Recently, there seems to be a trend developing of parents coaching their kids during their run at Steel Challenge matches. The Steel Challenge rules allow a limited amount of coaching by competitors at Tier 1 matches only, and that’s limited to calling misses, if requested by the competitor. Coaching by competitors or spectators is not permitted at higher tier matches, in any way, shape, or form.
RO’s may assist the competitor with certain things at all level matches, but other competitors and spectators are forbidden from doing so. Rule 2.4.3 states, in part: “No coaching by competitors is permitted outside of the stated allowances herein.” This prohibition also extends to spectators, as mentioned in 7.4.2, which specifies that providing assistance will result in penalties for the competitor and for the coach, if he’s participating in the match.
3.3 allows for assistance in reloading magazines (not the firearm) in order to speed the stage if the competitor doesn’t have enough magazines to complete all five strings, or is required to reshoot and has used up their loaded magazines. 3.3.1 specifically spells this out, allowing any other competitor or spectator to reload magazines on behalf of the competitor. If the competitor has issues with seating fully loaded magazines, downloading a larger capacity magazine by a round or two will usually fix that problem, without seriously sacrificing magazine capacity. Another solution may be a larger capacity magazine, again downloaded by a round or two to facilitate insertion into the firearm, but reducing the number of reloads needed.
So, what constitutes coaching or assistance? As mentioned previously, loading ammunition into magazines for a competitor is allowed, but removing and replacing a magazine in the firearm is not. Neither is yelling advice, such as “take a deep breath”, “settle down”, “squeeze”, etc., to the competitor while he or she is in the shooting box. Calling misses during a run is definitely prohibited beyond Tier 1 matches. Reminding the competitor to reload or move is allowed, but only the RO can do that. All manner of advice may be given outside the course of fire, and isn’t prohibited, but coaching during the course of fire can result in the competitor being penalized, despite the best intentions of the coach.
The bottom line: Steel Challenge matches at all levels are competitions, and any competitor who competes in USPSA or SCSA matches must be in control of their firearm from “make ready” through “range is clear”, and this includes operation of their firearm. Loading the firearm is part of the deal. Fairness demands that we all perform to the best of our ability without outside help.