Friday, November 25, 2005

Shooting Stars

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Tri County Gun Club presented a "Points Race" match featuring some of the most interesting and challenging stages we've seen at a club match for a long time. We weren't surprised that the stages were so innovative. Match Director Keith Tyler (double Master class in both Open and Limited 10) likes to shoot stages that test your skills, and all of the stages here do exactly that.

We like to encourage difficulty in Points Race matches, because these are the means by which the Columbia Cascade Section determines who wins the limited number of invitations to compete in the USPSA National Championships. Each section is allocated a few invitations, and if you win your class during the regular competitive year you are assured a slot at the Nationals. Sure, you still have to pay your entry fee, but you don't have to put your name on the waiting list.

Besides, it helps maintain the highest quality of competition, and the competitive energy, through-out the season.

There were so many great stages here, it's impossible to give you a good picture of them all, so I've chosen to demonstrate just one stage: "Find 'Em and Shoot 'Em".

This stage features a lot of movement, both static and disappearing IPSC targets, Pepper Poppers, US Poppers, steel plates and the Texas Star. You shoot on the move (if you can), shoot from a ramp, shoot from a raised platform, and through a port in a Bianchi Barricade.

I've chosen three competitors to portray. The run times vary from 30 to 40 seconds so the download Windows Movie Media files are set at 4mb on these. It's impossible to maintain the detail needed to see what's happening at lower resolution. The original movies are about 8 to 10 MB.

The first competitor is . . . me. The Geek does okay, except that at the exit end of the ramp/platform there are two Pepper Poppers downrange on the left. Geek shoot, hits, shoot ... HE MISSED! Caught off-balance, he had already stepped off the end of the ramp; but the rules say you have to engage the poppers from the ramp, making it necessary to back up again. Oops! Missed again. It took 3 shots to knock the last popper down.

The second competitor is SWMBO. She moved good, keep the pistol mounted so she could be ready to shoot as soon as she reached her chosen next firing point, and didn't waste much time on the poppers. She got a little behind the Texas Start, but did fine on the two plates. (One of the plates is hidden behind the Bianchi barricade so it's not obvious why all the shooters seemed to hesitate before engaging the Star. All three knocked down the left-hand plate before shooting the Star.)

The third competitor is Fish. He did a fine job on all the IPSC targets and poppers, credibly on the Star but rushed the last plate and wasted a couple of shots before knocking it down . . . much to his own chagrin.

A few notes about the videos:
I set these all to music with a heavy beat to emphasize the adrenalin rush you experience when shooting this kind of stage. I particularly like the Cajun beat of "Rave On", and I've been looking for a video segment that exactly matches the length and style of the film. Unfortunately, I've set the sound pretty high on the music, and it sometimes obscures the sound of the shots. Every competitor here got two hits on the disappearing IPSC target from the entry ramp, for example, but you can't hear when they are engaging it. And by the way, this is all LOUD music, so be prepared to be blasted when you play it because IPSC is a LOUD sport.

Also, I'm still experimenting with the best ways to film IPSC stages. Because this stage is set up very 'deep' (a long distance from the starting box to the last shooting position), I tried 3 different techniques: zoom the video so you can see the Star, leave it at normal magnification and shoot the whole stage from the starting position, and set it at normal and follow the shooter down the stage. This last technique provides a very bouncy point of view, so part of the time the camera is jiggling while I try to walk and film at the same time.

Be patient, I'll learn my craft eventually. I'm having fun filming, editing and presenting the videos.

Finally, someone commented that his computer couldn't find one of the videos presented in an earlier article. Sorry, I've checked all of the links before I publish and, when a problem is reported, I check them again. If you have problems finding a video, please email me directly (at the address listed at the bottom of the blog) and I'll see if I can help you find them.

As usual, these videos aren't exactly modem-friendly. Each 4MB video will take you several minutes to download at 56baud. If you're using an windows-based PC, be sure that your default viewer for WMV files is set for the Windows Media Player. If you're using a Mac . . . you're on your own. I don't know anything about Apple Computers. Anybody here using a Mac who can provide some helpful advice? If so, it would be helpful if you could include instructions in the COMMENTS section.

UPDATE: November 27, 2005

These movies, and some photos, are also available on Jerry the Geek's Photo Gallery in the album titled Shooting Stars.

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