Wednesday, February 02, 2005

About Rules

One of the main reasons I started this blog last December is because ... well, because I Have Opinions.

I'm not too good at keeping opinions to myself, and sometimes I've been accused of being less than tactful about expressing my opinion. For the last 7+ years, I've had said what I thought on The Unofficial IPSC list when my thoughts turned to IPSC competition.

During the 2004 competitive season, I composed a large (and largely rambling) post to that list every Sunday night. I called the series of letters "Geek Musings", and while I didn't actually manage to post every week, I racked up a lot of 'bandwidth' , whatever that is. While this series managed to generate some interesting controversy, some people couldn't resist commenting that I was putting a LOT of fire downrange. I finally decided that I could speak my piece in another venue, so that if I wanted to refer to the subject on a mailing list I could just provide the link and anybody who didn't want to read a "Geek Length" opinion, they wouldn't have to follow the link.

This has worked fairly well for two months, and I've found that some of the subjects I wrote about in this blog have helped me formulate my thoughts so that I can use the IPSC list when I want a knowledgeable answer to a question. Conversely, some of the thoughts of people on the IPSC list have generated 'blog eat' which I can explore on posts to this blog.

As it happens, some very interesting things have been happening on the IPSC list lately, and I've been so focused on new 'rules' questions that I haven't been doing any blogging lately.

(There has also been a lot of Columbia Cascade Section [CCS] business which has taken much of my free time to address. I foolishly allowed myself to be talked into running for the office of Competition Director ... I ran unopposed, because nobody else was sufficiently naive and/or gullible to actually ASK for the job, so I was eventually elected ... and it turns out that there is a lot more administrative work involved than I had been led to expect. Perhaps I'll write more later about the things I've learned about the duties of Competition Director.)

Paul, a friend of mine, who is a CCS Board of Directors representative for the Dundee Club, has from time to time asked me questions about rules interpretation. He asks questions that would never occur to anyone else, and I have finally decided to refer to him as "The Unibomber" because I have learned to fear opening mail from him, lest it blow up in my face.

During the past couple of weeks, The Unibomber has asked two questions which I couldn't answer. They were so provocative that I took them to the IPSC list, to see if I could find someone who could provide an answer.

Wow! Was I surprised at the responses.

But let me walk through the questions, so you have some grasp of what I'm talking about.

The first question was in response to rule 1.2.1, which I had already mentioned here ... and again here.

9 shots from one location. Is that location a shooting box. What is it if it's the fault lined area at the end of a wall or prop. You have 2 or 3 feet of movement for shooting so is that more than one location. Or are we more going on the fact of can the targets be accessed from more than one location.
As I pondered the question, I realized that there were hidden implications in the 'general' rules for both Medium and Long courses of fire. Accordingly, I asked the IPSC List members questions bout the NEW clause which is included in both sub-rules:

"Course design must not ... allow a competitor to eliminate a location or a view in the course of fire by shooting at all available targets at an earlier location or view."
What is the definition of a location, or a view? The Glossary in the new 2004 rule book defines location as:

"A geographical place within a course of fire."
Okay, that's a start. So what constitutes a 'different' location. Do you have to shuffle your feet to another part of a shooting box? Do you have to move out of or into a shooting box? How big a step does a competitor have to take before he will be considered to have moved to a 'new' location, which is different from the 'earlier' location'?

And what is a "view"?

I couldn't find a definition in the rule book, so I arbitrarily decided that this would be a port, or around one side of a Bianci Barricade. There's no justification for this, this was just the most logical working definition I could envision. I had hoped that someone on The IPSC List would expand on this, or propose an alternative, but that didn't happen.

Then, The Unibomber struck again.

One stage that I was talking about was one we called Board Room. 6 targets around a table with 2 others off in the distance. One shot per target of the 6 around the table, reload, one shot again on the 6 around the table, reload and double tap the 2 distant targets. The mandatory reloads violate this stage more than anything but other than that you are standing in one spot in a shooting box with 8 targets. I take it this type of stage is now illegal because you are firing more than 9 rds from one location. This nice rule is going to make some of the short stages hard to do. Or am I getting confused and all mixed up.

This isn't a bad stage design, actually. The only problem is, it appears to not be a legal IPSC stage.

First, it requires 16 rounds to complete (6 + 6 + 4) so if it's a General Course (rule 1.2.1) it would be defined as a Medium Course (' ... no more than 16 rounds to complete ...") per rule

However, John Amidon (NROI Chairman and VP of USPSA) has provided an interpretation of rule 1.2.1 which essentially says that ... well, I'll just include his entire statement:

JA-What this means, and has been the case for several years, you cannot shoot all the shots from one location or view[:] prior to the change in the wording, IPSC only allowed 9 shots from one location or view[.] [T]this kind of contridicted free style, all it accomplished was to take the boxes off the ground and place them onto walls as ports. With the added language, they are allowing you to have more shots from one location or view, you just cannot shoot them all from one.
(Emphasis added.)

Okay, so we can't " shoot" all of the targets from one location ... is this necessarily A Good Thing?

Some folk on The Unofficial IPSC List suggested that this stage would be a Standard Exercise (rule, and therefore the "General Courses" clause wouldn't apply. Unfortunately, this stage doesn't feature 'strings' and therefore wouldn't be a Standard Exercise under rule 6.1.2.


What's the point?
While I had been voicing my confusion and my dissatisfaction with this NEW RULE during this discussion, I began to receive some unexpected negative responses to my temerity in raising the question at all.

Specifically, one European IPSC member suggested that I was being unreasonable in questioning the rules, and I'll address specific comments here (although I resisted the temptation to do so in the original forum):

I personally do think that you really should stop whining
about the new rules, but other than that, I recommend you
to read the rules 1.5.1 and its sub-paragraphs, which might
answer to your supposed question: "Level I and II matches
are not required to comply strictly with the ... round count
Okay, so according to this person I'm not legitimately asking for clarification; I'm whining. Well, that's an opinion, I can live with that.

However, it's not helpful.

Nor are the suggestions about rule 1.5.1, because
  1. it doesn't address the question about any stage which might be proposed for a Level III [national] match,
  2. the USPSA rule book only allows this 'not required to comply" clause in Level I matches, but does not exempt Level II [sectional] matches,
  3. this rule offers no guidelines on which "round count limitations" may be ignored, and
  4. the original question had very little to do with round count anyway.

Other than that, it was a lot of help.

Our Eurofriend continues:
Therefore, while the rule you so vehemently oppose
actually does not prohibit the application of the
stage you've described, but other rules do. However,
with a small modification the stage might be legal:
Actually, the rule which I "... so vehemently oppose ..." may invalidate the the stage which I described, but I'm not sure why this should be so. This was the reason I asked the question in the first place, yet this yahoo person chose to ignore that. Instead, he began to propose changes in the stage which "... might be legal ...". Amazing. He can't find a rule which might make a perfectly delightful stage (which was legal last year) legal this year, but he can imagine ways in which to change the stage to fit the rules.

Apparently, it will never occur to this mindset that there might possibly be something wrong with the change in the rules.

His final comment is perfectly typical:

When it comes to rules and their application on the stages, IMHO it's more productive to be inventive than crabby. But of course it might depend on thepersonal preferences, plus the definition of the words "crabby" and "inventive".
"IMHO", he says.
Well, there's nothing either humble or inventive about THAT opinion. What he's saying is that the rules are the rules, there's nothing you can do about them, so just take another big ol' bite out of the crow and STFU.

And that's the core of this entire discussion.

There are a lot of people in this world who allow themselves to be presented with "new rules", and accept them whole-heartedly and without reservation. As a consequence, the rules don't have to make sense; it's enough that they are the rules, they are official, and no discussion is either encouraged nor allowed.

On the other hand, there are people who are presented with "new rules" and ask: "WTF? What's this all about? What does it mean, why were they implemented, and how the heck are we suppose to try to make this work when it doesn't make any sense?

Neither group of people will EVER understand the other, because their backgrounds are not mutually compatible.

The EuroPeople don't understand why "We The People" object to the arbitrary imposition of nonsensical rules, rules which don't address any clearly defined problem but seem to have been enacted for no obvious purpose.

The other group can't understand how the EuroPeople can swallow this stuff and still maintain a "it's all right, everything is fine, just follow the rules and nobody will get hurt" attitude.

I think it's because the EuroPeople don't have "The Wizard Of Oz" as part of their cultural background. They don't react to a "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" situation.

This is exactly why the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) will never accept the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) rules without modification. In fact, it's the reason why USPSA should never accept IPSC rules unquestionably.

Those people just don't realize that they are "We the People".
They don't understand that saying "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" is an acceptable reaction.

You can't talk to the EuroPeople when the subject is The Rules.

I'm not going to even try.

I'll just feel sorry for them, when they try to expand the E.U. into a quasi-national body and then can't imagine why it isn't working.