Putnam County USPSA

The Action Pistol Division of the
Putnam County Gun Club


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New Shooter Information

The following information is a brief overview of what you'll need for a USPSA match.  We are a USPSA member club and we follow the USPSA Rulebook, which is the definitive authority on all aspects of a match (www.uspsa.org - look for the 2014 Handgun Rules). Please browse through it and become familiar with the safety rules, in particular, and how the matches and scoring work. 

Safety is always the #1 priority at our matches.  We've summarized the basics in a separate safety pagePlease read through it - you'll have a lot more fun shooting safe and will have less risk of being disqualified from the match for safety violations (yes, it does happen!). 

"Cold Range" and Safety Area

At USPSA matches we operate what is known as a "cold range". This means all guns are unloaded at all times, with hammer down on an empty chamber (or cylinder).  You may only handle your gun when under the direction of a range officer or while in the Safety Area.  This means that when you arrive, your gun should be empty and in a case.  This applies to everyone in any area involving the match, and to competitors and spectators/visitors alike. 

After registering, you can proceed to a Safety Area to assemble your gear.  The Safety Areas are clearly posted.  A Safety Area the only place where you can handle your gun (other than at the shooting line, when the Range Officer gives you the "Make Ready" command (see below)).  Don't "gear up" your gun at your car - only in the Safety Area. 

The Safety Area is where you can uncase your gun (unloaded!) and place it in your holster (unloaded, with the hammer down or striker released on an empty chamber).  You must keep the muzzle pointed downrange (acrosss the table) at all times.  You cannot handle any ammunition (either live or dummies) or any loaded magazines or speed loaders in the safe area.  ("Dummy" ammunition includes snap caps, empty cases, and "inert" practice or training rounds.)

In the Safety Area you can examine your unloaded gun, practice drawstrokes and sight pictures (did we say unloaded?!), and clean, lube, or repair it.  You can practice reloads, with an empty magazine.  After leaving the Safe Area, you cannot handle your gun until it's your turn to shoot and the Range Officer gives you the "Make Ready" command. 

Normally, you will come to a match with your gun unloaded and cased.  If you arrive at a match with a loaded firearm (e.g., "carry" gun or LE personnel), please proceed immediately to a match official, who will help you with safe unloading.  Do not uncase and holster your match gun at your car - use the Safety Area.

After the match, return to the safety area to take off your gear and return your gun to the case or bag.  (If you have a "carry" gun, you'll have to put it back on at one of the other (non-match) ranges or after you leave the PGC range - because it's loaded!)

What you'll need:
  • Ear and eye protection
  • Serviceable/safe handgun and holster
    • Centerfire, 9mm/.38 Special or larger caliber
    • Holster must be attached to your belt, must cover the trigger guard, and must be carried at "belt level" with the heel of the butt above the belt and the muzzle towards the ground.  (No cross-draw, shoulder or leg rigs, "drop" rigs, etc.)
  • Magazine pouches/carriers for your belt.  (You can also put mags in your back pockets.)
  • 4+ magazines (6+ if shooting a 1911) (If you have only 2 hi-caps you can probably still shoot, but you'll want to get more mags eventually.)
  • Minimum of 100 rounds of ammunition (this will vary depending on the number of stages and the total round count)

If you already have the above equipment, that's all you really need. Going out and purchasing a custom gun and accessories isn't necessary.

There's no need to worry about Divisions and classification.  We'll help you with this. 

Please let the registration officer know when signing up that you are a new shooter. You will be given a safety briefing and placed on a squad with some seasoned shooters, to help you along the way.

New Shooter Orientation

Before the match, we ask all new shooters to attend a brief orientation meeting.  This also includes experienced shooters, if you're new to our matches.  We may ask you to shoot a brief "qualifier" stage, to check your gun handling, basic skills, and safety.  Please understand that this is for your safety and to benefit the sport.

Range Commands

When it's your turn to shoot, you will go to the stage's starting point and face downrange.  The Range Officer will issue this series of commands:

  1. "Make Ready" - This signifies the start of your Course of Fire.  Only after this point can you unholster your gun and handle and load it.  You may not move away from the starting location without the prior approval of the Range Officer or the start signal is given. 
  2. "Are you ready?" - You will be asked this before the start signal is given.  You can say "yes" or "ready", nod your head, or say nothing (if no response, Range Officer will continue). If you are not ready, say "Not ready" and the Range Officer will wait for you.
  3. "Stand By" - After this command, there will be a pause of 1-4 seconds before the start signal. 
  4. (Start signal) - This is the "beep" of the timer, activated by the Range Officer.  This is the first time you can draw your gun and begin shooting.
  5. "Stop" - This will be issued (loudly) if there is a problem.  CEASE FIRING IMMEDIATELY, stop moving, face downrange, and wait for further instructions. 
  6. "If you are finished, unload and show clear" - Remove your magazine or empty the cylinder, empty the chamber(s), and show the clear gun to the Range Officer.
  7. "If clear, hammer down, holster" - At this point, you must perform a final safety check of your gun by pulling the trigger and dry-firing it (you may not touch the de-cocker or hammer to do this), and safely holster it.  If your gun has a magazine disconnect safety, be sure to have an empty magazine with you in order to dry-fire your gun.
  8. "Range is clear" - Signifies the end of the Course of Fire.  Officials and competitors may now move forward to score and reset targets. 

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