Home > General > What you can do to help your Match Director

What you can do to help your Match Director

I’m writing this in response to a post by John Hoffman on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/GCUSPSA/permalink/2212067592229505/), who made a simple request of his match shooters. I started responding there with a comment, but I quickly realized I would get the TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) tag very quickly. So, I took it to a more appropriate place. If you got here from that FB post, thank you for checking this out.

John’s request was that anyone who registers for any of Tangi’s matches through PractiScore should also withdraw THROUGH PractiScore if they are no longer able to attend the match. I wanted to offer my perspective as a long-time match director. And the TL;DR tag doesn’t apply here.

Having been a match director for way longer than the existence of PractiScore, I feel qualified to speak on this topic. John has a valid point. If a shooter knows they won’t be able to attend, common courtesy says they should withdraw when they find out they can’t make it. Why, you ask, is this a big deal? It’s simple. When you create a match in PractiScore, you are required to set the maximum number (X, in this case) of shooters in the match AND to create a squad schedule including the number and size of each squad. In theory, when X people register and squad, the match is full. In practice, however, I can’t ever recall a match where 100% of the registered shooters actually made it to the match. This applies to the PractiScore era where I have run literally hundreds and hundreds of matches using this fantastic system. People have lives and stuff happens. For most of us, shooting isn’t our paying job (well, I guess that’s really all of us), it’s just the best hobby/sport ever! But most of us have to put work and family ahead of our personal fun time and every match director understands this. If would be unfortunate if a potential shooter didn’t come to your match because PractiScore said it was full. But in the “olden days”, that never happened.

In the Pre-PS days, you just scheduled a match and people showed up. Since most local matches were every month on the same day of the month, it was pretty easy to keep track. Second Sunday has always been USPSA in Poplarville and so on. Whoever showed up got to shoot. Never once have I turned away a shooter at a LOCAL match because the “match was filled”, either before OR after PractiScore online registration. I would estimate that 99% of all local matches can accommodate a few extra shooters the morning of the match. I have gotten withdrawals through PractiScore at 5 am the morning of the match, and I appreciate every one of them. And, yet, there are shooters who have a reputation of being no-shows who never withdraw, either. I have never said anything to any one of them, not even once, because I appreciate their support. It does make the MD’s job the morning of a bit more hectic, but it’s never because the match has too many shooters. I guess it could happen that you have too many people, but realistically, you can always handle one more shooter locally.

It’s hectic because the squads may no longer be balanced. In John’s example, he mentioned a recent match where 5 people in a squad of 10 just didn’t show up (or withdraw) and he might have had to scramble to adjust the squads. If there was one thing PractiScore could do better, it would be a method of resquadding large numbers of shooters. Only MD’s know what I am talking about, though. Sure, it’s easy to move one shooter to another squad. It just takes a few taps and swipes. But if you have to move 10 or 15 to balance things out, or to accommodate the requests of your shooters, it gets tedious.

As the MD, you have to manage a lot of things. Your squads, your shooter’s requests and your ability to shoot your own match. It is more common for me to be down to the last minute adjusting the squads to make sure the match flows, than to have everything set the night before. As the MD, you are responsible for not only today’s match but also for every one of them in the future. If you constantly piss off your shooters, even if unintentionally, then the problem resolves itself, but not in a good way.

When it comes to administering a match, I have several golden rules that I try to live by. They make the match run better for everyone.

  1. Shooters are my customers and I want them to get beyond their money’s worth for my event.
  2. I will NEVER turn away anyone who shows up the morning of the match without pre-registering. You may not get your squad of choice but you will shoot. I’ll also teach you how to pre-register for the next match, so it doesn’t happen again.
  3. I try to accommodate all squadding requests, but this doesn’t always work out. If two people carpool together or share a cart, I’ll do my best. If you want to shoot with your buds, I’ll do my best. If you hate shooting with the local hot dog, I’ll do my best. I have my secret list of regulars whom I can put in any squad, when needed, and will never complain about it. They’re great.
  4. I know most of my shooters well enough to know who will and won’t slow down a squad. I can make a squad of 13 or 14 who will still be faster than a squad of 8 or 9 on any given stage. So, just having 12 in every squad isn’t the perfect or even the required objective. It’s just a good starting point.
  5. If you are a no-show and didn’t withdraw formally, I’ll keep your spot for as long as I can, but around 15 minutes before hammer time, I will count you out. Traffic happens, and I will still allow late shooters to join the match. You may not get your original squad, but you will shoot if only fashionably late. If you are two hours late, that’s harder to deal with.
  6. If you need to shoot through, we can almost always accommodate that, once. If you want to shoot that badly, and only have 90 minutes before you have to leave, just ask.
  7. Sometimes, I need to move people to ensure there are reasonably qualified RO’s in each squad. This is where knowing your shooters is invaluable. It takes more than one RO per squad, too. No one likes to run the timer by themselves all day but it’s worse when no one can run the timer at all.

 

I could probably keep going forever on this topic, but I should sum it up now.

If you are a shooter, there are just a couple of things you need to do. Your MD will thank you.

  1. Register for the match in PractiScore. Sooner is better but just doing it is appreciated.
  2. To John’s original point, if you find you will no longer be able to make it, PLEASE withdraw through PractiScore. Every shooter registering will get an email with a link to their personal registration page for the match, and this is where you go to withdraw. If you can’t find the email, go to your PractiScore dashboard and you will see a list of all the matches in which you are registered. Click the match in question to get to your registration link.
  3. If you didn’t withdraw, show up sooner rather than later, whenever possible. It’s great having everyone checked in 30 minutes before the match starts. It’s less hectic that way.
  4. If you enjoyed the match, tell the MD you did on social media where the whole world can see it. If you didn’t, tell them to their face or through a private connection and give them a chance to address your concerns.

If you are a match director, here are my suggestions for keeping your shooters happy at your local match.

  1. Create your match with a maximum number of shooters that is way beyond your expected attendance. Set the number of squads at the maximum you can handle based on your range size. You can always set the size of the squads at a more reasonable limit than the maximum number of shooters for the match. People will drop out before the match. My experience is 10-15% will either drop out or be a no-show.
  2. In the description of your match on PractiScore, tell people that no one will be turned away the morning of the match even if registration is full. It’s a local match. There is always room for one more. If you absolutely, positively cannot take one more person, then find a way to do it. That person you don’t allow to shoot may be new to the sport and decide it’s not worth the hassle and never try again.
  3. Send a confirmation email out the night before the match to all registered shooters confirming the match is still on and providing the shooter’s personal link for withdrawing, if need be. PractiScore makes this easy to do.
  4. Try to accommodate squad requests to the best of your ability. Most shooters will appreciate it.
  5. Get to know your shooters so you can make intelligent decisions about rearranging squads, when the time comes.
  6. Check your match email for last minute withdraws. They will come right up till match time.
  7. If you don’t know about this, then pay attention. When a shooter withdraws, use the PractiScore WITHDRAW function to email them that they have been withdrawn at their request. This lets them know you got their message. THEN, use the PractiScore DELETE function to actually remove them from the match. If you do not ever DELETE them, their space is still held in the match (even if you withdrew them) and you accomplished nothing. WITHDRAW first to confirm to them, and then DELETE to free up their spot in the match and in their squad.

If you made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read this. Most of you are just shooters and are lucky enough to have great match directors running the matches you attend. Try to make their job a little easier. Remember, we are shooters too, and want to enjoy our match as much as you do.

Bill Jackson

Categories: General
  1. Stanley Grossman
    February 24, 2020 at 1:07 PM

    Bill,

    That’s a great message that applies universally.

    Thank you,

    Stan Grossman

    >

    • Anonymous
      February 24, 2020 at 3:15 PM

      Thanks, Stanley!

  2. February 24, 2020 at 6:26 PM

    Good info thanks Bill!

    >

  3. TonyD
    February 24, 2020 at 8:31 PM

    The match director of CRPC Steel needs to read this. Our group of four were some of the first to register and squad for the most recent match and riding together from over an hour away. The day before the match we get an email that despite signing up and squading together we weren’t guaranteed to shoot together. We decided not to make the trip and risk not being able to shoot together and withdrew. What is the point of pre-registration and squading if it isn’t honored?

  4. TonyD
    February 24, 2020 at 8:32 PM

    The match director of CRPC Steel needs to read this. Our group of four were some of the first to register and squad for the most recent match and riding together from over an hour away. The day before the match we get an email that despite signing up and squading together we weren’t guaranteed to shoot together. We decided not to make the trip and risk not being able to shoot together. What is the point of pre-registration and squading if it isn’t honored?

    • February 27, 2020 at 9:40 AM

      I will make sure he sees your response.

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