Safety is a Range Officers number one job, no doubt, but we are officiating a competition, and for there to be a competition, there must be a score. Getting an accurate score for each competitor is crucial to the USPSA mission of “Safe, Fun, Fair” Practical Shooting. NROI provides tools to help all range officials call hits accurately-those little plastic cards we call overlays. This NROI Tips video demonstrates the proper use of overlays, and make sure to read the information below the video to learn more.
In the early days of IPSC competition, there were many different ways of scoring a target, from simply eyeballing it, to using plugs (which, once inserted were never to be removed), and finally, target scoring overlays. You must use only official USPSA/NROI scoring overlays when working a USPSA match to ensure consistency and accuracy. These clear plastic cards have circles inked on them in the exact diameter of the calibers used in USPSA competition: everything from .22 to .45 is on the card. In addition, they serve as a handy straight line tool to aid in scoring, and can even be used to measure gun and magazine holder distance from belt (but that’s a different tip).
When scoring a target using an overlay, it’s important to first question the competitor as to the caliber they are shooting. Here’s a tip: if they say .50, they’re probably stretching it a bit. Once you have the correct caliber, determine which hit on the target you are scoring, and why, then proceed with your overlay. The competitor could be calling for an edge hit on the outside of the target, or for a hit touching a higher scoring zone, a double (two bullets in almost the same hole), or trying to avoid a no-shoot penalty. There is a dot in the center of each bullet diameter, which should be centered up in the bullet hole as well as possible. Then, the outside edge of the circle is read: if that outer edge touches a scoring zone, or a no-shoot, then either the higher scoring zone or the penalty will apply. Note that the hit doesn’t have to break, cut, or cross the perforation-it simply has to touch, which is what the overlay will help determine. In addition, perforations, although very thin, do have some width, so read the edge of the perforation closest to the overlay or the hit in question. And, remember: we score targets from the side the bullet entered, not the back side, and there is no manipulation of the hole allowed, either by competitors or range officers. Lastly, don’t forget to examine the entire target for hits; sometimes everyone is focused on the hit in question and the other hits or no-shoot hits are missed. A best practice is to prevent the target from being restored until it’s been scored. This allows for a complete examination of the target as well as potentially providing another bullet hole for reference.
The dots can also be quite useful when scoring a double-if you use two overlays and the dots aren’t superimposed on one another, then there are two bullet holes there. It’s sometimes easier to look for that than to look at the outer edges of the circles. Likewise, using the next diameter, or the one past that, can help you envision whether there are two hits in approximately the same space. However, if the overlay doesn’t show a higher scoring zone, or a no-shoot, or a double, then you must call what you see. There is no benefit of the doubt rule in scoring, and we don’t “give” people a score-we call what they shot.
If the competitor doesn’t agree with what you call, they have at least two more people to appeal to: the CRO (or the RO–what you need is a second set of eyes on the target), and the Range Master. Once the RM has scored the target, however, there is no further appeal.
A set of official overlays is an important part of a Range Officers toolbox, and should be used whenever a hit is close to a line on a target. This is important because most of the round-nose or truncated cone bullets in use today don’t cut a true diameter hole in the cardboard, unlike the semi-wadcutters of days past. A fresh set of overlays can be had by contacting the USPSA office and asking for them. We hand them out at RO and CRO seminars, and we always have a fresh supply at Nationals. If you are producing a level two or three match, we will send a stack for your staff, just for the asking.