Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Alleluia Regiment

I write this post as a prep talk for those trying the Alleluia Training and Competition System.  For the last week I have been up in the Coconino National Forest with no timers or targets, so I did bucket work. Shot 190 rounds over five sessions consuming about 30 rounds of wax.

I thought the Rio match on Saturday would be a good indication whether the bucket work helped. Overall, I shot below average right around 60% but that was good enough to win the event.  Good enough because the system is progressive. In 4 of my last 5 matches I hit 100%. The system is designed to be progressive.  The more you shoot the better you shoot.  Your bucket work is progressive.  You may start out at 40-50%, but by the end of the session you should be at 100%, all without trying to improve accuracy. It should all be subconscious.

In each match we walk our hits to the light. First shot is a guess on alignment.  We then go through our physical routine, our mental routine, do our waggle, then wait as a loaded spring for the light. Second shot on the target. Again pre-shot routine. Next shot closer to the light.  Walking the hits to the light.  In each match we should be getting better and better. Just as in our practice, during each 5 shot string we are improving with each shot.

The hard alignment problem is the elevation. For locked elbow shooters that is generally a matter of balance.  It is something you just have to learn as the day goes on.  Just as in our training sessions, your balance should improve at the day goes on. The more you shoot during an event, the better your balance will be.

Saturday, my last three opponents were on average 50 milliseconds  quicker than me. None of them hit a shot while I was in my "I ain't missing, bring me another shooter" mode. Flusters!  They got flustered while I was shooting the Alleluia system of getting progressively more accurate with each shot.

The system works well in a shoot-off environment because you have a set routine of physical and mental processes to go through with each shot.  It is a guard against flusters. Against The Draw I did get flustered because of the history between us. He gave me an X at the 2016 Nationals .398 to .399.  I wanted to beat him on time so bad my first shot was right over the top. But then back to the system of walking the hits to the light, next two hits within 6 inches of light. Then I had a flyer probably a up 2 hits fluster.  Then back to the system for the win.

Some cardinal rules off the system:

Never ever slow down!

Never ever change your draw in an event!
Never ever think about your draw!
Never ever think about hitting!
Never ever think about speed!

Your quickest draw is your most accurate!

" The researchers ... suggest....that skilled performers have engaged in greater quantities of 'deliberate practice,' the kind of effortful exercises that strain the capacity of the trainee. In other words the kind of practice that often is done solitary."    The Sports Gene

For new shooters or those who want to seriously try the system I do have a training blog. I give the site out upon request.  Alleluia Ruah

Friday, June 2, 2017

Lessons from an 8 year old and an Oldtimer

We had a few free days up on the Rim in the Coconino National Forest before the monthly Pioneer Shoot so I and Lil James headed into Jack's Canyon to tune up a bit.  We each shot 50 rounds on Thursday, mostly speed work, and then 50 on Friday.

Lil James put 15 on the target. He then did a drill where he draws, fires, reholsters, draws, fires, reholsters, draws, fires and reholsters for 5 rounds.  I think he was down under 3 seconds, maybe 2, for 5 rounds. We did that for 15 rounds.  The point of the drill is to finalize your draw.  You are repeating the draw over and over with no time to think about it.  It is all from the subconscience.  No time to think.  Just draw and fire.

Our next drill was to wave a stick behind the shooter casting a shadow across the target and drawing on the shadow.  This stimulated drawing on the light without the light. The next drill was to stand side by side and I would call out "Shooter on the line, Shooter set" and then "Go" and see which shooter would hit the target first.

All of this work was done at 6 feet on a cardboard target where you see every shot.  I doubt many other shooters shot 100 rounds to get ready for the Saturday's match, but if they did, most would do it on the light and would miss more that half the time.  While other shooters may see 30 to 40 hits, Lil James saw 100 hits.  He was chunking data.

I made a mistake on Friday and put a 6 inch target on the cardboard.  Lil James being a head strong kid refused to do any speed work.  He was determined to put 50 rounds into that circle. I didn't press the issue knowing he was going to be the slowest shooter at Pioneer.

Saturday at Pioneer, Lil James missed only one shot in his first three matches. He lost all three matches to faster shooters.  He was getting a little down, but it was a good life lesson for him.  Even when you do your best, sometimes you are going to lose.  He just kept putting the wax on the iron.  He won his next three matches, which seeded him #1 in bracket C and in the money. Another life lesson, if you just keep battling good things will happen.

Now fast forward one week to the Kansas State Championship Category matches.  Probably the toughest category is the Old Timers category.  There maybe faster shooters elsewhere, but it was the only category with a Black Badge in it with seasoned veterans such as Little Kazzie, Luckey 45, Jayhawker in addition to the top four.  Speed does not win gunfights, gunfighters win gunfights.  A relatively new shooter, a Rio Salado Vaquero, a 9 flat shooter (8.5 to 9.5 at 60% or better) Smoken Hank is the new Old Timer Champion.  Of the top four he put out down in order, Everett, Deacon, and Short Keg.

That same old life lesson.  If you keep putting the wax on the iron, good things will happen.

Ain't this sport great!  And to think some want to take the gunfight out of the sport!


Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Serious Response

I write because Kodiak mentioned my response in his post.  I intend to be helpful to all, the individual and the organizations, both CFDA and World...Gunfighters. If my comments are helpful used them if not disregard. I do not want to be a "can't" person.

I think it is wise not to have classifications in your new organization. From what the old timers tell me classifications almost destroy fast draw once before. In the February event where you had two classifications, one of which was labeled with a degrading term, there were 5 or 6 shooters in our club who would have qualified for the second classification, one of which was a .370 shooter.  None of the others competed because we knew the .370 shooter would compete in the second classification.  All six of those shooters can tell you how the six will finish in a contest based purely on speed, we shoot enough together, and the ranking would be identical.  

I don't think the .370 rule is helpful to your organization.  Why not just make it an "open" event.  The format and rules really limit the competition to .31 and below, so what is the benefit to the .370 rule.  It makes it appear that you don't want to compete against certain gunslingers. I know you don't like losing to a .43 shooter but is that loss any worst than a loss to the .34 shooter. An X is an X, hit the target and you don't have to worry about it. I think the .370 rule may prevent some growth.  What about the up and comers.  For example, we have some shooters in our club who are low 4 shooters but who have recently shot down into the .34s.  They are probably not going to come if all or most of their shots are not going to count, but they might come if not faced with the .370 rule.  And you never know, you might get a few like me who are deluded enough to think that they see some easy pickens especially at 14 feet.

I assume the move to 14 feet is again to help with accuracy.  Why not move to 10 feet. You and I both believe in close work.  If accuracy does not matter then move as close to the target as is safe.  We have shot a lot at 5 feet and know that to be safe, but to be conservative, move to 10 feet.  The point of the big target and close range is to eliminate accuracy as a factor, then do so by moving to 10 feet.

CFDA Shooters Beware!  For those that continue to shoot CFDA, you need to be aware that while blockers may help you go fast they may also hurt your competitiveness in CFDA.  I think it is reasonable to ask why a 3 flat shooter (.25 to .35 at better than 60%) loses in the National Championship to a 4 flat shooter (.35 to .45 at better than 60%). It may be that the 4 flat shooter practises mental toughness while the 3 flat shooter has moved on to competitions where mental toughness and accuracy are not a factor.

A Blocker Proposal:  You need to develop a base from which to draw competitors. It is obvious that there are shooters who want to shoot blockers but are not quite at .30 speed yet. They clamour for classifications but that creates problems. Since you are using most of the rules of CFDA create something that works for the CFDA competitor.  

How about this:
1. Shoot from 10 feet;
2. Paint a 10 inch circle on the center of the target.  A hit in the 10 inch circle or touching it the shooter's time is divided by 2. You hit a .29 on the corner, I hit a .44 in the center, I win .22 to .29. You hit .29 in center you win.  This would be the scoring for the "Open".
3. "Open"  Everyone compete against everyone in a round robin event.  Open to everyone.
4. After the seeding rounds top seven shoot off for the "Open" Championship using open scoring.
5. After the open championship the top seven with the quickest times shoot off in a Magnificent Seven Master's Championship.

What do you think? Helpful or not?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Illusions, Flusters and "just another cowboy"!

We all have illusions. I have commented in the past about how the luck of the draw creates the illusion that we are better than we are. The illusion of speed is easily observed and documented. In the final match of the National Championship and in the final match of the Arizona State Championship not a single shot was won by quickness. Although four of the fastest gunfighters were involved, speed was not determinative, it was completely irrelevant in both of those match. Because the competitors were quick the tendency is to think that speed decided the match. It is an illusion!

If speed did not decide the match one might think that accuracy did.  That would be an illusion also. All four of the shooters were accurate enough to win otherwise they would not have made it to the finals. But accuracy did not decide those matches, if it would have both matches would have been over in 3 shots which was not the case. 

What decided the championships was flusters.  The winner of those championships was the gunslinger who best managed flusters.  The mentally tougher gunfighter won.

This years Southern Championship was decided in a gunfight.  Quickness was determinative in that championship, a match between the quickest gun there and a brand new shooter in his first event who was the slowest male shooter there.  The match went down to the final shot tied 2-2.  The brand new shooter came within a shot of winning the championship (I am sure there is a bit of illusion there for him).

While speed gets way too much credit, it is a factor that effects flusters.  When we come up again a shooter that is perceived as being substantially quicker, we many times change our routine and become flustered. The lack of speed and perceived accuracy of a slower shooter may have the same effect.  That explains how a brand new shooter can make it to the number one seed at a titled territorial.

On a personal note, of my 8 losses in titled matches, flusters were involved in 60 % of those matches.  Two of those matches were against quicker opponents whom I should have dispatched with ease.

There is a scene in Appaloosa where a cowboy laments that Virgil is "just another cowboy," where upon Virgil asks his deputy what do you think and the deputy responds " ....I don't think you're just another cowboy!"

If I can ever get the flusters under control, hopefully I won't be just another cowboy!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Entertainment or Sport?

I had some interesting banter with Kodiak that highlights the issue of whether we are in the entertainment business or a sport.  He is hosting an event this weekend called the World Fastest Professional Gunfighters.  I wish him and his organization well and hope they have great success. He asks whether I would prefer to watch Carl Lewis or some jogger. Of course, the answer is neither.

If you want to participate in the entertainment business that is world class long distance running you must be born in East Africa and not just anywhere in East Africa but to a certain specific tribe in East Africa. The Sports Gene. That entertainment venue is limited to a very few individuals of specific genes.  However, thousand participate in the sport of long distance running, from the 15 minute miler to the 4 minute miler.

A sport is a character building activity.  It is where one struggles against adversity and in the process gets stronger physically, mentally and in character.


CFDA is a sport, not an entertainment venue. Entertainment venues will be limited to very few participants. Sports are for those who want to participate and not just watch. You have to have the courage to compete. I hope that all that speed in Reno stay in our sport because we are better for it.  Unfortunately, I know that some will not, for whatever reason.

Can't help myself. Come shoot with me, I am not that tough!

 

Monday, March 27, 2017

"You don't know how hard this is!"

Let me set the stage. Cowgirl Up has just out dueled Prickly Pear and Desert Rose for the Annie Oakley Arizona State Championship in a Magnificent 3 shoot off.  Lil' James is seeded 3rd in a Magnificent 5 of the Billy the Kid shoot off. He is the youngest competitor of 108 shooters. He loses his first match and goes to the loser's lane where he dispatches the 5th, 4th and 3rd place shooters in tightly contested matches. He has climbed back in the finals against Buckeroo Ben, a older and quicker shooter.  Buckeroo Ben wins the Arizona State Championship.

On the way home Lil' James says to his Dad. "I don't think you know how hard this is.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how hard do you think this is? His Dad responds "8 out of 10." Lil' James retorts, "No Dad, it is a 10 out of 10!"

You just don't know how hard this is!

The Ladies Championship follows with Holli Day being the # 1 seed. Slow Poke is dispatched to the loser bracket where she takes care of business and is back into the finals against Holli Day. Both ladies can not find the target. Holli Day has a misfire and challenges the round to no avail. She has another misfire and then another whereupon she declares that the gun is broken.  She calls for Thirsty's Colt. More missing.  She calls for another backup, Prickly Pears' gun but after dry firing, decides to stick with Thirsty's Colt.  Thirsty leave the range to do some gunsmithing on Holli's gun. More missing, but Slow Poke finally prevails, it is now 1-1.

You just don't know how hard this is!

Both ladies are prompted to go clean their guns. Holli foregoes cleaning and begins to disassemble Thirsty's gun to do some gunsmithing. The Range Master comes over and says you only have 30 seconds you can't do that. Holli frantically reassembles Thirsty's colt and goes back to the line.  More missing.  Finally, Thirsty comes back to the line with the repaired gun.  Holli Day finally prevails and is the Arizona State Ladies Champion. Through it all Slow Poke being the great champion and competitor that she is never once complains about all the disruption. She just stayed focus and did her best, and on this day that was second.

You just don't know how hard this is?
 
The men's finals was a mid 3 duel between Rodeo, Cowboy Up and Master Gunfighter.  I am sure it was just as dramatic and hard but I don't remember the exact details. Master Gunfighter is the new Arizona State Champion. Someone commented to me about all that speed and I said looks like easy draws to me with all that missing. If only I had gotten there but three matches against the Kegs did me in.

Last weekend at Amarillo I had a nice visit with the Comish about the format and he was saying everyone thought he was crazy when he came up with this format. But it really does work well.  Five shooters went out in round 11 and there was a tie for 11 through 15.  If you look at the final standings 11th through 15th the shooters were accurately sorted by quickness by a 1x shoot off.  The final two were myself and Sheriff Rango with Quick Cal announcing.  On the line before the first shot I say to him, "no lollygaging!"  He promptly puts his two fastest shots of the event on the plate. I put my first two shots dead center of the target in identical times 5 milliseconds faster than his, both being my fastest of the event. His third shot again is his fastest of the event. My third shot is a flyer 8 inches from the center but 20 millisecond faster. Now that is the way all matches should be, both shooters hitting 100% hitting their fastest times.

I would be remiss if I did not mentions that Honey Badger set two new World Records in the same match, the new world record being a .344 for ladies. She lost the match.  I only mention that to emphasize that a World Record time is only one shot, unless you are Honey Badger then it may be two shots, but you are still in a gunfight, three winning shots to win.  Great shooting by a great lady and competitor.

It was great fun. Hope everyone had a good time. You really don't know how hard this is!

Monday, March 20, 2017

"Them Texas Boys sure can shoot." or " Ain't this sport great!"

I suffered through a bout of the flusters at the Southern Territorial.  The event started well for me with a draw of Parttime for the first match but then the flusters set in (should have handled him but didn't).

I take back every negative thought I have ever had concerning those Texas boys.  Seems those boys and gals are no longer practicing missing down there, Parttime dominating the field and giving out lessons on accuracy as well as speed.  Brad the Quick no longer is just quick but he sure can put them on the plate now.  

A couple a years ago I hitched a ride from Reno to Fallon with a couple novices, it was their first world championship and they told me they had just start shooting that spring and formed a new club.  Here we are, a couple of years later, and Marshall's Daughter is the Southern Territorial Champion.  Ain't this sport great!  Not only that but the finals of the mens had a brand new shooter, JB Steele, shooting for the championship.  His first event.  I watch him in one match and he was not even gripping the gun before the set command he was so new to the sport, but if you put them on the plate you are dangerous. (JB Steele was also there as a vendor, Lone Hunter Guns.  I have three of their Rugers.) Ain't this sport great!

That Possum from the mountains showed everyone how he could play dead then come to life, going from the fifth seed to being the Champion of the Shootist competition.  Ain't this sport great!  He listens to Little Bill. Unforgiven

Least you think Parttime had a cake walk, there were three black badges in the field, and the multi-champions from Shady Mountain, Old West, Rodeo Romeo, and Powder Keg, finished 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

I had a nice visit with the Comish and am now of the opinion that I am not near banishment, but who knows, I don't have much restraint when it comes to needling.  If I offend anyone, just know I don't mean to. Anyway got some lessons on history from the Comish and Jayhawker.

Shady Mountain again won the team competition but with different shooters. So you don't think I am just a good recruiter, all of the members of the team practice on Shady Mountain or had been trained by the Desert Master, a Shady Mtn shooter.  We tried to enter last year's team but with only three shooters, but they said that was against the rules.  Doc will never hear the end of her dereliction. (Told you I don't have much restraint)

Well, got to go to work. so much for play.

Confusion in the Panhandle

I can not say enough good things about the Southern Territorial.  It was a great event put on by great people.  Everything ran smoothly and the hospitality was exception.

There was only one minor problem and that occurred on Sunday in the bracket shoot.  There was confusion concerning the format and the format changed between round one and two.  Some of us got early undeserved Xs but that was okay, we all shot by the same rules. What happened was they mixed the Nevada Eight with the "2 out of 3" format.

The confusion stems from a misnomer common throughout CFDA.  If you look in the Gazette you will see many ads for "3 out of 5" matches.  We do not shoot any "3 out of 5" matches.  We shoot first 3 winning shots matches.  The number of shots generally is unlimited. Same goes for "2 out of 3."  This is first 2 winning shots wins, again number of shot is unlimited.

In order for events to speed up the matches there are a number of 5 shot option formats in use, Montana Five, Nevada Five, and Arizona Five.  In all of these formats the number of shots is limited to 5 shots.  Whoever has the most winning shots after five shots wins in all five shot option formats! 

The manner in which ties are handled differs in each of these formats.

In Montana Five and Nevada Five, ties are determined by sudden death next winning shot.  In Montana Five the tie breaker is unlimited, shoot until there is a hit.  In Nevada Five the tie breaker is limited to 3 shots, if neither shooter hits both shooters get an X. (Why it was originally called hateful)

In Arizona Five, I like to say "There are no ties in Arizona Five" (Miss Kitty disputes my description), anyway in Arizona Five there are no additional shots to break the tie.  If the match is tied 0-0, or 1-1, both shooters get a X.  If the match is tied 2-2, both shooters get a win.  Arizona Five takes 20% less time than the standard three winning shots format 

In all three 5 option formats the match also ends when one shooter can not win the match so it may end after 3 shots, 4 shots or 5 shots.  Even after the formats were corrected at the Southern some of the announcers were saying it took three winning shots to win.  It does not.  In five shot option format, the specific number of winning hits is not determinative, the shooter with the most winning hits wins after five shots.  

The brackets were fun and well run except for the little confusion on format.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Flop

In the 40s and 50s the dominant high jump technique was the scissor jump. That was replaced in the early 60s by the American Roll.  The main difference between those techniques was while with the scissor jump the center of gravity of the jumper passes several feet above the bar, with the American Roll the center of gravity passes just inches above the bar.

In 1968 Dick Fosberry won the gold medal at the Olympics using a new technique, the flop, later to be called the Fosberry Flop.  What made this technique so successful, still in use today, is that the center of gravity of the jumper passes underneath the bar by several inches.  It enables a jumper to clear 8 feet while his center of gravity never rises nearly that high.  (When the 8 feet barrier was broken, I had to help a 8th grade high jumper prove in a science fair project that the center of gravity passes below the bar.)

My question is: Is there a Fosberry flop just waiting to be discovered in Cowboy Fast Draw?  In light of Rule 17, maybe there is a better and quicker way to skin that smoke wagon.  Just thinking.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

When you're wrong, you're wrong!

Everyone has biases and prejudices. I admit that I have a bias against speed, probably because I have tried so hard to join the realm of the quick and have failed.

I looked at the results of Winter Range and saw all those quick shooters down in Bracket B and said, "See what I have always said about practicing missing!"  Not to be one to let useful data lie, I took the time to average the speed factor of each brackets assuming I would find that Bracket B was the quickest.  When you're wrong, you're wrong. What I found was that Bracket A was the quickest bracket by a wide margin. Converting the speed factor back to time, the average time of Bracket A was .525, Bracket B was .59, and Bracket C was .65.

Not to be one who gives up his bias so easily I would note that of the ten fastest shooters, 3 were in Bracket A, 4 were in Bracket B, and 3 were in Bracket C. That means that 70% of the speed ended up outside the top one third of the final standings

Some commentators have maligned the 5 shot option, especially Arizona Five, as a format that promotes accuracy over speed, most without ever having shot in it or tried it in their events.  Winter Range provides useful data on that format in comparison with Three Winning Shot format. We shot 3 rounds of Arizona Five followed by 2 rounds of Three Winning Shots. The accuracy for Arizona Five was 43%. The accuracy for Three Winning Shots was 45%. No significant difference.  The small difference that does exist comes from the fact that first round had an accuracy of 38% followed by four rounds averaging right around 45.5%.  It takes shooters a while to find the target in an event.

For those considering Arizona Five, it took 20% fewer shots to complete a round than Three Winning Shots which means it takes about 20% less time.  

The Arizona Gunslingers have finalized the format for the Arizona State Championship. Come on Friday and we will have a good warm-up event for you. The purpose of the Friday's event to get every gunslinger warmed up for the championship.  Every shooter should get a minimum of 6 rounds, maybe 7, of Three Winning Shots. Every shooter will qualify for the magnificent shoot offs.  We will be shooting 6 Magnificent 1 X shoot offs simultaneously.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Change of Mind

For the last few years I have been ranting on format trying to lobby for changes that would insure that the best gunfighter on any given day would win. I promote the 6x match, the resurrection, the all in shoot off all in the belief that it is best to have the best gunfighter win.

In our sport, for the individual gunslinger how you do many times has more to do with the luck of the draw than how you are shooting.  If you are the 4th best gunslinger in a 3X match and you draw the top three gunslingers you are out before you get started. Likewise, if you are a middle of pack gunslinger and draw only gunslingers from the bottom of the pack you will place high.

Recently, I jokingly said these new super fast events were just one third of a CFDA event. I was wrong, there are just one fourth of a CFDA event.  They use a round robin format so the luck of the draw is eliminated. They have eliminated accuracy, mental toughness, and luck of the draw from the event.

The luck of a draw maybe a negative from an individual perspective, but for the sport as a whole it is a good thing.  It allows more shooters to do well.  It allows the average shooter to excel on occasion. It creates the illusion that we are better that we really are.  It creates the belief that we can win.  It is part of the reason why 59 show up at a club shoot and only 4 show up at a new speed event where accuracy, mental toughness, and luck of the draw has been eliminated. 

Changing my mind.

Well, got to go.  Winter Range jackpot shoot is calling and I believe I am the toughness gunslinger shooting today. (See what luck of the draw illusions do for you.)


Winter Range Jackpot Shoot is in the books.  We shot an Arizona Bracket Shoot with 73 shooters.  We had 5 seeding rounds with three being Arizona 5 and 2 being winning three shots, followed with three simultaneous Magnificent 24 1 X shoot offs. Finished at 5 p.m. with the club in a box being in the box by 6:00 p.m.  

I now have useful data on 73 shooters and have complied a gunslinger rating for each shooter using the seeding rounds only since those were the only ones available to me.  Factoring the speed, accuracy, and mental toughness, the ratings mirrors the final standings fairly well except for the winner.  Final standings do not affect the ratings but obviously the better you are shooting (rating) the higher will be your standing.  The top rated shooter (1.407474) finished 2nd.  The second highest rated shooter (1.213818) finished 3rd.  The 3rd rated shooter finished 6th. The 4th rated shooter finished 5th. 

The exception was first place. The 9th rated shooter won 1st.  Don't misunderstand me, he earned it and at this event he was the best gunfighter there, defeating the 2nd rated shooter, seeded 3rd, and then the top rated shooter, seeded 1st. He was the toughest draw.

I was curious about his rating and so I looked back at each of his seeding rounds.  What I found was that his opponents shot a combined 29% while his accuracy was 44%. So while his accuracy hurt his rating, the luck of the draw let him survive into the number 2 seed.  I can assure you, once there he shot like the champion that he is, hitting 75% in his final match.

I was also curious why the 5th rated shooter placed 14th.  Looking at his matches I find that his opponents shot a combined 59% to his 64% but that is not what dropped him in the standings.  He had one draw against a quicker shooter hitting 80% and therefore one loss. Luck of the draw!

Recently, Quick Cal, posted in response to one of the regulators, reaffirming that the balance between accuracy and speed makes the sport what it is today.  When you look at the data from a shoot, it become very apparent that it is this balance that wins matches and events. That top rated gunslinger was also the most accurate while being one of the quickest.  

Luck of the draw adds some spice to an event and I now believe it is a good thing for the sport when you look at the big picture.

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!"