If you’ve ever worked a major match you’ve probably heard the RM say this during the Staff Meeting: “Read the Written Stage Briefing verbatim, no ad-libbing!”
Let’s discuss why. First, it is because the rules say so in Chapter 3.
3.2.2 The Range Official in charge of a course of fire must read out the written stage briefing verbatim to each squad.
The primary reason behind this rule is competitive equity. A CRO or RO does have an advantage from watching multiple squads shoot their stage, and it is quite plausible that after the first few squads they have seen every possible stage plan (both good and the not so good). This information is not readily available to all the competitors, and passing info on to one squad and not another detracts from our holy grail of competitive equity.
The second reason is the WSB contains all the information needed for that stage based on 3.2.1 and the WSB is the definitive document, which is often used to clear up any deviations from the match book which is often published months prior to the stages being setup, or even dispel the urban myths going around the range about a certain stage.
3.2.1 A written stage briefing approved by the Range Master must be posted at each course of fire prior to commencement of the match. This briefing will take precedence over any course of fire information published or otherwise communicated to competitors in advance of the match, and it must provide the following minimum information:
— Scoring Method
— Targets (type & number)
— Minimum number of rounds
— The firearm ready condition
— Start position (this should be demonstrated by a Range Officer)
— Time starts (audible or visual signal)
The third reason is in 3.2.4. 3.2.4 provides a chance for competitors to ask questions, however the vast majority of the questions a CRO/RO gets about their stage can be answered by re-reading the pertinent part of the WSB verbatim without any ad-lib. For example, competitors often ask “can I shoot this target from over here?”. Assuming the stage was properly setup, that question is best answered by reading the stage procedure which probably says something along the lines of “on audible start signal engage targets as available from within the shooting area…”. The answer should not include how so-and-so from the Super Squad shot the stage. In fact, whenever I am asked how the afore-mentioned so-and-so from the Super Squad shot the stage, my standard response is “Quite well!” or “a lot of As and faster than I did!”.
Occasionally some competitors will ask for a rules clarification, for example if a certain appearing target needs to be engaged or not. That’s a legitimate question, especially in light of some of the changes to rule 9.9.3 over the last few iterations of the rulebook, but that question can be answered by re-reading the part of the WSB that identifies which target, if any, are disappearing (which incur Non Penalty Misses) or visible at rest (which incur a FTSA and misses if not engaged), but the CRO and RO’s should definitely not participate in stage strategy discussions. Another common question has to do with clarification of the start position, which should be demonstrated by one of the RO’s during the stage briefing.
3.2.4 After the written stage briefing has been read to competitors, and any questions about the course of fire have been answered, competitors should be permitted to conduct an orderly inspection (“walkthrough”) of the course of fire. The duration of time for the inspection must be stipulated by the Range Officer, and it should be the same for all competitors. If the course of fire includes moving targets or similar items, these should be demonstrated to all competitors for the same duration and frequency.
What about “administrative notes”? Administrative notes are the notes that CRO’s will add to their WSB to describe how the stage will be managed. They usually contains the order in which the targets will scored to avoid premature taping, and sometimes will include specific instructions to resetting moving targets or props. Admin notes are fine, provided they are given consistently to ALL competitors.
Last of all, the rules covering WSBs in Chapter 3 are for all level of matches, from local to Nationals, and need to be followed like any other rule. Not realizing that a stage is scored Virginia count or is a 3-rounds-per-target stage can be a real detriment to a person’s score. So at local matches when squads have imbedded ROs, once the entire squad is present one of you should read the WSB out loud. And verbatim, if you please.
And always remember, when in doubt, ASK THE RM!
If you have questions about this post, please ask via the blog Contact Form or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.