Here’s the question:
At a recent match a female competitor was scolded by the range master and told she could be disqualified for leaving an unloaded holstered pistol in her belt with no ammunition present on/in the safety area while she used the facilities (port-a-john). As a Range Officer, I see no rule to substantiate the RM’s claim. I spoke with the match director and he said it was a grey area. This needs to be addressed as more female shooters join our sport and must remove their gear before using the facilities. (My note: guys need to do this at times, too.)
It’s not a grey area, and it’s not a DQ. As you stated, there is no rule prohibiting this action, and the RM here is simply stating his personal preferences and prejudices towards this practice. Any time I hear someone say, “You could be DQ’d” for something that’s not covered in the rules, it leads me to believe that they know better and are just trying to impose their will instead of following the rules. I agree with you that RM’s (and any Range Official, for that matter) should not make up rules and threats on the fly, regardless of what their personal opinions are, if the competitor is not violating any rules. It’s a safe area, and is designated as a place to handle a firearm—one of the only places on the range where you can do so without being disqualified. Leaving your gun unattended on the safe area table may be, to some, unadvisable, but it isn’t against the rules, and it isn’t unsafe. The worst thing that can happen is that some well-meaning person thinks it’s been abandoned and turns it over to a range official or, sad to say, it could get stolen. Many people are leery about bringing their gun into a port-a-pottie for fear of it falling off and into the tank, so they leave their gun on the safe area table. There’s a reason why MD’s place port-a-potties near the safe area, or vice versa, and that’s for precisely this reason, to facilitate competitor’s needing to use the facilities without wearing their gun into the thing. Here’s a pic of my carry gun sitting on my dresser. I’ve been watching it, but so far, it’s just sitting there, right where I left it, safe and sound.