Friday, December 24, 2004

Principles of Practical Shooting

Rule Book

The International

Practical Shooting Confederation


The United States Region of IPSC

1st Edition

May, 1983

(Page 1, before the INTRODUCTION!)


The following principles are established to define the nature of practical marksmanship. They are accepted by all members of the International Practical Shooting Confederation as conditions of membership.

  1. Practical competition is open to all reputable persons without regard to occupation: it may specifically not be limited to public servants.
  2. Accuracy, power and speed are the equivalent elements of practical shooting and practical competition must be conducted in such a way as to evaluate these elements equally.
  3. Weapon types are not separated, all compete together without handicap. This does not apply to the power of the weapons as power is an element to be recognized and rewarded.
  4. Practical competition is a test of expertise in the use of functional defensive equipment. Any item of equipment or modification to equipment which sacrifices practical functionality for competitive advantage contavenes the principles ofthe sport.
  5. Practical competition is conducted using practical targets, which reflect the general size and shape of such objects as the weapons may resonably be called upon to hit in their primary intended use.
  6. the challenge presented in practical competition must be realistic. Courses of fire must follow a practical rational and simulate sensible hypothetical situations in which weapons might reasonably be used.
  7. Practical competition is diverse. Within the limits of realism, problems are constantly changed, never permitting unrealistic specialization of either technique or equipment. Courses of fire may be repeated, but no course may be repeated enough to allow its use as a definitive measure of practcial shooting skill.
  8. Practice competition is freestyle. In essence, the competitive problem is posed in general and the participant is permitted the freedom to solve it in the manner he considers best within the limitations of the competitive situation as provided.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

2005 IPSC/USPSA rules: 10.4.9

In response to a private comment from another Columbia Cascade Section member, I posted Geek Musings: 2005-02 to The Unofficial IPSC List today. This was in reference to both rule 104.3 and 10.4.9.

Turns out, I didn't have any problem with 10.4.3 (big surprise here, I usually go ballistic when I have to discuss the new IPSC rules.) But when I took a close look at 10.4.9, I found plenty of justification for a Shot In The Dark.

Here's the context and the content of 10.4.9:

10.4 - Match Disqualification - Accidental Discharge:
A competitor who causes an Accidental Discharge must be stopped by a Range Officer as soon as possible. An accidental discharge is defined as follows:
Exception: When it can be established that the cause of the discharge is due to the actual breakage of any part of the firearm and the competitor has not committed any safety infraction in this Section, a match disqualification will not be invoked, however, the competitor's scores for that course of fire will be zero. The firearm must be immediately presented to the Range Master or his delegate, who will inspect the firearm and carry out any tests necessary to establish that an actual breakage of a part caused the discharge. A competitor may not later appeal a disqualification for an unsafe discharge if they fail to present the firearm for inspection prior to leaving the course of fire.

Here is the text of my comments:

Why must the stage score be zeroed, if a discharge occurs due to " ... the actual breakage of a part of the firearm ..."? And what happens if the breakage (and subsequent discharge) occurs after the competitor has fired the last shot on the stage?

I really don't see an 'up' side to this rule, but I certainly can see a 'down' side:

What happens if this last-shot occurs on a Virginia count stage? The shooter is in a bad situation. It seems reasonable that he could protest an extra-shot penalty due to firearm breakage, but he doesn't dare protest because he would zero the stage. So might not the shooter, if he can cover up the breakage, be tempted to just shut up, accept the procedural penalty, and go hide while he fixes his gun?

In other words, it STRONGLY encourages the shooter to cheat. And I don't like that what use to be a fun sport puts its participants in such a morally untenable position.

Sounds like we need another "interpretation", don't you think?
Here's my reasoning:
Consider the situation when a firearm breaks. Since IPSC originally evolved as "Practical Shooting", the guiding principles (which have since been rendered hors d'combat by anal retentive moonbats) suggest that what you shoot is what you get, less penalties for what you DON'T get. I'm an old fart, and every new rule I read is inevitably filtered through my "Principles of Practical Shooting" test.

The way it worked prior to December 1, 2004 (when the new rule book came in to effect) was that if your gun broke you stopped shooting and the targets were scored, the time recorded, and your stage factor worked out. The only reason you would get a zero score is if you broke a safety rule and were "Match DQ'd", or your penalties were more than your points. Good enough, we can live with that.

(Note the "DNF rule: for several years, a zero score could be assigned to you if you Did Not Finish, or DNF. This could be caused, for example, by a failure to engage the last target which was caused by running out of ammunition and there wasn't enough ammunition left in discarded magazines on the stage, or in your personal possession ... say, in your pocket. I use to carry a few extra rounds in my pockets to avoid this situation. The rules were changed by, as I said, just assigning penalties for targets missed and/or not engaged. This seemed reasonable to most people)

Now, if your gun breaks ANY time during the Course of Fire (COF), you get no credit for anything you might have accomplished.

That rule holds true even if you have successfully engaged every target in the COF.

There's two ways of looking at this:
  • Extremely practical: as is the case of the Soldier Of Fortune matches, if you fail to 'neutralize' every target, the un-neutralized targets represent aggressors who will kill you. Well, that's fine if you define 'neutralize' as having at least x-points of hits against them (say, onr-Alpha or the 5-point equivalent). But we don't do that. Instead, we penalize minus 10 points for each miss, plus you don't get the points you MIGHT have got if you hit the target. Oh, and if you don't even shoot at ('engage') a target, you not only get miss penalties but also a 10-point procedural for not shooting at it. Since the beginning of IPSC competition, that has always been considered sufficient penalties.
  • Competition practical: you get the points you scored, minus penalties (see above), and your score is calculated relative to the number of seconds you took to get those hits.
The "Competitive practical" approach is the way we have long been conducting IPSC competition, with the exception of the long-unlamented DNF rule.

Let's look at the evolution of the DNF rule.

1st Edition:
I started competing in IPSC in 1983. At that time the 1st Edition (May, 1983) of the IPSC/USA (sic) was in effect. The DNF rule was not included.

5th Edition:
For reasons which will not be discussed now, I dropped out of IPSC competition until 1991, at which time the following rules were in effect in the Practical Shooting Handbook of USPSA (5th Edition, May, 1990):
11.09 DID NOT FINISH (DNF) - when a competitor is unable to complete a course fo fire for whatever reason, other than range equipment failure, his score will be recorded as zero for that stage (See 8.0.6, 8.08)
I'm going to include not only 8.0.6 and 8.0.8, but also 8.0.7 here for illustrative purposes:

(Emphasis in the original rule.)<>
8.0.6 MALFUNCTIONS - In the event of a malfunction, the normal procedure will be for the competitor to rectify the situation, always keeping the muzzle pointing downrange, and carry on with the stage. If he is unable to do so, he will stand fast, lower the handgun safely pointed down range and signal by raising his free hand. The Range Officer will stop the clock and proceed to examine the handgun. See 11.09
8.0.7 BROKEN FIREARM PROCEDURE - In the event the firearm cannot be unloaded due to a broken or malfunctioning mechanism, the Range Officer will take such action as he thinks best and safest. Under no circumstances will a competitor leave the firing line in the posession of a loaded handgun.
8.0.8 UNABLE TO FINISH COURSE - When, due to a breakdown or loss of personal equipment or injury, a competitor is unabel to complete a course or wishes to terminate the course of fire, he will raise his free hand and call "TIME". See 11.09

6th Edition:
These rules were also in effect in the Practical Shooting Handbook of USPSA (6th Edition, April, 1992).

7th Edition:
In the Practical Shooting Handbook of USPSA (7th Edition, 1995), things got a little complicated. Rule 11.09 had been replaced by something that discussed "Failure to Engage". That was a penalty applied to individual targets, not to the entire stage.

But rule 8.08 had been changed, to include a zero-score penalty for this event:

8.0.8 UNABLE TO FINISH COURSE - When, due to a breakdown or loss of personal equipment or injury, a competitor is unabel to complete a course or wishes to terminate the course of fire, he will may raise his free hand and call "TIME". See 11.09. His score will be recorded as zero for that stage.

(NB: Strike-out indicates text deleted from the previous version; italics indicate added verbiage.)

However, the 7th Edition rules were flawed. Even though the DNF concept was no longer defined, they still included the following rules:

US 9.01 VIRGINIA COUNT - Virginia Count is intended for use in Standard Exercise and Speed Shoots where the same targets are engaged by several strings of fire. The targets are scored only after he completion of the last string. The targets are scored only after the completion of the last string. In courses of fire which consist of more than one string, a failure to finish (DNF) one of the strings means a DNF for the entire course of fire. ... ...

Also, this book included a rule, which was referenced in the index as being on page 53 but was actually found on page 52, and in the index was cited as 'Failure Or Loss Of Equipment":

US 11.01 PROCEDURAL ERRORS - Procedural errors apply to violations of stated procedures which are not otherwise covered by other specific rules.

Failure to engage (shoot at) a target specified in the stage design is a procedural error. Failure to engage will always result in one procedural penalty regardless of the number of reuired hits on the target. Failure to engage will not result in a DNF unless the failure is due to the competitor's equipment failure, loss of ammo, etc. (See rules 8.08 and 11.09) Failure to successfully engage a stop target results in a DNF.
Note the strike-out of the last sentence. When I took my first RO certification course in 1997, the instructor (Bill Kehoe) informed us that the sentence was inapplicable because IPSC and USPSA no longer used 'stop targets' to denote the completion of a COF. He said that although the rule CLAUSE was STILL IN THE RULE BOOK, WE SHOULD IGNORE IT! This rule was embedded, but successfully ignored, from May, 1997, until it was deleted in 2000.

14th Edition, 2000:
Eventually, the DNF rule and all references to it were absent in the USPSA Rule Book (14th Edition, 2000), also known as the "Toilet Paper Edition" because it was an interim edition published without a poster-board weight cover. The 8.0.* rules were changed to the 5.7.* sequence. The equivalent of the 8.0.8 rule was rule 5.7.3, which concludes with the following verbiage:

" ... The course of fire shall be scored normally including all appropriate miss and failure to engage penalties."
(Well, it was about time!)

14th Edition, 2001:
The DNF rules were also not referenced in the permanent replacement, the USPSA Rule Book (14th Edition, 2001).

We've covered 21 years of IPSC/USPSA rule books. The DNF rule was in effect from 1983 through 1999, or 16 years. For the 5-year period from 2000 through 2004, there was no DNF rule, and we all thought we were well rid of it.

2004/2005 Edition:
Now, in the "IPSC Handgun Competition Rules, USPSA Version, January, 2004" (but note NOT effective until December 1, 2004) which is commonly referred to as "the 2005 rules", we see this ugly DNF rule has come back to haunt us, appropriately, like the Ghost of Christmas Past.

If we're going to be shooting IPSC Retro, why don't they bring back the entire horrid package? Why stop at what is essentially a DNF penalty only for " ... the actual breakage of any part of the firearm ... "?

As nearly as I can tell, this rule was not formulated in response to an acknowledged, wide-spread problem. Matter of fact, there is no 'urban legend" type anecdotal history which suggests that this is a situation which has occured in such a manner that the previously existing rules wouldn't have handled it consistently with any other reason for failing to complete a COF.

If these, uh, 'folks' who arbitrarily impose these rules on us think that there is a good reason why we should change the way we compete, to the detriment of the shooter, they should at least be able to provide some justification for applying it under such a limited range of circumstances.

Why don't they apply what is, after all, just the "Son of DNF" when the competitor runs out of ammunition?

One can only presume that they had in mind that, if the competitor was so short-sighted that he couldn't predict the failure of a vital part of his firearm, surely it is even more worthy of censure that he be penalized for the short-sighted failure to bring enough ammunition to complete the COF.

Either the authors of this rule failed to consider other reasons for DNF-type situations, or they were specifically targetting ... somebody.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

2nd Amendment Woes

Here's a man in Washington State who, while driving down the highway, was stopped by the police for a traffic offense and was found to be carrying a weapon ... a pistol.

He was carrying it 'open', which is to say not concealed, and apparently that is legal in Washington.

But wait!
The gun was unloaded (necessary, it seems, for the gun to be unloaded under current Washington law ... I haven't looked it up yet). However, it was a semi-automatic pistol and he had a loaded magazine tucked between his legs.

When the police escallated the situation, he demanded his rights as a citizen and demanded that the presence of the weapon be ignored by the police.

Bad idea, they thought. So the police eventually took him to jail, took away his pistol, recorded some 'statements' from his wife which seemed to put him in a VERY bad light, and generally dealt him a world of legal hurt.

This story has been all over the Blog-o-sphere for the past week, and I've avoided commenting on it so far. I was wondering what would happen next?

Looking at later posts by FishOrMan, it appears that he feels entirely at the mercy of the courts, the Spokane DA, and fate. I note his comment:
"Please, treat my wife kindly. She is very special to me."

Pretty ugly, huh?

And later, after it appears that he may be a convicted felon and lose his 2nd amendment rights:

One more thing. In case any local goblin wants to rob, rape, steal and murder my wife and I, tonight might be your best chance.
What can you say?

Here's what I say:
(1) When you're on The Street, and the cops pull you over ... you can argue with them and demand your rights, or you can cooperate and hope to salvage as much as you can of your life. When you're carrying, it's not always enough to know your rights. If the cop who is shining his flashlight in your face isn't in a mood to agree with you, there are far too many ways for him to justify kicking your ass. Tomorrow is another day, and understanding that logic isn't going to get you home before dawn is just another factor in 'situational awareness'. Is this right? Probably not. But understanding reality is perhaps a Survival Factor.

(2) This poor SOB has made his stand, and has asserted his Civil Rights. Maybe someday, ten or twenty years from now, and if he has enough money (which he has not) to hire clever lawyers who will pursue the case, he may even be cleared of all criminal charges. Maybe even the civil charges (which have not yet been brought by the local authorities). For now, he's facing jail time, and bankruptcy because he needs to find and pay lawyers, and he is completely despondant about his ability to defend himself, his family, and his home. I thank him for providing a 'test case' which may someday expand the interpretation of the Second Amendment for the rest of us, but I sure wouldn't want to be in his shoes.

Love your country? Sure thing.

Trust your country? Think about it.

Your country is represented, on the streets, by a bunch of folks who may be reasonable men, but on the other hand they may be a pack of socially-disfunctional turds. It's Hobbe's choice, and if you choose wrong, you lose.

No, I don't like what I've just said any more than you do. But I don't know that the current political environment has anything better to offer.


Sometimes, the events of the day are too poignant to ignore.

John Donovan has the link: I'll show the entire context because this is too profound for comment right now. Brad Lewis is a U.S. Army Chaplain in Iraq. He wrote this yesterday (21-DEC-2004)

Training For Eternity
By the time I got back to our compound it was all over the news. It seemed like the thing had just happened when in reality I had been neck deep in it for several hours. And there it was on TV. Frankly, it's kind of a blur.

The day began early as I didn't sleep very well last night. Once I was awake I decided not to just lay there and stare at the darkness so I got up, got dressed, shaved and headed into the TOC, the heart of what goes on. In the TOC (Tactical Operations Center) they monitor several different radio nets to keep abreast of what is happening in the area. It's the place to be if you want up to the minute information. When I arrived it was fairly calm. I made small talk with the guys there and sipped that first cup of morning coffee. The day was clear and there was very little going on, or so it seemed. A very short while later we received the initial reports. In this area there are several "camps" or "posts" that house the various combat and support units that do the day to day fighting and working around here. The first report said that a mortar had just hit one of the nearby chow halls during the middle of lunch (I'm on GMT so my morning is actually the middle of the day). It's called a MASCAL or Mass Casualty event and it's where the rubber meets the road in military ministry. They said there were approximately 10 casualties. That was the extent of it so I kind of filed it away in the back of my mind and continued to sip my coffee. The next report wasn't so good. 10 dead and approximately 50 wounded. They were being transported to the Combat Surgical Hospital down the street. The Chaplain at the CSH is a good guy and I knew he'd be in need of help so I woke my assistant and we rushed to the hospital. I didn't expect what I saw.

The scene was little more than controlled chaos. Helicopters landing, people shouting, wounded screaming, bodies everywhere. As the staff began to triage the dead and wounded I found the chaplain and offered my assistance. He directed me to where he needed me and I dove in. I would be hard pressed to write about every person I had the opportunity to pray with today but I will try to relate a few.

I found "Betty" on a stretcher being tended by nurses. I introduced myself and held her hand. She looked up at me and said, "Chaplain, am I going to be alright?" I said that she was despite the fact that I could see she had a long road to recovery ahead of her. Most of her hair had been singed off. Her face was burnt fairly badly, although it didn't look like the kind of burns that will scar. What I do know is that it was painful enough to hurt just by being in the sun. I prayed with Betty and moved on.

"Ilena" (a made up name. She spoke very softly and had a thick accent so I couldn't really hear her) had been hit by a piece of shrapnel just above her left breast causing a classic sucking chest wound. The doctors said she had a hemothorax (I think that's what they called it) which basically meant her left lung was filling with blood and she was having a very hard time breathing. For the next 20 minutes I held her hand while a doctor made an incision in her left side, inserted most of his hand and some kind of medical instrument and then a tube to alleviate the pressure caused by the pooling blood. It was probably the most medieval procedure I have ever been privy to. In the end she was taken to ICU and will be OK.

"Mark" was put on a stretcher and laid along a wall. A small monitor on his hand would tell the nurses when he was dead. Even a cursory glance said it was inevitable. Mark had a head wound that left brain matter caked in his ear and all over the stretcher he was lying on. I knelt next to Mark and placed a hand on his chest. His heart was barely beating but it was beating so I put my face close to his ear to pray with him. If you've never smelled human brain matter it is something unforgettable. I had something of an internal struggle. He's practically dead so why stay? He probably can't hear anything! A prayer at that point seemed of little value. But I couldn't risk it. I prayed for Mark and led him in the sinners prayer as best I could. There are few things in this life that will make you feel more helpless. After that, I needed some fresh air.

I stepped outside and found the situation to be only slightly less chaotic. The number of body bags had grown considerably since I first went inside. I saw a fellow chaplain who was obviously in need of care himself. I stopped him and put my arm around him and asked how he was doing. A rhetorical question if ever I asked one. He just shook his head so I pulled him in close and prayed for his strength, endurance, a thick skin, and a soft heart. Then I just stood and breathed for a few minutes.

Regardless of what some may say, these are not stupid people. Any attack with casualties will naturally mean that eventually a very large number of care givers will be concentrated in one location. They took full advantage of that. In the middle of the mayhem the first mortar round hit about 100 to 200 meters away. Everyone started shouting to get the wounded into the hospital which is solid concrete and much safer than being in the open. Soon, the next mortar hit quite a bit closer than the first as they "walked" their rounds toward their intended Everyone began to rush toward the building. I stood at the door shoving as many people inside as I could. Just before heading in myself, the last one hit directly on top of the hospital. I was standing next to the building so was shielded from any flying shrapnel. In fact, the building, being built as a bunker took the hit with little effect. However, I couldn't have been more than 10 to 15 meters from the point of impact and brother did I feel the shock. That'll wake you up! I rushed inside to find doctors and nurses draped over patients, others on the floor or under something. I ducked low and quickly moved as far inside as I could.

After a few tense moments people began to move around again and the business of patching bodies and healing minds continued in earnest. As I stood talking with some other chaplain, an officer approached and not seeing us, yelled, "Is there a chaplain around here?" I turned and asked what I could do. He spoke to us and said that another patient had just been moved to the "expectant" list and would one of us come pray for him. I walked in and found him lying on the bed with a tube in his throat, and no signs of consciousness. There were two nurses tending to him in his final moments. One had a clipboard so I assumed she'd have the information I wanted. I turned to her and asked if she knew his name. Without hesitation the other nurse, with no papers, blurted out his first, middle, and last name. She had obviously taken this one personally. I'll call him "Wayne". I placed my hand on his head and lightly stroked his dark hair. Immediately my mind went to my Grandpa's funeral when I touched his soft grey hair for the last time. And for the second time in as many hours I prayed wondering if it would do any good, but knowing that God is faithful and can do more than I even imagine. When I finished I looked up at the nurse who had known his name. She looked composed but struggling to stay so. I asked, "Are you OK?" and she broke down. I put my arm around her to comfort and encourage her. She said, "I was fine until you asked!" Then she explained that this was the third patient to die on her that day.

"Rachel" was sitting in a chair with no injuries. She was worried about two friends that had been moved to other hospitals in country. So we prayed.

"John", a First Sergeant, asked me, "How does my face look?" knowing he had been badly burned and would probably have some scaring. He was covered in blood, pus, and charred skin so I said, "First Sergeant, you look better than some people I know back home." He laughed and we prayed.

One of the many American civilian workers had been hit in the groin. He was happy to be alive and even happier to be keeping, "all my equipment." It was a light moment in a very heavy day.

As my assistnt and I walked away at the end of the day I saw another chaplain and a soldier standing among the silent rows of black body bags. The soldier wanted to see his friend one more time. We slowly and as respectfully as possible unzipped the bag to reveal the face of a very young Private First Class. His friend stared for a few seconds then turned away and began to cry.

The last count was 25 dead, and around 45 wounded. Nevertheless, our cause is just and God is in control even when the crap is a yard deep. I'm where God wants me and wouldn't change that for anything, even if it means death. After all, "to die is gain".

Post Script: all patient names are ficticious.

Max Michel Website, and Travis Tomasie

I've just discovered that Max Michel has a website.

Among other things, he features a Store, and a Forum.

He's apparently partnered with Travis Tomasie to form a training venture, and you can address questions directly to either Max or Travis on the forum.

I've seen both of them shoot, and they're incredibly gifted shooters. Or "shootists", if you will. But I've never actually met Max.

However, because Travis is from the Pacific North Wet I've been pleased to meet him several times and actually get to know him, a little.

The first time I met Travis was 1997 at a night match at an indoor range in Bellingham,Washington ... I believe the name was something like WSI although I'm not sure about this. The manager was Tim Bacus, and he put on a great indoor match which included at least one "dark" stage. This was the weekend when I met Bumstead for the first time, and he had scheduled us to shoot the WSI match and the next day (Sunday) we would shoot an IPSC match at Marysville Rifle Club.

As I stepped up to the line for the 'dark' stage at WSI, a smooth-faced young man holding a timer stepped up beside me and said: "I'm Travis, and I'll be your RO". What could I say except: "I'm Jerry, and I'll be the shooter". Travis conducted himself like a gentleman (although he couldn't have been more than 17 or 18, tops) and when it came his turn to shoot the stage he SMOKED it! Travis was there with his father, Squire. I had watched Squire shoot the stage, and he was fast, but Travis was FAST. IIRC, Squire won the stage that night because Travis had some accuracy problems ... but he could miss faster than anyone I had ever seen.

He has since corrected that problem, and almost every other shooting problem, to become one of the best IPSC competitors in the country.

In fact, Travis held a 'clinic' in Oregon a couple of years later (must have been about 3 years ago) which I attended. He taught me things about competitive shooting that had never occurred to me.

Some of the lessons he taught were:
* give up some 'split time' and emphasize 'index time';
* When and how to reload;
* moving into a new shooting position;
* moving out of a shooting position;
* shooting on the move;
* how and why to be 'relaxed' when you start a stage;
* some basic practice techniques.

The next year, Travis and Squire showed up at the Croc Dundee "Banzaii Ballistic" match in Oregon, and I was squadded with him. We were on a stage which featured some very difficult targets. I recall taking one very difficult 3-target array on the move, and missing every target. One of the very best grandmasters in the Club came charging up to me after the stage was scored, and roared at me "WHAT the HELL were you thinking there? Why did you try to shoot an move? Even Travis didn't try to shoot those targets on the move, what the hell made you think you could get away with it???"

I learned a lot about competitive shooting that day. Mostly, I learned humility.

Last year I saw Travis at a local Oregon match, just before he reported to the Army. We talked about his career and about his anticipated tenure as a member of the Army Shooting Team. He was very excited and honored about the opportunity, and looking forward to shooting with some of the best shooters in the country.

He has done a fine job of carrying his weight.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Blogging VS Forums

Writing a WeBlog, I discover, is a lot of work. You have to do it every day (although I've been slacking off lately, having to do with Having A Life), and you're essentially writing in a vacuum.

(Father forgive me, it has been four days since I have posted to my Blog.)

Oh, sure, I get to say whatever I want to and the really good thing is that nobody is going to beat me up because I say something that they don't agree with.

The down side is ... nobody is going to beat me up because I say something that they don't agree with.

On occasion, I've been known to Have An Opinion. This is cold meat, however, if there is no response to point out my errors of logic, opposing point of view, or that I'm being a jerk.

Thankfully, the Wonder of the Web is that I can always find a Forum which provides me with this needful dialogue.

When I really want to talk about IPSC competation related subjects, there are two forums which I visit regularly.

One is Brian Enos's Forum.

The other is the USPSA Forum.

(Membership in both is required to post; the USPSA forum is accessible through the USPSA Member's Page, which requires that you are a USPSA member and have the appropriate userid and password.)

Both are valuable resources for someone who competes in IPSC and wants to read, or offer, what might be called "Divergent Views". (Usually, I'm the "Divergent" person.)

I have to say, I've learned a lot about competitive shooting, techniques, firearms and 'other shooting sports' from these forums.

[And while I'm at it, another useful firearms-related forum is The High Road. This website features discussions on the social aspects of firearms ownership as well.]

But back to the original two forums:

The Brian Enos Forum is moderated, which means that if your dialogue becomes too acerbic you are subject to being 'bumped' by the Moderator. Well, you can still retain your membership (unless you are an habitual intransigent), but your comments are likely to be deleted and the topic may be 'closed'. Yes, I know this because it has happened to me. In fact, The High Road is also moderated, and member contributions are similarly subject to subjective review. That's not a problem ... the forums belong to the good folks who established them, and they can operate their forum however they please. Generally speaking, moderation tends to make for a more ... er ... 'moderate' tone of discussion.

However, the USPSA forum is not moderated. That means that you are responsible for self-censoring, and if you are inclined to making outrageous statements you may be seen by the whole world as seeming to be a fatuous jerk.

Or perhaps not. I guess the condition of jerkiness depends on your point of view.

There are a couple of threads in the USPSA forum in which I have presented what might be considered to be extreme opinions. Both of these are in regards to the 2005 USPSA Rule Book, the way it was reviewed by the USPSA Board of Directors, and the effect of the new rules on IPSC competition in the USA Region.

One of them had to do with the review process specifically, and whether a bold statement I made on May 24, 2004 (after the 'draft' of the USPSA rules was published) is subject to a public apology on my part.

The statement is in two parts: first, that the USPSA version of the rule book was not available for USPSA member review until WELL after member contributions were officially accepted by the Board of Directors:

We didn't HAVE a USPSA "proposed rules ... published ..." until last week. The FIRST word that a version of the USPSA rules was from Gary Stephens, on this list, at 5/18/04 5:47:55 AM Pacific Daylight Time. At least, this was the first notice I received, on The Unofficial IPSC list. And since the rules in that PDF file was, in part, time-stamped 5/17/2004, I sincerely doubt that any rules were provided to the general membership much before that date.
The second statement was, in support of the first, an offer to apoligise if I was proved to be wrong:
..., if I am wrong and the rules were presented in ANY forum accepted to the general membership, please let me know and I will publicly apologize ... on whatever venue (available to the general USPSA membership) it was published.
I had attempted (later in the dialogue) to accept supposition and unsupported opinion as 'proof', but since I haven't yet received any proof in the form of a URL, I'm still not convinced. So it's difficult for me to present a sincere apology.

Do you see where I'm going here?

Well, never mind the details. The consequence of this is that I ended up looking like a dork, but (my intrinsic dorkiness aside) the original premise has yet to be proven to be unfounded. Being right isn't much, but sometimes that's all you get.

The other thread had also to do with the way the USPSA rules were reviewed before acceptance, but this time it referred to the way that the proposed were evaluated by the USPSA Board of Directors.

The original contributor suggested that "wouldn't it be great" if the rules could be updated without all this bickering.
I replied that the USPSA rules evaluation process was flawed, and the reasons (see the thread, if it matters) indicated to me that we should have a better process in USPSA for changing the competitve rules.

As point and conterpoint, the cycle of accusation and rebuttal continues, I find myself wondering once again whether I am a Jerk or a Dork. I'm not sure what the difference is, but I do know that it doesn't really bother me very much.

I know the facts, and I have access to a place where I can present them and stand back while the vituperative rebuttal pours in. I like that. A 'forum' implies that more than one voice will be heard, and any statement is subject to being picked apart and being regurgitated in a form which I would never have imagined if I had just been talking to myself (as I am here.)

The really BEST part of it is that I happen to like the guy who gives me the most grief on the forum. He's smart, he's a bulldog when it comes to defending his position, and although I rarely agree with him I admire the way he presents a solid wall of ... whatever. Whatever it is he presents, he makes me THINK about what I've said, and the reasons why (1) I think that way, and (2) the way I said it.

And, although he's from the other side of the world, I happen to have met him in person and got to spend several hours in his company. We argued the issues over pizza and beer, which is a MUCH better way to argue than over the stinkin' internet. (Discussions through writing is like discussions over the phone: you don't get the body language that helps you understand what the other person really thinks, or feels, or is trying to say even though his words may not be as precise as he may think they are.)

Any verbal exchange is flawed without non-verbal clues. A lot of the vehemence displayed in the cited threads is due to a break-down in communications. I have no doubt that another pizza, and several more beers, would serve admirably to resolve the differences between us. Oh, the differences would remain. But I suspect that although we probably wouldn't end up with any kind of agreement, the rancor would have been avoided.

In the meantime, I will continue to post my thoughts here because ... well, because I can, even though it seems somehow mastubatory.

I will continue to post my thoughts on forums, because at least then I'm the recipient of some feedback, it allows me to reconsider my position in the light of feedback which is (perhaps, and hopefully) not "null-value".

However, it would be nice if my friend would understand that I am always right, and he is always wrong.

Or is it the other way around?

Stay tuned.

UPDATE 22-DEC-2004
My friend has replied with great indignation and in what I belief is sometimes known as "a state of high dudgeon"

Personally curious, I looked up the word in GuruNet:

dudg·eon1 (dŭj'ən) pronunciation

A sullen, angry, or indignant humor: “Slamming the door in Meg's face, Aunt March drove off in high dudgeon” (Louisa May Alcott).

[Origin unknown.]

dudg·eon2 (dŭj'ən) pronunciation
  1. Obsolete. A kind of wood used in making knife handles.
  2. Archaic.
    1. A dagger with a hilt made of this wood.
    2. The hilt of a dagger.

[Middle English dogeon, possibly from Anglo-Norman.]

Well, I'm not quite sure what to make of that, or even which definition should be implied. But I digress.

The friendly-but-indignant response to my original post ended with the wish:

In closing, may your turkey be tender, your eggnog exhilarating and your moments under the mistletoe mushy.
I suppose it would be funny Bad Just Plain Wrong insensitive for me to suggest:
"Here's a Bounty, clean it up."