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Stage design/building in a volunteer sport - how does your club do it?


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How does your club get stage design/building done without taxing the same folks again and again in our volunteer sport?  Referring mostly to weekly local matches, not larger matches or majors.
 

Apologies if this has been brought up elsewhere but curious to know how other clubs get it done.  

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Our club has BOD. Board of directors where each person is required to come up with a stage for each monthly match.  In return board members get unlimited access to club props for practice, along with some other perks.  While I can understand not asking the same people to create stages each match to prevent burn out could be a thing I am not sure having random people create stages is practical.  I think it would be hard for a Club President, or who ever is going to be the match director to indoctrinate random people on how to design stages every time the MD and/or club president wants to hold match.  Creating stages that are safe and fall within USPSA rules sets is a skill.  If your club does not have enough members to have each person to learn how to create stages, and make that a requirement for being on the board, the MD and/or club president will be spending a lot of time editing poor stage designs from random participants.  Lets be honest how many people actually care to enough about the sport to take anymore of their time to help with the running of a match.  The majority of USPSA shooters are consumers.  We are lucky to get the numbers for setup that we get, let alone asking more of members time to help with other aspects of "volunteering' in the sport.

 

Also if your club is holding USPSA matches weekly, that might have to be revisited in the frequency at which your club is holding matches.  To me that would burn out people rather quickly.  I know I would be hard pressed to volunteer that much time to my club.  I have a life outside of shooting.  So do the rest of our board members, and I imagine many of them feel the same way.  Putting on matches for club is time consuming.  It might be something to have a discussion about for the longevity/health of the club, if your club is truly holding them weekly.

Edited by Boomstick303
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Weekly sounds insane. I put on matches twice a month at my club from May through August. I'm a teacher with summers off, and that still nearly burns me out.

But I also don't have much help with stages - so I steal ones from the internet, and tweak when I set up. I would strongly recommend finding as many stage ideas online as you can to build up a library that you can pull from in case you don't have people willing to make stages all the time.

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Think about ways to increase efficiency of your set up and spend money to do it if you can. Have the equipment you need. I am fine helping set up stages, I am not fine walking around a range for half an hour to find staples.  Have a box per bay that has a stapler, pliers, measuring tape whatever you need in it. If you use stakes, have a bucket of stakes and a hammer for every bay. Try and be organized so if a guy that only shoots once in a while shows up he can find things and help.

 

There are threads where people have built specialized trailers and all kinds of stuff on this forum. If you pound a lot of stakes get a rotary driver, there is a thread about that.

 

Like mentioned before steal stages from anywhere you can. When you build them don't go crazy trying to set them up perfectly like the picture. Set up a stage without shoot throughs, no shots over the berm, and as safe as you can. Don't spend half an hour debating whether it'd be better if you did something slightly different. You can set it up again 3 weeks later with a subtle change if you want, then you can even see how your slight changes effect how stages are shot.

 

If you are setting up, feel free to set up what you are working on. Add on long shots or hard leans or whatever you are focusing on. It gives you a purpose for setting up the stage. If that annoys other shooters, they can come and set up what they want next week.

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Posted (edited)

All great stuff here, thanks for the replies.

 

Our club runs two USPSA matches, one Steel Challenge, one Multigun and sometimes a rimfire match per month.

 

Especially with respect to the USPSA matches, the same core of guys (that have been doing it for a while) design and build the stages for match 1, and match 2 usually involves tweaks to the stage designs of match 1 so that the wheels aren't totally reinvented.  Our issue is that these guys are getting burned out, so I'm curious about other ways of getting club members involved even if it's to only build pre-designed stages.  Example: mandatory minimum number of stage builds per member each year?  Club members are organized into groups and stage building is assigned on a rotating basis?  Ideas like that.  

 

It seems when brought up most newer (myself included, been shooting a little over one year) members are somewhat intimidated to *design* stages but more than happy to build if given a design to follow.  And of course I agree that most shooters are "consumers" as folks have busy lives/work schedules/etc. but it seems if the building work is divided in an organized way, no one would be burdened all the time.  Of course the President/MD would review the stages once built and supervise changes for safety/rule/quality reasons.

 

I'm just interested to see if clubs out there have different systems in place other than a singular group that always does the design and build.

Edited by fyaman43
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We have 382 members in our local sportsman's club and have had monthly USPSA matches all run and set up by a core group.  That core group can no longer run the matches so we have begged and cajoled the members in an effort to find replacements.  No one is interested and consequently we are having our last USPSA match this month and then we are losing our USPSA affiliation.  Sad.

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This is an opportunity for USPSA to provide some more support for clubs. A database of stage designs that included the berm dimensions and props required would alleviate some of the headaches around stage design. Members could submit their own designs to the database, it would not be long before there would be literally hundreds of stages to pick from.

 

Add a front-end to the database where a club could define the number and sizes of each berm, and the props that were available and the software could spit out a set of stages that could theoretically provide all the data needed for an entire L1 match. Select all the stages that they want for their match and it would download the stage setup diagrams and images of the layout. There would also be a download for Practiscore that would contain all the stage names, number of targets, steel etc into the master match device to populate the tablets.

 

The front-end could keep track of which stages were used in each club to prevent the same stage being offered more than once.

Edited by BritinUSA
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1 hour ago, LordManHammer said:

We have 382 members in our local sportsman's club and have had monthly USPSA matches all run and set up by a core group.  That core group can no longer run the matches so we have begged and cajoled the members in an effort to find replacements.  No one is interested and consequently we are having our last USPSA match this month and then we are losing our USPSA affiliation.  Sad.

 

That sucks.  This is what I'm hoping to avoid.

 

At 2 matches/month with 6 stages/match it's "only" 144 stages/year.  Subtract Classifiers from that and it's "only" 120 stages a year that require designing.  Personally, I'd be totally fine with being responsible for *one* stage per year as we have at least 120 members (or so I think)....  

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We run a weekly league in the summer that runs the same stages for 3 week rotations and had 2 USPSA matches but that was cut down to 1 due to burnout. The weekly league was almost cancelled as well due to the core group quitting and no one stepping up until the very last minute.

 

Our issue is the board for the range has not been supportive to the competitive shooting sports. One thing that was discussed and denied by the board was paying the core setup guys my comping match fees along with some cash. I would gladly spend 5-10 more a match for paid setup and then everyone helps to tear down. I used to help setup but life gets in the way of hobbies.

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20 hours ago, LordManHammer said:

We have 382 members in our local sportsman's club and have had monthly USPSA matches all run and set up by a core group.  That core group can no longer run the matches so we have begged and cajoled the members in an effort to find replacements.  No one is interested and consequently we are having our last USPSA match this month and then we are losing our USPSA affiliation.  Sad.

I don't think 99% of shooters appreciate how fragile the sport really is. If the match director at our club quit, our weekly matches would die. I help as much as I can but realistically that is going to be 2 maybe 3 times a month next summer, and there is nothing I can do about it for a long time. A few others help regularly, but none of them would run the club.

 

Top guys don't care, they can just practice and shoot majors. Eventually you'd lose the future of the sport though, no one is going to start out shooting level 3's and nationals.

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1 hour ago, bofe954 said:

I don't think 99% of shooters appreciate how fragile the sport really is.


This is so true; Any sport that relies on volunteerism to succeed will eventually fail if there is no return on that time/effort for the clubs/volunteers.

 

This sport and the organization exists ONLY because of the members who sadly do not get a great deal of support in return for their efforts. 

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There are two clubs near me, both are about 2 hours away and setup the Friday before the match. I think typically it's just a couple guys doing the setup. 

 

There was another club closer that used to setup morning of, they're gone now. And there is a IDPA club that sets up morning of locally too. Sometimes setting up the morning of would run long, but that might motivate guys to jump in and help finish up. 

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Maybe a rota system would work; Have squads of members and each month a new squad will be responsible for setting up the match. Anyone who doesn't show up would not be allowed to shoot for a period of time. Exceptions would be needed for those that work shifts or be able to swap out with another person if they were unable to be there on a specific date.

 

Might work, then again it might not...

 

If there is no incentive to work then some people won't do it. They will just rely on those that are passionate about the sport…. It's that whole 'competitors vs participants' thing again.

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1 hour ago, BritinUSA said:

Maybe a rota system would work; Have squads of members and each month a new squad will be responsible for setting up the match. Anyone who doesn't show up would not be allowed to shoot for a period of time. Exceptions would be needed for those that work shifts or be able to swap out with another person if they were unable to be there on a specific date.

 

My thought was each building squad could have a lead (or two) that's experienced and any number of other members that will help under that person's direction.  Who will and won't be able to help for a certain match could be handled within the group and replacements enlisted as needed.  Helps mentor newer shooters so that one day they can build, etc., etc.  Designers can just hand out the plans to the building teams unless someone's interested in building their own.  Given the number of squads, folks would only be asked to build 3-4 times per year or less...

 

My club is big on not having mandatory building participation or penalties but peer (group?) pressure can be a powerful motivator.  And as I've recently found out, stage designing and building certainly makes you a better shooter.

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I like the idea of a team-lead/mentor.
 

If that was tied in with my other proposal of a database of stage designs - for those occasions where a club is short of a good designer - could really help matters for some clubs.
 

I still think USPSA needs to do more to support the L1 clubs. These matches generate the vast majority of USPSA’s revenue and cash reserves.

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On 1/5/2022 at 4:23 PM, LordManHammer said:

We have 382 members in our local sportsman's club and have had monthly USPSA matches all run and set up by a core group.  That core group can no longer run the matches so we have begged and cajoled the members in an effort to find replacements.  No one is interested and consequently we are having our last USPSA match this month and then we are losing our USPSA affiliation.  Sad.

My club is going the same way. Mainly because I’m tired of doing it all myself.  I had someone design stages for a few matches and they quit because “it’s hard”.  

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11 minutes ago, Nathanb said:

My club is going the same way. Mainly because I’m tired of doing it all myself.  I had someone design stages for a few matches and they quit because “it’s hard”.  

 

What kind of stages are typical at your club? Are they mostly long courses or a good mix of short, medium and long ?

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On 1/5/2022 at 10:29 AM, fyaman43 said:

I'm just interested to see if clubs out there have different systems in place other than a singular group that always does the design and build.

 

We do 2 monthly matches, and our club has 3+ MD's and at least 10 people that design stages on a regular basis, but EVERYONE helps build them. We start setup at 8:30 most of the year, and are always shooting by 10. The 2 other local clubs that have a monthly match use the same strategy of morning setup.

 

Imho, if you are setting up your match the day before, that is a recipe for failure. Our stage designers may spend a total of 45mins to an hour more than the run of the mill consumer on the match setup. New shooters learn at their first match that they are expected to help, and that their help is welcomed.

 

Admittedly, we have been doing this for a while, so we are pretty efficient, and we have 2 atv's with cargo trailers for toting walls and poppers and target stands back and forth, but even if it took 2 hrs of setup and registration before we got to the shooting, it would still be a HUGE improvement over trying to get people to set up the day before, which is more like a half-day commitment, and not really sustainable for most people.

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6 hours ago, bofe954 said:

I don't think 99% of shooters appreciate how fragile the sport really is. If the match director at our club quit, our weekly matches would die.

that sucks. If the MD at our club quit, we have 10 other guys that would step up. but our MD doesn't have to do it all himself. Everyone pitches in. The match doesn't start until the stages are setup, so if you are shooting, you are helping, and many hands make light work.

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The biggest thing I hated with match setup (and what seemed to use the most time) was hauling the props from the equipment shack to each berm. Especially the large poppers. 

 

If I had the funds to build and run a range I would have custom flat-bed trailers that would have several walls, poppers, targets stands etc all stacked neatly in slots. An ATV would haul each trailer to a berm for setup. Tear down would involve stacking the props back onto the trailer and then ATV them back to the shack. All the props would remain on the trailers for the next match.

 

I think even a large stage could be setup in 20 minutes and torn down in 5 with that process….

 

 

Edited by BritinUSA
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Our club also has a storage building every bay or two which has helped a lot with set up. Any running around is for a popper or something small but most of the bays have walls, target stands and some steel.

 

If I was starting a range from scratch and had the funds, I would use shipping containers between every bay and keep the props for each bay right at hand and lay out the stages based on the props at each bay (not possible now but they used to be really cheap). Each container would have specific props and would need to ensure they are returned there.

 

Even with an ATV and a trailer, it's not always easy to move props around as everyone is trying to move them at the same time.

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13 hours ago, BritinUSA said:

 

What kind of stages are typical at your club? Are they mostly long courses or a good mix of short, medium and long ?

It depends. I like to think it was a good mix. But I did tend to lean towards long courses if I leaned any direction. 

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19 hours ago, BritinUSA said:

Maybe a rota system would work; Have squads of members and each month a new squad will be responsible for setting up the match. Anyone who doesn't show up would not be allowed to shoot for a period of time. Exceptions would be needed for those that work shifts or be able to swap out with another person if they were unable to be there on a specific date.

 

Not a great idea for those coming to the club matches from a far distance... Like several hours drive.

 

Pre-covid there was a large group of Canadian shooters were foing to matches in Detroit area every month (over 4 hour drive for some of us). Your idea would essentially kill it for all of us.

 

Similarly a large group was going to the Buffalo area matches. After NY state restrictions came into effect a few years ago most people stopped going there and that reduced attendance for those matches to somewhat critical levels.

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18 minutes ago, euxx said:

 

Not a great idea for those coming to the club matches from a far distance... Like several hours drive.

 

 

My thought was the building squads would only be comprised of club (local?) members, not those from outside.  That way each club kinda handles their own building internally.  Wouldn't involve traveling shooters.  Again, just a thought.

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