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4-H Shooting Sports Safety Officer Reference Guide

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Publication Number: P3877
View as PDF: P3877.pdf

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This document is a quick reference guide for those serving as range safety officers. This list is not a comprehensive resource for your range. Every event is different. It is your job to keep careful watch and maintain high standards for every match. You must know the rules of the range and the nature of the match in order to be the best safety officer that you can be. No training will ever replace common sense, but common sense is developed from good training!

Safety is everyone’s responsibility!

Safety Officer Duties

The chief range officer will expect you to do these things:

  • Ensure a safe shooting event for all involved.
  • Help the chief range officer oversee the event and assist where needed elsewhere on the range.
  • Be constantly aware of your surroundings and the 4-H’ers assigned to you.
  • Make sure that there are enough safety officers on a range for the number of 4-H’ers participating. As a general rule, there should be one safety officer for every five participants.
  • Check participants’ ear and eye protection.
  • Assess range for safety issues.
  • Double-check barriers, barricades, etc.

Range Reminders

You must understand why shooting ranges have certain rules and why it is important to follow these rules. You can enforce the rules confidently only if you understand the rules well. Learning the rules will help you recognize the warning signs of danger so you can keep shooting events safe. These are some basic range rules you should enforce:

  • Always treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
  • Always keep firearm muzzles or arrows pointed in a safe direction.
  • Keep fingers off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
  • Always know what is beyond the target.
  • Participants must stay in approved areas only!
  • No one is allowed to climb berms or cross any safety line unless the chief range officer has specifically given permission to that person.
  • A violation of any safety rule will result in a warning for the first offense. The second offense will be reported to the chief range officer and match officials for further action.
  • Keep safety in mind at all times, and do it with a smile!


Your attitude will make a HUGE difference in how a child feels and performs at a shooting competition. They are here to learn, and you can help them have fun doing it!

Publication 3877 (POD-03-23)

Reviewed by Reid Nevins, 4-H Environmental Science and Education Specialist, Center for 4-H Youth Development. Written by John Long, PhD, former Assistant Extension Professor, 4-H Youth Development.

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