Now that magnets are allowed in all the divisions, most competitors have added them to their gear, but some run afoul of the distance of the magazine from the inside of the belt. Which is why we asked this Question of the Month: During the course of fire, a Production competitor places a mag on a magnet that is attached to a mag pouch. The magnet is on the side of the pouch opposite of where the belt attachment is which puts the edge of the magazine, that is retained by the magnet, 2.5 inches away from the inner most surface of the belt. What is your call as the RO?
For all the divisions, there are restrictions on how far away the handgun and equipment (magazines or speed loaders) can extend away from the belt. The distances are outlined in Appendix D, Item 10. For Production, Carry Optics, Single Stack, and PCC the distance is 2 1/8″, or the width of a scoring overlay. For Open, Limited, Limited-10, and Revolver the distance is 3 3/8″, or the length of a scoring overlay.
Those scoring overlays we send certified range officials every year are dual purpose. They are great for determining accurate scores and for measuring equipment distances. I previously described how to measure the distance from the inside of the belt to the grip of the handgun using overlays in another post and the method is the same for magazines. To measure the distance from a magazine to the inside of the belt, just place the overlay on top of the belt against the pants of the competitor and see if the overlay touches the closest edge of the magazine when it is retained in the pouch. Details on how to measure are also covered in rule 5.2.5.
But what if the magazine is too far away? That is what this month’s question was really after. This is where rule 184.108.40.206 comes into play: “Any competitor who fails the foregoing test will immediately adjust his holster or equipment to comply with the requirements of the relevant Division. The Range Master may make allowances for variations in these requirements due to anatomical considerations. Some competitors may not be able to fully comply. Any competitor who shoots a course of fire while out of compliance will receive a zero score for that course of fire, unless specifically exempted by the Range Master. If the RO suspects or is notified that a competitor’s equipment is out of compliance for their relevant division, the RO must measure the distances at that time. Penalties will not be retroactive to previously completed stages and will be based solely on measurements taken on a particular stage. The Range Master must be informed of any penalties applied due to non-compliance.”
There are many parts of this rule. So let’s break it down into manageable chunks. The first three sentences basically state that if a competitor is out of compliance, once noticed, it must be fixed. This is where ROs should be checking for compliance before competitors start the course of fire. This doesn’t mean you need to measure every competitor as they come to the line, but if you see a handgun or mag pouch that looks like it may be too far away, it only takes a few seconds to check using the overlays you should already be carrying. If there is doubt, check it before the competitor shoots the stage.
What if a competitor is out of compliance and shoots the stage? Then the stage is scored as a zero per the second part of 220.127.116.11. And no, you cannot apply the penalty to previously shot stages. The reason this rule is worded that way is because the screws and adjustment knobs on holsters and mag pouches can get loose over the course of a match, and equipment can move when bumped or when a competitor sits in a chair. So everything could have been good during the previous stage, but may have changed between stages. This is why we encourage ROs to check things before the competitor starts the stage and to give the competitor an opportunity to fix it before shooting.
So, back to the Question of the Month. The top two answers are not correct. The correct answer is “Zero for the stage.” Why not a bump to Open? Because we have a specific rule that outlines the penalty for App. D, Item 10. If we didn’t have 18.104.22.168, then it would be a bump to Open. And attentive ROs should have pointed out the issue to the competitor before he started the stage and given him a chance to remove the magnet.
Don’t forget to vote in the current Question of the Month.