Monday, September 17, 2018

Muster matters, Format matters, Newbies learn!

I write this blog to the powers that be, those who make decisions and to the new shooters, those who learn. The Marshal's Muster agenda is out and it looks like some of this discussion may be helpful.

CFDA byes remind me a lot of the dogooders'  attempts to help the poor by raising the minimum wage.  Businesses close, jobs are lost and the poor get poorer. Unintended consequences matter.  A bye is when a competitor moves to the next round without competing. They are necessary for bracketing and as long as they are fairly allocated either by lot or reasonable rules, they work fine.

Some complained that it was not fair for a shooter to move to the next round without competing so we ended up with the CFDA bye which is inherently unfair. To understand this you must realize that the shooter under our system still moves to the next round without competing. If the match format is three winning shots, the bye winner does not compete in the format for the match.   What happens is that we have a three shooter shoot-off to allocate the bye. The winner of the shoot off gets to move to the next round without competing.

The allocation of the shooters who get the opportunity to shoot off for the bye is not set in advance by rule and/or is not determined by lot.  The CFDA program matches winners against winners, losers against losers, with losers shooting first.  Therefore the opportunity to shoot off for a bye is allocated to the winners.  If you are shooting a no X format or in the first four rounds, the opportunity for a bye normally goes to the best of the winners. Winners of a bye remain among the best of the winners. That is why you see repeat shooters in the bye shoot offs.  One of the clubs in Arizona do not use the CFDA program and in their program winners shoot first so the bye opportunity goes to the worst shooters of the event. Using their program you don't have repeat bye winners because the bye winner shoots themselves out of the opportunity for a bye.

The unfairness of the CFDA  bye is really emphasized in the last man standing event.  If you have a last man standing event with 99 shooters, in the first four rounds about 1%  of the field would get a true bye, and under the CFDA allocation 3% of the field would get an opportunity to shoot off for the bye.  By the start of the second day, about 10% of the field will get the opportunity for a bye.  When the field is down to 7 shooters, 42% of the field will have the opportunity for a bye, when down to 5 shooters, 60% of the field will have the opportunity for a bye.  When the field is down to 3 shooters, 100% of the field gets the opportunity to shoot off for a bye, and you would think that would then be fair, but the real unfairness comes to light.

The shoot off is a one winning shot affair with three shooters.  It favors certain shooters and certain types of shooters. In 2017 at a Territorial event I observed an event where the winner advanced through three of the last four rounds without competing. It was a last man standing event, the event winner entered the last 3 standing with 3 xs, the other two shooters had 2 xs and 1x.  The event winner won 3 shoot offs in a row. The event winner only competed in one round of the last four rounds. The format favored that particular shooter.

For the new shooter, you can train for the format that you shoot. Practice with techniques that requires you to hit and to hit right now and you can become a good bye shooter.  I love byes! So does Cal.  He is a good bye shooter. Train for it. It is not going to go away.

But Marshals, when you are thinking about SOPs realize a true bye is fair, a CFDA bye may not be.  Why muddy up side matches with time consuming CFDA byes. We love our byes, but there is nothing wrong with a true bye.  We do not score by wins anyway.  Only x count matters.  I apologize for being critical of the posse officials at the Southern. I did not know there was a SOP that did not follow the published rules.

While I am on my soap box, I call upon the Marshals to think about the CFDA resurrection. Because a significant number of titled events are won by shooters that have exceeded the x count, most recently Quick Cal at the Southern, I suggest the format is not working as well as it might.  I strongly favor a resurrection feature that is open to all shooters.  There is no reason we can not have an event where all shooters are still in play on the final day. We have the range time to do it. It would be easy to do and a lot less work than the side match system we now use just to occupy eliminated shooters.

If x count is so important and we don't want a resurrection feature open to all, get rid of it. If you exceed the x count you are out. Get rid of the CFDA resurrection.  It is easy to write such a format.
"In a magnificent event when the main match field is reduced to less than 10% for men, less than 20% for ladies, the main match ends and the remaining shooters are seeded by x count and time out for a progressive 2 x elimination match."  At the Southern, Cal would have been out and you would have shot a Magnificent 6 shoot off.

At the Southern, the powers that be were trying to save range time, but the SOP wasted the time saved and added a lot of unfairness and confusion to the bracket match (a side match).  In the gunfighter bracket, 33% of the field had the opportunity to shoot off for a bye, 66% did not.

I have been accused of advocating changes that would benefit me personally. That is not true. I am a good shoot off shooter and a good bye shooter. I train to shoot the format that is used.  You can too. But I understand that I place better than I should because of the format. Format matters.  Quick Cal places better than he should, but then he wrote most of the rules.

Do not misunderstand me. I am not advocating that we eliminate the CFDA bye that results from an odd number of shooters.  I love the CFDA bye. But it is inherently unfair and does not need to be expanded to replace the true bye which is fair that results for someone failing to appear for a match, for whatever reason..  Also understand that to determine champions, the magnificent format is better than the last man standing format because when to field is reduced down to about 10%, the magnificent format eliminates luck of the draw and the CFDA bye from the format, both of which are inherently unfair.

Lesson from the Great Plains:  This blog has simmered for about thirty days. I started with the premise that CFDA byes are inherently unfair, which they are, but have moved moved my opinion to believing CFDA byes are a good thing.  At the Great Plains in the 8th round the last three shooters had gunfighter ratings of 1.20, 1.35 and 1.10, respectively with the 1.10 shooter being the last shooter drawn. If it had been a true bye, the 1.10 shooter would have advanced without competing based solely on luck of the draw, and the 1.35 shooter would have eliminated the 1.20 shooter.  But using the CFDA bye shoot off, the 1.35 shooter, as would be expected, won the bye and advanced without competing and the 1.20 shooter eliminated the 1.10 shooter.  Format matters.  The CFDA bye favors the better gunfighter.  Maybe  it is a good thing to have a format that favors the better gunfighter, it mitigates the luck of the draw unfairness.

On a personal note, I competed in two fewer rounds than other shooters that went out at the same time. I love the CFDA bye.

For the FGA Blast for Cash:

Cal, for the FGA blast for cash, let the squawkers squawk, start it at 8 sharp, if someone does not show up, use a true bye.  That way we probably have time to shoot a 3 winning shot 2 x affair.  In a side match in the first round true byes would save you enough time to go to a 3 winning shot format.  I can suggest a clear SOP.

"In side matches when roll call has not been taken, in the first round a failure to appear by a shooter shall result in a forfeiture of round pursuant to Paragraph IV. 6 (page 21).  The scorekeeper shall note the win and the failure to appear on the score sheet and the shooter failing to appear shall be withdrawn from the match for the next round."

"Let's dance!"





Friday, August 24, 2018

Story of a pig.

It all began with an argument over a pig. Whether domesticated or feral, that was the bone, had the notch a human origin or nature's fate, I do not know. Like all viable feuds, each side had the law in their corner fueling the righteous indignation.  In the pig fight it was state and county versus county and state, although all had been confederates, and some think the real fight was over do you stay or do you go?  Once it had degenerated, it became if I remember the quote, "he is a jack ass, but he is our jack ass."

The great deceiver always places the law on both sides.  In Cochise county, it was the federal and municipal (republicans) versus the county (democrats), two posses seeking to serve warrants of death on the other.  In Johnson county, state versus local, with the feds rescuing the hired guns.  Lincoln county the regulators were serving warrants with bounty hunters getting in the middle. "Let's dance!"  As Billy and Tom Horn found out, it matters little what is right, what the law is, what the facts are, it only matters who is holding the end of the rope.

I know who is holding the end of the rope so I will hide. Maybe it is time for a new alias, or a new land. We will see!

What I know for sure is ...........!

(I leave the rest of the story for the commentators to fill in. I know better than to say it, but it jingles so well. I know I will share it, but only to my closest allies or directly to my foe.  The crux will be, whom thee be!)

"He's all lathered up, chomping at the bit, give him some rein, cause there ain't no quit, be gone, hold on, Comes BoogieMan,"

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Format Matters; High Plains Territorial

I write because because I am waiting for the motel breakfast bar to open and the High Plains Territorial keeps churning in my mind. The High Plains is one of the few territorials that use the last man standing format. Big Ugly was so dominant and he was shooting so well that he probably would have won it in the magnificent format but he would have not been the favorite.  The top seven from bottom to top were Buzzard Cooper, Everett Hitch, Old Drifter, Quick Cal, Beaver Creek Kid, Bolder Vaquero and Big Ugly. In a magnificent seven a handicapper probably would have pick one of the World Champions, there were three in the top seven. I would have pick Cal or that shoot-off expert.  Quick Cal had been eliminated in the Southern only to be resurrected and win, but the field in the Southern was not as strong.

There are four factors in major events that determine who wins. In their order of importance they are luck of the draw, mental toughness, accuracy and least important is quickness. A shooter can practice and improve three of the four. In a last man standing format all four factors remain in play to the end.  A magnificent seven eliminates the luck of the draw factor when the field is reduced to seven.  Format matters!

Not only does last man standing keep luck of the draw in play, at some point CFDA bye rounds are used.  The CFDA bye round is inherently unfair which is a matter for a separate discussion. A Magnificent Seven eliminates the CFDA bye rounds and eliminates luck of the draw.

The Ladies High Plains is also interesting in this discussion. Top three women were KK Kid, Holli Day, and Whippin N Spurrin (side note 2 of the 3 were Arizona Gunslingers)  In a Magnificent Seven, if I was handicapping it I would have pick that Shady Mtn Shooter, Holli Day.  KK Kid won the event.  She was clean going into the top three.  I assume, but do not know, that was a result of luck of the draw early in the day.  Being clean was a great advantage for KK Kid.  It may have been deserved or it may have been the result of luck of the draw.  In any event, a magnificent format levels the playing field when the field is reduced to seven and each shooter is clean in a 2x shoot-off.  Prior success is rewarded by a high seed, but the #1 spot may not be the preferred seeding for all shooters.

Luck of the draw is such an important factor in determining who wins, that consideration should be given to dealing with it in some fashion.  I can name five major events in the last three years where the eventual winner of the event was eliminated only to be resurrected to fill the bracket. Most recent was Quick Cal in the Southern.  That is why I lobby for an resurrection avenue for all shooters.   

In closing I must says that the High Plains was a great event, well run and most enjoyable. Many thanks to the Powderhorn Ranch Regulators on a job well done.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Given Up Cont.;Lesson from Colorado

I am going to respond to some of the comments with lessons from Colorado. I do this because there are some really good illustrations for this discussion.  Colorado is really one of the best run events using the current formats.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"
In the past several years there have been more than a half dozen events where the event winner had been eliminated with four x s only to be put back into the event by the CFDA resurrection to fill the magnificent shoot off.  The most recent was the 2018 Southern wherein Quick Cal was resurrected and then won the event.  This happens frequently. What this tells you is that sometimes the best shooter at the event is eliminated before he or she gets to the shoot off.  What we don't know is how often the best shooter is eliminated by the format and he/she is not resurrected to fill the vacancy.

From Colorado: I and Okie Ed were each shooting well enough to win the State Championships but neither of us made to the shoot offs because of the luck of the draw.  In the final rounds of the main match, we drew each other in consecutive rounds. We were evenly matched, matches going 2 to 2, final shot on quickness, splitting the matches, each missing out on the shoot-off because of those two matches.  Okie Ed won the shoot off for place between us finishing 7th.  Since it was a Fubby Five instead Magnificent Seven, Okie Ed, did not get the opportunity to see if he was the best gunfighter there.  (My distain for the Fubby Five does not come from Colorado, but from the last Arizona State Championship where I finished 7th)

Also from Colorado an illustration that the format may not be working as well as we think is the final standings of the State and Territorial.  The top two shooters in the standings of the State did not make the final shoot-offs of the Territorial.  The top two shooters of the Territorial did not make the shoot-offs of the State.  If these four shooters were truly the best four gunslingers at these events you would expect that they would be in the shoot-offs of both events or at a minimum at least one of them would make the finals of both event.  

Luck of the draw is such a big factor in how you place.  I did well winning the jackpot shoot and placing 2nd in the Master Gunfighter Bracket, but I have no illusions.  "I was lucky in the draw, but then I have always been lucky when ....."  When it gets down to the top 20% of an event, not only do you need to be lucky in your draw, but you need to be lucky in who the rest of the field draws. It really helps when someone else takes out that shooter that you can not handle, whether by speed, accuracy, or mental toughness. In the jackpot shoot and the bracket shoot the draws were favorable for me, in the main events not so much.

" I get fourth seed in the main match...stripped of qualifying seed.." 
This is a valid concern but stems from our difficulty of accepting change.  It is no different from the 6th or 7th seeds in fubby five matches.  At least in the format changes I am proposing those almost made it places have two more days of shooting to make it to the shoot offs. The fact that repeatedly eliminated shooters win events means there is a need for a resurrections element in our formats.

At Colorado only one shooter, Two Buck Chuck, made the magnificent shoot-offs in both events.  Expanding the fubby five to a Magnificent 7 does not change it, only one still made both. 

Time, Time, Time: 
When you consider event format and match format, it is a balancing act.  To mitigate the adverse effects of luck of the draw you need a higher elimination factor.  To get more x s, you need more range time. That can be done by either shortening match length or eliminating side matches.  My vote would be to eliminate side matches.

At Colorado we shot a jackpot shoot on one range with 47 shooters in 4 hours.  It was Nevada Eight 2x shoot.  Since the time taken for Nevada Eight is about the same as Three Winning shots, I am sure we can easily shoot 100 shooters on two ranges 2 x in about five hours. I really think we could shoot 100 shooters on two ranges 3x the first day, shooting down to three. The second day we could again shoot 3 winning shots 3x down to three shooters.  There have been a lot of state shoots shooting 4 x three winning shots in one day.

Side matches consume range time and we shoot side matches just to occupy eliminated shooters.  It is really unnecessary.  It you don't eliminate shooters until noon the third day you  don't need the side matches.

Another thing that takes range time is place shoot-offs. At Colorado, there were a lot of shoot-offs for place.  The rules say place for recognized places must be determined by a shoot-off and not by x count and time out.  The solution to this is how you structure recognized places.  If your recognized places are the Magnificent 7 and the top three places in the bracket shoots, then all the recognized places are determined on the line by the format without shoot-offs. That would be 29 places recognized on the line although some of those places would be taken by the same shooters. (Ladies 7, Men 7, and five brackets 3 each, Master Gunfighter, Gunfighter. Sheriff, Deputy and Shootist for a total of 29) For 100 shooters that is 29% of the shooter which is comparable to what most shoots do now.

Thinking about time again, there is no reason we can not shoot 100 shooters on two ranges, main match 3x three winning shots, resurrection 3 x three winning shots and then on championship day shoot five brackets, 2x two winning shots.  Bracket winners, men range A and ladies range B, magnificent five at high noon, and then start the Magnificent Seven Shoot-off at 1:00. Awards at 3:00.

We have the time and the ranges.  We can have an 8 x match.  It is not hard.  Just cut out shoot-offs and side matches.  Keep all shooters in play to the morning of the third day.

Administrating ease:
I am sure this is easier to do that what is done now because there are fewer matches and less shoot-offs, but I have not punched the keys.  My question to Wench and Miss Betty is can the same matches be run the second day with the same shooters on the same computer. How do you reset the computer with the same shooters?  My simple solution would be to get a second laptop.  Computer 1 runs the first day.  Same shooters entered into Computer 2 and it runs the second day. During the second day the brackets are set up on Computer 1 for the third morning.  Brackets are run and posted on the second day for the morning of the third day from first days shooting since that is the main match.  Seems simple and easy.

Enough for now. "Bring me another shooter!"

Monday, July 23, 2018

Given Up!

I have given up on the 7 X titled event.  In order to do that, you need to use the best 5 shot option which folks will not even try. If they tried it they would love it, but I guess they don't want to use the best, so I have given up.

I have move on to advocating for the 6 X event. It would be really easy to do.

First day is the main event.  Matches are three winning shots, elimination factor of two, shooting down to three shooters. These are the three top spots in the Magnificent Seven.

Second day is Resurrection. Same shooters, matches are three winning shots, elimination factor of two, shooting down to three shooters, taking top three not already in the Mag 7. These are the next three spots in the Mag 7.

Third day is Championship Day.  All shooters are still in competition. Break all shooters down into four brackets.  Matches are two winning shots, last man standing, elimination factor of two. (Same as FGA a few years ago.)

High Noon, bracket winners shoot off, top man and lady shooter not already in Mag 7 from each bracket carrying their x count forward for a shoot off for the final Mag 7 spot. 

Recognized places would be Magnificent 7 and the top three spots of the brackets.

Advantages of the 6 X event:

All shooters get 6 x.  All shooters are still in contention for title championship on the morning of Championship Day.

No need for side matches that just waste range time.

Drawing of rounds is much simplified since the same match is drawn on day one and day two.  Should be little or no down time for drawing rounds

Few if any shoot-offs for place. 

It is easy. It will run smoothly.  There will be little down time. 

I am pitching it to the Association of Arizona Gunslingers, Inc.  Failing there I guess I will look for new blood, maybe Iowa.  Want to come to the casinos in January and shoot in a 6 X State Championship.  It would be great for a new club, maybe fewer cats there.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Know the Rule, Follow the Rule!

At the 2016 Marshall's Muster shoot at World the format was last man standing Hateful Eight (now Nevada Eight). As the Comish will tell you it is hard to get gunslingers to do something new. When the match got down to two, an influential black badge and an opponent who was significantly slower, the black badge opined that hateful eight would not work because if they were tied at eight shots both would get an X and there would be no winner. The black badge talked his slower opponent into changing the format to three winning shots format. Ultimately, the opponent won, but not in five shots as would have been the case if the format had not been changed.  I do not impute bad faith to the black badge although the change clearly benefited him, the important point is that bad faith was possible because the participants did not know the rule, nor follow the rule.

Later when I discussed this with Quick Cal he expressed considerable consternation because the specific circumstances are cover in the rule book.  The Comish opined that it is hard to herd cats to which I responded it is the "can't factor" as in "you can't do that!"

I tell this little story, true in every detail, because it illustrates two separate issues.  First, is that we should know the rule and follow the rule. Secondly, matches can be and routinely are manipulated, mostly with good intention but sometimes in perceived bad faith, when we don't know the rule and follow the rule.

This blog is about Rule IV, 6, (see page 20 of rule book) which states:

Each contestant must have an opponent.  If the opponent does not show up, the present contestant will win by default and will not be allowed to shoot uncontested.

This rule is very simple, very clear and very easy to apply.  If it would be followed, we would avoid much of the delay and turmoil that has occurred in recent years.  There have been significant problems at 2017 and 2018 Nationals, at the 2016 and 2017 World, and at the Southern this year because this rule was not followed.  The "cats" or "can't fraction" simply do not know or follow the rule. 

The clearest illustration comes from the Southern this year.  Because the match director was trying to fit a large number of shooters into a small time slot he directed that the first round be drawn on the second day without a roll callThis saves about 30 to 45 minutes and gets the shoot started on time.  I was in the gunslinger bracket and will tell you what happened there. The score sheets come and there are three missing shooters. The powers that be (I am describing those running the posse whomever that may be) do not know the rule or follow the rule and decide that the way to handle the situation is to shoot byes.  So we shoot three byes. The confusion and byes squander all to the time that the match director was trying to save and cause the whole event to be manipulated (maybe in good faith or bad faith) because 9 shooters, almost a third of the bracket, got the benefit of shooting a bye.  I do not know how the powers decided who the bye shooters would be, they either went up or down on score sheet, or right or left on the range.  In any event the draw was manipulated at the range, either in good faith or bad faith. I elect to believe in good faith.

All of this delay and confusion is easily avoid if we simply know the rule and follow the rule.  Draw the round in advance without roll call, if a shooter fails to appear, it is a  "win by default" pursuant to the rule. There is no delay, no confusion, no manipulation of the draw at the range.  

I know the sage from the mountains is going to cry that it is unfair that some get to advance because of a "win by default", but that is simply the luck of the draw.  It is no more unfair than drawing me when I can't find the target, some would say that is a win by default.  It is much better to simply accept the luck of the draw than to open the door to draw or format manipulation.  Perceived manipulation should be avoided if possible which following the rule does.

I will tell you that there are some who are quite bitter over perceived format manipulation in a side match at this years nationals.  It serves no purpose to disclose the details, what is important that the bitterness is there, and results from the powers (again those at range level) not following the announced format. Specifics are not important but I will give you the specific of an ancient feud.  The first time I ever did well at an event was the 2013 Winter Range. I was also shooting SASS and had gotten a 11:00 posse thinking I would be eliminated from the fast draw event before the SASS posse. Eleven o'clock comes and I'm still clean, off I go to shoot SASS.  When I come back I am chastised by that horse punching fella from the springs who tells me I should have withdrawn from the fast draw event and he had withdrew me from the event.  I did not know any better and said "that is fine, that is what I intend."  Of course, if I had known the rule and the rule had been followed I would still have been shooting.  The next year, 2014, we did follow the rule and a SASS competitor won the fast draw event after forfeiting three matches to shoot his SASS event.

There has been much effort and consideration put into the rule book.  We should know the rule and follow the rule.  I urge Quick Cal to continue to start side matches without roll calls.  Bring me a shooter, I am ready to go, I don't need to wait another hour to get started in a side match.  "Let's dance."  The rule works well if only we follow the rule.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Test Run

We tried out a new format at the camp.  I thank the 18 gunslingers that tested this format and Rodeo Romeo for letting us use the best facility in CFDA.

We shot Arizona Five with Rotation. I wanted to see if there was a enough time savings to justify using this format.  What I found was that it took 1.1 minutes per shooter per round. We had 18 shooters and shot 6 rounds in 2 hours. To answer the questions I had posed in an earlier blog, the score sheets worked well, the shooters learned the format easily, there was no benefit on data entry stress, the sort was about average, and we could not get CFDA program to draw the rounds in advance. 

My conclusion is that while the format would be good for practice, for an organized shoot the time benefit does not justify the extra work of preparing and using special scoring paper and training scorekeepers.


Gunfighter Rating:  Whenever I can get my hands on score sheets I calculate the gunfighter rating of the shooters.  This is helpful is in determining how good the sort is by a format. The gunfighter rating of a shooter is not affected by wins and losses.  The top three shooters at the test shoot had a gunfighter rating of 1.17, 1.15 and 1.11.  The top rated gunfighter finish 7th, the 2nd rated gun fighter finished 2nd and the third rated gunfighter won the event.  The fastest gun there had a gunfighter rating of .89 and finished middle of the pack as you would expect.  Whenever there is an anomaly such as the top rated gunfighter finishing 7th, I look for an explanation in the score sheets which I will detail below.

Being Prickly:  The gunfighter rating is very useful in explaining why certain shooters finished where they did.  It can benefit individual shooters in their quest to get better.

The top rated shooter had one bad match and then got caught by the luck of the draw.  In his first match his gunfighter rating was .77 and then he shot 1.26 for the next five matches finishing with a 1.17 rating.  In an Arizona Bracket shoot, you can survive one or two losses because of there is no elimination factor in this format but not three losses. After the first round he had two unlucky draws. He did not draw better shooters just drew shooters who got lucky shooting against him. Three losses moved him to Bracket B which he won finishing 7th.

The winner had a main match rating of 1.11, but when he got into the shoot offs his rating improved to 1.25. He shot both quicker and more accurate in the shoot offs. He won the event because he was the toughest shooter there.  Since he has won two in a row,  I think he has now learned that it does not matter how quick you are but how tough you are.

The gunfighter rating of the fastest gun there is informative. This gunfighter is trying to develop "a go to shot."  When the gunfighter was slow shooting, the first two matches, the gunfighter rating was .57. In the next four matches, the gunfighter rating was .95 (including fastest shot of the event, a .353) for a main match rating of .89.  I have been asking for some time "why."  I remember observing with the Desert Master three years ago asking the same question.

For completeness, the 2nd rated gunslinger finished as you would expect 2nd.

Just because the test did not justify a new format does not mean it was not a success.  You test not only to find what will work but what will not work.

Shooting in the Valley of the Sun.  We shoot about 20 events using the Arizona Bracket shoot each year including two major jackpot shoots.  It is popular and does a good sort. In some ways I think it does much better sort than the title match formats because 33%  of the main match field has a chance to win whereas in a titled match only 5 to 10 % of the field has a chance to win.  It is not unusual for the winner to come from well down into the field.  You can overcome a poor match or an unlucky draw in an Arizona Bracket shoot.

"Boys, quick don't matter much if you don't hit that which you are trying to be quick about!"  Virgil Cole