Thursday, February 01, 2007

Bob the Nailer


Thanks to my friend Whitefish, I have been informed that the magnificent novels of Stephen Hunter are now to be introduced in the Cinematic versions.

The first novel to be so celebrated (no word on whether others will be created on film) is "Point of Impact", ... arguably the first book of the series .... renamed "Shooter".

Catchy title, ain't it?


Actually, this is "based on" Point of Impact, so don't expect that the book you know and love is the movie you will see. (Amazon dot com shows their NEW version of the book cover, shown at the right, which is dramatically different from the original, shown at left.)


The image for the movie shows that the re-release of the book is a marketing attempt to relate the book with the movie, which suggests that the movie will 'closely follow' the book. If it doesn't I'm gonna be pissed because (a) it means I'll have to rewrite this article, and (b) I'm gonna be REALLY pissed because I very much enjoyed the book!

The film stars Mark Wahlberg, which surprised me at first because I had always envisioned Bob Lee Swagger (AKA Bob The Nailer) as an older man. A man with more experience written in his face. But I'm looking at the trailer at the Internet website for the movie, and I'm thinking ... well, okay. Maybe. Let's reserve judgement until we get to look at the movie, even though the man whose face came to mind the first time I read the book is Tommy Lee Jones. Hell, he was even born in the same year as Bob.

In Theaters March 16, 2007.
Side comment here: "300", the tale of the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae (a la Frank Miller's Gothic/Graphic style), will appear in theaters on March 9, 2007. Good thing they're opening a week apart.
The Swagger series (Bob, and his father Earl) is one of those series which I reread EVERY year. The only cinder in the stew is Havana, and I'm not worried about that blip in the creative process because it's only one of eight books and every author is entitled to a swing-and-a-miss now and then.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're looking at your bookshelf (just as I'm looking at mine) and HEY! There's only seven Bob the Nailer books up there.

Here's the really good news:

Amazon lists another Bob the Nailer book, The 47th Samurai, scheduled for publication on September 11, 2007!

A note about author Stephen Hunter (not to detract from your excitement at the news that A BOB THE NAILER MOVIE HAS BEEN COMPLETED!): if you're not familiar with him, he is a film reviewer. You can catch his reviews at RottonTomatos.com, which I assure you are as well-written as his books. (Note: his original reviews are for The Washington Post, which is a Liberal paper but I read it now and then because it is Mr. Hunter's 'Day Job' and you have to respect him for earning an honest living.)

Just as I don't like some of his books, I don't agree with some of his film reviews. Still, he's such an accomplished writer even his film reviews are worth reading on their own merit.

I wonder if he'll review "Shooter".

Geek Thoughts

  • I saw a flock of Oregon Ducks fly overhead today. How did I know they were Oregon ducks?
  1. It's February.
  2. They were flying EAST for the Winter!

  • What's the difference between "Ecology" and "The Environment"? The Environment is the Stage. Ecology is the Play.
  • This is my 10th year as Jerry the Geek. I created that nom de plume in 1997 when I began contributing to The Unofficial IPSC List. At first people asked me why I chose that particular nickname for myself. I spent a lot of time explaining that it was a take-off on "Jimmy the Greek", the (now notorious) Las Vegas Odds-maker. I explained that I'm a computer programmer ... a Geek ... and it seemed like an obvious nickname. People quit asking, eventually, apparently just accepting that I chose a name which is less obnoxious than that which others might choose for me. Since then I have pondered, and today I realize that I miss the obvious, TRUE answer:
"The Great One"
was already taken.

Area Denial

Last week, in "Gotcha Coming and Going", I mentioned that the military has developed a new vehicle mounted microwave transmitter to be used for crowd control. It's an interesting concept. It 'projects' microwave radiation with the effect, when directed at people, of causing their skin to heat up causing a burning sensation. They claim it has no harmful effects, it only distracts folks from whatever purpose they had in mind before the thingie was turned on them.

I'm a little dubious about the effects on very soft tissue such as eyes, but there's now a video available on YouTube showing the reaction of test subjects. One lady reporter Squeaked! and danced out of the path of the radiation. Nobody, including a platoon of Army volunteers, seemed to be otherwise harmed. Some even smiled in chagrin at their dancing avoidance of the radiation.

Here is the promotional video, where it's referred to as an "Active Denial System" (ADS). It has a range of 500 yards.

The explanation is clear, and it seems a reasonable non-lethal system with immediate applicability in places such as military urban perimeters in Iraq.

I'll warn you about the text accompanying the video. It was originally written by someone with an apparent case of the jaws against both the military and the current administration, but now I see that the text has been changed.

However, the comments are interesting. Here's the one I saw:

This weapon is still able to kill or torture ppl. Its a lie to tell its non-lethal. I saw other video and documentory on this new technologie weapon, it burn the skin without burning the material around. They did the tests on innoncent ppl in Irak, wich they are burned seriously (many are dead).

Ignore the limited English writing ability of the author (perhaps English is a second language -- I'm not being critical as I have not second-language skills at ALL!)

The charges made here are interesting. I haven't visited any of the other videos co-listed, so I can't comment on the validity of the assertions. I may say that almost anything can be mis-applied to caused effects for which it was not originally designed and I can't say I would be surprised to learn that this device would be deliberately mis-applied with destructive intent.

However, I'm dubious about the report of people dying in Iraqi testing. I've done a quick search of major news outlets (including among others The Guardian, the LA Times and the NY Times, AP, Reuters, USA Today) and I'm sure that a story like this would at least be as prominently displayed as the one about the Florida woman who claims to have found a razor blade in her Egg McMuffin.

UPDATE (The Next Morning):
I've done more reading on the so-called ADS.

Here's a bunch of people at BUZZFEED talking about this system which, we learn, isn't actually scheduled for deployment until 2010. And here's a PDF which explains it's not a MICROwave projector (my error, excuse the blunder, pay no attention ...) but a MILLIMETER Wave projector. It even explains the difference. With pictures.

Finally, the BBC weighs in with the vague 'feeling' that there must be something dibolical about the entire concept. Why? "Such a weapon also has the potential to cause panic and deadly stampedes." Even the Guardian (okay, ALWAYS the Guardian) has a negative impression to share: "According to papers released under freedom of information requests, mishaps during trials have caused blistering at least six times and one second degree burn when the beam was fired on too high a setting. According to the US military, the risk of injury is less than 0.1%."

Oh, well that wouldn't be good. Better throw the thing away, somebody might get hurt.

Frankly, I'm a little off-put by the whole thing.

No no no, I don't mean the ADC or the confusing terminology. I mean this early-morning blogging. I'm accustomed to doing all of my writing in the evening, even late late at night. Here it is 7am and I'm sitting at my computer waiting for the coffee to finish perking.

I've heard that people who write these weBLOG journals (surely not a serious attempt at communicating, just a diary that we leave unlocked for the whole world to read ... as if I could ever get that kind of traffic!) are to be referred to as Pajama Pundits because we spend all of our time online and never even have to get dressed all day. Sounds like my kind of job, I wish. Instead, judging from my mail, I stay up late so YOU can read exciting new (or exciting warmed-over for the next day) stuff like this while you sit around in your pajamas sipping coffee.

So what does that make you? Bathrobe Browsers?

Blogger Mania

Sidebar Links:
I've received a sidebar icon from Cowboy Blob, which I'll install shortly. No complaints yet about the cheesy icons I cobbled together. Either the owners of those blobs blogs weren't concerned, don't have something better to offer, or haven't read Cogito Ergo Geek for a few days. Could it be?

I'll install Cowboy's icon later, when I have time to spend working on my Template. It looks a lot better than the one I tried to make. That should come as no surprise, as Cowboy's pretty good at building these gizmos.

New Blogger:
LawDog tried the New Blogger ... an updated version of the software which is used to run this and thousands of other websites in the Blogging Community. (I love that phrase, almost as much as I admire the word "Buttocks".) He reported that it came as a surprise to him. A comment on his post noted that other blogs had reported problems, such as a slow load of Comments.

Syd at Front Sight, Press emailed asking me to change the URL for his blog to a 'mirror site' he created for his press releases because "When Blogger did the "upgrade" it got so messed up that I put up my own on my snubby site because I couldn't post anything on the blogger site. I am still posting the news on the blogger site, but that's all."

I loaded Internet Explorer 7 when it was (another surprise) sent to me as a MS Update. I prefer NetScape as a browser because it has more of the Foxfire-type features I like, such as tab so you can have multiple websites open in one window. Since IE7 has added this 'new' feature, I decided to accept the update. The installation wasn't as error-free as I had been lead to believe. Just 'RESTARTING' my pc didn't make it work. In fact, when my system came back up nothing worked ... not even the clock on the tool bar. I couldn't even warm-boot the computer (either with Alt_Ctl_Del or by pushing the START button). Instead, I had to turn off the box with the power switch on my surge suppressor, turn it back on, THEN push the START button.

I took the formal tour, noted that there wasn't a lot of really exciting new features (other than the TABs, which seemed to be clumsily done) and then tried to blog in IE7.

First surprise: when I copied the URL for the web-address where I edit posts from my NetScape browser to IE7, it couldn't find it! Then I fiddled with it for a while until I got to the Dashboard (the central control area where ALL of your blogs are listed), and when I tried to open Cogito Ergo Geek it wouldn't allow me to do anything because I didn't have a Google account!

I know that Blogger is a free Google product, and I'm grateful for it of course, but now they're starting to put some controls in that don't provide any advantage to me. There's a reason that I don't already have a Google account (same reason why I use the clunky Comcast email system instead of GMail ... sheer ornery cussedness!) and I resented this attempt to force me into their corporate mold.

Worse, as I navigated through their list of options trying to 'sign on', I discovered that unless you were VERY careful you would end up allowing them to change your blog to the New Blogger. Essentially, it's an Opt Out situation.

Now, the 'Old' Blogger isn't perfect but I'm familiar with it and, finally, it has become relatively stable. Having been an Application Programmer for almost 25 years, I am reflexively dubious about new software releases. For example, (I installed IE7 only because I was fairly certain I could un-install it using Norton GoBack, if the XP recovery machine wouldn't work.

Judging from the horror stories I've been hearing, New Blogger is only "officially" out of Beta Testing. In fact, this stage might be considered what I've come to refer to as Gamma Testing. That is, the software vendor found enough innocent optimists to get beat up by the Beta Version to get the very worst of the real-world bugs worked out (or they developed "Work-Arounds" for the bugs which were too deeply intrenched in the system architecture for a quick fix), and now they needed a larger universe of dupes testers to give it a thorough workout so they could discover the problems created by struggling to make it work under a wide variety of browser/operating system combinations.

In the programming buz, we call these people Pioneers. If you'll recall your American History, these are the people who moved into a new territory not knowing the dangers and ended up with arrows sticking out of their backs.

No, I'm not going to convert Cogito Ergo Geek to New Blogger until they drag me kicking and screaming into the 21st century. I deal with buggy software every day at the office. I see no reason to spend my otherwise enjoyable evenings trying to figure out why their software doesn't work as advertised.

New Blogger is to Blogger as New Coke was to Coca Cola. I still drink Classic Coke (and so does the rest of the Coca Cola Drinking Community ... there's that word again.) And I'll continue to use Classic Blogger as long as the 'other' option remains an option.

BTW, don't get me started on the word "Classic"; it brings up memories of ranting for years against the IPSC Classic Target. I guess I'll have to say I use the "Metric" Blogger.

BTW, I'm writing this in the morning instead of the evening. Yes, I'm still working on my first cup of coffee. Apparently it isn't kicking in yet.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Template Changes: Links

Note to bloggers who have been linked from this site.

I started changing my link format from the blogspot name to an icon. I've used the provided image from Day by Day Cartoons, and for a few other with an admittedly crude image I've constructed using the header of your blog.

Compare Day by Day, and other icons. Clearly, those which I've constructed are lacking in resolution and full-color depiction.

If you object to the way I've linked to your blog, please let me know and I'll reverse it

Preferably, if you have an 'icon' that shows clearly, I will use it in preference to my own poor effort.

(If you haven't yet been 'converted' and can provide an icon, please send it to me and I'll use it.)

Special note to Mike at Mr. Completely, Michael at The Shooting Gallery, John at Castle of ARGGHHH! and especially Phil ("The Analog Kid") at Random Nuclear Strikes (softgreenglow.com):

I think Bane's image shows up clearly, Mike's and John's less clearly but perhaps acceptable, and Phil's the worst of all ... you can't read ANY of the verbiage, Phil; I'm counting on the overall design to be obvious to 'those who already know you'. I won't blame you if you think the icon sucks. In fact, I agree with you.

For other bloggers listed on my sidebar, the same applies to you. If you have an acceptable icon/banner to serve this purpose, please let me know where I can link to it.

Please stop me before I strike again.

Respectfully submitted,
Jerry the Geek

PS:
No, I don't have an acceptable image for my own site. Anyone who is able to construct one for me is invited to send me an email. The email address is available at the bottom of this page.

jB)

UPDATE:

I've received, and installed, a very good 'icon' for the LINKS sidebar from Cowboy Blob.

America Overreacting

David A. Bell wrote an opinion piece in the egregious LA Times on January 28, 2007.

In it, he postulated that America's response to the 9/11 attack constitutes an "overreaction".

Certainly, if we look at nothing but our enemies' objectives, it is hard to see any indication of an overreaction. The people who attacked us in 2001 are indeed hate-filled fanatics who would like nothing better than to destroy this country. But desire is not the same thing as capacity, and although Islamist extremists can certainly do huge amounts of harm around the world, it is quite different to suggest that they can threaten the existence of the United States.

Yet a great many Americans, particularly on the right, have failed to make this distinction. For them, the "Islamo-fascist" enemy has inherited not just Adolf Hitler's implacable hatreds but his capacity to destroy. The conservative author Norman Podhoretz has gone so far as to say that we are fighting World War IV (No. III being the Cold War).
If I understand this correctly, Bell presumes that a World Power should not react as strongly as possible to an attack on home soil because they/we have too much military might to responsibly use it ALL in reaction to a casualty list which is 'too low' to justify the effort.

They don't "threaten the existance of the United States", so presumably something less than going to war is called for. He suggests that the threat is less than total extinction, but curiously fails to present his definition of a more appropriate reaction.

(What should America do? Kill 3,006 terrorists and then, suddenly, stop? This isn't any kind of resolution. It trivializes the Attack on America to nothing more important than a game.)

In justification, he points out that the casualty list (including non-combatants and combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan) amounts to "... roughly the same number of Americans die every two months in automobile accidents."

In all fairness, and with due respect to Professor Bell's position at Johns Hopkins University, I can only conclude that he is full of crap.

In this world, there is allowing your country to be considered a Paper Tiger, a soft target ... and there is a determination to never allow aggression against your country to go unpunished.

I support the "No Paper Tiger Zone" (with a red circle around it, and a bold diagonal slash) position.

The following is a comment I submitted to a Randon Nuclear Strikes post titled "Next Time, Kill More Of Us, Please!" (H/T also to John Donovan's post in Castle of ARGGHHH!)

Apologies for this non-IPSC post. (Full disclosure: opinion, supported largely by 'facts' from MSM and Internet Reference sources.) I'm trying to minimize the sociopolitical stuff, honestly. Sometimes, though, the Force is with me.

We hear a lot of complaints against the War in Iraq, not so many against the War in Afghanistan. I wonder why that is?

Nobody from Iraq or Afghanistan is accused of directly participating in the 9/11 attack on America (although Afghanistan is reliably said to be, or have been, the place where Bin Laden lives; the assumption is that warring in Afghanistan may someday result in the death or capture of Bin Laden.)

Still, some people insist that America has no legitimate reason to wage war in, at least, Irag.

They don't understand, and at least this one dimwit doesn't understand why America always "overreacts" to aggression.

The reason is that America, having an open society (nearly unique in the world, even today) can't defend itself against internal attack by keeping potential enemies outside its borders.

Well, can't or won't -- the reason doesn't matter, the result is the same.

The only viable alternative is to establish worldwide confidence in the sure and certain "overreaction" of Americans against ANY assault.

It doesn't matter if we attack the folks who attack us. We'll attack the country which sent the assailants, or the country which trained or otherwise supported them. If no better target is available, we'll attack somebody "like" the folks who attacked us.

This is retalliation, not revenge.

It's a pre-emptive move to insure that the world knows we will punish SOMEONE related to the attackers. If those "someones" fear reprisals, and know that they are a possible target, they may find it in their own self-interest to discourage any individuals or groups who might otherwise have mounted an attack on America.

There's another part of this:

While we're fighting Terrorists in Iraq, they aren't attacking American soil. Instead, terrorists and potential terrorists are lured to the killing ground in Iraq where their targets aren't innocent American civilians but armed and equiped and fully trained combatants.

Isn't it better to establish a beach-head in the Middle east to draw out these wanna-be terrorists, than to provide no better target than the American civilian population?

You bet your ass.

(Comment added to original post: Sure, as soon as America suffers another terrorist attack on home soil, we will read that "Bush's Plan Is Not Working!" from the Liberals and the MSM ... but I repeat myself. Five years of freedom from bombs in the subway and Anthrax in the mail will probably be seen as nothing more than a statistical glitch, apropos of absolutely nothing. Certainly not as the result of a resolute president inflicting an unpopular war on a left-leaning population of Ostriches.)

If we leave Iraq, we'll be seen as nothing more than a Paper Tiger, just as we have been considered after out non-reaction to terrorist attacks since the truck-bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut back in the '80s. Include in this litany of passivity the non-reaction to the slaughter of American troops in Somalia in 1993 ("Blackhawk Down"), bombing of the Khobar Towers in '96, the 1998 bombing of embassies in Africa, and the suicide bombing attack on the Cole in 2000.

As long as America would not react, its enemies continued to attack.

Oh, sure, there was the odd Tomahawk Missile attack which had no more result than the destruction of an aspirin factory in '98. That frightened nobody, and apparently served no better purpose than to distract the American publich from the Lewinsky affair. That was politics, not 'reaction'. Can you say "wag the dog?", children? I think you can.

"No Reaction" is an admission of a failure of will to defend our country.

"Ineffective Reaction" only invites contempt.

The only effective reaction is an over-reaction.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hillary ... sings?

This video from YouTube just goes to show that:
  1. I'm better looking than Hillary (Check the Profile Picture .. I'm the one with the beard)
  2. I can sing better, too!
Well, can't everybody? At least most of us know all the words.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

January Dundee Match: IPSC Videos

In keeping with my new policy of videotaping matches and displaying the resulting videos with ALL movies taken on a single stage presented in a single video, I have some new movies for your enjoyment.

This weekend we squadded with several people we haven't competed with together. Note that I have declined to present videos of two new shooters: Mike and his teenage daughter, Alex.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usSquad member Sheri wore her new Match Shirt, and I was happy to gather her, SWMBO and new shooter Alex for a photo of The Ladies.

I don't know about you, but I still remember my first match in 1983. If videotaping competitor performance was the normal thing to do then, I would be grateful that nobody filmed my performance then. I'm repaying the sport by not showing the performance of new shooters today.

Mike and Alex, if you REALLY want to see how you did at this match -- email me. Everybody else, think back on your first match and remember: you don't want to know.

Actually, both Mike and Alex did just fine. They shot safe and, usually, accurately . When they ran into problems on the challenging stages, they took more time than other people in the squad. But they were never scary people and I would be proud to squad with them again.

There were six stages in this match. I had a limited number of photos from Stage 2 (AtoBtoC) so that stage is not represented in this album.

The five stages which ARE represented here are:

Stage 1: Paper Plates - 3mb download file size

This is the stage our squad started on. You start behind a barrier, dodge around the barrier to shoot at a half-dozen paper targets, then dodge around another barrier to engage six 8" plaes on a plate rack.

This is typical of the stages presented today. Essentially, you start out shooting fast and then you have to slow down and shoot slow to finish the stage. The people who won this stage never slowed down: they were so talented (or so skilled) that they never slowed down.

The only person I filmed was SWMBO, who did a fine job but not good enough to win the stage. She beat my time, didn't get as many points. We both shot the stage in 19.** seconds. Tenth place (out of 56 shooters) was 14.** seconds.


Stage 2: AtoBtoC - no photos or videos

I only filmed one shooter on this stage, and it was one of the new shooters, so I didn't publish the video. It was something a memory course with only four targets, and you had to shoot them from three different positions (with vision barriers restricting access to the targets.) It scored the best 6 hits on each target.

I thought I did a good job at getting all of my hits in 15 seconds. Tenth place was a Junior Production-Division competitor (Chris C.) who completed the stage in 10 seconds. I have decided not to be discouraged by being beaten by Chris C. in Production. This young man is a very tough competitor, and I look forward to the day when he beats me in every stage, instead of only half of the stages.

This should take him approximately 90 days.

I'm shooting Open, he's shooting Production.
I've been competing for 23 years, he has been competing for one year.

I never liked Chris.
Okay, that's a lie. I'm pleased that this sport allows a young man to experience competitive shooting in a safe environment, and especially that he can learn the joy of shooting VERY well. All of the Columbia Cascade Section Junior Squad are keen competitors, and as enthusiastic as a basketfull of pups. They are the hope for tomorrow, and a credit to coach Mike McCarters endless hours of instruction and example.

MD NOTE: This stage featured four very close targets, with the best six hits scoring. The scenario (you had to be there) was that you needed to engage each target at least once from three different shooting boxes. Lots of people took extra shots, so there were a lot of holes in these targets.

Fifty four shooters times a minimum of six holes for each shooters equals over 300 holes in each target. Because the targets were typically within six feet of the shooting boxes, most of the holes were in the A-zone. It was a hoser stage, so you know what it looked like when we got to the stage.

We were the second squad on the stage, and the targets were a mass of tape. We ran a couple of shooters through it, realized that we couldn't determine which holes were caused by the current shooter and which were the result of tape being blasted off holes made by earlier shooters, and replaced the targets.

Good news: the MD (Trevor) had already placed a replacement set of targets on the bay.
Bad news: there was only one set, and we expected to leave the stage with targets in the same shape as when we got there.

VERY good news: Trevor walked by as we were shooting, and I advised him that he needed at least two, maybe three sets of replacement targets. (There were six squads at the match.) He immediately brought us two more sets of targets, and we helped him to tape and paint the requisite hard-cover zones on those targets which needed it. This took less than five minutes, and it is a credit to the Dundee club (CVSC) and the Match Director (Trevor) that the response was so immediate and so helpful.
Stage 3: Steely Speed VII - 4mb download file size

This is a Classifier stage, which requires you to engage six steel targets (three Pepper Poppers, three U.S. Poppers) from behind a Bianchi Barricade.

The videos show SWMBO, Fish and me shooting the stage, and none of us strutted on the way home.

The 10th place finisher (Bill M., who is one of th B-Open shooters against whom I am directly competing) completed the stage in 4.77 seconds.

Nobody in my squad came close to this mark. In fact, I did fairly well and my squad-members congratulated me. I responded to the effect that "by this time, six people have beat my time on this stage". In the actual event, 10 people beat my time on this stage.

Four of them weren't competing in Open division.

I am terribly impressed!

Stage 4: The Rest Of The Steel - 6mb download file size

This stage features a lot of full-faced cardboard targets, and then forces the competitor to bear down to engage a lot of steel targets. I should mention that this match was a "rain match", which means that the usual lot of dirty tricks were avoided by the stage designers because they expected rain. It didn't rain on this day; instead, it was a beautiful warm day (forty degrees plus) with gusts of wind which tended to blow the targets ... both cardboard and steel ... down at the least opportune moment. No criticism to either the stage designers or the people who built the stages.

Those of us who shot the stage (which included both the stage designers ... MD Trevor and RM Bill) found that we needed to put weights on the target stands to encourage them to stand up during the occasional farts. Not our gasseous digestions, but the classic meteorlogical definition: "A short puff of wind."

You may find the cited reference doesn't acknowledge my definition of the word.

Deal with it.

I finished well behind the 10th place 13.55 seconds / 100 points, largely because I missed a 10" plate two times before I knocked it down. Like most of the stages in this match, winners were determined by their ability to hit small targets quickly.

In case it sounds like 'sour grapes' to you, this is the epitome of IPSC competition, and I do not object to the design of any of the stages. The opportunity to excel was present in every stage, and it was a challenging match.

This may have been the defining stage of the match, except for the stage which followed it ...



Stage 5: Pretty Easy - 16mb download file size (well, there were a lot of interesting videos)

"Pretty Easy" ... wasn't.

This stage prominently featured the Texas Star, and was the downfall of many competitors.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usThere was a 'hard cover' IPSC-target-shaped steel plate in front of the Star, and this scared the bejiminees out of many of the competitors. I'm not sure why, but I suppose it's part of the "Steel Targets Are Hard To Shoot" mindset, which is something that can screw the mind of any competitor who allows it to become a problem.

The thing to do is to just ... ignore the hardcover, and shoot the target you can see.

This is much like the shooting problem involved in any target with hardcover. It's another way in which the stage designer may choose to play with your mind, and allow you to defeat yourself.

It's worth a short note here to define the best way to engage the STAR rotating target, especially in reference to a hard-cover plate which obscures the targets during part of the rotatin.

First, realize that the hard-cover (as seen here) does not prohibit your engagement of the final target when the array is at rest. That means that, if you just wait a few seconds, the final plate WILL appear from behind the hardcover.

The trick is to coax it out from its hidey-hole as quickly as possible. That means that (unlike those stages where all targets in the Star are always visible), you want to make the rotation work for you.

The BEST way to shoot the Star, assuming it starts 'at rest' (the array isn't already rotating when you first engage it), is to shoot the top plate (on either side, if the top plate isn't" straight up"), then shoot the highest falling plate to slow it down or, ideally, even stop the rotational movement long enough to shoot the highest plate on the OTHER side.

If you do that with reasonable quickness, and accurately, you can essentially keep the array in balance. The falling-plate side is the heaviest, so by knocking off the highest falling plate you shift the weight to the OTHER side (the rising side), which then wants to move 'down'.

By going from one side to the other, you have the time to engage a plate which is either stopped (reversing direction), or moving very slowly.

----

But when you have a hardcover covering part of the plate, it's easier to shoot the top plate, then the highest plate on the side away from the hardcover. In this case, those are the plates on the left side because the hardcover is on the right side.

You probably (if you're following this lame description) thinking that this is counter-intuitive. If you keep shooting plates off the left side of the Star, wouldn't the Star rotate ever faster? The answer is that it takes a little time for the acceleration to occur, and you're removing energy with every plate you knock off.

But the rotation doesn't really start until you knock off the 2nd plate (top left), so the momentum doesn't have time to build. If you don't miss.

Besides, if you shoot the top left plate and then the top right plate, you set up a fast oscillation which makes it much more difficult to hit the plates unless you are willing to wait for the plates to slow down at the top of their arc ... or unless you're a very good shot. Most of us are not.

All you have to do is to shoot the top plate on the side opposite the hardcover, and do that five times is a row. Slow down enough to get the hits, and you end up looking pretty good on film.

WARNING: Do NOT shoot a low plate! That shifts the center of balance away from the bottom, where you want it to be, to the top, where you decidedly do NOT want it to be.

WARNING: Even more important, do NOT 'split plates'. That means that if you have three plates to shoot at it's better to shoot the falling plate but if you shoot the center plate you will have a Shooting Problem From Heck. Review the video and see what happens when you split the plates.

If you find yourself in that situation, shoot the highest plate, always. This shifts the balance to the lower levels, and they tend to dampen the rotational momentum so you have very slow movement.

Ultimately, I was very proud of my 15 second time on the stage, until I discovered that the good shooters were finishing the stage in 10 to 13 seconds.

Stage 6: Public Parking - 7mb download file size

This 31-round stage had a lot of challenging near-and-far targets, and was something of a memory course. They had snow-fencing vision barriers all over the place, and they put targets in places where you didn't immediately realizes there WERE places. They had seven steel targets, two of which activated 'clam-shell' type IPSC targets and the Pepper Poppers obscured US Poppers. Very challenging.

MD NOTE: It was also the slowest stage of the match, because the clamshells were WAY downrange and required the RO to walk far away from the center of the bay to score them. I'm not saying this is A Bad Thing; these were the targets which generally separated the winners from the losers. (I was a Loser, I had trouble hitting those little plates to activate the IPSC targets. Some shooters couldn't hit them at that range.)

But it took about 30 seconds for the RO to score those two targets, and multiplied by the 54 competitors that adds about 4 minutes to the clearance time for each of the six squads. Our squad finished on that stage, and the RM was bouncing up to recover scoresheets before we cleared the stage because ours was that far behind all the other squads, who had already finished the match.

It was a challenging stage, but when you include that time factor in the biggest stage in the match, you have to expect that the match is going to be slowed down. The MD and the RM knew that, and they made a conscious effort to minimize the effect. I'm grateful to Bill and Trevor for dealing with this so they didn't have to eliminate the difficult targets just for the sake of speeding up the match.
Unfortunately, the cold weather played merry hell with the batteries in the cameras, so we only got two full videos of this stage. Sure, I could have gone to the car and grabbed the warm battery stashed there for emergencies, but we were having too much time to leave the squad. At least the videos we DID get show me missing one of the US Poppers hidden behind a Pepper Popper, so you get an idea of how easy it was to foul your stage score on this stage.

You can see the scores from the match here.

INCIDENTAL NOTES:
  1. I hope squadmember Doug J. got his 1911 fixed. On the very last stage (Stage 6, Public Parking) his pistol decided there was no good reason why it should eject cases, and he was left with a zero score on that stage. We're thinking it was a broken extractor, and hope he lets us know that he found the problem and will get it fixed in time for next match ... in two weeks, at ARPC. You can see Doug handle the Texas Star on the Stage 5 link.
  2. Thanks again to Mike J. for bringing Alex to the match. She's a hard worker, a safe shooter, and cute as can be. Yes, I am aware that this is a sexist statement but we enjoyed her company and her dedication to Practical Pistol competition. We hope she and the rest of her family continue to participate in our own private exercise in public embarassment.