How To Be a Block Officer at Outdoor Bullseye Matches

There are usually two block officers required at all outdoor bullseye matches. The Range Officer is responsible for the safe and orderly conduct of the range and he “runs” the match and the Block Officers assist the Range Officer by acting as additional eyes and ears. One Block Officer will be in charge of the right side shooting positions and the other Block Officer will be in charge of the left side shooting positions. At our club, we always try to have two sets of Block Officers: one set scheduled to arrive before the match begins and the other set scheduled to arrive about three hours later to relieve the first set.

Before the match begins, the Block Officers will help set up the range for the day’s match. This includes setting targets in the frames, bringing out replacement centers, setting up the public address system and speakers, and the equipment that turns the targets.

At the start of each phase of the match, the Range Officer will give commands to the shooters, starting with the command to load the pistols. He will then ask if the line is ready to begin. At this point, it is the responsibility of the Block Officers to notify the Range Officer if someone in his section is not ready. If a shooter is not ready, he will call out to the Block Officer, often extending his non-shooting arm towards him. If the Block Officer hears or sees that a shooter is not ready, he will call out to the Range Officer “not ready” and raise his hand. Once the shooter is ready, he will say so to the Block Officer. Sometimes the shooter will give a “thumbs-up” sign as well. The Block Officer will then indicate to the Range Officer that his section is ready to proceed.

After each string of firing is completed, the Range Officer will ask the shooters if there are any re-fires (malfunctions). If a shooter has a malfunction, they will raise their arm during the string. As soon as a Block Officer sees a malfunction, it is the Block Officer’s responsibility to raise his hand and, after the string of firing is complete, notify the Range Officer that “alibi” has occurred on his side of the firing positions. The Block Officer must then go over to the shooter with the malfunction and determine whether the malfunction is allowed or disallowed.

If the Block Officer observes the shooter attempt to clear the malfunction, and the shooter is unsuccessful or fails to fire all five shots in the time allotted, then the malfunction is not allowed. If the gun jams, or a cartridge fails to fire, or if the gun fails to cycle a live round, then the malfunction is allowed and the shooter is permitted to fire a “refire string”.

After each phase of the match, the shooters will go forward to score the targets. Before this happens, however, the Range Officer will instruct the shooters to lock open their gun’s cylinder or slide, and insert a chamber safety flag into their guns. The Block Officers must then walk down their side of the range and visually inspect each gun. The Block Officers confirm that every slide or cylinder is open and that a chamber safety flag is in place. The Block Officer will also check each semi-automatic pistol to ensure that there are no magazines left inserted and they will inspect each revolver to ensure that no rounds are left in the cylinder. Once each pistol has been inspected by the Block Officer, they will indicate that their section of the line is safe by raising their arm. The Range Officer will ask whether the line is safe and the Block Officer will
state that the line is “safe on the left” or “safe on the right”, as the case may be. No person will be allowed forward of the firing line until the Range Officer is satisfied that the line is safe and checked.

The shooters will then go forward accompanied by all of the Block Officers. The shooters score the target of the competitor on their immediate left. The Block Officer will score the target of the last shooter on the right side of the range.

When scoring is completed, the shooters will replace the center of the target and patch any shot outside the center with tape. It is the duty of the Block Officer to make sure that all of the targets are free of any holes. They should also check to make sure that all of the targets have the proper size black center before going back to the line. The shooters will return to their positions on the firing line. The Block Officers are the last persons to return to the firing line. This signifies to the Range Officer that the range is now clear and safe to begin shooting again.

After all shooting is finished, the Block Officers help in removing the targets from the target frames and returning them to the building for storage. They will also help take down the public address system and target turning mechanism and return the equipment to the main building. Once this is chore is complete, the match is formally over and the Block Officers are free to leave.

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