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Match Safety Briefing

This briefing is for ALL shooters that participate in any Big Woods Goods firearm matches.

All new shooters to a Big Woods Good match should arrive 25 minutes early to receive a verbal new shooter briefing and safety check.

Here are the Commands and Rules that will be used during the match.

Range Commands 

The range officer (RO) will give a series of commands: “Make Ready”, “Are You Ready?”, “Standby”, “Beep”(timer start), “If You are Finished Unload and Show Clear”, “If Clear, Hammer Down and Holster”, “Range is Clear”.  Below are the commands in a typical course of fire:


At the beginning of each stage please listen to the stage briefing which will explain the course of fire and starting position.  When your name is called you will take your position in the starting area and wait (DO NOTHING!) until the command from the Range Officer (RO) to “Make Ready”.

Upon the “Make Ready” signal you may load your firearm and assume the start position. The start position is the “low ready” position (finger off the trigger) during a Bowling Pin Match; or, in a Practical Action Shooting Match, may be holstered depending on the stage description.

Then the RO will ask “Are You Ready?”  You can say “yes”, “no” or nothing – saying nothing means "yes".  

If ready, the RO will say “Standby” and after a 1-4 second pause the timer will beep signaling the start of the timer.  

Upon the start signal (beep) you may engage targets.

When you are finished shooting the stage, the RO will say “If You are Finished, Unload and Show Clear”. At this time you should unload your firearm: remove/drop the magazine/speed-loader then rack out or drop any chambered rounds; then show the RO the empty chamber or cylinder.

The RO will then say “If Clear, Hammer Down and Holster.” At this time, while pointed at the backstop, in a safe direction, you should pull the trigger.  Revolver shooters may just close the cylinder.  You must then holster your firearm making sure it is secure and not caught on any clothing.

The RO will then call “Range is Clear”.  At this time, but not before, the shooter may pick up any magazines and dropped rounds and competitors may move downrange to reset the stage after it is scored.

Additional commands you might hear during a course of fire:

“Stop” – Stop means stop. Just freeze and await further instruction from the RO.

“Finger” – Your finger is inside trigger guard while moving, reloading or while not engaging targets. 

“Muzzle” – You muzzle is getting close to the 180.  Keep your muzzle pointed down range, beware of your 180.  


COLD RANGE – All Big Woods Goods matches are COLD RANGE matches. This means no loaded firearms in the range. You will load and make ready only under the supervision of the range officer before each string.

You can only remove your gun from your bag or holster while under direction of an RO or at the safe table.  If you need to show your firearm, un-holster your gun or pull it out of the bag for any reason other than under RO direction, it can only be done at the safe table. Magazines should never be in any guns, handled or set out on the safe table, loaded or unloaded.

Magazines - Loading ammo or unloading of magazines can be done anywhere EXCEPT at the safe table. Your firearm will either be holstered or in a bag at all times while loading mags.

180 Rule – The muzzle of your gun must not break the 180 degree line facing the backstop. Keep the muzzle pointed down range, at the backstop at all times.  The ceiling or the ground is NOT a safe place. This means don’t turn around with the gun in your hands! If the RO finds you starting to point the muzzle in any other place, you will hear them yell “MUZZLE!” That means you need to get that muzzle pointed back downrange.

Finger - Your finger must remain outside the trigger guard until you are engaging targets.  Keep your finger off the trigger until you are aimed and ready to fire at your target. If there is a wall in the course of fire, your finger must be OFF THE TRIGGER until you clear the wall.  When you’re in the low ready position, the finger should be OFF THE TRIGGER. When you’re moving from one shooting position to the other your finger should be OFF THE TRIGGER! When performing a reload or an unload and show clear, the finger should be OFF THE TRIGGER.  If the RO finds your finger on the trigger when it should not be you will hear him yell “Finger!”

Sweeping - The muzzle of your gun must not sweep (i.e. "point at") any part of your or anyone else's body, regardless of whether it is loaded or not.

DQ - Breaking any of these Safety rules will result in being disqualified (DQ'd) for that match.   Disqualification means the match can not be completed and the participant will receive a score of Zero.  It should be used as a learning experience. 

Other rules

During the course of fire all non-shooters should be back at the safe table area this will allow room for the RO and the Shooter to run the course of fire.

Keep Eyes and ears on at all times.

After the stage is scored, please help set up pins or paste targets.   The quicker we turn around each stage the greater the opportunity for an extra stage that evening!