Monday, December 14, 2015

CFDA - The Rules

Every game has rules, and those rules change over time.  The idea of a rule is to standardize a competition so that it proceeds in a predictable fashion.  The CFDA has a rule book that it available to everyone.  Occasionally, adendums are issued to promulgate changes to the rules.  Additionally, the director has set forth some tests that a rule must meet.  1) Safety, 2) Necessity, 3) Spirit and Integrity of the Game, and 4) Enforceability.

Under test #2 Necessity, the guidelines plainly state:
The second test of any rule, is the necessity of the rule itself. We could have a rulebook that is a foot thick, I’ve seen them and had to deal with them in other shooting sports. Yes, we do need a set of solid rules that govern, define and provide parameters for our sport. But if we don’t need a rule, let’s not have one to enforce.
That makes sense to me.  If you don't need a rule, then let's not have a rule.  Still, the rules change from time to time and in this month's Gunslinger's Gazette, we find a little leaflet with rules addendums.  One in particular has caused some consternation among the membership, and I'll reprint it in it's entirety for discussion.
Page 23. Technical Violations (Add)#17.DISCHARGING THE GUN WITH THE MUZZLE BEHIND THE HOLSTER IS NOT ALLOWED. It must be clearly obvious to the Line Judge that the front end of the barrel is in front of the outside of the holster pouch cut.
Note: Upon the first warning, the Range Master will assign a Line Judge who's decision will be final.
We got our Gazette last week, but life intruded and we didn't have time to study it.  On Saturday morning as we were walking out the door to the club shoot, Blue Eyed Belle found the addendum and I recommended that she read it to me as we drove to the club.  When she got to the new muzzle rule, I commented "Well, that will stir up some crap."

I was right.  By the time I got home that afternoon and sat down at the computer, the forums had exploded.  Lots of folks upset at the rule, so here's my thoughts on it.

1) I've been in several shooting sports over the years and it has always been my firm conviction that I wanted the muzzle of the gun past the line tangential to my belly button before I hit the bang switch. I do not want to ventilate myself with the handgun.  We use reduced power ammunition in the CFDA game, but that doesn't mean that you can't hurt yourself with it.  Safety First is our motto, as it rightfully should be.   This rule only requires us to have the muzzle forward of the holster.

2)  In the few hours I've spent with our Director, I believe him to have the best interest of the game at heart.  I don't think he'd do anything to hurt the game, or to diminish it in any way.  He may not have fully explained the reasoning behind the rule, but that will be forthcoming.  There is no reason to assign nefarious intent.  This rule may have been forced by liability, or insurance rules, or any number of outside factors.

3) Granted, some folks spend lots of time analyzing their draw, taking video, applying scientific methods and trying to reduce every extraneous movement.  They're competitive, I get it.  We all want to do well and they've spent hours, multiple hours over multiple months, practicing the draw, making changes, trying to be the very best that they can be.  Now, with this rule, they've got to make further adjustments.  This is a game of milliseconds, and every one of those milliseconds means something.
To those folks, I agree, it's tough.

4) Enforceability may be the biggest hurdle for this rule.  The hand judge is the front line of our safety efforts.  The hand judge is assigned to a particular shooter and the responsibilities of the hand judge are too numerous to go into in this post.  But at the moment of the SET command the hand judge is watching several things simultaneously.  She's watching the position of the gun in the holster, she's watching the timing of the light, she's looking for the shooter anticipating the light,   Additionally, she's positioned behind the strong side of the shooter and the angle of her vision may be such that she is unable to observe the precise position of the muzzle at the instant of firing.  This is a game of milliseconds and when the light illuminates, it's faster than the human eye can blink.  The enforceability of this rule will be based on the "clearly obvious" wording before a Line Judge is appointed to watch specifically for this violation.

In short, I think that this is a rule that will be widely understood and rarely invoked.

In summary, I think the rule makes sense.  Yes, it will cause the fastest shooters to make some adjustments and to those guys and gals, I empathize.  You've worked hard to get to the pinnacle of the game and now you've got to make changes.  I feel your pain.But, you'll survive, get stronger, and probably faster.  

**Update**  The Director of CFDA has put an explanation of the rule change on the CFDA Telegraph.  You can go there for the full explanation.  Go to the link for the full explanation, but the pertinent parts are here.
In the first two seasons following this decision, my first concern was that I noticed an increase in shooters that had shot the front cut of their holsters, which did bring up safety concerns. After all, this issue was originally classified under the 2004 Safety Rules.
In the past two seasons, my concerns have grown with the fact that shooters, including some youth and newer shooters are working very hard to practice the "Dump Draw". Dump Draws are made possible by being able to pull the six-gun straight back, while pushing the grips down, and discharging the gun with the front of the muzzle behind the front of the holster pouch. Some are even firing the gun with the front of the muzzle behind the back of the holster pouch. This very type of draw is in direct conflict with the original principles that CFDA was founded upon.
Again, you can go to the link for the whole explanation, but Cal's reasoning makes sense to me.

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