There is an old saying in our sport: “There are those that have DQ’d and those that will DQ.” It’s true, as near as I can tell. I made it almost eight years before my first called DQ. I actually SHOULD have been DQ’d at my second match and several more times along the way but I was not. Let’s talk about this whole disqualification thing and why I made it eight years (and ended up calling the DQ on myself, by the way).
Chances are very good that everyone reading this has experienced something similar. They “got away” with one. Either no one saw it, the person that saw it didn’t recognize it or the person that saw it didn’t call it and decided they would just warn you about it after your run. “Say Bob, you were right on the 180 there and I probably should have called it.” Argh! This sort of “club culture” thing is something that has existed for a very long time in our sport and it is something that we are working hard to get rid of.
“But who does it hurt?” you might ask. Well, it hurts that shooter, to start with. Anyone that has worked a few majors has “gotten” to send someone home because they did some sort of DQ-able offense such as loading/handling magazines at the safe area, handling a firearm when not in a safe area or under direct control of an RO, etc. The response is invariably “I didn’t know…we do it at home all the time.” Yep. Club Culture just cost that shooter a match not to mention the cost of the match entry, travel, lodging, food, ammo that got shot before the DQ for no resulting score, and so on. Instead of having a great time at the match and leaving with anticipation of the next major, they get to leave early with a bad taste in their mouth. Sure, it’s their fault, but that doesn’t matter to them at the time. Maybe they decide that they won’t shoot that match again. Maybe it is such a bad taste they decide they will never shoot anything more than the local matches again where the rules aren’t enforced and they can just “have fun”. Yep, there is a cost to the whole “Club Culture” attitude.
No, I am not a lawyer and I do not play one on TV, radio or the internet; but it seems to me that should something awful happen, a lawyer looking for things to use in the subsequent court cases might uncover all this “Club Culture” attitude and use it against the club. “Jonny was injured at the Bubblegum Action Shooter’s match in part because of the lackadaisical attitude toward safety exhibited by this club. As evidence, here are match videos from club members showing similar incidents where no corrective action was taken even though the rules published by the national organization states that this is clearly something that should be corrected.” Not that far out of the realm of reason. Like many, I watch a fair bit of match video as posted on social media and a lot of it is cringe worthy for the obvious DQs that aren’t called.
And, sadly, there are even some that take this one step further into insanity by allowing those that ARE DQ’d to continue to shoot for no score. Folks, 6.2.6 could not be any clearer.
There are no provisions in the rules today, nor have there been in the 20 years I have been involved in the sport, that allow a competitor that is disqualified to continue to shoot, at all, period. When DQ’d, they put the gun(s) away and they are done. Hopefully, in the spirit of good sportsmanship, they hang around and help with the match.
So why do we disqualify people anyway? Virtually all of our DQ’s are for safety reasons. The only exception is 10.6 for unsportsmanlike conduct (e.g., cheating) which by itself isn’t generally a safety issue. We, as a sport, have an incredible safety record. When you do the math for the number of rounds fired in a year by those participating in our matches versus the number of injuries it is astounding. All of this is because we, as Range Officers, enforce the safety rules. We run a cold range, we end participation for anyone that is unsafe, and so on.
Putting my not-a-lawyer hat back on for a second let’s look at this from that perspective. Jonny is DQ’d for breaking the 180 (10.5.2) but due to “local tradition” he is allowed to continue shooting, albeit for no score. Jonny, who is probably just having an “off” day, subsequently fires a shot which goes out of the range and hits something causing damage wherein the aggrieved party seek damages in court. Guess what that lawyer is going to use in court? Jonny exhibited unsafe action and was allowed to continue.
No one likes to issue a DQ. If you take joy in sending someone home then maybe you need to find some other activity. DQs are serious in their nature and need to be treated as such. Certainly, a bit of good natured ribbing goes along with it but this all happens AFTER the DQ is completed.
And do not forget that all DQs have to be reported to the Range Master immediately. They should be marked as DQ’d in the scoring tablet with the appropriate rule citation entered as required.
Yes, our sport is a game, it is supposed to be fun and DQ’s are decidedly not fun. But it is all part of the sport. Issue or receive the DQ, learn from it, and move on.