We see all sorts of walls in USPSA matches. In our sport, walls are used to obscure targets, control the competitor’s view of targets from other positions, to control competitor movement, and to define a shooting area. We see solid walls, see-through walls, walls that start on the ground, and walls that have gaps underneath. But what is considered a wall per the rules?
This post was inspired by a rules question that was submitted to the site: “The Classifier 18-09 set up instructions call for ‘4 ft X 6 ft or more walls’. Is there any reason not to use 4′ X 4′ walls that are set at 6′ at the top? Or should we add something to the bottom so they go all the way to the ground?” That is a good question, and since it’s a classifier stage, we want to get it right.
There are several rules that address walls, but let’s focus on construction. Walls are considered barriers and are defined in rule 2.2.3. Unless otherwise specified in the WSB, all walls 5’9″ inches and taller are considered to go from the ground to infinity. If you’re asking when the rule changed from being from the ground to height built, you missed the 2017 NROI Ruling that changed that. And, now unless specified in the WSB, all walls shorter that 5’9″ tall are considered to go from the ground to height built. So you can have shorter walls in your stage that competitors can shoot over and don’t have to explain that in the WSB.
So what does that really mean? It means that competitor’s can’t shoot over walls that are 5’9″ inches or taller because even though there is no physical wall, there is a virtual wall that exists. Same goes for the wall types we see that are on legs and have a gap between the ground and the lower edge of the wall. Competitor’s can’t shoot under, or go under the wall as a short cut, because there is a virtual wall there.
Okay, but what about these “virtual walls” and the walls made out of netting? Why can’t I shoot through them? What is the penalty? This is also covered under 2.2.3, specifically sub-rule 18.104.22.168. All walls are considered to be a solid plane, and by default are considered hard cover. As a result, competitors can only shoot through designated ports/openings. Small gaps between wall sections are not designated openings. Holes in the netting/fence are also not considered ports. Since the walls are hard cover, any full-diameter shot through the wall will not count for score on cardboard targets and if a full-diameter hit knocks over a steel target, it’s a range equipment failure (9.1.6).
What about wall feet, braces, supports, top cross-bracing, etc? Is that part of the wall? With the new rulebook in January 2019, all of those things are considered to be non-existent and cannot be used for support (22.214.171.124, 10.2.1) and all shots through these items count for score or penalty (9.1.7). So, during stage set-up, don’t put wall feet and braces in the line of fire near a target. There is a good chance they will get perforated (Something about having nice things at the gun range…).
So getting back to the question about whether walls with a 2 ft gap between the ground and the lower wall edge can be used for a classifier, the answer is yes. There is actually a virtual wall in that gap per the rules. As long as the walls are 4 ft wide (in other words, the width requirement) and the top edges are at least 5’9″ tall, the wall is a solid plane that runs from the ground to infinity.