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SCSA - Range Safety


Steel Challenge shoots are very safe, provided all shooters follow the basic safety rules. Whether you prefer the wording of the NRA’s Safe Gun Handling Rules, or of  Jeff Cooper’s Rules Of Gun Safety, the principles are the same. The Steel Challenge adds some specific rules to ensure a safe environment for everyone. Though we’ll go over these safety rules in the sections that follow, it’s also a good idea to review the Official SCSA Rulebook before your first match.

New Competitor Skills Checklist
New Steel Challenge competitors should be able to demonstrate the skills needed in all forms of Practical Shooting. You should learn these skills before, and not during your first match. But, as in any other activity, it takes time to learn the ropes. So, if you are ever unsure about about how to handle your gear, or confused by any event procedure, please stop…then ask your event staff or fellow shooters. There’s never a penalty for being  too safe. Your should be able to:
  • Check your gun to ensure it is empty, and unload it, if it is not
  • Load your gun before starting a stage
  • Draw your gun from a holster, or hold it at the Low-Ready position, at the start of a stage
  • Reload your gun, if it runs empty during a stage
  • Move down and across the range with a loaded gun, during a stage
  • Clear a jam or other malfunction during a stage
  • Unload and holster or case your gun, at the end of a stage
When You’re Not Shooting
The SWPL range is a “Cold Range” – This doesn’t mean arctic temperatures and blinding blizzards. It means you shouldn’t handle your gun anywhere other than the “Safe Areas” (see below) or under the direct supervision of a Range Safety Officer (RO) when it’s your turn to shoot. Fiddling with your gun anywhere else will result in an immediate disqualification, or DQ. This means you won’t be able to continue shooting and won’t receive a refund of your entry fees.

  • If you’re a Law Enforcement Officer or are fortunate enough to have a Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) permit and you plan to shoot your carry gun, please ask the event staff to direct you to a safe location to unload it before starting the match.

  • Safe Areas – For everyone else, you’ll likely arrive at the range with your gun locked in a bag or case. To unbag or uncase and holster a handgun, please move to a designated Safe Area. If you don’t have a holster, or you’re shooting a rimfire rifle, keep your firearm in its bag or case while moving about the range. When it’s your turn to shoot, bring the bag or case to the starting point to prepare for the stage. If you’re unsure about any procedure, PLEASE ask the event staff or your fellow shooters!

  • Don’t Handle Ammunition In The Safe Area – One thing you shouldn’t do in the Safe Area, is to load your gun. The Safe Area is only to unbag or for uncasing a gun. Loaded guns are not allowed in the safe area.

  • It’s okay to load your magazines, speed loaders, or moon clips anywhere EXCEPT the safe area.
When It’s Your Turn To Shoot
Finally, you’re standing at the starting point of a stage:
  • Don’t handle your gun (draw from the holster or remove from a bag or case) until the Range Safety Officer (RO) gives the command “Make Ready”. The RO’s job is to ensure everyone’s safety on a stage as well as ensuring shooters follow the stage instructions.

  • Watch Your “180” – As Steel Challenge stages often involves movement with a loaded gun, you must ensure that your gun is always pointed in a safe direction. Your gun should never swing past the imaginary 180 degree line that extends to your left, and to your right, when you are facing directly downrange. If the muzzle of your gun, whether loaded or unloaded, ever passes outside this line during a string of fire, this is considered unsafe gun handling. The result will be an immediate Disqualification…the dreaded DQ…and you will not be allowed to continue shooting.

  • Keep your finger of the trigger unless actively engaging targets – This is an extension of the rules of gun safety, since you will likely be moving, or reloading, or both, during a course of fire. To avoid an Accidental Discharge (AD) resulting in an immediate Disqualification, remember to keep your finger out of the trigger guard until you are actively shooting at targets.