It happens to all Range Officers now and then. Something you weren’t prepared for happens and you, someone, or something, somehow interferes with the competitor and you wind up having to offer them a reshoot. Note I said “offer them” a reshoot. Recall that interference is the only optional reshoot in our sport.
Almost every sport has to deal with interference. Catchers interfere with batters, hockey players interfere with other hockey players, and football players interfere with other football players. It’s part of being a competitive sport because stuff happens and we need to give everyone their fair shot. For our sport, rule 8.6.4 deals with interference.
So let’s dig a bit deeper and talk about various ways interference happens and what, if anything, can be done to mitigate the likelihood of interference happening in the first place.
The most common type of interference you often hear about, or experience yourself, is a Range Officer fouling the competitor by bumping into them or getting in their way forcing them to slow, stop or change course, thus spoiling their run. For the most part, this type of interference is due to a couple of different factors. First, and most common, is failure of the ROs to fully understand the stage they are working and not realize that a competitor might wish to move where they are positioning themselves often further exacerbated by the RO not being ready to get the heck out of the way. This can often be due to thinking only about right-handed shooters and forgetting that left-handed shooters may do things differently. And no, as an RO you shouldn’t be asking folks what they are going to do. Besides, we all know what happens when the timer goes off…stage plans can and often do disappear into thin air. So don’t ask, just be prepared to work with what the shooter does and it will generally be just fine. Remember, for most stages you do not have to be right on top of the competitor.
Almost as common are the interference calls that derive from the staff just flat out not paying attention to what they should be paying attention to. They are day dreaming or get distracted and suddenly find themselves afoul of the shooter. Easy to do late in the day when you are tired, probably a bit dehydrated and looking forward to a shower and a cold beverage that isn’t bottled water. Both of these are things that can absolutely be avoided simply by paying attention to the details and the competitor while they are making their attempt at the course of fire. Even just watching the squads walk the stage will help give you a bit of an idea about what they might be thinking about doing. Are they doping out the stage differently than you did when you walked it while proofing it? Pay attention!
Another very common interference call comes from interfering with competitor equipment. This can be as simple as someone picking up a discarded magazine from the ground while the competitor is still active on the stage and, likely because something else went wrong, the competitor decides they need that magazine they dropped only to find someone has picked it up already. Similar things can happen in Multigun if you clear a firearm while they are still shooting that they might decide they need to come back to. Say some poppers in the course of fire can be engaged with either the shotgun or handgun, per the WSB, and their handgun death jams after they abandoned their shotgun. They can come back and retrieve their shotgun but if you have cleared it already they get to consider taking a reshoot…and they will take it. Like those previously discussed, this one can be entirely avoided. Know the stage, think about what could happen. I generally tell my classes that when the thought “no one will do that” pops into your head, that means someone will do that.
And then there are the interference calls we really can’t avoid because they are due to the actions of something or someone else. Personally, I’ve seen a wide variety of these starting with wildlife wandering on to the active stage and standing in front of or behind targets, to low flying aircraft buzzing the range distracting everyone. I’ve also had spectators, media and others with cameras wander on to an active stage creating some heart stopping moments because they had no clue as to what they were doing and got into the competitor’s field of vision destroying their concentration and fouling their ability to complete the course of fire. Even a fast start signal that is less than one second from “Standby!” can be interference. The competitor often, but not always, pauses or even stops and we all now know what is coming. Time to talk about a reshoot.
Interference is largely avoidable, but sometimes unavoidable. We’ve covered that. Okay, but it happens, now what?
Remember, interference is an optional reshoot. The decision on whether to take the reshoot or not is on the competitor. They must make that decision before they are told their time or the targets are scored (if scoring is being done while they are shooting don’t tell them the scores). Most shooters have a pretty good idea as to how their run was going so they can make a reasonable decision. If they choose the reshoot, reset the stage and handle it like any other reshoot. Apologize if and when necessary. There should be no hard feelings either way; it happens.
Okay, I know what you are thinking. What about the competitor that has seen their glorious plan turn into a dumpster fire and they decide to foul the RO so they can get a reshoot? Does it happen? Certainly, I’ve had competitors attempt it with me; but I was aware of what the shooter was doing, or trying to do, and I stayed out of their way. They didn’t foul me despite numerous foot sweeps and other tactics to try and make contact because I was able to keep my distance. Their bad run only got worse and their squad was greatly entertained. Is it grounds for an unsportsmanlike DQ? Maybe. All very circumstantial and in the instance above I chose not to call the DQ at the time. That the competitor apologized immediately after they stopped probably helped sway my decision.
Again, and this can’t be stated enough, if the ROs are doing their jobs and have done their homework on the stage, the number of interference calls that have to be made should be vanishingly small. As an RM, I do ask to be called for all interference reshoots. I at least want to know what happened. That gives me a chance to chat with the staff, see what happened, and help them realize that they can probably avoid these. If I see interference calls happening frequently on the same stage it may call for some deeper conversations or maybe swapping some staff around. It could just be a stage design/construction issue that no one caught; but we deal with it the best we can.
Note that 8.6.4 also states that the provisions of 10.3 may still apply. If something occurred before the foul or as a result of the foul that produced a disqualifying event, interference is not necessarily going to reverse that DQ call. At this point, you really do need to call the RM and get their assistance in sorting this out. You have to call the RM anyway because of the DQ so get their help sorting it out to start with before tempers flare.
Interference is a fact of sport. It happens to all of us. Follow the rules, do the best you can, and leave any hard feelings in the trash bin at the range on your way out.