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Stage Variety in Matches (Rifle starts)


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So you see on the wire people mention the same “ol’ 10 10 4”. well there are a lot of ways to make the matches a variety and still be 10 10 4 and an one really easy one is to have a prescribed gun order and mix it up. A pet peeve of mine that’s been a trend for a while now is where the match is written with optional starting gun on most or all stages, and it’s usually advantageous to start with rifle every time because of stage layout or you have a designated rifle start stage and then the next stage is a option stage which is most likely going to be advantageous to start with rifle. So basically every stage starts with rifle :mellow:. I was a Match director for years, monthly matches & the FL ST Championship (which I still consult for))and you would never start would the same gun twice in a row. Different start positions each stage, For example in a 6 stage match your going to start with each gun twice & for each gun the start position will be different. With rifle you will be holding it to start a stage and on the other rifle stage or stages you will pick it up from table or prop, same with shotgun & pistols hands on guns, hands on a prop or sometimes staged pistols.

 

Having one option stage in a 10 stage match is fun for example GA state does one each year , start with any gun any location kind of thing 

 

Usually these “option matches” as I call them are not true options as I said it’s usually advantageous to start with rifle because of stage flow & target layout. 
 


AO

 

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agree 1000 percent - the trend of shooters choice in gun order, target arrays, start position, etc.  "may" give some a thrill but it diminishes the match.

 

It is very hard to compare scores when everyone doesn't shoot the same match - yes, I know there are differences in equipment, propellant and shooting style - but minimally; everyone should be experiencing the same flow thru the stage and navigating the same obstacles in the same order.

 

In an annual match - variety is obtained not by free for all gun orders and positioning - but by a quality match director taking the time to ensure (to the best of their abilities):

 

A mix of stages with pistol first, rifle first, shotgun first.

A proper mix of MANDATED left to right AND right to left AND (if possible) downrange movements.

A mix of sweeps and target engagements with ZERO repeated sweeps in the match.

A mix of round counts on targets including single taps and multi round dumps.

A mix of specified shotgun orders with any order - depending on stage design.

A mix of hands on gun with prop manipulation.

 

A stage should (even in the absence of "written stories") be "scripted" telling a narrative of this happened, then that, then this. 

And I personally am a fan of GOOD SUCCINCT STORYTELLING that tells me (in three lines or less) why we've gotten ourselves involved in this shooting match.

 

Should there be "some" element of shooter creativity and individuality allowed?

Yes, but not every stage and ONLY if the match director can demonstrate that there are in actuality VARIOUS equitable methods to engage the stage - not only one that makes sense.

 

Good stage writing is much MUCH more than simply drawing some targets and thinking of a clever sequence to shoot them in.

 

Good match directing is much MUCH more than coming up with 6 or 12 decent stages and bundling them together.

 

Sadly too many stage writers and match directors never take the time to understand the interconnectedness of every movement, sequence and array in a match and how each decision impacts another.

 

Yeah, I know - it sounds like Feng Shui for match directing - but in a way it is - when all the parts fit together and flow together; the match is improved.

 

And sadly many shooters never get to shoot a match that has been given that level of exam and introspection.

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We write a lot of stages as "shooters choice". We define the shooting sequence, pistol Nevada sweep for 10,  for each gun and the starting position. Then we say shooters choice for gun order, and we offer up must use 1, 2 or 5 shooting positions. And yes some will shoot rifle last. It's about keeping the timer in a position that picks up 38 lighter loads.

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7 minutes ago, Jackson Rose, SASS #45478 said:

Should never mandate left to right or right to left. I had a match director tell me he mandated left to right for every stage so that everyone shot it the same. Nonsense, not every one is right handed. A sweep is a sweep. 

Hence the term MIX.

A MIX offers each things that may have advantage or restriction.

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I guess I'm the odd one in the bunch but when gun order is rifle not last many times I'll start with my shotgun. I like having the option of moving the direction I want to and starting a sweep on either end. Given the option many stages I'll start the pistols on the right and rifle on the left.

 

Randy

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4 minutes ago, Randy Saint Eagle, SASS # 64903 said:

I guess I'm the odd one in the bunch but when gun order is rifle not last many times I'll start with my shotgun. I like having the option of moving the direction I want to and starting a sweep on either end. Given the option many stages I'll start the pistols on the right and rifle on the left.

 

Randy

You're not the odd one.

Give me the option for gun order and (barring some stage design restriction) it will ALWAYS be

Shotgun (only gun where I can get a restart because of fumble)

Rifle 

Pistols (if movement is required before shooting - can draw and aim while moving)

AND as a Gunfighter - won't have to holster on the clock.

 

 

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I gave up writing stages.  I modified stages written for a Florida club where they would fit our physical stages. I introduced shooter's choice of gun order, etc. Match director didn't like them.  Struck all the choices and went back to 10-10-4.  Too confusing,  he said. Too many Ps.   The two clubs we shoot at just shuffle the same 3-4 sweeps month after month. Everybody happy.

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With in the 10 rifle, 10 pistol, 4+ shotgun, there are options...

End with Shotgun.
End with Pistols.

Start with Rifle

Start with Pistols

Start with Shotgun

Split Pistols.

 

Then there are the things that you can do like...

 

1 stage has a dump target for the rifle, pistol or shotgun.

1 stage has 3 dump targets, one for each firearm type.

1 stage has some shotgun popper targets

1 stage has some sort of moving target

1 stage has a "special" target; tombstone rack, Texas Star, etc.

1 stage can be shooters choice.

1 stage has a really big target that's also kinda far away.

 

Even if most of your stages are 10 pistol, 10 rifle, 4+ shotgun with "conventional" sweeps, you can use one or more of the above to make 1 (or more) of the stages slightly different.

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42 minutes ago, Warden Callaway said:

I gave up writing stages.  I modified stages written for a Florida club where they would fit our physical stages. I introduced shooter's choice of gun order, etc. Match director didn't like them.  Struck all the choices and went back to 10-10-4.  Too confusing,  he said. Too many Ps.   The two clubs we shoot at just shuffle the same 3-4 sweeps month after month. Everybody happy.

The downside of shooting the same sweeps over and over is the shooters are not prepared for unique sweeps they may encounter elsewhere.  I travel to out-of-state matches and always encounter sweeps I've never seen (and enjoy the new challenge).  Regarding shooting left to right or right to left, as a black powder shooter I want to sweep from downwind to upwind.  Forcing me to sweep into my smoke cloud is not enjoyable.  In calm conditions I may shoot my shotgun last to minimize the smoke cloud on a stage.

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Stage writing has gotten easier as the years pass and SASS has aged.  Now-a-days by the time the shooters get to stage three most of them have forgotten all about stages one and two so it is easier to maintain "variety.) :huh:

Edited by Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933
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1 hour ago, Randy Saint Eagle, SASS # 64903 said:

I guess I'm the odd one in the bunch but when gun order is rifle not last many times I'll start with my shotgun. I like having the option of moving the direction I want to and starting a sweep on either end. Given the option many stages I'll start the pistols on the right and rifle on the left.

 

Randy

Me too. 

If I mess up loading or in the process, I can start over as long as I dont put one down range. 

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I also prefer targets that are at varying distances.

 

Most around here just care to see how fast they can dump at a target that the fire from the black powder gun will ACTUALLY hit. Don't mind that stage, I would also like to see some with targets at a medium distance and 1-2 at further distances.

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1 hour ago, Creeker, SASS #43022 said:

You're not the odd one.

Give me the option for gun order and (barring some stage design restriction) it will ALWAYS be

Shotgun (only gun where I can get a restart because of fumble)

Rifle 

Pistols (if movement is required before shooting - can draw and aim while moving)

AND as a Gunfighter - won't have to holster on the clock.

 

 

The stages need to be set up for these options to be viable, If there are steps I might start with SG or pistols but typically rifle is on left side of stage and makes advantageous for right handed shooter to start there, & your going to be next to it, so it’s not a competitive option most of the time 

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1 hour ago, Jackson Rose, SASS #45478 said:

Should never mandate left to right or right to left. I had a match director tell me he mandated left to right for every stage so that everyone shot it the same. Nonsense, not every one is right handed. A sweep is a sweep. 

I’m with you on shooting directions left or right and up & down, but within that sometimes it’s fun to set array up where maybe it might be advantageous to start on right, something that might maybe get the shooter to at least think about it

 

AO

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21 minutes ago, Arcadia Outlaw, SASS 71385 said:

The stages need to be set up for these options to be viable, If there are steps I might start with SG or pistols but typically rifle is on left side of stage and makes advantageous for right handed shooter to start there, & your going to be next to it, so it’s not a competitive option most of the time 

Understand that too - offering an "option" that is well and truly not a viable option for the shooter who looks at the score sheet.

I have (at monthlies) lobbied the shooters that often occupy the top positions (and myself) to actually shoot a given stage in such a manner to demonstrate when an option is not really.

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2 hours ago, Warden Callaway said:

I gave up writing stages.  I modified stages written for a Florida club where they would fit our physical stages. I introduced shooter's choice of gun order, etc. Match director didn't like them.  Struck all the choices and went back to 10-10-4.  Too confusing,  he said. Too many Ps.   The two clubs we shoot at just shuffle the same 3-4 sweeps month after month. Everybody happy.

not everybody was happy. liked your matches better.

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Stage variety can also be accomplished by using props.  For example, taking the bag of gold with you between shooting positions or throwing a stick of dynamite, putting shotgun shells in a wooden box.  That is stuff from the old days but I rarely see much of it anymore.  Obviously we have outgrown laying under the wagon or shooting out of a claw foot bathtub, but I kind of miss stabbing the dummy to start the timer. 

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Shot a match once, 5 targets. Instructions were outside outside inside inside middle middle inside inside outside outside. Start either end. 
 

everybody shot it 1 5 2 4 3 3 2 4 1 5.  Certainly followed stage instructions. 
I shot a double tap sweep 11, 22,33,44,55. Which also followed instructions. (After much discussion!!!!)  

 

giving too much free reign can be a bad thing!!! And round count stages can be tough to count with a really fast shooter. 
 

I like a match with maybe one stage where shooter has options. Otherwise, give directions. 

 

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42 minutes ago, Jackson Rose, SASS #45478 said:

not everybody was happy. liked your matches better.

 

 

Thanks!  

 

Sawmill Mary wrote the stages once.  Most were familiar but one was different.  Kind of an outside in as I remember.   Anyway, it took the posse a bit to get it down.  I had a camera set up.  

 

 

 

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15 minutes ago, Warden Callaway said:

 

 

Thanks!  

 

Sawmill Mary wrote the stages once.  Most were familiar but one was different.  Kind of an outside in as I remember.   Anyway, it took the posse a bit to get it down.  I had a camera set up.  

 

 

 

And this is why, after the stage is read, I walk away.

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2 hours ago, Randy Saint Eagle, SASS # 64903 said:

I guess I'm the odd one in the bunch but when gun order is rifle not last many times I'll start with my shotgun. I like having the option of moving the direction I want to and starting a sweep on either end. Given the option many stages I'll start the pistols on the right and rifle on the left.

 

Randy

I like the option of choosing which direction to sweep.  Given that I'll sweep right to left with my first pistol (strong side) and left to right with my second pistol, usually.

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I think one I wrote had three targets. Directions were 3 on each any order and last one on the middle target.  Some shot 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3 then 2. Others shot triple tap and back to 2.  Some shot 3 on 1, 3 on 3 and 4 on 2. Had to think. 

 

Sawmill Mary wrote one that had a bonus target.  It was a maple leaf about the size of a dinner plate sat at 75 yards. Shooting at it was after the timer stopped but would take off 5 seconds if you hit it.  It was optional.   Oh the bitching and complaining.   But everyone tried it and everyone hit the plate and everyone watched everyone shoot to see if they hit it.  But never do that again! 

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1 hour ago, Captain Bill Burt said:

I like the option of choosing which direction to sweep.  Given that I'll sweep right to left with my first pistol (strong side) and left to right with my second pistol, usually.

I was not really talking about sweep direction in my original post, but more a reference to required movement from shooting location to other shooting location. With designated gun order being the actual focal point of my original post.

Edited by Arcadia Outlaw, SASS 71385
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AO,

No doubt, this thread has merit.   Anytime a good conversation can generate ideas, etc..... that might help

the game is always good.

 

Basically, changing up shooting order can be beneficial.

And when given the opportunity, I also prefer to start with rifle.

 

I'm not in favor of being told which direction to run a sweep, as some have mentioned.

Another thing I really don't understand is WHY can't rifle be last on some stages.  

 Our timers are sensitive enough and unless we are shooting inside a building, rifle shots should be registering on the timers that we use.  

The TO just needs to remember to hold it correctly.

 

Good topic.

 

EDIT:  but I must admit, until I can start shooting clean and running sub 20's, stage shooting 

order really doesn't bother me.

 

..........Widder

 

 

 

Edited by Widder, SASS #59054
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Shotgun targets 1 and 3 were ones that fell and threw up a popper, targets 2 and 4.  Targets 5 and 6 were clay targets on stands.   Instructions were "successfully engage any 4 of the 6 shotgun targets, in any order."   Most people shot 1, went after 2, 3 and went after 4, using 5 and 6 if they missed 2 and 4.

Me, I shot 1, 3, 5, 6, ignoring 2 and 4 entirely and had broken 5 and 6 before 2 and 4 hit the ground.

Everyone was like, "Is that legal?"  After a brief discussion it was decided that I had followed the instructions as written and a lotta folks were saying, "Why didn't I think of that?"

 

I just had fun.  :)

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31 minutes ago, Widder, SASS #59054 said:

AO,

No doubt, this thread has merit.   Anytime a good conversation can generate ideas, etc..... that might help

the game is always good.

 

Basically, changing up shooting order can be beneficial.

And when given the opportunity, I also prefer to start with rifle.

 

I'm not in favor of being told which direction to run a sweep, as some have mentioned.

Another thing I really don't understand is WHY can't rifle be last on some stages.  

 Our timers are sensitive enough and unless we are shooting inside a building, rifle shots should be registering on the timers that we use.  

The TO just needs to remember to hold it correctly.

 

Good topic.

 

EDIT:  but I must admit, until I can start shooting clean and running sub 20's, stage shooting 

order really doesn't bother me.

 

..........Widder

 

 

 

Im not sure why folks keep mentioning shooting direction, too me that should always be optional. 
 

The OP was about the starting gun in matches and that basically the option stages usually are not usually true options so 7 stages of a 10 stage match your starting with rifle or it’s most advantageous to. Too me a good CAS match should have variety, start with pistols, start with shotgun , start with rifle  it’s a competition that these different starts or skill sets should be part of.at least in my opinion. 
 

AO

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46 minutes ago, Arcadia Outlaw, SASS 71385 said:

 

The OP was about the starting gun in matches and that basically the option stages usually are not usually true options so 7 stages of a 10 stage match your starting with rifle or it’s most advantageous to. Too me a good CAS match should have variety, start with pistols, start with shotgun , start with rifle  it’s a competition that these different starts or skill sets should be part of.at least in my opinion. 
 

AO

  I'll just throw this out there for the heck of it. When the starting gun is given and it is not the rifle, you have given the entire 3 gun order if the club follows the SASS recommendation of rifle not last. For ME, 80% of my fun comes in ascertaining the most efficient way for me to run the stage. If I'm told the whole gun order and have no options, I've just lost 90% of my fun for that stage because 10% is discussing it with my pards and how they will shoot it. 

To ME when we're instructed exactly how to shoot a stage, it doesn't "level the playing field" or "make everybody shoot the same match". It just makes the match about who can manipulate their guns fastest and get from point a to point b fastest. I don't usually keep going to clubs that tell me exactly how to shoot a stage. It ain't no fun to me. It's fun for me to use my brain and shoot it how I want. I know there are people who like to be told exactly how and what to do, I just ain't one of them. I do agree there can be too many options. Makes reading the stage rough.

Just my .02

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1 hour ago, Tennessee williams said:

  I'll just throw this out there for the heck of it. When the starting gun is given and it is not the rifle, you have given the entire 3 gun order if the club follows the SASS recommendation of rifle not last. For ME, 80% of my fun comes in ascertaining the most efficient way for me to run the stage. If I'm told the whole gun order and have no options, I've just lost 90% of my fun for that stage because 10% is discussing it with my pards and how they will shoot it. 

To ME when we're instructed exactly how to shoot a stage, it doesn't "level the playing field" or "make everybody shoot the same match". It just makes the match about who can manipulate their guns fastest and get from point a to point b fastest. I don't usually keep going to clubs that tell me exactly how to shoot a stage. It ain't no fun to me. It's fun for me to use my brain and shoot it how I want. I know there are people who like to be told exactly how and what to do, I just ain't one of them. I do agree there can be too many options. Makes reading the stage rough.

Just my .02

As someone who uses the term "shoot the same match" - I don't have issues with sweep directions or a dozen other items that can "vary" a match shooter to shooter - But there has to be a CONCENTRATED examination about the options available and IF they are equitable.

Most match directors are incapable (I dont wish to say incapable as it will be taken as insult; but incapable is the right word) of the legitimate exam of each option and which are fair and which are just a word challenge until the first guy or girl figures out the best way (and then everybody remaining to shoot follows).

 

I have zero issue with a shooter examining the stage and determining (and utilizing) IF anything advantages them; but an experienced shooter figuring out a "method" that a newer shooter misses isn't demonstrating superior skill; just more matches under their belt.

 

If "Any Gun Order" (or any shooter option offered per the stage writer) can be DEMONSTRATED on a timer to be "equitable" regardless of choices - have at it - but IF not - then it is not a viable/ equitable offering and the SHOOTERS (of every experience level) are better served by complete instruction (ie dictated orders).

 

Offering options that are not truly equitable is (to me) the equivalent of writing a "P" trap and saying, "it only penalizes the new shooter who hasn't learned all the tricks yet".

 

Edited by Creeker, SASS #43022
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Yes.  Good discussion.

 

Options are good!  Variety is good!

 

I wrote a stage for our last shoot where I said guns any order, hands had to be touching wood to start.  After about 3 shooters our least gamey shooter asked me, "Aren't my stocks wood?"  I said, "Why yes.  It sure is!"  And then a few realized their pistol grips were wood too, while others realized theirs weren't.  Anyway...OPTIONS!

 

If it's an open stage and the TO's pay attention rifle last is very doable.

Edited by Possum Skinner, SASS#60697
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1 hour ago, Tennessee williams said:

  I'll just throw this out there for the heck of it. When the starting gun is given and it is not the rifle, you have given the entire 3 gun order if the club follows the SASS recommendation of rifle not last. For ME, 80% of my fun comes in ascertaining the most efficient way for me to run the stage. If I'm told the whole gun order and have no options, I've just lost 90% of my fun for that stage because 10% is discussing it with my pards and how they will shoot it. 

To ME when we're instructed exactly how to shoot a stage, it doesn't "level the playing field" or "make everybody shoot the same match". It just makes the match about who can manipulate their guns fastest and get from point a to point b fastest. I don't usually keep going to clubs that tell me exactly how to shoot a stage. It ain't no fun to me. It's fun for me to use my brain and shoot it how I want. I know there are people who like to be told exactly how and what to do, I just ain't one of them. I do agree there can be too many options. Makes reading the stage rough.

Just my .02

Y'all don't have much downrange movement? Lateral movement does allow order guns are shot. However, it does limit movement. Sorry to say this, most shooters don't know good stages from bad. In speaking with Phantom yesterday we've determined an all "round count" match might be the best option for all shooting styles. 10-10-4 has become very boring. I wrote a couple stages that only used two guns at Hell On Wheels this year and shooters really enjoyed them. 

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22 minutes ago, Creeker, SASS #43022 said:

As someone who uses the term "shoot the same match" - I don't have issues with sweep directions or a dozen other items that can "vary" a match shooter to shooter - But there has to be a CONCENTRATED examination about the options available and IF they are equitable.

We agree on a lot and disagree on some too. Some is lost in translation I think as well. My reply was mainly about gun order and lack of options on them. 

22 minutes ago, Creeker, SASS #43022 said:

Most match directors are incapable of the legitimate exam of each option and which are fair

To me, if everybody has the SAME options, it's fair. Oftentimes, I actually think the stagewriter tries too hard and ends up not being able to see the forrest for all of the trees.

22 minutes ago, Creeker, SASS #43022 said:

and which are just a word challenge until the first guy or girl figures out the best way (and then everybody remaining to shoot follows).

Here is another point. Everybody isn't the same. If we think about it, when we give a 3 gun order we are playing to somebody's strong suit. Definitely not everybody equal. Take for instance AO said "rifle is usually the most advantageous to shoot first". Well, for ME it is not. I'm faster with pistols first transition wise. Randy and Slater and a whole slew of others like to shoot their shotgun first. 

22 minutes ago, Creeker, SASS #43022 said:

 

I have zero issue with a shooter examining the stage and determining (and utilizing) IF anything advantages them; but an experienced shooter figuring out a "method" that a newer shooter misses isn't demonstrating superior skill; just more matches under their belt.

  By that new shooter only shooting where they are given exact instructions, how are they ever to grow? I'd also go as far as saying that it is a certain skillset in determining efficiency.

22 minutes ago, Creeker, SASS #43022 said:

 

If "Any Gun Order" (or any shooter option offered per the stage writer) can be DEMONSTRATED on a timer to be "equitable" regardless of choices - have at it - but IF not - then it is not a viable/ equitable offering and the SHOOTERS (of every experience level) are better served by complete instruction (ie dictated orders).

I have to disagree(I think). Are you saying giving a gun order choice has to be equal for everybody any order? If so I disagree. Because like I said, some shooters are faster with say shotgun first. If you write the stage sg first, you've given those shooters a minor advantage. If you give everybody choice, then it's more equal because everyone can shoot it their own way. 

22 minutes ago, Creeker, SASS #43022 said:

 

 

 

 

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13 minutes ago, Assassin said:

Y'all don't have much downrange movement? Lateral movement does allow order guns are shot. However, it does limit movement. Sorry to say this, most shooters don't know good stages from bad. In speaking with Phantom yesterday we've determined an all "round count" match might be the best option for all shooting styles. 10-10-4 has become very boring. I wrote a couple stages that only used two guns at Hell On Wheels this year and shooters really enjoyed them. 

Phantom is good people regardless of what he wants people to think.:ph34r:

  Not sure if I'm totally following. We have 15 dedicated stages. Lots have down range movement. Of our 5 stages the beginning of the month, 3 had down range movement and a pretty open gun order. There was 1 run of the mill sweep. There was only 1 stage that gave the 3 gun order.

  My thinking is a match where I'm told exactly how to shoot 5 or 6 stages is boring. I want options and I think most others do as well. I'm not saying there's not some folks like to be told.

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10 hours ago, irish ike, SASS #43615 said:

And yes some will shoot rifle last. It's about keeping the timer in a position that picks up 38 lighter loads.

Agree.  Timer position is critical.  Recently, we discovered that the hard way, with some terminal rifle shots being missed. 

 

Watching at different venues. it is apparent that different timer brands operate best in different positions, so it is important to know your timing instrument's sensitivity and pick-up direction too.

Edited by Dusty Devil Dale
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2 hours ago, Tennessee williams said:

  I'll just throw this out there for the heck of it. When the starting gun is given and it is not the rifle, you have given the entire 3 gun order if the club follows the SASS recommendation of rifle not last. For ME, 80% of my fun comes in ascertaining the most efficient way for me to run the stage. If I'm told the whole gun order and have no options, I've just lost 90% of my fun for that stage because 10% is discussing it with my pards and how they will shoot it. 

To ME when we're instructed exactly how to shoot a stage, it doesn't "level the playing field" or "make everybody shoot the same match". It just makes the match about who can manipulate their guns fastest and get from point a to point b fastest. I don't usually keep going to clubs that tell me exactly how to shoot a stage. It ain't no fun to me. It's fun for me to use my brain and shoot it how I want. I know there are people who like to be told exactly how and what to do, I just ain't one of them. I do agree there can be too many options. Makes reading the stage rough.

Just my .02

I would agree, as long as broad shooter options don't make the spotting/counting confusing to the point where too many errors occur. 

 

It helps to tell the T.O. and spotters how you intend to proceed.  Then spotters can locate themselves where they can see the targets as you move, and watch the correct plates without surprises. 

 

When the counting has problems, so does the match overall.  

Edited by Dusty Devil Dale
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