Tuesday, July 24, 2007

CCS Day 2, Stage 4+

One of the more interesting things about the 2007 Columbia Cascade Section Match was the distribution of stages. It may appear to be imbalanced, but that's not the way it worked out.

Here's how the round-count for the twelve stages worked out:

Stage 1: Vegas Windows ........ 16
Stage 2: For Gun Chick ......... 22
Stage 3: Steel on Shoulder ...... 9
Stage 4.1: Miami Smokin' Fast ... 8
Stage 4.2: Steely Speed in NY ..... 6
Stage 4.3: LVPD Peekaboo ......... 8
Stage 5: Stars over NY ........... 32
Stage 6: Hose Vegas ............... 32
Stage 7: Grisom's Special ...... 32
Stage 8: Miniature - Not ........ 32
Stage 9: From Here or There . 32
Stage 10: In The Glades ........ 32

I'm pleased by the stage names ... can you tell that the stage designer was a LEO? He has included a lot of references to American cities, which give something of a cosmopolitan flavor to the match.

But he's got a lot of 32 round stages on one side of the range, a couple of medium-length stages in the middle, and a slew of short stages over here.

The good thing about putting all of the hi-round-count stages together is that once you get into the 'slow-track', everybody completes the stages at about the same speed. Assuming the squads are all about the same size.

I didn't see a lot of squads waiting for the stages to clear,. I can say that we were a short squad (only 9 people, while the preceding squad had 12 shooters), so we were held up on almost all of the long stages except for the last one. This is probably going to happen on almost any match which includes a small squad following a significantly longer squad. Some of us didn't sign up for the match until a few days before it started, and in fairness it's difficult to balance squad sizes when you have to juggle squadding requests with late sign-ups.

Note that three of the 'short stages' were presented together in one bay. We were to shoot all three stages at one time. That is, a competitor shot stage 4.1, then moved over to shoot stage 4.2, and then completed 4.3. Finally, all three stages were scored (this was usually done as the stages were completed by each competitor, except the 4.3 included a 'hidden' target so the RO had to move downrange to see the hits) and then all targets were pasted, all steel reset. This didn't take up a lot of stage time, and the turnaround times were usually shorter for all three stages than for one 32-round stage.

This essentially turned the three short stages into one virtual long stage. That helped balance the match, and reduced the number of times squads were required to wait for preceding squads to clear a stage.

This could have been an absolute boondogle if the short stages in Bay 4 were presented as individual stages. However, the way it was set up Bay 4 acted as a buffer so that individual squads weren't fed into the first 32-round stage too fast. As a result, the match ran much more smoothly than one would expect.

Well, the squad that started on Stage 5 (32 rounds) and encountered six 32-round stages in a row experienced some wait time. I was on that squad, and we spent a lot of time waiting only because we were much smaller than the preceding squad. All in all, we never spent more than 20 minites waiting to get on a stage, and it wasn't really burdensome. Because of the muggy weather, we were often glad for the chance to sit and cool off, and watch the squad ahead of us. Sure, we were the last squad to leave the range on the first day of the match, but we were still out around 3pm and a six-hour day isn't abnormal for a club match in inclement weather.

I'm inclined to say that the match was deliberately organized to conform to the IPSC directive which suggests x-percent of long stages (stages 5 thru 10), y-percent of medium stages (Stages 1 and 2), and z-percent of short stages (Stage 3, and 4.1, 4.3 & 4.3). But while the match managed to feature a fair representation of all three stage types, I was surprised to observe that it actually worked out to the effect that nobody was delayed to the point that the shooting experience became cumbersome.

Well, some of us old guys got pretty tired before we finished our first day's work, but nobody was complaining. (I did my complaining a couple of days ago, and now I can reflect on the match to its credit.)

All in all, I have to say that Competition Director Chuck did an excellent job of balancing the stages to keep the flow of competitors flowing steadily from stage to stage. I didn't believe it at the time, but he gave us a lot of high-round-count stages without injecting a significant bottle-neck. Given the apparent imperative to provide a lot of high round count stages, that's a considerable accomplishment. I didn't realize this at the time, but the match was better balanced than one might reasonably expect.

So here's a heart-felt 'atta-boy', Chuck. You're as good at runnin matches as you are at compiling prize tables. No higher compliment can be offered.

And for those of us who still don't understand how three short stages can be productively presented in one bay, here's a look at the actual outcome of shooting 'Under Pressure".

(This movie is, of course, available at a higher resolution as a 20mb download from the gallery ... here.)

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