DQA shooter I respect told me soon after I started shooting that there are two kinds of shooters:

  • Those that have been DQd
  • Those that will be DQd

I have joined the ranks of the latter category. A bit of translation in case you are not familiar with the term “DQ”: disqualified, no longer allowed to shoot in the match.

Most of the DQs I’m aware of are a result of a safety violation. I this case there is no question. Here’s what occurred:

I shot stage 3 of a match Saturday night that was challenging. It started with the description, “You are sitting on the bank of a river fishing when a bunch of bad guys decide to ruin you day…” The entire stage was shot from a seated position. The bad guys included two poppers that were concealed behind cardboard. I’m usually good with steel poppers. When I can’t see them, it’s a bit more challenging. I lost count but it’s possible I put 6-8 rounds into one popper before I got it to fall. My brain was still spinning on “why wouldn’t it go down?”.

I stood to reholster and the RO gave me clear commands: “SLIDE”, “TRIGGER”. At which point my gun went “BANG!”. That is considered an accidental discharge and is without question a DQ.

What went wrong? I didn’t take the magazine out of the gun. Neither I nor the RO noticed that the magazine was still in the gun. We didn’t visually inspect the chamber to verify it was empty. The RO was as stunned as I was and shared the blame. However, I believe I am always responsible for the safe use of my gun and, in my mind, take 100% of the blame.

What did I learn? When the stage is over, you need to let go of any thoughts about what went right or what went wrong. You need to focus on the task at hand: safety unloading your weapon.

What went right? I’ve heard that there are multiple gun safety rules so that if by some chance you fail to follow one rule, the others will keep you safe. In this case I did follow this rule: “Never point a gun at anything you are unwilling to destroy.” I was holding the gun firmly in my right hand and had the gun pointed downrange. It startled us but caused no danger to anyone in the bay. I am thankful for that.

A good friend was DQd earlier this year for loading his gun before the RO stated , “Load and make ready”. He sat out the rest of the match and I have been hyper alert about waiting for verbal commands since that occurred.

If my mistake can help raise the awareness of other shooters to pay close attention in the “Unload and show clear” steps of a stage, that is worth sharing the experience.

Have fun and stay safe!




4 thoughts on “DQ’d

  1. It happened,but is now an episode that can be referred to as you have already stated
    Attention went to routine and a step was overlooked in the safe unloading process. The SO knew he had done wrong as you knew you had, but by keeping the gun under control in a safe direction kept as a safe memory to learn from and continue your good safety regime.
    Glad your first time ended well.

    • Thank you for all of your support as I continue to learn and evolve as a shooter. And for constantly sharing your situational awareness and lessons in safety.

      • Growing up I was taught to always rack the slide a few times when clearing.

        If you haven’t dropped the mag, the live rounds coming out will remind you before you drop the hammer…

        • Nice seeing you here! You are absolutely right. At a competition both of you (competitor and range safety officer) should be paying attention, so typically it’s expected that you will lock the slide open and both of you will visually inspect to see the gun is clear. We obviously missed that as well.

          I am super aware of where I’m pointing the gun now when I make the final trigger pull to verify the gun is clear.

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