USPSA matches allow for competitors to challenge scoring and penalty calls and a couple other things, but there is a process. The goal of this post is to provide some basic information to both range officials and competitors about how arbitration works. Arbitrations rarely occur, but everyone needs to know how the process works for when it does happen.
The appeal process – The appeal process starts on the stage. If a competitor is questioning a scoring call or penalty assessment, they first appeal to the RO who made the call (e.g. asking a RO to overlay a hit). If the competitor is still questioning the call, they first appeal to the CRO. If the CRO was the one who initially scored the target, we encourage the CRO to ask a RO to take a look so two separate officials have made the call. If the competitor still does not like the call, they can ask for the Range Master. The RM will then come and score the target or talk with the stage staff and competitor for penalty calls and make a decision. Scoring calls are final, there is nothing more that can be done. However, penalty calls can be arbitrated. And remember that audio, video, or photographic evidence cannot be used in the appeal process or for an arbitration.
Arbitration form and fee – Chapter 11 of the rulebook covers the arbitration process and describes what can and cannot be arbitrated. What can’t be arbitrated? Scoring calls (includes popper calibration results), a stage design after the competitor has shot it, and disqualifications for safety violations. What can be arbitrated? Procedural penalties, exceptional circumstances that may have caused a DQ but not the DQ itself (e.g. a failure of a range prop that caused the DQ action), and stage design before the stage is shot by the competitor. If you have something that can be arbitrated, you need to request an arbitration form from the RM. You will also need $100 cash or the match fee in cash if it is less than $100. Some competitors always carry a $100 bill in case they need to arbitrate. And remember that the arbitration form has to be submitted within an hour of when the event occurred. This is the reason it is important to record the time scoresheets are signed.
Preparation of the appeal – Once the competitor gets the form, they need to fill out the form completely (you can see the form here). This includes listing witnesses, which stage it happened on, the names of the range officials, and a description of what happened, what they want as the outcome of the arbitration, and the rule number(s) that support their request. The arbitration form needs to be filled out completely and submitted to the RM, along with the fee in cash, within an hour of the offense. The RM will look over the form and make sure it is completely filled out. If there is information missing, the form is returned to the competitor who will need to fix the issues. Once the form is accepted by the RM, the RM signs the form and records the time.
Arb committee – Once the RM has the form and cash fee in hand, it is given to the Match Director who has convened an arbitration committee. Section 11.2 covers the committee member requirements for all match levels. The committee should be certified range officials and fellow competitors. The committee will meet, read the submitted form, talk to witnesses and the competitor, and may even inspect evidence such as the stage where the call occurred. The committee will then prepare written minutes of their decision (page 2 of Arb form) and all decisions must be based on a rule(s). Once the decision is made, the committee presents the results to the MD and RM who can return the decision to the committee if the decision is not based on the rules.
Arbitration outcome – Once the arbitration committee decision is final, the competitor will be informed of the outcome. If the competitor wins the appeal, also known as the request being upheld, the result will be carried out (reshoot, reduction in penalties, etc.) and the arbitration fee is returned to the competitor. If the arbitration is denied, then the arbitration fee is retained by the match. In both instances, both pages of the arbitration form will be posted at the match and sent to NROI.