If you are competing in a sport, don't take anything for granted, some may take you out at any given opportunity. Just because you may have moral character, don't assume that those you compete against do as well. All of those that perpetrated the act against me appear to be lacking in that category. Read the events and decide for yourself. Some I have heard appear to want to soften the heartless actions of the Jury by stating there was fault on both sides. I think it is like stating the stealing of a piece of candy resulting in a death sentence had fault on both sides.
NOTE: an important note to add and to consider as you read how everything happened: I have discovered that numerous people, not a couple, many, were talking about the archery glove I was wearing all morning. Including the person that ultimately filed the protest against me. Any one of them could have objected at any time and I would have removed the glove, as I did when the first person objected. I had fired 75 shots of the 80 shots to be fired that day before anyone spoke to me. That was over six hours after the first match started. Other competitors were speaking to each other about it and not to me personally. The Archery Glove was not important until the afternoon match was over and I was the Match Winner. At that point, it was important enough to eliminate me entirely from the competition. That being the case, can you think the sole intent of the Jury was to salvage the integrity of the sport? Ask the Jury why I was not notified of the heinous crime in the morning match. If the intent of everyone involved was integrity, shouldn't I have been warned or disqualified six hours earlier, immediately after it was seen?
I am certainly not blameless. When you read the entire story you can at least see I am not ignoring my faults. It is not a one-sided story painting me as a angelic victim. I should have checked with the Match Director about the use of the Archery Glove, which was the root of the problem. However, nothing I did merited disqualification. That is not my opinion alone, it includes numerous others and the NRA. By all appearances the goal of the Jury was to screw me out of a State Championship, which was successfully done.
The following statement by the director of competitions for the NRA was given regarding the view of the disqualification by the Jury: In my experience, such a minor infraction is seldom, if ever, met with a disqualification. Which brings into concern the ethical decisions of a Jury that benefited from the disqualification.
The complete text of the findings of the NRA Protest Committee is listed at the bottom of the page.
I was competing in the 2016 Arizona State High Power Rifle Silhouette Championships. After the conclusion of the High Power Rifle Silhouette Hunter Rifle match, which I won by three hits over second place by shooting 29 out of 40 targets, I went home. I was in an excellent position to win the Hunter Rifle State Championship. I returned the next day to find my scores for that match were disqualified and I was not the Match Winner.
NOTE: The complaint that I had not receiving a warning was removed, maybe not morally, but technically, they acted within the rules.
NOTE: Rule 11.2.1, the Jury Members shall exempt themselves in matters in which they were personally involved. The fact that two of the three benefitted directly by my disqualification, one the Match Winner after I was disqualified, the other the State Championship, indicates a direct conflict of interest that was ignored at my expense.
People can say anything they want regarding how much integrity any specific member of the Jury may, or may not, have. The fact is, nobody should even have to question their integrity. If it was a Jury formed following rules of the NRA, there would not be a question about any benefit from the results.
Considering the fact it takes a Jury of three people knowledgable of the rules to take this action, it would be easy for anyone to wonder how any disqualification could occur unjustly. My suspicions will be provided after describing in detail what happened.
The basis of the disqualification was an archery glove which I wore to prevent the skin from being torn on my index finger, which was really bad from the previous match. It was still not complely healed.
The following are the events as they occurred to the best of my recollection, which are engraved in my brain now. I wore the glove in the Standard Rifle Match that morning. I did not shoot as well as I should have and was three shots behind the Match Winner. The glove was not contested in that match. There were 54 people competing.
In the Hunter Rifle match, there were 35 people competing, 19 people less. I had shot at 35 of the 40 targets for that match. I had 5 Turkeys left to shoot. Eric Sundstrom approached me on the firing line stating angrily that I was wearing a glove. Without color coating it, I replied, "That's bulls**t." Eric responded, "I figured you would take that attitude!", and walked away.
NOTE: Technically, the Protest was filed by Kathleen Garvin.
I do not want anyone to think I am trying to cheat. I saw the Match Director and went to him immediately because time was running out before I was to be ready to fire. He stated some may take objection to it. I went back to my firing position, threw the archery glove on the table next to me. The "Listo" command was given. Even though I disagreed with it, I finished the match without the archery glove. Dave Johnson, Berwyn, Alberta, Canada, was my spotter/scorer and could verify I did not use the archery glove after the complaint to me by Eric Sundstrom.
The rule in question is Rule 3.11: "Gloves may not be worn except when required for warmth. Conditions permitting the use of gloves will be determined by the Jury. Padded or unnecessarily heavy gloves may not be worn."
It should be obvious I was not intentionally trying to cheat. I did not hide it. I spoke to a couple of people about it, including my spotter in the morning, Bob Halunka, and my spotter in the afternoon. I might be ignorant, but I am not a cheat.
The point of the rule being that a simple leather glove can help in stiffening the hand and give a slight improvement to a person's ability to hold the rifle steady. That is why the statement is added to clarify, if gloves are allowed due to weather, padded and heavy gloves are still not allowed.
Here are two definitions of the word "Glove" available on-line, all found will be similar:
You can decide for yourself. It is an extra large glove because I wanted it to fit loose and not pull on the elastic. The exact model is :Neet Shooting Glove FG2L Tan Suede RH/LH X Large. It does not take appear to take a Master's Degree in Language to understand that the archery glove, although it has the name "Glove" attached to it, is not applicable to the true meaning of the word glove, nor the spirit of Rule 3.11. How much support would an archery glove give to the hand?
That being said..... I concluded my match and turned in my score card. I then went back to where I kept my things and got some of my stuff organized to pack away for the drive home.
I went back to the scoreboard after a few minutes to check on the latest scores. I was certain I was not going to be in a shoot-off. I went back to my table and started packing everything to leave. After everything was packed, the match was over. I checked with the scorekeepers to verify when they were going to hand out the awards. I was informed it was not going to be until the following day. Therefore, I went home as Match Winner. I live 15 minutes from the range. I am an active member of the club and my phone number is listed with it.
The next morning when I arrived, I started helping to get ready for the match. In the process I was informed by the Match Director that I was disqualified the previous day. He said it was not official, so I waited for the members of the Jury, Jim Goodnight, David Bonner and Jim Beckley, to arrive so that I could discuss it with them. Unfortunately for me, the discussion that occurred was ignorant and humiliating.
Mr. Beckley, acting as a prosecuting attorney, started by asking me if I have rules on my website (this one). I stuttered a bit trying to think exactly what I did have here, it has been years since most were written. After a few seconds I was eventually able to honestly answer I had some rules but not all of them. I was then handed the official NRA Rule book and told to read to him out loud the Rule 3.11 listed previously. Then I was asked how many people were on the firing line. I said I didn't know. So he asked again "How many people to do 'think' were on the firing line?" I guessed about 50 to 60 people over the day. Then the question was asked "How many of those people did you see wearing gloves?", as if it was a valid question to the situation. At that point I should not have been ignorant enough to continue the conversation. Because it was so important to me, I continued. I replied with the obvious "none" and that I was not wearing a glove. So then I was asked, "What were you wearing, what is it called?" Stating the obvious I replied, "An archery glove." Which brought back the comment, "So you were wearing a glove!"
I was asked by David Bonner, "How could you do such a stupid thing?" I was told that if there was any question that I should have inquired prior to using it. That part certainly makes sense now.
I spent a few more minutes trying to talk sense into the situation until the frustrated Mr. Beckley said, "I am not changing my mind!" I had already made the decision to withdraw from the competition if I was officially disqualified, I packed my stuff pack into the pickup and went home.
After being at home awhile and feeling angry about what had just happened to me, I downloaded the NRA Rule Book and started reading. I found Rule 16.3:
16.3 How to Protest - A protest must be initiated immediately upon the occurrence of the protested incident. Failure to comply with the following procedure will automatically void the protest.
Given the rule that the protest must be filed immediately, and the fact I had no idea there was a formal protest made until after I returned the next day, it was doubtful the protest was handled correctly.
Having a glimmer of hope at still being State Champion, I packed my gear again and drove to the range.
I told the Match Director I was improperly disqualified, possibly for two reasons, and stated the applicable rules.
I would like to point out that there is no fault with the Match Director regarding the Jury decision. He cannot overrule a Jury. The theory being that taking it out of the hands of one person and having the decision rely on three people would help insure of a fair determination.
What happened from that point can give you an example of the lack of concern for me, or the rules, by the Jury.
Match 1, day 2, was still in progress. The match director informed every one of the Jury members I was there to dispute the disqualifications and the reason I was protesting the decision. I was informed that they would wait until the conclusion of the match for the Jury to meet with me. I have no problem with that. I can understand the logistics of getting everyone in the jury together while a match is in progress would be ridiculous. I waited about 45 minutes to an hour for the match to conclude.
At the conclusion of the match, all of the jury members went and got their lunch and started eating.
I waited a bit. I eventually got angry enough to inform the Match Director that the meeting was not going to happen because the jury members were all eating lunch. The match director went to each of them again and told them I was waiting to meet with them, and why.
After a few minutes the jury members got together, away from me, to discuss getting together again. Jim Goodnight said out loud, "Is he senile or what?" Jim Beckley and David Bonner huddled together for several minutes with a rule book discussing what they were going to say to me. Then the three of them came over to discuss it.
They stated the offence was so obvious it did not deserve a warning. I informed them, incorrectly per the NRA, in the rulebook it stated that it was an infringement which means I deserved a warning. Jim Goodnight responded "We're not here for a grammar lesson"
I again tried to emphasize that even though the Archery Glove has the name "Glove", it does not fit the definition of glove used in the rule book. I was told that they were not going to alter their decision. By all appearance, no matter what the rule book says, they were determined to disqualify me and eliminate my possibility of winning the State Championship.
I do not know how any of them could possibly defend their actions. Given the fact the Jury members easily made a decision to destroy my ability to win the Arizona State Championship, I doubt there will ever be any feelings of guilt or an apology.
Personally, I think it is a combination of reasons. The following are posibilities, the real answer would need to come from the Jury members themselves.
Certainly, there is the question about how the finish would have been without me in the competion. The results were already posted. Without any doubt Jim Beckley knew he would be Match Winner of Match 1 and be leading the State Championship if I was disqualified. Without any doubt David Bonner knew he would be 1 hit behind first place in the State Championship if I was disqualified. I was leading by 3 at the conclusion of Match 1 and likely would have been the State Champion. I could have shot 4 less the next day and would have been the State Champion and Arizona Resident Champion. I could have shot 7 less and still would have been Arizona Resident Champion and 2nd place overall. With me eliminated, those two positions went to David Bonner and Jim Beckley.
Additionally, I believe some look at me as a cheater because I am trying to get an edge by wearing shooting boots which are flat on the sole and have some ankle support. I do not know of anyone else at the State Championship that wore them. Before I clarify why I use shooting boots, per the NRA officials, they are allowed. It is not against the rules to wear them. Before I ever wore them in about 2003, I verified with the NRA Rifle Silhouette Headquarters that they were legal to wear. I was told at that time the head of the Rifle Silhouette Department at the NRA personally wore them.
Additionally, nobody ever protested my wearing the boots until after I won the 2011 Arizona State High Power Rifle Silhouette Championship. The important fact is that it was David Bonner who filed the protest, one of the three Jury members that disqualified me. Apparently, the four or five earlier years when I was not shooting well in the State Championship while wearing shooting boots, the boots did not matter. Was David's failure in that protest an influence as a Jury member in this protest?
The truth is that without the boots, I would be giving everyone else an advantage. I am handicapped on my right leg. Basically, I have half of a right leg remaining from the knee down, with severe damage to the knee itself. I am fortunate enough to not walk with a limp most of the time. That's probably why some would rather assume I am trying for an unfair advantage. I was in a severe motorcycle accident in 1983. In that accident my right wrist was shattered and pins hold it in place now and I have limited mobility in it. Part of my kneecap was broken off and is still missing. There is some ligament and cartilage damage to the knee. I do not wear a knee support of any kind. The right side of my lower leg from just below the knee to the ankle was completely ripped in half breaking the bone on the right side of the shin and exposing it for the world to see. There is one ligament left to my foot that kept me from having to wear a foot brace for the rest of my life. All of the ligaments on the right side are gone.
I have never ran around the range telling everyone to feel sorry for me because I was handicapped. Anyone that asked if the boots helped me, I would tell them they helped me more than they would most people, and give them the basic explanation. My opinion is, if the boots are allowed by the NRA, they can think what they want to think.
In the images, click for a larger version, you can see the line down the right side of my leg to the right edge of the shin bone in the middle of the lower leg. That is where my leg was ripped open in the accident. Everything to the right side of that line back was mangled. It took over ten years to get any feeling at all back into most of my foot and the right side of my leg. You can see the typical wear on the right edge of my right shoe. Because there are no ligaments supporting the right side, the right edge always hits first causing the uneven wear. On the hand you can see where my wrist was cut open and pinned back together.
Also, I am not the great social butterfly. With a badly damaged leg, I do not get out walking all over the range unless I need to. It affects my shooting. I talk to people when I can and have no problems with most people. But if I am going to compete, I cannot be running around socializing when I am not shooting. I make certain I have a place to sit when I am not actively shooting. When I am waiting for the timer to run out or the target setters are out, I am sitting down for that reason. Some may look at me as anti-social for that reason.
The people that are responsible for the protest against me and the members of the Jury are all friends and socialize regularly. Jim Goodnight will not even respond with "Hello" or "Good morning" to me if I say it to him. For whatever reason, making it blatantly obvious he does not like me at all.
Not to my benefit, one of the people involved in the protest, was one of two people I had yelled at in the middle of a Smallbore Rifle Silhouette match a while ago. I was competing and trying to shoot. They were close to me and talking loud enough to be a distraction to me while I was shooting. When this happens, I am following along with the conversation in my head while I am aiming at the targets. It is not the best of combinations. Technically, anyone not firing or spotting is not supposed to be on the firing line. It is against the range rules. If they are quietly watching, I could care less. There is an acre of ground behind the firing line that anyone can carry on a conversation if they would like. I am limited to one location.
I have had this problem before and found that for some reason, if I confront anyone on such an issue myself, I get an automatic rise in adrenalin and heartbeat. Probably from years of training growing up in a rough neighborhood. It takes a while to settle down and get back to normal. To keep this from happening, I ask my wife/spotter to go ask them to be quieter while I am shooting.
I asked her to talk to the two of them before the next shooting session started. I do not know what she did or said, I tried to stay focused on the competition. Just as we started shooting again, the talking started again. I got angry and set my rifle down, and yelled "HEY!" once or twice. When I got their attention I yelled "Shut the f**k up!" It is not something I am proud of, or should have done, but it did get their attention. I picked up my rifle and, if I remember correctly, only hit one of the last 5 targets. The person talking did come over and talk to me afterward and we both apologized to each other over it. That does not mean he created a better feeling toward me after the incident. For what it is worth, the other person that did nto apo;ogize was the louder of the two by far and the one I was more focused on.
It would not surprise me if some people think I am sandbagging in my High Power Rifle Silhouette scores. In Smallbore Rifle Silhouette I am in Master Class, the best there is. In High Power Rifle Silhouette I am in AA Class, the middle of the classes.
Some Master Class shooters may take offence by seeing the State Championship awarded to an AA Class competitor. When I won the Standard Rifle State Championship in 2011, the only Master Class competitor that specifically came to me to congradulate me was Tony Tello.
Personally, I want to be in the higher class. As a Master Class competitor in Smallbore Rifle Silhouette, it is not a big thrill going home with 1st Place in AA because I failed to win the match. I compete with myself on a personal level. I would prefer to shoot well in a match and lose than to shoot poorly and win. That does not mean I do not enjoy the competition, I do. My personal performance is more important than the final results.
I have not been able to afford to shoot High Power Rifle Silhouette and Smallbore Rifle Silhouette. I have only been shooting about three matches per year because of it. High Power Rifle Silhouette is more difficult than Smallbore Rifle Silhouette. It takes three times shooting in a higher class to move up. With my limited competing, it adds to the difficulty. One of the things I was happy about with the 29 score that I shot as Match Winner was because it was a Master Score. Being two classes higher it would have automatically moved me up to AAA Class. That score is now disqualified and I am still AA.
The NRA National Protest Committee met on Saturday, April 23, 2016 and reviewed the matter of the disqualification of Mr. Webster from the Arizona State Silhouette High Power Championship. They had the following findings and recommendations.