Friday, March 02, 2007

USPSA Rule Book Update: Rule 2.5

Updating the rule book which regulates competition of any kind is kind of like making sausage: you may appreciate the end results, but you don't usually want to watch the process.

I've been competing in Practical Pistol competitions off and on for 23 (now 24) years, starting in 1983 under the auspices of Volume 1 of the USPSA Competition Rules.

We in USPSA have seen a lot of changes in competition rules. Some of the changes have been nearly seamless; some of them have generated bad feelings among the people who had to live (compete) under what they considered unreasonable expectations.

The current manifestation of the USPSA rule book is a case in point.

Incorporated in 2004, ex parte rules which were more appropriate to International competition (some countries in IPSC can't legally compete using the targets which were originally designed for this competitive shooting venue) chose to impose many Politically Correct rules having little to do with resolving problems which had been manifested in competition.

In 2006, as has previously been reported here, USPSA reached a meeting of minds with the International body (IPSC) which allowed the American Region to create it's own rules of competition.

Gone are rules which apply strictly to International and ex-American matches.

Added are rules which serve only to encourage participation by those competitors who, because of physical limitations, are not able to perform all of the actions readily performed by shooters who have full use of all limbs.

Rules which were subject to misinterpretation have been clarified, corrected, or simply deleted.

Finally, the USPSA rules can address practical shooting concerns which have little to do with competition in countries where the Second Amendment is little more than an expletive.

A sterling example of the tremendous improvement on Rules of Competition for Practical Pistol (which is the basis of rules for 3-Gun and Multigun) is that which deal with the conundrum: what do you do with a person who arrives at the range with a loaded pistol?

Concealed Carry is an increasingly important fact of life in America, where now 48 out of 50 states allow private citizens to carry concealed firearms. It's a curious fact that in most of America, you can carry a loaded firearm almost anywhere you go ... except to a shooting range.

Yup. IPSC matches, even here in America, feature "Cold Ranges." That means you can carry a firearm, but you can't load it until you come to the line to shoot a stage.

You can't take a firearm out of your car unless it is cased in a bag or a box. (The firearm, not your car.)

Since there is no provision for any situation except arriving at the range with all firearms secured, in Firearms Forums it is an eternal TFH (Thread From Heck) about the best way to handle the difference between legal concealed carry and Range Rules.

Do you drive to the range wiht your concealed handgun holstered, then stop on the road just before you enter the range and bag your gun?

Do you bag your gun before you leave home, thus rendering yourself without protection for the duration of the drive?

Do you go to the range and, under the cover of your trunk lid, remove your concealed firearm, unload it, and put it in a carrier ... thus violating the rules of IPSC competition and hoping that nobody notices, or says anything if they do notice that you are violating one of the primary safety rules?

This has always been an awkward situation for those who choose to travel armed, but now USPSA has suggested a way to avoid the conundrum entirely.

Announcing New Rule 2.5:

2.5 Unloading/Loading Station

2.5.1 If it is possible that some competitors arriving at a range where a USPSA match is being held may be in possession of a loaded firearm on their person (e.g. law enforcement officers etc.), (M)atch organizers should provide an Unloading/Loading Station to enable such competitors to safely unload their firearms prior to entering the range, and to safely load their firearms again on departure from the range. The Unloading/Loading Station should be conveniently located outside the entrance to the range (or outside the portion of the range allocated to the USPSA match), it should be clearly sign-marked and it must include a suitable impact zone.
Notice a couple of things about this rule:
First, it says "should", not "Must". This indicates that it is not a necessary prerequisite to identifying the even as a "Practical" match, or identifying any relationship to USPSA or IPSC at all.

The only purpose is to establish the acceptability of such an arrangement for the convenience of match patrons, and the understanding that competitors who take advanage of their Second Amendment rights are welcome, encouraged to attend, and are not required to resort to subterfuge in order to perform the simple act of moving (armed) from their automobile to (disarmed) the range environs.

In other words, it provides for a transition stage where participants can legally acknowledge "Cold Range" rules without giving up their "All Hot, All The Time" preferred mode.

You may think this is a minor issue; if so, you probably don't carry a concealed weapon as part of your daily regimen. You're probably not a Law Enforcement Officer, or Military, or a member of any other profession which allows ... encourages ... requires you to be armed at all times.

And you're probably not licensed by your state/county to carry a concealed firearm, which typicaly requires a complex and complicated legal requirements to be bestowed on you. (Yes, I know, it shouldn't require any legal permission; I also know that babies appear magically in a cabbage patch after a long journey via the Stork Express.)

In truth, I don't care whether my local range incorporates this rule and allows me to unload before entering The Match without penalty. I don't even care, really, whether this rule change actually passes (although I think it should.)

What I DO care about is that USPSA has acknowledged that this is a situation which is problematic to a significant number of participants ... or even an insignificent number. It doesn't matter.

This rule is a positive and substantial recognition of the culture of America. If nothing else, it serves to put the world on notice that Practical Shooting Competition in America recognizes the right of its citizens to go armed, to protect themselves, and to do so without fear of penalty from one of the few organizations which nomitively professes a belief in the right of ever citizen to self-defense.

On top of all this, USPSA has presented this new rule as one of a number which define guidelines for conduct at shooting matches in America.

Can you believe that?

I live this sport, this organization, this country.

Not everyone can make this claim.


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