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Clearing Long Guns on the Line

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A question about a dropped 1911 was asked in a Facebook group spawned a couple of discussions.


First the rules:  A dropped unloaded gun on the firing line (defined as the LT to the ULT) is a SDQ.  Sweeping anyone with an unloaded firearm (without the qualification of on the firing line) is a SDQ.


It is not unusual at WBAS matches locally to announce that long guns will be cleared on the line at the conclusion of the stage.  I don't see that as altering a safety convention.  The 1911 is, of course, cleared on the line by the TO.


OK, so the first question is an easy one:  If no ULT is in use, what is the end point of the firing line?  In my view, the places in the stage where the long guns were discarded are the ULT and the firing line ends when the last gun has been cleared on the line.  What if the pistol is the last gun cleared-is the firing line still in effect until the pistol is holstered?


Second question is a softball, too.  In the original FB post, the TO cleared the 1911, the shooter tabled the pistol and the TO them cleared the long guns on the line.  As the shooter retrieved the pistol he dropped it, resulting in the TO being swept and the 170 was broken.  My view, after checking the SHB, was that the shooter failed to follow the mandatory commands for clearing the 1911, the last step of which is to holster the pistol.  That is a SDQ, probably at the point when the shooter took his hand off of the cleared, tabled pistol.  Any disagreement so far?


The final questions are not specific to WBAS but involves a dropped unloaded pistol off of the firing line.  I always understood that to be a no call.  But if it sweeps someone or breaks the 170 is that different?  A friend of mine who is a very experienced TO maintains that only a gun in hand or otherwise under the shooter's control is capable of sweeping.  I think that's a logical interpretation.  Thoughts?



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Abe, my opinion and only MY opinion is that the answer to your first question is a SDQ.

First half of the second question is, again my opinion only, is the end of the firing line would be when the shooter safely has their pistol holstered and long guns retrieved to head to their gun cart. I agree on the second half.

Lastly, in my opinion, it depends on how the pistol is dropped. Was the pistol being handled in an unsafe manner? By that I mean it should be holstered. Why was it out? Were they taking it out to put it in the cart? Did they turn around and catch it on someones cart parked to close and pull it out? Were they mishandling the gun? Did they trip in a hole and it fall out? That answer, I think, is going to be a judgement call.

Again, this is all my personal opinion.

Happy Jack may help clear up some questions.

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Have seen several guns dropped or handled without a lot of care after being cleared at Winter Range and even EOT.  NONE were ever made a penalty call. 


If there was careless gun handling involved (not just a dropped gun or a fallen cart), then usually the shooter was sternly warned to be more careful with gun handling, and if they repeated the careless handling, an "Unsafe gun handling" SDQ would be issued.  I don't find any of the WB (or even Cowboy) rules that penalize a sweep of another person with an unloaded gun while off the firing line to allow any other penalty than Unsafe Gun Handling.


Good luck, GJ

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We have evolved a 'protocol' for clearing firearms 'on the line' (where they end up after shooting them).  We do this because of small posse size and shortage of personnel.  We try to clear the pistol first and get it holstered before moving on to the long guns.  We make full use of the commands, "Magazine, show empty, slide, hammer, holster" or otherwise mentally go through that checklist as the seasoned shooter does the same.


For Rifle we say, "show empty, lever"  then "rifle clear."  For shotgun we say, "show empty"  then "shotgun clear."  When all three firearms have been cleared we say, "all firearms are clear, shooter may return to his/her cart."  And, we issue a "guns up" command when the shooter has the muzzles of the long guns pointed toward the sky so that people can go downrange and reset the stage.


The only problem we sometimes have is a shooter who raises their long guns, and then -- after we've said "guns up" -- puts them back down at the line to adjust their hat, or glasses, or something else.  So, the "guns up" command only comes when the shooter actually turns and starts walking to their cart.


I suppose, if a shooter drops their 1911 while holstering it, that would be a SDQ.  I've never seen that happen, although shooters who use flap holsters sometimes give the T/O pause.


So, in our case, when we have a small posse (normal condition), the shooter is off the line when the "guns up" command is issued to the posse.

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The FIRST thing I want to remind everyone that ANY discussion about SASS/CAS/WBAS rules that takes place on Facebook or any other "social media" location is NOT sanctioned as an official response. There has been a lot of problems with this on the Cowboy side recently requiring an official statement from the SASS office. I don't want us to have the same problem.  While discussing things on those sites is fine don not expect an official response there. Only opinions which don't mean anything at a Sanctioned match.


As to the questions in the OP:  I basically agree with Boggus.  I am not in favor of clearing long guns on the line and doing so is a clear violation of WBAS rules. Local clubs can do what they feel necessary but this policy can lead to big problems.  An example at the recent Territorial on St. George: The local club has done the same thing you are describing: A 10 round rifle stage, shooter shot 9 and discarded the rifle with action open. After TO checked pistol clear and it was holstered shooter cycled rifle and live round came out. TO only saw shooter open gun (didn't see shooter close action before opening it. TO called SDQ for live round in chamber.  A long discussion ensued as shooter said they had opened gun, then closed it to cycle for TO to show clear. SDQ was eventually removed BUT after that everyone was reminded that the ULT table rule was in effect as it was a Sanctioned match.  Bad habits cause problems. Please reconsider this practice.

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Thank you, Jack.  I posted my question here knowing that social media discussions are not official.


I do appreciate your statement about the downsides of clearing on the line.  I had not considered that to be a departure from a safety convention and so not allowed at a sanctioned match.  We cleared on the line on my posse at a recent match held at a club with a common firing line, in part because it was not holding up people going downrange.  My local club shoots in bays so it’s a choice between holding up the reset for a brief period versus having a posse member work the ULT.  That said if the Rules Committee considers the practice as a “departure” from the rules I will rethink it.

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