Yes, some of the Questions of the Month are inspired by things we have seen at matches, or from discussions on forums. The November question was inspired by both: A Production competitor with a selective action pistol starts the COF with the hammer back and the safety on. What is the call by the RO?
This question has led to lengthy discussions at matches, on forums, and on Facebook, so what is the correct answer? The majority of you are right, it’s a bump to Open. The proper rule is 126.96.36.199: “However, if a competitor fails to satisfy the equipment or other requirements of a declared handgun Division during a course of fire, the competitor will be placed in Open Division, if available, otherwise the competitor will shoot the match for no score. If a competitor fails to satisfy the equipment or other requirements for PCC or Open Division during the course of fire, he will shoot for no score. “
In the Production (App. D4) and Carry Optics (App. D7) appendices, the first Special Condition at the end of the appendices state that the handgun ready condition must be hammer down for guns with external hammers. The hammer either is lowered with the decocking lever or completely lowered, manually. If a Production or Carry Optics competitor starts the stage with the hammer back, it’s a violation of the equipment rules and a bump to Open. 8.2.1 clearly states that during Make Ready, the competitor prepares the firearm in compliance with the WSB and Division requirements.
Okay, some of you are probably reasoning that the firearm condition is part of the start position, but that is incorrect. Firearm ready conditions and start positions are two separate things. They are listed separately in the rulebook, they are listed separately in the WSB, and 8.2.2 states that reshoots are only granted to competitors in the incorrect start position, NOT incorrect firearm condition.
And we have also seen discussions saying that ROs should remind competitors to drop their hammer or refuse to start them with hammers back. Nope, that is coaching. The firearm ready condition is on the competitor. If they don’t insert a mag on a loaded start, rack the slide, or turn on their dot – ROs need to stay silent. The only time a RO can correct a shooter is if they start to load the firearm on an unloaded start.
Okay, bonus question. What if that same Production shooter from the question holstered their pistol with the hammer back and no safety engaged? What is your call then? (Hint, see 10.5.11 and you choose the sub-rule.)