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Graham Smith

Avoiding 180 Problems

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It's long been the practice of our club (Southern Chester County, PA) to make use of barriers and no-shoots to keep shooters from going past targets then breaking the 180 to engage them. Sometimes this is not that difficult to do and other times it's a royal PITA resulting in a proliferation of no-shoots.

I've shot other matches where targets are not protected in this manner and where it's simply up to the shooter to watch what they are doing. And, as far as I am aware, there's no specific rule that requires anything like this be done.

My question is, how do others feel about this? How far do you go in an effort to keep the shooter from accidentally breaking the 180?

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I think from a designer stand-point, there are things you can do to help protect against the 180 infraction. Barricades and no-shoots are helpful, but ultimately it comes down to the shooter knowing where the 180 is in relation to their position and the targets as they shoot a COF. Shooters and ROs alike should be well aware of where the 180 line is on any COF and if there is confusion, the MD is always a shout away. Help shooters, yes, but don't make them dependent on prop/no-shoot support because one day they may not be there.

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I personally don't care for stage design that "saves" the shooter from making a mistake. Design stages to be safe first and challenging second. Offer options and multiple ways to solve the problem.

Frankly, I see nothing wrong with a stage that has all the targets at 179*... But only IF it's set in the bay in a way that it captures 100% of the rounds fired in the berms and offers a challenge.

Edited by Seth

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USPSA Principles:

6. The challenge presented in practical competition must be done with the utmost safety in mind. Courses of Fire should follow a practical rationale and simulate hypothetical situations in which firearms might reasonably be used.

Rules:

1.1.1 Safety – USPSA matches must be designed, constructed and conducted with due consideration to safety.

2.1.2 Safe Angles of Fire – Courses of fire must always be constructed to ensure safe angles of fire. Consideration must be given to safe target and frame construction and the angle of any possible ricochets. Where appropriate the physical dimensions and suitability of backstops and side berms must be determined as part of the construction process.

**Emphasis mine.

You should alway make a target not available to shoot if there is the very real possibility of shooting at it beyond the 180. Now if it reappears after, lets say, the 200 degree point, then it is on the shooter. But if he can legitametly break the 180 by having his positioning off by a foot and the target appears to be facing him, that is bad stage design.

There are plenty of ways to hide targets near the 180:

  • Barrel stacks
  • No-shoots
  • Keep target parrallel to back stop (past 180 you see back of target)
  • Walls
  • etc.

Yes it is ultimately on the shooter, but your inability to design/set-up a safe course of fire should not be the cause of his DQ. Hide the target so it cannot be shot between 180&~200 degrees. It still won't keep him from accidently breaking the 180, but it wont be due to course design.

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I disagree entirely. It's up to the shooter to know where the boundaries are. It's perfectly legal to shoot at 179°. At 180 you're on the line. After that you're over. It's not rocket science. Why does the stage designer need to be nanny?

1° over 180 does not make a stage suddenly unsafe.

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Michael, what you are saying is pretty much what we do, but I believe you are over-reading the rules. Safe angles of fire is further specified as avoiding issues where shots may ricochet or go over berms, etc. This is something we are also well aware of, particularly since we have stone underneath a shallow layer of dirt in some places so ricochets are possible with low targets that aren't right up against the berm.

The main reason I ask this is that we often spend as much time moving targets and adding no-shoots to make sure no-one has an opportunity to break the 180. Having seen many stage designs where this is not done, I'm starting to wonder if we are not being overly cautious. Being a nanny, as it were.

And let me add that we never, EVER, put targets in such a position that the only way they can be shot is at an angle anywhere near the 180.

Edited by Graham Smith

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We do not stop you from breaking the 180, but we do make it hard to do. By that I mean we tend to place NS and barriers so that you start to lose visibility of the targets as you approach the 180. We try not to design any stage so that your only available shot starts in the 150 range and one extra step moves you past the 180.

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When I setup stages or debug others stages I use the following general rules.....

(1) targets that can be seen from stationary shooting positions should be placed down range of the 180 or visually blocked so they can't be engaged beyond the 180 when the targets are placed anywhere close to the 180 and are up range of the 180.

(2) If targets are placed with the intent or most probable way of the shooter engaging them as they are advancing down range I will let them be totally visible beyond the 180, but I will also make sure that they can be seen and engaged well before getting into a on or beyond the 180 situation.

(3) If targets are placed with the intent or most probable way of the shooter engaging them as they retreat up range I will visually block the targets until the target can not be seen or engaged until they are well within the 180.

When a stage has shooting challenges defined in scenarios 2 & 3 listed above, while reading the WSB I will point out the obvious 180 potential and then state that every stage provides an opportunity to make the wrong decision, so plan accordingly to make the correct decisions. If we continually keep the shooters from making the wrong decisions by excessively over protective stage design they will never learn the importance of keeping their gun pointed down range. Shooters need to train and learn the skill of keeping their gun pointed down range at all times no matter how "lost" they may get during a stage run. If you don't allow shooters to fail and learn these lessons the hard way, then they will never learn. I have lost count of how many times I have seen new shooters who are totally oblivious to the correlation of where their gun is pointed verses the back berm. You can verbally warn these shooters as much as you want but they usually don't learn the lesson until they get sent to Dairy Queen because they broke the 180.

On the other side of the coin, I think that the vast majority of USPSA shooters have a very impressive ability in keeping their gun pointed down range even in the most unexpected situations. I have seen many USPSA shooters trip, lose their balance, stumble, fall down, or even get tangled up in props but still manage to keep their gun pointed straight down range the whole time, finger out of the trigger guard and not sweep themselves. I am not really sure how this ninja level of safe gun handling gets turned on or trained by an active USPSA shooter, but it seems to exist in most shooters regardless of classification.

Edited by CHA-LEE

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Here is the most critical rule:

2.1.4 "Target Locations When a course is constructed to include target locations other than immediately downrange, organizers and officials must protect or restrict surrounding areas to which competitors, officials or spectators have access. Each competitor must be allowed to solve the competitive problem in his own way and must not be hindered by being forced to act in any manner which might cause unsafe action. Targets must be arranged so that shooting at them on an as and when visible basis will not cause competitors to breach safe angles of fire."

I am in my phone otherwise I would highlight that last sentence, "Targets must be arranged so that shooting at them on an as and when visible basis will not cause competitors to breach safe angles of fire."

The OP is correct. Stage designers have a responsibility to eliminate the possibility of engaging a visible target which could breach a safe angle of fire (i.e. 180).

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Here is the most critical rule:

2.1.4 "Targets must be arranged so that shooting at them on an as and when visible basis will not cause competitors to breach safe angles of fire."

The OP is correct. Stage designers have a responsibility to eliminate the possibility of engaging a visible target which could breach a safe angle of fire (i.e. 180).

No. A stage designer has no such responsibility. A target must be safe "on as and when visible". That means that it needs to be POSSIBLE to shoot it safely as a shooter proceeds. It doesn't mandate that they can't be available at an angle greater than 180. Edited by Seth

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I won't get long winded since I am on my phone as well. I agree with Seth and anyone else who supports this being a big boy game. I am all about safe angles of fire etc and I understand the rules. But at some point we have to ween shooters off the tit!

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Let me put it another way. If your margin for safety is so shallow that at 181° shooters are posing a safety hazard to spectators, RO'S and themselves, your margin is much too thin. Breaking the 180 should NEVER, EVER be an actual safety hazard. Remember, the 180° boundary is arbitrary. It could be 210°. It's just a number piece of paper. The match director and stages designers job is to make it safe for people to spectate and participate.

Shooting at oblique angles is another skill. It's practical shooting.

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I sighted my reason or interpreting that stages should be designed to avoid this. Were in the rule book does it talk about everyone being big boys?

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I sighted my reason or interpreting that stages should be designed to avoid this. Were in the rule book does it talk about everyone being big boys?

everywhere if you look close enough. If you need a rule to tell you specifically that USPSA is a big boy game then I can't help you

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I personally don't care for stage design that "saves" the shooter from making a mistake. Design stages to be safe first and challenging second. Offer options and multiple ways to solve the problem.

Frankly, I see nothing wrong with a stage that has all the targets at 179*... But only IF it's set in the bay in a way that it captures 100% of the rounds fired in the berms and offers a challenge.

I don't consider forcing shooters to push the 180 to be a valid way to "test" a shooters skills in USPSA. That isn't what USPSA is about.

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I shot a COF a few years ago where a target could ONLY be fired from the 179 :surprise:

Naturally, one shooter "broke the 180" and was DQ'd.

The berm was sufficient to stop bullets up to about 225 - perfectly "safe" to break the

180 in this case.

BUT, I wonder how many of us can tell the difference between 179 and 181? :cheers:

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Often targets near the 180 are the best way to

Make use of small bays. Matches around here, including mine, depend on lots of lateral movement . Even lateral movement can be a challenge for some, even without throwing a reload in there! What next? No reloads while moving? Targets all immediately down range of the shooter? No retrograde stages? No uprange starts? Like I said, big boy game.

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I personally don't care for stage design that "saves" the shooter from making a mistake. Design stages to be safe first and challenging second. Offer options and multiple ways to solve the problem.

Frankly, I see nothing wrong with a stage that has all the targets at 179*... But only IF it's set in the bay in a way that it captures 100% of the rounds fired in the berms and offers a challenge.

I don't consider forcing shooters to push the 180 to be a valid way to "test" a shooters skills in USPSA. That isn't what USPSA is about.

Yes. It's exactly what it's all about. Practical and diverse problem solving with a gun. Problems are not conscious of the impending 180. Sometimes a problem is at 179. Sometimes it's at 90.

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To restate something... In the example I provided, both targets are available well before the 180 is reached. Never the less, it has been our practice to place no shoots as shown to prevent a 180. This is well and truly beyond even the strictest interpretations of any possible safety rule.

I think it's too much, but it's what we have always done. But opinion seems divided on whether or not it's needed.

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I have an email out to DNROI to see whether clarification can be provided.

Another way to accomplish this is by angling the target such that no shot is available on the front of the target when at the 180.

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I have an email out to DNROI to see whether clarification can be provided.

Good luck getting clarification. And remember, whatever he says means very little. It will just be another opinion. I just learned this last week by the way.

Set the targets however you choose. Just know that you will see targets very close to the 180 at other matches and you really have no recourse other than to not shoot them and get FTE's and Mikes.

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If you don't want the issue, have all of your shooting, and movement, forward.

If you have an ass as an RO and want to nail people, have them moving backwards and moving along a diagonal wall to the rear, to the next set.

Edited by jmorris

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Another way to accomplish this is by angling the target such that no shot is available on the front of the target when at the 180.

True but that's not always possible or practical. If the COF is setup so that a target is hidden behind some obstruction until the shooter reaches a certain point in forward progress, you would generally want that target to present full face on when it is clear. That may mean that the target will be at an angle to the 180.

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I don't understand the argument on this rule,

2.1.4 Target Locations – When a course is constructed to include target locations
other than immediately downrange, organizers and officials must
protect or restrict surrounding areas to which competitors, officials or
spectators have access. Each competitor must be allowed to solve the
competitive problem in his own way and must not be hindered by being
forced to act in any manner which might cause unsafe action. Targets
must be arranged so that shooting at them on an “as and when visible”
basis will not cause competitors to breach safe angles of fire.

Can we all agree that beyond the 180 is not a safe angle of fire?

Just because a shooter could have engaged a target from another location that was well within the 180 doesn't remove the course designer and constructor from their duty to restrict the shooter from doing so through target presentation, placement or props. the only reason not to is it creates some extra work and I know for me that is not a good enough reason

Mike

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I don't understand the argument on this rule,

2.1.4 Target Locations – When a course is constructed to include target locations

other than immediately downrange, organizers and officials must

protect or restrict surrounding areas to which competitors, officials or

spectators have access. Each competitor must be allowed to solve the

competitive problem in his own way and must not be hindered by being

forced to act in any manner which might cause unsafe action. Targets

must be arranged so that shooting at them on an “as and when visible”

basis will not cause competitors to breach safe angles of fire.

Can we all agree that beyond the 180 is not a safe angle of fire?

Just because a shooter could have engaged a target from another location that was well within the 180 doesn't remove the course designer and constructor from their duty to restrict the shooter from doing so through target presentation, placement or props. the only reason not to is it creates some extra work and I know for me that is not a good enough reason

Mike

I fully disagree with your interpretation of this rule. I have been to WAY too many Level 1, 2 and 3 USPSA matches that do not adhere to the "You should not be able to see ANY targets beyond the 180" interpretation. Please remember that all Level 2 and beyond matches must have their stages submitted and approved by NROI well before the start of the match. Then the Range Master and CRO's debug the stages after they are physically setup to ensure that they are in fact "Legal". I find it very hard to believe that all of the USPSA matches I have attended, both local and major, can ignore rule 2.1.4 as you interpret it and it not turn into a complete shit storm at the match or after the match.

The purpose of rule 2.1.4 is to eliminate the chance of a stage designer placing a target in a location that FORCES the shooter to engage it beyond the 180 because it can only be engaged beyond the 180.

Edited by CHA-LEE

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