Monday, November 13, 2006

Bad Plates

According to USPSA/IPSC rules, plates must be set up so that a scoring hit will 'knock down' the plate.

Text Box: January 2004 Edition Rule Book • 87

A small block of wood (indicated by dark shading above), approximately 2cm x 2cm, and about the same width as the plate, should be affixed in front of the base of the plate, to help prevent the plate from turning sideways when shot.

Unfortunately, in club matches, this rule may sometimes be abrogated during set-up because of accident or because the people setting up the stage just don't understand the rules (or don't understand the reasons why some sort of 'baffle' is included in the plate stand.)

Here we see a situation where the host club has used bolt/nut combinations in the plate stand to establish a mechanism which is intended to stop a plate from turning sideways when shot.

The stage procedure is to start sitting in a (very comfortable) chair with unloaded pistol and all magazines on a low table in front of the shooter. On the start signal, pick up & load the pistol, then engage two IPSC targets, two 10" plates, and two US Popper on one side of the stage. Then make a mandatory reload, engage a mirror-arrangement of IPSC targets, plates and US poppers on the other side. The average (Median?) stage time was about 20 seconds.

The plate stands are set up backwards, so instead of serving the intended purpose, they prevent the plate from falling when hit with a low (but legal) 'hit'.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usHere's what it looks like, from the target point-of-view. Note that the impediments (the nuts) would have worked well to insure that the plate is always set to present the same aspect to the shooter. Instead, rather than preventing the plate from "turning sideways when shot", it actually serves to INSURE that the plate turns sideways when shot, and prevents the plate from falling, when it is hit low (so that reaction is prevented by the bracing nut/bolt combination).

During the match, in a single squad we witnessed four incidences of the plate setup acting as a detriment to the competitor being awarded credit for the first-round hit.

In the first incident, Doug (not pictured) hit the second of four plates low, with a hit which would have obviously knocked down the plate. Doug did not contest the Range Equipment Failure, but instead continued to engage the plate until it fell from the plate stand. This increased his stage time by two or three seconds.

In the second incident (not pictured), SWMBO likewise struck a plate "low", and continued without protest to engage the other targets on the stage. However, after completing the stage she protested the Range Equipment Failure and was granted a reshoot.

In the third and fourth incidents, during SWMBO's reshoot she hit the 2nd plate low and turned it, but continued to engage the plate and knocked it down with the next shot. However, on the fourth plate she again hit it low which caused it to turn over thirty degrees so that the aspect presented was a target which was only 3 or 4 inches wide, rather than the original ten inches wide. She shot four more times until she was able to knock the plate down.

Her choice was to accept the stage time, which was at least 8 seconds longer (on a 20-second stage) than should have been necessary to clear the stage. The alternative was to accept ANOTHER reshoot due to Range Equipment Failure, and as this was the last stage of the day it was a Hobson's Choice.

Here's how it looked in the actual event.

The stage should have been corrected when the first squad shot it. Because it was a "Club Match", the stage wasn't tested and the error wasn't noticed until the last squad shot it. Consequently, the scores ... however erroneous ... were allowed to stand.

Note that your host (Jerry the Geek) DQ's due to an AD on that stage.

RO Question: If the stage results had been discounted ... if the stage had been 'thrown out' ... would the DQ have been allowed to stand?

Interesting question. There is no real reason to champion one opinion (allow the DQ and the stage to count) over the other opinion (disallow stage points to count as match points, disallow the DQ and allow the Geek match scores to count) because the match had no significant meaning.

However, if it was a Major Match such as the USPSA National Match, I wonder how the Arbitration Board would have ruled?

What do YOU think?

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