Free Guard Zone
The free guard zone is the area in between the hog line and the tee line, excluding the front half of the house. A guard is a type of shot in curling that is designed to block and prevent the other team from throwing stones into the house to score points.
Free Guard Rule
The Free Guard Rule states that a guard cannot be removed from play until the first five stones of the end are thrown. If a guard is removed from play before such stones are thrown, the guard is placed back in its original position, and the opponent's stone that hit the guard is removed from play. The Free Guard Rule applies while the first five stones of the end are being thrown.
Stones In Play
Let's say the one team is throwing their first shot and decide to throw a guard that is near the Top 12 Foot. The other team attempts to throw around the guard, but accidently hits the guard on the way by. Both stones move into the 12 Foot. Does this violate the Free Guard Rule? In this case, it does not violate the Free Guard Rule because the stone your team threw is still in-play. Therefore, both stones remain where they are in the house.
Stones Out Of Play
Now let's imagine the team with the hammer throws a center guard that is near the front half of the guard zone. The opposing team throws a tick shot, but both stones end up reaching the sidelines and are out-of-play. Does this violate the Free Guard Rule? This violates the Free Guard Rule because the stone your lead threw was removed from play before the first five stones of the end could be thrown. Since both stones rolled out-of-play, your opponent's stone will remain out-of-play, and your stone will return to its original position.
Both Stones In The Guard Zone
The team with the hammer throws a guard that stops in the middle of the guard zone. The next team performs a tick shot successfully, and both stones remain in the guard zone. Does this violate the Free Guard Rule? This does not violate the Free Guard Rule because the stone your lead threw remained in-play. Therefore, both stones will remain in-play, and the end continues as normal.
After The First Five Stones
There is a stone in the Guard Zone and the team with the hammer has the vice throw a peel shot knocking both stones out of play. Does this violate the Free Guard Rule? This does not violate the Free Guard Rule because the rule only applies to the first five stones in each end. If a vice is throwing, at least eight stones have already been thrown.