The rules on targeting are ...
- No player shall target and make forcible contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. When in question, it is a foul. (Rule 9-1-3)
No player shall target and make forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulder. When in question, it is a foul. (Rule 9-1-4)
The penalty is 15 yards plus automatic disqualification.
In accordance with the BAFA Disciplinary Code, a disqualification for targeting may be the subject of an appeal if there is evidence that the officials got the call wrong or the wrong player was disqualified.
Note that helmet to helmet contact is not required for targeting - the foul could be for helmet to an opponent's body, or any part of the body to the opponent's head or neck.
The purpose of this rule is to encourage (strongly) players to aim lower than the shoulders when hitting an opponent. It is as easy if not easier to dislodge a pass by hitting a receiver in the torso than it would be to hit him near the head. The latter is very dangerous.
Definition of targeting
"Targeting" means that a player takes aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with forcible contact that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball. Some indicators of targeting include but are not limited to:
- Launch - a player leaving his feet to attack an opponent by an upward and forward thrust of the body to make contact in the head or neck area.
- A crouch followed by an upward and forward thrust to attack with contact at the head or neck area, even though one or both feet are still on the ground.
- Leading with helmet, shoulder, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area.
- Lowering the head before attacking by initiating contact with the crown of the helmet.
Definition of a defenceless player
A defenseless player is one who because of his physical position and focus of concentration is especially vulnerable to injury. Examples of defenseless players are:
- A player in the act of or just after throwing a pass.
- A receiver attempting to catch a forward pass or in position to receive a backward pass, or one who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a ball carrier.
- A kicker in the act of or just after kicking a ball, or during the kick or the return.
- A kick returner attempting to catch or recover a kick.
- A player on the ground.
- A player obviously out of the play.
- A player who receives a blind-side block.
- A ball carrier already in the grasp of an opponent and whose forward progress has been stopped.
- A quarterback any time after a change of possession.
- A ball carrier who has obviously given himself up and is sliding feet-first.
A "blind-side" block is not defined in the rules, but we interpret it (like in the USA) as any time the opponent does not see the block coming.