Ah Winter…for some it’s a non-event; for others it’s an experiment in battling the elements to keep on enjoying our sport. It’s the season where movement can include dealing with consistently slippery conditions and the inevitable slips and falls by competitors and staff. While we are discussing this all within the context of “Winter” and all the joyous ice and snow that comes with it; the same realities apply everywhere and at any time of year.
Lately we have gotten a number of questions about competitors slipping and falling and the RO rightfully stopping them because the muzzle of their firearm went into the ground and therefore may be plugged; a potentially unsafe condition. Thus, rule 5.7.7 applies here because the RO is stopping the competitor for a suspected unsafe condition. Rule 126.96.36.199 applies if the unsafe condition that was suspected is found to be present (e.g. mud in the bore). The stage is scored as shot. Rule 188.8.131.52 applies if the condition is not found to be present and the competitor is then required to reshoot the stage. Sound familiar? Sure is…we most usually think about this in terms of squibs but the reality is this applies to any unsafe firearm condition be it squibs or mud in the bore. As always, complete the range commands and get the firearm cleared, before examining the bore for blockage.
Anyone that has taken a Level 1 RO course in the past decade has seen the video where the competitor leans on the wall at the final position and the wall falls over. The competitor continues engaging targets, safely, on the way down, and then picks himself up seemingly none the worse for wear and greatly entertained by the experience. The point here is that simply falling down is not really an unsafe condition worthy of stopping the competitor. As long as other rules are not broken (i.e. muzzle breaking the 180, sweeping, dropped firearm, etc.) then the competitor should be allowed to pick themselves up and continue on. Just as when coming up from a prone position, the competitor may place their firearm on the ground, stand up and retrieve the firearm and continue on provided other rules are not violated.
Every year we hear from competitors who get stopped, even DQ’d just for falling and then no one can find the right rule to apply to the DQ. That’s because there isn’t one. Falling, by itself, is not a DQ. And now it is time for a reshoot because the competitor was interfered with.
Okay, great. Let’s flip this around a bit. What if an RO falls? This becomes a more complex situation but, again, it depends on what happens in terms of the competitor. Did the RO falling interfere with the competitor in any way? Did the RO yell or do something else that distracted the competitor? Did they fall down in their path thus hindering their movement? Did they fall into the competitor? If there is interference then we handle it as such and allow the competitor to complete their attempt, if possible, and offer them a reshoot for interference. It may be that the RO falling creates a situation where the competitor cannot continue or is so distracted that they do not continue. At this point an RO needs to stop the competitor and finish the range commands to clear the range. This is very important for two reasons: 1) Safety. It has happened that ROs have fallen and no one cleared the competitor. This isn’t good folks, for obvious reasons. To make things worse, it has happened that when they went to reshoot they had a loaded firearm at make ready and got DQ’d. All this was an RO’s fault to some level, true, but the competitor is also responsible for safety and should bring the issue to the attention of the ROs and get cleared out. 2) Purely from a rules standpoint, if the RO stops the competitor then they can be required to reshoot the stage. If the competitor stops themselves, they are finished. So, do the right thing and stop them thus allowing the possibility of a reshoot, if warranted.
Keep in mind that if the competitor is stopped and the safety issue does exist, then the stage is scored as shot and this is not a reshoot situation. Obviously, the case of the RO falling where the competitor has been interfered with does become a reshoot situation. As with all interference situations, this reshoot is an optional reshoot and is up to the competitor. Most of the time, in these situations, the shooter will take the reshoot.
Okay, what if the RO falls into the competitor and in the process the competitor does something that would result in a DQ? These situations can get thorny in a hurry. The best thing to do is call the RM and get them involved ASAP. Technically, per the rules, the competitor is DQ’d. BUT, this is where 11.1.2 comes into play, specifically the potential exceptional circumstances situation. The RM can overrule the DQ, declare that the exceptional circumstance did exist (RO falling into the competitor) and require a reshoot without going through the formal appeals process. In some of these situations it will be cut and dried such that a formal appeal is a waste of everyone’s time. However, if the situation isn’t quite so clear it may be that the RM will support the DQ call, but allow the arbitration based on exceptional circumstances and a formal appeal will be necessary for further review and consideration of relief.
Obviously, our sport can get “interesting” when we are dealing with conditions where footing is a bit sketchy. Ice/snow, mud, wet grass, deep sand, even powder residue and spent brass on a finished concrete floor indoors can result in less than sure footing. This is when it becomes important to consider keeping all non-essential folks back up range. This isn’t the time for videographers/photographers to be following along because the more people that are going down range just increases the number of people that might slip and fall thus causing problems.