When is a firearm considered to be a ‘dropped gun’? We often get many ‘What if…’ questions related to this rule, so let’s look at a few of the common ones and how the rules relate.
Before we get into the different scenarios, let’s look at the rulebook and what it says about the penalty for a dropped gun. 10.5.3 is the DQ rule that applies to dropped guns during a course of fire: “If at any time during the course of fire, or while loading, reloading or unloading, a competitor drops his firearm or causes it to fall, loaded or not.” And also make sure you look at the definition of a dropped gun in Appendix A3: “A condition in which a competitor loses control of their firearm. Loss of control does not require the firearm to land on the ground or other range surface or prop. It occurs anytime the firearm is no longer in control of either hand, even if it is trapped against part of the body or caught in midair.” Using these two things together, a dropped gun is when the competitor loses control of the firearm and it is no longer in control of either hand.
However, if you read the second sentence of 10.5.3 and the sub-rules you will find that there are exceptions for when a gun is not considered to be dropped. If a competitor has full control of the firearm as it placed on a surface or the ground and the firearm is in the appropriate safety condition (e.g. safety engaged, unloaded, hammer down/de-cocked) before the hand/hands are removed from the firearm, then it is not a DQ. But remember that if the competitor broke any other safety rules (180, AD, sweeping, etc.) in the process of doing this then it would be a DQ for that other action.
Okay, here are some questions we get:
Q1: We had a stage where there was a port that needed to be latched open and there was a barrel nearby (within a foot of the port). A competitor needed both hands to open the port and engaged the safety on his loaded PCC and set it on the barrel. He then opened the port and picked up his PCC and continued. Is that a DQ?
A1: No, this is not a DQ. The competitor intentionally placed the PCC with the safety engaged on the barrel and stayed with in 3 feet of it (see 10.5.3.2) while opening the port.
Q2: A competitor tripped and fell, but kept a firm grip on his Open gun and kept the muzzle pointed downrange and did not break any other safety rules. He set the loaded handgun on the ground, without the safety engaged, stood up and then picked up the handgun and continued the course of fire. Was that okay?
A2: No, the RO should have stopped the competitor as soon as the loaded firearm without the safety engaged was out of his hand and administered a DQ for a dropped gun. If he had engaged the safety before letting go of the firearm, then he would have been okay to continue.
Q3: A competitor unloads his handgun and shows clear during the normal range commands. After dropping the hammer, he goes to holster his gun, misses the holster and the gun falls to the ground. Since the gun was unloaded, that wasn’t a DQ, correct?
A3: Unfortunately that is a DQ. If you look at 10.5.3 it says during a course of fire loaded or not and the course of fire starts with “Make Ready” and ends with “Range is Clear”.
And remember that during the course of fire or outside of a course of fire, a competitor cannot retrieve a dropped firearm (10.5.14). A RO needs to do that otherwise it is a DQ. To read more about how a RO should go about that, see our other post.