For those of you who have perused the 2020 Competition Rules change log, you might have noticed the changes to section 9.9, ‘Scoring of Activated Targets’. The section used to be called ‘Scoring of Moving Targets’, but was changed to more accurately reflect all the activated target types seen in matches. Let’s look at the changes and how they affect the calls ROs make.
The biggest change was to the wording of 9.9.1 and the change affects penalties the competitor can earn on targets that appear and stay visible after activation. Per the old rule, failure to activate any target that required activation earned the competitor misses and a failure to shoot at (FTSA) penalty even if the target had been shot at prior to activation.
This usually is not an issue for targets activated by a falling popper, because competitors don’t like to leave targets standing, but can be problematic for other activation methods with targets such as Max Traps or Peek-a-Boos where the scoring target is static and the movement of the no-shoot in front of the scoring target requires activation. Many times these targets are set so the entire upper A-zone on the USPSA target is visible prior to activation and competitors can shoot the target prior to and after activation. If the activation was a stomp pad or pull cord, and the competitor didn’t activate the target before or with the last shot, penalties were applied. This is what we wanted to fix with the rule change.
You will notice that the last sentence of 9.9.1 was changed to read: “If the target is legally visible before being activated, it may be shot before being activated and activation is not required (9.9.3 does not apply).” This means that if the activated/appearing target is legally available (meets minimum A-zone visibility requirements) before activation, then the misses and FTSA penalty for not activating the target per 9.9.3 do not apply. If the target does not meet the minimum A-zone visibility requirements prior to activation, any part that is visible can still be shot prior to activation, but failing to activate the target still earns penalties per 9.9.3.
If a target is not legally visible prior to or after movement, then the target is considered a disappearing target (see 9.9.2). Which means that a competitor doesn’t have to shoot at it, and earns no-penalty misses on the target, but will incur misses and a FTSA penalty if the target is not activated (see 9.9.3).
What does this mean for ROs? It means that you need to check the visibility of activated targets before you run the shooter. Is enough A-zone showing prior to activation to be a legal target? Knowing this info allows for proper application of penalties, if needed. If as a RO you can’t tell for sure, make sure you ask the Range Master so you make the right call.
What does this mean for stage designs? If you want a moving target to only be shot after activation, you need to hide it. If it’s legally available before activation, it’s fair game. There is a Level One match exception (see 9.9.4) that allows local matches to specify in the WSB that the moving target can’t be shot prior to activation, but it really doesn’t take much work to hide the target and provide the folks at your match an experience closer to what they will see at higher level matches.