have additional safety measures that are not listed in the IDPA Rule Book. For example; at Eustis Gun Club where LCIDPA holds there matches; there are walls, as well as trees in the berms protected by walls. Hitting any of these is an immediate Disqualification (DQ). Each range may have additional safety items, the Match Director is responsible for ensuring all shooters are aware of any range rules that are not covered in the IDPA Rule Book.