Do You Believe in Crowd Control at Shooting Matches?

Last week I put together a blog post which asked about a Potential IDPA Disqualification. The post stirred up some interesting discussion on the Angrypig Shooting Team Facebook PageOpens in a new tab.. One of the responses focused on the location of the Safety Officer and suggested that they should have also moved the crowd into a safer position.

That would be a tough one to SO. I’d also make sure the peanut gallery was standing on the left side of the bay if the shooter was turning to the right (as in this video), so there’d be no one standing in the line of fire, just in case something bad did happen.

This response got the wheels of my mind turning. I have seen the Safety Officer move the crowd on a bunch of occasions. The part that picked at my brain was that I could only recall it happening at one particular club (the very same club that the responder is from).

I decided to do a little digging and see what I could turn up from my videos. I went back eight months, looking for up range starts while using my Coutour POV Camera. What I found was far less consistent than I was expecting. While the practice is more common at one club, it doesn’t happen all the time.

Common practice is for the Range Officer or Safety Officer (depending on the sport I’m shooting) to ask me which direction I’ll be turning. Upon hearing my response, they generally step to the opposite side to avoid being swept if I draw early. Sometimes they turn to the crowd and move everyone away from the direction I’ll be turning.

When I’m part of the crowd being moved, I really don’t mind. I have heard grumblings that it isn’t safe to heard everyone together. I don’t really have an opinion either way and just do as the RO/SO asks.

I would like to hear your thoughts on the practice of moving the crowd. Do you feel that bunching up the squad is a safety issue or is it merely something to grumble about? If you were the RO/SO on the stage, would you move the crowd every time or make the call based on the experience of the shooter?


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 - I’m also the father of three little girls and a pitbull.

One thought on “Do You Believe in Crowd Control at Shooting Matches?

  1. I’ve never had an RO move the crowd, and I’ve shot with some big crowds.

    The last time we ran El Presidente, the RO specifically instructed us not to draw our guns until we were facing the targets. Good advice, since failure to adhere would have been a DQ, since we would have broken the 180.

    Just an idea.

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