Safety Protocols and Best Practices in IPSC and USPSA Shotgun Competitions

Safety Protocols and Best Practices in IPSC and USPSA Shotgun Competitions

Table of Contents

Safety First: The Prime Directive

In IPSC and USPSA shotgun competitions, safety is paramount. Both organisations have stringent safety protocols in place to ensure that every competitor, official, and spectator is protected. Safety rules are strictly enforced from the moment a shooter steps onto the range until they leave. Safety rules are strictly enforced from the moment a shooter steps onto the range until they leave.

The well-being of all individuals involved in these competitions is taken very seriously, and every precaution is taken to maintain a safe environment. All participants are expected to adhere to the safety guidelines, and any violations are dealt with immediately. With safety as the prime directive, everyone can enjoy the competition without worry or concern for their well-being.

The Role of the Range Officer

The Role of the Range Officer is of utmost importance in maintaining safety at any shooting range. The Range Officers oversee the actions of each shooter, ensuring that they follow all safety protocols. If any violation of the safety rules occurs, the Range Officers immediately address the situation and can impose penalties, including disqualification. This ensures that safety is always the top priority during the competition.

The Range Officers are also responsible for monitoring the spectators to ensure they follow safety guidelines. In addition, they are trained to handle any emergency situations that may arise. Their presence is essential in maintaining a safe environment for all involved. To apply for IROA, start by completing the application form online. Once done, send the form to both your NROI President and Regional Director to obtain their signatures. Lastly, send the signed application along with a copy of your Level I IROA Seminar certificate to IROA via email, fax, or mail.

Equipment Checks and Maintenance

Before participating, it is important to ensure that your equipment is in optimal condition. This includes thorough checks of your shotgun and other gear to reduce the risk of malfunctions that could pose safety hazards. Competitors' equipment undergoes strict checks before participation to ensure a fair and safe competition. Proper maintenance and regular inspections of your firearm and gear are crucial to guarantee the best performance during competition. Checking for any signs of wear and tear, cleaning and lubricating your shotgun, and replacing any damaged or worn parts are all essential steps to keep your equipment in top shape.

Remember, safety should always be your top priority, and by taking the time to properly maintain your equipment, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for yourself and others at the competition.

Shooter Responsibilities and Etiquette

Although safety is overseen by officials, competitors also have a responsibility to ensure it. They are expected to be familiar with all safety rules, handle their firearms responsibly, and be aware of their surroundings. Proper etiquette is also emphasised, such as not distracting other shooters and waiting for one's turn.

Remembering that everyone is there to have a good time and enjoy the sport is important. By showing respect for your fellow competitors and the range, you can help create a positive atmosphere for all. 

Emergency Protocols

In the rare event of an emergency, both IPSC and USPSA have protocols to address the situation swiftly. Medical personnel are typically on standby, and evacuation plans are established to ensure everyone's safety.

As a responsible competitor, you should also do your part in ensuring safety by following safety rules and procedures, reporting any unsafe behaviour or conditions, and being aware of your surroundings at all times. Safety is a shared responsibility; we must work together to maintain a safe environment for everyone involved.


Safety in IPSC and USPSA shotgun competitions is a collective responsibility. Through stringent protocols, the vigilant oversight of officials, and the conscientious behaviour of competitors, these events ensure that the thrill of competition is enjoyed without compromising on safety.


  • What should I do if I notice a safety violation?

Immediately inform a Range Officer or event official. Safety is everyone's responsibility, and prompt reporting can prevent potential accidents. Remember to be vigilant and take action if you notice anything that could be dangerous or harmful. By reporting safety violations, you are not only protecting yourself but also those around you. 

  • Are spectators briefed on safety?

Yes, spectators are often provided with guidelines, including information on designated standing areas, appropriate conduct, and other safety-related aspects. It is crucial for all attendees to strictly adhere to these guidelines to ensure everyone's safety.

  • How often do Range Officers have to update training?

ROs undergo regular training and refresher courses to stay updated on safety protocols and best practices. Range Officers need to be knowledgeable and prepared to handle any safety issues during an event. By staying up-to-date with their training, Range Officers can effectively maintain a safe and secure environment for all attendees.

  • Is protective gear mandatory for competitors?

Yes, competitors are always required to wear protective eyewear and ear protection during matches. In addition to the competitors, it is highly recommended that spectators also wear protective gear in case of any recoil or loose debris. It is critical to prioritise safety at all times, and wearing proper protective equipment is crucial to maintaining a secure environment.

  • How are malfunctions handled during a match?

If a shooter experiences a malfunction, they are instructed to keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction. They should then seek immediate assistance from the Range Officer (RO) and follow their directives closely. By doing so, potential hazards can be avoided, and safety can be maintained.