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Being a Range Officer in IPSC


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Hi Friends,

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a IPSC Range Officer aside from helping our co-practitioners in shooting sports and the IPSC organization itself?

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Depends on how many matches you can work or travel to.

Locally, we have 1 IPSC match per year which is the US IPSC Nationals. Many of the same ROs work this match and travel from Europe to do it.

To RO at a higher level match, you have to earn points at lower level matches. So it goes back to...if you have local marches to earn points, then you could potentially work higher level matches for IPSC around the world.

You also get a striped shirt.

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Being an educated official helps you out as a shooter.

The more educated you are on the rules, the less chance that you'll suffer from another RO's ignorance.

When a bad call is made against you, you can POLITELY insist that it move up the food chain to get corrected.

-ivan-

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Actually, you have to buy your own striped shirt (unless the match gives you one). And flag patch. And hat. And blue pants.

I got IROA-certified in 2013. I have since worked several IPSC matches, including the World Shoot, and each has been a great experience. You get to work with ROs from all over the World, learn tricks and skills that you don't necessary encounter here in the US, and pass on things you have learned. It is a genuine brotherhood. Overall, I think it makes me a better RO.

With this said, IROA makes the application and qualification process a real PITA. You have to accrue a certain number of match points by working IPSC matches (USPSA don't count), then you have to maintain a minimum number of match points by continuing to work IPSC matches. As we typically only run one a year here in the US, this probably means travelling overseas (likely as not at your own expense).

I have to say, I think it is a pity that IROA will no longer give match points for working USPSA matches; in my experience US-based ROs get waaaaaaaay more high-level competitive work experience than ROs outside the US, and thus are typically more polished and conversant with the rules and competitor management strategies (less likely to fold under competitor pressure). Yes, there are some differences between USPSA and IPSC rules, but not enough to make a material difference... my feeling is that this has more to do with machismo and a perceived rivalry between IPSC and USPSA than any meaningful difference in RO needs.

The OP lives in Canada, so the process is easier. I would say that, if you have the time and funds to get certified and then MAINTAIN that certification, then do it... you will really benefit from the experience. However, go into it knowing that it is a long-term commitment, and not something you can pick up and put down at will.

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Actually, you have to buy your own striped shirt (unless the match gives you one). And flag patch. And hat. And blue pants.

I got IROA-certified in 2013. I have since worked several IPSC matches, including the World Shoot, and each has been a great experience. You get to work with ROs from all over the World, learn tricks and skills that you don't necessary encounter here in the US, and pass on things you have learned. It is a genuine brotherhood. Overall, I think it makes me a better RO.

With this said, IROA makes the application and qualification process a real PITA. You have to accrue a certain number of match points by working IPSC matches (USPSA don't count), then you have to maintain a minimum number of match points by continuing to work IPSC matches. As we typically only run one a year here in the US, this probably means travelling overseas (likely as not at your own expense).

I have to say, I think it is a pity that IROA will no longer give match points for working USPSA matches; in my experience US-based ROs get waaaaaaaay more high-level competitive work experience than ROs outside the US, and thus are typically more polished and conversant with the rules and competitor management strategies (less likely to fold under competitor pressure). Yes, there are some differences between USPSA and IPSC rules, but not enough to make a material difference... my feeling is that this has more to do with machismo and a perceived rivalry between IPSC and USPSA than any meaningful difference in RO needs.

The OP lives in Canada, so the process is easier. I would say that, if you have the time and funds to get certified and then MAINTAIN that certification, then do it... you will really benefit from the experience. However, go into it knowing that it is a long-term commitment, and not something you can pick up and put down at will.

Very constructive input.

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As RO in IPSC, we can also shoot at the same day as competitor right? Do we need to also pay the match fee? And when can we shoot, at the end of the match or anytime as long as you inform the Director?

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As RO in IPSC, we can also shoot at the same day as competitor right? Do we need to also pay the match fee? And when can we shoot, at the end of the match or anytime as long as you inform the Director?

Depends on the MD. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Usually a match official will shoot for free, but that saving pales in comparison with the other costs (travel, accommodation etc.) for which you may be partly or fully compensated. I do it for the love of the sport, not to save a few bucks... truthfully, I enjoy shooting as a paying competitor way more than on a "free" staff slot.

The issue is the different rulebook Stealthy, that's why the point's don't count for IROA.

I understand this is the stated reason for the difference, but I don't buy it. The rules are not so different that this could not be resolved with an annual written test as we do here in the US.

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Sorry mate I don't agree, while yes they may be similar they are not the same and until that get's sorted getting point's for a USPSA match won't happen and I presume you don't get USPSA points for working IPSC matches?

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in my experience US-based ROs get waaaaaaaay more high-level competitive work experience than ROs outside the US, and thus are typically more polished and conversant with the rules and competitor management strategies (less likely to fold under competitor pressure).

I'm no longer a regular contributor here but, after this thread was brought to my attention, I am compelled to respond to your comment that US-based ROs get more high-level competitive work than their foreign counterparts? Seriously? What are you smoking?

In the US, do you frequently have Level III matches with 700-1,000 competitors as IPSC does? Do you have Level IV matches where at least 75% of the competitors do not use English as their native language? Do you have matches where the ROs must work 7 days in a row?

Did you work the last IPSC World Shoot in Florida where only 1 of 1,400 competitors filed an Arbitration (against a Procedural Penalty!) which was denied? Considering that the 67 DQs issued were unchallenged, this tells me that the affected competitors accepted the competency of the ROs.

Have you ever actually worked an IPSC match outside of North America? If not, how can you possibly know the challenges faced by the ROs, or their dedication, or their work ethic, or their knowledge, or the pressures they face, or their competency? You've been in IROA for 15 minutes and you're an expert?

If you'd like a realistic view from an American IROA who has been around since dirt was invented, contact John Amidon. He certainly knows his ass from his elbow and will set you straight. You can also try Mike Carraher or Chris Thomas.

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Sorry mate I don't agree, while yes they may be similar they are not the same and until that get's sorted getting point's for a USPSA match won't happen and I presume you don't get USPSA points for working IPSC matches?

I understand what you are saying, but the rules are more similar than they are different, and I am arguing that the minor differences (and they are MINOR) could easily be addressed by an annual written examination. By failing to address this issue, IROA is missing out on a huge pool of otherwise very competent and experienced staff.

In the US we do not have a match points system, but instead we have to sit an annual on-line exam to confirm we are current with the rules - this means an RO is generally quite well informed on the latest rules, but could maintain active status without ever working a match above Level I. I think US NROI could learn from the IROA match point system that enforces a certain level of experience beyond your home range.

By the same token, my brief experience of working as an IROA RO has revealed a lot of variability in experience of running a stage efficiently, and of dealing with "big name" shooters. Some IROAs have been incredibly professional, and have taught me a few neat tricks. Others have been less impressive, with the occasional example of "local rules" and lax application creeping into their approach (and NO, I am not going to point fingers at individuals). I suppose this is the nature of an all-volunteer cadre... quality and experience can vary.

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in my experience US-based ROs get waaaaaaaay more high-level competitive work experience than ROs outside the US, and thus are typically more polished and conversant with the rules and competitor management strategies (less likely to fold under competitor pressure).

I'm no longer a regular contributor here but, after this thread was brought to my attention, I am compelled to respond to your comment that US-based ROs get more high-level competitive work than their foreign counterparts? Seriously? What are you smoking?

In the US, do you frequently have Level III matches with 700-1,000 competitors as IPSC does? Do you have Level IV matches where at least 75% of the competitors do not use English as their native language? Do you have matches where the ROs must work 7 days in a row?

Did you work the last IPSC World Shoot in Florida where only 1 of 1,400 competitors filed an Arbitration (against a Procedural Penalty!) which was denied? Considering that the 67 DQs issued were unchallenged, this tells me that the affected competitors accepted the competency of the ROs.

Have you ever actually worked an IPSC match outside of North America? If not, how can you possibly know the challenges faced by the ROs, or their dedication, or their work ethic, or their knowledge, or the pressures they face, or their competency? You've been in IROA for 15 minutes and you're an expert?

If you'd like a realistic view from an American IROA who has been around since dirt was invented, contact John Amidon. He certainly knows his ass from his elbow and will set you straight. You can also try Mike Carraher or Chris Thomas.

Wow - I must have made an impression.

As I indicated above, I have been very impressed with the many IROA ROs with which I have worked, both as an official and as a competitor. And YES, I have participated in matches all over the world in the 30 years I have been involved in this sport. I have worked some very large matches, including the most recent World Shoot. If I may say, it is a little presumptuous to belittle the experience and judgement of someone you have never met.

The point of my comment is that IROA could enjoy much wider participation from US NROI ROs, and benefit from their extensive and rich experience, if the IROA recertification system was adapted to give some credit for US matches. Furthermore, adding a periodic written rules test could benefit IROA. I am not holding my breath though :(

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If I may say, it is a little presumptuous to belittle the experience and judgement of someone you have never met.

It is disrespectful for one IROA member to describe his IROA colleagues as being sub-par when compared to US based ROs. The only reason I posted here is because you wrote:

"..... in my experience US-based ROs get waaaaaaaay more high-level competitive work experience than ROs outside the US, and thus are typically more polished and conversant with the rules and competitor management strategies .....

I can say, without fear of contradiction, is that an RO who works matches in Argentina, Macau, Italy, France and Zimbabwe deals with considerably greater differences and challenges than someone who only works in (say) California, Illinois, Florida, Texas and Louisiana.

Bottom line: it's not cool for one RO to publicly disparage other ROs, especially those from the same cadre.

Vince Pinto

IROA Range Master

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If I may say, it is a little presumptuous to belittle the experience and judgement of someone you have never met.

It is disrespectful for one IROA member to describe his IROA colleagues as being sub-par when compared to US based ROs. The only reason I posted here is because you wrote:

"..... in my experience US-based ROs get waaaaaaaay more high-level competitive work experience than ROs outside the US, and thus are typically more polished and conversant with the rules and competitor management strategies .....

I can say, without fear of contradiction, is that an RO who works matches in Argentina, Macau, Italy, France and Zimbabwe deals with considerably greater differences and challenges than someone who only works in (say) California, Illinois, Florida, Texas and Louisiana.

Bottom line: it's not cool for one RO to publicly disparage other ROs, especially those from the same cadre.

Vince Pinto

IROA Range Master

I had not intended a specific reference to IROA ROs, which as I indicated are (for the most part) a cut above the norm in my experience, but instead to non-US ROs more broadly - a pool from which IROA draws readily and with a lower barrier to entry than US ROs.

Hard as they might work, as a GENERALIZATION, these non-US ROs simply don't have the same opportunities to run top-notch shooters as often as US ROs... it is just a fact that the wider gun ownership and participation in practical shooting in the US affords us many more such opportunities to hold the clock while a world-class shooter is pulling the trigger. I do it in 6-10 matches a month, as do many, many of my US-based RO counterparts.

My wish is that IROA made it easier for the experienced US NROI ROs to join the family and contribute to the international sport. There was no intent to disparage or offend. On the other hand, I am an RO - I call them as I see them without fear or favor... if that ruffles a few feathers, I am sorry but so be it.

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I do not wish to stir the pot anymore than it is. The situation is what it is. With the agreement in 2008 to follow the USPSA rulebook for USPSA National Matches, the only ones that would count for points, it made staying IROA certified very difficult for a lot of previous IROA certifed ROs. That left us with two options, the IPSC Nationals or going to Canada or overseas to work matches there that are run under the IROA rulebook.

Personally, when I requested reinstatement under the current IROA bylaws it was determined I was unqualified despite 56 previous IROA points. I therefore, will remain a USPSA certified Official and work matches under USPSA rules.

This reflects only my opinion and is a closed subject as far as I am concerned.

Jay

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I had not intended a specific reference to IROA ROs, which as I indicated are (for the most part) a cut above the norm in my experience, but instead to non-US ROs more broadly - a pool from which IROA draws readily and with a lower barrier to entry than US ROs.

IROA has a lower barrier entry than US ROs? Say what??

To apply to become an IROA Member, you must firstly have a few years experience as a National RO, and have attended an IROA Level I Range Officer Seminar. You also must have earned at least 15 points working 5 x Level III or higher matches.

Then you need to obtain references from three existing IROA members who know you personally to support your application. Your application is then vetted by the IROA Executive Committee. See: http://www.ipsc.org/officials/iroaApp.php

Once you've jumped through all those hoops, if everything seems to be in order, you become a Provisional Member, but then you need to work an additional 2 x Level III or higher matches under the direct supervision of an existing IROA member who serves as your mentor and supervisor. They send their reports about your performance to IROA.

If all that goes well, your application goes to the IROA Executive Committee (again) for final approval. If admitted as a Full Member, you must work a minimum of 1 x Level III match each year in order to remain a member. You also need high marks on the performance report submitted after each match by the officiating Range Master.

Now since you say that IROA has a lower barrier entry, kindly tell me about the higher, more stringent threshold requirements in the USA.

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..... as a GENERALIZATION, these non-US ROs simply don't have the same opportunities to run top-notch shooters as often as US ROs... i

What does that have to do with anything?

Perhaps your knowledge and experience is vastly superior to mine, but "top-notch shooters" are rarely a problem for Range Officers. They're invariably the safest competitors, they're the most conversant with the rules, and they're the easiest to process.

It's the A-D grade competitors who are responsible for the overwhelming majority of safety and other infractions.

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..... as a GENERALIZATION, these non-US ROs simply don't have the same opportunities to run top-notch shooters as often as US ROs... i

What does that have to do with anything?

Perhaps your knowledge and experience is vastly superior to mine, but "top-notch shooters" are rarely a problem for Range Officers. They're invariably the safest competitors, they're the most conversant with the rules, and they're the easiest to process.

It's the A-D grade competitors who are responsible for the overwhelming majority of safety and other infractions.

I'm not entirely sure I agree with you - shooters at all ability levels can each present their own special "challenges" :roflol: . My point is that US/non-IROA generally get more opportunities to run shooters at all ability levels than non-US/non-IROA, and that more experience behind the timer/clipboard/overlay makes for a more confident and well rounded RO.

I think we have answered the OP's question, and shall have to agree to differ on the finer point of the IROA certification process.

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