Love it or hate it, Virginia Count scoring is part of USPSA. Virginia Count (VC) scoring is another way to provide a different shooting challenge by limiting the number of shots at targets versus the Comstock scoring method where competitors can shoot at the targets as many times as they choose. Most people dislike VC simply because they don’t understand how it works, especially when a competitor shoots the stage wrong.
Let’s look at an example VC stage and how it’s scored when a competitor shoots it incorrectly. Here is a picture of the stage:
The stage procedure is: Engage each target with only one round, perform a mandatory reload, and re-engage each target with only one round. So the total number of shots for this stage is 12 rounds. Six targets, reload, six targets.
To start, the penalties unique to VC are addressed in section 9.4.5 of the USPSA Competition Rules. We will do the easy ones first, extra shots and extra hits. Let’s say that the competitor forgets that it’s only one shot per target and shoots T1-T2 with 2 shots each, then remembers and shoots T3-T6 with one shot, performs the mandatory reload, and then engages T1-T6 with one round each. As a result, the competitor has taken 14 total shots instead of 12, and the ROs should have been counting so they can easily apply two extra shot penalties. Extra shot penalties are applied immediately after the string or stage while at the shooting position and before moving downrange to score.
Now let’s score the targets and see if those extra shots also led to extra hits. Each target should only have two hits, and any extra hits in the scoring area are counted as extra hit penalties. In our example, the competitor shot T1 and T2 twice before the reload and once after the reload. So potentially there could be three hits on each of those targets, but the call can’t be made until the target is scored by the RO. For T1 there are two hits in the A-zone and one in the C-zone. We score the two best hits on the target (Two Alpha) and assess a procedural for an extra hit.
We then move to T2 and see one hit in the A-zone, one hit in the hardcover on the right, and one hit in the no-shoot on the left, about an inch inside the perf for the non-scoring border. How does this one score? Note that 126.96.36.199 states that hits in hardcover and no-shoots do not count as extra hits. So that means that we score T2 as one Alpha, one miss, and one no-shoot, but no extra hit penalties. In this example, the competitor earned two extra shot penalties and one extra hit penalty. And yes, we give penalties for both extra shots and extra hits, it is not a one or the other thing. And people can have extra shots, but no extra hits because the target is missed completely, or all the extra hits are in hardcover or a no-shoot.
But didn’t the competitor also earn penalties for failing to make the mandatory reload after six shots? Notice that the WSB says the reload comes after engaging each target, not after six shots. And no, you can’t ding the competitor for not following the stage procedure of firing more than one shot at each target. This is covered in rule 10.2.2.1. Basically that rule says that “penalties for firing insufficient or additional shots are addressed in other rules” and can’t be penalized via 10.2.2 for failing to comply with the procedure in the WSB. The only time a competitor can get penalized twice for the same action, is for extra shots and extra hits on a VC course because we have specific rules that say you get both.
The last VC-specific penalty is for stacked shots. WSBs for VC stages can specify that stacking is allowed, but stacking is not allowed by default. Stacking is probably the most confusing penalty, so let’s setup an example first using the same stage as above. In this case, the competitor shot T1-T3 with two shots each, performed the mandatory reload, and then shot T4-T6 with two shots each. There were no extra shots. When this happens, the ROs usually are wishing they were not the ones running the shooter and have to figure out the penalties. That is one of the joys of VC. Figuring out what penalties, and how many, when things go wrong.
The total number of shots was met, but the competitor saved transitions between half of the targets before and after the reload, which is an advantage, and what we call stacking. So what is the penalty? The definition of ‘Stacked shots’ in App. A3 is: Shooting more than the specified shots at a target(s) while s shooting other target(s) with fewer shots than specified in the stage briefing. And 188.8.131.52 says that “Stacked shots will incur one procedural penalty per target incorrectly engaged in the string or stage.” In our example, the competitor engaged each of the six targets incorrectly at some point during the stage. So, he would get six procedurals, which zeros the stage.
But what about the shooter in the first example, where T1-T2 were engaged with two shots? Why aren’t there stacking penalties there? That is because extra shots, and some extra hits, occurred. And the competitor didn’t gain an advantage by being able to eliminate some target transitions. The competitor was basically already penalized for the mistake with extra shot and extra hit penalties. In the stacking example, the competitor didn’t take any extra shots or create any extra hits, but since he engaged the targets not as outlined in the WSB, he got stacking penalties.
But what about making the reload after three targets instead of six in the stacking scenario? Shouldn’t that be penalized? This is where the wording of the WSB comes into play. Does the WSB say that the reload comes after engaging six targets or after firing six shots? In this case, the WSB says after engaging six targets, not after firing six shots. Which means that the competitor made an early reload and didn’t fire any shots after the point where the reload should have occurred. Since 10.2.4 says the per shot penalty for failing to make the mandatory reload occurs after the point where the reload should occur, there are no penalties for that here.
What’s the best way to get practice at shooting and scoring VC? Don’t avoid them, have at least one VC stage at your monthly matches. And if you shoot or score it wrong, learn from your mistakes and do better next time.