Monday, June 04, 2007


You may recall from a previous article that "Pete" and "Re-Pete" (Mitch M. and Ramiro R.) from COSSA invited me to attend the IPSC Steel match at COSSA (Bend, Oregon) this weekend.

Since SWMBO was going to visit her sister. Jo, on Saturday at Jo's cabin just east of Sisters, Oregon, we decided that Jo's husband Bernie and I could go to the COSSA pistol match while SWMBO and Jo attended the "Health Fair" in Bend. In the actual event, Bernie chose to attend the Health Fair to get his aura read, so I went to the COSSA IPSC Steel match alone.

Turns out, it was a good choice for me.

As it happened, there were a number of "Psychics" at the Health Fair, and they were determined to tell the attendees what was wrong in their life. Since I already know what's wrong with my life (I'm not rich, not young, and not thin) this would have been a waste of time.

Note thatwhile the Psychics didn't offer to correct perceived deficiencies, they were more than happy to announce the deficiencies of everyone who came into their range. Frankly, I would rather be shot. Happily, that didn't happen at the COSSA Range.

IPSC Steel is essentially an IPSC match, except that all of the targets are steel with NO cardboard (eg: Metric or Classic) targets included in the stage designs.

The stages were generally designed 'on the fly', and the stage directions were not written down. Rather, they were entirely verbal and sounded like:

"Start here, shoot this target twice. Then run over here and shoot this target twice. Re-engage T1 through this port twice, shoot these two targets twice from here, then shoot them again through this port again, then shoot these three targets twice through this port and finish at this port by re-engaging this target twice. Round count: 24 rounds."

Note: do NOT do the math, it will only confuse you.

The stage designer was one of the 11 competitors, and there was usually some discussion before the match started about how to make the stages more interesting. Some of the stages were re-designed before the match started. Other stages were redesigned AFTER that match started, usually leading to more interesting stages.

If you haven't got the impression already, the stage designs were ad hoc and fluid, as was much of the range officiating. For example, I encountered some serious failure-to-feed problems on the first stage. After I shot two rounds and dumped three more on the ground, the consensus was that I should be allowed to correct my problems and reshoot the stage. While I was grateful, I also found this local ruling a little confusing.

Of course, I took full advantage of it.

The stages involved complex "shooting house" designs, with the addition of the type of targets which one usually encounters at "Speed Steel" matches. Essentially, they were either Pepper Poppers or round (or square) plates hanging from stands made of steel 'Rebar'.

The designs made full use of "shoot each target two times" philosophy, and most targets were re-engaged from several positions. This made it sort of a "Memory Match", but there was a decided advantage in that it was easy to set up (eight targets were the only elements in a 24-round stage) and easy to take down.

The host club actually set up only 3 stages. After all had been shot, they decided which seemed the most interesting and changed them slightly by moving (or removing) a few targets, and shot those stages again.

Scoring was similarly odd: a target which was not engaged was deemed to add 3 seconds to the competitor's time. Or else FTE and miss penalties were assigned ... I never understood what criteria were used to determine which penalty system was used for each stage, but I think the match administrators used whatever techniques 'felt right' for each stage.

Note that I'm not being critical. Nobody seemed to care any more than I did what scoring penalties structure was imposed on any given stage. Everybody who showed up was obviously there to celebrate a sunny early-Summer Saturday on The Range.

I already knew Mitch and Ramiro, having met them last weekend at Dundee. And I knew GM Scott Sprenger from many previous matches. I had met Brad some years ago, before he suffered a grevious injury from having a horse fall on him (ligament damage had been 'largely' repaired, but he wore a brace on his leg anyway ... and kicked my ass score-wise!) and I met his son, JD, who was teen-ager quiet but intense, man.

Other competitors included "Drive-By Don" and "180" (who lived up to his reputation), Mike who worked most stages as RO, and Jason of the Funny Hat. There were also a few other players whose names I failed to record. It doesn't really matter, because everyone was there for the fun of shooting, and we all had fun.

Unfortunately, I had a bad lot of ammunition (curses to my reloader, who turned out to me ... me!) so I came in Second Open. Ramiro came in Next To Last Open.

There were only two Open shooters ... okay to do the math this time.

I took a lot of pictures, and some videos. When I explained to Mitch that it was a drag to take a lot of videos at a match because it prevented me from actually enjoying the match ... it tends to interfere with talking to people ... Mitch generously offered to film severl competitors for me. With some hesitation, I accepted his generous offer. Some of the segments you will see below were filmed by me, but most of them (the best ones) were filmed by Mitch.

Thanks, Mitch!

The included match segments are selected at random, generally, but they're all typical of an IPSC Steel match. Most significantly (t0 me), Ramiro mentioned before the match began that an Open shooter has a disadvantage. The report of the pistol is so loud that in combination with Electronic ear muffs it's difficult to tell whether you have hit both shots on a given steel target. I as inclined to poo-poo his petty criticism, until I shot a couple of stages. While I rely on my ability to 'call the shot', in the confusion I found myself unable to reliably do so and thus I took a LOT of extra shots. I'm convinced that the extra shots were necessary, because somehow when you are 'clanging steel' you can't always tell what targets you have hit with which shot, or even (sometimes) how many times you have shot at it.

This is an extremely challenging variation on IPSC competition. If you haven't tried it yet, I encourage you to get together with a dozen of your closest IPSC friends and play with some stage designs.

I'm pretty sure you will embarass yourself almost as thoroughly as I did last Saturday.

No comments: