Chalk It Up to Knowing the Rules

by Hap Rocketto

For some years the NRA has been including a rulebook in the competitor’s packet for high power. This year smallbore shooters began receiving one. This was as a result of the actions of the Smallbore Rifle Committee’s acting upon the request of the competitors. While this is a great idea the day before the Nationals begin is a bit late to begin getting familiar with the rulebook. Knowledge of the rules is a must for any serious competitor. It serves as a guide to the sport that is unmatched by any other publication. A firm understanding and a close following of the rules will save a great deal of aggravation and may gain you some points.

A case in point comes to mind. Some years ago I was shooting a high power match at Camp Smith in New York. After the first string at 300 yards the range officer announced all of the excessive hits. It turned out that my teammate, and good friend, Roger McQuiggan fired a 99 with excessive hits. He was shooting on the point next to me and I had the usual sinking feeling that comes with that kind of announcement on an adjacent point. However, when the insufficient hits were announced I was spared! I guessed a paster had fallen off of Roger’s target. When the targets came up my blackboard had a 10 chalked in next to the 0. It turned out that I had dumped my entire string on his target. The inexperienced pit crew saw exactly what happened and, no doubt laughing at the idiot 300 yards away, gleefully chalked up the 10 misses. They were so entertained by my stunt that they either forgot to, or didn’t know to, inform the pit officer of my gaffe.

As a result I did not get to challenge. A challenge I most certainly would have lost had I made it. What I got was a refire because I was not given an opportunity to challenge. If I had not known the rules I would have gotten my just desserts instead of a 97 with 5 on the refire. Since that day three things have stuck in my mind. The first is how lucky I was to have the pit crew I did. The second was how glad I was that I knew the rules. The third is why did Roger shoot a 9 and wreck our chance at two cleans?

About Hap Rocketto

Hap Rocketto is a Distinguished Rifleman with service and smallbore rifle, member of The Presidents Hundred, and the National Guard’s Chief’s 50. He is a National Smallbore Record holder, a member of the 1600 Club and the Connecticut Shooters’ Hall Of Fame. He was the 2002 Intermediate Senior Three Position National Smallbore Rifle Champion, the 2012 Senior Three Position National Smallbore Rifle Champion a member of the 2007 and 2012 National Four Position Indoor Championship team, coach and captain of the US Drew Cup Team, and adjutant of the United States 2009 Roberts and 2013 Pershing Teams. Rocketto is very active in coaching juniors. He is, along with his brother Steve, a cofounder of the Corporal Digby Hand Schützenverein. A historian of the shooting sports, his work appears in Shooting Sports USA, the late Precision Shooting Magazine, The Outdoor Message, the American Rifleman, the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s website, and most recently, the apogee of his literary career,
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