Defense! (part 2)

This is part 2 of a two part article on ways you can insure you always get the best possible score on the competition floor. Well, ways besides practice! If you haven’t yet, you might want to also read the first part

Know the Rules and Their Application

I can’t count how many shooters – and range officers – I run across that have no real understanding of the rules or how they work. Most folks seem to have learned them from experience shooting with others, and only know what other shooters have told them about the rules. Or, they used to be versed in the rules, but haven’t kept up on the various changes through the years.

For starters, you should have a copy of the rulebook for your game and be familiar with it, and any published changes to it. For USPSA shooters, the rules are on the USPSA web page, and there’s a clear link to the National Range Officers Institute (NROI) rulings on the current rulebook, as well. IDPA also publishes it’s rulebook on the web. Download a copy and get familiar with the rules. They are your friend, and can save your bacon sometimes if you understand how they work.

Frequently, those with a solid command over the rules get labeled a “range lawyer” by those who don’t, as if actually knowing the rules and their application were a negative thing. That’s a little silly – if you follow the next point below, knowing the rules can only be an advantage to you. I also know of shooters who figure they don’t need to know the rules, because the Range Officers will always apply the rules correctly. Range Officers frequently have no better understand of the rules than the average shooter (they don’t RO professionally, of course, and don’t do it full time, so this shouldn’t be a surprise – they’re human, after all!). I’ve frequently seen penalties mis-assigned (or unassigned), and other such errors – knowing the rules gives you a basis to request the RO or CRO to reconsider the ruling.

I would not recommend using the rules in what I’d call an Offensive manner (take that any way you like ;-) ). Yes, knowing the rules allows you to figure out good ways to shoot a course of fire, and that sort of thing. That’s all good. The problems arise when a shooter decides that they want to try to manufacture (read that word again: manufacture) a situation where they can avoid the consequences for an action or score they actually deserved. At best, you’ll start to develop a reputation as “that guy”, and that’s bad enough. At worst, you could actually talk yourself into a worse score, or possibly a match disqualification if you take it too far.

Above All, BE POLITE

I can’t stress this one enough. You will always attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. Remember that you’ve just gotten done with a big adrenaline dump when you ran the stage. The RO is inevitably a little bit spun up, too – like it or not, being an RO can be a little bit adversarial at times, even though most folks do their best to not be confrontational. So, everyone’s a little on the defensive about things. In addition, there’s not a Cadillac on the line, is there? And, the ROs are not professional judges (not that professional judges deserve rude treatment, either). This is all supposed to be fun, right?

Consider that you have the same rights under the rules regardless of whether you’re polite about it or not – but imagine how the RO, the CRO, the Range Master, or even the Arbitration Committee might respond to your request and your testimony if you act like a huge jerk about it. Now, compare that to how they might react if you ask nicely and calmly. You might have to appeal one or more levels higher to get satisfaction – or you might not win your appeal, even if you have a good case. Frequently, this pops up in a dispute over how an RO has scored a shot. I’ve seen rude shooters have to appeal to the RM, and then have the RM not find their way – now, they may not have had the score, but their attitude didn’t help, for sure. I’ve seen this actual degrade into a shouting match between the shooter and the RM before – that can’t possibly be good for the shooter’s mind game, can it? Contrast that with polite requests – I’ve seen shooters get points they more than likely didn’t deserve before (based on my observation of the target) simply on good will.

I’m not saying being polite will always get you an advantage – certainly not one you don’t deserve. But it certainly can’t put you in a worse position like being a jerk can and will. Trust me, word makes it around that you’re a jerk – and even if you stop being a jerk, and be the nicest guy or gal possible for the rest of your shooting career, that reputation will follow you around and haunt you for a long time.

Finally, being a nice person will have a positive effect on your own mental game. Even if the call doesn’t go your way, it’s much easier to shrug it off and forget about it if you’re not also angry about the situation.

So, that’s about it – if you can incorporate those ideas into your match routine, you’ll insure that you’re getting the best score your shooting game can provide!

About the author


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

Permanent link to this article: http://re-gun.com/2012/01/defense-part-2/

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