IDPA Safety Officer Primary Duties

(adapted from Collin County IDPA)

The four main duties of an IDPA Safety Officer are:

  1. To ensure the safety of the shooter and bystanders on the range
  2. To help the shooter to complete the course of fire correctly and enjoy the match
  3. To handle the shooter using correct and concise range commands
  4. To enforce IDPA rules consistently to ensure that the match is conducted in a fair and impartial manner

Safety duties

The Safety officer's primary focus must be the safety of the shooter and the bystanders.  From the time the shooter steps up to the line until that shooter finishes the course of fire, the safety officer's focus must be solely on the shooter, and primarily on the gun.  This is especially critical from the time the shooter is told to load and make ready until the shooter's gun is re-holstered. At no time during this period should the Safety Officer's attention be distracted from the shooter's gun.

This 'hard focus' is difficult to maintain, but can be accomplished with practice.  The Safety Officer should avoid all temptations to look at the timer or the targets, or to watch the shooter too closely for cover violations or other procedural errors, instead leaving that up to the Scorekeeper;  The SO's focus must stay on the gun.

Of particular concern is the shooter's trigger finger.  At all times, the finger should be out of the trigger guard unless actually firing or preparing to fire.  More discussion of this follows below.

Some ground rules:

The following conditions are grounds for immediate disqualification:

  • Finger on the trigger when the muzzle is not pointed in a safe direction, "safe" meaning "into the berm."
  • Muzzle of loaded gun pointed up-range
  • A shot striking the ground within six feet of the shooter
  • Any shot over the berm
  • General belligerence
  • Refusal to acknowledge the SO's authority

The following situations call for a warning, and possible disqualification on a second violation:

  • Finger on the trigger during loading, reloading, or unloading
  • Finger on the trigger when gun is not aimed at a target
  • Failure to follow the Safety Officer's commands when given.

Other safety considerations:

In addition to watching the gun, the SO should try to be generally aware of where the shooter is going next, in order to avoid getting in a position where he interferes with the shooter or is endangered by the shooter.

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The 4 Laws of Gun Safety

  1. The Gun Is Always Loaded!
  2. Never Point A Gun At Something You're Not Prepared To Destroy!
  3. Always Be Sure Of Your Target And What Is Behind It!
  4. Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Your Sights Are On The Target!


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