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.