Friday, August 24, 2007

Tasco PP1

Do YOU own an obsolete Electronic Red-Dot sight?

If not, you may not be aware of the angst which accompanies the lack of documentation.

I received an email tonite:
I was looking at your site and noticed that you have an early model pro-point on one of your rifles. I have the same model scope on my Rem 7615 and it was working really well until I lost the battery (Took it our for storage) Anyway no one seems to be able to tell me what batttery the scope takes. I was wondering if you could help.
Mick from Melbourne

I replied:
As nearly as I can tell (I have the box around here somewhere, but I'm too lazy to trash the garage to find it), the scope is a PP1.

It uses two batteries, and they're different!

The first battery is an "LR50". I can't tell you the manufacturer offhand, but the one I have is made in China. Isn't everything? It's about 7/16" in diameter and 5/8" long. (All dimensions are estimates.)

The second battery is designated "LR52". Same diameter, but the OAL is less than the diameter. I would guess 3/8".

I can't give you the voltage (or wattage, ohms or whatever) and I don't know if it matters how you stack them ... I suspect not. I have been putting the longer LR50 in first (flat/positive side 'down') and the shorter LR52 on top (also flat/positive side down.)
I have just tested this by inserting the batteries in the opposite order. That is, I put the short (LR52) in first, then the long (LR50) on top. I couldn't get the dot to work. That may be because I messed up the very simple test, or else it may honestly indicate that it matters which battery you insert first.

I removed the batteries and put the LR50 in first and the LR52 on top, and the red dot was visible when I turned the scope on.

My conclusion is that it may NOT make a difference, but I can definitely say that if you put the long battery in first and the short battery in on top, the scope should work.

Just in case you were wondering ...

UPDATE: 26-AUG-2007
According to The Hobo Brasser, his Pro Points (obviously newer than my PP1) use the CR2032 battery. I'm thinking this is the same as the battery used by the OK Sight, which means it's about the size and shape of an American quarter.

I know, this description may be of limited value to Mick in Australia.

Just Lucky, I Guess

New t-shirt slogan:

Thank Goodness, I Was Born Before Roe v. Wade

Think about it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

USPSA 2008 Rule Book: General Observations 2

Continuing with the Geek Stream-Of-Consciousness commentary on the new USPSA rule book, I believe we left off with Chapter 3.

The next stop is --

Chapter 4: Range Equipment
The most prominent 'new thing' here is:
4.2.5 Hard cover (and overlapping no-shoots) must not hide the highest scoring zone(s) on a partially hidden target. The minimum requirements are specified in Appendix B
The previous version of rule 4.2.5 included: At least 50% of the highest-scoring zone must be available to all competitors from at least one location or view.

Appendix B refers to "Target Presentation" (and I have no idea why the illustrations use "Classic" targets, presumably this will be changed to feature 'Metric' targets.) One of the rules included in the 'forbidden actions' update is:

"At least 25% of the A-zone must remain visible around hardcover or overlapping no-shoots."
This, then, is the now notorious "25% Rule".

I find the organization of the rule to be cumbersome. Why is the 25% rule hidden in Appendix B? Again, we'll just have to wait and see, but I hope it is not too obscure to be widely recognized and acknowledged in all USPSA clubs.

Frankly, even the 50% version is new to me. My dying 'little grey cells' tell me that previous rules mandated that the highest-scoring zone must be completely visible, but that's a side issue and I won't bother to research it now. Perhaps later.

There is a question about WHICH A-zone must remain visible. If it is both A-zones, that's one thing. But if it's 25% of EITHER A-zone, we may find our self presented with only a 2" square in the middle of the B-zone to shoot at, which would be a travesty of fairness for competitors compelled to shoot minor power.

In "Approved Handgun Targets - Metal":
In passing, I note that rule refers to "poppers", and rule refers to "mini poppers". I believe these are what we previously referred to as "Pepper Poppers" and "USPSA Poppers", respectively.

Unfortunately, Rule refers to "Pepper Poppers and Classic Poppers".

This is obviously an oversight, and I'm sure the 'final final version' of this rule book will correct this minor deficiency.

Here's an interesting rule: Metal no-shoots must, if hit, be repainted after each competitor ends their attempt at the course of fire, failing which subsequent competitors must not be penalized for hits visible on their surface.
There is no provision for Level I matches here. However, with Metal scoring targets, Level I matches are not required to repaint between competitors.

Rule specifically allows the competitor "... to move stone, sand or other loose material at the starting position for the purposes of achieving level and stable footing."

Finally in this chapter, there's an expansion of previous rules:
4.6.1 Range equipment must present the challenge fairly and equitably to all competitors. Range equipment failure includes, the displacement of paper targets, the premature activation of metal or moving targets, the failure to reset moving targets or steel targets, the malfunction of mechanically or electrically operated equipment, and the failure of props such as openings, ports, and barriers.
That seems familiar, but this is new: The declaration and/or use of any loaded (see Rule 10.5.13) or unloaded firearm as "range equipment" is prohibited.
What this means, I think, is that if the host club provides a firearm for every competitor to use 'in common' ... if the gun don't work, you eat the penalties.

I've seen this in a club match, once or twice. Typically, it's a firearm which gets a lot of use with little or no maintenance between shooters and is subject to jams due to, if nothing else, powder fouling. Good idea to avoid this, I think, since it can kill your match score when the gun jams on you.

Chapter 5: Competitor Equipment

This chapter distinguishes between "Open Sights" and "Optical/Electronic Sights". The difference involves "... electronic circuitry and/or lenses".

I don't know whether a scope which uses magnifying lenses, such as (for example) a Burris 4x sight with no electronic circuitry (not a 'red dot') would be considered an "Open" or "Optical/Electronic" sight.

But I do think that a clearer definition is definitely in order here. Even though we don't see a lot of Burris 4x optical sights in Practical Pistol, we should bear in mind that these rules are the basis for Multigun competition rules.

It may save some future problems if USPSA could review this section and work to resolve the inherent confusion.

5.1.8 A competitor who substitutes or significantly modifies a handgun during a match without the prior approval of the Range Master will be subject to the provisions of Section 10.6.
Is this new? I don't recognize it. Regardless, this rule does require the competitor who needs to use a 'backup gun' (due to problems with the gun he started out with) to secure prior approval of the Range Master before switching guns. The consequences are an Unsportsmanlike Conduct Match Disqualification.

Chapter 6: Match Structure
There are no changes to the rules of particular interest to this summary.

I remind the reader that this commentary is not intended to be all-inclusive, nor to identify all changes in the competitive rules. The competitor is strongly encouraged to read the entire published version(s) of the USPSA 2008 Rules and familiarize himself with the differences between the current and the 'new' versions.

This is intended to be a logical extension of the article titled "USPSA 2008 Rule Book: General Observation".

USPSA 2008 Rule Book: General Observations 1

I started to take notes while reading through the 'final' (not 'final final') version of the new USPSA rules, but then Bill Noyes commented that he had created a version with the 'forbidden actions' already added.

That makes it so easy to read, I decided to just write a stream-of-consciousness commentary here, as I read through the 65-page document.

Chapter 1: Course Design
When you start reading the new rules, the FIRST thing you find (on page 2) is that the "Course Design" chapter begins with "General Principles of Course Design". Anybody who started shooting IPSC before the international rule book began to de-emphasize the Principles of Practical Shooting will recognize this section as an effective reiteration of the original Principles. This version segues neatly into rules regulating course design, but it marries the two concepts into a presentation which demonstrates that course design should, and can, evolve directly from the original Principles.

Chapter 2: Course Construction and Modification

'Minimum Distance' for engagement of steel targets is 23 feet (no more euro-centric meters!), with fault lines to be set at 26 feet so that a competitor who inadvertently faults the 26 foot line should not fault the 23 foot minimum distance. Rule 10.5.17 applies, which mandates a match DQ for 'unsafe gun handling' as a consequence of engaging steel targets within the minimum distance. That absolves us of the wishy-washy rules in the most recent rules which are not, to my mind, sufficient to make the point that SAFETY is the primary consideration.

The companion rule on 'Target Locations' reinforces the concept of SAFETY.

There is also an admonition to witness targets and place Pepper Poppers in such a way that they don't have to be repeatedly re-calibrated during the match as the base, for example sinks into the surface of the bay every time the heavy metal target hits the base. And one to place steel and cardboard targets so that there is not too much damage to the cardboard caused by 'splatter' from the steel. Not rules, just a helpful reminder.

A note for the vilifiers of the "Hanging Ninja" rule: Static 'Classic' targets may not be presented at an angle greater than 45 degrees from the vertical. No such restrictions on static 'Metric' target, thank you very much.

The oft-confusing rule about "Level I matches are not required to strictly abide by" some rules ... not identified ... has been reworded to, here, refer only to a rule that appearing targets must be obscured to the competitor prior to activation. Nicely done, USPSA!

In "Course Construction Criteria", the term "boundary lines" is replaced by "off-limits lines". Shooting Boxes and Fault Lines (but not 'charge lines') are still there, so we don't have to worry about what to call a line which restricts lateral or to-the-rear movement. "Off-limits lines" are waist-high and intended to keep the competitor (or other people on the stage) from wandering into an area where shots may be directed, if I understand this correctly.

As I mentioned in an earlier article, the egregious 'Fault Lines Extending Rearward' are still 'deemed to extend rearward to infinity'. This rule is, in my opinion, problematic. We'll just have to wait and see.

Here's a big improvement, a rule which cautions stage designers/construction teams from using shooting boxes at prone shooting positions. In the past, I've seen shooting boxes used at a location where the only way to engage the targets was in a prone position, and the shooting box was so small (8 feet long, 4 feet wide) that some competitors were penalized for a 'foot fault' when one foot flopped outside the box.

Worse, some Range Officers have been known to erroneously assign per-shot penalties for this foot fault, when it was obvious that no advantage was gained. It's still possible that a stage design might need a shooting box at a prone location, but perhaps they will all be big enough that big people can fit into them without overflowing. So to speak.

In Modifications to Course Construction, we see the direct reference to 'forbidden actions'. Essentially, a dangerous situation (or unfair competitive advantage) may be found to exist during the match. Rather than change the stage construction, this rule (2.3.11) allows the Range Master to 'explicitly forbid certain competitor actions'.

I've seen this in a recent club match where the competitor was required to climb up onto a railed platform to engage a target array. Some competitors climbed up on the railing to engage a second target array, rather than dismount the platform, run around to the side of the bay and engage the targets through a low port. This saved significant time on the stage, but was decidedly dangerous.

This rule is a useful and powerful tool to enforce SAFETY measures which competitors, in the heat of competition, are not always able to recognize.

In Safety Areas, we see that they must now be clearly identified by a sign. This is now a rule (albeit one without penalty) and will help avoid the confusion between a table which is provided to support range bags and a Safety Table. We see that at some ranges. Not all.

Also, Safety Areas must include 'boundaries'. One can only assume that this is a line on the ground which delineates the extent of the Safety Area. We often see people handling ammunition, for example, in the near proximity to a 'Safety Table'. The addition of 'boundaries' will be a small expense, and less small inconvenience, to host ranges. However, I think it's an idea which is long overdue.

This new rule book also includes another long overdue concept: an 'unloading/loading station'. This is an area where competitors or visitors who arrive at the range while carrying a loaded firearm (by virtue of a 'concealed handgun license' or other such license) may safely and legally unload their concealed firearm upon arrival, and re-load it prior to departure. In light of the now-wide spread state regulations allowing Concealed Carry, this allows free exercise of American 2nd Amendment rights. I am in hearty approval of this rule, and I hope that every range in America will promptly provide such facilities. Again, it is a new expense and may cause some grumbling by Range Administrators. Well, they will just have to catch up with the times, won't they.

Chapter 3: Course Information
New rule continues with the 'forbidden actions' definitions. If a competitor engages in a 'forbidden action', he will be required to reshoot the stage.

Here's a bit of confusing terminology:

"Subsequent violations by any competitor will be subject to the provisions of rule 10.2.11"

Rule 10.2.11: A competitor who commits a forbidden action (See rules 2.3.11 and 3.2.5) will be stopped immediately and receive a zero score for the stage. Flagrant or intentional violation may be subject to disqualification (see Rule 10.6)

[Geek NOTE: 10.6 is a Match DQ for 'Unsportsmanlike Conduct.]
I THINK I understand the intentions of Rule 3.2.5, but the verbiage is a little confusing and, perhaps, subject to mis-interpretation.

I THINK that what they are trying to say is, a repeated violation of the same 'forbidden action' by the same competitor is subject to the provisions of rule 10.2.11.

But that's not what it says. Let's look at the rule again:

"Subsequent violations by any competitor will be subject to the provisions of rule 10.2.11"

The actual verbiage suggests that, once a 'forbidden action' has been posted, if ANY competitor violates it, that constitutes the "I told you once, this is your final warning" condition for the entire match. After one person violates it, the next competitor who violates the 'forbidden action' ... even if it's another competitor ... they will be DQ'd.

Here's a suggested way of saying the same thing, and consistent with my first interpretation:

"A repeated violation of that 'forbidden action' by the same competitor will be subject to the provisions of rule 10.2.11"

That makes more sense to me, but it may NOT be the intention of the rule. Until we receive a clarification, your guess is as good as mine.

That's enough for one article. I'll continue summarizing in the
Geek General Observations 2.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Forbidden Actions: "Extend Rearward To Infinity"


I've had the "Forbidden Actions" addendum to the 2008 USPSA rules for, what, an hour? AlreadyI find that I have a serious problem with one of the new rules. Fault Lines extending rearward (uprange) (sic) should be a minimum of 3 feet in length, and unless otherwise stated in the written stage briefing, are deemed to extend rearward to infinity.
This is, admittedly, one of my hot buttons when it comes to stage design.

Here's the short version:

A fault line must consist of a physical barrier which is discernible (either visually or by touch) by the competitor. However, if the fault line ends sufficiently far downrange of the location from which the competitor is engaging targets, the competitor has not the ability to definitively determine whether he is to one side or the other of the virtual ("deemed to extend rearward to infinity") fault line.

And in all fairness, the Range Officer can't definitively determine whether the shooter's location is within the bounds of a 'legal shooting area', either.

So when a competitor does engage targets from far up range of the stub of a rearward-pointing fault line, the Range Officer finds himself in a quandary. Not only can the RO not prove that the competitor was engaging targets from an 'illegal' location, there is no reason to expect that the competitor can tell if he was shooting from an 'illegal location.

If the RO forces (under what justification?) the competitor to reshoot the stage, the competitor is completely justified in engaging the same targets from the same spot. In the case of an unrecalcitrant competitor who knows the rules, this could go on all day with no change until the competitor is forced to request arbitration in protest of the Range Officers arbitrary and unjustifiable imposition of multiple reshoots.

There is no scenario providing a mutually satisfactory result for both the competitor and the Range Officer.


The Long Version:

I've talked about the concept of a "fault line which is deemed to extend rearward to infinity" ( in excruciating detail) four times.

Most recently, on March 25, 2007, I discussed the folly of 'fault lines extending to infinity' in the context of the lack of a 'rear fault line' ... video included to shot the advantage of providing a rear fault line, or not.

A couple of weeks earlier, on March 8, 2007, I hosted a Guest Commentator (Stan P.) who demonstrated stage design/construction priorities which would 'idiot-proof' stages which might have required a rear fault line. This was in reference to the special case of requiring the competitor to shoot around a vision barrier. But Stan's article also offered suggestions on how to construct a stage so that it would be obvious when the competitor would 'violate' the fault line. Basically, Stan's theme was that sometimes you CAN rely on a 3' stub of wood to define a legal shooting area, but more often you need a more complete delineation of the legal shooting area.

A bit earlier than that, on March 5, 2007, I offered another Geek-Length article (complete with a video demonstration) explaining that a competitor, especially when shooting an Open Pistol for increased accuracy on medium-targets, may gain a competitive advantage when a rear fault line is not constructed on the stage.

In fact, my protests about this 'fuzzy rule' go back as far as January 24, 2005, when I described a stage which relied on 'fault lines deemed to extend rearward to infinity' in the context that when the competitor is standing FAR behind the end of the 3' stub of a rearward-extending fault line, it is something between 'difficult' and 'impossible' for a Range Officer to definitively state that the competitor is within, or not within, the virtual boundaries of a fault line which may end 20 feet away from the geographic location of the competitor as he engages targets not available from a huge area closer to the targets.



This is A Bad Rule. As long as match administrators (and stage construction teams) depend upon the "extends rearward to infinity" rule to justify the lazy way to build stage fault lines, that long will matches be delayed, and requests for arbitration be proliferated to the resulting frustration of all concerned.

I do understand the priorities for brevity in the rule book which results in this shorthand version of a reasonable rule. And I accept that in some situations it may be adequate and sufficient.

Unfortunately, the very existence of this rule is bound to cause delays in matches and dissatisfaction for competitors and Range Officers alike.

I've not been able to develop a rewarding of this rule which will be satisfactory in all situations. I suspect that an improvement on the rule is not possible.

Given that the rule is not subject to improvement, I suggest that it be deleted completely and match administrators allow themselves to be forced to clearly define all legal shooting positions.

Sure, it require more 'wood' to define a legal shooting area.

But it's more fair to both the competitors and the Range Officers.


USPSA 2008 Rules

Thanks to the USPSA Board of Directors (and with a hat tip to Bill Noyes on the USPSA Forum), we now have the 'final' copy of the 2008 USPSA Rule Book.

Please note that this is not the 'final final' version or (as Evil Bill terms it), the "final--no more changes---we are sending these to the printer NOW version of the 2008 rules."

It is 'merely' the version which was accepted by the USPSA Board of Directors during their online board meeting last week.

For a look at these minutes, you can go to the MEMBERS section of the USPSA website.

(Access to this part of the USPSA webside requires user ID and password, which is available only to USPSA members. You can find the common user ID and password on the first page of The Front Sight magazine, at the bottom of the center column.)

After you have logged into the MEMBERS section, you can click on the Board Meeting Minutes button on the left-hand frame, then click on On-Line Meeting Minutes in the resulting page.

Then select:

Meeting Minutes Details 8/08/07 12:00 AM8/18/07 11:59 PM

(no link is provided here to avoid publishing a link which may not be password protected)

The link to the HANDGUN RULES is embedded in the minutes.
I know, these instructions are sufficiently detailed, but confusing.

If you don't want to, or can't follow the trail described above, I've downloaded the 2008 USPSA Rule Book (August 10, 2007 version) here. It's 65 pages long. I've also downloaded the "forbidden actions" addendum here. It's only 2 pages long.

Both are downloads of PDF files, under 1mb in size. Clicking on the above links will perform the download. You can save the files to your computer for archival purposes, or just read them on your computer monitor.

Obviously, at least one more version of the rule book will be required to incorporate the "forbidden actions" section. As soon as I know about it, you'll know about it.

The rules will probably generate a lot of discussion, because there are one or two issues which were not directly addressed in the original draft (such as "the 25% rule".)

Also, the entire "forbidden actions" addendum is a working copy, which means it is full of color-coded, hi-lighted and/or strike-through phrases making it difficult to read, let alone difficult to understand.

I have just found and downloaded these two PDF documents this evening, so I haven't had time to look them over myself.

But I wanted to give you the same advantage of early review, so you can read them as I do.

If our previous experiences with new competition rule-book versions is a reliable guide, we'll have a lot to talk about in the near future.

UPDATE: 23 August, 2007

For those of you who don't read the comments, Bill Noyes has provided us with a link to his Georgia IPSC website where you can read the 2008 USPSA Rule Book with the "Forbidden Actions" changes already commented in. It's a nice (downloadable) PDF with a bookmarks sidebar which provides immediate access to each new clause.

You can get it at:

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wild Hogs

SWMBO and I rented Wild Hogs this weekend.

There was a particularly poignant scene there, when Del Fuegos captured Dudley and held him hostage.

Jack, the leader of the Del Fuegos, has Dudley and is laying down the conditions of surrender of the rest of the Wild Hogs. He wants them to pay him for the destruction of his family bar.

Jack: "If you don't pay the money, I'm going to break his legs with this tire iron"

Dudley: "No, don't pay the money! I'm a computer programmer, I don't need my legs."

Jack: "Okay, I'm going to break his hands."


Dudley: "Pay the money! Definitely, pay the money!"

Dudley is a programmer, and he's right. We need our hands.

USPSA Elections

USPSA members should be aware that we're electing a new President and several Area Directors this month. In fact, all members should have received a ballot in the mail recently.

What we may not be aware of is that there was a delay in delivering the mail. Here is the announcement from USPSA (available on the USPSA Member's webpage):

One (sic) the weekend of August 11-12 the USPSA Board of Directors learned that due to a vendor error, ballots for the 2007 Presidential and Area Director Elections were mailed using "standard" mail rather than first class as required by our bylaws. "Standard" is the postal service's new term for what was previously called "bulk"

USPSA hires a CPA firm to conduct the election, which in turn uses the services of a direct mailing firm for the actual mailing of the ballots. The use of "Standard" rather than "First Class" postage was an error on the part of the direct mail firm.

As a result, the board has acted to take the following actions:

  • All members, other than foreign members (whose original ballot was sent via first class mail) will receive a new ballot.
  • You may cast your vote with the original ballot or with the new ballot. If the accounting firm receives both, only the new ballot will be counted.
  • The deadline for all ballots is extended to October 1, 2007

So if you're panicking because (like me) you marked your ballot and then misplaced it ... relax, you still have six weeks most of September to find it.

Fortunately, my ballot only hid out for a week and I've already found and marked mine. However, if you absolutely can't find your ballot, or 'the dog ate it', my best advice would be to contact USPSA or your area director immediately to see about getting a replacement ballot.

Correction: not an option (see update at the bottom of this page.)

No, I don't know if there are procedures in place to compensate for your personal lapse in situational awareness, but I'm pretty sure it's easy to ask, and be known as a dork, than to not ask and feel like a dork.

Ummmm ... that may not have ended up sounding as helpful as I intended.

Here's some more advise: talk to your spouse, Significant Other, or whomever it is that influences you to be more than you than you are by yourself. I mentioned to SWMBO this weekend that my dog ate my ballot, and she reminded me that I don't have a dog. She made me go through my briefcase One More Time to be absolutely sure it wasn't in there. Sure enough, it was. My advise: seek help! It worked for me.

One thing I know for sure, is that my ballot is marked, the ballot stamped, and I'm putting it in the mail even as we speak.

Mike McCarter for President!

UPDATE: 26-AUG-2007
Per Dave Thomas of USPSA:
USPSA does *not* send replacement ballots to individuals as per 6.5.