Start positions specified in written stage briefings usually specify locations for hands and range officials need to make sure that the competitor has his or her hands in the proper position before proceeding with the “Are you ready?” range command. Why? Because if the competitor is not in the proper position, a reshoot is required. Let’s look at some common hand positions used in written stage briefings.
Hands at sides: ‘Hands relaxed at sides’ was a common start position mostly because it used to be the default hand position for handgun divisions, but a default hand position is no longer specified in the rules. As a result, most matches are now using ‘wrists below belt.’ When enforcing this position, make sure that the wrists of each hand are below the belt.
Hands on marks: This is another easy thing to do for hands. Put a couple X marks on the wall and you are done. But make sure that you write the WSB to specify what you want. Hands on marks means the competitor can have one finger on each X because fingers are part of your hand. If you want them to have their palms flat on the marks, you need to say ‘palms flat on marks.’
Wrists above shoulders: This actually needs to be written as ‘wrists above respective shoulders’ if you want one hand above each shoulder. And some competitors like to hunch over which usually makes their hands fall below their shoulders. Make sure to correct their position before proceeding with the range commands.
Holding/touching something: Holding an ammo can, touching both ears, holding a rope, etc. These can add some variety to start positions, but examine the description closely and make sure it clearly, and accurately, describes what you want. Is it one hand? Is it both hands?
No hand position specified: Since there is no longer a default hand position for handgun divisions, if nothing is specified the competitors can have their hands anywhere except touching their pistol or a magazine/speed loader. PCC competitors are allowed to hold their carbine, but not a magazine at the start signal.
Incorrect hand positions are one of the most common reasons for reshoots. When you are the RO, take the extra second to make sure the competitor is in the proper position before proceeding and it will save you the minutes it takes to perform a reshoot.