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The Art of Observing


As we get geared up for a new season, questions always come up regarding the rules RMTA follows and scoring. If the riders does such & such is it a dab? One point? Two points? A five? What rules do we follow anyway?

On this page you will find the answers to all these questions and more.....


To begin, RMTA follows NATC scoring rules found in Section 6 A-C of the 2009 AMA/NATC Supplemental Riding Rules. The NATC Steward has verified these written rules as the correct rules for 2009.

NATC produces a video for demonstration purposes only - the official rules are the written document.


The number one rule to follow for observing is:

The Benefit of Doubt always goes to the rider - if you are not 100% sure the rider took a point or what the rule is in a particular situation - do not give any points.



We haven’t chatted about observing for a bit and we’ve have a couple of things occur at the last few events that merit discussion.


Situation #1: The observer punches the wrong score or line on the riders scorecard. A) The correct way to fix punching the wrong score is to punch out the whole row - except the correct score. If the observer has a felt pen with them the correct score can also be circled.  B)If the score is punched correctly but on the wrong line - leave it - do not re-punch the score on the correct line. Again, if a felt pen is handy the observer can indicate that they punched the wrong line & which section the score is actually for.


Once the card is given back to the rider, the observer can no longer make corrections and under no circumstance can anyone else, including trials masters, change a rider’s score. Only the rider can protest their own score and they may do so whether the score is to their advantage or not. Only when a rider has protested a score may the trials master talk with the rider, observer and/or club officers about the merits of the protest.


Situation #2: Riders taking a line through a section that may not be the line intended by the trials master. As long as the rider stays on the designated side of any split markers for their class - there is no penalty. This generally happens when riders find a ‘snivel’ line the trials master did not see. Part of riding trials is for the riders to find the best possible line through the section. No one may modify the section layout after the first rider has ridden the section, including trials masters, observers, riders or spectators.






Our first discussion will be two situations that have happened at our first two events.


Situation #1: Rider removes one hand from their handlebars to adjust their helmet, while balancing.

Score - 0.

The rule: Section 6 B: Failure Definitions #4: The rider does not have both hands on the handlebars when footing while stationary.

So our rider receives no penalty points as they were not footing. A rider can adjust their helmet as long as they don’t put a foot down when their hand is off the handlebar.


Situation #2: Rider dabs with right foot on the left side of their bike with their left foot still on the peg. Score - 1.

The rule: Section 6 B: Failure Definitions #3: The rider dismounts from the machine and has both feet on the ground on the same side of or behind the machine.

This rider should receive a penalty of 1 for their right foot touching the ground. As long as only one foot touches the ground the rider has not dismounted and the rider receives a 1 for the dab.




Send in your questions or comments for our next “The Art of Observing” discussion.

Email webmaster@rockymountaintrials.org