Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Target Control

We're all aware of the ongoing "Gun Control" movement. That is, an organized effort (at levels from municipal to the United Nations) to deprive private citizens from owning, possessing and [gasp!] carrying firearms.

But how many of us are aware of "Target Control"?

Well, those of us who are members, however removed, of the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) are aware that some targets are just NOT acceptable to some individuals, some NGOs ("Non-Governmental Organizations"), and some governments.

As an example, there are governments in this sad world which WILL allow its citizens to shoot at paper targets ... reluctantly, and with many restrictions ... but will NOT allow its citizens to shoot at 'humanoid targets'. That is, any target which however vaguely represents the human profile.

And as a consequence, IPSC several years ago designed and published the design for a "Classic" target (left), which looks much like a stop sign, for use in countries where it is illegal to shoot at a "Metric" target (right), which looks much like a Human.

In point of fact, in IPSC it's not only a matter of human-shaped targets, it's also a matter of 'perceptions based on scale. There are two metal targets in common use at IPSC matches which have a vertically rectilinear shape with a circular extrusion in the top third of the target.

These are called "Pepper Poppers". They come in two sizes: large, and small. The small target (called the "US POPPER") was advocated to represent a (larger) Pepper Popper as it would be seen at a greater distance.

It's not "politically correct" to present the two sizes together on the same stage.


Because someone commented that it "looks like a momma and her children", and as soon as that comment became widely known, IPSC Management (either International, Regional or Local) began to make rules forbidding their consanguinity.

Or should that be "Propinquity". I often get these big words mixed up.

Apparently, IPSC Management doesn't know the difference, either.


Now that we have established the tendency of IPSC Management to concern itself with Political Correctness, let us discuss the legitimacy of the Texas Star.

I've recently been featuring a new variant on that target, which I have dubbed "The Evil Oregon Star". It's a shameless steal from "Some Other Folks", you can see the trail of controversy in recent posts and the link to the original design is found here, with due credit to the original post found at the Brian Enos Forum.

This design was noted by local mad-man Evil Bill, who immediately set out to build his own version. It was featured in an article here called Evil Bill's Oregon Star, featuring a YouTube video of ten seconds duration.

I checked my blogstats the day after that article was posted. In the first 24 hours, I had over 600 hits on that article as the entry point. Over 520 of those entries came from a forum called Canadian Gun Nutz (registration required) under the title " The most Evil IPSC traget array to date" (sic).

In a word, IPSC people are "interested" in a new, challenging target.

Please don't assume that ANY of the following comments are intended as a reflection on the members of this forum. I've been a member of this forum since January, 2005, and while I haven't been a regular 'contributing' participant I have enjoyed 'lurking' until the discussion focused on this article which I posted in my own blog.

Early comments mentioned favorably the challenge of shooting what is essentially a Texas Star, with a 'windmill' array tacked on the back with four paper targets ... rotating in the opposite direction.

Within 9 hours, someone posted a reference to "carnival" stages, which I assume is a slightly derogatory reference to stages which are not purely 'practical' in nature. (Give that I've been competing in IPSC matches since 1983, and in the intervening years I have watched the sport veer wildly from the original 'practical' stages such as the venerable "El President" stage, I can only assume that this term refers to any stage which looks more like a carnival shooting gallery than a representation of the scenario which a person might reasonably engage when, for example, meeting the President of a South American Country and his two bodyguards and having to engage each with two rounds and then inexplicably having to reload even though I may have started with a race-gun loaded with a 25-round magazine.)

I know, that parenthetical comment was a run-on sentence. I don't care. The artificial restrictions on run-on sentences are discouraged because they are difficult to read, and the goal of good writing is to be easy to read.

But it does illustrate the difference between good writing and good shooting. Good shooting is not suppose to be easy. Whether a stage is colorful, challenging or looks like a small-scale Ferris wheel doesn't necessarily detract from the value of the stage.

Here's the deal:

As the dialogue continued (over 50 posts so far), the tone of the conversation changed from a tentative awe at the complexity of the shooting problem to the question of whether this target array or, in fact, the TEXAS STAR was legally permissible according to IPSC.

I posted to the forum, and mentioned my surprise that someone may question the acceptability of the Texas Star as a legal target. The first response:

"No suggestion. Fact. Try and submit a match with it to IPSC (NOT USPSA) for approval. You'll find out pretty quick.

USPSA picks and chooses which IPSC rules they want to use; so in the US, you're probably GTG."
My reply was a request for someone -- anyone -- to cite the rules by which IPSC had made this determination.

The next day, the only response I had received was:

There was a big discussion about this on the IPSC World forum. Vince Pinto had said that any L3 with a Texas Star would not be sanctioned.
I suggested that the source was not as definitive as a citation to the rule book, and subsequent responses indicated that they were not acceptable in Level III matches. Eventually someone stated:
I just received the word from our section coordinator. No t-star in any match above level 1 ( He just received the official notification) So the t-star must be pulled from the match.

Another member replied:
I'll double check my email when I get to work in the morning...but I'm pretty sure Level 1's would be out as well (any IPSC sanctioned match)
At this point (five days after the original post), nobody has been able to cite a rule which would ban the Texas Star (let alone the Evil Oregon Star) from IPSC competition.

You've got to question whether this is just local/section level decisions based on 'expectations', or whether someone is talking to IPSC Management. I know that's the big question in MY mind.

So I'm signing on to the IPSC Forum to see if I can find some reference to Texas Star.

I find "The Official IPSC Forum" is called "Global Village" with the URL of http://ipsc.invisionzone.com/

The progenitor of this forum?

Vince Pinto.

Here is the sequence of "authoritative" comments from The Official IPSC Forum. The topic:

Texas Star, Can I Use It In Level III Competition: (Registration Required)

When looking through some stage designes (sic)I have often come accross (sic) a target called Texas star. As I have never seen it in our region I would like to know something more about it.For example what is it like,how does it react when hit,is it still or moving,how can I construct such one ?

Source: Velilzar, 4 Apr 2006
  • Nobody Important, from Bulgaria

Response from An Authoritative Source (IPSC Canada):
I understand that Texas Stars can be great fun to shoot.

However, they are unlikely to be approved for IPSC matches because they are more of a gimmick than a true IPSC "practical" target.

Certainly as the IPSC Shotgun Course Reviewer I wouldn't approve a stage that included a Texas Star.

If you want want a Texas Star for fun shoots at your club I'm sure you will get some useful feedback from other members.
Source: Neil Beverly - 4 Apr, 2006
  • IPSC Shotgun Rules Chairman
  • Resident of "UK"
  • IPSC President's Council
  • IROA Executive Committee
  • USPSA member
  • ... and other citations

I urge you, especially being a new Region, not to bother spending time and money making a Texas Star. Some people might think it's fun to shoot but, as Neil Beverley has already cautioned, you won't get IPSC Level III or higher sanctioning for any match which includes a Texas Star, because it's considered to be a "carnival" prop.
Vince Pinto, 6 APR 2006, responding to an IPSC member from Bulgaria
  • IPSC Secretary
I can assure you swingers and gravity turners are found at Level III + Matches .. WSXIV had an assortment of movers, single swingers, double swingers, gravity turners ..

I shot a Level III Match in Feb, which had a total of 24 Swingers in 12 stages ..

In the context of an IPSC Stage, what does the Texas Star simulate ?
Kevin, 7 Apr., 2006
  • Nobody special, just Member #63 from Singapore
Hey Kevin,

Did you notice how the Texas Star is being defended by ....... Texans?

Of course they're also responsible for the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, so I guess they're not all crazy! Must only be the ones from Austin & Houston?
Source: Vince Pinto, 7 Apr. 2006
  • IPSC Secretary, from Hong Kong
Well, that was edifying. I didn't see any rules or 'interpretations' being cited. I must have read through it too fast, so if you found a citation I would be grateful if you would post it in the COMMENTS section.

Here's another thread from the Official IPSC Forum, only coincidentally started on 10 APR. 2006:

What makes a "Legal" target array?

The question put before this bunch of stalwart and true gentleman and gentlewomen is this:

What makes a legal target array?

In another thread the question was raised, but not answered beyond the famous American politician quote about pornography ("...I will know it when I see it").

Some think that a target array has to be "practical" (vice "carnival") to be legal. However, there is no definition of "practical" (or "carnival") target arrays to be found in the rule book. Either the one half the world's shooters use, or the amended one that the other half of the world's shooters use (sic)
Source: Alex, 20 APR 2006
  • Nobody (apparently) important. Sorry ... Important! (From Ankara, Turkey)
.....the moderators edit fast around here. ninja.<span class=gif" border="0">

I thought Alex had a good question before his post was cut to 1/10 of what he wrote.

My reply to this thread is below as this issue has been bubbling for a while and I am no nearer understanding it.

I am sure I will be the unfortunate victim of some more swift moderating tongue.<span class=gif" border="0">


I think I am just as confused as some others here to be honest about what EXACTLY is an IPSC suitable way of thinking, as compared to one that would not be in the 'SPIRIT' of IPSC. This is not written down or taught anywhere. We hear from our well informed and experianced (sic) Moderators as to their views, but without this being documented its very hard trying to gauge the mentality or the methodology behind this ethos.

On one hand IPSC is trying to distance itself away from non PC self defence scenarios but on the other hand phrases are used where we are trying to still use this basis: hence I am confused.
Source: Mike, 10 APR 2006
  • Nobody "Important" (from UK)

The thread was closed because the IPSC Secretary stated the official IPSC policy in respect of the Texas Star, namely that proposing use of such a target will cause Level III or higher sanctioning to be denied, and a further statement was made explaining the procedure necessary for that policy to be reversed.

If you (or anybody else, for that matter) think the subject target is so fascinating, you're free to use it to your heart's content, but IPSC is also free to deny any application for Level III sanctioning. By the same token, if you want to host a match requiring that blackpowder (sic) guns be used exclusively, you're also free to do so, but that match will also be denied IPSC sanctioning.

Bottom line: Your "rights" do not trump IPSC's "rights".
Source: Vince Pinto, 11 APR 2006
  • IPSC Secretary

Wait a minute, Vince Pinto (in his capacity as Official IPSC World Forum Moderator) quoted Vince Pinto (in his capacity as Official IPSC Secretary) as his justification for closing the thread.

Can he do that?

Well, I guess so.

Vince Pinto apparently not only owns the OFFICIAL IPSC World Forum, but also owns IPSC. It's his Forum, it's his International Practical Shooting Confederation, and it's his Big Dick. He can do anything he wants.

Three words immediately occur:
  1. Arbitrary
  2. Unilateral
  3. Autocratic
Okay, Canadian Gun Nutz, here's the challenge. Who are you going to believe? Vince Pinto (who seems to consider his own opinion and office all the authority he needs), or the Official Rule Book (which was written by ... Vince Pinto)?

Even Vinny can't find a rule which will support his position, but still he seems comfortable with Rule by Fiat.

Dare we mention that he can't even agree with himself?

Vinny, my dear friend ... it isn't easy being you, is it?


Note: I offer my most abject apologies for not having noticed this situation earlier. I'm not doing my job. Fact is, I have avoided The Official IPSC World Forum for YEARS, because it is the love child of ... Vince Pinto.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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