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A club evaluating Practiscore options 2015


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I have some general PS questions.

Small club in a rural area, techie-people are the minority, small budget. Most matches have 35 shooters, but we may have an 11-bay Sectional every third year or so.

We have a few guys who want to go PS. The remainder are impartial.

No internet at our range, but we can use a portable router to create a range network.

After doing some reading, my impression is that the NST offers the best combination of price, daylight readability, and battery life. Discontinued but still available. Easy to root(-n-score-it). Until the android upload capabilities are fleshed out, we can synch to an old ios device for uploading scores. Etc.

If we want to be serious about establishing full PS capability, we'll need 18 NST devices: 11 slaves, 1 master, and 6 long-term backup units (purchased now because they are available now and importantly, because they are cheap now). We'll also need a portable router and a used ios device.

We are discussing various perspectives:

Does USPSA require paper back-up scoring at major matches that use PS?

Do most PS clubs routinely run paper back-up?

After the match, do stats officers verify device scores with paper scoresheets before uploading to USPSA?

What percentage of USPSA clubs are currently running PS? Does anyone know?

My perception after reading is that USPSA and PS are wholly separate entities. Correct?

There is a belief here that USPSA will eventually require clubs to score matches with PS. Is that correct?

If so, it seems unwise. USPSA receives scores in USPSA format. How the scores are collected and compiled is irrelevant. Am I missing something?

My perception is that there are no other tablets or readers available in the $55 range that match the NST's proven features: durability, readability, heat tolerance and battery life. Have I overlooked any?

Pros (PS on NST):

Auto-fill during match registration, Eliminates hand-entering scores after match, Faster delivery of scores after match, Cool factor.

Cons:

Expensive compared to paper, Requires fleet root & set-up, Requires training of RO's, Electronics will fail.

Is it possible to effectively run PS at a match on personal phones of appointed shooters? Does anyone do this? If you network personal phones to a range master device on a range router, are there security or privacy issues? Any workaround?

A week ago, I knew nothing about PS.

The club asked me to look into it, so I did some reading.

Thanks in advance for any answers you can provide. This will help us arrive at a decision.

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Lots of questions and you will get lots of opinions.

18 devices seems high. I got my local club into the nooks. We bought six specifically as stage nooks. Then, one each as a uspsa, idpa, and a steel challenge master. We also have one spare. We are in them around $600, and that would buy a lot of pencils and papers. Pencils that still work in the rain, still work if you break them in half, still work in the dust and wind.

My first experience with PS was at a large match, we were promised results immediately after the last shot was fired, when in reality it was 4 hours. I personally dont think large matches are the place to beta test software. However, it has come a long ways since then and I am comfortable scoring a large match with it.

What does still bother me, is that we have no idea of the lifetime of the nooks.

All the nooks have done, is to take the headaches after a match in scoring with paper, and eliminated those headaches; while creating an entirely different set of headaches before and during the match. Some of those are also called learning curve. However, i have found the younger kids are more apt to pick up a nook and learn to score with it; the older guys are quicker to grab paper.

Yes, major uspsa matches require paper backup. It can be simplified greatly, you dont have to give a carbon copy to each competitors. A single sheet with the entire squad'd hit factors for each stage suffices.

No, i havent seen paper backup used at local matches. I have seen sloppy scoring at local matches. At mine, we make the competitor press the "Save" button, after showing them their score, takes the place of signing the score sheet. Some matches i have seen the nook guy just walk thru the targets scoring them all. No one calliing the score to him. That method bugs me. I prefer to check what the scoring ro calls by glancing at the target as he scores them.

Correct USPSA is the governing body of practical shooting sports. Practiscore is the tradename for scoring software by Niftybytes, Inc, a for profit company based in utah.

At one point USPSA stated that they would be dropping support for ezwinscore, but that has not happened yet, and it is still the official scoring program for uspsa matches.

From your pros: the auto fill is ok, we make a google spreadsheet for match signup on our website, with the intent that people signup by the day before the match. Then, ususally we will do a direct spreadsheet import to populate the match. Smaller matches might just recopy what is in the spreadsheet. However, the master database of names is not accessable. To delete multiple incorrect entries, you have to do them one at a time. Kinda clunky.

Your cons are all correct.

Another pro: we run a lot of matches at our club. All the shooters except cowboy action have swallowed the PS pill. We score USPSA, IDPA, Steel Challenge on our nooks. That is a lot of shooters using them. In addition, other clubs in my section have them, so we have a large pool of devices we can share amongst the clubs when it is a smaller clubs turn to hold a sectional match.

Finally, i dont like the results output. It is HTML output, which takes a lot of server space on the section website. I convert back to ezwinscore before posting results, and the conversion / import only takes two minutes. From ezwinscore i can then get the output in a much smaller (digitally speaking) size that I can manipulate on the section website.

Nooks currently do not have the ability to upload classifer reports directly to the uspsa website. You will have to convert back into ezwinscore, or else get an apple ios (much more expensive) device to serve as the master.

I am sure others will chime in here now with their opinions and results. Remember we all have had various experiences with them, but i can tell you it seems to be the wave of the future. Oh yeah, all 4 clubs in the Utah section and 4 out of 5 clubs in the Idaho section are using ps. Pretty sure at least half the clubs in montana are using it as well. Wyoming is still scoring on tree bark.

TimE

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I was in your exact spot a little over 3 months ago.

We exclusively run Time Plus for 3-gun, rifle and pistol matches so consequently, we know that system pretty well. We don't run USPSA or IDPA so I can't really help you there.

The only outstanding issue is that we've found the Nooks to be very sensitive to rain and especially dust. We haven't found a perfect solution so as a workaround, we've included microfiber cloths with every Nook. When the Nook starts wigging out, the squad can just remove the cloth from the pouch, wipe the screen and get on about it. We also clean the Nooks and their covers every few weeks to keep the dust down. In total, we have 6 active Nooks, 2 backup Nooks and 1 Master iPad for squadding and uploading scores to PS.com.

As an important side note, the Practiscore team has been extremely helpful in implementing new features and fixing found bugs. They're wonderful to work with.

We're not going back to paper scoring. Just do it!

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Ugh... Sign me up for the tree bark. I just don't have the desire to learn anything else automated. There are some at my club who want to do it but I just don't want to trade one set of problems for another. Hell, I loaded EZwinscore on my PC and thought I would "teach myself" by tinkering around with it and I can't get it to do ANYTHING! I have a stats guy do all of it. I don't mess with anything after the match.

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My answers bolded below

After doing some reading, my impression is that the NST offers the best combination of price, daylight readability, and battery life. Discontinued but still available. Easy to root(-n-score-it). Until the android upload capabilities are fleshed out, we can synch to an old ios device for uploading scores. Etc.

I agree,

If we want to be serious about establishing full PS capability, we'll need 18 NST devices: 11 slaves, 1 master, and 6 long-term backup units (purchased now because they are available now and importantly, because they are cheap now). We'll also need a portable router and a used ios device.

I would not use a NST as a master, its not that they cant do it its just a paint o enter shooters and set up a match on. we started with my 7" Samsung tablet and old iphone for uploading the files. we ended up buying a used ipad (full size) to do registration and upload scores. I would also suggest getting a blue tooth keyboard for the stats person to use during registration its easier to type on when you have lots of new shooters to enter (our monthly matches run in the 90's)

We are discussing various perspectives:

Does USPSA require paper back-up scoring at major matches that use PS?

Yes (there is some debate about this but most RM's will demand it)

Do most PS clubs routinely run paper back-up?

Not locally to me 4 of the 5 uspsa clubs in my section are now paperless PS on a monthly basis 1 club is still using paper and EZwinscore

After the match, do stats officers verify device scores with paper scoresheets before uploading to USPSA?

Not in my experience,

What percentage of USPSA clubs are currently running PS? Does anyone know?

?

My perception after reading is that USPSA and PS are wholly separate entities. Correct?

Yes,

There is a belief here that USPSA will eventually require clubs to score matches with PS. Is that correct?

If so, it seems unwise. USPSA receives scores in USPSA format. How the scores are collected and compiled is irrelevant. Am I missing something?

I don't believe so, the BOD did approve PS for scoring matches and USPSA says they are not going to do anymore development or updates to EZwinscore so eventually that program will become obsolete.

My perception is that there are no other tablets or readers available in the $55 range that match the NST's proven features: durability, readability, heat tolerance and battery life. Have I overlooked any?

Not in that price range, there are several clubs I know that use $100ish android tablets like the Kindle with a color screen. these work well for them but are harder to read. the Ipad Minis are also used but they are significantly more expensive. My club uses the NST and I like that i payed less for them than some pay for the case they put on their ipads. I will say the NST has a couple of down falls, the touch screen is not great, it will "see" a rain drop and think that is a finger and you can't put them in a waterproof case because of the way the touch screen works our work around has been to use a box type clipboard to keep them in during rainy matches and we keep a rag in there to wipe any drops off the screen.

Pros (PS on NST):

Auto-fill during match registration, Eliminates hand-entering scores after match, Faster delivery of scores after match, Cool factor.

yes nut the NST is not what you want to use for registration, also remember when yo ugo to PS you can import your EZwinscore database file so all the shooters info you already have will be in there the first match so you don't have to type it all even once.

Cons:

Expensive compared to paper, Requires fleet root & set-up, Requires training of RO's, Electronics will fail.

Yes and No, yes something will eventually fail. that said I have had way less errors to update once the scores are posted now than I ever did with paper. In my case the PS has been a savings we run a 6-7 stage match and were having to print 100 score sheets packets for each match, that cost quite a bit that we no longer spend, we also used to pay someone to sit and enter scores all day now we don't.

Is it possible to effectively run PS at a match on personal phones of appointed shooters? Does anyone do this? If you network personal phones to a range master device on a range router, are there security or privacy issues? Any workaround?

yes its possible, iv'e heard of it being done, no I would not want to do that. the screens on phones are generally pretty small and handing someones phone around a squad is asking for trouble when it gets dropped and broken. from a security standpoint it would all depend on what information you have collected into PS names and USPSA numbers only is probably not a issue, e-mails and phone numbers could be more of a concern, scoring security is less of a problem because you are in control of what devices you pull scores from.

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We use PS at our range, I WOULD NOT go back to paper.

monthly 3Gun matches, 30-50 shooters , 1 large match per year ~180 shooters, we use a simple paper backup for the major.

I bought 11 nooks , mainly because I got lucky and found 6 for ~$35-40.00. Ipad for master.

Hot spot off phone for transferring data

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We switched in 2014, almost 1 year ago exactly. I won't go back, and I'm sure the guy who does the stats for our weekly SC matches would agree. PS gave me my Saturday afternoons back when I used to spend ~2 hrs after the match entering scores into EZW. We also don't have internet at the range but use a local router thingy to sync between devices (one of our shooters is an IT guy and set this up for us, not me, obviously).

We bought 6 Nooks for USPSA, 5 for IDPA, and 5 for SC. We probably could have gotten by with less, but we don't share toys very well. For master devices, I got some old Gen 1 iPads donated by members who upgraded to later gen iPads. Found out afterwards this was a good stroke since we could upload the USPSA activity reports directly from the iPad without having to convert to EZW. However my Section Coord wants me to convert to EZW anyway so I can post club scores onto the Section website...but most of the shooters are fine going to PS to look at the results.

We've lost some SC scores because people were not hitting the save button. But this hasn't been an issue at USPSA matches, so must just be a training thing with the Nook users.

Nooks don't like rain, and even the cold makes them fussy. Not a big deal if its warm and dry where you are, but we have some die hards that shoot in all kinds of weather.

It took a few months to get everyone trained up, but we got there. Its worth the investment and learning curve IMO. My wife, who is big into dog agility competition looks enviously at my Nooks since they still do paper scoring in her sport.

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As the guy who started our club using PS, I will say it has great advantages. BUT... For over two years, I was it - the only guy who did everything. That's a really BAD way to do it.

The MD can and should be familiar with the whole process and should be involved with the planning and decision process. But there really need to be two people who run the whole registration and scoring process. The MD can be one of them, but that's not ideal. If you can't manage that then I would seriously question the decision.

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As the guy who started our club using PS, I will say it has great advantages. BUT... For over two years, I was it - the only guy who did everything. That's a really BAD way to do it.

The MD can and should be familiar with the whole process and should be involved with the planning and decision process. But there really need to be two people who run the whole registration and scoring process. The MD can be one of them, but that's not ideal. If you can't manage that then I would seriously question the decision.

Yes, I agree! You can spread the knowledge by pushing work to others, once you've figured out things yourself.

Also, you can write up all your workflows and share it with your group so you don't become THE Practiscore guy/girl.

A 1-person solution is going to break sooner or later.

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Tree bark. Funny!

Thanks to all! This is great information.

I guess dust and water drops will be a problem regardless of which tablet is used.

There is a large consensus (here and other threads) that an ipad is better than a nook for the master.

We really appreciate the feedback.

Best,

Dave

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Ugh... Sign me up for the tree bark. I just don't have the desire to learn anything else automated. There are some at my club who want to do it but I just don't want to trade one set of problems for another. Hell, I loaded EZwinscore on my PC and thought I would "teach myself" by tinkering around with it and I can't get it to do ANYTHING! I have a stats guy do all of it. I don't mess with anything after the match.

If you like, I can give you a quick run down on the match management in PS at the Bluegrass on Saturday... It is really less complicated than ezws.
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Ugh... Sign me up for the tree bark. I just don't have the desire to learn anything else automated. There are some at my club who want to do it but I just don't want to trade one set of problems for another. Hell, I loaded EZwinscore on my PC and thought I would "teach myself" by tinkering around with it and I can't get it to do ANYTHING! I have a stats guy do all of it. I don't mess with anything after the match.

If you like, I can give you a quick run down on the match management in PS at the Bluegrass on Saturday... It is really less complicated than ezws.

It REALLY is pretty easy to input scores, a little harder to setup a match. But I learned at 50 years old, our last match we had a couple guys mid to late 60's who picked up the scoring part after a brief run through, and helping them run through about 4 shooters.

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{begin quote}

Small club in a rural area, techie-people are the minority, small budget. Most matches have 35 shooters, but we may have an 11-bay Sectional every third year or so.

We have a few guys who want to go PS. The remainder are impartial.

No internet at our range, but we can use a portable router to create a range network.

After doing some reading, my impression is that the NST offers the best combination of price, daylight readability, and battery life. Discontinued but still available. Easy to root(-n-score-it). Until the android upload capabilities are fleshed out, we can synch to an old ios device for uploading scores. Etc.

If we want to be serious about establishing full PS capability, we'll need 18 NST devices: 11 slaves, 1 master, and 6 long-term backup units (purchased now because they are available now and importantly, because they are cheap now). We'll also need a portable router and a used ios device.

{end quote}

My club numbers are similar to yours in some ways. +- 30 per match. Big match occasionally (once a year).

Where we differ is

- we have the nooks already

- we run more matches per month than you do

- we have 3+ computer & network guys who rotate overseeing individual matches

- we have a good pool of tablet device literate shooters to serve as stage score-keepers

I am reading between the lines that

1) budget is an issue

2) you don't have a sufficient pool of wireless networking & computer savvy help already in place (they need to pre-exist; trying to create them as you go is doomed to failure unless your group is A LOT more motivated than it appears.....)

If I were in your shoes, I would consider continuing to run the monthly match on paper/EZwinscore a very viable alternative (if it ain't broke, don't fix it). I would however "hire out" the operation of the once in a blue moon large match to someone else, rather than run it myself.

If you decide to pursue the Practiscore option anyway, I wouldn't buy 11+ nooks for only 35 shooters. I'd buy one for each squad, plus one extra. And again, I'd farm out operation of the large match to someone else.

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I disagree for me setting up the match in practiscore is way easier than EZwinscore

If you're replying to me I'm only talking about PS , I've never worked with EWS.

Pretty much anybody can learn to input scores, takes a little more to setup a match, and a little more techy to setup the initial nooks and master

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I disagree for me setting up the match in practiscore is way easier than EZwinscore

If you're replying to me I'm only talking about PS , I've never worked with EWS.

Pretty much anybody can learn to input scores, takes a little more to setup a match, and a little more techy to setup the initial nooks and master

Ok my bad, I thought you were saying it was harder vs EZwinscore
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Our club when all in with PractiScore everyone loves it. We are hosting the SC State Championship match next month using NSTs for scoring and iPads as masters. We are doing paper backup. Later this year we are hosting the SC Steel Challenge Championship and again we'll use NSTs for scoring and iPads for masters. We will have paper backups at that match as well. For the monthly club matches we don't do paper backups and no one complains about it. Today I scored the ICORE (revolver) match with the current iOS beta version.

BTW, here's a great way to get NSTs. Pawn Shops. What I do (and have been able to get several this way) is ignore the price and offer them $20 - $25 per NST. 90+% of the time they'll accept your offer and if they don't then leave it, wait a month and go back. Odds are it'll still be there and they'll take your $20 offer.

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