Regardless if a gun is dropped during the course of fire, or outside a course of fire, it is the job of a Range Officer to oversee its retrieval and return to a safe condition (see 10.5.14). But how should a RO go about this?
The good news is that dealing with a dropped gun is pretty much the same in both cases. But usually the firearm is loaded during a COF. Let’s look at the steps to follow:
- Make sure no one is downrange of the firearm. Before touching it, always clear the area. If the gun is pointing uprange, clear out everyone from all sides. This is a precaution in case the gun accidentally fires when it is touched.
- Carefully pick up the firearm and make sure the muzzle points downrange. If it is a pistol with a hammer that is back, put your thumb between the hammer and the firing pin as you pick it up. After you have picked it up, point it downrange.
- Clear the firearm. Whether the firearm is loaded or unloaded, it needs to be checked to ensure it is in a proper unloaded state. If you feel comfortable unloading the firearm, make sure the magazine is removed, the chamber is clear, and drop the hammer. If you are unfamiliar with the firearm mechanics, you can hand the firearm to the competitor to clear under your supervision.
- Holster/Flag the firearm. For handguns, the RO can either return the handgun to the holster or have the competitor do it. For PCCs, the flag needs to be inserted.
Once the gun is clear and holstered or flagged, the range can be declared clear. If the gun was dropped during the course of fire, it is a disqualification. If the gun was dropped outside the course of fire, then the competitor is not disqualified unless they pick it up themselves or the gun turns out to be loaded.