Let’s talk about a few match, err…staples (pardon the pun), that often go unconsidered but can have a positive, or negative, effect on your match.
For our purposes we will discuss four things: Staples, Paint, and Tape, twice. Sure there are lots more things we could toss into this but for the sake of brevity we will limit the scope here.
Staples: For whatever reason, there are those that are continually trying to run matches with 1/4″, 3/8″ or 1/2″ staples because they are cheaper. Sure, you might get by with 1/2″ staples for a local match but at a major where we are using backer targets and needing to stay up and stable for multiple days, nothing less than 9/16″ will do, 17/32″ Celotex (ceiling tile) staples are preferred by some because of their sharper point and theoretically better holding power. I’ve always sworn by 9/16″, so much so that I generally travel with a personal stash of them. Many target suppliers are now using thinner cardboard, getting you a bit more purchase on any staple length, but I urge you to not go with shorter staples. Holding power is a good thing and that means more staple in the wood. If you supply the staff with sub-optimal staples they will use more, probably a lot more, of them so did you save money? Not really. Use the right staples and you can help avoid issues with targets getting blown off, or just falling off, target stands which can slow down the match. A freak wind gust peeling most of your targets off of one or more stages can ruin a match…don’t laugh, it has happened.
Paint: There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to paint. Spend a little and use a lot, spend a lot and use a little. Cheap spray paint at around $1 per can is readily found. But there is a reason it is so inexpensive…less pigment. Pigment is what makes paint opaque when applied. So, cheap paint means you are going to go through more cans for a given match. More expensive paint has more pigment so requires less volume for the same coverage. Steel Target Paint takes this to the extreme and, in my opinion, is the best paint going for our sport for steel targets. Train the shooters to only paint the hits themselves, not respray the entire target, and one can will last a long time. And don’t let people leave the cans where they can get shot or hit with splatter off of steel. Tossing cans without their caps on often will break the applicator button off. A small screw can often be used to pull the broken stem (wear gloves and point it away from your body!) and an applicator button from a spent can inserted to save the can.
Whatever you buy, you need both white and black. White for steel targets, black for hard cover on cardboard targets. You may also need fluorescent orange or some other color for fault lines, marking hazards, whatever.
Tape: The first type of tape we will talk about is duct or Duck tape. They are the same thing being made from cotton duck cloth and adhesive. This stuff has been around for about 120 years and someone trademarked the name “Duck Tape”. Be that as it may; Duct tape, or better yet black Gorilla Tape (which, if you do not know is duct tape on steroids with much stouter adhesive and sturdier cloth), is the ROs best friend. It is useful to repair hits on walls and barrels rapidly. Wrapping the target sticks on moving targets like swingers will help those sticks last a lot longer during the match. Duct tape around a bundle of splinters will generally still hold a target for awhile. And a layer of duct tape on the back of an Upper A/C zone of a USPSA target with lots of lower hard cover will help maintain the integrity of that area longer than without it. There are many, many more uses and every box/bucket on every stage deserves to have a roll in it.
The second type of tape is “paster” tape. Three colors are necessary: White, Black and “Buff”. Preferably, the “Buff” color will closely match the target color. Some clubs get lazy and use plain masking tape for everything regardless of where the hit is. This is just sloppy and really not the right way to go. We are running a competitive match, not shooting in a trash pit. Using the right tape is in keeping with the professionalism we want our matches with. Whether you use precut pasters on a roll or just rolls of tape, do it right. The pre-cut vs. roll tape debate goes on interminably. Pre-cut pasters have the advantage of being able to be used in “paster guns” for more rapid taping. Tape, especially some of the special use target tape available from your target supplier, tends to stick better. Better adhesive is important for damp or dusty matches. Pre-cut pasters, and even tape, have a shelf-life. The adhesive on pasters dries out and they won’t stick any longer. The adhesive on tape crystalizes and the roll ends up getting all stuck to itself. So don’t go crazy and buy a lifetime supply of either. If you are seeing reshoots because the pasters fell off, and its not raining, it’s time to replace those pasters!
Having the right supplies on hand for your matches goes a long way to helping you run a smooth and professional match that shooters will want to return to again and again. Going the inexpensive route really doesn’t save money and usually costs you a lot of time.