In this NROI Tips video concerning gear positioning, we show you some guidelines for determining the proper placement of a competitor’s gun, holster, magazine holders and all associated equipment.
For the Production, Single Stack, Carry Optics, and PCC divisions the distance from the inner side of the belt to the grip of the handgun or the inside edge of the magazine is specified, and is 2 1/8 inches, or the width of an official USPSA overlay (read more about this). For Open, Limited, Limited-10, and Revolver the distance is 3 3/8 inches or the length of an overlay. Rule 5.2.5 details how to measure the handgun and allied equipment.
In addition, all divisions require that the heel of the butt of the handgun must be even with or higher than the top of the belt (read more on this). Magwells don’t count. This is specified in rule 188.8.131.52, and again, applies to ALL divisions as noted in Appendix D. Female competitors are allowed to wear their belt at hip level, per rule 184.108.40.206, but there are restrictions on how low the belt can be, and the height to belt and distance from belt rules still apply.
Height to belt and distance from the belt are requirements for all divisions, but there are exceptions for Law Enforcement, Military, and disabled competitors. Rules 5.2.8 and 5.2.9 in the USPSA Competition Rules cover these exceptions, and placement variances can be very broad, including having holsters and magazine holders installed on a wheelchair or walker. In all cases, the Range Master has the final say on what is acceptable.
What if your gun or magazines are too far away from your belt, or the gun is too low? What are the penalties for violating this provision in the rules? What if the heel of the butt of the handgun is too low? What happens? 5.2.7 says that a competitor must not be permitted to commence a course of fire with a holster that holds the handgun too low. ROs should have the competitor fix the height of the gun before allowing them to attempt the course of fire. The rulebook states, in 220.127.116.11 that if your equipment is measured and fails the prescribed distances from the belt, that it shall be adjusted. Range Officials should be observant and ensure that all competitors on their stage are compliant before they attempt the stage. However, the competitor is always responsible for ensuring their equipment is legal for their division.
What happens if someone shoots a stage with equipment that is too far away from the belt, or too low? Again, 18.104.22.168 spells out the penalty for that, which is a stage zero, but that penalty is not retroactive to any stages shot previous to the stage in question. This rule was instituted a couple of years ago, and spells out a stage zero instead of a move to Open division because Open and PCC would end up shooting for no score–not an equitable penalty. Once again, the Range Master has the final say and may allow variations due to differences in competitor shape and size, a.k.a. anatomical considerations.