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Update – Empty Chamber Indicator – New Rule

Jun 26, 2020 | Announcements, NRAA News, Safety and Rules Update

Introduction of the Empty Chamber Indicator

NRAA now has .223 Empty Chamber Indicators available, contact the office on for more details.

Why has the NRAA introduced the Empty Chamber Indicator?

Most of you – the members – would be aware of the NRAA Board’s recent decision to introduce Empty Chamber Indicators (ECI) into the SSRs. The change to the rules will be introduced on 1 July 2020, for implementation by 1st November 2020.

No doubt some of you will be supportive of the decision, some will be ambivalent, and some will be against the change. The purpose of this article is to provide the reasons why this decision was made.

Why has the Board introduced ECI?

The NRAA is very conscious of our strong safety record – we actually see it as one of our key strengths in an environment where all firearm use is considered, or perceived to be, dangerous. Our safety record is a key strategic opportunity as well as a risk. The introduction of an ECI is aimed at strengthening our safety record as well as improving the perception of safety to those who do not understand safety and firearms. The adoption of the ECI also brings us into line with world’s best practice with regards to firearm safety on the range.

Did the Board consult?

While the original proposal was debated by the NRAA in early 2019, it was not until the members’ workshop in late 2019 that the rule was given full support by every State and Territory. Various individuals including the Safety Committee were consulted; not all agreed but the NRAA has listened to the advice provided.

Why can’t I put the bolt back in?

The NRAA considered this issue and decided to err on the side of safety. In two years time, once the rule is bedded in, this matter can be reviewed. 

How do I get an ECI and is it safe in my rifle?

The NRAA has purchased enough ECIs so that every current member (Year 20/21) will be provided one free of charge. These ECIs will be sent to clubs based on S&T returns on membership. If you do not receive one after your 2020/21 membership renewal please contact your club – if your club does not have any, ask your State or Territory.

ECIs will also be available for sale on the NRAA website.

Will the plastic melt in my chamber or bore?

The ECI is made in NZ, is embossed with the NRAA logo and is a blue colour so that it can be seen by colour blind people. The Indicator is a minimum of 200mm long and is made from heat tolerant plastic – meaning that it will not melt in your chamber and can therefore be inserted when your barrel is hot with no resultant damage. The ECI should not be modified in any way and the minimum requirements for ECIs will be outlined in the SSRs.

We recommend that only NRAA provided ECI be used.

When will ECI be introduced?

The ECI rule comes into effect on 1 July 2020, with a transition period of four (4) months. By 1 November 2020 all members must use an ECI to participate in NRAA approved shooting under the SSRs.

The Bottom Line

Safety is everybody’s responsibility, but the NRAA has a specific role and responsibility to maintain safety standards and preserve our sport. Our safety record is strong – please help us to maintain our sport by adopting this change and preserving our enviable safety record.

Piers Cambridge

Chairman, on behalf of the Board

Empty Chamber Indicator rule: Effective 1 November 2020 On the firing point – shall consist of closing the bolt completely and without pressing the trigger re-opening the bolt, drawing it back to its full length, removing the bolt AND inserting an empty chamber indicator. On the order being given to unload every person on the firing point with a rifle, whether actual shooting, preparing to shoot or otherwise, shall go through these unloading motions with the muzzle pointing towards the targets

1.3.41   Empty Chamber Indicators. Empty Chamber Indicator is a device which when inserted into the chamber shows that no round can be present. It shall consist of a rod with length and diameter not less than 200mm and 5mm respectively and a “flag” component which protrudes from the breach with length and width not less than 65mm and 40mm respectively. It shall be made from a material that will not damage or contaminate the chamber and shall be of a colour-blind friendly colour

2.1.1 Except when shooting, ‘Dry Shooting’ or trigger pressing on the firing point or trigger testing as provided for in Rule bolts shall be removed from the rifle at all time. With the exception of the above and during cleaning and an empty chamber indicator shall also be inserted.

2.1.3 The muzzle of the rifle MUST protrude over the forward edge of the firing point as defined and must be well forward of the ears of neighbouring competitors. Should any interruption to the shooting take place every competitor whose rifle is loaded shall at once unload and remove the bolt AND insert an Empty Chamber Indicator, whether requested to do so or not, and shall not recommence shooting unless authorised by a Range Officer. In each case competitors, when directed to do so, will at once unload and remove the bolt from the rifle AND insert a ECI and the scorers will check to ensure that the competitors obey.

2.1.5 Retiring from the Firing Point

(a) Before retiring from the firing point each competitor must go through the unloading motions with the muzzle pointing towards the target and then remove the bolt from the rifle.

(b) As the competitor retires from the firing point,they shall present the breech of the rifle to the scorer and check scorer where applicable so that they can verify that the chamber of the rifle is empty by visible inspection using any appropriate method. The onus is upon the shooter to enable this to be carried out.

(c) While doing so the muzzle of the rifle must remain pointing in a safe direction until cleared. The rifle shall not be turned so it is pointing at other shooters on the firing point or at the scorers. The bolt is not to be reinserted in the rifle after the breech has been cleared.

(d) Once cleared an empty chamber indicator shall be inserted

(e) Re-inserting a bolt in a rifle after an empty chamber indicator has been inserted as an indication the rifle is clear is not permitted at any time.

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