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1. Minimum trigger pull for Production

I already voted against this once, so that is not a problem.

I voted *for* that one. I think it is the right thing to do - I think "Production" should mean "as produced by the factory". More to the point, I think we already have plenty of divisions for the guys who want to modify their guns... I believe we need a place for guys who *don't* want to get sucked up into an equipment race, where they have to tinker and modify to avoid being at a competitive disadvantage. I think Production "should be" the place where you can compete with a department-issued gun or a straight-out-of-the-bedside-table gun or a just-bought-it-and-want-to-shoot-it-as-is gun. That was the original *purpose* for creating the Production division, and when we wrote the rules we tried to make it clear that very few modifications would be allowed. We didn't close all the loopholes, obviously, and what we have now is people making structural and functional changes to their guns - on the inside, where no one can see them - to gain a competitive advantage. The minimum trigger weight is nothing more than an attempt to put a guardrail around that - in a measurable way - so that the guns stay a little closer to "Production" configuration. Shooters that want to modify their Glocks/XDs/CZs/whatever already *have* a place, its called Limited (or Lim-10). I'm open to discussing this... but that's what I think, and that's how I voted.

This rule, the way it is written, angers a lot of the striker and DAO guys. I can appreciate the BoD wanted to steer some divisions in a particular direction, I don't agree with the goals but at least if we were to sit down and talk about it we'd agree on the agenda. If this rule passed, and I really don't want it to, then if needs to apply to every trigger pull and not just the first pull. The DA/SA guys are running 1 lbs SA triggers at this point and there's no amount of logic that's going to make striker and DAO guys happy that they have to run 3.5 lbs triggers just to give them self enough leeway to be sure they're legal (ala major PF shooters running 170 PF loads to not accidentally dip below the limit). Apply this rule in a fair way or don't apply it at all.

3. Front strap height in Production

The only front strap height I am interested in is in PSSD. I am totally comfortable with the previous rule.

I'm ambivalent about this one. *IF* we end up going down the path that the USPSA President has proposed... two "race" divisions (Open and Limited, all modifications are fair game), and two "stock" divisions (Production and SS, modifications would be very restricted), then this rule makes sense for both Production and SS to me. The "idea" of those divisions would be that race holsters belong in the "race" division, and I personally believe that dropping and offsetting a holster is a "race" move. I think that in Production, the holsters should be suitable for daily carry. If SS becomes a "stock" division, I think the same would be true there. If it remains a stand-alone division, I don't think I care whethere DOH-type holsters are allowed or not, the division would stand on its own anyway.

The Bladetech DOH is the largest percentage of Production shooters. You're outlawing a piece of gear that's cheap, everyone has access to, and is clearly well liked. Not all DOH holsters can be converted to a belt holster either, only newer models. Aside from this point, the "suitable for daily carry" verbiage makes me cringe. Aside from being an analog to IDPA the letter and verse are so ambiguous that it has no meaning. The everyday carry aspect just stands out so badly, there's no heritage involved in the spirit of these rules - the original IPSC holsters weren't suitable for everyday carry why should today's USPSA holsters? We shouldn't change our rules to attract shooters from other disciplines when we know we'll drive away current members, it just doesn't make sense. A last little point, similar to the Limited and Limited 10 barrel replacement verbiage, this rule has no record of being discussed in the BoD minutes and this greatly bothers me. Please, if the record is there and I'm missing it correct me, if I'm correct then this should be removed from the proposed rules for the same reasons you stated regarding the Lim and L-10 barrel replacement rule.

Your mag/holster placement and no-shortcuts opinions I'm in agreement with. I like the penalizing multiple no-shoot rule as well. I'm on the fence about the "no shooting unactivated movers" rules, it seems to favor lazy course design as the expense of freestyle.

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This rule, the way it is written, angers a lot of the striker and DAO guys.

I don't disagree, and there's been a lot of discussion about exactly that. There's a fork in the road... if we have a minimum trigger pull on first shot only, it gives an advantage to the DA/SA guns. It we have a minumum trigger pull on every shot, it basically makes all the DA/SA guns illegal for the division. I believe the 1st of those two choices is less disruptive to the division, and allows inclusion of more types of guns.... which, in turn, means more choices for shooters.

The Bladetech DOH is the largest percentage of Production shooters.

Again, I don't disagree... although I would note that the DOH didn't exist when the division was formed, and we *thought* that saying "no race type holsters" was sufficient language, but clearly it wasn't.

Look at it this way.... in Production, we already have constraints about where you can put gun and gear "horizontally" on your belt - they have to be behind a certain point, they have to be within a certain distance from the torso (current rules) or inside of the belt (proposed rules). With the DOH issue, we aren't seeking to ban a particular type of holster (and for *sure*, we have no interest in pissing off either members or manufacturers). Rather, the goal is to put some boundaries around where you can put your gun and gear *vertically* as well. So... we're not going to go down the route of saying "this holster is legal and that one isn't".... we're just suggesting that the front-strap of the gun has to be above the top of the belt.

A last little point, similar to the Limited and Limited 10 barrel replacement verbiage, this rule has no record of being discussed in the BoD minutes and this greatly bothers me.

Me too. There's a whole bunch of stuff that made it into the draft, that I don't remember voting on. I believe what you will see in the next rules meeting is a whole bunch of on-the-record, specific motions, probably with roll-call votes to ensure members get a full accounting of how we landed where we did.

Bruce

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and there's been a lot of discussion about exactly that. There's a fork in the road... if we have a minimum trigger pull on first shot only, it gives an advantage to the DA/SA guns. It we have a minumum trigger pull on every shot, it basically makes all the DA/SA guns illegal for the division. I believe the 1st of those two choices is less disruptive to the division, and allows inclusion of more types of guns.... which, in turn, means more choices for shooters.

How about this for a solution?

Trigger pull will be tested with the gun in it's "Second Shot" condition. Striker or DAO 3lbs DA/SA 3lbs. First shot condition will not be measured. Chrono dude will upon receipt of weapon, verify gun is clear, test safety, drop hammer by pulling trigger, rack gun to cycle to "Second Shot" condition and test trigger pull weight.

Jim

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Trigger pull will be tested with the gun in it's "Second Shot" condition. Striker or DAO 3lbs DA/SA 3lbs.

Yup. That's the second option, the one that would make a whole bunch of currently-legal production guns no longer legal in the division.

And, while we do want to control *modifications*, we do *not* want to "obsolete" the investments that members have made in their guns. As I mentioned in previous post(s), the challenge is to walk the tightrope between what members have and want today, and what we believe is best for the long-term viability and growth of the organization, to make sure that we *continue* to have a sport for those members.

Bruce

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If the BOD continues down this road making this gun illegal and that holster illegal after they were approved and in use, they may wakeup on day and not have a membership or rules to worry about.

All of the shooting disiplines were formed for one reason or another. Who's to say a new practical shooting organization could not be started tomorrow. I am sure the manufacturers will supprt whatever group allows the greater number of thier products to be used. IMO the DOH holster should be allowed in all divisions. I don't care if Heine thinks it should be or not. How much does he contribute to our sport? Let's support those who support us!

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This rule, the way it is written, angers a lot of the striker and DAO guys.

I don't disagree, and there's been a lot of discussion about exactly that. There's a fork in the road... if we have a minimum trigger pull on first shot only, it gives an advantage to the DA/SA guns. It we have a minumum trigger pull on every shot, it basically makes all the DA/SA guns illegal for the division. I believe the 1st of those two choices is less disruptive to the division, and allows inclusion of more types of guns.... which, in turn, means more choices for shooters.

If we make no changes to the rules, we have an equilibrium that's fair and competitive. If we create a minimum trigger pull rule, we are simply creating a gear race towards a well-tuned DA/SA pistols. I don't get it, a trigger minimum isn't less disruptive than leaving the rules as-is. This rule has no basis, it doesn't by any person's definition accomplish it's stated purpose.

I'm just shaking my head on this one, it makes absolutely no sense at all to me. You can put a Caspian slide, milled for Bo-Mars, and a Bar-Sto barrel on a G34 that's frame was stippled with a soldering iron to the point that it no longer has the factory shape (another proposed Production rule allows stippling of grips) but if the trigger is <3 lbs welcome to Open division? Let's prevent an equipment race by making the largest category of pistols obsolete? I can't even begin to accept the logic of the rule without recanting all of the previous ruling allowing severe modifications to the factory condition. I apologize ahead of time for some of the sarcasm, but I'm really trying to illustrate how this rule fits into real world picture of Production division.

If you change nothing, everyone is happy. If you make this change you've just ticked off at least 1/3 of your current membership without accomplishing the stated goal.

Edited for a typo.

Edited by ihatepickles
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[The Bladetech DOH is the largest percentage of Production shooters. You're outlawing a piece of gear that's cheap, everyone has access to, and is clearly well liked. Not all DOH holsters can be converted to a belt holster either, only newer models. Aside from this point, the "suitable for daily carry" verbiage makes me cringe.

Very well put!

I am fairly certain that wearing five or six magazines on one's belt (downloaded to 10-rounds!) isn't a bit congruent with "daily carry," but it is very appropriate to trying to have a 'stock-oriented' Division that lets shooters enter as cheaply as possible, yet still shoot the same course as everyone else. A good thing.

By that token, so are Kydex or plastic belt holsters appropriate, and if some are dropped a bit...who cares? A DOH is very suitable for carrying at an IPSC/USPSA match. :)

Otherwise, you start entering IDPA-land. :(

And, even if you really feel that Production must require conceal-carry oriented gear, is it worth pursuing that to the exclusion of a holster so many people already use? The $50 or $60 for the holster is nothing compared to the investment in *practice* some shooters have in their gear, which can't be trivialized, imo.

I appreciate your stating your positions and reasons here, too! I know it takes a lot of time and energy to respond, and read all this stuff. :)

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Warning: random spewings of opinion ahead...

If we make no changes to the rules, we have an equilibrium that's fair and competitive.

*That's* where I disagree. Right now, if we make no changes to the rules, they are *so* ambiguous and *so* full of loopholes that no two people would be able to agree on whether or not a specific modification is legal or not. I know what I "meant" when I helped write those rules, but other people have very different opinions of what they "mean".

So... IMHO, we *have* to do something. The BIG fork in the road, is

-- should we throw off the shackles, and make it so [pretty much] any modification is OK in Production division?

or

-- tighten up the rules so that the boundaries are clearer, and that the *different* boundaries between Production and other divisions delineate a place for competitors who *don't* want to make clever/hidden/edge-of-the-envelope modifications to their guns?

My opinion? The division is *not* fair and competitive right now. Shooter #1 shows up with a box-stock glock in a bladetech holster; shooter #2 shows up with a glock that may "look" the same, but has been hogged out to lighten the slide, has had striker parts replaced to give a crisp release, has had a Vanek trigger job done to lighten the pull by changing pivot points, and is pulled from a Bladetech DOH. Both are technically legal right now. but they are VERY different, and one of them got there by pushing the "gray areas", and sort of "assuming the mods are OK because the rules don't say they aren't".

One way or another, we *have* to remove the gray areas. The question is, do we do it by tightening things up, or by getting rid of the constraints entirely.

My opinion is that... if we go the latter route, we'll have nothing more than a new little brother for Limited-10... minor scoring, non-single-action first shot, and anything else goes. If we get to *that* point, I'd have to question why we should have the division at all.

Bruce (where's my Nomex suit?)

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One way or another, we *have* to remove the gray areas. The question is, do we do it by tightening things up, or by getting rid of the constraints entirely.

My opinion is that... if we go the latter route, we'll have nothing more than a new little brother for Limited-10... minor scoring, non-single-action first shot, and anything else goes. If we get to *that* point, I'd have to question why we should have the division at all.

Bruce (where's my Nomex suit?)

Bruce, no need for Nomex. I agree regarding eliminating the gray area. I also agree that Production and Lim-10 are getting closer everyday, just look at the stage times at Area matches.

To keep things as tangible as I can, I don't think the trigger weight rule is the correct way to solve this problem. I wish I had the magic answer but I don't and I'm somewhat ashamed to simply say "I don't like it" without a better answer. Each time I talk about this topic I understand a bit better why IPSC Production is structured the way it is. It's a hardline approach but when fairly administered it solves a lot of problems we're discussing today, I'd prefer to keep the 10 round mag limits though - it allows a wider variety of pistols to be competitive. I bring up IPSC Production because it seems like the inmates are running the asylum when we're talking about restricting trigger pulls in light of the other major mod allowed that I mentioned earlier.

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Just a point of clarification here.

I am not in favor of the trigger pull rule. I merely proposed what could MAYBE be a workable rule. As it is currently written, all striker fired guns will pass regardless of actual pull. The rule calls for guns to be decocked. You can hang enough weight on a trigger on and XD or Glock to break the gun, but if the gun is truly decocked, it will never go bang.

Jim

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Bruce,

Let me throw a few thoughts out...that you may (or not) find useful as a basis when looking at various changes.

- Is the proposal worth drawing a line in the sand ?

- Does the benefit justify the cost ?

- What is the true result that will come from the change ?

- Who wants the change, and why ?

With regards to the topic at hand, I ask myself if there is a large enough benefit to justify the change. And, at what cost ?

It seems clear to me that the ripple from the Production trigger pull and the DOH holster would be larger and hard hitting (in one aspect or another). That makes those proposals "big changes", but they don't carry with them big rewards. There are a large number of shooters that are upset about those proposed changes. There will be fallout if they go through. I'm not seeing where winning that battle is worth the cost...

Further using those examples...

You talked about shooters that want to come play our game that don't want to make hardly any changes to their guns. I gotta tell ya...I just don't know who those people are. I know people like that (I hang out at a few forums where the guys eat snakes for breakfast, nails for lunch and shit sand), but those people aren't going to be coming to our matches any time soon.

I'm about the only guy I know of that might fit your model. I shot a mostly stock Glock to GM in Limited and used the same setup to place in the top 16 at the last two Production Nationals...all with holsters that nobody else would think are competitive. I'm always preaching on how shooters are wasting time and money messing around with their guns..when they could be practicing and buying bullets. Perhaps you've seen me bitch about not being able to buy a used G34 around here because shooters have raised the price of them by hanging stuff on them that I don't need or want. But...my gawd...I am pretty much all alone in that line of thinking.

Our shooters...our members...want to be allowed to do some tweaking. I'm certainly not suggesting opening the flood gates (which would be a knee-jerk reaction, IMO), but some things are to be expected.

Who can blame the shooters for wanting to tweak. I mean (and no offense intended for those doing their jobs) what guns are coming off the shelf without crappy sights, triggers and such...due to the lawyers and accountants ?

Now, contrast those ideas with the number of hits on the NS idea. The NS count doesn't really have much effect on the game. It's benefit is more in line with it's cost.

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Great post, Kyle. I appreciate it.

Dunno whether my response will fit neatly into this thread, you may want to spin it off into a separate thread, 'cuz it will probably be sorta wide-ranging and maybe not directly answer your questions, but hopefully give you some insight into my thought processes.

BTW, that's as good a place as any for a disclaimer: these are *my* [random] thoughts, not the position of USPSA, its officers or directors, etc, etc, your mileage may vary, void where prohibited by law....

----

Maybe a little background is appropriate. I'm the son of an engineer and an artist. From the engineer side, I was taught that every problem has a solution, if you can't identify the solution it probably means you don't fully understand the problem. From the artist side, I learned that there isn't necessarily always a single straight path between the problem and the solution... there might be multiple paths, there might be curves and bumps.

I work in the software industry, but my work is generally lumped into the category of "business strategy". I work with a lot of companies that "have problems", and don't have a clue how to solve them. I get to come in with a fresh perspective, listen to all the different facets of what they are trying to accomplish and what barriers [real or perceived] are in the way, and help them identify concrete things [ideally, using our software <g>] that they can use to solve the problems and achieve their business goals.

When I ran for the USPSA Board lo those many years ago, it was with the intent of bringing *that* approach to the Board processes. No offense meant to any past Board member, but it seemed to me like the goals of the organization were unclear, the processes were pretty chaotic, the rules were pretty unstable, the communication with members was pretty spotty, the relationship with IPSC was problematic, and in general it just sorta seemed like the organization was floating along without a clear idea of where it wanted to go. I wanted to help fix that.

In fact, before even deciding to run for the Board, on a "whim" one day I wrote a letter to the USPSA Executive Director, telling him that I thought USPSA needed a "mission statement" - a written-down set of principles and goals that the Board could use to "test" whether or not any given action or decision was taking them the direction they wanted to go. Dave wrote back and asked me what a "mission statement" looked like, so I made one up. It ended up getting adopted by the Board, and is (currently) the "official USPSA Mission Statement"

(IMHO, it actually still hangs together pretty well, and still *thoroughly* reflects what I think USPSA should be doing...) :unsure:

http://www.uspsa.org/bodminutes/19990814.html (scroll down to Attachment C)

So... flash to today, 6 years later. We've made some progress in some areas. Processes are better, we're better at working through the ramifications of Board actions *before* making decisions, we're doing fewer knee-jerk things with unintended consequences and surprises; our relationship with IPSC is measurably better, and with the new alignment (created with the goal of removing the major bone of contention between IPSC and USPSA, so we can get along even better) I have great optimism there; the rules (some complaints notwithstanding) are more stable than they've ever been. We did a rulebook in 2001, one in 2004, one in 2008, and we have a *bylaw* that says we can't change equipment rules more than once every three years. We're doing pretty good, and a whole lot better than IPSC, which seems to publish new "binding interpretations" (which are, under the covers, pretty much "new rules") every year. We're doing (I think) a better job of communicating with the membership, and responding to what we hear from members (the fact that several board members are actively involved here in benos-land is good evidence... the fact that we're doing a year-long review, with formal member-feedback period on the proposed rules is unprecedented...) etc.

The place where we have *not* made much progress is in the strategy of the org. It still seems to me like we are "drifting" - we have no clear statement about what direction we want to head, and no clear identification of the problems that keep us from getting there.

Take the divisions, for example. What we *have* done over the last 5 or 6 years is add divisions in sort of a knee-jerk, reactive fashion. When IPSC created new divisions for their 2000 rulebook, we adopted them in a hurry. But only "sort of". You may recall in that timeframe two things were going on: one, USPSA was basically under a "comply with IPSC or get out" situation, and two, USPSA had a "waiver" allowing us to have our own divisions. So, USPSA adopted new divisions, but made changes where we thought IPSC's equipment rules were not quite right. We did it in a hurry, and we made some mistakes. But, more to the point, we did it without a *plan* for what we wanted those divisions to be, and that led to interesting situation(s). If I can say this without stepping on toes, I think we did the same thing with the Provisional Single-stack division. We added it, I think it is a good move to recognize single-stacks, and I think it will prove to help us grow, but we did it without a real *plan*, a roadmap for the future.

I think we need a plan. I think we need a clear idea of what problems we're trying to solve, we need to identify the specific things that are *keeping* us from solving those problems, and we need to build a *plan* for addressing those things.

One of the "problems" we have, IMHO, is growth. For years, we grew like a weed. Somewhere in the 90s, we stopped. For a few years in the early part of this decade, our membership numbers were stagnant at about 13,000 active members. Right now, we're feeling really healthy, with a record number of members at something over 15,000. That's great! But... if you look at it from *my* perspective, that's horrible. Because growth in "customers" means that you're doing the right things, and that the customers are rewarding you with their business, and the money that generates provides the ability to do *more* good things. Put that in USPSA terms, more members must mean we're doing god things, and they're voting with their membership fees, and those fees allow us to do more things (more nationals, more RO seminars, more services to members, more kinds of practical shooting competition, more ... whatever. More *responsiveness* to the interests and desires of our members is a good thing.)

Taking that perspective, our "growth" is sickly. In raw numbers, it is 15% over 6 years, or well under 3% per year. That's less than cost-of-living, less than inflation-rates, for-sure it is less than the price of gas has gone up over the same period of time. In my "business" world, a lot of organizations believe that 10% growth is the "just staying alive" point. Granted, those kinds of businesses are looking at profit, we aren't... but I believe the premise is still valid, that if you aren't growing at a healthy rate, you're probably just "surviving".

Now, if you dig a layer deeper into that, there may be an awful lot of really interesting things that are affecting our growth. Things like:

-- our game probably isn't for everyone. Just like all gun owners are not shooters, and all shooters are not competitive shooters... not all competitive shooters are going to want to be USPSA shooters. We are a very competitive, alpha-dog kinda sport, where there are no alibis or mulligans, and at the end of the day you are told *exactly* how well or poorly you did against the shooter that won. That turns some people off. So, I can see how we might be in a "niche" that would constrain our growth. (more on that later)

-- membership in the organization is not mandatory. If you look at our membership, we're floating at around 15,000 members... but our member-numbers (A-XXXXX) have gone from the 30,000 range in about 2000, to approaching the 60,000 range now. That means that in the last 5-6 years, approximately 30,000 people found us, *tried* us, and joined the org... but the vast majority of them are *not* active members today. We've had 30,000 new people, but only a small fraction of them decided to "be members". Why is that? My guess is that most of them only shoot club matches, they don't have to be members, if they don't go to a nationals they don't care about being classified, and so... hey, why spend the 40 bucks if you don't have to, and clearly we have not shown them that there is 40 bucks worth of "value" in being a member, or they'd still be one, right? (more on that later, too) Putting it in a different way, each year we *gain* several thousand new members (new member numbers are generated)... but we *lose* nearly as many members, people who choose not to renew. I want to know why we're losing them! My guess is many of them still shoot our matches, they just don't feel it is worth it to be a member of the org. I think that's... scary, for the future of the org.

-- maybe we're not providing the best possible services to our members? most members believe that "all they get" for their 40 bucks is a classification card and a magazine. They don't think about all the things that go on behind the scenes, that allow us to have a truly national sport. Things that are sort of member-facing, like rulebooks and RO training... but also things that are not so obvious, like all the work that goes into helping club administration, SC training, etc. The fact that you can walk into any USPSA match in the country, and have a pretty high-degree of confidence that it will be run according to the same rules, using the same targets, officiated by trained officials, scored by the same scoring methods and programs, and posted on the national website... doesn't just happen by itself - there's a *lot* that goes on behind the scenes in the org. Plus the work that goes into coordinating [multiple] national championship matches, sponsor relations, marketing efforts, etc, etc, etc. Maybe there are services we should be doing that would more directly benefit members and give them more of a reason to "belong"? Dunno.

-- maybe we're not providing the right kind(s) of competition? Maybe our vision of "practical shooting" is too narrow, and attracts only those whose egos can stand the pressure? Maybe we should be exploring TimePlus in addition to (instead of?) Comstock? Maybe we should be watching what goes on in GSSF, IDPA, SASS, IMGA, ICORE, SteelChallenge - recognizing that we all have pretty much the same demographic - and looking for things we can offer to expand our competition opportunities?

-- maybe we're putting our eggs in the wrong baskets? maybe we're putting too much of our resources into promoting national championships, and should instead be investing in helping clubs get off the ground? maybe we should be doing grass-roots promotions, spending more time working with tradegroups and industry shows, maybe we should do more to get juniors and ladies involved (those are *hugely* under-represented groups, when you compare our population against the "general population"). Maybe we should be doing more to "soften" our sport so it is less competitive, and somehow then "more friendly"?

-- maybe we're not marketing enough, or in the right ways? I have this feeling that there are huge untapped pools of potential USPSA competitors out there, who either don't know about us, or know about us and have decided that, based on what they've heard, we're "just not for them". In fact, arguably, there are 35,000 people out there who *have* heard about us and chose to no longer be members... maybe we should be marketing to *them*, finding out why they left and giving them reasons to come back?!?!

...

So when I start thinkin' about what problems we have, as an organization, I start wondering why it is that we aren't growing, and what things are *keeping* us from growing the way we should be. If, in fact, "growth" is a goal (and I think it should be), then... anything that impedes our growth should probably be considered a problem. At least, that's how it lays out in *my* head.

So I start sorting through things. Things that I hear on the range, at club matches and nationals. Things that I hear in the Board meetings, and in emails from SCs and club reps. Things that I run across in my work life that seem to apply. And I try to figure out just what kinds of things we can do that would "make sense" for us to do.

Some things we probably can't solve. We are, arguably, the "X-games" of the shooting sports. It takes a certain kind of competitive drive to do well at this game, and, more to the point, if you don't have a pretty thick skin, you might well find that the game is not for you. I don't know what it is like in other areas of the country, but I know in my neck of the woods we frequently get cops or military coming out to see a match.... they come in all puffed up because, you know, they carry a gun and they've been trained, and so they *must* be head and shoulders above mere civilians. And then, at their first match, they get their ass handed to them.... and about 8 times out of 10, we never see them again. I don't think we can solve that problem, unless we come up with a "kinder, gentler" form of practical shooting, and I think that would be a step backwards.

Some things we probably *can* solve, but the solution would probably be worse than the problem. Things like... making membership mandatory to shoot a club match. It already is in IDPA and a number of other shooting sports. We could easily, with a stroke of a pen, make it so you have to be a member to shoot after your 3rd match (or whatever). The uproar over that decision, though, would probably kill us (although, in candor, that always confuses me. At a typical club match, I "spend" more than 40 bucks in entry fees, gas, ammo, etc.... so why anyone would object to paying 40 bucks to be a supporting member of the organization that makes that match *possible* is beyond me.... but that's another conversation).

What I *do* think we could do, is provide more types of shooting competition, and hopefully appeal to a wider array of shooters. Some of that you're already seeing: "USPSA multi-gun" was created in response to the interest in "outlaw" 3-gun matches, and has been growing in several regions. SingleStack was created in order to have a place where IDPA-legal guns could compete in our game, as a cross-over platform (we think it helps both orgs, and hurts neither). The upcoming USPSA-specific rulebook is a *very* specific attempt to make sure our rules are lined up with the interests of our members, independent of what the IPSC members in Afghanistan and Zimbabwe want the rules to be. So, we're making steps in a number of areas.

But I keep coming back to *growth*. Growth is a primary indicator of the health of an organization. We all know that. When our employers are growing, it means good things are happening. When our employers stagnate, it means bad stuff is coming. Same for USPSA, in my humble opinion... and we have *not* been growing at a healthy rate. And, more to the point, even when we *do* get new members... we may not be able to keep them.

It happens all the time here on the forums... the first thing someone says, when they're pissed off at USPSA about something, is "I'm not going to renew my membership if you guys do that."

All of that is really long-winded background for what *I* think we should be doing as an organization.

1) I think we need to tighten up the competition rules, so that they are clear and unambiguous. If there are multiple ways to "interpret" a rule, it means the rule was badly written, and we need to fix that. Most of the contention I see on the range is about rules... like, "is this a legal stage?" and "can you write that into the course description?" and "was there an advantage gained?" We need to fix that stuff.

2) We need to figure out the "participation" aspects of our organization. Again, don't know what it is like in other areas, but in my neck of the woods, we've gone through a real transition. 10 years ago, everyone pitched in, clubs were healthy, 100-shooter club matches were not uncommon. Now, a whole lot of people act like "customers", they drive up at 10am, expect that the match is all set up and ready to entertain them, and drive away when they're done having fun. We seem to be always short of ROs, short of stage designers, short of clubs willing to put on big matches, and ... hell, last year we didn't even *have* a section match, we just sorta hung the "section championship" label on a regular club match and called it good. As a trend, for the future of our game, that scares the crap out of me.

and 3), we need to figure out how to bring more people in, and keep them plugged in as competitors. MY OWN PERSONAL OPINION is that there are *tons* or people out there with a 1911 of some shape or form - it is, by far, the most sold handgun model out there, and it just grows and grows. Next in line are the Glocks and XDs and M&Ps and things like that, and just about everyone has a revolver in a nightstand or under the seat of the truck. Ask Mr. Skinner - I bet he'll tell you that the number of single-stacks he sells far outweighs the number of wide-bodies, and the number of *custom* guns going out the door is an infinitesimally small number compared to the number of "stock guns". Extrapolate that across the other manufacturers, there have gotta be a *ton* of stock guns out there. So... why aren't they coming out to play?!?!?!?!

What *I* hear, when I ask them (at gun shows, at clubs I visit, etc)... is one of two things:

-- "Oh, that's just not for me. I think those guys are crazy, and it just doesn't seem safe" This usually comes after they've seen video of Robbie or Todd or Max or someone running through a course at breakneck speed. If you get a chance to *talk* to them, tell them about our safety record, our RO training curriculum, our belt-and-suspenders safety rules, etc, we can usually overcome these things. And if we show them a video of Joe Average shooting a club match at a more "mere human" speed, they start to say "hey, that looks kinda fun, I could do that".

or

-- "Jeez, I've heard that's nothing but an arms race, you have to have a $3000 tricked out custom gun to even get started in that sport, and I'm just not interested" Usually this comes after they've read the um-teenth article in [name your favorite grocery-store gun magazine], which either highlights "the guns of the winners", or actually makes the *statement* that you have to have a "race gun" to compete.

That *latter* thing is the crux of my opinion about the Production rules (did you think I'd *ever* get around to the topic????)

I *believe* that there are tons and tons and tons of box-stock guns out there, 1911s and G22s and XD-9s and who knows what all else. Guns that are issued, guns that are carried, guns that are in the bedside table... and, notably, guns which the owners have probably decided *not* to modify, because all those articles by Masaad Ayoob about "jeez, if you have to shoot someone in self-defense, you better make sure your gun is absolutely unmodified and your ammo is factory, or the prosecutor is going to have a field day with you." Those *guns* don't currently have a place in our game, because the simple fact is that if you come into a match with a gun that *hasn't* had all the latest trick things done, you are at a competitive disadvantage. Whether that's real or perceived doesn't matter... the fact is, the guy with the stock gun will walk away (probably with his ass handed to him), and one of the things he's going to ask himself is whether or not he wants to modify his gun to have a better chance next time. Most guys are probably going to say "no". And many of those guys are going to *resent* that they can't be competitive *unless* they modify their gun, and won't be back.

Don't believe me? Do this at your home club.... get on the computer, go thru the match files, and see how many shooters never came back last year after their first match. Call 'em, and ask 'em why. I bet *most* of them came out with a nearly-box-stock gun, saw that everyone around them was playing with a highly-customized high-zoot blaster, and at least *part* of the reason they didn't come back is because they felt like the didn't have a place to "fit in" with their box-stock gun. We don't often think about those guys, because... well, hell, we never see them again, and they for-sure don't post their opinions on forums like this. But the fact that we never see them again is part of the problem, IMHO, and we can't afford to ignore them.

When USPSA Production Division went into the rulebook, we *wanted* it to be a place for those guys to have a home. Specifically. We *wanted* to create a place where people could compete with box-stock guns and *not* feel like they were the unwanted step-children of our sport. when we wrote the rules we *thought* we were closing the door to the arms-race for that division.... but clearly, we screwed up, and there was enough wiggle-room in the wording that people found a way to "rationalize" some modifications, and the arms race is alive and well there too.

Don't believe me? Look at all the guys who are screaming about the possibility that they're going to have to compete with a stock-ish trigger. They're positively incensed that "their tricked out trigger" is going to be illegal. That's the arms-race, folks... what they're saying is, "I've made this modification to get a competitive advantage" ('cuz, after all, why would you do it if you didn't think it was going to help you after the beep). And, fundamentally, that lays the groundwork for the premise that if you *don't* choose to do all those things to your gun, you're going to be starting out half-a-step behind, right out of the gate.

The "race mentality" continues, alive and well, in even the proposed Production division rules. Over on the USPSA forums, there's a post which [quite transparently] asks where the loopholes might be in the proposed rules:

Reliability and function, does this include internal slide lightening or the addition of internal weight within the 2oz limit? Also, does this allow trigger jobs to be done? The current rules include trigger work as being acceptable.

Do after market slides have to weigh the same as factory?

Checkered/Stippled, does this mean any frame(grip area) maybe done? If so, what will determine if checkering or stippling has been over done?

Minor components what is the definition of these parts? Frame and slide would be major parts, is everything else minor?

Loosely translated, all those questions are the same: can I do _____ to my gun? Can I pull weight out of it? Can I replace parts? Can I grind on the grip? Can I ____?

That's the arms race.... and that TOTALLY TURNS AWAY the guy with the box-stock gun.

So.... what do we do? As I asked in a previous post, if we agree that the gray area needs to be dealt with, do we tighten things up so that the division is more aligned with what we *wanted* it to be - a stock-gun division? Or do we relax things, and make it a DA-first-shot, everyone-scores-minor subset of Limited 10, and open the floodgates to a whole new equipment race?

I am in favor of the former. Not JUST because it is what the division was supposed to be from the outset... but because the REASONS for creating the division are still valid. There are (IMHO) huge untapped pools of people out there who might want to come play our game, but are reluctant to because they believe they have to tweak and trick-out their gun to have a chance. Wouldn't it be nice to give them a place to play? And, oh, by the way, grow the membership and bring in a bunch of new people at the same time?

Maybe we could start a new division, call it "STOCK GUN" or something, maybe make it provisional, in order to avoid stepping on the toes of the guys that want to tweak their Glocks and XDs. I dunno. I know there's a lot of water under the bridge already, and as you noted, one has to consider whether the "fix" is worse than the problem. Meaning no disrespect to anyone here, but.... forums tend to be places where outspoken people hang out, and they may or may not represent the opinions of the broad majority.

On any given day, maybe 50 people post about USPSA topics here, that's less than 1/3rd of 1% of the active USPSA membership.... so one has to try to figure out the right context in which to take the tone and message of what gets posted here. If someone here posts "if you put in a trigger-weight minimum, I'll never shoot another USPSA match again", does that mean we're going to lose one member? Or a thousand? Not sure, but the question has to find its way into our thinking.

*MY* thinking is that if we had done a good job writing the Production division rules from the beginning, and had done a good job of saying (as we are trying to do now) that there *are* no loopholes - you're allowed to do the specific things listed in the rules, and nothing else... we would probably have a very healthy Production division, it would probably have *exactly* the same guys shooting it that we have right now, and they would not be unhappy because they knew the rules from the outset. My own belief is that most of the unhappiness *NOW* is not because the proposed rules are BAD, but because the proposed rules "take away" things that can be done now. Nobody likes it when rules get tighter. But... I believe it is the "tightening" that makes people mad, not the place we're heading.

I'm also of the belief - from a strategic perspective - that giving "stock guns" a place to play is the right thing to do. Look at it this way - we already have lots of divisions for the guys who want to tweak and tune and modify their guns. We have no divisions for the guys who *don't* want to do that. Wouldn't it be great if we could expand our offerings to include a broader cross-section of the shooting community? That seems like a smart thing to do, in general. It's the details we're arguing about.

I'm not at all immune to the idea that anytime we change rules, we're going to piss someone off. I have, over the years, been *vehement* about not changing rules in a way that makes member-owned equipment obsolete UNLESS there is a REALLY good reason to do it. the 8-round revolver issue taught us some good lessons, and we haven't forgotten them, so you may note that in the proposed rules there is NOTHING that says "this gun you have, that's legal in Production today? Yeah, no, that's not going to be legal in 2008. Sorry". We're trying to be smarter than that.

In context, what we've proposed for the 2008 Production division rules (and, by extension, for the conversation about possible "factory" divisions) is... "hey, the guns are legal, but they gotta be in basically-stock configuration. If you have a stock gun, you're good to go. If you have modified your gun, you may have to put it back in a condition that is closer to stock. But... that's a much smaller problem than telling you your gun is not legal at all."

Yes, I know there are people screaming about the proposed change. I hear them. My email inbox is full. I get it. And I *hear* it. But I also want *them* to hear some things:

-- the modifications you made were for a competitive advantage... maybe you made them to *get* an advantage, maybe you made them to keep up with others. But... by making those mods, you got to a point of "competitive parity" from an equipment standpoint. If we tighten up what mods are legal, yes, it may mean some changes. But... those limits will apply to *everyone* in the division, so when all is said and done, we'll end up back at a point of "competitive parity".

-- If your interest is in modifying your guns, great. We have lots of divisions that allow that. I just think we should have at least *one* division where that *isn't* what the game is about. I think it will help our sport, both in membership and marketing. And I think that *is* worth a little bit of pain, if it helps our org over the long run.

-- If you decide that these changes are such a mistake that you no longer want to be a member, or not longer want to compete... I think that sucks. Sucks for you, first and foremost, because not only will you be missing out on great fun, but you'll also be sorta missing the point... the competition is supposed to be about the *shooting*, not about finding the loopholes in the equipment rules. Sucks for us, too, no doubt about it. But we're doing it because we think, first and foremost, that the best service we can provide to the sport is to make sure that there continues to BE a sport, and in order to do that we have to be continually evolving and learning and growing. We're doing what we think are the right things to do, for the good of the game.

-- I'd note that... again, meaning no disrespect to anyone, but... the trigger pull thing and other proposed changes are really SMALL things, aren't they? I mean, in the global scheme of things, we're talking about 50 bucks worth of parts (which you probably still have, from when you took them out of the gun), against.... hmmmm... how many *thousands* of dollars does it cost to compete in this game, when you figure in ammo and practice time and match fees and travel and ... ? We're not talking about a case where your whole investment has been made illegal. We're talking about asking you to make your Production gun resemble... well, the way it was produced.

-- and, last... we're not saying NO TWEAKING. We're saying... there needs to be some boundaries around what can be tweaked, so that at the very least the guns are (visibly and functionally) consistent with the idea of a "production gun". Some of the changes to the proposed rules actually allow *more* tweaking, like being able to checker/stipple the grip, etc. Trigger work would actually be allowed, it's just that there would be a "floor" on it. Again, I don't think we're drawing a line all the way out at the dark end of the spectrum, what we're trying to do is make it so the line is clear and unambiguous. That doesn't seem like a bad thing, and it seems to me like it is a WHOLE lot better than the current state, where none of the mods we're discussing are specifically allowed, people just sort of assume the loophole is there waiting to be gone through.

Who can blame the shooters for wanting to tweak. I mean (and no offense intended for those doing their jobs) what guns are coming off the shelf without crappy sights, triggers and such...due to the lawyers and accountants ?

Tweaking would still be allowed. Crappy sights could still be replaced. Crappy triggers could still be improved. The only thing we're changing is putting a limit on how *much* they can be improved. Make it as smooth as you want. Replace parts and lighten springs if you want. But if you go below 3 pounds, it probably means that you've substantially differed from an "as produced" condition, and we're trying to remove that as something that "everyone has to do to be competitive in the division". We want guns in their "as produced" condition to be viable. Is that so bad?

OK, I gotta stop typing this and try to get some work done. I *hope* it comes through that what I (and by extension, the Board) WANT to do is grow our sport, grow our membership, and serve the interests of members both current and future. Sometimes that's not an easy thing to do.... and sometimes the things that we think are the right thing for the future, have ramifications for today. We have to weigh that "does the fix hurt worse than the problem" thing on all kinds of topics.... and on this one, my own opinion is that having a place for stock guns to play has a benefit to the org, and tightening up the rules to remove some of the "equipment race" obstacle for new members is a fairly small price to pay for a bigger, more inclusive and healthier sport

At the end of the day... what I'm saying is I think our stagnant growth is a problem, and I'm trying to figure out what things are in the way of our solving that problem. I think that our "image" as a "equipment race" game where you have to have a "tricked out gun" is one of those things in the way. I think we can find ways to remove that obstacle *without* bastardizing the fundamental aspects of our game, invalidating currently-legal equipment or disenfranchising segments of our core membership, and I think the proposed 2008 Production division rules are a step in that direction.

ymmv

bruce

Edited by bgary
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Thanks Bruce. That was a wonderfully composed and well-reasoned post clearly describing your views and your mindset on the direction USPSA should take. And I agree with a lot of it.

In a much shorter fashion I will simply say this -- I do not care if some guy walks away from his first match with a severe butt-whipping and doesn't come back, if the proposed solution is to make currently-legal modifications to my gear illegal. Scrambling a mature division like Production in hopes of gaining new members, when we, the ground-level participants, the same ones who truly are marketing, and promoting, and building, and running, and officiating these events get hurt by the changes, is just wrong.

Yes, we race with guns and God willing, always will. If that offends some purist who doesn't want to modify his gun (rare as those folks may be), again, I simply do not care. In fact, as Kyle noted, of my non-competing gun-owning friends, I know of very few who don't modify their guns in some manner. These goofy catalogs that I keep getting in the mail, that have reams of silly add-ons for peoples guns, exist only because they actually sell that stuff. Somebody is buying that crap.

As you suggested, redirect more funds and effort into marketing USPSA to new-ish shooters than marketing the Nationals (that's already well-marketed right here). Create a Stock division where going forward we can have an orgy with those who think a Demel tool or a set of pattern files in the garage is grounds for arrest. Create Open10 and Open Revolver divisions if there's enough interest. But please, please do not think retroactively aborting allowed modifications is the right path.

P.S. - Your $50 estimate to return currently-legal guns to a state that is allowed under the proposed rules is way off for some platforms. It would cost me more than that just in shipping to return my XD to Springfield.

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Bruce, great post, good reasoning, and some great comments.

I like your notion of the box stock division. Create it.

Do all that you wanted to do when you originally designed production. Let it be your entry division, let it be the gateway for the shooter to go elsewhere. It addresses all the issues raised without penalizing anyone. If an established shooter wants box stock, he/she has a place to go. If they like the tweaks currently allowed in production, there they are...a Solomon-type decision. new shooters have a home - though they still will get their buttocks handed to them by someone else.

Now your other issues deserve a separate thread, and I like your value-added comments.

Edited by vluc
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Bgary wrote: "At the end of the day... what I'm saying is I think our stagnant growth is a problem, and I'm trying to figure out what things are in the way of our solving that problem. I think that our "image" as a "equipment race" game where you have to have a "tricked out gun" is one of those things in the way."

Well said. I could not agree more.

Think we are too big? Not a chance.

-look at the SASS/cowboy shooters,

-look at the number of Americans that actually OWN handguns (or even have permits to carry them) yet are niether proficient or safe in handling them,

-look at the average selection of monthly gun publications (and the sorry info they contain),

Its a big country. We have a lot of work to do.

Thanks Bruce! Keep up the good work.

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Yup. That's the second option, the one that would make a whole bunch of currently-legal production guns no longer legal in the division.

Bruce,

How would a 3lb minimum after the first shot make currently "legal" guns illegal?

The difference is that with a minimum of 3lb set on the first shot, the advantage goes to the DA/SA guns. The DA/SA guns have a 32 shot advantage on a 32 round COF.

With a minimum set at 3lb for every shot after the first, the striker fired guns have an advantage on 1 of 32 shots. The next 31 shots, both are equal.

Edited by SRT Driver
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Well Bruce, I have to say that yours was perhaps the best written, and certainly longest, post I have read on this forum. Your efforts to improve our sport are much appreciated!

Having said that, I must disagree with one of your fundamental assumptions - that the perception of an equipment race in Production Division is hurting our membership.

Our club has been very successful in attracting new shooters. 80 to 100 guns is a normal monthly match. Most of our new competitors are shooting either Production or Limited-10 (with a single stack 1911). Some of them have become regulars, a few are only occasional shooters, and others disappear after a match or two.

In an effort to find what attracts new shooters, we talk to them to see what they like or don't care for. What is it that they find most enjoyable? Why did some of the others they started with decide to not come back?

My experience is that, at least for the first year or so, the shooter is more interested in improving their technique - and mostly just having fun. As their skills increase and they become more competitive, they start to look for other ways to improve, which quite often involves some tweaking of their existing equipment or the purchase of something new.

I have not heard one single new shooter complain that they were not competitive because their equipment was only box-stock. Nor is that a reason given for someone not sticking with the sport.

Is it possible that we are projecting *our* perception that equipment modifications are a necessity as a reason for not attracting more shooters or chasing off newbies?

As you said, this sport is not for everyone. We should do what we can to attract new members, but not at the expense of those we already have.

The biggest problem we have is maintaining (and growing) the core group of members that organize and work the local matches. Burn-out is a major issue and messing with their *previously legal* equipment just accelerates that problem. As you said " They're positively incensed that "their tricked out trigger" is going to be illegal." The "They're" you're talking about are in many cases the core members running the matches. Can we really afford to alienate them? It may be only "50 bucks worth of parts", but it might be something that was developed through much trial and error to ultimately make the gun much more enjoyable to shoot.

As long as there is a Division for race guns in USPSA, we will be perceived *by some* to be a sport for only those with $3000 firearms. Tweaking the Production rules won't stop that misconception.

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Bruce,

Well worded post & in concept, I agree with many of your opinions. However, many of the things proposed are impractical to implement & maintain consistency across the range of local, area, & national matches. If you insist on implementation of a trigger pull check, I believe it needs to apply to every shot. The DA/SA guns would have a definitive advantage, (again an equipment race), for every shot after the first shot.

I'm going to edit my long novel with a simplified version of what I had to say the other night. Many folks can't afford to play this game regularly. They might give it a try for a year or maybe just a match but in the end they can't or won't stay due to the cost. Not one of them is willing to say when asked why they don't come back "I can't afford it" instead they say "my gear won't keep up" or some other excuse. If you knew them, though, you'd find out the reality is they can't afford it. No way around that. All the membership drives, all the rule changes aren't going to supplement their income to the point they can & will stay members.

The other major reason people join then leave is they can't win, even after practicing with a whole box of ammo! :mellow: Can you believe that? ;) There is also no way to keep members that can't stand to get beat. I'm glad they try the game but many of them just get too humiliated to stay. It is hard on their egos. :o

I believe a 3% steady growth is excellent, by the way! :) MLM

Edited by mlmiller1
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I think that the production division rules need to be better clarified than they are in the current rule book but I disagree with the 2008 proposed rules. There are some on the USPSA forums that want to retain the current rules but the current rules are not easily enforceable.

For example:

21.1 No weighted attachments allowed to magazine.

To enforce this rule requires magazines to be weighed, so when you arrive at the match all your magazines have to be weighed. A visual inspection will not serve this purpose as weights could be added inside the magazine. So we need a set of scales at the registration area.

21.3 Replacement barrels allowed provided barrel length is same as

original factory standard. Heavy barrels and/or barrel sleeves not

allowed.

Same problem as above, barrels must be removed from the gun and weighed and examined to ensure that this rule is being adhered to.

21.4 Action work to enhance reliability (throating, trigger work, etc.) is

allowed.

This implies that other internal work is not allowed, the only way to ensure this is done is to completely strip the gun and measure/weigh every single component to ensure the rules are being followed.

This is the same trap that IPSC has fallen into, to ensure that the rules are being followed by all competitors the guns must be completely disassembled, measured and weighed. The current rules are not being enforced anywhere, if they were people would be screaming from the rooftops. Those on the USPSA forum that have voted to retain the current rules may not fully understand what they have voted for.

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Don't underestimate the effect of range lawyers and politicians as to one of the prime reasons people leave the sport. And by politicians, I do *not* refer to the BOD.

Yes, the BOD has some work to do. And while the directors are busy directing, it would be just dandy if a few of The Usual Suspects® took the opportunity to clean up their act.

The IPSC list and its denizens were/are irritating enough in themselves. Seeing that garbage trickle down into local matches like it has is pretty depressing and just not remotely worth putting up with.

Edited by EricW
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Bruce,

Loosley translated my questions you quoted are not to find out what I can_____to my gun, it's trying to find out what the BOD actually is trying to regulate. I can't make any suggestions to the proposed rules if I don't know what is allowed. The wording of the rules are open for interpretation as is. You have jumped to a conclusion.

I want a set of rules for Prod. that is clear and easy to enforce. The '08 rules open more room for interpretation. In the present form before the end of the '08 season there will probably be at least 3 rulings made to stop something that wasn't intended.

A little info, my business is Canyon Creek and the majority of my clients want their guns modified. They don't even compete and don't even plan on doing it in the future. The average Joe/Jane wants a gun that is tailored to him/her.

In order to make a set of rules work they have to be enforced. To do it properly and fairly every Prod. gun would have to be disasembled, that is something that won't sit well with alot of people. USPSA's present form of enforcement is the honor system and people have and will take advantage of that. I haven't seen or heard of a plan on how USPSA is going to actually enforce the present and future Prod. rules. With out that it is just the same thing we've had for the past 6 years no matter what the new rules are.

You've asked for help on the proposed rules and my questions have gone unanswered. I believe I've asked the same questions you quoted at lest three other times in other threads.

Rich

P.S. You do have some good ideas in your long post but there some that I disagree with.

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