House Rules
by David Kaiser



September 2, 2009

Rule changes approved by the ATA Executive Committee (EC)/Board of Directors (BOD) at the recently completed 2009 Grand American.

First, a quick review. The Rules Committee and the EC work on rule changes throughout the target year. Changes are generally not made mid-year unless a safety issue is involved. Suggestions for rule modifications can come from many places, but they usually come from members, shoot management, Delegates, and the Central Handicap Committee. Suggestions are usually routed to the Rules Committee for review and then on to the EC and BOD for action.

Changes approved at the Grand are instituted with the beginning of the new target year (Sept. 1). Rule proposals are first reviewed by the EC and then presented at each Zone meeting for review by the Delegates. Any proposal which garners general support in the Zone meetings is usually put in place by the EC without action at the annual BOD meeting. Any proposal that does not gain support in the Zone meetings is dropped. A proposal for which there is no clear opposition or support is presented for a vote at the annual meeting of the BOD.

Here then are the changes passed at the 2009 Grand American. Please note that I do not have the specific rule language as yet. When I do get it, I will include it in a future article.

Computer handicap review codes

As you probably know, yardage reductions are granted based on computer-generated, 1,000-target reviews. A shooter may have codes included in his or her record which preclude the shooter from getting a computer-generated reduction for one reason or another. One of these codes is a “Y” code, assigned to any shooter who has reached the 27-yard line. The Y code prevents shooters who have reached the 27 at some time in their careers from being reduced below the 24-yard line. The Y code is removed when the shooter reaches veteran status at age 65.

A rule modification this year makes it clear that a shooter who has been Y-coded can request and receive a special review, which may result in a reduction below the 24.

A new “F” code was established. The F (or “floor”) code may be placed on a shooter’s record to prevent the shooter from being reduced below the yardage specified. A Delegate or a member of the EC or the Central Handicap Committee may assign the F code to a shooter. For example, if a Delegate believes a shooter should not be reduced to the 18-yard line he or she may F-code the shooter at the 19 or 20.


Rule changes pertinent to
Special Category shooters

The following rule changes are applicable to any shoot where All-American points will be awarded; for example, state shoots, Zone shoots and other large shoots, including all Satellite Grand Americans and the Grand American. Having said that, keep in mind that shoot management at other shoots may choose to follow this rule to keep things consistent.

The changes:

“Shooters may declare only one category; i.e., lady, sub-junior, junior, veteran or senior veteran. A shooter may no longer declare, for example, lady veteran. (Note: this new rule does not apply to chairshooters.)

“Any shooter who is tied for event champion may shoot off/carry over for the champion trophy. If the shooter fails in the championship trophy shootoff/carryover and has declared a Special Category, the shooter will fall back to their declared category.

“Any shooter who has declared a Special Category at classification and whose score qualified him/her for any trophy in his/her declared category will compete for the category trophy and not for place, class or yardage group.

“A category shooter whose score does not qualify him/her for his/her category may compete for place, class or yardage group.”

“There will be no exceptions to this rule.”


No. 1. Let’s assume that Greg Grizzled declared himself eligible for the veteran category at his state shoot. During the singles event, Greg tied with three other shooters for champion with a 200. In the first round of the shootoff, Greg fumbled a target and was eliminated. Greg is also the high Class B shooter, but under the rule he forfeits the class and must take the veteran award.

No. 2. In the Handicap Championship, Greg breaks 96, earns a half yard under the earned yardage table, and is high in the mid-yardage group as well as veteran. Greg must take the veteran award.

No. 3. In the Doubles Championship, Greg ties with three other vets at 97, which is the second-high score. Greg must shoot off for the vet trophy and forfeits the runnerup award, as do the other vets regardless of the results of the shootoff for veteran. The next-high score takes the runnerup trophy.

No. 4. In the HOA race, Greg is not in contention for the veteran trophy but is tied with another shooter for the Class B award. Greg then may shoot off for the B trophy.

Keep in mind that the rules provide that a shooter must declare his/her special category at classification, before shooting. Such declarations are voluntary; no shooter is required to shoot in any Special Category.

These are the changes for the 2010 target year.

Questions or suggestions for articles? Contact Dave Kaiser at

© Copyright 2009 to SerVaas Inc.




June 24, 2009

It was a rainy Saturday morning during a registered shoot at River’s End Trap and Skeet. Hapless Harry was warming up and drying out in the clubhouse when Ned Newbie approached. “Harry, I think I got the short end of it on my second trap in the singles today. I dropped one target on the second post, but when the score was posted, I was only given a 23 on that trap. I asked the cashier about it, and he pulled the scoresheet. On the third post, my second target was marked funny. There was a slash and a zero. I know when we changed posts the kid called me for five, and that’s what the other folks on the squad remember as well. The scorekeeper had written 24 but it had been crossed out and a 23 written in. The cashier said it was a lost target and refused to change it, even after my squadmates talked to him. I am a bit put off by the whole thing. That extra target cost me the B trophy and some purse money. What gives? I talked to Mark Manager and he suggested I talk to you.”

What is the rule?

*     *     *

Section VII, A, 2, 10, 11, 12 and 13 says:

2. The referee/scorer shall keep an accurate record of each score of each contestant. If he/she rules “DEAD” or “LOST,” the referee/scorer shall promptly mark / or X for “DEAD” and 0 for “LOST” on the score sheet. Any target scored other than clearly with /, X or 0, or which appears to be scored, with both an X and 0, shall be “LOST”, unless the word “DEAD” is clearly printed beside it. The scores of the competition shall be official and govern all awards and records of the competition. . . .

10. The official score must be kept on the score sheet in plain view of the contestant. If contestant’s view of the score sheet is obstructed for any reason, he/she may refuse to shoot until he/she has been provided an unobstructed view of the score sheet.

11. It is an error if the referee/scorer fails to properly mark the results of any shot in the section of the score sheet where the results should be recorded. In such cases it is the duty of that contestant to have any error corrected before he/she has fired the first shot at the next post or in the case of his/her last post before leaving the trap. If the shooter fails to have the score corrected, the recorded score(s) shall remain unchanged and no valid protest will be entertained.

12. Every contestant in a squad shall be permitted to examine his/her score before the sheet is sent to the bulletin board or to the cashier’s office. The score sheet should be checked, confirmed, and initialed by the Squad Leader. The Squad Leader is encouraged to verify that any targets changed during a sub event are correctly noted as either dead or lost. After the completion of the last sub-event the score sheet will be handled as directed by shoot management.

13. Errors in the recorded details of the official score can only be corrected in strict accordance with the aforementioned Rules, but an error made in the totaling or compilation of targets shall be corrected whenever the error is discovered. Shoot management must correct scores recorded in error by field personnel as a result of misapplication of the Rules.

*    *    *

Harry reviewed the rules with Ned and said, “I know it doesn’t seem fair, but the fact of the matter is that the cashier had no option but to count the target as lost when the scoresheet was checked in the office. Unless the scoresheet is clearly and unambiguously marked, a target recorded as yours was must be deemed to have been lost. Unfortunately, from time to time a scorekeeper—particularly a new one—will forget to mark the sheet properly. That is why it is imperative that every shooter check the sheet for errors before leaving the trap. Insist the scorekeeper clarify in writing, in accordance with the rule, any target that might be called into question. I recommend that clubs have their scorekeepers use pens instead of pencils so they are not tempted to try to erase mistakes.”

Ned said, “Okay, I guess I understand, but what if the scorekeeper calls the correct score on the post change and has mismarked the sheet?”

Harry smiled and replied, “Now you’ve hit on a more common problem. That is why the scoresheet is required to be in view of the contestants. For example, if on the first post the scorekeeper has marked one 0 but called ‘five’ for a shooter, and if the shooter doesn’t question it before he shoots the first shot on the next post, the 4 actually marked on the sheet must stand. For an important event, on my squad, the shooter moving from Post 5 to Post 1 always walks by the scorekeeper and confirms that the scores called match what is on the sheet. We don’t always do this, but in an important event like the state handicap championship, we will just be sure everything is correct, particularly if we are dealing with an inexperienced scorekeeper.”

Ned said, “It doesn’t seem right that an error can’t be corrected later, but if those are the rules, I guess I can live with them.”

Harry said, “I understand how you feel, but the rules have been established to ensure fairness and to keep the game’s few unscrupulous shooters in line. You have to keep in mind that while the scorekeeper’s task is not particularly difficult in itself, after spending hours on end in the chair, anybody can make a mistake. As you know, frequently a young person who doesn’t always know the rules thoroughly does the scoring job. Ideally, every scorekeeper should be mature and knowledgeable, but frankly, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Many of our shooters don’t really know the rules very well (and some who think they do really don’t). That is why it is important for you and every shooter to sit down and read through the ATA Rule Book from time to time.”

*    *    *

True or false? As in the above case, when the mark for a particular target is changed, the scorekeeper must mark it “dead” or “lost” and initial the change.

A: False. The only requirement is that a dead target be so noted. But to be clear, it is good practice (while not required) to also mark the lost targets as such. At one time, the rules did require the scorekeeper to initial the change, but that is no longer in the book.


—Quick Rules Facts—

A shooter on the line may hold his shotgun in any safe position while waiting his turn to shoot. As long as the gun is pointed downrange, it may be closed and loaded.

A male shooter under 15 years of age who has received a reduction to the 18-yard line as a result of the review process will not be moved to the 20-yard line upon reaching his 15th birthday. All other male shooters will be moved to the 20-yard line upon reaching the 15th birthday.

Any shooter may be assigned penalty yardage based on numbers of registered targets as long as the penalty yardage target numbers are specified in the shoot program.


Questions or suggestions for articles? Contact me at my e-mail address





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