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Stage Design - Monthly Club Matches


RacerX1166
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When it comes to your local monthly club matches, who decides what stages are included?  Does the match director make the decisions, followed by a group setup or do a few volunteers take each shooting bay and design what they want?  My previous experience has always been with the former, but the club at which I'm shooting now does it the other way.  There are pros and cons to each approach. 

 

One puts more burden on the match director.  On the flip side, when each stage is left to the two or three volunteers, they almost seem to want to out do each other.  So, it's easy to wind up with six mind bending 32 round field courses, chock full of hard cover and no shoots, plus a classifier.  

 

I'm curious what everyone else sees in their monthly club matches.

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I’d kill for people to design me stages. I have one other guy who designs and it works out because we have our own flavors. Leads to a bit more diverse match.  I also don’t like being judge and jury so I’ve also been known to show up for setup with 8-9 stages and say pick six to my set up crew 

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In Memphis at MSSA we all show up and design a stage, it isn’t uncommon for the MD to do perhaps 1 or 2 at most, out of 7 stages.

 

Keeps a wide variety of things featured, and we’ve never had the “trying to upstage each other” problem. We all just design something we’re excited to get to shoot.

 

Almost everywhere features all-32-round stages, however. I really enjoy setting up an extremely  challenging stage with 14 to 22 rounds with a lot of fast aggressive movement and some hosing right before a hard, tight partial or something. But I’m in the minority.

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Things I've seen:

  • Club has one person, usually not the MD, who likes to design stages. Often pretty good at sketch up. They design all the stages, MD picks the classifier and whoever shows up on set up day builds it. The stages are often designed early and the MD or whoever gets to look at them on paper and approve or request changes.
  • Club has 4 to 6 people who volunteer to be in charge of a stage, this can be ad-hoc day of the match or prior to building. Usually these are experienced shooters or builders, people who care, so they usually need just minimal oversight.
  • Build day whoever is there is volun-told to build whatever they want in the moment and write up a stage brief and maybe a crude drawing when finished. In my experience this is a great gamble on getting good, legal stages consistently.

In none of those examples is the MD doing it all. I've been a part of options two and three when I volunteer.

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At our club in North GA we have a handful of people who design stages. We usually make up stuff in SketchUp and drop them in a shared Google Drive folder. The MD always has final say and he occasionally might tweak something. We like to have diverse, interesting stages and have definitely moved away from the all 32 rd field course model. We ran 8 stages last weekend with an average rd count around 24.

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So basically the second option I listed is what Rob's club is doing. It is the option I seem to see have the best results all around. I often creep their match videos and they put on a good one!

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So basically the second option I listed is what Rob's club is doing. It is the option I seem to see have the best results all around. I often creep their match videos and they put on a good one!
It works out well and spreads the load off MD some. Obviously you need to have multiple people willing to put in the time to help. We're fortunate to have people who like to design stages and people who don't mind just getting out to swing a hammer on setup day.

Our goal really is to have lvl 2 quality stages at every match.

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I was the MD for 4 years at my club. Ran 30ish matches a year and I designed all the stages myself via sketch up (300ish unique stages). I had a set up crew who helped me do set up as I prepped for the match and then the club RM and I would walk stages make tweaks as needed.

 

I got burned out hard and tonight our club will be voting in new blood to take over.

 

I suggest splitting the work up as much as possible. If not, you end up causing burn out at some point in the future for the MD/Match Staff.

 

Get the guys who do stage design to teach others how to do it. Spread the knowledge base and the community benefits.

 

I learned everything I know from Tom Palmer, RM. He works a lot of majors in the midwest as well as area matches & nationals. His knowledge has been instrumental in the success of our club.

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We have a signup page on our club website, so various people sign up to design stages, and then show up on match day to be the building director for that stage.  Before the match, if we still have a bay left open (with nobody volunteering to design a stage) we put out a call for anyone else, and if no one volunteers, we grab someone who shows up early and say "Hey, congratulations, you get to shoot the match free today because you are building a stage!"

 

On match day, the stage designers start building the stages, and as other people show up, the registration person directs them to the stages to help out. 

 

It works pretty well, and gives us a nice assortment of stages.

 

Related note:  One of the main reasons that many places end up with all long courses is that 1) people want to shoot, and 2) if one stage is a 12-round course and the next is a 32-round course, you get a serious backup on that stage, and the match goes badly.  So....one easy fix is all large stages, and that is pretty common to have a good match flow.

 

We have started putting two short stages (one short course and a classifier) on one of our large bays to get more of a range of stage types without making a mess of the stage flow.  Two short stages (especially if they are set so you shoot one and can walk directly over to the other and shoot it) take about the same amount of time as a long course.  So most of our bays end up being 24-32 rounds, but we still get two short courses in there.

 

 

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At our club the MDs is responsible for all the stages we have 2 MDs that work together to make sure there are good stages lined up for each match, the stages get posted to a shared google drive that the setup crew can access. we setup the day before the match and a dedicated group of volunteers shows up and does their part in setting up the stages. each of the volunteers has a part of the setup that they like and take care of. we have one guy that pulls props and delivers them to the bays, a couple guys that rough in the stages per the diagrams, the MDs that finalize the layouts and some guys that drill and nail everything down. morning of the match is just setting paper and activators.

 

on the design side, the MDs do come up dry for ideas sometimes so they go steel designs from the internet or with a online record of stages going back years they may pull a stage from the past and change the start position or just set it up in a different bay. 

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1 minute ago, MikeBurgess said:

on the design side, the MDs do come up dry for ideas sometimes so they go steel designs from the internet or with a online record of stages going back years they may pull a stage from the past and change the start position or just set it up in a different bay. 

 

This is what my club has done. We have a bank from the old crew before I came on board as well as some help I have received from others. There is easily 500 stages to pull from that date back as far as 2007. We have a single Google drive folder with them all and give access to other local MDs to pull from as well.

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Also on the design side 

 

I have found that to a certain extent it doesn't matter nearly as much as we like to think, make reasonably safe stages that are by the rules and everyone will have a good time. even simple stages will become challenging when you are trying to shoot them to the limit of your ability. balance is great but each stage does not need to be balanced a variety of stages is the best way to get balance. 

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I do it all at my club, but I go the "steal and tweak" route for my stages. I've scrounged up as many match booklets as I could and tweak them to work for our match. I've started designing some of my own short/medium stages, but since I'm fairly new to the sport I am not confident on creating quality stages myself.

I am definitely concerned with burnout, as just putting together 5-stage matches with little to no help for setup or planning is pretty darn exhausting. I just need to get some other folks at my club as excited about USPSA as I am.

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We have a core group of 6 or 7 people that show up and we let whoever has something that they want to build have a bay.  I send people to bays to help out as they show up.

 

I generally pick a classifier and a short course or a speed shoot for one bay.

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The four clubs I routinely shoot USPSA at each work it differently.  One club designs L2 stages for their L1 matches.  They have a couple stage designers who specialize in tough COFs.   They also host a couple L3 matches, so they have all the props and goodies, and use them.

 

At the second club all the stages are designed by the MD.  They are super tough, technical courses in the 24 to 32 round count range.  Classifiers are always the hardest ones anywhere around.   All steel is forward falling and is calibrated before the match starts.   Forward falling is slow, so you have to call your shots and move on. Waiting to see it start falling adds almost a second to your time.  If there is steel on a stage, there is a lot of it.  Here, barrels are soft cover.

 

The third club also has several good stage designers.  Their stage designs require lots of running.  They make certain that the Open guys have to cover the same ground as Production.  There is never any time you can stand and hose.

 

The fourth club has two stage designers.  Their stages tend not to be technical, because they don't get a lot of help to set up.  They tend to be hose fests with moderate movement.  It will probably stop having USPSA matches, because the MD is fed up.  There used to be 10-12 people there for 8AM for setup.  Now it is 3 or 4.  A match was cancelled at 9:30 two months ago, because only two people showed up for setup.

Edited by zzt
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At our club I design most of the stages (match director) but have some folks who help me out and send me designs.

I've also started stealing stages off of facebook that I see as well.

I always encourage folks to send me stage designs, I think having several different people designing them leads to a much more interesting match.

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