Questions about what 2.1.4 means, and how it’s continually abused, still come up on a weekly basis. A little more information and explanation seems to be in order.
Rule 2.1.4 in the Competition Rules and 2.1.5 in the Rifle, Shotgun, and Multigun rules say the same thing: Target Locations – When a course is constructed to include target locations other than immediately downrange, organizers and officials must protect or restrict surrounding areas to which competitors, officials or spectators have access. Each competitor must be allowed to solve the competitive problem in his own way and must not be hindered by being forced to act in any manner which might cause unsafe action. Targets must be arranged so that shooting at them on an “as and when visible” basis will not cause competitors to breach safe angles of fire.
Let’s break that rule down and see how each section applies. First, what does “immediately downrange” mean? Basically, it means that if the targets aren’t directly, or straight, downrange, then some extra precautions may be needed. The next sentence talks about restricting surrounding areas, which means you may have to place cones or flagging to prevent spectators from going downrange as the competitor is shooting, but also that you may have to prevent or shield areas which may be exposed if the competitor is shooting at a target in that direction. Normally, this is accomplished by placing the stage deep enough in the bay to prevent someone standing next door from being swept or, heaven forfend, shot at. Seems simple enough, and it should be, but we still get videos shot by people one bay over that are seemingly in the line of fire. Use caution when placing targets on the side berms, and put your stage deep enough into the bay to prevent problems. (You should always start setting targets at the backstop and move uprange, anyway.) This also applies on bays where there may be more than one stage set up. Caution must be taken to ensure that the people on one stage aren’t inadvertently swept by the competitor. This is normally accomplished by the operation of the stages, and is one of the functions of the range officers on the stage. It seems like this would be common sense, but the rule is there for a reason.
Ok, so that’s a pretty simple thing to accomplish. Here’s the hard part for a surprisingly large number of people–placing targets on or near the 90 or “180” degree line without proper vision barriers. The rule says competitors must be allowed to solve the competitive problem in their own way, without being forced to do something unsafe, AND that targets must be placed so that shooting them when they are visible won’t cause the competitor to violate 10.5.2. This means that if a target is placed on a stage where some or all of the scoring area can be seen and therefore presumably shot beyond the 90, it’s not legal, plain and simple. Targets that can be seen at about 179 or so need to be examined as well. It doesn’t mean that they have to be hidden from view forever, though–read on.
How to prevent this problem? Simple, erect a wall, barrel stack(s), or some other type of substantial vision barrier to prevent the competitor from seeing the target past the 90. A good rule of thumb for this is vision barriers should extend downrange enough so that if the competitor is able to look uprange and see the target, they are seeing the back of it. And, yes, I am aware that a No Shoot has a tan backside, but read the part about “looking uprange”. Besides, we are generally referring to shooting at targets while moving downrange, with targets placed to the sides. No Shoots aren’t supposed to be shot at, so there’s really no temptation there. Simply putting a target out and stating, “well, safe gun handling is always on the competitor” is a lazy and irresponsible way to build a stage, and it violates the rules, making the stage an illegal stage. It also creates a potential safety hazard along with a “180 trap” which gets competitors disqualified due to the stage designer not doing his due diligence. That is not good customer service or safety awareness.
One last thing to consider is obstacles within the shooting area that may cause the competitor to move in an unsafe fashion, or cause the RO to lose sight of the competitor. The direction doors open, tight spots between walls, movement which is simultaneously uprange and cross-range forced by props, and retrograde movement coupled with target engagement all need to be closely examined when setting a stage, and every effort to comply with 2.1.4 must be made. It’s not OK to get close and just call it good.