I feel like I’m at the point where I’m doing rule revisions for the club all the time. The new Board members have different ideas. This is good, because stagnation is usually a bad thing. I’m open to debating new ideas. I’ve said previously, keeping thieves away from money should be a top priority for any non-profit, and I think we’re pretty safe in that regards now. I wish NRA could say the same, but they can’t.
So in thinking about rules, it always helps to start with first principles. So what are they? This is what I’ve come up with:
- Rules should be based on safety, not shooting preferences. A lot of club rules enforce the shooting preferences of the ruling cadre. This promotes stagnation, which is the point in many cases.
- Short and simple to understand rules will be better adhered to than lengthy rules that read like tax code.
- When someone does something wrong, and you can throw a list of charges at them, your rules are redundant, and probably overly long and complex.
- Subjectivity can’t be avoided, but should be to the greatest extent possible. However bright line rules will tend to be complex. Simple rules will be open to interpretation. The important thing is everyone agree on a consistent set of interpretations, and that those are communicated.
- Avoid rules that enable rules nazis. My club has a rule about targets needing to be placed six inches from the target frame, which is meant to prevent the target frame from being shot up. But there was once an RSO who carried a ruler, and I’m sure you can imagine what he did with it.
- Rules should not disable the advanced shooter because some people are idiots. A useful exercise is to outline the rules, and then pick which of the “four rules” the club rule maps to. You’ll necessarily have some that are procedural, like what you must do if someone yells “cease fire.” But it’s useful to see how many rules either don’t map at all, or map so far downstream that it would just be better to state the actual safety principle directly.
The main thing to remember is that all this is supposed to be fun! Even with very well done rules, having rules nazis can ruin a good time. Much like thieves will be attracted to the temptation of money, rules nazis are attracted to the prospect of lording over people with rule minutia. So keep minutia to a minimum.