We have all heard that expression before. It usually is uttered when a stage design isn’t legal, when a shooter is stopped and given a reshoot for a popper not falling, or any other instance where the rules weren’t followed. When it is uttered, all RMs and RMIs (and some RO/CROs) cringe (like finger nails on a chalkboard) and wish they had never heard it.
Why does it upset us? Mainly because the RMIs work very hard to educate USPSA members about the rules and train new ROs/CROs/RMs about the proper application of said rules. It also upsets us because it means that local club matches are not accurate training grounds for competitors who aspire to go to higher level major matches.
One of the benefits of being a USPSA affiliated club, and USPSA member, is the rulebook. The local club matches have a complete set of rules to follow and do not have to publish and maintain their own rule set. It also means that a USPSA member should be able to attend matches across the nation, and know what the rules are, and not be surprised about “local rules” or other penalties not outlined in the rulebook.
There are a few Level I exceptions in the rulebook, mainly in relation to stage design, but rest of the rules apply to a Level I match just as they do for matches Level II and above. Level I matches do not get to pick and choose which rules they want to follow. And just because you “don’t agree” with a rule, doesn’t mean that the rule can be ignored.
Many times, when RMIs are teaching RO and CRO seminars, we see many of the students having “aha moments” while realizing that their clubs have not been following the rules, either intentionally or unintentionally. Yes, sometimes clubs do not realize that they are not following the rules. This usually occurs when there has been a major rulebook change/new ruling and the club has very few certified range officials who have kept up with the changing rules.
Rule changes are announced on the USPSA website, in the weekly Down Range email, and the DNROI’s column in the USPSA magazine. And now, with the new evergreen rulebook and the USPSA App, having a current copy of the rules in your pocket at a match is very easy. Once clubs have enough certified range officials, who keep up with the rules, the accidental rules violations usually disappear or are minimal.
When local matches follow all the rules, the match quality is improved, the match experience is more similar to major matches, and guests and regulars at the matches are following the same rule set. When everyone is on the same page in regards to the rules, the match is more enjoyable for everyone.