IDPA Rules Revisions: Static Reloads only?

Yesterday in our first look at the IDPA rules revision, I mostly glossed over section R9, which deals with reloads behind cover. In my first pass at the rulebook, it seemed fairly benign, however that section has been interpreted to mean that all reloads must be done flat footed before advancing. Here is the section with the areas of trouble italicized:

R9. Under no circumstances may a shooter leave a position of cover with an empty weapon. A position of cover is defined as any fixed location in a stage from which the shooter is required to engage targets from cover. The boundary marking the “position of cover” is the line of cover defined by the last target to be engaged from that position.
R9.1. If the shooter runs the firearm empty behind cover, the shooter may not advance in the stage (move toward the next shooting position) until the weapon is deemed loaded.
R9.2. When performing a Loaded Cylinder/Loaded Chamber reload, the shooter may not advance in the stage (move toward the next shooting position) until the weapon is deemed loaded.

R9.3. A firearm is deemed loaded when the magazine is fully seated and the slide is fully forward or the revolver cylinder is closed.

What’s happened is that many people are reading “may not advance” to mean cannot move; which I’ll admit that based on the context and last year’s Nationals seems like the intent of the way the rule is written. Some people, myself included were reading to mean that you can’t move out from cover into the open until your gun is fully loaded. However, the way that “position of cover” is defined, “may not advance” and the explanation of “move toward the next shooting position” would seem to indicate that the folks reading this as “static reloads only” are correct. This would also make sense in the context of the 2012 Nationals, where despite having locations where you were behind cover and could conceivable do a tac-load on the move, all reloads were mandated to be performed from the shooting positions.

So, let’s assume for the moment that the intent of the rule is to effectively mandate static reloads. First, we should take an honest look at IDPA and how often we as shooters were able to reload on the move to begin with – the answer is not that often. Were there times when a tac load on the move behind cover would be the smart decision? Certainly, but those times were infrequent at best. Do I think that mandating static reloads only is a bad rule? Yes, because I’m generally opposed to rules that take choices away from the shooter.

One of the things I’ve noticed about the rulebook rewrite is a lot of it appears to be structured to make things easier on the safety officers, with one glaring exception that we’ll talk about tomorrow. Mandating static reloads certainly does that, because it removes the potential for a judgement call on the part of the SO as to whether or not I’m reloading behind cover. If I was just shooting behind cover then run out of bullets and do a reload, I’m in the clear.

I don’t think that requiring static reloads is a good rule from a competition standpoint. Trying to justify it or decry it based on real world tactics is stupid, because this is a game, not tactics and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to get their head examined. However, despite me disagreeing with the rule and not liking it, I can understand why, based on the rationale laid out, they’d write the rule they way they did. Of course, as of the last time I checked, there were over seven pages of rule suggestions just on this rule alone, so we’ll see if it stands or not.

Tomorrow I want to take a look at the one section of the rulebook that stood out to me as being particularly dangerous for the safety officers to attempt to enforce.

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