IDPA Rules: When is it a Failure To Do Right?

Yesterday I posted about an incident at my First IDPA Match. During that match, a friend of mine damaged a prop and there were some grumblings from fellow shooters that the prop should be repaired or replaced by the shooter. That post generated some excellent discussion which spilled over to FacebookOpens in a new tab..

It just so happens that the Safety Officer running the shooter is a Facebook user and came across the post. He explained the situation from his viewpoint and went on to explain how he handled the scoring of the target.

From the Safety Officer
The shooter was a little taller than most and got up on his toes and took the shot. I wasn’t unsafe so as far as I was concerned that wasn’t anything to worry about.

Scoring wise it was down 10 because it would be unfair to other shooters to score down 0 when the target was gone for others by the time is was taken.

This prompted a response from another Facebook user who is involved in both USPSA and IDPA matches from a Match Directors perspective. I found her response rather interesting because she makes an excellent point, why penalize a shooter for his height?

Facebook Comment
As for scoring it -10 so as to not penalize “average-sized shooters”… why penalize Scott for being tall, if the SO said shooting while “up on his toes” was not unsafe?

I’m finding all of this fascinating due to the way IDPA rules are enforced. Being a USPSA shooter, I’m accustomed to a fairly well defined rulebook that doesn’t give the Range Officer a whole lot of room to make a judgement call.

In the event that the Range Officer does make a judgment call, the shooter always has the option to move it up the chain of command and have the incident reviewed by another party. I’m not saying that IDPA rules are poorly written or that USPSA rules are iron clad, I’m just saying that it seems as though IDPA shooters are under the scrutiny of the Safety Officer more-so than USPSA shooters are under the scrutiny of the Range Officer.

All of this long-winded talk leads into a question I had regarding another stage shot at my first IDPA Match.

IDPA at Lower Providence - Stage 4Lower Providence IDPA – July 28, 2012 – Stage 4

I don’t have a copy of the stage briefing, so we’ll have to do this based on my memory. The stage in question required shooters to lean over a faux pool table and hold a pool cue, as if taking a shot. At the buzzer, the shooter was to drop the cue and engage targets while retreating to cover. From cover, the shooter was to engage the remaining targets.

In the video above, you’ll first see me shooting the stage. At the buzzer, I stood up and engaged the target directly infront of me, while retreating to cover. From behind cover, I engaged the remainder of the targets. The second portion of that video shows my friend Scott taking a similar approach. He stood and engaged the first target, then went wide to engage a second target before getting behind cover. From there, he engaged the remainder of the targets.

Both of these stage plans were very common, but a third shooter went about the stage in a very different manner. This shooter stood up and took about a dozen baby-steps, engaging all targets before getting behind cover. This course of action prompted a few responses from fellow shooters. They ranged from “Ugh, he was retreating with a bunch of baby steps” to a flat out “That should be a FTDR”.

My opinion, from a USPSA standpoint, is that he gamed the stage and came in roughy four seconds faster than I did, good for him. From a “Spirit of the Game” standpoint, I wonder if he should have received a penalty for his actions.

Ask The Readers

If you were the Safety Officer running the 3rd Shooter, would you have issued a penalty?
If so, why or why not?


Hi There, My name is Walt White and as the name of this blog suggests, I am a Pennsylvania resident. In addition to having numerous hobbies that I discuss on my blog - I’m also the father of three little girls and a pitbull.

5 thoughts on “IDPA Rules: When is it a Failure To Do Right?

  1. If the CoF description said IE: “engage T1 & T2 while moving to cover. Engage the rest of the targets from cover” then he should have been penalized at least with a procedural. If the CoF description is vague (which many are for club level matches, then your average gamer will become a Range Lawyer and squeeze the crap out of the opportunity.
    FTDR is the Red Letters of IDPA. You basically get a hung a big sign that says “CHEATER” and allowed o continue shooting the match. Being so, few SOs will award one because it is not a nice thing to do and also because in most cases, an FTDR something you did that can be penalized with a DQ. This rule is being reviewed by IDPA now and we will probably see some decision or change for the next rulebook.

    As for this:
    “Scoring wise it was down 10 because it would be unfair to other shooters to score down 0 when the target was gone for others by the time is was taken. ”

    IMHO the SO is wrong. If the target is visible, it is “engagable.” One of the principles of IDPA is that in case of doubt, you will always score in favor of the shooter. Errors of Course design are not the fault of the shooter.
    Anyway, welcome to the biggest headache in IDPA: The Gamers.
    PS: Unless otherwise demonstrated, The Gamers are concentrated in the Expert Division. Not all Experts are Gamers, but most of the Gamers are Experts.

    1. Miguel,
      Before writing this post, I did a Google search for “Failure to do Right” and “FTDR”. I got a variety of results but some of them were pretty interesting. One club had SO notes that basically anytime the shooter disagreed with the SO, they were to be given an FTDR penalty (I think it was dated in the 90’s).

      Another result outlined that the shooter had to basically be cheating in order to earn the penalty. There were also results for a variety of things in between. I’m finding the whole thing pretty interesting and I can’t help but wonder what different Safety Officers would deem FTDR worthy.

  2. FTDR is so general that it opens itself to many different interpretations and that is why is so seldom used. If it gives the shooter an unfair advantage (cheating) then he should be both FTDR and DQ in my opinion. Now, the unfair advantage has to come with Male per se (on purpose) which is hard to prove like in round dumping or easy as in phantom reloads.
    I have given plenty FTDRs but in a funny way: Shooters with guns modified as to be IDPA illegal but the gun is their EDC gun and they want to run them in a match for testing. They are upfront about it, tell you that the gun is modified and they are willing to take the FTDR on each stage. I will let them shoot and give them the FTDR but no DQ since their spirit is not to cheat but to make sure their EDC works properly. The scores will suck to high heaven but we keep the spirit of the game intact.

  3. The stage you got here looks like engage T1-T2 while moving backwards from P1 to P2, Engage T3-T5 from P2 using cover. IF the wording was that specific, I would have given a procedural for each target (T3-T5) not engaged from P2, AND a FTDR as the shooter clearly failed to shoot the COF in order to gain a quicker time. I’m a relatively new SO but that situation is clearly a gamer taking advantage of the COF. ~Ben (A07076)

  4. As to the “Tall Guy Issue”, I concur with the previous post. Unless that target was specifically designated as a “disappearing target” then the tall competitor should have received no penalty.

    In regards to “The Babystepper”, well… I understand the frustration of the other competitors. I often joke about being a gamer myself because I am competitive and I strive to score well. But it is possible to be competitive and do so within the spirit of the game. As much as I like to win, I’d simply be too embarrassed to do that in front of a group of my peers. The problem is; how do you make a rule against it? What would that rule look like? As far as I can reason, the only way to eliminate things like that is to be more specific in stage descriptions (as mentioned above by Ben) Maybe it would be helpful to develop a list of example phrases that can be used by stage designers in their descriptions to aid in eliminating as many “gray areas” in scoring as possible? The “scenario based” courses of fire make it difficult to have exacting rules without stifling creativity.

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