Our rulebook talks about range equipment failure and what to do when that happens. The rulebook also covers when the firearm breaks or the ammunition has issues (squibs). But what happens when other competitor equipment fails?
This post is to address some of the emails we received after the December Question of the Month results post was published a couple weeks ago. I knew we would get some emails. And the emails provide us insight into how some of our ROs are thinking (we like thinking) and using the rulebook and sometimes identifies holes we need to fill in our training of ROs. Most of the emails cited the same rules in the reasoning to stop the competitor. Let’s talk about those rules and a couple other situations that we occasionally see.
First, let’s talk about something I have seen a few times during a match. You have a Carry Optics competitor shooting a stage and the optic falls off the gun. This is usually due to broken or loose screws. What do you do as a RO? The firearm still shoots, so it isn’t an unsafe gun or ammunition so as a RO you have no rule to stop them. This would fall under 5.7.2. The competitor can fix the problem and continue or just continue. If the competitor decides to stop, then the stage is scored as shot. And no, this is not a bump to Open either. The equipment was legal at the start signal. An optic falling off (in any optic division) does not make the gun unsafe and it is up to the competitor to decide if they want to continue or stop.
What if a competitor’s eye or hearing protection falls off? As a RO, there is a rule that says you need to stop them (5.4.3) and as a competitor this is the only instance where you can stop yourself and get a reshoot (5.4.4). However, if a competitor intentionally loses eye or hearing protection in an attempt to game a reshoot, 10.6.1 (unsportsmanlike conduct) applies to that.
Now back to the QOTM and a competitor’s belt falling off with a loaded pistol in the holster. A few of the emails pointed to rule 5.2.3 which basically says that the belt with the holster and allied equipment has to be worn during the COF unless specified otherwise in the WSB. This condition must be true at the start signal, just like the optics situation above. The competitor commenced the COF with legal equipment. If something breaks during the stage, then we default to 5.7.2. If nothing unsafe has happened, as a RO you let the competitor work on solving the problem. If the competitor chooses to stop, then the stage is scored as shot.
One last example. During the COF, a competitor’s extra magazines fall out of the mag pouches on the belt. As a RO, what do you do? You make sure you leave room for the competitor to come back for those magazines. Rule 5.2.4 says that spare ammo must be carried on the belt or apparel pockets, but it doesn’t say anything about stopping a competitor if this becomes untrue. This is why we train ROs to never pick up a dropped magazine until after “Range is clear”. You never know if the competitor will need that magazine.
Competitor equipment failures do happen and as RO sometimes the instinct is to stop them. But unless it’s an unsafe gun or ammunition or another safety rule has been violated, the best course is to let them continue. However, if you see an outer belt that is barely overlapping an inner belt or floppy mag pouches or holsters on a competitor prior to “Make ready”, bump them down in the order and give them time to fix the problem before their attempt at the stage. Help them prevent a potential CEF.
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