Thursday, March 21, 2019

A Better Bye.

I write this post for the powers that be, match directors, Marshals, club officers and the CFDA.  This is sometime that you should think about and maybe experiment a bit with.

We love the CFDA bye even though it is inherently unfair. We love it because it is unfair. We all look forward to being that lucky shooter that advances without competing. It is not going away because we love it so much, but maybe there is room for improvement in some events.

For illustration, I am going to talk about the Old Timers Category at the Texas State Championship.  There were 7 shooters and it was  a 3x last man standing event which took 10 rounds to resolve.  It took 10 rounds because the event winner lost his first match and therefore 19 loses were required. Because of CFDA byes one shooter did not compete in each of the first 8 rounds.  The  first 3 rounds (7 shooters) produced 9 loses. The next 3 rounds (5 shooters) produced 6 loses. The next 2 rounds (3 shooters) produced 2 loses. The last 2 rounds (2 shooters) produced 2 loses, for a total of 19 loses resolving the issue.  Ten rounds were required because in the first 8 rounds one shooter did not compete in the match format.  In additions to the 10 match format rounds, 8 shoot offs were required to allocate the bye.  That is a total of 18 rounds.

Now what happens if every shooter is required to compete in every round.  In the first 3 rounds (7 shooters), there would be 12 loses. In the next 2 rounds (5 shooters) there would be 6 loses.  Then in the final round (2 shooters) there would be 1 lose for a total of 19 loses.  The matter would have been resolved in 6 rounds with no shoot off rounds.  So you go from requiring 18 rounds to 6 rounds.

It shortens up the match to such an extent that in the same amount of range time you could have shot a 4 x.  Four x would have required 25 loses.  Probably 4 rounds at 7 shooters for 16 loses, 2 rounds at 5 shooters for 6 loses, 1 round at 3 shooters for 2 loses and 1 round at 2 shooters for 1 lose for a total of 25 loses.   The matter would have been resolved in 8 rounds using 4 x if you eliminate the noncompeting CFDA bye procedure.

So the questions for the shooters is which would you prefer? A 3 x with CFDA bye or a 4 x event without the CFDA bye.  A side benefit is that you will get a better sort because the inherent unfairness of the CDFA bye is eliminated.

How do you do it without the bye. It is really pretty simply. The Rule would be:

"All shooters must compete using the match format in every round except when a Rule IV.6 forfeitures occur.  If there is an odd number of shooters in a round, the last three shooters will compete together using the match format to its conclusion. Each shooter will be scored individually against each of the other shooters of the trio. (This always results in one win and two loses, except in Arizona Five match format.)"

To give it a name I am going to call it the Arizona Bye.  I think it will work well and could be use to great advantage in some of our side matches.

We are seeing more and more bracket matches on the championship day.  I think this is good but one of the adverse side effects is the additional wear and tear on the shooters remaining in the main match. In 2016 Powder Keg won the Master Gunfighter bracket at Texas and I won the Gunfighter bracket.  We both had the same comment, "Boy, that was a lot of work and shooting to do before the main match resumed!"  Powder Keg went on to win the State Championship and I  was eliminated  in the first round after the bracket shoot.  Some shooters forego the bracket shoot to rest for the main match.  We might think about the Arizona Bye for these bracket matches.  It probably would shorten the rounds necessary by 50% and the sort would be better.

You never know how something is going to work until you actually do it.  We are going to test out the Arizona Bye at some Loess Hills Jackpot shoots to see how well it works. In fact whether I shoot or not at the next Loess Hills Jackpot shoot will depend on whether we have an odd number of shooters.  If I need to sit out to make the number odd I will.

I always do Gunfighter Ratings on all of the shooters at Loess Hills Jackpot shoots.  I don't need this to rate the shooters, I know who is who, but it is a good tool to evaluate how well the format is working.  If a top shooter places much lower than you would expect you can look at the gunfighter rating to tell if he or she was just having a bad day or whether there is some other aberration involved in the format.  Most of the  time it is the unfairness of the luck of the draw.

I suggest clubs give the Arizona Bye a try.  At the club level is the place to try these  innovations out.  Give it a try.  I heard some other clubs are now trying Arizona Five.  Try it you will like it.  Try the Arizona Bracket shoot. I am tuning up today for that Arizona Bracket Shoot at Tombstone.  Booked a room Saturday night so I can stay for the promenade on Allen Street.  Hope I am celebrating and not drowning my sorrows.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Texas State Championship

2019 Texas State Championship will go down as the year of the youth.  There were 6 youth shooters shooting with the men, Trigger Happy, Lonestar Leadslinger, Just-in Time, Willy Hit It, Akaraka Zach, and Marshall Dylan.  These young men are all now seniors and ready to take on the challenges of the world.  What has always impressed me the most about CFDA is the kids and youth shooters.  You will not find a more disciplined, respectful, courteous group of young people.  I believe it is, in part, because they participate in a true sport that teaches discipline, responsibility, respect and courtesy.

The men's division was dominated by the youth shooters.  Quick Cal was quickly dispatched to the scorer's table by drawing three of the youth shooters. It did not matter how quick Cal was, a .375 would be matched by a .372 by Willy Hit It, or if Cal got up 2 zip as in their second meeting, Willy Hit It then put three on the plate to send him to Boot Hill.  I share Cal's pain, having drawn Willy Hit It, in my first match and being set down in three. 

Every good deed does not go unpunished.  I had the privilege of hand judging Lonestar Leadslinger early in the event. He was a bit flustered and fell behind his opponent. I spoke some words of encouragement to him and he settled down to put three on the plate to win the match.  He made the Magnificent Seven with  3 x s where I meet him on lane 3 and 4.  Three shots and I sat down in seventh place.

As in all titled events, luck of the draw is so important.  At the 2019 Texas State you did not want to draw any of the youth shooters, they have now combined enough accuracy with the blazing speed to be deadly.  None were deadlier than Trigger Happy.  Look at the x count and time out of the top seven shooters.  Trigger Happy won the event and has a time out speed of .433.  Seventh place time out was .427. In between are 3 three shooters and Gentlemen George plodding along at .501.  

Texas also shows you what a family affair this sport is.  Gentleman George (Grandpa) was the crowd favorite but Trigger Happy (Grandson) took home the buckle but not before it went two matches down to the last shot. The battle for 4th and 5th was also family tussle between father and son, if only by law, with youth, Sgt Buck, prevailing over age, the Shootist.

On a personal note, I shot up to my ability. I missed my first four shots in the category match but after that hit better than 80% ("80% is just average").  All shots were within a 40 mls range and my quickest was on the final day.  I got better and better, but that is the Alleluia system. 

Texas was a well run titled event.  Great place to shoot.  Many thanks to all who helped put this event on.

Monday, March 4, 2019

More than one way to skin a cat.

We shot the Loess Hills Paladin Jackpot shoot at Shady mountain yesterday on two lanes with 15 shooters. We had an odd number shooters but because we only had two lanes we could not use the CFDA bye procedure.  I have written on the inherent unfairness of the CFDA bye previously, see "Muster matters, Format matters, Newbies learn!", 9/17/2018.  In a comment to that post Rodeo Romeo suggested a solution of having the last three shooters to continue to shoot until there is a winner among the three then the other two shooters both get an x.  This suggestion has great merit and should be considered by CFDA. It would go a long way in solving the inherent unfairness that is especially troublesome in last man standing events.  However, we could not use this suggestion because we only had two lanes.

What we did was to take the loser of the last full group and have he or she shoot against the odd bye shooter.  That way nobody got to advance without shooting the format of the match.  (The inherent problem with the CFDA bye is that the bye winner moves forward without competing in the format of the match.)  This worked well until we had two losers in the final full group (possible with Arizona Five.)  In that event, we had a one shot shoot off for the opportunity to shoot against the bye shooter, winner getting that opportunity.

This bye procedure worked well.  I would note that the two top seeds both saved an x with this bye solutions. Remember in CFDA scoring wins do not matter.  We score by loses that is "x"s.

Other Comments: 

Generally, the Arizona Five format worked well.  We shot 6 rounds in 3 hours, 15 shooters on 2 lanes.  The gunfighter ratings of the gunslingers were lower than what you would expect at a club event, but that is what you would expect of Arizona Five because it is a little tougher format than 3 winning shots and therefore better for a practice event.  If you want to get better at titled events, shoot Arizona Five!  If you are going succeed you have to hit now, within the first 5 shots, there is no 7,8,9,10, etc shots to redeem you. 

The sort was good. The seeding matched the gunfighter rating of the gunslingers.  Arizona Five does a better job sorting because of the increase of rounds, elimination of the one shot lottery shoot off, and the feature that both shooters can get a loss if they are shooting poorly or both can get a win if they are shooting well. 

We shot 48 matches in the seeding rounds.  Only 2 matches resulted in double loses or 4% of the matches.  Only 6 matches resulted in double wins or 12.5% of the matches. Together that would be 16% of the matches.  The fact that double wins were three times more likely is a reflection of the quality of the shooters attending. To get a double lose both shooters must be shooting really poorly.  On the other hand with the quality of the shooters attending, it is much more likely to have two shooters both shooting well and in that event both might get a win.  Arizona Five properly sorts when two shooters are 2-2, both hitting 80%, both having won 2 shots on speed.  It also sorts properly when one of those shooters hits 100%.

I think the Loess Hills Paladins will continue with monthly Arizona Five Jackpot shoots, third Sunday of the month looks good to me.  I just need to sort out locations.  At a minimum, the less than 20 works well on Shady Mtn.  

When it gets to be 115 in the shade this summer, a little jackpot shoot at Rented Mule might be in order.  Have Range, Will Travel.

Monday, February 25, 2019

2019 Winter Range

For years I have been lobbying for a title match at Winter Range. We are doing all the work and we should have a championship, but I am changing my mind.  The weather could not have been worst this year during the week including literally 3 feet of snow in the mountain passes.  But Saturday broke clear and it was a perfect day for shooting. Even with about 20 folks not making it over the mountains, we had 102 shooters participate.  It was a great shoot.  The Arizona Bracket Shoot is so well liked and so much fun that it would be a shame to give it up.  For 2020, I think we should plan on 3 ranges and 120 to 150 shooters.  We have the facilities, the manpower, and the space.  With 3 ranges we could have 9 brackets.  If we get more than 25 shootists we could have two shootist brackets.

When you look at the money winners there is so much diversity, that you know the purpose of the Arizona Bracket Shoot is working. In Bracket A, Cowboy Up was clean and only needed three shots to win. I suspect he must have pirated my training blog, he is shooting so well, just joshing. He out shot Broken Spoke and Whiskey for the win. Bracket B really shows the merit of the shoot, with youth Bandana Kid out dueling Smoken Hank and multi-National Champion, the Draw.  Bracket C was won by Grey Wanderer out shooting Dusty Jam and Desert Gator.  Dusty Jam is using his prize money to buy a backup gun (CFDA Shady Mike tuned) that is being sold by the Loess Hills Paladins. Many thanks to him.

Bracket D was the most colorful bracket. Big Foot was third. He just could not compete with that dogboy shooting with a parasol, but dogboy met his 2x4 in the match with The Stud.  It was a sight to behold.  Bracket E was some of my students dueling but Eagle Eye shooting a Shady Mike holster (his holster having been snowed in) prevailed over Viper and Lone Rider.

Final bracket was the Shootist Bracket.  I have had a long standing argument with the Counselor about what is possible in competition and the shootist bracket made my point.  Dirty Dan was hitting better than 80% at high 4 low 5 speed but lost to BA, also hitting better than 80% at mid 4 speed. That set up the finals, with BA continuing to hit three in the mid fours to no avail, with Quigley putting three on the plate in almost identical .392 speed.  This what cowboy fastdraw can be. Every shot decided by quickness. "80% is just average!"

Loess Hills Paladins:  The second range was provided by the Loess Hills Paladins, Inc.  We had some timer issues but those will get resolved with some adjustments to the backstop.  The Association of Arizona Gunslingers had purchased a raffle gun from the Paladins and all 250 tickets were sold, the lucky winner being Silver Lady.  She had purchased her ticket early at Rio. Many thanks to all who purchased tickets. All the proceeds will go to range improvements.  Silver Lady's pardner, Minnesota Maverick, finished 5th in Bracket A so I guess the couple from Minnesota did quite well.

The Arizona Bracket Shoot is unique to the Valley of the Sun. If you would like to give it a try in a historic setting, head down to Tombstone on March 23.  I said it before the promenade between the Crystal Palace and Big Nose Kate's is worth the trip.  The Arizona Bracket shoot will be great also.

Thinking of next year, I think the Paladins will sponsor a little warm up match on Friday.  Just a little jackpot to get you trained up.  Arizona Five and we will show what a good sort can do for you.

Shady and I are playing the what if game.  If you lose your focus you are shuffled out.  Wait till next year! Or can't wait till next year!

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Arizona Bracket Shoot

I write this post to give credit to where credit is due.  In February, the Rio Salado Vaqueros held one of their best Club events.  I can not commend the Vaqueros enough for the outstanding job they do especially their officers, Mule Train and Southwest KC.  They held their normal Arizona Bracket shoot but because of the cool weather it was extended to 7 rounds.  The Arizona Bracket shoot was the idea of Calaboose Bill when Noah Chance owned the Association of Arizona Gunslingers.  The thought was to give all shooters the opportunity of experiencing a magnificent shoot-off.  The Arizona Bracket shoot combines a no x format with magnificent 1 x shoot-off.  All shooters make the shoot-offs.  Shooters are seeded  in the shoot-off according the CFDA timeout report which is the standard for placings in CFDA events.

To illustrate how well it functions, I will relate the fate of five shooters at the February match. The luck of the draw was not kind to me. Four of the seven shooters I faced in the seeding rounds were on average 80 milliseconds quicker than me. What was worst, three of the four, when I shot them, were hitting better than 60%.  Had the event been a 3x elimination event, I would have been shuffled out near the bottom of the standings.  However, since it was no x event I was seeded 11th in the standings at the bottom of bracket A.  

A Plug!  Here is a plug for the Alleluia Competition and Training System. I would have won the event moving up through the shoot offs except I ran into another Alleluia shooter, Shady Mike.  We were shooting average (80% is just average) and he is 10 milliseconds quicker than me.  I finished in 5th place.  Two of the four quicker shooters finished in 2nd and 4th, Shady finished 3rd, and the other two quicker shooters finished well down in the pack.

Format Matters!  The Arizona Bracket shoot does a better job sorting the field than the elimination format because it mitigates the unfairness of the luck of the draw.  A shooter has the opportunity to recover from a tough draw.  In February, I was probably on that day, the 5th best shooter there and that is where I finished.  The main match whether it is at a club shoot or a title event is nothing more than a seeding match.  The event is sorting the shooters from top to bottom for shoot-off and placing purposes

Winter Range and Tombstone! Tomorrow the weather will break crisp but clear and we will beginning sorting the best of the west at the Winter Range Arizona Bracket Jackpot shoot.  Payout is 80% with the shooters being divided into 6 brackets.  It will be a blast. No one will be out of it until they get their x in a magnificent shoot-off.  If you can not make it, there is another Arizona Jackpot Shoot in Tombstone on March 23. Can't make that one, come to Pioneer Village, Arizona Territory, on March 30th, just a club shoot but probably more than 60 will be there.

"I ain't missing, bring me another shooter!" Alleluia Ruah

Friday, February 15, 2019

At a Crossroad!

2019 is a cross road year for Loess Hills Paladins, Inc.  It will either become a viable charity or it will wither on the vine.  It was set up as a 501 (c) (3) charity so that donations to it would be tax deductible.  Its primary purpose is to make available to CFDA clubs a fully functional 6 lane range to be use for exempt purposes.  Exempt purposes are  educational (town alley), youth development (club shoots), and the training of national sports competitors, (club, state and territorial shoots).

Paladins were traveling knights of Charlemagne court, defenders or advocates of a noble cause.  Our motto is "Have Range, Will Travel."  

To survive the Paladins need two things.  First, the range must be used.  If no one wants to use the range, the range will just rust away.  It has been used four times and will be the second range at Winter Range next week.  It was designed to work at Winter Range, Pioneer Village, Tombstone, as well as in the Loess Hills of Nebraska/Iowa.  It is available.  New clubs in the Southwest, need a range for an event, give the Paladins a call.  Only requirements are it must be an exempt purpose event and the club must have CFDA insurance.

The second thing that is needed is a source of revenue.  Since the Paladins were set up as a charity the obvious source of revenue should be donations.  To encourage donations we are offering to an annual nonvoting membership  for $20.  The only thing you will receive for donation is thank you card to document your donation.  Without donations the charity will not survive. 

If you would like to send in a donation you may do so by mailing it to P.O. Box 74726, Phoenix, AZ, 85087.  I will also be accepting donation for the Paladins at Winter Range.

For an early post about the Paladins, see "Loess Hills Paladins, Inc." posted on this blog April 11, 2018.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Growth of a Club

This last fall I had the privilege to shoot in the last circuit shoot of the year in Texas at the DFW Gunslingers' range. The Quicks, Brad, Pixie and Papa, sure have done well setting up their club and their range. I have recently noted that the DFW Gunslingers have started using a no x format which appears similar to the Arizona Bracket shoot.

All of the clubs in Arizona at their club matches shoot the Arizona Bracket shoot.  What the format is, is that you shoot no x as many rounds as the time will allow and then break the shooters into equal brackets based on x s and time out from a CFDA time out report. You then do a 1 x magnificent shoot off.  There are many advantages to this format.  All shooters remain in the contest to the end of the day.  All shooters gain experience of a magnificent shoot off.  All shoot together so the ladies get more competition by shooting with the men.  Even our tenderfoots are included. Last year we had one event won by Javelina Hunter, a tenderfoot shooting off the table, defeating Rodeo for the event win.  Powder Keg has always given credit to the Arizona Bracket Shoot for his National Championship.  You need to learn to compete with those shooters hitting 80%.

New clubs, try this format you will like it.  The River City Gunslingers of Omaha need to give it a try. We did one last spring when I helped with their first organized shoot.  They have a timer setup that displays the shot count behind the targets so they are really set up for it.  They need to get a little competition into their club practice shoots.

There will be two major jackpot shoots here in Arizona this spring shooting the Arizona Bracket Shoot, Winter Range, which is a big money shoot, and Tombstone.  If you have never experienced Winter Range you should come.  Nearly a 1,000 total shooters, shooting SASS, CFDA, and Mounted Shooting.  Many vendors, February 18 to 23 with Jackpot shoot being 23rd, two ranges, 6 brackets.  Tombstone is the weekend after Texas, March 23rd, and is held in one of the best venues there is. If nothing else it is worth seeing those AZ gals plying the streets of Tombstone between Big Nose Kate's and the Crystal Palace. They will be either drowning their sorrows or celebrating their dominance on the range with Fireball.  Don't know what that is but I am sure one of them will teach me this year, the Fireball that is.  Last year I was too embarrassed to stay, that California gal having sent me to Boothill in 3rd.

Getting back to the subject, the DFW Gunslingers ought to also give Arizona Five a try.  It is the best five shot option. (See my March 7, 2018, post on We shoot it exclusively on Shady Mtn but don't keep score. (I don't think the proprietor can take the stress of losing those marbles.)  In Arizona Five you shoot five shots and the shooter with the most winning hits wins,  If score is 0-0 both get a lose, if score is 1-1 both get a lose, if the score is 2-2 both get a win.  Arizona Five sorts better than Nevada Five or Montana Five and takes 25% less time.  Less time means more rounds. More rounds means a better sort.  From what I see and hear the shooters at DFW need a format like Arizona Five. It puts pressure on you to hit and to hit right a way. The Quick (double meaning intended) need to learn that their quickness will not carry the day if they can't get on the target right away. Javelina Hunter does not give you any second chances.

Anyway, the DFW Gunslingers have a great range and a great club. They seem to be getting a little swagger professing to be the fastest club in Texas. Just remember a little swagger is okay until you trip on your spurs.

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