If you are new to USPSA, you have probably heard a lot of talk about “the 180”. What is it? Why should I care? Both competitors and stage designers/builders need to know what it is and how to avoid creating 180 traps. Check out the NROI Tips video and then read more below the video.
In USPSA, we take safety very seriously and as a result we like our competitors to keep the muzzle of their firearm pointing downrange. But, we often have courses of fire where there are targets along the side berms and have obstacles that competitors move around, so the muzzle is not always pointed directly downrange. But we do have a limit. The muzzle can’t break the 180 line which is visualized in the video as a line that runs parallel to the back berm and moves downrange (or uprange) as the competitor moves. The competitor needs to keep the muzzle on the downrange side of the 180 line to prevent being disqualified.
A lot of people try to search the rulebook for the 180 rule. (Hint: You won’t find the rule using that search term.) But if you look at rule 10.5.2, you will find the rule for being disqualified for breaking the 180. The rulebook just calls it allowing the muzzle of a firearm to point rearwards, that is further than 90 degrees from the median intercept of the backstop. Yeah, “the 180” is much easier to say and easier to convey to new competitors.
In the video, Troy describes areas where competitors need to pay attention to the 180, but stage designers and the people who actually put the stages on the ground also need to keep the 180 in mind. For example, in the overhead shots of the stage, you will see that the second target on the left is slightly uprange of the wall that it is next to. Troy even mentions that it is a 180 trap for the competitor. In reality, that should have been noticed at setup and the target should have been moved a foot or two downrange to eliminate that situation.
But why do stages need to prevent 180 traps or block views of targets? The competitor should just know not to shoot them, right? Well, we have rule 2.1.4 that says: “Targets must be arranged so that shooting at them on an ‘as and when visible’ basis will not cause competitors to breach safe angles of fire.” A simple tweak of the target in the video would have solved the problem and made the target unavailable past the 180. Always check stages, after they are on the ground, for 180 traps and fix them before the match starts.