Article 1 – 2014
Question: I recently competed in a Australian Clay Target Association (ACTA) DTL competition and after I finished I realized I was shooting with the wrong shot shells. The event before this was a “Handicap” competition where I legally used 32 gram loads. The next event was a “Single Barrel” competition where the maximum load permissible was 28 grams. Here is the dilemma. I shot the only perfect score in the Single Barrel event and I won it out right with the only 25/25. I have spoken to only one other person about this and he said to say nothing, but don’t do it again. He thought the different load would have made no difference. What are your thoughts?
Answer: The short answer is I am not calling you a cheat, but you cheated. Whether it was intentional or not is irrelevant as what you did was not permissible under ACTA DTL rules in Australia. There is no doubt that the extra four grams of shot gave you an unfair advantage over any other competitor who was using 28 grams of shot. I am assuming you did not say anything when you discovered your mistake and kept the trophy. That is a decision you have to live with, but it is not too late to make amends if you wish. Personally I would admit the mistake and donate the trophy back to the club so they can pass it on to the rightful owner. Unfortunately it sounds like it may result in a “shoot off” to determine who would now receive it. It will get messy, but not as ugly as it will get if you inherit a name in the shooting world as being someone who shouldn’t be trusted.
Your dilemma raises a very good question about how poorly this rule is being policed. Again without naming any offenders, but at this very time there are huge suspicions in ISSF circles about a certain country that may be “exploiting” the lack of checks being made on this issue. The doubts are not only about the weight of the shot load, but also the size of the shot. In ISSF “flash targets” are used in the semi finals and the medal rounds. These targets can certainly be harder to break so more shot and larger pellets will no doubt be a huge advantage. In my entire shooting career I have never once been checked in an ACTA Trap event and in my ISSF career the only checks I have ever been subjected to simply involve handing over a couple of shot shells when asked. I could surrender a couple of rounds of ammunition that I know are legal whilst my pockets could be full of illegal loads. Never once has any referee physically taken the shot shell out of the breach of the shotgun.
I have no idea in Sporting Clays how often, if at all, shot shells are checked, but I could see this event as being the shotgun sport where using “bigger” loads are going to be a huge advantage. Any long crossing targets that are thrown across the face of the competitor “edge” on will break easier with 32 gram shells loaded with number 5 shot as opposed to a 28 gram number 7’s. That is an indisputable ballistic fact, but I hope by discussing this topic publicly it won’t tempt some shooters to try it. I would have no hesitation in suggesting that if a competitor is caught deliberately and constantly using illegal shot shells then a suspension should apply.
It is sad fact that unfortunately there are people willing to bend the rules on a regular basis and not just as an honest mistake as your situation seems to be.