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Blackjack Zak

THANK YOU....from Winter Range!

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Posted (edited)
Howdy Folks!
 
We want to say a big THANK YOU to all those folks that made their way our to Winter Range.  Some of you came from very far away, and undertook challenges to make it.  We are very grateful for your commitment to Winter Range, and we hope we honored you with a great match.  We had a great time, and the weather could not have been better!  All of us here in Arizona, the Rough Riders and the AZ Rangers, and all the other volunteers worked hard to make it happen.
 
On another note, we have been told that some people have been saying on Facebook that our WR 2020 revolver & pistol targets were no closer than 8 yards and as far out as 14 yards!  I have read (forwarded comments from others) several other comments that are being presented on social media as "facts".  Many of these "facts" are simply not true, very misleading and are pure "misinformation".  I am saddened by that, and as such, feel it necessary to jump in to set the record straight and say a few words.  
 
The philosophy at Winter Range, is and always has been, to design a challenging but FUN match, for everyone.  Not everyone likes to shoot 3 yard targets for every stage, and conversely, not everyone wants to shoot an 8 yard revolver target, etc.  Our shooters are a mix of folks, and a mix of different shooting styles, where each finds their own "fun" in different ways.  
 
As we are a National Championship our goal, as it should be, is to test a variety of skills and shooting specifics.  We always have some close, medium and a couple slightly farther out targets.  We always employ some simple/common sweeps, some single taps, some multiple taps, a dump and one or two more challenging sequences.  We will have a few revolver & rifle knock-downs, at close distances, calibrated with very light loads, and reset every evening to ensure they go down consistently for every shooter.  We believe this match should test a wider variety of shooting skills, and still be fun.  
 
The high majority of our stages are mirror stages so shooters can move in either direction, choose firearm order for many stages, and employ whichever transition technique they personally feel maximizes their skills.  We have found folks like to choose what and how they can do best.
We go to great pains, with tape and angular measures to ensure both mirrored sides are as close to "the same" as possible, so as not to give any shooter an advantage by moving in a different direction or favoring "lefties" vs "righties".  We also strive to maximize the options available to each shooter.  Anyone who has helped us set up can attest to that.
 
Target distances this year, in fact, did not vary greatly from last year, or prior years.  Remember.......We set up our match for THREE matches:  Wild Bunch, Plainsman and Cowboy, and it therefore depends on which day you view the targets to make a distance determination.  The targets are set for WB and Plainsman the week prior, and yes, are at distances farther out than Cowboy.....as this seems to be the preferred design for WB shooters.  Resetting Stages 1-4 for Cowboy takes place on Monday evening and stages 9-12 are then RESET for Cowboy on Tuesday evening. 
 
The Plainsman event (targets farther out, especially for rifle 45-70) is held on Stages 5 and 6 on Wednesday during side events, but THEN ARE RESET for Cowboy distances on Wednesday evening.
 
We go to great lengths to create a detailed "construction manual" for each event, so we can keep track of target sizes, placement and distances.  We pre-mark every target as to where it should go.  I can't count the number of folks who come along on set-up days and say "wow those targets are far out".....we then have to explain that they are being moved in for Cowboy later in the week.  Sadly some don't get the explanation, and walk away thinking that those are the Cowboy targets!!  
 
Our Cowboy revolver distances were:  two stages close @ 4.5 yards,  two stages close @ 5-6 yards, 5 stages medium @ 6-7 yards, and 3 stages a little farther out @  7-8 yards (using the biggest targets we had).  Rifle target and placement philosophy is similar, just 2-4 yards farther out. 
As a side note:  95% of our targets are either 20", 22" and 24" square or rounds........we used a few 18" targets but put them on the close stages.  
 
As you can see, the talk by some on social media about our revolver targets being as far out as 14 yards is simply false and misleading, and was perhaps confused with Plainsman or WB rifle target sets.
 
Folks.....contrary to the comments of some, we do listen....and we do strive to make a fun match, but as a National Championship, we believe it should be a bit challenging also.  For those of folks who only like to shoot BIG and CLOSE, remember there are many, many other folks who don't like that, and enjoy a match that has targets a bit farther out, presenting them with the challenge they enjoy.  We strive to cater to everyone....some fun for all tastes, and contrary to what some have suggested, we do NOT strive to make the match difficult.  We always try to find a balance, a match that appeals to everyone but tests your shooting skill, at least a little. 
 
Having said that, we will wait for our surveys to come in, and I encourage you all to complete them once you receive the email.....or simply email me directly (blackjackzak@hotmail.com)...we will respond.  If the data shows we missed the mark, then we will adjust accordingly.  
 
I am disappointed, however, in some of the comments putting down a good match that so many people enjoy and have worked so very hard to put on.  After reading comments, I see that some have said ".....well then I won't attend".  I would encourage those folks to attend Winter Range, and then make their own informed decision....you will likely have a different view.
 
Cheers and Thanks,
 
Blackjack Zak
 
Edited by Blackjack Zak
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Got to tell you that we had a GREAT time this year and I think you and your "posse" did an outstanding job on the stages. I shot lousy this year, but it had nothing to do with target distance, size, order or placement. Another 3'  closer wouldn't have made any difference for me.

While a fan of "big & close" myself I have to agree that the National Championship should be a slightly tougher test than your average club monthly. It's never been a secret that that's the WR philosophy and participants should expect it and come prepared. Most of the local clubs here move targets out slightly before WR to help shooters get ready for your match!

If you decide to move them in a little next year it's ok with me ;) but don't let the negative BS on FB make your decisions for you.

It was a GREAT match, thanks to everyone!

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This was my first trip to Winter Range, and I can tell you that I had an amazing time, and although I am far from a top shooter, EVERY STAGE was fun and doable. Did I have some misses? Yep! Was it is the range's fault or mine? MINE! Distances were all good, and target size was nice. I can't say enough good things about the match. It was an amazing experience. And I know finances will keep me from shooting the match every year, but I will definitely return to it as much as I am able to

 

I also have to call out Posse 14. I am struggling some with dealing with some health challenges due to a stoke in 2018, and now learning to deal with Parkinson's and using a cane, but the posse was great. They insisted on moving my long guns to and from the line for me so I could still play. I was slow and wobbly, but managed to finish the entire match thanks to their help

 

I am sorry to hear that some were spreading misinformation about this amazing match. I could not have asked for a better experience. 

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Posted (edited)

Zak - the match was real tough on some of our older posse members...why? Well...that's a question that would be best answered by those that fall into that category.

 

I truly appreciate all the hard work that you and others put into WR...

 

Phantom

Edited by Phantom, SASS #54973

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Thanks for the comments/feedback.

I sincerely hope those folks will give us some specific feedback as to what made it hard for them.

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And Thank You Zak!!!!

This was my 5th WR and I believe it was the Most Fun One I've experienced so far....

 

Yep, It may have been a little more challenging in some areas than WR's in years past.....

But a Championship Match Should be Challenging... Why else would you want to spend the time and $$$ to go.

 

What I did see that maybe seemed a bit more difficult was interpreting the way some of the Stages were written......

Shooting the Stages was Great.... Once you understood how it was meant to be done.

 

I believe where some people may have misstepped was in not taking the time to understand what the writer was saying.

Anyway.... That's just an opinion.

 

The Bottom Line is.......  It Was A Blast!!!! I Had a Great Time!!! And I REALLY want to keep Comin' Back!!!!!!! :D

 

Even though Phantom thinks I'm OLD :P

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Zac;

 

I think you and your crew did an awesome job on this years match.

Was it a gimme match? No it wasn't. It was a challenging match as a National Championship should be.

I heard  comments about the low number of clean matches. Only about 6%

That's not the fault of the match it's on the shooter. I know all my misses were my fault.

Keep doing what you've been doing. Putting on an outstanding match.

 

Can't wait for next year to see what you've come up with and what outstanding

new props will be on display.

 

Marshal Stone

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As an aside, please do not write in that light, difficult to read, text script.

Thank you,

Cat Brules

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Zak: it seems like every year somebody complains about the target distances. Ignore ‘em. If they’re only there to shoot “in your face” targets they should go somewhere where that’s all there are and leave the fun stuff for the rest of us. I personally don’t have a problem with having to aim to hit the targets even though I do seem to occasionally confuse where my front sight is with where it should be. :D  Misses are my fault, not the target distance (Although I do hate those little bitty cactus knockdowns. Too much empty space in ‘em. :P )

 

CAS matches ain’t gonna win me the Dodge Dually and the Silverado horse trailer no matter how hard I try; what they will do is give all of us a chance to play cowboy dress-up and play with real guns and shoot real bullets and hang out with a bunch of people just as crazy as we are. And even though I can only afford to go every couple of years to Winter Range it’s one of my favorite places to do that. 

 

Keep up the good work!

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Zak,

 

Please DO listen to the "Complaints".

 

They are valid...they are your customers...and also remember that 3 days of shooting wears on many of those that shoot WR and actually have no expectations of even getting a buckle.

 

It's disheartening too hear folks say that you should ignore them...

 

With respect...

Phantom

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I thoroughly enjoyed my first Winter Range!  I shot to “my potential” for TWO days...dang if it wasn’t a THREE day match! :D I think like @Phantom, SASS #54973 said, the three days “wore” on me and I Shot stages 1-4 last wave last day...however, I was vending and shooting - and that does take its toll....but I’m not going to give up vending because I’m tired or it impacts my shooting (an excuse, maybe? Nah...my husband says there are no excuses for pistol misses :rolleyes:)


A tremendous amount of work went into it and it showed!  Can’t please everyone - to be sure - and I know that the WR Board will listen to the constructive criticism especially if it is constructive - for the good of the game!

 

Arrived home last night after driving home two

full days (of three) in the POURING rain!  Not complaining because the weather at WR was PERFECT!!

 

Thanks so much for everything at WR!

 

Big hugs!

 

Scarlett

 

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3 hours ago, Cat Brules said:

As an aside, please do not write in that light, difficult to read, text script.

Thank you,

Cat Brules

Sorry Cat,

On my laptop the font appears differently than on my phone......not sure why.  Laptop shows larger and bold font......??

I won’t use that anymore :)

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This was the hardest Winter Range, ok most challenging, that I've attended.  That begins in 1999 with a couple of missed years (you still owe me an anniversary packet/bag :D)  I liked it.  I would like to see more matches reach this degree of difficulty.  My first view of the main match setup was the Posse Marshal walk through.  Many stages appeared to have pistol targets at further distances with some "intricate" positioning with regard to the target numbering and shot sequence required by the stage instructions..  Stages 1-4 stood out to me in that respect at that time.  Stages 9-12 seemed to  be the most forgiving.  Appeared to be closer and bigger.  Stages 5-8 appeared to be in between on the degree of difficulty meter. After shooting them, I lump 1-8 together in difficulty and 9-12 less.   None of the stages were of the point and shoot and clamp down on the trigger  variety as with some of the big & close of which we've became complacent.   I never measured any of the distances.  I did step off one stage before my morning rotation.  Front pistol targets were 8-10 steps, back pistol targets were 9-11.  Steps not real precise.  I estimated rifle targets to be another 3-4 steps.  I noted that closest shotgun targets were in line with the front pistol targets.  Misses were the result of as follows:  hurried shots timed to mental cadence due to muscle memory developed on repeated big & close targets;,  breaking shots while pistols moving due to lazy mechanics brought on by in your face targets; lack of trigger control and follow through not required on close targets.  Winter Range 2020 was a great match!  It was a fun match!  It had choice, movement, variability, innovation,  good starting positions, and great props.  All of the non-shooting activities were A number 1!  KEEP IT THIS WAY!  Personally, I would welcome more matches like this one.  All of any one thing gets repetitive after a while.  I fully understand the customer satisfaction concept.  There are plenty of "up close & personal" matches across the country for those that just don't won't the challenge in which to  participate.   Whom are we trying to attract when our philosophy becomes "make it as easy as possible" so that more will be fooled into thinking they are "skilled" at something?

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5 minutes ago, Blackjack Zak said:

Sorry Cat,

On my laptop the font appears differently than on my phone......not sure why.  Laptop shows larger and bold font......??

I won’t use that anymore :)


Thank you, Zak,

I’m not angry over it.  I have a vision disorder and I have surgery coming up, but even then, it’s still likely to be tough to read.  I don’t have Internet service out here, so I can’t use all this computer equipment I have, just my iPhone.  I just can’t see the script fonts; and then, it’s very light.  If I could use one of my laptops or my computer, it likely would not be a real issue.  Point is, I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority about this, so if you like to use the script, please carry on, and don’t let me stop you.

Best wishes,

Cat Brules

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4 minutes ago, Cat Brules said:


Thank you, Zak,

I’m not angry over it.  I have a vision disorder and I have surgery coming up, but even then, it’s still likely to be tough to read.  I don’t have Internet service out here, so I can’t use all this computer equipment I have, just my iPhone.  I just can’t see the script fonts; and then, it’s very light.  If I could use one of my laptops or my computer, it likely would not be a real issue.  Point is, I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority about this, so if you like to use the script, please carry on, and don’t let me stop you.

Best wishes,

Cat Brules

Cat,

when I get to a computer I will change the font and see if it changes on your phone....

cheers 

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I shouldn’t have said anything.....now I’m embarrassed.....:blush:  

 

CB

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, Max Montana, SASS #23907 said:

  Whom are we trying to attract when our philosophy becomes "make it as easy as possible" so that more will be fooled into thinking they are "skilled" at something?

 

Customers ;) 

 

P.S.  I'm heartbroken that life got in the way so I wasn't able to attend this year's match.  For that reason I will in NO way offer an opinion.  Just answering a question here. 

Edited by Shooting Bull

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1 hour ago, Cat Brules said:

 

I shouldn’t have said anything.....now I’m embarrassed.....:blush:  

 

CB

No worries Cat!  I will git’er fixed!!

:)

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I’ve been shooting WR since ‘98.

This years match was not the easiest nor anywhere near the most challenging. Stages were well thought out. Every target was doable and options available to every shooter. It was a great, fun match.

ymmv. Two Dot

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Thanks Zak. 

Having shot SASS for some 26 years now, I've seen a lot of changes.  Some good, some not so good.    I believe it important to listen and listen carefully to our shooters and I KNOW we will work hard gleaning information from the data provided in the survey.  Trying to find a balance between those folks that come for a well earned vacation and those folks that come to compete at the highest level is extremely difficult.   I try to remember that this , after all, is a shooting match not just a "who can manipulate the action fasted match" - That said though we do honestly need to attend to the wishes of our customers and I KNOW WE WILL.  If anyone - ANYONE has a concern PLEASE let us know and PLEASE be specific. 

 

Personally and this is my opinion ONLY.   When we get targets too close and too big, we develop habits that can actually come to hurt us if we were ever in a situation that required the use of a firearm in defense of ourselves or our loved ones.   I watched the video of the Texas Church shooting numerous times and I saw an individual make a single head shot at about 15 yards under extreme stress.  While I know that we aren't practicing self defense when we shoot CAS,  habits are formed.  Thanks for taking the time to speak up.

 

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1 hour ago, Cat Brules said:

 

I shouldn’t have said anything.....now I’m embarrassed.....:blush:  

 

CB

Hey Cat,

I changed the font to "Arial".....did that work for ya?

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7 minutes ago, Blackjack Zak said:

Hey Cat,

I changed the font to "Arial".....did that work for ya?

Isn't that the girl in The little mermaid"

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This was my second WR I have only been shooting for a little over two years and only have a few complaints.

1. I got sun burned this year.

2. Didn't get to use my mud boots and rain jacket that I bought just for WR.

3. I didn't win a car or even come in first.

All the kidding aside great match you and the crew deserve a BZ for a job well done. I would of liked a "line" on every stage instead of saying "none" all the time. Being new to the game I expect hard stages, mixed targets and a little change up to make it tougher.

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38 minutes ago, Blackjack Zak said:

Hey Cat,

I changed the font to "Arial".....did that work for ya?


Zak,  you’re a good man!  Yes, the Arial font is very readable for me.  I sure do appreciate it.

Thank you,

Cat Brules

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Zak,

 

WR this year was a fantastic match! I am very glad to have been able to make it after such a long time away.

 

To truly approach a match with the business to customer mind set, it is important to not only take care of your existing customers, but also to create new customers by offering the product they want to buy. Offering matches that are a little more challenging might help to pull in new shooters from other disciplines.

 

I have never walked away from a Winter Range with complaints, so I have full confidence that the Rough Riders can find that happy medium.

 

Hopefully next year the kid will be old enough that I can spend extra time at the range after shooting and we can we can catch up on the last 10 years, first round is on me.

 

-Shifty

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Well I'm old, my major parts only work part time the rest of me is tired and or retired.  I don't think listening is a bad habit however blaming the set up for ones own poor performance is not constructive criticism.  The match for cowboy was elegant well balanced and very shootable.  No P traps or anything that resembled one although I was able to collect one it was a brain fart not a match difficulty.  See ya next year.

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This was a great match, wish we could make it every year.  We thought it provided lots of variety, and enough options to allow everyone to shoot it their own way.

I have to say I am surprised to hear it portrayed as “difficult”.

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14 hours ago, Beartrap SASS#57175 said:

Got to tell you that we had a GREAT time this year and I think you and your "posse" did an outstanding job on the stages. I shot lousy this year, but it had nothing to do with target distance, size, order or placement. Another 3'  closer wouldn't have made any difference for me.

While a fan of "big & close" myself I have to agree that the National Championship should be a slightly tougher test than your average club monthly. It's never been a secret that that's the WR philosophy and participants should expect it and come prepared. Most of the local clubs here move targets out slightly before WR to help shooters get ready for your match!

If you decide to move them in a little next year it's ok with me ;) but don't let the negative BS on FB make your decisions for you.

It was a GREAT match, thanks to everyone!

This is exactly how I feel. 

Great Match - always has been!

Thank you Blackjack Zak for all you do ! 

Hells Comin 

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No one works harder than BJZ and NTJ. Every one of the crew at WR wants the match to be great and works to that end. Some of us are limited in our abilities but love what we do. I am always in awe of what the final outcome is at WR. My thanks to a wonderful crew of folks to work and associate with.

kR

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Being there to help...I got to see the pains these folks go to making sure things are right. Like moving part of a stage front over six inches so both sides are the same depending on which side a shooter wants to start on. I saw some of the books they make up so targets on both sides of  a stage are the same. Unless you have been there helping set up...most people don't have any idea of the detail these people go to. And as far as being hard...I am probably an average shooter at best...and I made it through the match with only one miss.

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It was a a great match. I sure had fun and God willing will be back for many more. This is a sport of speed, accuracy and gun handling. Some matches have targets so big and close you scrape your front sight on the target during the draw. While I personally don’t mind a match 

Iike  that once in awhile I do not think it is what I would expect at a championship level. The Rangers at WR do an unbelievable amount of work to make this match run smooth. You have my respect and thanks for a great job.

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Hi Zak.

my wife and I enjoyed this years match. (Much better weather). I feel that everyone shoots the same match regardless of difficulty.  At my skill level, if I have to slow down some to shoot a clean stage that’s ok. It’s all fun!  Glad to have been able to shoot the warmup with you and thanks for the timer tips.

Morgun

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Posted (edited)

I've missed one WR since 2003.  It was 2010 before I was fortunate enough to come to AZ early enough to see BA in it's "normal" state, before all the WR crews worked their magic to transform it.  It really hit me at that point what an incredible effort it is and why it takes so many people to make it all happen.  Now that I live here, I have gotten to know many of these hard-working people better.  None of them want their cowboy company to go home unhappy from this signature match in the annual cycle of SASS events.  But is does seem something is out of sync based on the number of people that see issues with the match itself.  Is that real or perception?  The published scores don't tell us all the data needed to know.  We do know the number of clean shooters was far below the "norm" for most other big matches and has been getting lower by the year for WR.  ( 105 clean in 2018, 56 clean in 2019, 37 in 2020)  I would love to see the P and miss counts, too, but just the lower number of clean shooters does provide some indication of incremental change in difficulty - and the difficulty covers a LOT more than just target distance.  The other thing that is not even being talked about is - what are the MD's across the country at clubs, state and regional matches doing?  Is there a unified effort to make state harder than a monthly and regional harder than state or do they each have their own "character" and do what they have found to be popular year after year?  My guess is the latter.  The principal that that National Championship should be more of a skills test makes sense and is a worthy goal.   There may be a disconnect with MD's around the country on what that means or even a lack of awareness this is happening.  I know some have said they set targets back farther the month before to prep for WR but that seems pretty inadequate.  Shooters need high and low, knockdowns for pistol and rifle, unusual target layouts and sequences and especially some practice figuring out the "write your own" stages with multiple options on how to shoot it.  Those things need to appear regularly at monthly matches until they are as familiar as a stand and deliver, double tap Nevada on 3 targets.   Maybe it's time we took a look at SASS "recommended" distance and size for targets and set a minimum distance and acceptable size range to help standardize what we're shooting at from the club level up.  Maybe some sample stages (like the old postal matches) should be published for all the clubs to use so start positions, wording on how to shoot the stage, sweeps, the target distance, size, layout etc  will be familiar and not a shock when the shooters arrive. More than anything else, we have to decide the question: Are we a game or a shooting sport?  It used to be a game - a bad hatchet throw or draw of the wrong card could cost you big time.  Getting it right or a little luck might make you the winner.  Most of our changes have been toward becoming more like a shooting sport. Is that what we want?  If it isn't, then why are we doing that?  We need to make up our mind.  Straddling that fence makes planning a match to cover the various wants from the participants SO much harder, it's really just about impossible.    

Edited by Lou Graham, # 26112
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As a FYI - I do forward stats for misses, p's , etc to the ranger masters.  Also want to mention that - as the competitors age more misses and p's are to be expected even if the difficulty remains the same - that said we will definitely be reviewing the surveys carefully.

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