Running Around With Loaded Guns in the Dark in South Dakota
The headline of this article may seem like something salacious to draw attention. I will admit that it is, but it also happens to be true and it was done safely.
On Saturday night, I went to the first-ever DARK Match that was put on by Sioux River Sportsmen's Club in Canton. For the record, I am also the match director for the club. It was a United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) match that consisted of four stages of shooting and moving, or both at the same time, that tested competitors to shoot the most points per second with the added twist of it being dark outside.
Most of the competitors used a light mounted on their handgun of choice, but some did not, opting to use a headlamp and one used a handheld flashlight. Everyone is allowed to find and see all of the targets prior to their turn at shooting, but doing it again in the dark was a very different experience. It was also a hell of a lot of fun.
When it came to safety, we run a very tight ship by club rules and by USPSA rules. Safety violations result in expulsion from the match. A range officer follows the competitor through the entire course of fire. How could the range officer see a safety violation in the dark? It is quite simple. If the light is mounted on the gun and it points in the wrong direction, or the headlamp illuminates the unsafe behavior, the range officer yells out the stop command and orders them to unload their gun and they are disqualified.
Every competitor was required by the club to wear at least one chem light or glowstick so they could be located in the dark. I wore two, one from the pocket of each knee and I looked ridiculous when I ran.
Range officers made a very diligent patrol as far as necessary to light up the range with a flashlight and make sure everyone was back before allowing the next competitor to load their gun. No one else on the range is allowed to have a loaded firearm without being under the direct supervision of a range officer.
When it isn't dark out, here's what a regular USPSA match looks like.
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