Approved By
USA Shooting USA Shooting
3 Position Council National Three-Position Air Rifle Council

Can I use a plug to challenge a shot scored by Orion?

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No! The use of scoring gauges (plugs) or other manual methods of scoring paper targets (e.g. templates) is outside the correct use of the Orion Scoring System. These methods are not nearly as accurate as Orion, are often misused by stat officers, and intrinsically rely on human bias. Using these less accurate means of measuring a shot's location to check or overrule Orion's quantitative and precise measuring is simply fallacious. Furthermore, the printed scoring rings are for the shooter's reference only, they may not be used to determine the value of a shot. Using a scoring gauge or other manual methods of scoring paper targets have no place with Orion and will invalidate the results.

Orion is an electronic scoring system and evaluates shooters on a uniform quantitative standard. Attempting to rescore a target using a plug and human interpretations means shooters are no longer treated equally.

Precedence for uniform electronic scoring of paper targets was established in 1986 by the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF). 1986 was the year the ISSF first approved a target reading machines for Olympic and World Cup scoring. The ISSF recognized that mixing electronic and manual scoring standards would create a patchwork of result quality, giving some shooters an unfair advantage over other shooters. To prevent this from occurring the ISSF mandated that if electronic scoring systems were used in a competition, then all shooter's targets must be scored with that system. Since then, ISSF recognized national federations have adopted the same principal, including USA Shooting and the German Shooting Federation.

Orion's scoring methodology is fundamentally different from that of manual scoring. Orion scores by electronically comparing the calculated center of the aiming bull and the calculated center of each shot. Manual scoring involves a human comparing the outside edge of a scoring ring with the inside edge of a shot hole. In making its scoring calculations, Orion takes into consideration the entire circumferences of the aiming bull and shot hole. Manual scoring, on the other hand, compares a single point on the outer edge of a scoring ring with a single point on the inner or outer edge of a shot hole or scoring gauge. As electronic and manual scoring are two different methods of scoring, it is not valid to use one method to recheck the scores produced by the other method. Furthermore, manual scoring is less accurate than Orion; it is illogical to use a less accurate method to check the accuracy of a more accurate method.

A primary advantage that Orion has is that it evaluates all shots fired by all shooters by using the same standard. No shooter is given a scoring advantage or disadvantage due to human interpretations. In order to have consistent manual scoring for all shooters in a competition, it would require absolutely identical printed targets, absolutely identical scoring plugs, and absolutely unbiased and correct judgments by scoring officials.

All scoring systems introduce some degree of error into the scoring process. It is simply impossible to create a "perfect target" scored with absolute precision; however, a scoring system like Orion comes exceptionally close to this standard by measuring all shooters' shots equally with an evaluation system whose tested and theoretical accuracy is better than that of nearly all electronic targets or manually scored paper targets.

NRA Rulebooks that permit plugging of shots during challenges.

National Rifle Association rulebooks state that athletes may challenge shots scored by target reading machines (including Orion) and that the statistical officer should use a plug in executing the challenge. The NRA is alone in permitting such unfair scoring procedures. The National Three-Position Air Rifle Council, USA Shooting, the International Shooting Sports Federation, and the German Shooting Federation all strictly prohibit the use of scoring gauges when electronic scoring systems are used. In fact, no National Federation in the world permits this unfair practice.

Because using a scoring gauge is outside the correct use of Orion and inherently unfair, the NRA rules should not apply to matches scored by Orion. To avoid confusion by athletes and coaches we recommend adding one of the following statements to your match bulletin.

  • All challenges will be performed by the Orion Scoring System. At no time will a plug or other manual methods of scoring be used to determine the value of a shot.
  • No score challenges or protests will be allowed.

See Also:

  1. What is the correct way to challenge a shot with Orion?
  2. Why is Challenging a Shot Considered Unsportsmanlike?