Saturday, March 01, 2008

XL650 Goes To The Doctor

The night before the Dundee match last weekend, I went out to the loading bench (in my garage) with the intention of loading up a few hundred rounds of .38 Super ammunition. We had enough loaded up for one shooter, but SWMBO and I both intended to shoot the match.

Because I had been experiencing some problems with the Dillon XL650 lately, I decided to load up 300 of the 400 rounds of new Winchester brass. I had enough primer fill tubes charged with small rifle primers to handle the job, so I figured it would take me about a half-hour from start to end.

After a half hour, I had completed less than 30 rounds ... and some of them didn't have primers in them.

What's the problem?

First, the shell plate wouldn't index correctly. I have had that as an 'intermittent' problem for a while but I had never experienced the situation when it NEVER indexed correctly.

Second, the return lever on the primer mechanism never returned far enough to pick up the next hole in the primer plate. This was also not a new problem, and as an expedient I had got into the habit of manually placing the return lever in the primer plate hole with my thumb. Annoying, but not enough to upset me.

This time I experienced a new problem: the mechanism (Case Insert Slide & Slide Cam) which advances the cartridge case to the shell plate wouldn't move the case to the shell plate, even when the shell plate was correctly indexed.

I tried every trick I could think of, including cleaning and lubrication and partial disassembly of each assembly to check for breakage. When I realized that I had already spent much more time trying to trouble-shoot the problems (without success) than I had expected to spend for the entire task, I turned off the lights and went inside. I figured I could use my 10mm Edge for the match, and I already had enough 10mm ammunition for a couple of matches.

(As it happened, events conspired to prevent that solution from working, either.)

After brooding for a week, I decided that there were just too many things wrong for my poor mechanical skills to fix. In fact, I had replaced every one of the three assemblies, in part or in total, during the 15 years I've owned it. I have put several thousand rounds through this loading press almost every year, and about 20,000 rounds per year since SWMBO decided to take up the sport. That adds up to over 100,000 rounds on a machine which remained about 50% of the original parts, aside from the piston and the frame.

So this morning (Saturday, March 1, 2008) I called Dillon and explained my problem. Then I asked if I could send the machine to them for reconditioning. The man at Dillon replied immediately "Sure!". I asked him what I should include. He told me to take off the turret head including the powder feed mechanism (assuming I wasn't having problems with that, which I wasn't ... I had replaced that under warranty some time ago!). Also, take off the charging handle and be sure to include the primer feed assembly. "And here's your Return Authorization Number .... it will take about two weeks".

It took me about as much time to strip down the machine as it had the previous week to realize I couldn't get it to work. I found the original packing box and realized that it was much bigger than it needed to be: the stripped down press was only about 20" long. So I found a box which had originally contained a disassembled office chair (the box was double-layer cardboard, so I figured it would be strong enough for the 20# plus Thirty-Five Pounds! hunk of iron) and used the cardboard cutout which was part of the original packing material to position the press.

Then I took it to The UPS Store and told them to finish packing it so it wouldn't rattle around like a big pea in a tin cup. I marked the Return Authorization number on the shipping bill and on the outside of the box in two places, and also put my business card with the RA# in a plastic envelope in the box. Including the $4.50 packaging charge, it cost me $31.01 to ship it to Dillon's business address in Scottsdale, AZ. The nice lady at the counter told me it would be delivered by Thursday via UPS Ground.

So I won't be shooting a lot of USPSA matches for the next month, but after that it should be a lot easier for me to load up for the weekend on the night before the big match.

There's a happy ending to this story. While I was searching my garage for a suitable shipping box, I found a box in which I had previously received an order from Dillon. I had been dumping spare gun parts (springs, old holsters, etc.) in it for over a year, but at the bottom of it I found 600 rounds of new-in-packing Winchester .38 super brass. Since that product has increased in price by 50% in the past year, this serendipitous find will save me more money than the shipping charges incurred.

Now, if I can only find some Small Rifle primers for less than $30 a brick ...

Friday, February 29, 2008

Encoded Ammunition: on a roll

Welcome LWR Rifles;

Welcome Maryland 'Shall Issue';

Welcome Tennessee Turkey Hunting:

Welcome Something Awful;

Welcome BuckMasters;

Welcome Open Congress;

Welcome Fun Turns to Tragedy;

Welcome AT&T Web Search - tn ammo bill;

...

Welcome ... all of the blogs and websites who have acknowledged that "Encoded Ammunition" bills constitute an attack on the Second Amendment.

Many RKBA weblogs / websites are becoming increasinglty aware that the "encoded ammunition" issue has become a cause celebre'.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dangerous Corner - Stage 6 per Mitch

Perhaps not in response to criticism from the (absent) Hobo Brasser, Mitch provides more video footage .. including at least one competitor who realized he could shoot 'weak hand' to his advantage.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr. - Rest in Not-Peace

The Editors on William F. Buckley Jr. on National Review Online


He taught us how to speak, how to write ...

Obviously, he was a better example than he was a teacher.

But he was, indeed, a Great Man, and I shall miss him.

My only claim to a connection is that I was moved, last month, to buy his latest (his last?) book, titled


"Cancel Your Own Goddamn Subscription!"

A man could do worse than to go out with that tagline.

Encoded Ammunition - Federal?

In a January 17, 2008 article, Capital Weekly published an article titled "De Leon Pledges to Bring Back the Ammo Bill".

This article is significant because (among other reasons) it presages the February Attacks ... a dozen states to date having introduced into their respective legislatures an 'Encoded Ammunition' bill which has the potential of making the purchase of ammunition economically unfeasible for everyone in America except for The Very Rich.

These bills are bad enough for the individual states. However, consider the "microserialization of Ammunition: bill enacted into law in California. The Left Coast Wacko's who passed this bill have shown other gun-control states that 'it can be done'.

If enough states in the hinterlands pass these bills, it will provide significant encouragement to Congress and the Senate to introduce, and pass, similar bills at a Federal level.

When that happens, all of the concerns about "Heller v DC" will recede into insignificance. The ownership of private firearms will not be an issue, without ammunition.

The 2nd Amendment acknowledges our God Given Right to 'keep and bear arms' ... but it doesn't explicitly say anything about ammunition, or whether it should be affordable.

Here's what the article has to say:
Ammunition is widely viewed as the next big battlefield in the gun debate — that is, pending the outcome of a Second Amendment case out of Washington, D.C., that the Supreme Court is set to hear in a few weeks. In October, another freshman Democrat, Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, was able to get a controversial microstamping bill into law. AB1471 mandates that handguns must stamp a serial number on the shell of every bullet fired.
Well, the terminology is a little mangled in translation, but nobody expects either the reporter or the politician to know what the heck they're talking about. There is no 'real' justification for this law, no practical expectation that it will reduce crime. This is an end-run around the 2nd Amendment, pure and simple, and is designed to appeal to the emotional circuit in the brain of the average American, completely avoiding the logic circuit (assuming that it exists.)

There is not only not justification for the bill(s); there is no assurance that the technology exists to accomplish the stated objective ... identify the owner of every bullet and every 'shell' (cartridge case) which may be legally owned under these bills.

And there is no consideration for the mass-production techniques which allow 'bullet' and 'ammunition' manufacturers to sell their product for 'pennies per unit', or how they would be obsoleted by the 'cottage industry' manufacturing processes which are mandated by these bills ... effectively turning the manufacturing costs to 'dollars per unit'.

And there is no mention of the fact that if the state/federal government accept or impose the regulation that the serial number of the bullet match the serial number on the case, 'reloading' the cases from expended ammunition will be effectively forbidden ... even if there is nothing in the law which expressly forbids it.

Except, of course for the criminal, who will be The Only One who is not affected by this legislation.

Heck, they steal everything they use, anyway. That's why they call them 'criminals'.

90 and 30

In May of this year, my mother will celebrate her 89th birthday.

In July of this year, my daughter will celebrate her 30th birthday.

And you know that I'm somewhere in the middle.

Actually, my birthday wasn't as personally traumatic as these two may prove to be.

It's just that -- I'm neither as pretty as my daughter, nor as indomitable as my mother.

But almost ... almost.

Encoded Ammunition: The Shooting Wire

In today's edition of The Shooting Wire, Jim Shepherd provides his usual excellent comments on the 'encoded ammunition' issue. (Some people, including Senator Obama, think this is a good thing.)

In the middle of an 'editorial' about the HELLER issue, soon to be decided in the Supreme court, Shepherd interrupts himself to talk about Arizona's Ammunition Bill:
One bit of legislation moving through the Arizona legislative process, however, decidedly is unfriendly to gun owners. Arizona House Bill 2833 would require – as early as 2009 – bullet serialization. That’s the process where each round of ammunition is identified and marked with a laser-engraved serial number.

This whole idea is laughable, but the measures keep being introduced around the country to call for individual identifiers on each round of ammo. As Lawrence G. Keane of the NSSF has written, it’s neither practical nor prudent.

"If manufacturers had to comply with bullet serialization, NSSF estimates that it would take almost three weeks to manufacture what is currently made in a single day," says Keane. "This massive reduction in ammunition would translate into substantially lower sales and profitability, and ultimately force major ammunition manufacturers to abandon the market. In turn, there would be a severe shortage of serialized ammunition and all consumers, including federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, would be faced with substantial price increases. Ammunition will go from costing pennies to several dollars per cartridge."

There’s a good reason to believe that anti-gun groups hope that Keane’s words are correct – nothing would stop the firearm industry quicker than exorbitantly expensive ammunition. And a gun without ammo is a poor tool for anything – including self-defense.

(I wish I could provide the link to this editorial, but The Shooting Wire doesn't permalink Shepherd's column. I hope they don't object to my quoting the significant portion here.)

As Shepherd says, this proposal is 'laughable', and 'neither practical nor prudent'. But he does recognize that it is a back-door threat to the free ownership and usage of firearms. That Arizona is not the only state to introduce these bills (there are 12 states which have, so far and to my knowledge, introduced such bills), and that they would increase the cost of ammunition from "...pennies to several dollars per cartridge", are both important considerations.

I'm most grateful that he emphasized the magnitude of the increased cost of ammunition. I have read comments from shooters who seem complacent because they seem to believe that the cost increase would be only a few cents, at most, added to the price of a single cartridge. That kind of complacency is dangerous. And even if it were true, since the best price of 'white box' 9mm (for example) is in the neighborhood of $7.50 per box of 50 (13 cents per round) a two cent increase in price is more than 15% increase in price ... with no increase in value.

What if the cost of encoding ammunition were only $0.87 per round? That would price the same box of ammunition at $50. That would clearly price ammunition out of reach for most of us for all but 'Armageddon' rounds -- which includes ammunition intended for illicit/illegal purposes. It certainly wouldn't be affordable to practice to improve gun-handling skills. USPSA would fold in a New York Minute, because nobody could afford to shoot a match if the match fees were $15 and the ammunition costs were $150.

Think about it. And if you're a resident of one of the 12 states whose legislatures have proposed such a bill ...
Arizona, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington.
... this might be a good time to call your state legislators and register your objections to being stabbed in the back.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dangerous Corner

At the Dundee USPSA match last week, we were treated to a lot of interesting challenges. Generally speaking, it was a fun club match and it helped us to hone our skills in preparation for future Level II and Level III matches.

It also provided the opportunity, if not intentionally, to learn about stages which had been built with challenges which might prove dangerous to all but very experienced competitors. In fact, almost EVERY competitor was challenged by the target engagement problem on the left side of the stage, which required shooters to lean far beyond the optimal point of body balance to engage two IPSC targets.

While it's not permitted for shooters to protest that a stage is 'too difficult', this particular stage featured a body-position far out of balance along with the need to run to the shooting position, stop on the exact location where the targets could be successfully engaged, and then move to the next (far downrange) shooting position.

I personally found the stage exceptionally difficult to shoot, because the footing was poor (there was a metal prop support there, made of L-Frame steel, which was a tripping hazard) and the angle of shooter-to-targets was uncomfortably close to the 180-line. In this uniquely designed bay, shooters were never confident that their muzzle was safely within the legal direction dictated by the confines of the shooting bay, and there was a real concern that the gun might inadvertently end up pointing in the general direction of the spectators.

This stage would have been much safer to shoot if the restricting vision barrier had been moved a few inches farther downrange, allowing the shooter to achieve a balanced stance and to NOT maneuver his pistol muzzle so close to the 180 line in order to clear the vision barrier support, both while going into, and exiting the narrowly defined shooting position.

I'm sure I'm not the only one of the almost 50 competitors who found himself so off-balanced that he almost fell.

And while the good news was that Left-handed shooters didn't experience this near-vertigo imbalance, the stage clearly offered an advantage to left-handed shooters.

After I had shot the stage, and as I was drafted to work as the Range Officer, I asked SWMBO to position herself in a spot where she could easily view the shooters at this position in the stage layout, and record some videos of the various ways in which participants resolved the shooting problem.

In retrospect, I do wish I hadn't asked that of her. If a competitor had actually broken the 180 line at that point, it would have placed her in a position of some risk.

In the actual event, no unsafe conditions (speaking in terms of having the muzzle of the gun pointing at SWMBO) were ever experienced. However, this happy state of affairs is more a credit to the gun-handling skills of the members of the squad, than to my own judgment.

The following video demonstrates poor vs good techniques. My own run is demonstrably "poor", in that I almost fell at the Dangerous Corner. The final clip, "Dave", shows how the stage may be safely engaged. I may be amiss if I don't mention that Dave is left-handed, and the state is certainly much easier for a 'lefty' to shoot than a 'righty'.

If nothing else, this situation emphasized the value of every USPSA match ... even a "Club Match" ... to conduct a walk-through before the match actually starts. Had I seen this stage earlier in the day, and had I the option, I would certainly have objected to the safety hazard demonstrated on this stage.

Watch the video, identify the unsafe situation, and please comment.


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Monday, February 25, 2008

Encoded Ammunition: Ammunition Coding Systems


The Ammunition Encoding Systems website is a source of much technical information about micro-engraving serial numbers on the base of bullets.

This is one of the companies which confidently asserts that it can micro-engrave analog information on the base of bullets, and that this information will remain readable "by simply using a good magnifying glass".

Sounds incredible, doesn't it?

Why do we care about this website?
(a) This is the first corporate website that I have found which defines the claims which have obviously influenced legislators in at least a dozen states to generate 'Encoded Ammunition' bills based on these (inflated) technical claims, and (b) based on these 'inflated' claims, it's easy to understand why ignorant legislators could confuse 'feasible' with 'practical'.

What claims does ACS make about Encoded Ammunition:
Here's the money quote from the ACE main webpage:

In an effort to provide law enforcement with modern crime fighting tools, a new patentpending bullet identification technology known as the Ammunition Coding System (ACS) has been developed. ACS assigns a unique code to every round of ammunition manufactured, and by recording sales records, law enforcement personnel will be able to easily trace the ammunition involved in a crime and have an avenue to pursue and solve even the most difficult cases. The key to ACS is the unique code that is micro-laser engraved on factory-produced ammunition. This laser engraving is etched on both the projectile and the inside of the cartridge casing. Each code will be common to a single box of cartridges and unique from all other ammunition sold. The unique ACS codes will be tracked and records maintained to identify individual ammunition purchases. The ACS technology will provide a method for law enforcement personnel to trace ammunition purchases and link bullets and cartridge cases found at crime scenes to the initial retail ammunition purchaser. This system will not necessarily prove who pulled the trigger, but it will provide law enforcement with a valuable lead and a starting point to quickly begin their investigations. The design of the ACS laser engraving system will allow law enforcement personnel to identify the bullet code in cases where as little as 20% of the bullet base remains intact after recovery. Since bullets are designed to keep the base solid and in its original configuration, the likelihood of ACS codes remaining legible after recovery is very high. Law enforcement testing has already shown a 99% success rate in identifying the ACS code after bullet recovery.
Wow!
That sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Practical Magic, cheap and easy and effective.

Let's take a closer look at these claims:

In an effort to provide law enforcement with modern crime fighting tools, a new patentpending bullet identification technology known as the Ammunition Coding System (ACS) has been developed. ACS assigns a unique code to every round of ammunition manufactured, ...

That sounds wonderful so far. A 'new patentpending (sic) bullet identification technology ..." -- but we're left to wonder whether a company that can't spell 'patent pending' correctly can insure that the coding is truly 'unique'.


... and by recording sales records, law enforcement personnel will be able to easily trace the ammunition involved in a crime and have an avenue to pursue and solve even the most difficult cases.


Uh, wait a minute. ACS doesn't claim to offer the technology to 'trace the ammunition'. This assumes that the 'law enforcement personnel' are able to develop the technology. There is no assurance that ACS will make this technology available. This function is left to the imagination and competency of the "law enforcement" agency, or to the sponsoring state. Any guesses who will PAY for the development of this technology?

If your guess is that "the state" will pass the costs on to you, you're probably right.

The key to ACS is the unique code that is micro-laser engraved on factory-produced ammunition. This laser engraving is etched on both the projectile and the inside of the cartridge casing. Each code will be common to a single box of cartridges and unique from all other ammunition sold.

That's the scheme as envisioned by ACS, and it bears no practical relation to the manufacturing techniques currently used by bullet manufacturers.

The folks that make bullets have a slightly different priority, which is an Industrial Manufacturing Process; this is related to a Marketing Plan.

Here's what the Marketing Plan of a bullet manufacturer looks like:
  1. Identify a bullet weight/caliber/configuration which we can sell .. either to the general customer base or to a 'niche market' (which means that not a lot of folks are buying this product, but we have to cater to their preferences anyway.)
  2. Build a gazillian bullets which meet these technical criteria.
  3. Find people ... usually ammunition manufactures, but maybe home ammunition reloaders .. who are willing to buy this product.
  4. Box the bullets in lot sizes appropriate to the customer (50, 1000, 10,000, 1,000,000) and ship them to the customer.

The unique ACS codes will be tracked and records maintained to identify individual ammunition purchases. The ACS technology will provide a method for law enforcement personnel to trace ammunition purchases and link bullets and cartridge cases found at crime scenes to the initial retail ammunition purchaser. This system will not necessarily prove who pulled the trigger, but it will provide law enforcement with a valuable lead and a starting point to quickly begin their investigations. The design of the ACS laser engraving system will allow law enforcement personnel to identify the bullet code in cases where as little as 20% of the bullet base remains intact after recovery. Since bullets are designed to keep the base solid and in its original configuration, the likelihood of ACS codes remaining legible after recovery is very high. Law enforcement testing has already shown a 99% success rate in identifying the ACS code after bullet recovery.

But wait!

The newly introduced 'Encoded Ammunition' bills require that an unique serial number will be assigned to each 'box' of bullets. That may be as few as 20 bullets, or as many as ... 50 bullets. It doesn't matter who the bullets are actually sold to, the manufacturer must plan for as few as 20 or 50 bullets (the number commonly boxed for rifle and pistol bullets, respectively), and vary the manufacturing process according to 'special orders'.

That grinding noise you hear is Henry Ford (the originator of 'Mass Production') rolling over in his grave.

If a bullet manufacturer responds to an order for 1,000 bullets, and produces 1,000 bullets with the same serial number, that manufacturer has no control over how the bullets are actually used by the purchaser. The buyer can reload 1,000 cartridges and sell them to, say, 200 customers, and the serial number will not be unique to each individual retail customer.

'Not a problem' for the bullet manufacturer', you say?
Wrong.
While the retailer is typically subject to fines from The State if the bullet serial numbers are not unique to the 'box' of loaded ammunition, the bullet manufacturer is subject to fines of up to $10,000 'for each occurrence', even if the bullet manufacturer has no control over the ammunition manufacturer.
Not only is the Bullet Manufacturer held accountable for situations beyond his control, he is subject to significant fines if he is unable to impose these controls over his customers. Given that a thousand rounds of bullets may be sold at less than $200 per thousand by the bullet manufacture, he can be charged $10,000 for each box (50 rounds) of ammunition created using these bullets ... call it 1,000/50 = 200 boxes of loaded ammunition at $10,00 per box, or (200 x
$10,000), or a 2 million dollar fine for selling one thousand bullets.

Am I the only one who considers this excessive? Yet it may be law some day.

But wait, there's more!

Many states have introduced bills which require the serial number on the bullets to match the serial number on the cartridge case. Assuming that everyone plays nice during the manufacturing process, how likely is it that this will happen when the bullet manufacturer is not the same corporate entity as the ammunition entity? Especially when, again, the job lots are 20 or 50 rounds per unique serial number and the manufacturer is required to guarantee... GUARANTEE! .. that the serial number on the case matches the serial number on the bullet?

Think of any manufacturing process with which you are familiar, and consider that the only sure way to match serial numbers include only (a) a very expensive scanning technology, which has not yet been created, or (b) a human-inspection process ... and we ll know how fallible humans are.

EVALUATION: This may be 'feasible', but it certainly isn't 'practical'.

To continue with fisking the ACS statement:

The unique ACS codes will be tracked and records maintained to identify individual ammunition purchases. The ACS technology will provide a method for law enforcement personnel to trace ammunition purchases and link bullets and cartridge cases found at crime scenes to the initial retail ammunition purchaser.
Again, the burdon of enforcement is placed on the controlling political division ('The State'), and ACS grandly passes over the issue as if it doesn't exist..

Well, why should they acknowledge the complication? They're trying to sell a process; they have no investment in making it work!

And their website comments are absolutely accurate: IF (problematic) their technology works, and IF (problematic) the state can establish technology to take advantage of their technology, then the SCHEME may possibly (perhaps, but not likely PROBABLY, identify the original purchaser of the ammunition.

What is the value of this?

Zero.

Criminals already steal guns from houses; how much more likely are they to target ammunition which is even less likely to be locked up in a gun safe in the home of even the much more aware and conservative gun owner?

Let's look at the rest of the undocument, unsupported, irrealistic claims of ACS:


This system will not necessarily prove who pulled the trigger, but it will provide law enforcement with a valuable lead and a starting point to quickly begin their investigations.
The vendor of this technology acknowledges the limitations, but it is buried in the contextual bullshit. How likely is this to be noticed by the Casual Reader? Answer: not.

The design of the ACS laser engraving system will allow law enforcement personnel to identify the bullet code in cases where as little as 20% of the bullet base remains intact after recovery. Since bullets are designed to keep the base solid and in its original configuration, the likelihood of ACS codes remaining legible after recovery is very high. Law enforcement testing has already shown a 99% success rate in identifying the ACS code after bullet recovery.
There is no evidence presented to support this outrageous claim.

Look at the image presetned at the beginning of this post. Imagine there are five strips across any axis of the bullet base. Then imagine that only one of these strips represent readable data.

Do you believe that the remaining data is sufficient to identify the owner of the bullet?

"Well, do you, Punk?"
_______________________________

There are ... uh ... ONE reason to believe the extreme claims of this vendor: because you really want to believe that it has some value.

There are an untold number of reasons why you might NOT believe the claims; among them, that the vendor is desperately trying to justify a situation which is not at ALL practical in an industrial processing context, and any profit-motivated Bullet Manufacturer is unlikely to accept the added manufacturing and quality control requirements, even disregarding the financial penalties for events beyond their control.


Any acceptance of this manufacturing process as a 'standard' can have only one effect: that ammunition and bullet manufacturers would choose to drop out of the market, rather tan to meet insupportable regulations.

These bill are based on the biased and unproven technology supposedly available from ACS.

They would have no effect in the solving of gun crimes. Rather, they are an undeclared and IPSO FACTO imposition on the Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms. They would not only make the purchase of 'legal' ammunition beyond the reach of most honest citizens, but they would also impose such unmeetable regulations on the infrastructure of ammunition Manufacture that legitimate businesses would rightly choose to go OUT of business rather than to attempt to meet the unrealistic restrictions ... and pay the unrealistic penalties ... inherent in the bills which this tantalizing pseudo-technology encourages.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

2.2.1.1 - Illegal Fault Line

The 2008 USPSA Rule Book has not successfully addressed the question of Legal Fault Lines. More specifically, the rule which addresses fault lines which are deemed to 'extend rearward to infinity'.
2.2.1.6 Fault Lines extending rearward (uprange) should be a minimum of 3 feet in length, and unless otherwise stated in the written stage briefing, are deemed to extend rearward to infinity.


I have written extensively here my dissatisfaction with this rule, and while I continue to enjoy competing in club matches I likewise continue to protest stage designs which rely on lazy stage construction which relies upon this bizarre rule

The ground-fault stick depicted here supposedly defines a 'Fault Line'. However, it ends short of the initial starting position, and in fact if a competitor declines to abide by the de jure restrictions imposed by this 'short stick on the ground' he retains the right to request arbitration on any procedural penalties based on the stage procedure requirements to 'engage targets behind the fault line' by virtue of Rule 2.2.1.1:

"Shooting Boxes and Fault Lines shoud be constructed of wooden boards or other sutiable material, must be fixed firmly in place, and provide for both physical and virtual references to competitor For hard ground surfaces clear of debris, 075 inch material is the minimum allowable size. On other range surfaces such as covered with turf, sand gravel wood chips or similar, thincker materiel which rises at least 1.5 inches above the surface is recommended."
In the actual event (depicted here), the 'Fault Line' is a virtual restriction which fails to meet the minimum requirements of Rule 2.2.1.1 (USPSA 2008 Rules) by virtue of the fact that the physical construction does NOT extend to location between the end of the 'Fault Line' and the rearward boundary of the area where the targets may reasonable be engaged.

In other words, one may engage difficult targets beyond the uprange reach of the 'Fault Line' and gain advantage (because more more of the A-Zone of the target is visible), by moving laterally left of the starting box. While the 'Fault Line' SHOULD restrict this movement, it cannot because of the lazy failure to extend the physical fault line to the reasonable limit of rearward movement.

To put this in more easy-to-understand terms: the stage construction crew used a short stick to define the 'Fault Line'. There is a large gap between the end of the 'Fault Line' and the shooting box; it would be to the advantage of the competitor to take two steps to the left, beyond the 'obvious' end of the 'Fault Line' to engage targets. The Range Officer may be inclined to impose penalties because he considers the shooting position to be 'past the Fault Line', but no physical Fault Line' is available (see Rule 2.2.1.1) to tell the competitor he has fouled.

Therefore, due to the lack of a fault line which is discernible by touch or by sight, it is impossible to legally penalize the competitor.

What can be done to control the competitor's natural desire to exploit this obvious stage design flaw?

(1) The RO can require the competitor to reshoot the stage, even insisting that the competitor move not more than one step to the left of the starting box. As long as the competitor persists in moving past the position defined past the position defined by the RO as 'over the ...' (non-existent) ... 'virtual fault line', the RO is presented with the same irreconcilable conundrum.

(2) Eventually, either the RO must charge the competitor with imaginary 'unsportsmanlike conduct' .. which is subject to a Request for Arbitration (RfA) ... or the RO must bump th question up to the Match Director for resolution. Note that the Range Officer is not allowed to file a RfA.

Assuming that the RO is not willing to accede to the competitor's insistence that the 'Fault Line' is not supported by the rules, the MD must necessarily intervene.

What options are available to the M.D.?

The M.D. (Match Director) can declare the competitor's action a 'Forbidden Action'
2.3.1.1 In lieu of modifying course design or physical construction, a Range Master may explicitly forbid certain competitor actions in order to maintain competitive equity.
In order to enforce this ruling, the M.D. must be willing (assuming that the Competitor will be willing to advance his protest to USPSA) to justify his ruling at the Regional level. Since such a ruling is not justifiable under rule 2.2.1.1, we can only assume the (a) the M.D. will eschew such an extreme reaction, or (b) the M.D. will alter the stage to conform to existing rules, or will (b) take a chance that the USPSA BOD will find in favor of a stage design which is not supported by a local Arbitration Committee ... which is comprised by knowledgeable and experienced competitors who are, supposedly, as outraged by poor stage design as the original competitor.

Summary:
In the ultimate extreme, poor / lazy stage designs will not be accepted by either the USPSA or the knowledgeable competitor. The worst possible case is an inexperienced competitor who is reluctant to challenge Match Officials.

The obvious solution to this problem is .. if you find yourself constrained from using realistic (eg: "Gaming") stage tactics on an illegal stage, the best thing you can do is to be confrontational.

Sure, you need to be sure that you are 'right'. The "old Dudes" can help you here, because they probably understand the rules better than you do.

But if you're too shy to stand up for your rights, and too proud to protest, you deserve every disservice which may be visited upon you.

Nobody's Perfect, and if you don't defend yourself (even if it totally pisses off someone you respect), you have nobody to blame but yourself


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