“10.7.1 -All persons are required to be in complete control both mentally and physically during USPSA matches.” Simple sentence that I think we can all agree is exceedingly important considering what we do in our sport…that is, run around with loaded guns. And really, all of section 10.7 in the rules (it is the same in all of our rule books) is predicated on this one sentence. 10.7.2 addresses “recreational” things like alcohol and other recreational drugs, 10.7.3 addresses medically related issues, and 10.7.4 leaves the door open for drug testing should performance enhancing drugs become a problem in our sport. But let’s dig a bit deeper.
I remember the first class I taught in Colorado shortly after cannabis was legalized for recreational purposes in that state. My own state of Washington soon followed and now that movement has appeared in dozens of states across the nation. The question on everyone’s mind at that class in Denver was “What do we do if people show up smoking weed at matches?” And, I’ve heard variations on that question now at just about every class since.
The way we like to look at this is to remove the specific substance from the equation. It really does muddy the water unnecessarily to be concerned about “weed” specifically and ignore alcohol and a host of other things. It doesn’t matter what the specific substance is; the result should be the same.
Put plain and simply, if you are not fully in control of all your faculties due to some substance, lack of sleep, the flu, whatever; you should not be participating in our sport. Period. There is simply far too much at risk and if you weren’t compromised you likely would realize this.
We all like bright lines to make calls that would send a shooter home. He dropped his gun, he broke the 180, and so on. For this one, there isn’t going to be a bright line, per se. Does the shooter appear to be impaired? Are they stumbling around, slurring their speech, falling asleep every time they sit down, or any of the other classic signs of impairment? A lot of that ends up being a judgement call. If you have members of law enforcement at the match who are trained in detecting impairment that might be useful but may not detect all forms of impairment.
Let’s take the case of Bob. Bob shows up at the match and just isn’t his usual self. He seems to stare of into space a lot, he’s not that steady on his feet, is having trouble doing fine motor skill movements like loading magazines, and when he sits down for a bit, promptly falls asleep. Is he drunk, high, just came off the graveyard shift and hasn’t had any sleep in over 24 hours? To put it simply, we really don’t care why Bob is impaired, we just care that Bob appears to be impaired. So now the Match Director and the Range Master need to determine if they are going to let Bob compete today or not.
If they let Bob compete and bad things happen; you can be certain there will be an investigation and if it comes out Bob is impaired, the club knew it, and let Bob compete anyway; I don’t have to tell you what is going to happen.
If they deny Bob participation, he my take umbrage and act out or make a stink with the club about it. And what are you going to do about Bob after you tell him he can’t compete? But him back behind the wheel of his vehicle and send him back out on the road?
None of this stuff is easy. We all hope we never have to make these sorts of decisions. But there are some things you can do to minimize impacts.
First, don’t openly challenge Bob in front of all assembled. Take him off to somewhere you can have a private chat. See if logic and reason will help. Maybe allow Bob to hang out and socialize. He can just tell everyone he just doesn’t feel up to shooting today. Let him save face as much as possible. Don’t let him drive if he appears to be so impaired that he would be putting others at risk. If he insists on leaving, see if he can call someone to come get him or if a friend at the match that will take him home.
My one instance where this was a problem, a shooter showed up for a New Year’s Day match after having partied all night long. He could barely stand but still wanted to shoot. From the smell, there was zero doubt what his problem was. We convinced him that wasn’t safe and reason carried the day. He laid down in someone’s vehicle and slept through the match. By the time it was over he had recovered enough to be pretty sheepish about even showing up.
Note that I haven’t said “call a 10.7 DQ” yet? I haven’t. If you can reason with them and keep from having the problem; there isn’t any reason to play the 10.7 card. However, if they cannot be reasoned with then 10.7 it is. If the behavior is noted after the match has started then an RO should call 10.7 and get the RM involved just as with any DQ.
None of us want to have to do this. So do all of us a favor. Before you head to the match, ask yourself if there is anything in the picture that would lead to your impairment and make you unsafe today. Yes? Stay home. Thank you!
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