Here at NROI, we frequently get queries from someone about what rule prevents a shooter, or can be used to prevent a shooter, from doing x, y or z. While many of these fall into the “help them find the relevant rule(s)” category, a fair number fall into “there isn’t any rule that does that”. Sometimes they insist that we need a rule, or a ruling, declaring said action illegal. And 99.9% of those simply are things that really aren’t rule worthy but should be taken care of with proper stage design, WSB authoring, and setup. Let’s look at a few examples. I’ve generalized the questions somewhat.
“Last week at the match I saw lots of shooter getting a sight picture on a target located just around the wall through the see through wall. Thus, as soon as they cleared the wall they could fire the shot saving time. That seems like it should be illegal, what rule do I cite?”
Or the popular variant: “I saw a PCC shooter with a laser reach around the wall to engage a target while looking through the wall to see when the laser was on target.”
Or even: “The open shooters were sticking the gun through the port but looking through the dot through the wall material.”
Well, friends, there is not a rule here for that one. This is, as predicted, a simple stage setup issue. Don’t want shooters looking through the walls, put up opaque material at the corners or around the ports.
Another popular theme is what rules to use to compel shooters to do something because the stage designer wants them to do it. First thing to remember is that this is a shooting sport and thus our stages need to present shooting challenges. See also 1.1.5, the Freestyle rule.
That out of the way, what about “I wanted the shooter to have to carry this object just so in their strong hand from here to there but everyone just did something else which isn’t what I wanted. How many procedurals should they have been given?”
Probably none. Chances are that the Written Stage Briefing (WSB) said something like “carry object x from here to there while engaging targets”. Well, okay, that’s fine but it gives a ton of latitude to the shooters. At my first Area 1 back in 2005 there was a stage where one was supposed to carry a foam rubber ball and put it through a window in a down range wall. A lot of shooters elected to carry it in their mouths (yuck! But this was pre-COVID). The WSB said it could not be placed in one’s shirt or jacket. One enterprising shooter asked his lady friend to loan him a certain undergarment and proceeded to wear it and carry the ball in it. Despite providing a LOT of entertainment at the match and a story which has refused to die for over a decade and a half, it was a very good demonstration of why a WSB needs to be written properly. Interestingly, that is also an example of one of the very few times someone has found a way to game a stage and everyone else didn’t jump on the bandwagon. Obviously, the WSB author hadn’t even considered “other garments”.
It is always a good idea to have someone else look over your WSBs, especially before a bigger match, to see if there are holes in them. Writing good WSBs takes effort and the more you do it, the better you will become at it.
One of the common pitfalls stage designers fall into, I know because I do it myself, is we come up with a concept, we decide how it should be shot, and fail to examine all the different ways that it can be shot. We also tend to become so set in the concept and how it should be performed that we start feeling that penalties are deserved for anyone that does it some other way. Not so. Different isn’t necessarily bad. If you designed that stage and/or wrote the WSB, take the lesson from the experience and apply it next time around.
The best stage designs are those that offer multiple ways to shoot a stage and leave a choice for the shooter to make depending on their division, abilities, etc.
Another common question is about default start positions. Well, folks, time to catch up. We eliminated all default start positions. PCC has never had one. Yet, we still see a lot of people trying to invoke a default start position and then wonder why people are doing weird things at the start on their stage. You have to specify the start position now and be as explicit as you want the start to be. It usually isn’t worth getting exceedingly precise. And don’t forget that some terms like “standing” are defined in A3 in the rules so that can help you out.
And sometimes the laws of physics get to come into play. Our favorite are questions about 188.8.131.52 and walls going from ground to infinity. For example, what happens when a shooter drops something (i.e. magazine) and it rolls underneath/through the wall; can the shooter retrieve it? Well, this one is actually pretty easy. The answer is yes. If the wall was really solid the magazine wouldn’t have gone through so of course the shooter can retrieve it. This won’t tear the fabric of the time/space continuum or anything.