Last week we covered the different scoring methods. This week let’s look at the different USPSA stage types and the differences between all of those.
|Short Course||Medium Course||Long Course||Standard Exercise||Speed Shoot|
|Round Count||1-12||13-20||21-32*||24 max||16 max|
|Scoring Method||Comstock, Virginia Count or Fixed Time||Comstock, Virginia Count or Fixed Time||Comstock||Virginia Count or Fixed Time||Comstock, Virginia Count or Fixed Time|
|SHO/WHO per WSB||No||Last 6 shots||Last 6 shots||Yes||Yes|
Let’s start with the easy ones, the short, medium, and long courses. These are governed by the freestyle rule (1.1.5) and cannot require more than 8 scoring hits from a single location or view. You can have more than 8 shots available from a location/view as long as no more than 8 are required. Which means you can have 5 targets (best 2 score) available from one position as long as at least one of those targets is visible from another position. And you can’t allow all the targets to be engaged from one position or view unless it’s a short course that is 8 rounds or less. All of these course types can be scored Comstock. And short and medium courses can also be scored either Virginia Count or Fixed Time.
This article is not going to address the Level I match exceptions to the freestyle rule for short and medium courses found in rule 184.108.40.206 but will address information that applies to all match levels. While short, medium, and long courses are supposed to be freestyle, which means no mandatory shooting positions, target engagement order or reloads can be specified in the stage procedure, there are some rules for strong-hand or weak-hand only shooting. For medium and long courses, you can specify that no more than the last 6 scoring shots be either strong-hand or weak-hand only. We recommend you word that as “the last three targets” assuming it’s the best 2 per target that is scoring to avoid gaming. And no, you cannot specify which targets have to be engaged strong-hand or weak-hand only. That is up to the shooter and is freestyle. However, if you want to compel one handed shooting with the use of props (see 220.127.116.11), that is allowed in short, medium, and long course types. And a discussion about how to do that properly is a topic for a separate post.
Let’s now talk about the types of courses that specifically allow for mandatory reloads and other specifics: Standard Exercises and Speed Shoots. Some folks dislike these courses, but they do test a different set of shooting skills and the ability of a competitor to follow directions.
The Standard Exercise must be two or more strings and can only be scored Virginia Count or Fixed Time. This means you will never see steel targets in a Standard Exercise since they are not allowed in either of those scoring methods. The total round count for a standard exercise is 24 rounds maximum and each string can be a maximum of 12 rounds if a mandatory reload is required after 6 rounds. If no reload, then the string can only be 6 rounds. You can specify a specific shooting position (e.g., kneeling, prone) and can specify multiple mandatory reloads. You can also specify strong- or weak-hand only shooting from a certain point to the end of the string. So, you can specify it from the start of a string or after a reload or after a point you deem. Just make sure the point is something logical and easy for the ROs to track, which is why we usually use after the reload.
Speed Shoots are stages shot from a single location on one or more arrays of targets. This stage type can be scored Comstock, Virginia Count, or Fixed Time. This means you can use steel on a Speed Shoot when it’s scored Comstock. Speed Shoots can only be 16 rounds, and if more than 8 rounds a mandatory reload is required and only one reload can be required. You can specify target arrays in the WSB, but arrays must be allowed to be engaged in any order. So, you can have Array 1 and Array 2 and the procedure is engage either array, then perform a mandatory reload and engage the remaining array. So, make the arrays easy to distinguish and make the WSB clear as to what is in each array. In Speed Shoots, strong- or weak-hand only can only be specified after the mandatory reload.
I also want to add a word of caution when using targets that are activated by the competitor after the start signal (e.g., swingers, drop turners, bobbers, etc.) with the Fixed Time scoring method. With Fixed Time, these targets can’t be activated by falling steel because steel targets aren’t allowed, and they also need to be legally visible before activation. Why? Because in Fixed Time scoring all misses are no-penalty misses and there are no FTSA penalties. So, if a competitor fails to activate the moving target, you cannot penalize per 9.9.3. If the target is legally visible (e.g., the upper A-zone on a USPSA target) prior to activation, then 9.9.3 doesn’t apply. I would think about moving targets in a Fixed Time stage like a disappearing target in a Comstock stage, will competitors take time to activate it? Nothing is worse than taking all the time to rig up the activation mechanism and cables to have no one activate it and shoot at it.
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