Last year, we had a Fixed Time stage at nationals and quickly learned that many folks have never seen that scoring method and were confused about how Fixed Time works and is scored. By using that scoring method at nationals, we are now seeing it pop up more in local matches and other major matches. But what are all the differences between the different scoring methods in USPSA?
USPSA has three different scoring types: Comstock (9.2.2), Virginia Count (9.2.3), and Fixed Time (9.2.4). Comstock is shoot all you want for how long you want. Virginia Count and Fixed Time both have limitations on the number of shots, and Fixed Time has a time limit. But what else is different?
|Comstock||Virginia Count||Fixed Time|
|Number of shots||Unlimited||Limited||Limited|
|Extra shot penalty?||No||Yes||Yes|
|Extra hit penalty?||No||Yes||Yes|
|Overtime shot penalty?||No||No||Yes|
|Score||Points minus penalties divided by time||Points minus penalties divided by time||Points minus penalties|
When you look at the table, you will notice that for all the rows, there is one scoring method that is different from the others (I made that one italics). This means that each of the scoring methods is unique and provides a different shooting challenge.
Comstock scoring is the most popular and is commonly used for short (1-12 rounds), medium (13-20 rounds), and long courses (over 21 rounds). You can also use Comstock scoring for Speed Shoots and Comstock is the only scoring method that allows steel targets. Since Comstock is shoot as much as you want, for how long you want, you get penalized for misses and if you completely forget to shoot at (FTSA) a target. By default, we score the best 2 hits per cardboard target, unless noted otherwise in the Written Stage Briefing (WSB), and steel must fall to score. We then take your total points, minus the penalties, and divide by the total time to get a hit factor.
Virginia Count is a much-despised scoring system because many clubs avoid it like the plague and think it is too hard to score. If you want some examples of Virginia Count scoring questions, just search “Virginia Count” on this blog. The reality is that Virginia Count is not that bad to officiate with a bit of practice, and only becomes difficult if competitors try to shoot a Virginia Count stage freestyle. The whole point of Virginia Count is to provide a different shooting challenge with a set procedure. Whereas Comstock is shoot all you want, Virginia Count stages require a limited number of shots per target. Yep, you only get one chance at each shot you take, and you had better make it a good one. The number of required shots on each target is specified in the WSB, so pay close attention when that is read to your squad. Virginia Count can be used with short and medium courses, Speed Shoots, and the multi-string Standard Exercises. Miss and FTSA penalties apply, and the hit factor is calculated as for Comstock.
But what happens if I take a make-up shot on a Virginia Count stage? Well, we have some special penalties for that. First, we have the extra shot penalty. This applies to the total number of shots for the stage or string. So, if you are shooting a 12 round stage and you take 14 shots, you will earn 2 extra shot penalties. If the stage has strings, extra shots are applied after each string. We also penalize extra hits on the scoring targets. If the WSB says only 2 hits per target, and there is a target with 3 hits, the best 2 hits are scored, and the other hit is penalized as an extra hit. Extra hits in hardcover don’t count as an extra hit and if there is an extra hit in a no-shoot, then it only gets the no-shoot penalty. Virginia Count also has the stacked shots penalty. This penalty is applied if the competitor violates the stage procedure and shoots some targets with more than what is specified and other targets with less in order to save a transition. Each transition saved is a procedural penalty.
What about Fixed Time? Well, the easy way to think about Fixed Time is it’s Virginia Count with a time limit. Yes, I know that is not what it says in the rulebook when defining Fixed Time, but that is what it is. It is a limited number of shots per target plus a time limit. It also has extra shot, extra hit, and stacked shot penalties just like Virginia Count. However, since the time to shoot the stage is limited, misses are no-penalty misses and there are no FTSA penalties. Fixed Time also has the overtime shot penalty. This penalty applies when static targets are used versus automatic turning targets. If the par time for the stage is 6 seconds and the time of the past shot is 6.31 seconds, then the overtime shot penalty is applied. We allow up to 0.30 seconds over the stage par time when using static targets to account for the length of the beep and the competitor’s reaction to it.
Since everyone has the same stage time on a Fixed Time stage, there is no calculated hit factor. The stage score is just earned points minus penalties. You can use Fixed Time scoring on Standard Exercises, Speed Shoots, and short and medium courses. Fixed time is a good way to not only test accuracy with the limited number of shots, but also test speed. The key to doing well on a Fixed Time stage is to not try and get all the shots, but to get good scoring hits and no penalties with the shots you do get off.
Now that you know a bit more about the different scoring methods, why not add a Virginia Count short course into your local match? Or even a Fixed Time medium course! Don’t be afraid to experiment!
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