Recently I have been looking at some sports that are similar to USPSA/SCSA in that they have a very large amateur component run at a local level and a smaller professional component at a state, regional, national and world level. Many of those sports face some of the same challenges we do so it can be interesting to see how they have solved those problems. One of those ventures is a return to almost 40 years ago for me, archery. I put up the bow when I headed to college and haven’t really paid any attention to it since.
My foray back into looking at the archery sports lead me to having a news article pop up in my feed recently that got me to thinking about our sport and any parallels there might be. That story is here. In short, in the final shoot down of a major archery competition in Europe, a competitor had an equipment malfunction that caused him to time out and not get a shot taken. The other competitor, on his next arrow, stepped away and let time expire so he also lost a shot. This way the win was gained by skill/ability and not on the whim of a mechanical device.
I got to searching my memory for similar stories from USPSA/SCSA and I wasn’t able to recall any. Doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, and in fact, I’d bet money it has. I do recall people giving each other parts, ammo, spare guns, etc. or helping fix broken equipment to allow their rivals to continue in competition, so that compassionate and sportsmanship component does exist in our sport.
I don’t know if it is basic human nature or what the media tends to feed us, but we seem to only focus on the negative aspects of sport. Look at the conflagrations that various cheating scandals in the professional and amateur ranks have blown up into. Faking birth certificates so older players could play in the Little League World Series and banging on trash cans more recently to get to the Major League World Series. And not just picking on baseball. There are plenty of other examples, especially in the amateur and Pro sports, we have heard about from “doping” in the Olympics to playing with the inflation pressure of footballs. Perhaps that is why I don’t recall any parallels in our sport…I never heard about them or, more probably, they got lost in the clamor of scandal.
In our sport recently many of us seem intently focused on parsing words in the rulebook to our advantage. We ridicule a certain former U.S. President for hiding behind the definition of “is” and then turn around and apply the same logic ourselves because “it’s just a game”. We hear stories of people attempting to intimidate ROs to the point of bullying trying to get a call in their favor. We have caught people editing scores to win or be classified higher. And we have people who will practice and/or reshoot classifiers over and over to climb higher up the classification ladder when their actual match scores are several classes lower. On the flip side, we have shooters who will intentionally blow a classifier at their local match to stay at a lower class when their match scores are much higher so they can win their class and get a trophy and maybe a better shot at the prize table. All the while we beat our metaphorical chests bemoaning and condemning the actions of “those damn cheaters”.
Now that we have been forced to endure a rather interesting social experiment because of a virus, and most of us got to take at least a short hiatus from competition, perhaps we all need to do some soul searching as we return to the range and think about what really matters. Does being a M or GM who consistently finishes in the middle of C class at a big match really mean that much? Does a class trophy and something off the prize table really mean that much in the bigger picture? Or does being known as a good person, who gave back to the sport, who helped others to enjoy the sport and who gave unselfishly of their time and energy mentoring newer shooters, helping design and build matches and so on, maybe to their own detriment on match day, mean more?
Something to ponder.