Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Be careful what you ask for! You may get it! The National Flap

I write this post not to be argumentative and not to criticize others but only to try to be helpful. Those who have strong feelings need to consider the flap at Nationals.

What I saw and what I heard:  In the men's event we were down to the top 15 or so.  It was a tough group, all quick, accurate and seasoned veterans. The round was shot without any unusual happenings. The Range Master was probably our best and most knowledgeable Range Master.  After the round was over, an interloper of the opposite gender, confronts the Range Master in a verbally abusive tone and accuses him of failing to do his job by not calling "unsportsmanship violations" on a particular competitor. The Range Master in a calm but firm manner said he did not see any violations and the round was over.  The interloper then storms off to take the matter up with an higher authority.  Before the start of the next round Cal takes the mic and reprimands the competitors for making complaints about "sportsmanship" and to "stop it."  The competitors are all bewildered, not knowing that anything had happened and none having made any complaints whatsoever.

That is what I saw and heard, now here is what was going on.  There was a match between a high 3 shooter against a low 4 shooter.  The low 4 shooter has a history of "slow shooting" apparently believing he is more accurate doing so.  Apparently he was shooting  in the 7s and 8s and he won.  The low 3 shooter did not complain, he himself has a history of "slow shooting" in the mid 4s against 5 and above shooters.  Both these gentlemen are seasoned veterans, credits to our sport, and great competitors.  There was absolute no problem with the round and no complaints from anyone but the interloper which caused a public reprimand of the field.  Is this really where we want to go?

To those thinking it would be good to just ban recovery shots, this same incident is informative. The Range Master is adamant that he never saw a slip cock or a recovery shot.  A veteran spectator has said he heard a click and the "offender" did slip cock and recovered.  So were these shots the hated "recovery shots"?  Whose knows?  Is not always easy to tell.  I shot for the first time in three weeks last Saturday and did, on one shot, fumbled my draw, catching my trigger finger on the trigger guard.  I did recover and hit the target.  Would this have been a banned recovery shot?  In the Mag 7 I took what appeared to be a recovery shot after an apparent "slip cock."  After the event I find out that the ammunition was dimpled so it may have been host provided defective ammunition and a provisional shot.

Most of the anger on this issue really direct at the shooter who "slow shoots."  Banning recovery shots will do nothing to alleviate this anger. 

Some of the anger is directed towards the "aimed shot." If you are going to ban the aimed shot, remember that most of our new shooters start out as "aimed shot" shooters.

My suggestion is accept all shooters as they are.  Be happy that you have an opponent. Welcome all shooters.  If someone wants to shoot slower that should be fine with all in the sport, they are easier to defeat.  

Thank you.

Monday, August 29, 2016

To each his own!

I commend The Irishman for his work with the data on recovery shots. He has done us a service by compiling this information.  However, I would reach opposite conclusions from his data.

It is clear that recovery shots are a very small portion of shots fired, somewhere in the area of 1%. It is really not a problem. But the data does show a problem.

The accuracy rate has been going down. It is getting to be more and more acceptable to miss.  We have been devaluing the miss.  To me this stems from a basic misunderstanding of the sport.  It is a gunfight.  It is not a speed contest.  WOW correctly points out that all of the top shooters take recovery shots.  That is because they understand it is a gunfight and not a speed contest.

It is bothers to me to see all of the three shooters that can not hit the broadside of a barn even if they are inside.  If you practice enough to be quick, you practice enough to be a 80% shooter.  These shooters don't hit because they don't understand that it is a gunfight.  They practice missing in their relentless pursuit of speed.  

I would not brag too much about never taking a recovery shot.  What you are saying is that you have intentionally thrown a match, have intentionally lost, have intentionally manipulated the standing, apparently out of a false sense of sportsmanship.  If it is okay to intentionally lose then it okay to intentionally lose.  Powder Keg and Marshall Cooper both had the opportunity to intentionally lose in round 13 of the Nationals and thereby eliminate three other mid 3 shooters. They did not do it but they had the opportunity to do so.

Intentionally not taking a shot when you are entitled to do so, devalues the miss.  If you miss you ought to lose.  It is not okay to miss.  It is also disrespectful to your opponent.  You don't find this among the top shooters because they respect their opponent.  They know they better take the shot when they have the chance because their opponent is not going give them another chance.  They respect their opponent.
Saying it is alright to intentionally not shoot or intentionally not hit is the problem.  My shooting partner at nationals had 3 x s and so did his opponent. He did not take a recovery shot. On the very next shot his opponent did.

Time limits will only create more problems.  Then there is the problem of what is a "slip cock", what is a recovery shot.  I was given a sportsmanship warning for what appeared to be a slow recovery shot, (I am just slow) when in fact it was a provisional shot after host provided defective ammunition.  Can of worms!

There is an easy solution!  It is a gunfight folks,  not a speed contest. Simple Rule: Every competitor must fire a shot in each match without regard to time or technique except for gun malfunctions.  Every competitor must use his best efforts to hit the target.  Every competitor must load sufficient to complete the match.

Let's put this nonsense to bed!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Handicapping the Men's Top Gun Race

With less than 60 days to go the men's top gun competition appears to be pretty well defined. Gray Ghost appears to lead but is actually in 6th with 217 points because "they counted seven." Skagway Sam suffered the same affliction and actually is in 10th with 181 points.  Being in the top ten this late in the season is quite an accomplishment.

One would have says the favorites probably are Marshall Cooper (8th) and Powder Keg (9th).  Marshall has the potential to add 110 points while Powder Keg can add 104 points. A dark horses may be The Draw (5th), Boulder (3rd) and Vic Torius (7th).

The Old Timers: Short Keg (1st) Everett Hitch (2nd),  Buzzard Cooper(4th) and The Draw (5th) seem to be solidly in the top ten even if they fade as their points are in the bank.

The race for that 10th place buckle appears to be between three gunslingers, Skagway Sam (10th), Whiplash (11th) and Mongo (12th).  I would put my money on Whiplash because he only has 5 events, but it is his first World and an early out would put him out.  All three could be pushed out of the top ten by a stretch run by Oregon Ranger (26th) with three events or Master Gunfighter (19th) with three events.  

It is a credit to our sport that the top twelve shooters includes four Old Timers and two new shooters.  Clearly illustrates that our shooters can be competitive well into their retirement years and new shooters can reach the top within their first few years.

I must not have enough to do.  Looking at the shooters potentials, if they win out, I think their maximum score would be, Marshall Cooper 307; Everett Hitch 301; the Draw 288; Short Keg 287; Powder Keg 286; Master Gunfighter 283; Gray Ghost 279; Boulder Vaquero 278; and Oregon Ranger 254.  Of course, they all can't win out.

Looking at the tenth spot looks to me that it will take 210 points to sneak  in.  If Whiplash does not shoot, my money would be on Mongo since he has a 10 points to drop off to Skagway Sam's 26 points.  Mongo will have 60 points available to Sam's 44 points at World. Whiplash will have 70 points available.

September 13 update.  Whiplash finished 4th in Kentucky State Championship so I think that moves him up to 7th with 214 points. He now has six events so it will be harder to move up since new events replace lower placing events.  Mongo also placed 6th gaining 13 additional point to move to 184 points and 10th place.

Last chance before FGA is Nebraska this weekend.  Better come and shoot if you want to move up. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Good Old Days

I was having  "lively times" in the comments with Rodeo, Hell on Wheels, and Powder Keg concerning whether this sport was a speed contest or a gunfight and I recalled a conversation I heard in the hole at Nationals between two Old Timers, both Champions, World and National, saying that in the good old days, times were slower but accuracy was better.  "If you missed, you lost!"

In our relentless pursuit of speed, we have devalued the miss.  Some seems to think if you hit in the mid threes it okay to hit only 30% and that seems to work for them because if every one else is hitting 30% to 40 %, they can be competitive.  After all it is "fastdraw."  We see 15 shot matches.  We see the two fastest ladies in the State of Texas on that day miss 22 in a row in a State Championship. 

These "sports", those with grailfever, when they get into a gunfight don't do very well, so they lobby for new rules to give themselves a better chance. Some will even in ask you before a match, "now you won't hold my miss against me, cause I try to go fast."

Last year at Nationals I was in almost a perfect match.  It was against Luckey O'Riley and he was pumped having just beaten the only black badge from his state in the prior match. I was pumped because I drew him. He is quicker than me but we are a pretty evenly matched overall.  After four shots, it was 2-2, both shooters hitting 100%. Fifth shot one of us missed.  Almost perfect, but alas only a mere 90% on ten shots.  It would had been better if decided on speed, but you rarely get perfection.  Does not matter who won, we both shot to the best of our abilities. A match from the good old days, a gunfight, not a speed contest!

I have been watching the Olympics and I admire most, not the winners, but the competitors who when they fall off the bar, they get up again and finish their routine. Does not matter that they fell, they are going to do the best that they can do under the circumstances. I did not like the competitor who did not do his routine because of a false sense of sportsmanship thereby disqualifying his team and  affecting the standing of other teams on something other than performance.

I know I am kicking a sleeping dog, but Cal has told me he is going fix the problem.  I don't care if you give me a sportsmanship warning in every match, I am going to do my best in every match under all circumstances, even if I fall I am getting up and finishing the match, because "this ain't Dodge City, and you ain't Bill Hickok........I didn't say I didn't know how to use one."  I will do my best on each and every shot whether that is a .399 or a 1.729, both of which were the final shot of 2-2 matches in the top 15 or so at Nationals and both just mere milliseconds slow. Even losing, great fun, loved both matches.

Getting back to the topic at hand, maybe a slight rule change may helpful with grailfever. How about three winning hits you win, three misses you lose.  That might bring back the good old days when  "if you missed you lost."  I know it will never happen in titled matches, but it is something to think about for club practices.  You know it may not just be coincidence that our new National Champion warmed for Nationals with a club event of Arizona Five the week before.  Arizona Five is just a mental toughness drill. You got to hit, and you got to hit right now. Most of our quick shooters don't like it and don't do well with it, that does not mean it is not good for them.

New club event.  We will call it,  "The Tough 3 by 3",  6-8 seeding rounds no x, three winning shots you win, three misses you lose. Then brackets with a Magnificent 1 x shoot-off. Sounds like a good warm-up for World.   Let see if the next World Champion comes from the Camp, Shady Mountain, or at least the Valley of the Sun.

Postscript: Thank you for all the prayers, heading to Camp I had a pulmonary embolism, made it into and now out of hospital okay.  My life coaches have prevailed upon me not to shoot for another 7 days.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Nationals, Photos, and Rule 17

The National Championship was a great event put on by a great club and fine folks. I have nothing but good things to say about the event.  I write this blog to be helpful to myself and my fellow competitors.  Before you get your feathers all ruffled please read the general warnings to this blog.

Mary Eileen Russell has posted hundreds of photos which are very helpful for training.  I thank her for her efforts and commend her for the great value she has provided to us.

Personal Conclusion:  Looking through the photos, I would conclude that most 5 flat and slower shooters shoot the level and follow through draw.  Most 4 flat and faster shooters shoot the locked elbow draw or the flail draw with the exception of two old timers who shoot the level and follow through down into the threes.

In the men's division the majority of the Mag 7 shooters were locked elbow shooters with the remainder being level and follow through or hybrids.  There were no flail shooters in the Mag 7.  The highest placing flail shooter went out in round 10 shooting 3 flat times.

The problem with the flail draw can clearly be seen in a three shot series of photos of a relative new shooter.  His first shot would have been 2 or 3 feet high if it hit the backstop at all.  His second shot was foot or so low.  His third shot may have had a chance to hit the target. Watching him in three titled events this year his hit percentage generally is below 30%.  He went out in the fourth round.  If he recognizes himself and wants help I will direct him to some good blogs to find the target. By the way he is blazing fast, a low 3 shooter.  That is the problem with the flail draw, almost impossible to master with sufficient accuracy to be competitive.

The dominant draw among the men  is the locked elbow draw.  It dominates because it is the most stable accurate draw. With the locked elbow draw, there is less total motion, the gun is fired from a locked fixed position with no motion.  With it your most accurate draw will be your quickest.  It is also the safest of the draws.

With the flail or the level and follow through the gun is fired while in motion.  Timing is much more crucial in these draws.  The flail draw can be especially troubling with wax being slung everywhere.

However, the locked elbow draw is not without its challenges.  A perfect locked elbow draw would be shot with the muzzle directly above the holster pouch in a fixed stable position, hence a Rule 17 violation.

Rule 17:  Rule 17 is biased against the locked elbow draw because it is the only draw where the shot is fired from a fixed position close to the holster.  A line judge  may think he can see where the gun is fired with the  locked elbow draw because the gun is stable.  There is absolutely no possibility that a line judge can determine where a flail shooters fires from when the draw takes less than 100 milliseconds.  With the level and follow through draw, even if the gun is fired behind the front lip the forward follow through masks the violation.  Some have suggested that I should "poke."  Sorry, that is recipe to boothill, I will not give up the accuracy.

Locked elbow shooters have dealt with Rule 17 in a number of ways.  Some have moved the anchor point higher up on the body.  This moves the muzzle away from holster and it is much less likely that a line judge will think he see a violation. Others have moved the anchor point forward, therefore the muzzle is moved forward.  A more erect stance with move the shoulder forward and hence the muzzle forward.

Mag 7 Violations:  We shot five days without a problem and then in the Mag 7 two shooters were eliminated for Rule 17 violations.  If anyone thinks this was good for the sport they need to think again.

I have no complaint with Cal's call on me. It was probably correct.  I did not handle it well.  I was not mentally tough. I thought now what am I going to do. I can stand more erect and I can move my anchor point forward. Of course, "thinking about an action is the sign of a novice, or a key to turning an expert into an amateur."  Sports Illustrated.  The results were that I anticipated by cocking the hammer before the light and almost shooting myself I was so flustered.  I called the anticipation on myself, the hand judge did not see it.  A veteran shooter watching the live feed has told me that he observed that the hand judges were so focus on Rule 17 that there was no way they could call anticipation because they were out of position to see the light.

I think it is helpful for folks to see my Rule 17 violation  in comparison to Powder Kegs winning draw in the finals.

Clearly Powder Kegs' draw is not in violation and mine maybe is in violation.  When you compare the two, you see that the stance is similar, the location of the gun in relationship to the body is almost the same, the draws very nearly the same (except I am missing high).  What is different is the location of the holster.  Powder Kegs' holster is several inches father back on his side.  I will move my holster back!

This will not happen again.  I will not be flustered by a warning.  Starting today I will be practicing what I will call my "warning draw."  It will probably be a two handed aimed draw to be used only in case of a warning.  I will not be a danger to myself or others trying to change my draw in a competition.  "I warned em!" Virgil Cole.  

We had some silliness at Nationals with Range Masters either not knowing the rules or making up new rules to suit they own perceptions.  I have discussed this with Cal and he said he is going "nip it in the bud", we will see.

Mental Toughness:  I would be remiss if  I did not mention that Powder Keg went through the entire event without an X.  He had also done this at the Texas State Championship.  Power Keg won not because he was the quickest but because he was the toughest gunfighter there.  He did not win a single shot against Marshall Cooper on time in the final match.  Powder Keg has a training regiment wherein he practices mental toughness.  This sport is a gunfight, it is not a speed contest.