Here is a video that has been going around recently on social media. It is a video of a pistol match stage. As the shooter, RSO, and camera man progress through the stage there is a person hidden down range due to the stage design.
There are a couple things going on here. On the surface this is a clear abandonment of safety procedures by the RSO. It is the Range Safety Officer’s duty to make sure the stage is clear of anybody down range. I have participated in many matches and sure some people get left behind cleaning up the stage with last minute pasting of targets or fixing something down range. But the RSO is the one in charge and should have done a thorough check that the range was clear.
From the single angle that the camera provides it is surprising that the shooter did not see the worker down range as he was shooting the stage. However we only see so much from the camera. A lot of the stage is obscured by the barricades. The guy down range can thank the stage designer for saving his life. A good stage design will be challenging and have many angles that obscure targets. Only making them available at certain positions of opportunity. If the stage designer did a great job, obscurred targets will not be in the path of another target. So as long as they are hidden, no bullet should hit them or the guy down range as long as the shooter is competent and adheres to the stage design. Now this does not let the RSO or the shooter off the hook. I can understand how competition can put you in tunnel vision mentally. All you are thinking and scanning for is your next target. If you are a well seasoned competitor, then you are going through your plan of attack in your head and trying to stick to that script you made just minutes before.
Another thing that worked against the worker down range is that it seems he left his ear-pro on. Normally when I help reset a stage, I will remove my ear protection. However not everyone does that. In this case, the worker did not hear the shooter engaging targets. I am surprised he didn’t see the dirt kick up around him when the shooter was shooting down range.
A lot went wrong here but thankfully no one got hurt.