This post comes to us from NROI Range Master Instructor Evans Kuo.
A question came up at a Level III match earlier this year regarding when a competitor can continue shooting once the Range Officer has started to issue the “If Clear, Hammer Down, Holster” command.
The scenario was as follows: Competitor shoots the course of fire and came to a stop when he felt he had completed the stage. The RO issues the “If You Are Finished, Unload and Show Clear” command. The competitor complies by unloading his handgun and was in the process of verifying that his chamber was clear when he notices an unengaged target.
The RO was in the process of issuing the next command “If Clear, Hammer Down…” but had not completed it when the competitor quickly reloads his handgun and fires two shots at the unengaged target. The question the RO and CRO had was if the competitor is prohibited from firing a shot once the ICHDH command was initiated or if the command in its entirety had to be issued.
8.3.7 is the relevant rule.
8.3.7 states: “If Clear, Hammer Down, Holster” (self-loaders) or “If Clear, Cylinder Closed, Holster” (revolvers) or “If Clear, Hammer Down, Flag” (PCC) – After issuance of this command, the competitor is prohibited from firing (see Rule 10.4.3).
The relevant part of 8.3.7 is “after issuance of this command”. 8.3.7 is to be given as one sentence, not as incremental commands separated by the commas. As such the entire command must be given, which concludes with the command to “holster” the handgun. As issuance of 8.3.7 was in mid-sentence and the entire command had not been given, the competitor was free to engage the remaining target without 10.4.3 being applicable.
8.3.7, like 8.3.6, uses the word “IF” to preface the command. This puts the onus on the competitor to decide IF they are finished, in which case they are to unload and show clear (8.3.6), or IF their firearm is clear, then to pull the trigger to drop the hammer prior to holstering (8.3.7).
There’s also no reason to rush through the commands. The competitor is off the clock at this point, and RO’s should be deliberate in their issuance of the commands, waiting to issue 8.3.7 until after the competitor has shown clear. It’s just like when we have to we counsel some competitors that the act of returning an unloaded gun to the holster at the end of a stage does not have to be done at Warp speed.