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CrashDodson

USPSA MD / builders question

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I run a USPSA club and 2019 is my third year as MD.  On average we have between 30-50 shooters at our matches.  We run 4 stages and one classifier.  I like to run quality Level 2+ stages at every match.  

 

Our biggest problem is the time it takes to get everything setup.  We have streamlined as much as we can with all props and construction gear on a purpose built trailer.  Our range is a members only range and they only allow us to start setting up at 5PM on the day before the match.  The range is a 25 minute drive for a lot of us.  Setup Saturday and shoot on Sunday.  If we can get enough help, which has been hard at times, it takes around 3 hours the day before and 2 hours the day of to get the match ready.  Prior to the most recent match I upped the entry fee from $20 to $25 and offered to pay the first 4 to sign up to help build $50 cash plus match entry.  We had 9 show up to help which was the most ever and most declined the cash.  I was already comping anyone that comes to help the day before the match.  

 

I hear about clubs having local matches with 7 and 8 stages, sometimes more.  I can only imagine they have a massive amount of help.

 

What all have you done to make setup of your matches more efficient?  I tried delegating stage design and setup were one person was responsible for each stage and they set up the stage when they wanted.  Either before or the morning of.  The times we tried that we ended up starting late and having stages with big holes were the stage could be shot way outside the intended design, because we simply didnt have the time to review each stage to comply with rules and find gamer loopholes.  

 

I dont want a match full of simple speed shoots but I am teetering on the verge of burn out.  If I quit the match would possibly die.  Looking for any ideas and pointers from match directors and experienced setup crews on how to get a good match setup as efficiently as possible.   

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A lot of our local clubs have moved to a mandatory help set up situation. Sign up ends at 8:30. build 6-7 stages with everyone's help from 8:30-9:30. Shooters meeting at 9:45. First shots at 10 AM. Make pile at back of the bay for clean up. Match staff comes and loads trailer and locks it up.  Cleaned up and gone by 3-4 PM. 60-80 total competitors normally. Props are waiting at each bay for the shooters to start building as early as 7:30.

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When it comes to stage design, we have the local certified Range Master review stage designs a week prior to the match. This prevents big holes in stage design on setup day. Hope this helps.


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19 minutes ago, CrashDodson said:

So if they are not there by 830 they dont shoot

Yup.

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6 minutes ago, CrashDodson said:

So if they are not there by 830 they dont shoot

That’s what it sounds like. My take on monthly matches is to keep them less level II ish and more level I ish. Especially when help is typically less than 10 people. I don’t mean to just do simple speed shoots but there needs to be a compromise. On the other hand if you get enough help to put 3-4 people per stage then by all means build them bigger and better. Small stages can still be a good challenge. 

  I sometimes shoot a local that loves to build intricate challenging stages. Only problem is they can’t set up until morning of. We have started as late as 11:30 a few times and when it’s hot and humid that is a no go. 

  I would focus on good level I Stages and see if you can recruit more help. Then you can add a stage or two that are more complex.

 You are on the right track by discounting fee for true help. Another thing I did was give away a gun at the end of season. Each person who helped setup got a ticket dropped in a can every time they helped. I would draw at shooters meeting of last match to get max exposure. I generally had decent help every match.

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30 minutes ago, CrashDodson said:

  I upped the entry fee from $20 to $25  

 

I'm used to paying $10 - $15 / match.

 

I wonder  (I have no experience with being a MD)  if the $25/pp x 40 shooters = $1,000

 

would allow you to hire 2-3 strong teenagers to help you set up for 4 hours  ?

 

Might also end up with couple new shooters, that way.

 

Just a thought .    Not sure if it would work or not.    :) 

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2 minutes ago, Sarge said:

 

  I would focus on good level I Stages and see if you can recruit more help. Then you can add a stage or two that are more complex.

 You are on the right track by discounting fee for true help. Another thing I did was give away a gun at the end of season. Each person who helped setup got a ticket dropped in a can every time they helped. I would draw at shooters meeting of last match to get max exposure. I generally had decent help every match.

 

That gun draw thing may not be a bad idea

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I wasn't there. Word has it that a somewhat nearby club ran short of help but somehow got the setup done by match time anyway. When the shooters arrived they told them the match would be held up for an hour and if they wanted any future matches to start on time they could achieve that by being there for set up.

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I’ve heard of people pre-planning the stages and then having a list of what will be needed for each stage - at least covering the big stuff - and having it ready to go. It’s a bit more work ahead of time but could help save time with the actual building of the stages. 

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Not an MD but a willing volunteer.

 

What does NOT motivate me: "we're not having the match unless we get more volunteers."

 

What DOES motivate me: 1. free match (I'm a cheap bastard) 2. a friendly group of fellow setter-upers who makes it a fun experience 3. An MD who shows gratitude for the work.

 

I'm also thinking if you are short on help, you need to keep it to Level 1 type stages. Our local ICORE group keeps it simple by making two stages in a bay that are similar so that the squad can remake themselves with little work. Of course, those are usually 20 or less competitors and we all help and all pay.

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Posted (edited)

Billy, 

 

We set up the morning of our local. 6-7 stages. 

We start setup at about 7:15, and hammer down at 9.  You get a discount on your match fee if you arrive before 7:30 to setup. 

I think we have about 10-15 people helping usually. 

 

Have stages planned/designed before hand for sure. 

1 or 2 people that are experienced & good at critiquing stages should be mobile and making rounds to keep setups legal/ correct. It is good to let everyone know that these people will be coming by and critiquing.  

I assume you take the trailer around and drop all necessary props in each stage in one pass? This is important so that people aren't searching for props. 

Pre-organized bags /buckets for each stage. Stapler, hammers, stakes, pasters, paint, etc. Little thought or effort should go into those buckets the morning of. Just drop them in the bays as you distribute props.  (during breakdown and cleanup is when the bags are re-stocked/organized). 

 

It doesn't hurt to kind of have an idea of who the "type As" are that help setup, and use them accordingly.  Too many Indians and not enough chiefs is one of the biggest efficiency killers. 

 

Edited by Ssanders224

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50 minutes ago, Mcfoto said:

Not an MD but a willing volunteer.

 

What does NOT motivate me: "we're not having the match unless we get more volunteers."

 

What DOES motivate me: 1. free match (I'm a cheap bastard) 2. a friendly group of fellow setter-upers who makes it a fun experience 3. An MD who shows gratitude for the work.

 

 

How would the we are not having a match unless we get more volunteers not be motivating?  You would rather just not have a match?  

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48 minutes ago, Ssanders224 said:

Billy, 

 

We set up the morning of our local. 6-7 stages. 

We start setup at about 7:15, and hammer down at 9.  You get a discount on your match fee if you arrive before 7:30 to setup. 

I think we have about 10-15 people helping usually. 

 

Have stages planned/designed before hand for sure. 

1 or 2 people that are experienced & good at critiquing stages should be mobile and making rounds to keep setups legal/ correct. It is good to let everyone know that these people will be coming by and critiquing.  

I assume you take the trailer around and drop all necessary props in each stage in one pass? This is important so that people aren't searching for props. 

Pre-organized bags /buckets for each stage. Stapler, hammers, stakes, pasters, paint, etc. Little thought or effort should go into those buckets the morning of. Just drop them in the bays as you distribute props.  (during breakdown and cleanup is when the bags are re-stocked/organized). 

 

It doesn't hurt to kind of have an idea of who the "type As" are that help setup, and use them accordingly.  Too many Indians and not enough chiefs is one of the biggest efficiency killers. 

 

 

Offering match discount/comp doesn't seem to motivate anyone around here.  This last weekend I had to offer to pay people to help to get much response.   My type A's that help no matter what still want to pay the match fee.  

I send out the stages and a build sheet prior to the match.  We drop gear in the bays and then usually park the trailer centrally.  I will work on the bucket idea.  I really hate doing a lot of setup the morning of the match and then trying to have a decent match myself, but in order to get the help that may just have to be the way we do it.  The too many Indians thing is part of our issue.  Everyone seems to wait for me to OK things before nailing things down. So it ends up being almost all the help in one bay until its completed.  I need to find some others to help in that regard.  

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We do 6-8. I have a solid core of about 5 people who help.  Typically run two set up crews. one starts at one end. The other at the far end and work to the middle. We set up the day before and set up takes us 3-4 hours. The hardest part is stage design help. Ive got one other guy who’s really good at it and its good because we differ in what we like so it mixes up the match really well. 

 

Morning of is staple and stick targets and shore up set up then set up WiFi and run check ins. I show up around 6-7 on match days and we’re out around 4. 

 

I really like the sound of sign up closing at 830 and everyone helps. 

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We do 6 stages, sometimes 7. Classifier included in that count.

 

We set up the morning of. There are a handful of us who LOVE setting up our own ideas - and who all love legal stages with multiple options.

 

Start nailing stages down at 8:30ish.

Shoot at 10ish.

 

The MD rarely has to set up more than one stage, sometimes he isn’t involved at all.

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48 minutes ago, CrashDodson said:

 

How would the we are not having a match unless we get more volunteers not be motivating?  You would rather just not have a match?  

 

I’m only sharing my personal perception. The “we’re not having a match unless someone volunteers” sounds to me like “you are lazy and it’s going to keep others from having fun.” On the other hand, I’ve never turned down an MD that asked by saying, “running a match takes a lot of work and I’d appreciate it if you could give me a hand.” And if after set up, we get a thanks at the shooters meeting, I’m guaranteed to do it again next month. I’m sure someone who’s an expert in psychology can explain it better but I’m only sharing what I’m more inclined to respond to.

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11 minutes ago, Mcfoto said:

 

I’m only sharing my personal perception. The “we’re not having a match unless someone volunteers” sounds to me like “you are lazy and it’s going to keep others from having fun.” On the other hand, I’ve never turned down an MD that asked by saying, “running a match takes a lot of work and I’d appreciate it if you could give me a hand.” And if after set up, we get a thanks at the shooters meeting, I’m guaranteed to do it again next month. I’m sure someone who’s an expert in psychology can explain it better but I’m only sharing what I’m more inclined to respond to.

 

This is why MDs quit. Everyone needs their hand held.

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9 minutes ago, Maximis228 said:

 

This is why MDs quit. Everyone needs their hand held.

 

And this is why shooters stop coming to certain MD's matches. They run them more like military operations rather than a sport for friendly competition.

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A couple of things I have found that help.

 

Empower your setup help,  if they put up a stage completely backward or the targets are in all the wrong places to what you intended but its legal and safe run with it, often its the same or better very rarely is it worse.

 

If you range is not windy and staking things down is not super easy? use marking paint to witness target stands and any wall stands that shooters should not be coming in contact with, super fast and works better than you think, or if a target or two are super position critical nail those and mark the rest.

 

Design stages from a less is more point of view, we work pretty hard at using as few props as possible to create stages, basically it forces us to avoid the shoot here then here then here trap.

 

Try to have a plan for who is going to do what, if yo know you have Joe, Bob and Jim going to come help try to figure out what each one likes doing and try to save that for them.

 

If your bays are super hard to nail buy a cordless SDS type roto hammer, they are expensive (i think we are about $600 into ours and extra batteries and bits) but nailing stages went from being a miserable chore nobody wanted to something anyone will do.

 

You mentioned your setup crew is a bit hesitant to go without you, for big matches I spend a little time ahead of setup running around with some marking paint and put the basic layout on the bay floor so the crews know the basic scale of what we are trying to set up. just make sure to explain that the paint is a scale guide not a put stuff right here guide.

 

balance the match by including several types of stages. add in some short courses some standards some speed shoots to go along with a couple complicated field courses, every stage does not need to be a big construction project.

 

Movers and their activators can be a big time suck for setup so use them sparingly 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, CrashDodson said:

 

How would the we are not having a match unless we get more volunteers not be motivating?  You would rather just not have a match?  

 

29 minutes ago, Mcfoto said:

 

I’m only sharing my personal perception. The “we’re not having a match unless someone volunteers” sounds to me like “you are lazy and it’s going to keep others from having fun.” On the other hand, I’ve never turned down an MD that asked by saying, “running a match takes a lot of work and I’d appreciate it if you could give me a hand.” And if after set up, we get a thanks at the shooters meeting, I’m guaranteed to do it again next month. I’m sure someone who’s an expert in psychology can explain it better but I’m only sharing what I’m more inclined to respond to.

 

17 minutes ago, Maximis228 said:

 

This is why MDs quit. Everyone needs their hand held.

 

This is the whole you attract more bees with honey thing.

How you ask for help has a huge affect on how much help you get.

Even if your stressed and burned out, you need to ask in the way that is most likely to get you the help you want.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, MikeBurgess said:

 

 

 

This is the whole you attract more bees with honey thing.

How you ask for help has a huge affect on how much help you get.

Even if your stressed and burned out, you need to ask in the way that is most likely to get you the help you want.

 

 

 

The Foo is strong with this one. I have seen many bees attracted to his honey. Buzzzzz... 🐝🐝🐝

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11 minutes ago, MikeBurgess said:

balance the match by including several types of stages. add in some short courses some standards some speed shoots to go along with a couple complicated field courses, every stage does not need to be a big construction project.

 

Movers and their activators can be a big time suck for setup so use them sparingly 

 

 

 

 

Lots of good stuff here.  Thank you.  I think I need to get past the idea that every stage needs to be a big field course.  I have shooters driving 2+ hours and some staying overnight every month for our match, and I hate to disappoint them.  I have built a reputation of building matches with great stages, but I think it may just not be feasible to continue doing it that way.    

 

I have learned to limit movers/activators to one or maybe two per match.  Setting those is indeed a big time sink.  

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3 hours ago, CrashDodson said:

 I tried delegating stage design and setup were one person was responsible for each stage and they set up the stage when they wanted.  Either before or the morning of.  The times we tried that we ended up starting late and having stages with big holes were the stage could be shot way outside the intended design, because we simply didnt have the time to review each stage to comply with rules and find gamer loopholes.  

 

How many times did you try doing that?  Learning to build stages that are rule-compliant and fun/interesting takes reps.  You wouldn't expect someone to shoot like a GM the first time they come to a match, no matter how good the coaching was nor how enthusiastic and smart they are.  It takes time to become a decent stage-builder, to make the mistakes that gamers then capitalize on and learn from that.  

 

If you asked people to do this for 2-3 matches, then each of those people has built 2 or 3 stages (unless you've got some old hands around who used to MD).  You have to anticipate some growing pains as people learn to do any challenging task.  Effective delegation requires enough patience to get through those pains and eventually see the benefits.  

 

Once you get a few people really competent at this stuff, the system becomes much more self-sustaining.  I would encourage you to stick with this approach, even if you have a few matches with late starts, a tossed stage, etc.  Let the people willing to help learn.  Don't quit on it just because they weren't perfect from the get-go.

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1 minute ago, CrashDodson said:

Lots of good stuff here.  Thank you.  I think I need to get past the idea that every stage needs to be a big field course.  I have shooters driving 2+ hours and some staying overnight every month for our match, and I hate to disappoint them.  I have built a reputation of building matches with great stages, but I think it may just not be feasible to continue doing it that way.    

 

I have learned to limit movers/activators to one or maybe two per match.  Setting those is indeed a big time sink.  

Great stages do not have to be big field courses, often the most talked about stages at our matches are from one of our tiny bays and was all of 3 walls and some fault lines and some interesting target placements.

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