Are IDPA Safety Officers and USPSA Range Officers Interchangeable?

Are IDPA Safety Officers and USPSA Range Officers Interchangeable

This morning I was doing a little brainstorming, trying to come up with an interesting discussion topic for the Walt In PA Facebook PageOpens in a new tab. when I had an idea. I wondered, can a good IDPA Safety Officer be a Good USPSA Range Officer and vice versa?

My experience with this question is very limited. While there seems to be a fair amount of crossover between IDPA and USPSA shooters, I don’t see a lot of crossover between those that choose to run shooters. Even though my experience is limited, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the subject and discuss.

I don’t think I know anyone who has been trained in both disciplines. Those that choose to volunteer seem to specialize, or have taken a training course, as either an IDPA Safety Officer or a USPSA Range Officer. Shooters that typically volunteer seem to step up whenever a little help is needed, making due with the experience that they have.

Let me preface this discussion by saying that I appreciate those that take the time to volunteer. The objective here isn’t to gripe about one sport or the other. Let us draw on our collective experience and outline the pitfalls of taking on one roll while specializing in another.

IDPA Safety Officer acting as a USPSA Range Officer:

As a USPSA Shooter crossing over to IDPA, I had some trouble keeping up with all of the rules. IDPA is a very structured sport which outlines aspects of the stage for the shooter. There is limited freedom in how a shooter goes about a course of fire. For this reason, IDPA Safety Officers tend to make judgement calls that cause problems at USPSA Matches.

On more than one occasion I’ve been told “You can’t start the stage this way, you have to face this direction for safety.” While I appreciate the RO looking out for the safety of everyone in attendance, judgment calls can’t be made unless it applies to all shooters on all squads.

USPSA is very structured but it allows the shooter freedom to game each stage. The written stage brifing is just as much about what is included as what isn’t included. The pitfall in this situation seems to be the IDPA Safety Officer, acting as a USPSA Rage Officer, making a judgment call that only applies to the squad under their direction and not everyone in attendance. USPSA doesn’t have a provision for the spirit of the game which seems to be a difficult thing to overcome.

USPSA Range Officer acting as an IDPA Safety Officer:

The first time that a USPSA Range Officer acted as my IDPA Safety Officer I had mixed feelings. On one hand I appreciated the laid back familiarity of USPSA but, on the other hand I thought some of the nuances of the game were overlooked.

On more than one occasion I’ve seen cover calls completely missed. This seems to sacrifice the games nuance for speed. While I appreciate the forgiveness, I think it takes away from the same spirit of the game which IDPA Safety Officers strive for in their sport.

Are Safety Officers and Range Officers Interchangeable:

In the grand scheme of things, I think that a good IDPA Safety Officer can be a decent USPSA Range Officer and vice versa. I think that being good at both is very difficult and may not be achievable for the average shooter specializing in one sport.

I’m not opposed to being run by anyone as long as they are actively trying to follow the rules laid out by the sport. Volunteers are difficult enough to come by without me being picky about who runs me through a stage. Perhaps by discussing the pitfalls we can promote crossover between the sports?

Can a Good IDPA Safety Officer be a Good USPSA Range Officer and vice versa?
What are some of the problems you’ve experienced when being run
by someone specializing in the other sport?


Hi There, My name is Walt White and as the name of this blog suggests, I am a Pennsylvania resident. In addition to having numerous hobbies that I discuss on my blog - Iā€™m also the father of three little girls and a pitbull.

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