What can you do in three minutes? I think it's a cool question in itself and if asked of the right people there'd be some pretty cool answers...My answer, at least in relation to one of my shooting sports, is a bloody shit-ton of stuff!
I recently wrote a post about the upcoming IPSC State Titles which you can see here and I put a few of the stage designs into the post to give an idea of what it's all about.
The stage designs are often complicated with multiple ways of completing them, some faster and more efficient than others, and having the ability to interpret, understand and memorise the course, and how one is going to run it, is critical to attaining a good score.
Points gained, minus penalties, divided by elapsed time is how they arrive at a hit-factor which is deemed as the shooters score for that stage - i.e. 160 points minus 25 penalties divided by the elapsed time of 23.25 seconds gives a hit factor of 5.80 which would be deemed the shooters score for that stage. It's called comstock scoring and rewards speed and accuracy.
Looking relaxed but feeling nervous prior to the biggest stage of the day beginning.
A follower of mine asked a really good question yesterday which revolved around whether shooters get a dry-run practice of the stage or simply have to memorise it off the stage brief, like the one pictured below.
So, here's the answer...
At big events such as the State Titles all of the stages are available a couple of weeks earlier. They outline the stage but no range or distance information is given and barricades and obstacles are not represented very well. It merely gives an idea of the scope of the stage.
On the event-weekend each shooter is placed into a squad which could be up to around 20-25 shooters and they move about between the stages (12 in the case of the upcoming event) together and shoot in rotating order.
Each stage has a designated, IPSC range officer, you can see one in the images here, and the shooters are under the control of that range officer at all times.
Me about to start the gully run.
When the squad arrives at the stage they read the stage brief which is posted nearby but are not allowed onto the stage. The range officer reads the brief to the squad and then permits three minutes for the shooters to walk it. Only three minutes for the entire squad.
It is at that time the shooter must memorise the number of targets, where they are, where they will be shot from and in what order, count the rounds, what body-position is required to shoot the targets which will vary, where they will run and stop, where magazine changes will take place, how many to do and what to do in the advent of a hiccup. It's a lot to remember considering there could be 18-20 targets or more some that are partially hidden, activate and move when other targets are hit, only stay visible for a short period of time or can be shot from multiple positions. Working out the best way to do it can be hard.
Once the three minutes is up the range is cleared and shooting begins. Being first sucks.
Off and shooting the gully run with the range officer and shot clock behind me
You can see me here shooting the gully run at the last State Titles I competed in; They are run annually.
This was a big stage set in a limestone gully about 100 metres long (109 yards) with 16 targets requiring two shots each and some falling steel requiring only one shot. One of the targets activated when a steel was hit and swung back and forth. When it stopped swinging it was obscured behind hard cover so had to be shot whilst swinging like a crazy-quick pendulum.
It's a hectic 35-50 seconds of running and shooting and with time being a huge factor towards gaining a good score most people go flat out through this tight and twisty gully shooting like a madman, or madwoman. It's loads of fun.
The images show me standing waiting for the range officer to start the timer which beeps loudly to begin my run. I then draw from the holster and off I go shooting left and right, running, stopping and shooting whilst moving until I get to the end. It was 48 degrees in the gully, (118F) so pretty uncomfortable. At least I didn't have to run it over and over like the range officers did. Fortunately they had three rotating the duty though.
Below is one of the stages from the event coming up shortly. The range officer will simply read out how many targets there are to the squad and say "shoot all targets as seen from within the demarcated area." We can ask questions, but it's not really the done thing, only by noobs or numpty's maybe. The three minutes will begin and end and then it's on like donkey kong.
You can see it's a minimum of 32 rounds totalling 160 points. 14 IPSC targets (chest-sized cardboard) that need to be double-tapped, 2 IPSC steel plates which fall when struck and 2 steel poppers which also fall when hit provided they are hit in the top 20% of the target. No ranges are given but could be anything from about 2 metres to 50 or more.
You'll also note there is black 'X.s' which partially obscure the targets. These are penalty targets; Hit one and you will loose 25 points plus the points you'll loose for missing the actual target. Hit it again and that happens again so 50 points. Losing points is crushing to the end-score obviously. I have seen people score almost no points in that way. Again, these are only depicted as being there, the brief isn't to scale and there could only be small slivers of target visible. The walk-through will reveal all.
There is also one target with black hard cover right up near the starting point. Hard cover is as it says...It simulates a wall, armour or something that a bullet will not penetrate making the actual target area smaller.
You'll also see a demarcated area in red which is where the shooter must shoot from. Penalties (procedurals of minus 25 points for infringements) apply for breaking out of the demarcated area. You'll also see various barricades, walls, apertures and obstacles to navigate, shoot through or around...All at a dead run whilst remembering when to shoot what target, maintaining accuracy and changing magazines. (It's important to shoot targets at the right time as they may only be visible from one particular location on the course and having to run back costs time.)
So, counting rounds and targets, remembering where the mag changes are and where one needs to shoot and when...Well, it's critical. Of course, it all goes pear-shaped with a gun-jam, slow magazine change or a miss here or there as it puts the round-count and the change-locations out as well. That's the fun and challenge of it I guess.
So, I guess this is a 1300-word way of saying a decent memory, problem solving skills and solid strategising is a strong factor towards better scores...The rest is easy, just shooting skills, the physical aspect, attitude and mindset, speed, quick-thinking...OK, so it's not all that easy at all which is why I practice every weekend at the range and each day at home.
Getting the planning stage right, the 3 minute walk-through, means a better stage result generally and it's an area I put a lot of effort into...Well, I put effort into all of it really, but improving one's method of running a stage can improve scores massively and so it's something I think about a lot.
So, that's it...Yes @krazzytrucker, there's an opportunity to to dry-run the stage but it's a small window of opportunity.
Thanks for reading.
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