We’ve all been there. A call is made at a match, or not made, and there is a query about if that is the right call, or non-call, and the response is “it’s just a local match”. I’m on my twentieth year in this sport and I’ve heard that response more times than I can count and, as an instructor, have fielded questions about how to handle it even more often. A lot of this directly relates to so called “club culture” which has also been referred to as the “Good Old Boys” syndrome. So let’s dig in a bit and talk about what does and does not work.
First off, straight out confrontation during the match is almost never going to work. Our sport is populated predominantly by Type A personalities and you just aren’t going to get anywhere with confrontation. Type A people tend to be very competitive and really do not want anyone or anything slowing them down. They also generally don’t want to be proven wrong…even if they are, especially not publicly. Giving them a metaphorical beating with the rulebook isn’t going to do much more than make you angry and tired. At best you might win the argument today; and next time it comes up you will get to have it again, and again…you get the idea. At worst you might find yourself disinvited from the club.
You might be tempted to file an arbitration, if the situation warrants one, but then you consider that the folks that do not understand the rules and are disinclined to look at the rulebook are the ones on the arbitration committee and you put your cash back in your pocket.
All too often in these situations it is just one or two people against a much larger number who maybe just do not understand that what they think is correct is just flat out wrong. Many of these have never been certified ROs or were certified and let it lapse and have not kept up with the changes in the rules.
One of the best ways to change this attitude in a club is to get an RO seminar scheduled and get more people up to speed on the rules. Specifically invite those in the club whose rule knowledge is lacking, or maybe just very dated, to attend. If they are still certified, they can audit the class if space is available. NROI doesn’t charge for an audit but your club may want to get a few dollars to defray lunch cost. Or maybe it is worth it to the club to give Ted, Bob, Joe and the boys a free lunch to get them to attend. I’ve seen more than a few lights come on from those auditing classes when they realized that they were a whole bunch of rulebooks behind the times. Or, what they have done for years because they thought it was the right way is just wrong.
The RO seminar graduates also give your side more voices in the discussion. The argument that “we discussed this in the RO seminar last month and the right way is…” does tend to carry considerable weight.
Another way to change this attitude is to get more involved in putting on the matches. If you are the MD and/or RM, you have a much better place to stand in terms of following the rules for the match.
An “interesting” way to promote following the rules is to gather a contingent to go to your sectional or area matches or even Nationals. We have found that those with the worst rules knowledge tend to only shoot local matches and do not shoot at the bigger matches where the rules are more likely to be enforced. This can be very much an eye opener; especially if those sloppy habits from “home” spill over and penalties are issued. The most common of these is loading mags/handling ammo at the safety area. I’ve lost track of how many people I’ve seen sent home without getting to fire a shot at a big match for this.
Can we win? I sure would like to think so. But people by their very nature make this an uphill battle. For many, rules were made to be broken. Many just want to come out and shoot and enjoy some social time with their friends. For these folks, the rules get in the way.
These folks should not be putting on a match that they label as a USPSA match and not following the rules as prescribed. That is trademark infringement and a violation of their affiliation agreement with USPSA.
Sometimes the best thing to do is form a new club, affiliate with USPSA, and start holding matches that do comply. We’d be happy to welcome your new club with a free new club RO seminar when you have celebrated your first anniversary of competition. More than a few clubs got their start this way and these seem to be healthy and growing clubs. Something that you might need to consider.