Target changes are a part of match life for ROs, but if the wrong target is used during the change-out, it can have major consequences. One wrong target can lead to squads needing to reshoot the stage, or even a stage getting tossed. Let’s talk about how to avoid this.
What do you need to watch for? Where do you start? First, make sure that the base target is never removed. The base target is the first target shot and new targets should match it and be stapled directly on top of it. Make sure the target is witness marked on the sticks, in case it comes loose and needs to be re-stapled. It only takes a few minutes to witness mark the sticks with an indelible marker.
When hanging targets for a match, make sure any overlapping targets or no-shoots are placed in a reproducible manner and allow for easy target changes. Remember that ROs need to place new targets behind no-shoots so staple them in a way that allows for that, but also keeps the no-shoots in place. Is there a part of the no-shoot where it touches the stick and the scoring target does not? That is where you should secure the no-shoot to the stick and then use minimal staples through the no-shoot where the staples will need to be pulled to insert a new shoot target. This allows for the ROs to pull a few staples, slip in the new scoring target and staple things back in an easy and reproducible manner.
Also, if the base target has painted hardcover on it, make sure the new target matches it exactly. It is no fun when you need to reshoot half a squad because the new hardcover target had three inches more hardcover, and less available A-zone, than the original target that the other squads shot. A word of caution on the pre-printed hardcover targets, especially the skunk/zebra/tux targets; sometimes the hardcover is not consistently printed and doesn’t go all the way to the A-zone perforation. This is easily fixed with a strip or two of black tape, but if you don’t fix it, you can’t tell shooters the hardcover is “supposed to go to the perf.” Definitely fix the target if you are using it for a classifier. If using it on a non-classifier stage, as long all the targets used on the stage throughout the whole match have the same hardcover pattern, you are good. Also be aware that some target manufacturers place the letter label for the scoring zones at different heights and running a strip of tape that aligns with the crossbar of the ‘A’ might lead to different hardcover heights if multiple target vendors are used in one match.
What about IPSC targets? Anything to specifically watch for those? You may have noticed it is very hard to tell which side is up on IPSC targets because they lack an upper A/C zone. As a result, we have rule 184.108.40.206 that limits the angle at which IPSC targets can be tilted. What happens when the base scoring IPSC target was correct, but the new target was hung upside down and a whole squad shot the stage? Yep, that squad gets a reshoot…and the ROs get reminded which end is up on IPSC targets.
So, how do you avoid all this and keep your stage running smoothly? The biggest thing is to pay attention and make sure everything matches! Yes, ROs are often making target changes in a hurry, but taking a couple extra minutes at that time (even if it means the squad waits) is better than having to take an hour to reshoot a whole squad. The CRO is usually reading the WSB while the ROs change targets, which means that the CRO needs to double-check the work of the ROs after the WSB is read. Double checking target changes is just like checking to make sure the stage is reset before starting the next shooter. It takes very little time, but can save a ton of work.