Range Safety Officer authority

Just successfully completed the excellent USCCA RSO course.

How should an RSO function when on the range with CC students (who have a lead instructor) and are shooting with the general public?

I mean, it’s someone else’s range and I am not that company’s RSO. I am attached to a USCCA certified school.

It’s not like I want to be bossy, but how far can or should we exert our safety authority in such a situation?

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If you see something that is wrong you should contact the RSO or the operator of the range. If you step in where you have no standing you would be nothing more than someone that gets a reputation for being a jerk. If you have a problem with your own safety speak up immediately and not because you are a RSO but your safety is jepordized.

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Their (your) range - their (your) rules. Visiting instructors have use of the range at the owners discretion. However…if you observe an unsafe condition you cannot ignore it. Suggest you speak with the instructor and sort out protocols in advance of rounds going down range.

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How does that saying go?
“If you See something Say something”.

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General rule is - everybody is RSO at the Range. As @Mike164 posted:

If you don’t like to feel “bossy”, just talk to lead instructor, tell you are Certified RSO and willing to help.
I’m doing this at my Ranges, staff already know I’m PIstol Instructor and RSO and whenever I’m there during classes or training sessions either I offer my help or they ask me for it.

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Yes I agree that if you see something is not right and it jeopardizes you and others safety say something.

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Thanks all. That’s what I thought: Their range - Their rules. Overall, however, I feel that my highest responsibility is to keep my students and myself safe.

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It is. Awkwardly — as an instructor with students you bring to a range whose operation is unsafe or otherwise unsatisfactory — leaving is pretty much the the tool available in the moment. AFAIK, RSO training doesn’t give anyone authority over any private or public range where they…uh…don’t have authority. Whether to intervene directly with “friendly advice” or expression of concern is for every individual to assess and decide — I wouldn’t expect that playing a Safety Officer card from a different deck would provide magical powers of influence.

Unless there’s something going on which justifies an emergency cease fire until things are sorted out. Then, yeah — everybody has that authority.

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Okay let me correct my statement. After reading what others said I admit what I said was not on point. I suppose the prudent thing to do would be to say something to those being unsafe and then find the range RSO or operator and tell them who you are what you are and what you had seen and done. I would also think if they did not follow up with the people or got upset that you stepped in then I would find another range to shoot at. If they ignore safety I would never feel safe there.

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Thank you, Harvey. I figured that what you suggest is the best way to go.

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:+1:
Bottom line.
Important part of what you pay a commercial operator to provide is a controlled range.

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As an RSO at a public range I can tell you my authority is absolute and final. I would never shoot anyplace that was othersise.

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A point of clarification — does “public range” in this context mean:

  • a privately-operated facility which is open to use by the general public, or
  • a piece of public-access land upon which the general public regularly goes to shoot?

To me, the former is a “private range” upon which the operator has authority and responsibility — while the latter is a “public range” upon which a qualified RSO has no more authority or responsibility than any other member of the general public.

I get that there might be another flavor of “private range” which is not open to the general public, but only to “members” who have been admitted through some process — like a public vs private golf or tennis facility. I don’t have a term for that kind of shooting facility — totally outside my experience or awareness.

Just checking terminology… If a members-only private range is to be called “private” and an open-to-public private range is to be called “public” — then it seems like there might need to be some generally understood way to describe the nearly unregulated “gravel pit” public range, or the invitation-only “backyard” private range. These last two are the only types of shooting facilities with which I have had first-hand experience, and public vs private had previously seemed self-explanatory.

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Techs,
The former. Here in central NC there are untold private and public lands where anyone can shoot. Needless to say, none have RSOs. Here, privately owned facilities are either open to the general public or require a membership. My range is open to the general public, but also offers memberships that include “perks” the general public does not receive. Out on the lanes, everyone is treated equally and held to a high standard of safety - even the stock holders.
Larry130

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Interesting. In my state we have ranges owned and operated by DNR. We also have privately owned/operated ones.
At the public range I’ve often stepped up to call needed cease fires thru going hot again, but only bc the assigned publicly employed RSO’s aren’t always out in the lane area. Naturally all shooters should defer to the RSO assigned at any range.
However, safety issues should IMO be addressed by 1st person to observe them, if that person knows how. If not, get RSO immediately. Anyone doesn’t like it, shooot elsewhere.
Go thru chain of command after things are made safe if need be, but making things safe takes priority over all else.
This is where we also must remember to act safely at all times ourselves. A good example speaks very loudly.

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Went to a public (County Operated - State Funded) range this weekend for the first time. I was surprised. When we got there an RSO asked us if we’d ever been there and went through the hot/cold range procedures with us. There was an RSO in the reception area, in the control room and out behind the shooting area. It was actually pretty cool.

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Like it says in the standard range safety video…“Everyone on the range is a safety officer.” If you see something say something.

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I belong to a private shooting club. The club is open one day a month to the general public. The RSO and assistant RSOs are in complete charge of the range. If you are committing unsafe actions, you will be advised that your actions are such. If you dispute the matter or continue such unsafe actions, you will be ordered off the range. Inasmuch as it is private property at that point you are trespassing and the local sheriff is happy to escort you from the range as you are then considered a threat to general safety.

On event days the range is open to non-members to participate in the event only. On a regularly scheduled event such as National Match or NRA pistol the event chairman is in charge of the range and assistant RSOs work under his direction. Same situation applies with regard to unsafe practices.

A full member can bring a guest to the range. The member is responsible for collecting and forwarding the guest fee. He is responsible for all actions of his guest while the guest is on the range. If the member leaves, the guest must also leave. Irresponsible guest actions might result in the member losing his membership, depending upon the severity of the action and other circumstances at the discretion of the board of directors.

That’s how our private club operates and I can say the almost 40 years I have been a member we have had only a very small number of incidents where disciplinary measures had to be taken. I really felt ancient a while back a younger member asked me how long I had been a member and I opined probably since '82 or '83, I wasn’t sure. He remarked, “Golly, that was before I was even born…” Nice way to make my day Kid.

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Boy, always learning something new about the world. Now I know that there are also publicly-operated public ranges to stir into the mix. Great!

I guess there needs to be enough demand to support the operation, but not enough demand or other circumstance for privately-operated open-to-the-public ranges to fill the demand. Public goods for the public good! Build Back Better!

In my area, formal ranges on public lands with any kind of supervision are commonly operated on a permit basis by clubs and organizations who may offer “sweat” access to members and fee access to non-members. They’re all 100+ miles away so I’m not familiar with details.

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Check it out. Utah DNR & Weber County funded it. It’s actually pretty nice as far as public facilities go.

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