If your gun is malfunctioning, breaks, or if your sights fall off or break the rules state that you must get Range Master approval before any modifications are made, or the gun is replaced. Let’s learn a bit more about the rule and the reasoning behind this rule.
Let’s look at rule 5.1.7: “Competitors must use the same firearm and type of sights for all courses of fire in a match. However, in the event that a competitor’s original firearm and/or sights become unserviceable or unsafe during a match, the competitor must, before using a substitute firearm and/or sights, seek permission from the Range Master who may approve the substitution provided he is satisfied:” I have highlighted the relevant sentences for the first part of our discussion. We will talk about what the RM looks for in a second.
The reason that all competitors must use the same firearm and sights is because of competitive equity. This isn’t golf, you don’t get to choose a special shooting iron for each stage. This is a competition where you make the decision on what to shoot before the first stage and commit to using that firearm for the whole match. However, we do understand that things break and hence the second part I have highlighted in bold. You can switch firearms and/or sights with RM approval. But also notice the rule says you have to get permission BEFORE using that firearm or sights. Why? Again for competitive equity.
If you read the sub-rules for 5.1.7, it discusses what the RM looks for before approving any gun change or sight change. 1.) Does the firearm meet the division requirements and 2.) Does the competitor not gain a competitive advantage. Usually competitors have an identical, or almost identical backup gun to replace the firearm that has broken, so the approval is quick and easy. At Carry Optics Nationals, we saw quite a few slide swaps because of broken optics. This also requires RM approval. Same with PCCs, if you swap the upper or the lower, it requires RM approval. Want to swap the barrel on your firearm, yep, that requires RM approval too. If you want to read more about gun swaps, check out this post.
What about small parts like an extractor or mag release? Those parts can be replaced without RM approval. That is a minor gun repair. What if you are unsure if the RM needs to approve your repair? Just ask the staff to call the RM. It’s better to ask than to suffer the consequences later.
What are the consequences? Well, that is covered in 5.1.8: “A competitor who substitutes or significantly modifies a firearm during a match without the prior approval of the Range Master will be subject to the provisions of Section 10.6. Significantly modifying includes adding or removing items such as flashlights, bipods, telescopes, foregrips, or grip panels, etc. These may be removed or added prior to the Make Ready command on the first stage of a match, but must remain in that configuration for all other stages of the match. Scope covers, tape, dust covers and bungee cords are exempt from this requirement.”
Yes, if you modify your firearm without RM approval, it is a DQ under 10.6.1 – unsportsmanlike conduct. Why? It goes back to all that competitive equity I mentioned before. Changing equipment that is not supposed to be changed is basically cheating. Which is why the consequence is a DQ. It only takes a couple minutes to get RM approval, or clarify with the RM if approval is needed. Don’t get a DQ for doing something that really isn’t hard to do.
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