CategoriesRule of the Week

Rule of the Week: Malfunctioning Firearms

As defined in the Shooter’s Handbook, a malfunction is the “failure of a gun or ammunition to function as designed or fire satisfactorily.”

It’s important to point out that in regards to the rules, a firearm is considered as malfunctioning only if the shooter audibly declares it so. That is, if the shooter’s firearm malfunctions, they cannot simply lay the gun down and proceed with the stage. The shooter must declare the firearm as malfunctioning before engaging in the next string of fire. If the shooter fails to declare the firearm as malfunctioning, but grounds the firearm nonetheless, the shooter will then be subject to any penalties resulting from this action such as those for live rounds left in the chamber, magazine, or carrier.

The applicable rule from page 27 of version 25.1 of the Shooter’s Handbook:

Malfunctioning firearms still containing rounds will not warrant penalties so long as the malfunction is declared and the firearm is made safe.

Once the firearm has been declared as malfunctioning and made safe–laid on a horizontal surface, pointing in a safe direction–the shooter may continue the stage. At the conclusion of the final string of fire, the shooter should return to the malfunctioning firearm and make an effort to clear the malfunction while still on the stage before heading to the unloading table. Clearing the malfunction while still on the stage minimizes safety risks and should the firearm discharge while being cleared, will not result in a Match Disqualification as long as it is pointed in a safe direction.

If the firearm cannot be expediently cleared while still on the stage, it can then be taken to the unloading table to be cleared. A shooter may only leave the firing line with an un-cleared, malfunctioning firearm if doing so under the direct supervision of a Match Official. Failure to follow this protocol will result in a Match Disqualification.

CategoriesRule of the Week

Rule of the Week: A Revolver’s Hammer

Another rule I’ve seen surface in quite a few of my recent matches regards the physical state of the hammer on a revolver when it leaves the shooter’s hand.

Page 22 of the Shooter’s Handbook states that “returning a revolver to leather with the hammer not fully down on a spent round or empty chamber” or “[a] cocked revolver leaving the shooter’s hand” are both Stage Disqualification Penalties.

Basically, if the hammer is anything but fully down on an empty chamber or spent round–half-cock is the same as full-cock in regards to this rule–and the revolver leaves your hand, it’s a Stage DQ. This also seems like a good moment to remind everyone that de-cocking any firearm without positive direction/approval to do so from the Chief Range Officer/Timer Operator is also a Stage DQ.

CategoriesRule of the Week

Rule of the Week: Discarding of Long Guns

As I’ve seen this particular rule come to the fore in a few different matches lately, I’ll be highlighting it as my first Rule of the Week post.

From pages 17-18 of version 24.2 of the SASS Shooter’s Handbook (emphasis mine):

Long guns will be emptied and discarded with their barrels pointed safely downrange. This condition may be corrected on the clock, prior to the next round being fired. If the long gun is not discarded empty prior to the next firearm being fired, only the shooter may return to open and/or clear the firearm at the end of the stage under the observation of the CRO/TO. Should an empty casing/hull be ejected or found in the action or chamber, or a live round on the carrier of an open action, a Minor Safety Violation (MSV) will be assessed. However, if the action is opened, and a live/unfired round is ejected, a Stage DQ (SDQ) will be assessed for a long gun with a “live round under a cocked hammer having left the shooter’s hands”. In this case, there is no opportunity to correct this condition before firing the next firearm, as the penalty takes effect upon leaving the shooter’s hands.

–If the long gun is the last firearm used, it must be cleared prior to it leaving the shooters hand(s) at the unloading area.

–This does not apply to firearms shot out of sequence, made safe, and then restaged.

Shooters Handbook Vers 24_2 MASTER (

A recent example: A shooter fires nine shots from their rifle and sets the firearm down, barrels pointing down range, action open, but with a live round on the carrier. In this case, the shooter may return to the rifle before the next round is fired, engage the final target, then proceed with the stage and this would be a No Call. If, however, the shooter proceeded to fire their next gun (or were to place the rifle on the reloading table prior to clearing it if it were their last firearm used), then the shooter would be assessed a Minor Safety Violation.

A quick reference to this rule can also be found on the RO Pocket Card as the first item listed. The RO Pocket Card can be found as Section 8 of the Shooter’s Handbook.