A couple of weeks ago I shot a Local USPSA Match at Lower Providence Rod and Gun Club. Shortly after that match I put together a post talking about a match disqualification that involved one of my squad-mates. One of the points I wanted to highlight in that post was that between July of 2011 and April 2012, I had only witnessed two match DQs.
Despite the sport being very safe and my having seen disqualifications many months apart, I witnessed my third Match Disqualification this weekend while shooting a Local USPSA Match at Southern Chester Sportsman’s and Farmers’ Association. That brings the total to precisely three, the first was seeing a negligent discharge, the second was seeing someone break the 180, and the third was seeing someone drop their gun.
10.5 Match Disqualification – Unsafe Gun Handling
Examples of unsafe gun handling include, but are not limited to:
10.5.3 If at any time during the course of fire, or while loading, reloading or
unloading, a competitor drops his handgun or causes it to fall, loaded
or not. Note that a competitor who, for any reason during a course of
fire, safely and intentionally places the handgun on the ground or other
stable object will not be disqualified provided:
10.5.3.1 The competitor maintains constant physical contact with the
handgun, until it is placed firmly and securely on the ground or
another stable object, and
- 10.5.3.2 The competitor remains within 3 feet of the handgun at all times
(except where the handgun is placed at a greater distance, under
the supervision of a Range Official, in order to comply with a
start position), and
- 10.5.3.3 The provisions of Rule 10.5.2 do not occur, and
- 10.5.3.4 The handgun is in the ready condition as specified in Section 8.1, or
- 10.5.3.5 A self-loading pistol has an empty chamber, the magazine removed and the slide locked open, or
10.5.3.6 A revolver has the cylinder open and empty
Neither Shooter in this Photo was Disqualified.
The stage where the rule infraction occurred was our squad’s second of the day, Lucky 13 (Stage 6). This particular stage was placed on one of the newly expanded pistol pits on the back side of the property. The pit itself was dug into a hill and has an uphill slope about it.
Targets were situated to the shooter’s left and right, at close range. Most shooters opted to quickly draw their gun at the start signal and engage the close range targets as quickly as possible, some opting to point shoot in an attempt to speed up the process. Because of the layout of the stage, this was one of the faster ones, in terms of breaking shots after the start signal.
At the start signal, one particular shooter grabbed ahold of his gun and began to pull it from his holster. He must not have had a solid grip on the gun as he began to lose it. When the loaded gun slipped out of his grasp, rather than grab at it and attempt to catch it, he pulled back and allowed the gun to tumble to the ground.
When the gun hit the dirt, the Range Officer called for a Stop and everything got quiet. Unsure of what to do, the Range Officer turned to the more experienced RO in our squad for advice. The Rango Officer was instructed to carefully pick up the dropped gun, clear it, and place it directly into the holster of the shooter. Once the stage was deemed safe, the shooter was issued a Match Disqualification.
While the two Range Officers were speaking about how to handle the issue, the shooter turned to the crowd behind him and apologized twice. He looked as though he was more concerned about potentially putting the onlookers in danger more so than he was about not being able to shoot for the rest of the day.
By the time we were finished with this stage, our DQed squad-mate returned from meeting with the Match Director and volunteered to be the scorekeeper for the remainder of the match. Rather than pack up and go home, our squad mate stuck with us for the remainder of the day and helped. He earned a great deal of respect from me and I’d imagine a great deal of respect from my fellow shooters.
Looking back at the situation in my mind, I think the shooter handled the situation as best he could. Rather than clutching at a falling gun, risking getting a stray finger into the trigger guard, he allowed the gun to fall to the dirt. With modern pistols and their safety mechanisms, this was probably the safest course of action.