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IPSC Fundamentals: Commands

IPSC maintains its safety and ability to work across multiple regions of language by using one universal language. All regions within the IPSC are dictated to use the same commands in English, regardless of their native tongue. This allows for visiting regions to know and listen to the same commands regardless of the range officer or the competitor.

Credit: Gunroom TV


The most important command that needs to be listened to for safety is the word “STOP”. The range officer is responsible for maintaining safety, the use of the word “STOP” will occur when a range officer needs the competitor to stop doing whatever they are doing. This could be because of a problem with the stage, or to maintain safety at the moment of a safety infraction.

When a competitor hears the command, the competitor must stop shooting and face in a safe direction with the firearm pointed in a safe direction. The range officer will continue with “Unload and Show Clear” and clear the range. The competitor is responsible for maintaining safety throughout, until the range is cleared.

“Load and Make Ready”

Also known as “Make Ready” when a stage’s ready condition dictates the firearm to start completely unloaded. This command signifies the start of a course of fire and is the one command that allows the competitor to unholster/prime their firearm.

The competitor will ready their firearm based on the stage briefing and move to their start position for the stage. Once the competitor is ready and is wearing the necessary eye and ear protection, the range officer will move on to the next command.

Violating this command by moving away from the start position and/or stalling could lead to unsportmanlike conduct under the rules.

“Are You Ready?”

This command follows the “Load and Make Ready” command when the competitor is ready to shoot the course of fire. This question is asked with the assumption that the competitor will say nothing if they are ready to continue with course of fire. If the competitor does have an issue they want to correct, such as their equipment or the adjustment of safety apparel. This would be done so by informing the range officer with “Not Ready”. When the competitor has corrected their issue whilst on the stage, the range officer will repeat the command and continue.

If the competitor is hard of hearing or the environment calls for it, the range officer may support the verbal command with three taps to the weak shoulder.


The standby command is the last command prior to a competitor hearing the start signal from a timer and starting the course of fire. It is important that the competitor maintains their start position until the sound of the signal. The start signal must sound from one to four seconds from this command to allow the competitor ample time to expect the start signal.

If the competitor fails to respond to the start signal (due to noise or other distractions), the range officer may start again from the “Are You Ready?” command. If the competitor does react in any way to the start signal and does not decide to shoot the course of fire, the timer will keep rolling until the range officer believes the competitor has finished.

If the competitor is hard of hearing or the environment calls for it, the range officer may support the verbal command with two taps to the weak shoulder, followed by one tap when the start signal goes off.

“If You Are Finished, Unload and Show Clear”

When the competitor finished the course of fire, all they have to do is wait for the range officer to give them the next command. This command signals the competitor that the range officer believes they’re finished and that they may unload their firearm and show the range officer that it is clear, as notice that they have finished the course of fire.

In some circumstances, “Unload and Show Clear” is used instead for when a stage needs to be abruptly made clear without the competitor finishing the course of fire.

“If Clear, Hammer Down, Holster”

Also known as “If Clear, Secure Chamber”, this command is the last command given to the competitor prior to the competitor leaving the stage. Once this command is given, the competitor is not allowed to resume shooting and will be charged for unsportsmanlike conduct if done so. The competitor must continue from the last command and prove the firearm is clear by releasing the firing mechanism and securing the firearm as safe (holstering or securing the chamber with a breech flag). Once the firearm is in the safe position prior to “Load and Make Ready”, the range officer will finish the course of fire with the last command.

“Range is Clear”

This is the last command that declares the stage as safe and ready for range crew to set afoot in. The command is only given once the range officer knows the firearm has been secured, this is either when the competitor has let go of a holstered firearm or the firearm has been secured and is facing a safe direction. After this command is given, the course of fire is scored and reset for the next competitor to start the course of fire.