In the world of shooting sports DQ means Disqualification, not Dairy Queen.
There is a saying in the competitive shooting community that “there are two kinds of shooters: those that have DQ’d and those that will.” Some competitors have been shooting matches for 30 years before they experience it; others it happens early into their shooting career (and then they hope never again).
DQ’s happen because of safety violations such as muzzle pointing in an unsafe direction (breaking the 180), unintentionaly discharging the gun aka “accidental discharge”, dropping a gun or leaving a firearm in an unsafe condition. When it happens to a shooter, it is a very sensitive moment. Some shooters know what they did right away and go quietly into the sunset, others may challenge the ruling and fight to stay in the match. Either way it is the most dreaded thing a Match Director/Range Master has to do by telling a competitior they are out of the match. It is also the last thing you want to see as a range officer, and this summer I personally witnessed 4.
Sharon Griffin is a regular face you see at the major 3 Guns matches around the country and runs a local match with her husband in the Fort Worth area. Unfortunately Sharon disqualified herself at the Rocky Mountain 3 Gun Championship this summer. I was working in the stats office and saw the score sheet come through with the big DQ on it, and there was a collective gasp from the staff! I asked her to share what happened because I think there is always something to be learned, and her perspective was more enlightening than I expected:
A Conversation with the Incredible Sharon Griffin
Sharon- The DQ happened when I turned the wrong direction on the course and broke the 180. I was disorientated as to what direction I needed to be going for the next target array after that last shot and just turned the wrong way.
Julianna- Why do you think that happened?
Sharon- Honestly I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been with my mental game plan. I spent too much time on my walk through gauging the distance for the long range targets and not enough time on my foot work and path I needed to take.
Sharon commented on how the Range Officers could have been more helpful during the walk through by being able to answer questions about the long range distance, but stressed “that in no way do I blame the RO staff. I earned the DQ all on my own. The only thing left for them to do was assess the penalty as it was earned by the shooter.”
A walk through is usually 5-7 minutes depending on the match, and that is not a lot of time to get your game plan all together especially when the stages are complicated, you are using 2-3 guns and you have to determine distance. I am a Range Officer and it brought a new perspective for me. I always am as helpful as I can be with reading the stage description and not straying from it answering too many questions as it can give an unfair advantage, as well as the importance for me to know the equipment I am working with so the competitor can spend the time they need in mental preparation to safely get through the stage.
From a competitor’s view point, my light bulb moment was that the walk through is so much more than just counting rounds and figuring out where your reloads will happen and making sure you see all the targets…it can be the difference between being a safe shooter and disqualified one. One more tool learned from good ol’ life experiences. Thanks, Sharon!
When in Texas, Shoot with Sharon
Sharon and her husband host a montly 3 Gun match on the 4th weekend at the Extreme Tactics and Training Solutions (ETTS) in Waxahatchie TX. They shoot the same stages on Saturday and Sunday giving flexibilty for shooters to attend the match on which ever day works best for their schedule, or both days if they want too, getting scores as two separate matches. They incorporate a fun mix of 3 gun nation style and natural terrain with long range.
Tip for Today
“If you are shooting in a competition, please remember this rule: If you drop an unloaded gun or it falls out of your holster, DO NOT pick it up. Step away from the firearm, call for a range officer to come over. He/she will pick up your gun, check the chamber to make sure it is unloaded, then will put the gun in your holster. This is a safe way not to get disqualified (DQ’d) from the match. If you touch the gun on the ground, you will be DQ’d. Unfortunately, if a loaded firearm falls on the ground, it is an automatic DQ.”
Cheryl Fordyce, Tallahassee, FL