As many course designers and match directors know, the Speed Shoot type of stage is useful for testing reloading and strong- or weak-hand skills in a fast, easily set up and defined course of fire. Rule number 18.104.22.168 sets the parameters for a speed shoot in detail, but it’s basically a course of fire of no more than 16 rounds, with a mandatory reload after 8 rounds, shot on two different arrays of targets. An array is defined as “a grouping of more than one target”. Arrays can be engaged in any order, as can targets within an array, and only one reload may be required. Competitors are free to reload if need be, however, as long as the mandatory reload is performed when required. Speed Shoots may be scored using either Comstock or Virginia count scoring.
Normally, the different arrays in a speed shoot are separated by either a vision barrier or by distance, but on occasion they are spaced closer together and defined by the WSB. This isn’t always a good idea, because it leads to confusion on the part of the competitor, which is especially troublesome if the stage is scored using Virginia Count scoring, which limits the number of shots that may be fired and the number of hits that can count for score on the target. If you are going to use Virginia Count, separate the arrays well enough to avoid tempting the competitor to just shoot all the targets they can see, rather than shooting one array or the other.
Mandatory reloads are always part of a speed shoot, therefore it’s important to design and recognize what the reload point is. Typically, this is the point when the competitor is changing arrays, i.e, “engage T1-T4, perform a mandatory reload, and engage T5-T8″. It’s especially critical to recognize this reload point if the stage is being scored Virginia Count, because accidentally shooting a target from another array will create penalty problems that may be unrelated to making the reload. When this happens, there is generally a lot of discussion on the proper penalties to apply, and why. It’s possible to shoot a wrong target in a Speed Shoot, then make the reload, and shoot the other array without getting extra shot or extra hit penalties, but the competitor has to think fast on his feet to avoid this.
A common mistake seen in Speed Shoots is the belief that you must make an additional reload in order to return to targets from another array. The rules only allow requiring one mandatory reload, so, especially in a Comstock stage, and depending on the competitor’s division, a reload may or not be needed to return to an array and engage targets; it just can’t be required by the WSB.
Targets within arrays may be engaged in any order, so even if the WSB states “engage T1-T4”, that doesn’t mean they must be shot in that order, it just means that array, consisting of targets 1-4, must be shot as a group.
The last thing to consider about Speed Shoots is that the rules limit the number of this type of course that can be in a Level II or higher match. There can be no more than one Speed Shoot for every 5 stages, and the points in the Speed Shoot stages can’t exceed more than 20% of the total points available in the match.
So, there are the basics of the Speed Shoot, a versatile tool for match directors, and one in which different skills can be tested without elaborate setup and large spaces.