NROI stresses the importance of not only stating clear start positions in WSBs, but also making sure that competitors are in the proper start position before issuing “Standby” while running competitors. But what about firearm ready conditions?
We have repeatedly been asked about what happens when the competitor doesn’t prepare their firearm according to the WSB. Like when the WSB specifies a loaded start and the competitor doesn’t load the firearm at all, or inserts the magazine, but doesn’t load the chamber. People usually want to know if the RO should say something prior to “Standby”, or if it’s an automatic reshoot when the competitor starts the stage with an unloaded firearm and the WSB specifies a loaded start. The short answers are no and no.
If you look in the USPSA Competition Rules, you will see that firearm ready condition is outlined in section 8.1 and competitor ready condition is in section 8.2. Two different sections which means they are two separate things.
Section 8.1 actually states: “However, in the event that a competitor fails to load the chamber when permitted by the written stage briefing, whether inadvertently or intentionally, the Range Officer must not take any action, as the competitor is always responsible for the handling of the firearm.” This means that the RO needs to stay silent. The only time a RO would correct firearm ready condition is if the stage was an unloaded start, and the competitor had loaded their gun. The RO would then need to have the competitor clear the firearm because starting with a loaded gun, on an unloaded start, is a competitive advantage. I know some of you are thinking that starting with an unloaded gun, when you can start with a loaded one, is a competitive disadvantage and should be corrected by the RO, but the rules state that it can’t be corrected by the RO.
At this point some of you are thinking, “But NROI teaches that ‘safety on’ is part of the PCC start position and says ROs need to correct that?” Yes, and that is because PCC safety engagement is actually under sections 8.1 (firearm ready condition) and 8.2 (competitor ready condition). Rule 184.108.40.206 says that “safety applied” is part of the start position for PCC when loaded. However, if a PCC competitor failed to load the PCC on a loaded start, then the RO would stay silent.
I know it is hard to stay quiet when you see a competitor fail to load a gun, and it is not enjoyable when you are the competitor who it happens to, but it is on the competitor to prepare their firearm.