Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Pitch and Blockers

Well, we have a good start at Winter Range.  The Association of Arizona Gunslingers, Inc run a 6 lane 5 day Town Alley at the SASS National Championship. We will have hundreds of SASS shooters walk by and  some will try our sport and get hooked. We are giving away two Colt 45s suitable for fastdraw to SASS competitors, provided by Bob James and the club.  Hundreds of the public will also come by. We don't make money on this event but we sure infect some with the urge to shoot Cowboy Fastdraw.

The Pitch:  Because Cowboy Fastdraw is a combination of quickness, accuracy, and mental toughness, a new competitor has the opportunity to be competitive and win right a way.  In what other sport can a newcomer go up against a World Champion and win.  Where else can a novice become one of the top ten competitors in the world in a very competitive sport even if he or she starts in the his or her late sixties.  I started SASS and CFDA at the same time and soon became mostly a CFDA shooter.  I could practice SASS 24 hour a day and never be competitive, but in CFDA because it is a sport that requires quickness, accuracy and mental toughness, I am competitive.  I knew I had arrived several years ago, when at Tombstone a much quicker opponent moaned when he saw he had drawn me.

The ability to be a gunslinger is not determined just on speed only.  At a recent jackpot shoot we had a match with 9 year old against a 3 shooter. They were evenly matched.  The 9 year old had a speed rating of .185 and a accuracy rating of .80 for a total rating of .985.  The three shooter was .62 speed and accuracy of .38 for a total rating of 1.0. This would be before you factor in mental toughness.  They drew each other twice and split the matches each winning once.  A gunfighter rating of 1.0 or higher will put you in the top 10% of our shooters.  You can get there by being a 3 shooter shooting 30% or a 7 shooter shooting 70%, those are evenly matched gunslingers, the match being determined by mental toughness.

The Blocker:  Recently some of the speed has gotten frustrated and has started some new competitions.  These new events are really just a 1/3 of a match.  They have eliminated accuracy and mental toughness from the event.  They are just speed exhibitions.  I think in 2016 we have already seen a deterioration of the abilities of some of our best shooters because of these events.  If you don't compete in a full event (quickness, accuracy, mental toughness) your ability to do so will be hurt.  I have a good friend who tells me to be quiet because the speed is easier to handle when infected by grailfever.

Anyway got to go get holstered up, those SASS shooters need to hear the pitch.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Colonel Bell and the Magnificent

In the 1870s when Colonel Bell platted his woods and began selling lots to the Luxembourg emmigrants he put on the plat the descriptive term "Esplanade" (Spanish) to describe the circular street in the center of town of Bellwood.  The Luxembourgers took the descriptive term to be the proper name of the street.  One hundred years later in a probable cause hearing of a criminal case the lawyers were arguing over whether "Esplanade" was a descriptive term or just the name of the street,  the determination of which would decide whether the defendant had to face multiple drug charges.  Descriptive terms can become proper names, think Tennessee Walker, and proper names can become descriptive terms.  The classical example is the brand name "Aspirin."

When Quick Cal was looking for a name for his "Double (2x) Progressive Elimination" shoot off he hit upon the proper name "Magnificent 7," he probably like the music.  What is easily taken can also be easily lost.  I note that the "Hateful Eight" has become the "Nevada Eight." (I assume there might have been some copyright concerns) Leaving the digression, among gunslingers the word "Magnificent" has moved from being a proper name to being a descriptive term.  When you use that term you know that a progressive elimination shoot off is involved.  Some have tried to preserve the exclusiveness of the term by using such words as "Fabulous Five" or "Top Five."  Fabulous or Top do not tell me much as of yet. But if you say they are shooting a Magnificent 5 and a Magnificent 7 at Pagosa I know just what you mean, a double (2X) progressive elimination with 5 shooters in the state and 7 shooters in the territorial.

The powers that be may want to or try to stop the evolution of the CFDA language, just a Colonel Bell tried to explain to those Luxembourgers that Esplanade was a descriptive term describing a circular street where you promenade about, they are helpless to do so, as was the defense 100 years later.

If you come to Arizona, you will find the clubs routinely shooting shoot offs with simultaneous magnificent 1x shoot offs with various numbers of participants.  January for instance at Pioneer we shot a Magnificent 18 1x, a Magnificent 18 1x, and a Magnificent 19 1x, all simultaneously.  The major positive for club and practice shoots is that all shooters make the shoot offs and all get to experience a magnificent shoot off even if it is only 1x.  Over last two years we have shot on three occasions simultaneous 2x magnificent shoot offs.  The constraining factors on simultaneous 2x magnificent shoot offs are time and trained scorekeepers and announcers. 

I would note that in the youth division at the Four Corners last year, we shot simultaneously a Magnificent Two, a Magnificent Two and a Magnificent Three. (We had Annie Oakley, Billy the Kid, and Tenderfoot divisions)  I will never understand why if you have separate divisions, you lump them together, when you can shoot them separately in the same amount of time.

Looking for innovation!  If you have a 6 lane range there is no reason why you can not shoot a Magnificent 3x shoot off in about the same time as you shoot a 2x.  Lanes 5 and 6 are just sitting there empty. 

Or if you  are a small club, try the simultaneous shoot offs.  Shooting a magnificent shoot off on two lanes is no different than four lanes, just takes a little more skill for the scorekeeper, but it is not hard,  just different. 

By the way for a warmup match for the Arizona State Championship, I am lobbying for 6 simultaneous Magnificent (10) 1x. (Can accommodate up to 60 shooters.) I would lobby for 6 simultaneous Magnificent 7 2x, (can accommodate up to 42 shooters) but I know that is too much innovation for the powers that be even if it is well within our capabilities. (We have done it three times in the past two years)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Gunfighter Rating System

Well, I rolled out the Gunfighter Rating System for the Pioneer monthly match with data being entered on 59 shooters. After some minor tweaking, it seems to work well.  Under the system the three dominant shooting characteristics are quantified, those being speed, accuracy and mental toughness. If you were rated 1.0 or higher you were in the top 10% of the shooters at the event. Of the top 6 competitors of the 59, speed was the main strength of 3 shooters, and accuracy was the main strength of 3 shooters. One of the accurate shooters dominated in mental toughness.

Accuracy factor:  This is the easiest factor to quantify.  It is simply the number of hits divided by the number of shots taken.

Speed factor:    This is also pretty simple.  The speed factor is 1 minus the fastest time that a shooter has shot during the event.  By subtracting from one, the quicker you are the larger that the speed number factor will be.  

Adding these two factors together you get a pretty good rating of who is a good gunfighter. For example, a .30 shooter hitting at 30% would have a rating of 1.0.  Likewise, a .70 shooter hitting at 70% would have a rating of 1.0.  But we all know if you matched these two shooters against each other, one would probably dominate. And what determines who would dominate depends on the third factor, mental toughness.

Mental Toughness factor:  How to quantify mental toughness took some experimenting.  But what I came up with is this.  If you win the matches you should win, there is no additions or deductions to your rating.  If you lose the matches that you should lose there is no additions or deduction to your rating.   BUT, if you lose to a slower shooter, 20 milliseconds will be deducted from your rating.  If you win against a quicker opponent, 20 milliseconds will be added to your rating. Additions and deductions are cumulative so over a 5 match event you could add or lose up 100 milliseconds to your rating.  Bye matches for rating purposes are considered as two matches. For additions or deductions and for ease of entry, quickness is determined at the time of the match.

At Pioneer, of 59 shooters the top rated gunslinger had a rating of 1.271161. The second rated shooter was 1.208.  The 6th shooter was .998556.  The final placings in the event somewhat mirrored the ratings but was not exactly the same. The fourth rated gunslinger (1.099333) was the winner, defeating the third rated shooter (1.1725) in the finals. 

What good is all this data? Well, I think it might be useful for a club to give awards for the most improved gunslinger.  It is a way to quantify who has truly improved as a gunfighter, not just speed or accuracy, but both. 

It also is a real motivating tool for those who are trying to improve their competitiveness.  My own personal goal is to be a 4 flat shooter at 80% with no mental toughness deductions.  That would be a rating of 1.40, and who is going beat me if I can do that?

My rating of .989667 reflected my poor accuracy shooting and motivates me to find the target more.  Many of the other quick shooters probably will a similar attitude towards the ratings for this shoot. "If only I had won that one match!" or "I gave that one away!"  One shooter (1.208), I am sure is saying "If only had I gone to my fast shot!"

We had one multi-champion who shot poorly during seeding rounds only to recover and win 6 shoot off matches to finish with a respectable .953857 rating.  I hope run the rating system through out the year, and I believe over the 12 months we will find the top shooters coming to the top of the ratings.  However, I think it will be a surprise as to who improves the most during the year.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Big Practice Shoot

The Association of Arizona Gunslingers, Inc. held their first practice shoot of the year with 59 shooters in attendance.  The annual membership meeting was held with the current board being re-elected for another year.  We shot the Arizona Bracket shoot with four rounds of Arizona Five for seeding. Wild Onion Willie won Bracket A. For complete results see our website.

Arizona Five is an five shot option with ties being resolved with 0-0, or 1-1 ties both shooters getting a lose.  Ties of 2-2 both shooters get a win.  In 0-0 and 1-1 ties, both shooters are shooting 40% or less and deserve a loss in a seeding match.  In 2-2 matches, both shooters maybe hitting up to 80% and fast enough to win, so both deserve a win in a seeding match. Matches maybe complete after 3, 4, or 5 shots.  Matches are complete when one shooter can no longer win. After five shots all matches will be complete.

Some shooters may not like Arizona Five but those are the shooters that need to shoot it more often.  In Arizona Five there is pressure to hit and to hit right now.  It is a great mental toughness club drill.

Using Arizona Five we were able to get four seeding rounds in.  Without it we probably would only gotten in three seeding rounds.  With Arizona Five, everyone finishes at the same time.  The first round with 59 shooters took an hour, the second took 50 minutes and the final two even less time after some motivating encouragement and the shooters learned they needed to be ready when in the hole.

With our growth I think we need to go to a two range practice shoot.  I am going lobby for a second range, four 17 inch targets at fifteen feet.  I think we could shoot it without a second speaker system.  We could shoot winning 3 shots on main range and Arizona Five on the short range so that the short range is complete and entered into the computer before main range is complete.  I assume the CFDA program will divide shooters according size of range.  With 60 shooters, 24 would be shooting on short range and 36 on main range.  Which range you go to is just luck of the draw and having different distances and size of target would provide some variety.

I think this a viable solution to our large numbers.  There will be resistance from those who do the work and I understand and don't blame them.  To make it happen we need folks to step up and say they will do the extra work involved.  Arizona Five takes between 5 to 6 minutes per match.  With two ranges we probably would have gotten in 6 seeding rounds last Saturday.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Rule 17 Revisited

When I used to coach youth basketball the first thing I would do each season was to hold a meeting to educate the parents that I was not in the entertainment business but in the character building business. I would tell them I was hoping for a perfect season.  A perfect season was one where every team we would play had better players than our team, every game would be decided by one point, we would win half of the games and lose half of the games.  Those same thoughts can be applied to fast draw.  A perfect match is one where your opponent is quicker than you, every shot is decided by 1 millisecond, both shooters hit 100%, and it goes to 2-2, next blinking light.  Now that is fun!

2016 started off with the Comish attending some titled matches and giving out some warnings in Arizona and Texas.  Then in the spring, Rule 17 became a non issue until Nationals.  There the two best gunslingers, men and women, were eliminated from the Mag 7 by Rule 17. (Chuckle folks, that is supposed to be a little humor, at least for the men.)  After Nationals, Rule 17 seemed to fade into a non issue again. Rule 17 never has been a problem for those who shoot the flail or the level and follow through since both shoot while the gun in motion and therefore no one can see where the gun is fired.

Cowboy fast draw is a sport, a character building activity. Rule 17 is with us and we must adjust to survive.  It really only affects the lock elbow shooters since they shoot from a stable position near the holster.  If you shoot the lock elbow there are probably three ways to comply. You can add a flail to your draw. A good flail shooter at .33 will most likely be in the bottom third of most matches.  I do not recommend the flail as I consider it a defect.  Second, you can add a follow through to your draw.  Many of the Oldtimer champions shoot the level and follow through. Our current Top Gun is a follow through shooter. Both the flail and the follow through add motion to the shot and even if you are behind the holster, Rule 17 will not be called because you can not see where the gun is fired.

The third way to comply is to adjust your stance. If you look at photos of the top shooters you will find that most shoot the locked elbow with a S curve stance.  The S curve stance does two things, it moves the holster forward and increases the cant.  A club member here has done a collage of photos of 16 of the top shooters and all are shooting from the S curve stance.  He has measured the cant of the holster at the moment the gun is fired and it ranges from 48 degrees to 66 degrees with the most common cant being 52 degrees.  Both the forward position of the holster and the increased cant improve quickness.  The S curve stance leads to Rule 17 violations.

To avoid Rule 17 violations, stand more upright. Standing more upright moves the holster back.  It also moves the shooting shoulder forward thereby moving the anchor point of the gun forward.  If you stand perfectly upright with no S curve and shoot the locked elbow draw the end of the muzzle of the gun will be 3 to 4 inches in front of the front pouch of the holster. Not only will it be in compliance with Rule 17 but it is gentler on your back, hips, and knees.  Being a sport of quickness, our task is to find that balance wherein we use enough S curve to be quick, but not so much that we are shooting behind the holster.  

My goal for 2017 is to move from the Randall Bragg quote, "Don't be too sure you are quicker than me!" to the Virgil Cole response, "Been quick enough so far!"

I think the Shady Mtn team may make an appearance at the first title match at the Four Corners to defend our 2016 win.  Shady Mtn does well, not because we are quick, though we are quick, but because on Shady Mtn "We don't practice missing!"



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Shooting Woes

Apparently, I am still suffering from flusters from the Comish's silliness this past summer. At the last jackpot shoot I finished last losing every match. If this keeps up I will be too embarrassed for either of my personas to show up at any titled match next year. One commentator recently opined that my "poor" shooting was the result of "buck fever" even though I harvested a bull at considerable distance, bulls apparently equating to bucks.  The truth be known the unfortunate bull just happened to wander into the path of my stray bullet, it being fired by chance probably in a fit of flusters according to the commentator.

Western hunts allow much time for analytical thinking.  I can recognize an Oswald shot when I make one.  They are not particularly difficult because the lead required by the target moving away is offset by the lead required by the downward angle of the shot and if the shot is straight away then distance is irrelevant.  I learned this some 60 years ago from Nebraska coyote hunters who took great care to set their shots up so that the target was running straight away with the lead required for the movement away being cancelled by the lead required by the downward angle, much like Oswald on JFK.  Remember to turn the engine off so there is no motor vibration.  Learn by watching. Any way maybe a good shot or maybe as the commentator thinks the poor animal ran into the path of the bullet.

Getting back to fast draw, maybe my poor shooting at the Camp was the remnants of  "buck fever" or the result of the pain and suffering of the hunt, or as I want to think, the lingering fluster of the Comish's silliness. Cutting comments can cause one to bleed and if I have done so in the past to anyone I am truly sorry and apologize to all.  Any cuts I may have received I hope I can look upon them as scars of banter and fodder for humor.

"....is a jackass, but he is our jackass!"  Devil Anse Hatfield

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ice in the Veins!

That ice in the veins shoot for blood shooter has prohibited me from mentioning her by name, but that did not prevent her from being critical of me for not mentioning that she she was shooting .37s at a 80% clip, so here goes, last Sunday that ice in the veins shoot for blood shooter was shooting consistently in the .37s at a accuracy rate of 80%.  I mentioned to her that I thought she was getting to be a 4 flat shooter which I don't think she took as a compliment although it is the highest compliment I give to any shooter.

A 4 flat shooter is a shooter that shoots consistently between .35 and .45 with routine accuracy of 60% or better.  Good examples of 4 flat shooters are Buzzard Cooper, Short Keg, Powder Keg and The Draw.  These shooters are normally in the Magnificent shoot off in any event they are in because they do not lose except to other 4 flat shooters.  They have the rare combination of quickness, accuracy and mental toughness that make them almost unbeatable.  There are lots of mid 3 and low 3 shooters out there but generally they are of no concern because they are shooting between 20-40%.  They are just another easy draw.

I think we are making progress in getting that ice in the veins shoot for blood shooter converted to a gunfighter.  Today on Shady Mountain she was determined and on the last shot of practice she put a .338 on the plate.  She may become a 4 flat shooter.  There are no 4 flat shooters among the ladies.  Slow Poke is a pretty good 5 flat shooter.  The field is wide open among the ladies.  If  you shoot between .35 and .45 at a 60% or better clip, why would you ever slow down.  

I have to mention it was a fun and great time on Shady Mtn today.  Hi Strung hit a ,281 which he considered an anticipation although mathematical he drew at least 50 mls after the light came on,  May be it was not anticipation but really was what he is capable of.  Trouble Maker finished the day hitting 9 out of 10, and Shady got 4 of my marbles. 

Happy Thankgiving to all,  I am fleeing to the mountains to chase elk just in case this blog offends anyone,