No, this is not a foot faulting post, at least not directly. One of the things I see at major matches are stage crews not maintaining the fault lines. As hundreds of competitors go through the course of fire, certain corners are getting buried by dirt and gravel that is kicked up as people stop in prime shooting positions. Is this an issue? If a competitor earns an unfair foot fault, it sure is!
Why is it important to keep fault lines clear? Because they are a visual and tactile reference of where the shooting area ends. If they are covered by dirt, gravel, sand, or water then they cannot be seen visually. And, if there is not a sufficient height difference between the fault line and the surrounding range surface, competitors cannot feel the fault lines with their feet. We even have guidelines for how tall they need to be in rule 188.8.131.52. On a hard surface with no debris (like concrete or an indoor range), fault lines need to be 0.75 inches tall. On a normal outdoor range surface, they should be 1.5 inches tall. Wouldn’t you be upset if you were given a foot fault for standing on a fault line that had dirt up to the top of the outside edge of the fault line and by standing on the board, you also touched dirt outside the shooting area?
Over the course of the match, RO crews need to check the fault lines and clear the dirt from around them. At minimum this needs to be checked between squads. Attention should also be paid to the start position, especially if it’s heels or toes against a fault line. Competitors sometimes dig holes that are deeper than the fault line which creates a tripping hazard. ROs are allowed to fill in the holes and level out the start position.
Now before I hear that ROs cannot alter the stage, I will direct you to section 4.5 of the rulebook, specifically 4.5.2: “The competitor may request that Match Officials take corrective actions to ensure consistency in respect of the range surface, the presentation of targets and/or any other matter. The Range Master will have final authority concerning all such requests.” Yes, it says that a competitor can request fault lines to be cleared by the ROs before they shoot the stage because that is part of the range surface. Competitors are not supposed to alter the range surface except at the start position (see 4.5.1 and 184.108.40.206), but ROs are allowed to maintain the entire range surface. We also have 2.3.7 which says ROs can maintain their stage.
It really only takes a couple minutes between squads for ROs to ensure that the fault lines are clear and to perform some quick range surface maintenance. And if a competitor requests the fault lines to be cleared, do it. We want to make sure everyone gets a fair shot at the stage by ensuring the stage is maintained and consistent for the entire match.