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CrashDodson

Questions about running a match

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A friend and I recently ran our first match this weekend.  We had close to 40 register and ended up with 31 shooters that showed.  We sent out a lot of communication via Facebook and email but only had 6 people total to help setup on Friday, which ended up being just the two of us a few hours in.  We setup, with some help from the shooters, for almost two hours the morning of as well.  While we were very appreciative of the help we received I was so worn out by time the match started that I almost didn't want to shoot the match myself. 

The match went well, ran smooth and everyone seemed to enjoy the stages.  We got good feedback.  We had 2 long course and 2 short course stages.  Along with a classifier and a single shot popper/bill drill like at the last nationals.  We tried to imitate some decent stages that you would see at bigger matches.  We shot 3 squads from 9:30am to 1:30PM. 

What are you all doing to try and get more help at your matches?  Do you do any setup the evening before or only the day of?  Do you assign a person to a stage to oversee that stage construction rather then trying to do it all yourself?  Do you have club/staff meetings prior to the match?  We want to keep doing this but killing ourselves to make the match happen is going to quickly lead to burn out I think. 

Our walls are made of 1/2" steel tubing with netting.  I notice that a lot of videos I see the walls are made of wood which is likely much lighter.  Is there any benefit to one over the other? 

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Our club has memberships and an end-of-year prize table as part of our annual meeting. Through working setup members gain eligibility for the prize table and the number of setups they work increases their odds of getting drawn early and getting one of the guns on the table. But truth be told, the small core of hard workers that you'll quickly learn you can rely on to be there working beside you at nearly every single match would be there with or without the prize table. So in the end I think the prize table for us is much more of a thank you to our members for having worked than a magnet for setup help.

Congrats on your first match and good luck with the next one!

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The biggest benefit to having wood walls is if someone shoots them.  They present less of a safety hazard during the impact and after if the tubing gets sharp edges.  Wood is also quick to repair. The problem is that I think will requires more care in handling or they will break much more often.

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Steel walls made of thinwall tubing or conduit welded and then fitted with snow fencing are about as light as walls get. I've never handled a wood wall that was lighter than what our range uses.

The key to keeping steel walls light is to keep the feet/bases separate from the wall itself, as seen in this video when Ben taught a class here:

Semi-transparent walls also assist in videotaping someone, and more importantly, making it easier to see if someone is still downrange taping targets.

 

Edited by MemphisMechanic

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2 hours ago, ttolliver said:

Our club has memberships and an end-of-year prize table as part of our annual meeting. Through working setup members gain eligibility for the prize table and the number of setups they work increases their odds of getting drawn early and getting one of the guns on the table. But truth be told, the small core of hard workers that you'll quickly learn you can rely on to be there working beside you at nearly every single match would be there with or without the prize table. So in the end I think the prize table for us is much more of a thank you to our members for having worked than a magnet for setup help.

Congrats on your first match and good luck with the next one!

So there is some sort of yearly membership fee for your club? 

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Our walls are very similar to yours Memphis.  We have metal bases that are either singles or can accept 3 legs.  Perhaps ours are not thinwall tubing.  its 1/2 tubing but it takes two people to manage a section.

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I'm wondering if it's solid, or at least .125 (1/8") wall tubing...

I can manage a section of our wall quite comfortably on my own. Propped up on one shoulder they're not too taxing to carry from bay to bay, and a friend and I have stacked 3 or 4 of our walls and walked them down a bay or two quite comfortably.

As I said, ours might as well be conduit. Very thin.

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When you plan on putting on a match,,plan on doing ALL the work your self..I know it's a volunteer sport,,,if you get a few people to come out and help with set up be proud..let them shoot for free..I drive about 2 1/2 hours to most matches and it's hard to help set up..

Thanks for starting a new match,we need all we can get...

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Another suggestion: oftentimes people burn out because the are setting up nothing but long field courses with 32 rounds.

The stages I'm getting the most compliments on lately have been short or medium courses with more of an IPSC flair, because they're something different. This website is a terrific resource for such things:

http://www.speedslide.com/

I'd personally rather shoot 6 stages (maybe 2 short, 1 medium, 1 classifier, and 2 long stages) ... than do 4 stages (classifier & 3 long courses) that are all variations on the same old thing.

Some of those stages really illustrate how much fun you can have with just a couple of walls, too.

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18 hours ago, CrashDodson said:

So there is some sort of yearly membership fee for your club? 

Yup, although it's only the same as a standard match fee.

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Thanks for that link.  Even our "short" stages were high round count.  Those will give us some ideas for sure.  

I bought a lot of 2x2's for fault lines and I pre-drilled holes in all of them.  We used 6" 5/16 lag bolts to secure them to the ground.  Our surface is caliche so it works well.  It did take a long time to screw them all down.  We are purchasing two new impact drivers for the club to use to hopefully speed that up.  The walls and fault lines take the most time it seems.  

For our barrels we have single stands with a piece of square tubing.  The barrels have 2" holes drilled in them and we set them over the tubing.  How do you all secure your barrels?  Our way isn't terrible but not super fast either.  

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We have a bucket of nails/spikes and a crowbar on every stage. We use 6" and 9" spikes for wall stands, fault lines, and popper/moving prop anchors. We built our wall stands out of 2x2" tubing with angle iron legs and a hole to nail through. Our walls are treated 2x2's and fit in the wall stands...see attached.  Our fault lines are treated 2x2's with 1/2" holes at each end. So we nail everything down during setup and pull up with crowbars after the match.

All of our walls, fault lines, spike buckets, and crowbars stay at the stage after teardown. We only return steel assets and special props (movers, swingers, etc.) to storage after a match. We have carports on each bay and we mounted ratchet tie downs on end post with a place to connect the strap about 3-4 posts down, lay up the walls against the carport posts and strap them down to secure from weather/wind.

For local matches if barrels are uniquely set, we spray paint around them to place them back in place if they get moved...but for a local we don't nail them down. If we were to shoot a Level II or higher, we would turn the barrel upside down and drill holes through the rim, securing with spikes. Then using 2-3 slats and screws to secure a top barrel if needed.

Wall stand pic attached.

JohnScott WallStand.jpg

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I have gotten very lucky with having a number of dedicated volunteers that help with setup every month, it is still a bunch of work but I have found a few ways to minimize it when I can.

the biggest thing I have learned is don't empty the prop shed every month, you can have a very fun match without having movers and activators on every stage. remember every stage doesn't need to be better than the Nationals, make them legal and fun but remember even a simple stage can be fun.

 

 

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27 minutes ago, MikeBurgess said:

You can have a very fun match without having movers and activators on every stage. remember every stage doesn't need to be better than the Nationals, make them legal and fun but remember even a simple stage can be fun.

A carnival full of movers and swingers isn't what makes a stage "better."

They are an accent on your main course, which is shooting challenges.

A good stage is challenging to shoot perfectly... not challenging to come up with a plan for. That doesn't mean slap partial targets at fifty yards and say "it's hard. It must be good."

That means some targets visible for most of the stage.

Other targets that invite you to shoot on the move and shave some time at the risk of reduced points.

Not slapping 8 paper behind every port "because the rulebook says 8 is the limit."

Lately I've self-imposed a limit, let's say two steel and 10 shots on paper, then put walls out, and moved everything around until it was easy for a novice to find a simple plan, but really dominating the stage would mean shooting on the move, taking an easy and hard entering or exiting shot somewhere, and at least two equally valid paths through the stage seem attractive to experienced shooters.

(And I do my best to apply the same mindset to longer courses)

That, in my opinion makes for a good match. The speedslide stages really help me push things into something more technically challenging, instead of just adding noshoots  and laying out a ton of targets behind some walls.

Go ahead. Tell me these two attached stages aren't something you'd find really interesting to shoot:

 

IMG_6850.PNG

Edited by MemphisMechanic

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2 hours ago, Mark R said:

We have a bucket of nails/spikes and a crowbar on every stage. We use 6" and 9" spikes for wall stands, fault lines, and popper/moving prop anchors. We built our wall stands out of 2x2" tubing with angle iron legs and a hole to nail through. Our walls are treated 2x2's and fit in the wall stands...see attached.  Our fault lines are treated 2x2's with 1/2" holes at each end. So we nail everything down during setup and pull up with crowbars after the match.

All of our walls, fault lines, spike buckets, and crowbars stay at the stage after teardown. We only return steel assets and special props (movers, swingers, etc.) to storage after a match. We have carports on each bay and we mounted ratchet tie downs on end post with a place to connect the strap about 3-4 posts down, lay up the walls against the carport posts and strap them down to secure from weather/wind.

 

 

I wish we could leave the stuff in the bays.  Our range is a non profit with several thousand members.  They dont allow the props to be used outside of competition so we have to store them in the shed after the matches.  I might build a wall section out of 2x2 wood and compare it to our current walls.

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5 minutes ago, CrashDodson said:

I wish we could leave the stuff in the bays.  Our range is a non profit with several thousand members.  

Careful with that.

People will tape/staple/stick a target to ANYTHING and shoot the crap out of it, if it's out there. Walls, barrels...

We leave target stands with sticks in them (several) in each bay for a reason.

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56 minutes ago, MemphisMechanic said:

Careful with that.

People will tape/staple/stick a target to ANYTHING and shoot the crap out of it, if it's out there. Walls, barrels...

We leave target stands with sticks in them (several) in each bay for a reason.

Ya the range has target stands that stay in the bays.  They are wood with some sort of fiberboard backers.  They drop into PVC cups in the ground.  We pull them out for matches and set them to the side. 

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1 hour ago, MemphisMechanic said:

 

 

IMG_6850.PNG

Those do look fun.  I think maybe trying for more shooting positions but with less targets could be a good thing.  

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1. It's less work to set up.

2. Faster to set and tape

3. Gunhandling and position entry/exit REALLY shine in a short field course like that.

4. It's something we don't do much of in the US. So far everyone seems to like them.

Edited by MemphisMechanic

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Well the local range has been a popular destination for USPSA for a loooong time. We usually have shooters from up to 2 hours away.

And all of our stages are set up the day of. The MD will usually set up one, I try to get there early enough to do two... that leaves a classifier and 2 others in a 6 stage local.

Stages start being set around 8:30-9 but we often don't break the first shot until 11-11:30 am. We would if some of the stages were set up on that Friday, which the IDPA MD does for every stage of his matches.

Edited by MemphisMechanic

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We do stage setup the day before the match. Luckily we have 3-4 retirees that help setup and I take off work (vacation hours) at noon Friday. So we are all setup on Friday except for hanging paper. I get to the range early Saturday morning and a few shooters straggle in and help staple. We usually get done about 2 hours before trigger time. 2 hours for sign-in, walk-thrus, and match/safety brief. I reiterate "Volunteer sport" during every match brief so we get teardown help after each match. So far, so good. I just hope my setup crew don't burn out since they seem to be the only ones interested in setup.

They have learned not to nail anything down until I walk the stages...I tend to change things up a little at times. e.g. Sometimes I hear them say something about a hole in the stage and I hear it, look, and patch. They just shake their heads and say "Damn"...Evil...B)

 

 

oh...forgot....I hate symmetrical stages. They are good is you like to even up left and right handed shooters, but they seem boring to me. So I try to eliminate symmetrical from stage builds. Rather, I like stages that have multiple ways to shoot them...go free style.

Edited by Mark R

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Hey Crash, good for you starting a new match / club. The first few matches will be a ton of work. Been there done that. If you haven't gotten any more volunteers by now, it is time to start advertising for some. Let it be known that you need the help, and more than likely people will respond, especially if they have been enjoying shooting your match. Also be aware that a group of locals will show up and watch everyone else work, only to start bitching if the match doesn't start on time. Every club has this group, and every club learns to ignore them.

When you design your stages, have an equipment list for each stage. When people start showing up to help, put someone in charge of each bay, hand them the stage design and equipment list, and let them get busy. As match director you need to supervise and delegate. If someone else can do a task, let them. For club level matches, you should be able to set up on the day of in two hours or less. Setting up the night before is generally a hassle for all involved.

Burnout is real, so try and drive volunteer spirit from any and all in your club. The more people involved who can multi task the better. Nothing kills a club faster than having one person be sole guiding force, only to have that person get ill, job transfer out of state, or succumb to other life events. What this means is that you will have to build up a club, and then start turning over the responsibilities for your 'baby' to others. In the end the club will be better for it. Good luck and have fun with it.

 

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Thanks for the replies.  All good stuff.  We our having our first official match this sunday...a special classifier.  

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On 11/26/2016 at 10:25 PM, JWBaldree said:

Hey Crash, good for you starting a new match / club. The first few matches will be a ton of work. Been there done that. If you haven't gotten any more volunteers by now, it is time to start advertising for some. Let it be known that you need the help, and more than likely people will respond, especially if they have been enjoying shooting your match. Also be aware that a group of locals will show up and watch everyone else work, only to start bitching if the match doesn't start on time. Every club has this group, and every club learns to ignore them.

When you design your stages, have an equipment list for each stage. When people start showing up to help, put someone in charge of each bay, hand them the stage design and equipment list, and let them get busy. As match director you need to supervise and delegate. If someone else can do a task, let them. For club level matches, you should be able to set up on the day of in two hours or less. Setting up the night before is generally a hassle for all involved.

Burnout is real, so try and drive volunteer spirit from any and all in your club. The more people involved who can multi task the better. Nothing kills a club faster than having one person be sole guiding force, only to have that person get ill, job transfer out of state, or succumb to other life events. What this means is that you will have to build up a club, and then start turning over the responsibilities for your 'baby' to others. In the end the club will be better for it. Good luck and have fun with it.

 

You are wise beyond your years, no matter how old you are!:bow:

 

Alan~^~

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