Defense! (part 1)

When it comes to your score, there’s only one person that’s responsible for your score. YOU! Like it or not, in the end only you can be held responsible for your score. I can hear your inner monologue… “Now, Dave, you know that the RO makes his calls, and the Range Master does his thing, and then there’s my buddies who’re watching out for me, and…”… Before you get your panties in a wad, consider this… ;-)

In the end, you sign the score sheet, and therefore you are responsible for making sure that your score is correct and accurate, and that you agree with it. Sure, the RO has his input, but you can escalate to the CRO and then the RM – and in some cases, the arbitration committee. In terms of people who advocate for you, the buck stops with … you guessed it… YOU. So, here are some things to think about before and after you shoot a stage at a major match…

Double Check Stage Reset

Before you shoot, take some time to look around. No, don’t go sight seeing. Take a look at any props that might be downrange and might’ve been shot up by the previous shooter(s) – and that might result in the RO calling a hardcover hit on you instead of the rightful owner. You don’t have to do a forensic inspection, or anything, just take a good look as you start to walk the stage when you’re preparing to shoot.

Here’s an example – at one match I shot this year, the poor RO was given a stage to run where there were a number of short walls made from 1/2″ steel tubing and coroplast downrange that were used as hard cover in front of various targets. As you moved downrange, these walls would block the targets to varying amounts, leaving the shooter with the opportunity to potentially make tight shots up against this “hard” cover. This required the RO to look for holes in the coroplast and then try to correlate those holes to hits on a target – and then make sure that those holes were properly repaired (usually taped) between every shooter’s run. Inevitably on a stage like this, the ROs and the shooters resetting the stage will miss repairing a hole (possibly because they didn’t see the hole when they scored the run), or the tape or whatever was used to repair the hole will fall off, or something to that effect. And… the RO will try to call a miss on your run instead. If you’re not paying attention in those situations, you may have no recourse and you’ll eat misses because of it. Luckily, in my case, I was able to clearly demonstrate that a) I couldn’t have made the hole in question, shooting from the position I shot from (I’m about 2 feet too tall for that), and b) the RO had lost track of repairing the walls, and couldn’t say for certain that it was actually my hole… because there were three holes in the wall that hadn’t been repaired.

A note to match directors… Don’t do this to your ROs!!!! We all know that for ports, and things that the shooter will be close to physically, we have to use something that’s not too solid for safety reasons. Fair enough. But downrange, use real hardcover – steel plate – in potential trouble spots where the shooter might easily walk the gun into the hardcover. Your RO won’t have to worry about making calls like this, and the shooter won’t have any confusion as to whether they hit the hardcover or not. Steel plate is not that that expensive. Use it. Please. ;-)

Walk the Stage With the RO

I can’t tell you how many times I see folks finish shooting and then just go back to the front of the stage and wait… Usually, the ROs will let you know if you have a miss or something so that you can run down there and double check stuff… But what about when they call a D (or a down 3) and it should probably have been a C (or down 1)? Those points are important, too. Follow the RO, and double check what they call so that you get the score you deserve, and so you know what to expect to see on the score sheet.

Speaking of which…

Verify Your Score Card

When you’ve finished walking the stage with the RO, you’ll be required to inspect and sign your score sheet. Don’t just sign the thing. Would you just sign a contract when it’s put in front of you? If you would, maybe you should think about that… ;-)

Instead, a at minimum, you need to do these things:

  • Double check the count of your hits, and insure that they appear to match what you heard the RO performing the scoring calls report
  • Verify that the total number of hits adds up to the required number for the stage
  • Make sure that there’s a stage time recorded (one for each string on multiple string courses of fire) and that it matches what the scoring RO called out
  • Look at the penalty boxes to be certain you haven’t accidentally been assessed a penalty you didn’t have – or that your penalty count is correct if you had them
  • Ensure that the scorekeeper’s handwriting is completely legible in all of those places, and ask for him or her to correct anything that’s unclear

Only after you’re satisfied with all of that, and you’re sure you don’t have any outstanding issues with your stage (that is, no scoring questions, etc) should you sign the score sheet.

Doing all of that will help you protect yourself from having to do a reshoot for missing information on your score sheet (because that will only happen on a stage that you shot well – remember, Murphy is at play!), and will help make sure that you don’t end up with anything underserved on your score sheet due to a simple transcription error.

Part 2 to come soon!

About the author


USPSA Grand Master, NRA Instructor, http://re-gun.com/about/

Permanent link to this article: http://re-gun.com/2011/12/defense-part-1/

2 pings

  1. DR Performance says:

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  2. xre says:

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