What happens when a competitor’s pistol is too far away from their belt when holstered? We explored this in the December Question of the Month: During a course of fire (COF) an Open shooter’s pistol grip is 4 inches away from his inner belt when holstered. What is your call?
The top answer is correct. It is a zero for the stage. But I am not surprised by how close the second answer was. We get asked about this a lot, hence the reason we used it as a Question of the Month.
A fair number of you are probably asking why it isn’t a bump to no score for violating the division rules. Appendix D1, item 10 clearly says that the maximum distance between the handgun and the inner side of the belt is 3 3/8 inches. Yes, that is true, but we also have rule 188.8.131.52 that states that the penalty for shooting a course of fire out of compliance with the maximum belt distance is a zero for that stage. And this penalty is not retroactive to previously shot stages because we don’t know if the competitor’s equipment was out of compliance on the previous stage. They maybe sat in a chair between stages and their holster moved.
As a RO, you should be on the lookout for competitors who are out of compliance and let them know before they start the COF. The competitor can then go and adjust their holster before shooting the stage. If they choose to not adjust it after being warned, and shoot the stage anyway, then they get a zero score. This distance also applies to magazine pouches, but usually they are not the problem.
How do ROs check the distance between a pistol grip and the inner side of the belt? Well, USPSA provides some handy measuring tools – the Official USPSA Overlays! For Open, Limited, and Limited 10 the maximum distance is 3 3/8″ or the length of an overlay. For Production, Single Stack, Revolver, and Carry Optics the maximum distance is 2 1/8″ or the width of an overlay. The measurement can be taken with the belt being worn or not, but usually at the range it is with the belt worn. Place the overlay against the pants across the top of the belt where the the point of holster attachment is and measure the distance to the closest point of the pistol grip (see rule 5.2.5 and App. E2 for more details).
Here are some examples of measuring using an overlay with the equipment removed. The first example is for a legal Production setup. This competitor actually has some room to spare since the overlay is past the inside of the inner belt.
With a different holster attachment, the Production shooter in this next picture is out of compliance. The overlay is only at the inside of the outer belt, not the inside surface of the inner belt.
If the holster and belt setup from above were used in Limited, the competitor would be fine because Limited has a larger maximum distance and uses the length of the overlay. The overlay is past the inside edge of the inner belt.
We are not saying that as a RO you need to check every shooter, but definitely check people who look like they may be out of compliance. It just takes a few seconds and most of the time, the holster screws have loosened and the competitor doesn’t even know. It takes them a few minutes at the safety area to get everything right and then they are good to go for rest of the match.
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