Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Fish Bait

One of my shooting friends, a member of The Usual Suspects, is a little dissatisfied with the flack he has to take on a semi-regular basis.

Why is he criticized?

He's altitudenally challenged
diminuetively statured
just a meter less than eight feet tall


He's short.

Not tall.


The reason this came up in discussion is, we both attended an IPSC match at Dundee last weekend, and one of the stages (Bay 1) featured a close-array of IPSC targets which were protected by a four-foot vision barrier which had been designated as 'hard cover'.
This was an issue because ... no, I'll let him tell it in his own words:

Put a 4-foot wall in front of a 5'2" shooter and hide targets down behind it and I'll ask for a step up every time. I shouldn't have to hang over a wall up to my armpits to shoot targets. That does not present the same challenge to all shooters as should be the case.
Let me see:
Five Foot Two figures out to 62 inches. Subtract four feet (48") from that, and you have 14 inches 'overhang'. I haven't done the math in detail, but since I'm 6' tall (72") this is roughly equivalent to requiring me to hang my frame over a five-foot fence. Because the targets were within three feet of the barrier, a shorter person has to hang his entire upper-body, from armpits up, over the barrier in order to get a clear shot at the targets. My armpits are 57" from the ground, which is 4'9". Fish's armpits are approximately 11" lower than mine, which means that he can easily address targets behind a (4'9" minus 11" = 3'10") vision barrier which is two inches shorter ... but NOT one that is 4' high!

Okay, my math may suck and you think that I'm making a mountain out of a mole-hill, but the fact remains that a target array which is easily and comfortably available for me is neither for Fish.

In point of fact, it is similarly uncomfortable for juniors and lady shooters who of similar stature.

What, aren't we trying (in IPSC and USPSA) to encourage these 'minority groups' to compete?
If so, why aren't we trying to encourage them?


In the actual event, Fish requested a 'step-box' which would allow him to achieve the height necessary to compete at the same level of his taller bretheren. Nobody helped him on this ... he's a man, he can deal with his own problems ... but he showed up when it was his turn to shoot the stage with part of a vision barrier build on a 2x4 frame with what was effectively a 2'x3' shooting platform (board) on top of it. He placed this in front of the tall barrier, and turned in a respectable time on the stage.

If he hadn't been able to find his own 'step-box', which allowed him to engage the target array with the same height advantage which most of us enjoyed, he would have found himself at a considerable DIS-advantage. His score for the stage would have suffered accordingly.

Here's the bottom line:

If you are the stage designer for a match, you owe it to your CUSTOMER BASE to make sure that there is no significant advantage in being "tall". By "tall", I'm talking about, say, five and a half feet from ground to pate.

The reason that the vision barrier was 4' tall, is that it's easy to build a vision barrier by cutting an 8' support stick in half. I don't think that there was a conscious effort to make the barrier 'too high' for people who aren't tall. I believe that it was an oversight. A convenience to the setup crew.

But when a shooter has to drag a platform onto a stage just to let him shoot the stage without incurring a disadvantage, two things happen:
(1) He makes a big disruption to the stage and within the squad,
(2) some folks think he's a dork because ... well, because they're dorks and the only way they can understanding THEIR shortcomings is to make a big deal out of the other guy's shortcomings.

So to speak. (I've already decided that there is no way to avoid the word "short" in this blog, so I'm not even going to try. So much for Politically Correct speech, which is just another way of saying "You're DIFFERENT from us, and we're going to rub your nose in it by SEEMING to avoid the word.")

The bottom line is, if you're a stage designer and you want to put up a 'low wall' on your stage ... how about avoiding the four-foot wall? Do your friends a favor and make it a 3.5 feet tall instead.

How hard is that?


BTW, Fish send me this link, which purports to represent grafitti found on a concrete support column near the 2005 USPSA Nationals "Off I-72). I haven't bothered to follow up the Thread on the source (the Brian Enos Forum), but I'm inclined to believe it if only because it perfectly illustrates the informal rivalry between Limited and Open-Gun users.


The Hobo Brasser said...

The (very formal) graffiti shown in the photo was obviously written by someone who has not yet experienced the lost of near vision which is inevitable with age (and wisdom).

Anonymous said...

Your friend needs to bring up the height isse during the walk through and ask to be allowed to shoot around.

If he's already doing this and they're turning him down,he can appeal to the National and if they turn him down, well, I guess he's screwed.

What is the proceedure for junior classes? Surely not all of them are six footers?


Jerry The Geek said...

you're right, and you're wrong.
My friend needs to bring the issue up during the walkthrough ... and he usually does. The result is always "we'll provide you with a platform to shoot from". I guess this time he just decided to forege the formalities and find his own platform. I can't answer for him, but your advice is the correct way for a competitor to deal with the problem.

Not to belabor the point, but this isn't the first time he has encountered stages with height requirements. (And I wish he would add his own comments here, I feel like a defense attorney and that is not my preference.)

However, these 'club matches' are pretty much free form. There's no such thing as taking it to a national authority, unless the match is rated above the purely local level. Sure, you could do it, but it's not the kind of question they prefer to address. It'll be kicked back down to the local ("Section") level anyway, and that's where it is now.

You're right again to address the question of "what do the Juniors do?" You could alter that to "what do the ladies do?", and still be hitting the ball out of the park with every swing. Shooting over a barrier is a potential problem for anyone who isn't tall enough to conveniently reach over the barrier.

Which is why I brought up the question in the first place.

(Note: The Area 1 USPSA match a couple of weeks ago featured at least one stage with the same kind of inequitable restrictions. This is not a purely local phenomenon.)

I wasn't trying to bring up any Politically Correct "Inclusiveness" or "Diversity" issues. I just wanted to remind the folks who design and build stages for competition that there might be a blind-spot in their playbook which ignores the physical limitations of people who can't readily reach OVER a barrier.

Mr Completely provided (not here) an alternative suggestion:
"If I was him I'd be lobbying for at least one situation where you had to shoot under something rather than over it, and thus turn the tables...... "

Actually, this shooting problem WAS present in the stage. There was a target array which must be engaged from BELOW a vision barrier, and then this array which was to be engaged from ABOVE a barrier. It seemed well-balanced during the walkthrough, and it wasn't until we actually started shooting the stage that the problem became evident.