You have heard the saying: “There are two types of shooters. Ones that have DQ’d and those who will DQ.” Well, this is true for ROs too: “There are two types of ROs. Those who have DQ’d a shooter and those who will DQ a shooter.”
Do you remember the first DQ you had to call? I used to, back closer to when it happened. It’s now a foggy memory. I am pretty sure it was at a local match, and it was someone who I shot matches with every month. And I do remember feeling bad about it, and thinking about it on the drive home, and replaying it in my head.
It is normal to feel remorse after calling a DQ. If you enjoy administering DQs, you may want to re-evaluate why you are a RO. DQs are not fun for the competitor at all, and when I work as a RM, I always talk with the shooter and make sure they understand why they were DQ’d and if they have any questions. But what about the RO who called the DQ?
Calling DQs is not easy. A lot of the time, when the rule violation occurs, it takes a few seconds for your brain to process. What did you see? Was that a rules violation? How sure are you that you saw what you saw? If yes, have you signaled your mouth to yell “Stop”?
In the RO and CRO classes we stress that you should only call a DQ when you are absolutely sure. Do you think they broke the 180, or do you know they broke the 180? Do you think their finger was inside the trigger guard during movement, or do you know it was? We want DQ calls when you know the violation has occurred, not when you think it happened.
But sometimes shooters are stopped for DQs that are not DQs. This is normal. Weird things happen, ROs instinctively yell stop, and then the ROs starts to process what they really saw. This is why the RM has to be called for all DQs. Mainly to ensure that the shooter was stopped for something that was really a DQ and to make sure that the RO(s) who saw it is 100% sure. If a RO is unsure or has stopped a competitor for something that is not a DQable offense, I work with them to realize their mistake, reverse the DQ call, and then the competitor gets a reshoot. It happens, and that is how ROs learn.
I haven’t kept track of how many DQs I have called, but I do feel bad each time I call a DQ. However, I remind myself that the competitor DQ’d himself/herself and I am just applying the rule, and I only call the DQ when I am absolutely sure of what I saw. Calling DQs on people you know is the hardest, but as a RO you need to treat every competitor equally. And yes, after the match is over, I am still thinking about the DQs and a lot of the times I chat about them with my fellow ROs. That is part of dealing with difficult calls.
Often, when I am RM for a match, the ROs working for me flag me down between squads and want to talk about the DQs they called, especially ones that were unusual or that ended up being non-DQs. We already have talked about the DQs when they happened, but the ROs have had time to further process and digest what happened and often have questions. This is also normal.
For me, that first DQ memory has been displaced by my scariest DQ which involved a shot through the bottom of a competitor’s holster on the draw. The shot hit somewhere between his heels and my toes. I remember stopping and clearing the shooter, I remember checking to see if any blood was drawn (only singe marks on his pants), and I remember a fellow RO asking if I was okay. I said I was fine and proceeded to run the next shooter. Big mistake. My brain was not focused on the task at hand. I realized that I was not okay to run the timer and after that shooter, I handed the RO duties off to someone else for a while. If you get rattled by the DQ call, and can’t concentrate, pass the timer off. There is nothing wrong with needing some time to calm your nerves and regain your focus.
Remember that the number one job of a RO is safety! And although calling a DQ is not fun and it can upset a competitor, if you are 100% sure a safety violation happened, you must call it. It keeps our sport safe and promotes safe gun handling.