Okay, the December Question of the Month posed an unusual situation, but something that could happen at a match. During a course of fire, a competitor’s belt comes loose and falls off with a loaded and holstered handgun. As the RO, what is your call?
This question was originally one we saw on social media, but it was with an unloaded pistol, outside the course of fire, during stage reset. The gray area is that it’s still in the holster so is it a dropped gun? But we also don’t allow competitors to strip off a belt with a holstered gun outside the course of fire per 22.214.171.124: “A competitor who, while not at a safety area or under RO supervision, removes their holster or their equipment belt with their handgun still in the holster, shall be considered to be in violation of Rule 5.2.1 and subject to disqualification from the match.” If a holstered, unloaded gun is dropped outside the course of fire, it is treated like a dropped gun and a RO should pick it up. If the competitor picks it up, then it’s a DQ.
But what if this happens within the course of fire, as in the QOTM? To make sure we are all on the same page, let’s say the stage has a start position well outside the shooting area and the competitor has to make a short run to the first shooting position. The competitor left his pistol holstered, and his hand off of it, and the belt fell off while he was running. And the retention on the holster is really good so the pistol stays in the holster during all the excitement. Let’s start by looking at the first sentence of 126.96.36.199 again. Notice the “not under RO supervision part”? During a course of fire, the competitor is under RO supervision. This means that a holstered gun in a belt that falls off during a COF does not violate 188.8.131.52.
Okay, now some of you are probably saying it’s a DQ using the Unsafe Gun Handling section and the dropped gun rule (10.5.3). First, let’s look at the definition of Handling in App. A3 – “(As in “handling a firearm”) The act of manipulating, holding, or gripping a firearm while the trigger is functionally accessible. Note exceptions for casing/uncasing PCC.” So, a holstered pistol that isn’t gripped by the hand is not being handled. This means you can’t use a rule under section 10.5 to DQ the competitor unless the firearm falls out of the holster as the belt comes off. So this isn’t a “Stop and DQ” situation because we don’t have a rule to support it.
It isn’t a “Stop and reshoot” either because we again don’t have a rule to support it. This would fall under one of those freestyle problems the competitor has to solve during a course of fire. The competitor can pick up the belt and either put it back on, or safely draw the firearm and shoot the stage. As the RO you should just say nothing and let the competitor decide what to do and only say stop if a safety rule is broken after the holstered gun is picked up.
Remember to vote in the current Question of the Month.
If you have questions about this post, please ask via the blog Contact Form or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.