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

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


 "A dream with a date becomes a goal.
A goal broken into steps becomes a plan.
A plan with action becomes reality!"

When I started to shoot cowboy fast draw at age 65 what impressed me the most was a group of boys, ages 6 to 16, who were the most respectful courteous young men I had ever met.  They had social skills way beyond their years.  Being an old youth coach I can recognize a true sport when I see one. A sport is a character building activity.  That is it's only function.  Too many of our sports have been high jacked for their entertainment value.

Cowboy fast draw remains sport despite the efforts of some.  It teaches discipline, responsibility, respect, and courtesy despite your age.  It  is also a sport wherein the participants compete in an non-homogeneous environment.  There is great benefit to a 6 year old learning to converse and compete with a 60 year old,  both for the 6 year old and the 60 year old.

My ringers have all moved back to the loess hills of the plains where there is a dearth of CFDA clubs. (Part of explanation of the name.) Paladins were the knights of Charlemagne court, defenders of a noble cause. They would travel about righting wrongs and protecting the weak.  The corporate name comes from the brilliant wit of Possum.

Loess Hills Paladins, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation formed to provide facilities for "exempt purposes."  The exempt purposes are:
1. Educational.  To provide facilities for events (town alleys) that promote and teach gun handling and gun safety to members of the public;
2.  Charitable.  To provide facilities for events (club shoot) that combat community deterioration and juvenile delinquency.
3.  National and International Sports. To provide facilities for events that foster national and international sports competition by training competitors for those events (club shoots and titled events.)

The initial facility is material sufficient for a portable range that can be configured as a 2 lane, 4 lane, or 6 lane range.  It is can be erected in about 30 minutes for a 2 lane range, 1 hour for 4 lanes and, 1.5 hours for 6 lanes by 2 men.  It has double ballistic backstop of 10 feet and sides of 8 feet.  It is a championship range of 15 feet with 17 inch targets.  The material for the range, that is steel and ballistic, will be loaned to CFDA clubs with only two provisions.  It must be used for an "exempt purpose" (see above) and the club must have liability insurance for the event.  Electronics are to be provided by the club.  The use of the material and responsibility for it's use rest with the club.  The Paladins are simply providing the material.

2018 Schedule:  The range has been used by The Association of Arizona Gunslingers for two events, a national competitor practice and a club shoot.  In April the range is going to the home range of the River City Gunslingers for their use for town alleys during the summer of 2018.  In October the range will be back in the Valley of the Sun.  The range would fit nicely next to the Oriental Saloon in Tombstone in the event some club might want to put on a titled event at that location.  (Got a 7 x format all ready to go.) 

Needs:  Right now the Paladins do not own electronics for the range. We do have lights, sensors, cables, and junctions boxes that are compatible with River City Gunslingers timers.  Those timers are not CFDA approved as of yet.  

It is the intention of the Paladins to apply for 501 (c)(3) recognition. We have 27 month from April 1st to do this and be recognized back to the incorporation date. The significance of this is that if so recognized donations are tax deductible.  Yet to be determined is whether the Paladins is a public charity or a private foundation.  That will depend on the source of donations to the Paladins. 

Donations may be made to Loess Hills Paladins, Inc., P.O. Box 74726, Phoenix AZ 85087.

"Life has a way of making the foreseeable never happen, and the unforeseeable that which your life becomes."  Everett Hitch, Appaloosa.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

"It was not personal." "To me it was!"

Apparently, I again offended the "self-proclaimed" with one of my comments. I don't know why this keeps happening, I try to be careful. Guess it is just illustrative of  the Hamilton/Burr road to perdition. "Bet you think this song is about you." It is not.

I was just trying to drum up attendance for a Wednesday Shady practice.  This Wednesday we are doing a test run of the format for the Loess Hills Jackpot Shoot which is going to be held in August to benefit the new club(s) in the loess hills of Nebraska/Iowa/South Dakota.  This Wednesday we will be shooting at the Camp and need about 18 shooters for a good test. Specifically, what we are trying to find out is:

Time;  How long does it take to shoot a round. We will mark the start time and the finish time for each round on the scoresheets. Not only will that give us the time for the round but will give us the down time between rounds.  I hope that each shooter will get about 40 rounds in the main match and an average of 10 rounds in the shoot-off.

Scoresheets:  I have prepared scoresheets for this test.  Are they simple and easy to follow?  I could do all the scoring myself but that would not be a valid test of the scoresheets. Can the average shooter/new shooter follow the format and be a scorekeeper. 

Early Departures:  We always have a few folks that have to leave early. In a normal match you give them a 99 which takes them out of the draw for the next round. We are not going to do that because we are going to draw all of the rounds at the start of the main match.   This will reduce the downtime between rounds and the stress on the data entry person.  We will use the procedure Cal used at 2017 World in the Bracket Shoot.  Early departures remain in the draw, and if they no show the match is forfeited pursuant to CFDA rules.  Luck of the Draw.

Data Entry;  In a normal match there is great stress on the data entry person because scores must be entered before the next round can be drawn.  In this format all the rounds are drawn at the start of the event so the scores can be entered as the data entry person is available.  It should be less stressful. It should also lessen down time between rounds. There are two methods of entry in the CFDA program, hopefully we will be able to try them both to test which is the best method. 

Sort:  How good was the sort? See prior post on the best five shot option.

Scoresheets:  I have a good scoresheet for a standard round. I need to make some provision for a bye round and a tied time round. I will work on that some more and hopefully have it resolved by Wednesday.

Facility:  As I have said in the past the Camp is the best facility in the nation to practice cowboy fast draw. I thank Rodeo Romeo for making it available to us to do this test run.  It will be fun.

 "Man, it is just practice""Just practice, man!"