Last weekend I worked my local sectional match and I got to work a Virginia Count, two string Standard Exercise. I was sure it was some sort of atonement for all my blog posts about Virginia Count, but I got to witness a ton of learning among staff and competitors in those two days.
First the stage was not your typical stand and shoot standards. You can check out the stage here in the USPSA stage library. The stage gave competitors a lot of options. They could choose which start position to use for the first string and which five targets to shoot before and after the reload. The only thing that was not an option is which hand to use after the reload for each string. String 1 was strong hand only after the reload and string 2 was weak hand only after the reload.
The first educational session I witnessed was when my staff squad shot the stage on the afternoon of the staff match. It was our first stage after lunch and it was pushing 100 degrees of dry heat. The ROs working the stage during the staff match were a mix of seasoned staff and a new RO who just took a class from me in March on the timer. Our staff squad did not make mistakes on purpose, but we sure provided some lessons for the ROs. We had one competitor forget to do strong hand only after the reload on the first string. Yep, that was five procedurals (see the updated 10.2.8.1). We had a competitor initially forget that it was only one shot per target and fired two shots at the first two targets in a string. So we covered extra shots (220.127.116.11) and extra hits (18.104.22.168) and why those penalties are used versus failing to follow the stage procedure (10.2.2). Remember that we always apply specific rules first and only use 10.2.2 when there isn’t a specific rule to apply.
And on my second string when I started outside the shooting area with my toes touching the fault line, I forgot to step into the shooting area before shooting my first 4 targets. So I then got to explain that it is only one penalty since there was no significant advantage (see 10.2.1.3). We added 10.2.1.3 quite awhile ago, but folks still think it’s automatically per shot because they try to apply 10.2.1.2. 10.2.1.2 is when a competitor is already in the shooting area and then completely leaves the shooting area. 10.2.1.3 is when the competitor starts the course of fire outside the shooting area and has never entered it. The ROs on the stage commented how our squad helped them solidify the Virginia Count scoring and penalties because they got to see practical examples.
During the main match day, my crew was an experienced RO who served as CRO and two more students from my March RO seminar. They all did a wonderful job and we worked as a crew because there were so many things to watch for (target engagement, reloads, strong/weak hand, 180 breaks during movement, counting shots). We had the same penalties that my staff squad demonstrated. Using the wrong hand or both hands during the one handed shooting portion of the strings occurred a handful of times. We had a few competitors not step into the shooting area like I did. And we had one competitor engage quite a few targets with two rounds instead of one. Surprisingly, we did not have anyone forget to do the reload. I think the movement that was required on the stage was a trigger to remind everyone to do that. Quite a few competitors learned about the rules and penalties as their squad shot the stage. Most of them appreciated the knowledge because they usually were over or under penalizing, those that earned the penalties were not fans but that is understandable.
I feel that the staff who worked the stage now have a strong foundation in how to officiate a Virginia Count stage. They learned that there is a ton to watch for, but if you work as a team it isn’t that hard. They also got some hands-on practice which is always better for learning. And we also had some competitors learn things too. Virginia Count isn’t as scary or hard as folks say. It just requires setting up Virginia Count stages every other local match and allowing everyone to practice shooting and officiating them. Practice always makes things easier.
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