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What you can do to help your Match Director

February 24, 2020 2 comments

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

February 2020 Biloxi (DSSA) pistol match results

February 23, 2020 Leave a comment

 


After being off for two months, it felt good to be back on the range again in Biloxi. It was a classifier match today and we got to shoot the four new USPSA classifiers that were recently released, plus an oldie from 1999. They all had required movement, no mandatory reloads, and no strong or weak hand shooting. Each was just a small field course. They were fun, but challenging. The new direction USPSA has taken with classifiers is a welcome change from the somewhat tired stand, shoot, reload, shoot type of stages that we have endured for so many years. The older ones tested many skills necessary to be successful, but often seemed to emphasize draws and reloads more than just moving and shooting. The more recent classifiers that have been tested at the two previous Nationals events are just like any 12-14 round stage you would see at a local match. They are harder to set up correctly, but they are definitely worth the effort.

It was barely above freezing when the setup team started arriving at the range this morning, but by the time we started, it had warmed up nicely and ended up being a really nice day. Since the minimum round count for the 5 classifiers was only 62, the match was done in record time with the final squad finishing around 11:30. We were packed up and ready to go before Noon.

With so many classifiers in one match, lots of folks took advantage of the chance to get a classification in a new division. Almost half of the shooters shot as U class today, and most will end up with their first classification for the particular division they chose. The others, well, they were hell bent on “movin’ on up” to the next level. I don’t know yet if anyone was able to improve their current ranking, as these stages were fairly challenging to shoot for a high score. With the High Hit Factors indicating that most shooters needed mid-single digit times to even be in the hunt for a good score, it was imperative to do everything sooner. Even a second was costly to your score today.

It should come with little surprise that today’s match winner was a local known for his nimble feet and lightning trigger finger. Congratulations to Read more…

March 2020 Poplarville 3-Gun match reminder

February 21, 2020 Leave a comment

3gun banner composite

Registration is now open for the March 2020 3-Gun match in Poplarville. The match is scheduled for Sunday, March 1, 2020 at 9 AM at the range in Poplarville.

If you want to know what you should bring, check it out here. If you need to know where to go to shoot, click here. Sign up now by clicking the Register Now button below.register-now-button

February 2020 Biloxi USPSA pistol match – Registration open

February 12, 2020 Leave a comment

Registration is open and slots are available for this month’s USPSA match, presented by the Deep South Shooters Association. The match will take place at the Coast Rifle and Pistol Club in Biloxi on February 23, 2020. Shooting begins at 9 AM. Please arrive no later than 8:30 AM to check in and pay, but earlier is always better.

 

 

 

NOTE: This month will be a classifier match featuring 5 classifiers. The classifiers to be shot will be:

  • 19-01
  • 19-02
  • 19-03
  • 19-04
  • 99-56

 

Juniors shoot for free, CPRC members shoot for $15, all others shoot for $20.

To register, click the big registration button below.

February 2020 Poplarville pistol match results

February 9, 2020 Leave a comment

Dawson PrecisionAfter a difficult few months of crappy weather for the South Mississippi matches, we managed to get one in at Poplarville today. The turnout was a bit sparse, and it was reported that at least one pre-registered shooter had come down with the Corona virus (not the Chinese one…). However, there were 26 shooters who got to enjoy some really fun stages today. When people want to shoot your stages again after the match just to see what the best way to do something is, then you have done well. This happened with two of them today.

The five stages didn’t offer particularly huge round counts, but they presented some interesting shooting problems to solve. The exercise known as Formal Portrait really pushed the shooter to demonstrate the fundamentals that are so important to this sport. Some did and some stumbled. The all-steel stage known as Wait For It was probably the one where you really had to shoot it both ways to see which was better. As we all know, consistency beats a smokin’ hot run followed by a spectacular melt-down any day. It came down to being best in speed and accuracy, as Read more…

February 2020 Poplarville 3-Gun match results

February 2, 2020 Leave a comment

3gun banner composite

What more could you have asked for today? Great weather (really great), great stages (by popular vote), great competitors (just ask ’em), and most of all, a great time being with your friends in the great outdoors. Yep, it was great.

Twenty shooters came to Poplarville today to test themselves and they responded. Not everyone could be a winner today, but I think everyone came away with the feeling that watching the Super Bowl later on tonight would only be a letdown, compared to what they took home from today’s match.

Of course, someone always wins, and today, it was that someone we have come to 1) fear as a competitor, 2) respect as a shooter, and 3) appreciate as a friend. Once again, the match belongs to Read more…

January 2020 Biloxi USPSA pistol match – *CANCELLED*

January 26, 2020 Leave a comment
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