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!"

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Best Five Shot Option

The capacity of a 6 lane range is about 60 shooters. At Winter Range we had 90 shooter so we were at about 150% of capacity.  To get the shoot in we had to use a five shot option for the entire event. The powers that be decided on the Nevada Five format followed by a First Two winning shots 1 x shoot off.  This was not the best that we could have done but results from a lack of understanding among shooters of the options available.

At any event, World, Territorial, State, or large jackpot shoot, the main match is just a seeding tournament wherein the shooter are sorted from top to bottom.  If there are 100 shooters then the main match sorts those shooters and ranks them for 1st to 100th. 

Generally, our events do a pretty good job of sorting except for one major flaw, luck of the draw.  If, for example, you are the 4th best shooter in a 3x event and you draw the three best shooters, you will be sorted out to the bottom of the event even if you hitting 100% at your quickest times.  What mitigates luck of the draw is the elimination factor.  The higher the X count, the more chance a shooter has to overcome a tough draw, but I have heard many a good shooter says "What chance did I have?" and then list 4 tougher shooters.  Always remember for sorting the higher the x count, the more matches, the more shots in a match, the better the sort.

At Winter Range a five shot option was needed.  Three options were considered, Montana Five, Nevada Five, and Arizona Five. With Montana Five and Nevada Five there are ties possible with a one shot sudden death to break the tie. In Montana Five the sudden death is unlimited and in Nevada Five the sudden death is limited to three shots.  Because of the ties and tie breakers Montana Five and Nevada Five really do not save you much time. Most matches are extended to what would be needed just to shoot a standard Three Winning Shot format.  Montana Five and Nevada Five do not sort well because ties become a sudden death shoot off in which 2/3 of the matches are decided by chance.

On the other hand, Arizona Five, saves you at least 25% in time.  At Winter Range we could have shot five seeding rounds instead of four.  What saves the time is that there are no ties in Arizona Five.   Let me repeat, there are no ties in Arizona Five, only winners and those with an X.  Because there are no ties, all matches end after five shots.  Everyone leaves the line at the same time, either a winner or with an X.  That is what saves the time.  An additional and very substantial benefit of Arizona Five is that it promotes the valid sorting of shooters.

There are no ties in Arizona Five. Whoever has the most winning shots after five shots wins the match. 

If the the score is 0-0 after five shots both shooters get a lose.  For sorting, both shooters are hitting at 0% and neither can muster a winning shot.  These two shooters should be sorted downward so they get a lose. If the score is 1-1 after five shots both shooters are hitting at less 40% and neither shooter can muster more than one winning shot or only 20% of their shots. So both these shooters should be sorted downward.

If the score is 2-2 after five shots, both shooters are hitting at least better than 40% and maybe as high as 80%, and both shooters have won at least 2 shots.  Both of these shooters should be sorted upward.  Both shooters get a win in Arizona Five.

The protestations against Arizona Five generally is that shooters don't like the ties.  But there are no ties in Arizona Five, only winners and losers, and those are sorted as they should be.

A good illustration at Winter Range was Cowboy Up.  In the third round he drew the second best shooter in the event. (How I know that later.) The match was 2-2 after five shots, both shooters having hit two winning shots. Since we were shooting Nevada Five, the match went to a sudden death next winning shot and Cowboy Up lost so he was sorted downward. Ultimately he was seeded 7th.  Had we been shooting Arizona Five he would have gotten a win and been sorted upward.  He would have been seeded in the top three if Arizona Five was being used.  

Arizona Five would have save us time and we could have gotten in 5 rounds.  The more rounds the better the sort.

Short Matches.   A decision was made to use First Two Winning Shots in the shoot off.  I don't consider first two winning shots a fair fight.  The match is not long enough to determine who the best gunfighter is.  If you think about it in the extreme and consider a match where the first winning shot wins, most would agree it is just a matter of chance as to who will win.  In fact, in first winning shot, 1/3 of the matches will be determined by quickness and 2/3 by chance.  First two winning shots is not much better.  The match is just not long enough.  Getting back to Cowboy Up, he met the same shooter in the shoot offs and hit the first two shots winning the match.  Had the match been a three winning shots the odds favored his opponent.

A digression:  Some will wonder what is the basis for some of my statements.  Well, I have the gunfighter ratings for the top group of shooters at winter range.  This is not speculation or based on averages.  This is the actual results of the actual shots fired in an actual event.  These are the rating for that day in the main match without any mental toughness factor. Gunfighter rating (combination of quickness and accuracy): The Draw, 1.38; Everett Hitch 1.27; Rodeo Romeo 1.12; Cowboy Up 1.10; Arizona Coy Dog 1.09; Old West 1.06; Hell on Wheels 1.04; Holli Day 1.04; Shady Mike 1.01. 

Back to the Options.   In you are out of time consider Arizona Five.  It will not only save you 25% on the time needed but it also does a good sort which is the purpose of the main match.  Even if you have plenty of time consider it for your practice matches.

Arizona Five is a great practice tool.  It demands that you hit and hit right away.  The pressure to hit duplicates the pressure in an event. It sorts well.  Arizona Five is shot almost exclusively on Shady Mountain although we don't call it that, we do shoot it.  

Those that protest against it probably are the shooters that need it most.  If you don't like a five shot option it probably because you have trouble finding the target early in a match. If that is the case, you need to shoot more Arizona Five.

For a couple of shooters pretty evenly matched, the original marble match is great.  It is Arizona Five with a marble (gold dollar) on the line.  Five shots, most winning shots wins, loser put a marble in the can.  If match is tied 2-2 both win, no marble.  If tied 0-0 or 1-1, both put a marble in the can.  At the next monthly shoot, double elimination three winning shot for all the marbles.

Now let's get to sorting!

"Been quick enough so far!"  Virgil Cole

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Winter Range 2018

Well, Winter Range is in the books.  Congratulations to all of the shooters and especially the top three in each bracket.  Rodeo Romeo won Bracket A coming from the 6th seed, a truly difficult task since the shoot off was a 1 x 2 winning shot affair.  Rodeo was the toughest gunfighter at the event.

We had 90 shooters which put our 6 lane range at 150% of capacity.  We had to adjust the format a bit going to Nevada Eight for the entire main match and then Best Two shot shoot off 1 x, but we got it all done before the sun set. The club in a box was in the box before dark thanks to all the gunslingers that stayed to put the range away. 

The large numbers meant that the pot was large, payout was 80%, with substantial money going to California (Cowgirl Up), Colorado (Wench), and Iowa/South Dakota/Arizona (wherever Sky now calls home).  Bracket winners were: A. Rodeo Romeo, Hell on Wheels, and the Draw; B. Grey Wander, Cowgirl Up, Sky Queen; C. Quiet Thunder, Wench, and Calaboose Bill.  We had a little trouble getting Quiet Thunder to the photo op, with his protestation that he was not familiar with the routine, but I know that is not true since he put me out at the Springs last year.

Shootist Winners were Ladies: Miss Kitty and Wench; Men: Brasada Spur, Noah Chance, and Dirty Dan.

The cat factor kept us from using the best 5 shot option, more on that in a later blog.  Next year, whether it is a Jackpot shoot or a State Championship, we will have two 6 lane ranges, the Loess Hills Paladins (another later blog) are committed to a second range for 2019 Winter Range raising our capacity to 120 shooters 

On a personal note, I shot about as well as possible hitting at a better that 75% at low 4 quickness breaking down into the 3s for the SASS competition.  No match for the entire week was less that 60% with most better than 80% except the last match (50%) which was a two winning shot format.

Unfortunately, we had to go to a two winning shot format for the shoot off since each bracket had more than 30 shooters in it.  This format does not allow for sufficient shots to have a valid test of gunfighting ability.  It make Rodeo's feat all the more remarkable.

Weather for the Jackpot Shoot was a bit nipping in the morning, but by mid day it was perfect.  Hope to see you all next year at Winter Range.  If you have never experienced it come early, more vendors than anywhere else, 800 plus SASS shooters, 5 days of practice if you want, then a big money jackpot shoot on Saturday or maybe a titled match, we will see. I'm lobbying for the 7 x shoot. (Another later blog)

Monday, January 29, 2018


Rodeo Romeo has made some personal and hurtful comments to me.  I did not mean to start an argument or say anything offensive to him, but if I did I apologize.  He asks for an explanation and so here it is.

To be a competitive gunfighter you must have a finalized draw. By that I mean you draw to the same anchor point and fire each and every time.  Each draw is identical to each other draw. Perfection is when every bullet hits the same hole in the exact identical time.  By definition, if you have a finalized draw your quickest draw will be your most accurate shot because you are getting to the anchor point as quickly and as smoothly as possible.  Anything that causes you to change your draw will cause you to have to re-finalize or re-learn your draw.

If you are constantly changing your draw to get that last millisecond of time, you have to relearn your draw with each change. Every change for whatever reason brings you back to the entry level of accuracy, from my observation less than 30%.  To constantly chase the clock impedes a gunslinger's development. Disregard for where you hit takes away the opportunity for your subconscious to learn accuracy.

Partime in Texas is a good study in the development of a gunslinger. When I first saw him he was just another pretty gun. He would come to titled matches and after four rounds go home.  Quick but hitting less than 30%. He even wrote a song about it. Then he came to the Springs and had a session with Marshall Cooper. Within six months he was the best gun in Texas.  What happened?  He finalized his draw. He began to hit the target and see every hit.  He no longer was practicing missing.  If you see every hit your mind and body will walk the hits to the light.  Some will say he learned to be fast then he learned to be accurate.  No, that is not what happened.  When he was "learning to go fast," he just was not paying attention.  Hitting didn't matter. He was depriving his subconscious the opportunity to learn to be accurate.

DO NOT PRACTICE ACCURACY! You can not do it. Practice speed only. To think about accuracy or to try to be accurate causes you to miss.  "Any thought changes an expert into a novice."  The Sports Gene.  

What is needed is to give your subconscious the opportunity to learn those small incremental changes that walk the hits to the light.  If you think about hitting you will miss. If you try to be accurate you will miss. If you think about going fast, you will be slow. (For me, trying to go fast in competition causes me to be about 30 mls slow)

"I was lucky in the order, but then I have always been lucky when it comes to killing folks." William Munny

Now to get personal.  Saturday at Pioneer we shot an Arizona Bracket shoot.  The field was divided into three brackets by x count and time out. In A bracket there were 15 gunslingers, all good and tough gunfighters, not an easy draw in the bunch.  Of the 14 matches only three matches were decided by quickness, Old West was quicker than Shady, Holli Day put Old West out on quickness, and I put Ranger out on quickness.  Quickness is important, but not as important as mental toughness.  In the last seven matches only one match was decided on quickness. The rest were decided on something else and it ain't accuracy.

Those matches were decided on the mental processes of the gunslingers.  Based on time out 6 of the 7 were quicker than me.  What happened.  Well, the same thing that happened at Nationals when 5 black badges went down to Johnny Three Toes.  They thought about it.  In some form of another they all thought, "I got to hit the target!" or they tried to slow down because you are more accurate when you slow down (another myth).  When you think about hitting, you miss.

A couple of shooters Saturday were "slow shooting."   Slow shooting is the kiss of death to a gunslinger. Why?  Because you have to think when you are changing from fast to slow or from slow to fast.  Any thought changes an expert into a novice.

Getting back to the subject at hand. I have suffered through several bouts of grailfever before and I know it takes about 6 months for it to run it's course.  Even knowing that, come February 5, based mainly on comments by Levi, I will start a new stance and an new draw.  I will start off the clock.  Time does not matter. Only a finalized draw matters. It may be quicker or it may not be, but I will let my subconscious walk the hits to the light, there is no excuse for less than 80%.

"I warned em!"  Virgil Cole

Friday, January 26, 2018

Lessons of Geography

I awoke this morning composing this post as a response to the swagger of loverboy, but upon further consideration decided that he deserves to strut a bit as long as he doesn't trip on his spurs.  The vehicle was going to be a geography lesson, but then decided that the vehicle itself had merit since there may be some traveling here for Winter Range.

The main trail in and out of Phoenix is I-17.  From the intersection of the main trail with Wickeburg/Carefree road, about 1/2 mile west is the venue for Winter Range.  About a thousand shooters and their camp followers will be at Winter Range February 18 to 25.  The Association of Arizona Gunslinger will have a 6 lane range up and running Feb 19 through 24, with a Arizona Bracket Shoot on the 24th. CFDA shooters can shoot all week warming up for Saturday, but it may not do you much good, as the competition is pretty salty at the Showdown at Winter Range.

If you head east down the Wickenbugr/Carefree Road, just about 1/2 mile past Central Avenue (divides Phoenix east and west) you will come to the road (7th Street) that goes from Shady Mountain  north around Daisy Mountain back to the main trail (I-17).  If you turn south about 1/2 mile you will come to Shady Mountain, the home range of many World and National Champions.  Those champions gather about weekly, mostly for social shooting, gunsmithing, and general foolishness.  Shooting there is by invitation, but Shady is pretty free with the invitations, his only limit being the space available for the crowd that wants to come.

If, at the intersection of the Carefree road and the Daisy Mtn road, you turn north and go about a mile you come to loverboy flats.  When you will come to the girlie street (Dolores), turn east and go about 1/4 mile and you come to the Camp.  The Camp is open 24/7 to CFDA shooters and it is a world class 6 lane facility where speed is king.  The Camp has a jackpot shoot the first Saturday of the month and quarter matches the third Saturday of the month.  The Camp has a 8' by 32' greased wall so there is no practice missing at the camp.  If you practice at the Camp and shoot less that 80%, you are not paying attention.

From the intersection of the main trail and the Wickenburg/Carefree road, 1/2 mile to the north is Pioneer Village, Arizona Territory, the home range of The Association of Arizona Gunslingers.  They hold a Arizona Bracket shoot on the fourth Saturday of every month.  The saying is that "There is no lollygagging at Pioneer Village," but the very nature of the Arizona bracket shoot is to insure that the new shooter, the drifter, the youth and generally everyone feels welcome and competitive..

For those that want to shoot every Saturday, you can travel down the main roads through Phoenix out east beyond Red Mountain and shoot at the Rio Salado Range.  The Salty River Cowboys (officially the Rio Salado Vaqueros) hold a club shoot the second Saturday of every month. It is alway an excellent shoot with different formats.

The Loess Hills Paladins, Have Range, Will Travel, are building their portable range at Shady Mtn. The Paladins plan to break camp and head for the Loess Hills when the snow is out of the mountain passes. They will go through Flagstaff then pick up the Pueros River onto the Rio Grande River to Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Trail. They intend to stop at Manual Lisa's place before heading onto the home range of the River City Gunslingers.  I will give a photo report when the range is done, hope to set up at Pioneer Village, March 24.

Well, we will see how the swagger goes Saturday.