Here’s a common misconception about rulings versus simple answers to questions: A ruling is made through the official ruling system, which requires the ruling to be approved by the board of directors, and doesn’t go into effect until 7 days after the ruling has been approved. Rulings can change or interpret an existing rule, but are never made without cause and a demonstrable need for the change. There is a system for this which requires a written ruling and the reason for that ruling, along with possible consequences of the ruling—all of that information goes to the board.
The Director of NROI cannot simply change or interpret a rule without going through this process. This was initiated several years ago, in order to give the board oversight over rules changes or interpretations. Before the ruling is even submitted to the board, it’s usually discussed among the instructors and the rules committee. Simply answering a question and using a rule to back up the answer is NOT a ruling—it’s merely an answer, based on existing, published rules.
Small Parts Replacement
As an example of the above, I recently answered a question from a competitor and parts manufacturer concerning a replacement for a takedown lever in Production and Carry Optics divisions. This has caused some consternation, but the answer is based on the rules put into place in March of 2018 by the USPSA Board of Directors. Essentially, these were changes to the Production and Carry Optics divisions allowing aftermarket or OFM replacement of small parts such as safeties, slide lock levers, magazine releases, and the like.
There is a large variety of terms in use for these parts by both aftermarket and OFM manufacturers. For example, the slide lock on a Glock pistol is the small, T-shaped part that fits across the frame and is actually used to disassemble the pistol. It’s function is identical to a so-called “takedown lever”. Changing that part for an aftermarket part would be legal, even if the part were a different color, and there are aftermarket manufacturers that sell them in many different colors. The rules on small part replacement do not cover the dimensions of the part—they simply say that they can be replaced.
Size was considered when the rules were changed, but we still maintain a box with limited dimensions that a Production pistol must fit into to be legal. Some Production guns won’t fit the box as they come from the factory if there are ambi safeties installed on the gun—something must be removed to fit the box. Therefore, there is a limit to the width of the controls allowed on the gun. Oversized safeties, slide lock levers, slide lock releases and take down levers are legal within the rules, as long as they aren’t bolted onto the frame, and the gun fits the box in Production. This was not a ruling, simply an answer to a question based on existing rules, rules which have been in effect for over 16 months. A takedown lever that is designed to provide a thumb rest surface is legal under the existing rules and isn’t much different from stippling on the frame in the same general area, which is also legal.
To quote one of the Range Master Instructors: I’m really tired of chasing that damned Production horse. At some point, we’ll have to admit that Prod/CO are no less development platforms than the other divisions. The OFMs will design and build to our rules. Then, the after-market will push the limits ad infinitum! It won’t ever stop. Or, as a well-known NASCAR driver once opined: “There ain’t nothing stock about a stock car”.