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Last Call for the sport of Trapshooting part 2

Discussion in 'Uncategorized Threads' started by kentdeadapair, Aug 10, 2008.

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  1. kentdeadapair

    kentdeadapair TS Member

    Joined:
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    PART V. OH-ME-OH-MY!! WHAT TO DO? WHAT TO DO?

    Well, if there are people that think the handicap system should be changed (and there are a lot of them), then they should be able to come up with suggestions for these changes (and they’ve got a lot of those for sure).

    Let’s see if we can sort these suggestions out into three groups and then discuss them. A large group of these would target all but the very good 27-yard shooters in an effort to make them more competitive. A second group of suggested changes would be aimed at 27 yard shooters to try and cut down on their domination of handicap events, and a third group of changes would target all shooters in an effort to equalize things in the handicap events.

    Group one. “Let’s Get You Up There Where You Can Hit Something.”

    Mandatory Reductions. One of the “good” things about the handicap system is that if you shoot bad enough you get to move up (perhaps not far enough, but you do get to move up). However, our present system allows shooters the option of refusing their reduction, and for a variety of reasons (ego? Shooting with friends, etc.?) many of them do just that. In 2004 there were a little over 10,000 reductions issued and over 4,000 of them were refused. Shooters refusing 2 or more reductions for the target year numbered almost 900. These are amazing numbers and as Dick Bennett points out: “Our present system will never show its true competitive value unless it is used as designed. Unless shooters shoot from the yardage assigned, you can never truly measure or apply or adjust the system. Adjustments to the system are statistically unbalanced by shooters who refuse reductions.”

    Why do we give shooters a choice to refuse reductions when we don’t let them choose to take or refuse earned yardage? We should call the bluff of those shooters who say they will quit if they have to take a reduction. A few might, but most will grumble a little, stay with the sport, and often get shooting better again after some reductions. That would be good for them and good for trapshooting. As Mr. Spock says: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

    For years the Past Presidents of the ATA kept recommending mandatory reductions and the delegates kept voting it down. Bennett says: “We keep electing 27 yarders as State directors and delegates and wonder why the handicap system doesn’t change.” I was curious about that, so I looked up all the State and Provincial delegates listed in the April, 2007 T&F. 40 out of 56 were 27 yarders. This is over 71% and it was higher than I expected. Perhaps this helps explain why there is such gridlock when it comes to handicap system reform.

    Using the 19-18-17 (and even the 16) yard lines for Handicap. Clear back in 1979 Vic Reinders used the figures from the 1978 average book to make a very good case for putting a lot of shooters on 19-18-17 or even 16 yards for handicap events. In 1980 he wrote: “I am convinced that the vast majority of our shooters are overhandicapped from one to four yards. They can’t possibly compete against shooters who average 92% and up from 27 yards………Let’s just abolish the rule of automatically starting all new shooters at 20 yards or more. Let’s use the 16-17-and 18 yard lines for those who deserve it, and let’s not insist on the foolish notion that no able-bodied male should be under 20 yards.”

    Phil Kiner believes that you should probably start new shooters on the 18 for men and 17 for women and then advance or reduce from there and he feels that the fear of sandbaggers is what keeps this from happening. He makes a valid point about this fear when he writes: “……….many times good ideas that would help are rejected for fear that they will give some very small group an edge or enhanced ability to cheat. To this theory, my question is, which is worse – 1% of the population potentially getting an advantage while 50% of the population is helped, or hindering 50% to make sure the 1% is covered.”

    Worry about sandbaggers is one of the big reasons we have a system that doesn’t work today. This fear has done much more to harm trapshooting than the few sandbaggers ever have. The perception is that there are a lot of shooters who would take advantage of shorter yardages. In truth there are few that abuse the system and if our officials at the local, state, and national levels are doing their jobs, in a short time these shooters will either have appropriate yardage or be driven from registered shooting. Also Neil Winston points out that if we can accomplish a general improvement in the level of shooting, it would reduce the payoff for cheating anyway, thus making dishonesty less rewarding.

    Make Reductions Easier to Get. This could include things such as: 1. Changing the 1.000 target review to 700 for reduction consideration (The PITA changed from a 1,000 target requirement for reductions to 800 a few years ago). 2. Removing the limit of two reductions each year. 3. Raising the trigger point for reductions so more shooters would qualify.

    Make Earned Yardage Harder to Get. This might include: 1. Punching only wins and ties. 2. Doing away with automatic punches for 96’s and 97’s. 3. Changing the earned yardage table so it doesn’t punch so deep, especially at small shoots. And not giving punches for shoots smaller than a minimum number of shooters (75? 50? 40?).

    Use A Handicapping System Like Golf or Bowling. This is doable in our present-day computer society, and I have run leagues using these systems and they certainly do level the playing field. We also use “birds added” on a “Super Shoot-Off” we have at the conclusion of one of our registered shoots. I don’t believe a 27 yarder has ever won that event. This was one of the things they used to do in the early days of trapshooting before we had any handicap system at all. As George Neary said in a letter to Shotgun Sports: “Give a B class shooter 3, 4 or 5 free targets in his handicap, and you’ll see a lot more playing of the purse and a lot less bellyaching about the super shots.”
    Group Two. “Hey, You Guys on The Back Fence! Leave Something for the Rest of Us, or Play by Yourselves.”
    In the Group one changes we were looking for things that would help the vast majority of shooters become more competitive in the handicap events. In group two changes we are looking for ways to make the very good 27-yard handicap shooters less competitive (not have them win as much as they are doing at the present time or not having them compete against the average shooters at all).

    Let’s look at some changes that might make them less competitive. 1. Going back to shooting 3-hole “hard” targets, not the 2-hole “soft” lollypops that are thrown some places. 2-hole targets became popular fast because shooters broke better scores shooting these and they liked it (but would then turn around and complain that they weren’t winning with these higher scores because everyone was scoring higher). When the ATA started letting clubs get away with throwing 2-hole targets, it wasn’t long before even clubs who wanted to throw the legal 3-hole targets had to change over or shooters would not come to their shoots anymore.

    A great many shooters think this would be one of the easiest things to do to take a bird or two off of the high handicap scores we have today. The argument is often made that this change would also hurt the scores of the shorter yardage shooters. Sure it would, but if they were up where they belong it wouldn’t affect them as much as it would the 27 yarders, and it would open up that “wiggle room” at the top of the leader board and shooters wouldn’t always have to worry about being “perfect” to win.

    Today, many shooters want an easy, high scoring sport. This plays into the strengths of the very good handicap shooters. Concerns over averages is also one of the things that has led to “easy” targets at clubs around the country. Many state associations still pick their state All-Star Teams just on the basis of averages because that is the easiest way for them to do it. A fairer system would be based on wins and accomplishments (like the ATA All-American teams). This would ease the pressure for easy targets and would also help the “fair weather shooter protecting and average” problem that clubs run into.

    There is little doubt that scores would be lower with 3-hole than 2-hole targets. The last time the ATA made a vigorous attempt to enforce the throwing of 3-hole targets was the 1995 target year. There is a startling difference between the handicap averages of 1994 and 1995. In 1994, the top 39 handicap shooters had an average of 94 or over and the top 112 ATA averages were 93 or over. In 1995, even though the number of 27 yarders in the top 100 is almost the same (94 as compared to 96) the averages took a large drop with only 17 at 94+ and only 45 at 93 or better. This is pretty clear evidence that 27-yard shooter scores will be lowered if we went back to the 3-hole target.

    2. Making the 27 yarders shoot harder angles than everyone else. These are two great ideas that would accomplish about the same thing but in different ways. Tony Jessen from Wyoming suggested that you throw 2-hole targets for 19-21 yarders, 3-hole for 22-26 yard shooters and 4-hole targets for 27 yarders. This would require either some trap adjusting or having traps or banks set up in advance for the different yardages.

    A second idea from Don Folks in Illinois would require no trap adjusting but some slight modification to the trap pads. He would have all shooters on 26 and shorter shoot from the inside of the current walks on posts 1 and 5, and have 27 yarders shoot from the outside of the current walks on 1 and 5. (Don’s proposal actually had 24 and up on the inside and 25 and back on the outside-I changed it for this example). This idea would make the angles harder on a potential 40 targets each hundred for the 27 yarders and easier for the other shooters. Since most handicap events are won by 1 or 2 targets, this might have a big impact on who shoots the winning scores.

    It seems pretty clear that when we have tougher shooting conditions (for whatever reason – natural or man-made) the scores will be lower. Look at what happens at the Grand Pacific. Two years ago when it was held in Medford, OR. There were a number of 100’s and 99’s from 27 yarders. In 2007 when it was held at Evergreen, WA. The 27 yarders still won 4 out of 7 handicaps but all the winning scores were 97’s and 98’s and the other three handicaps were won with 97’s and 98’s by shorter yardage shooters. Also look at Spanish Fork, UT. They must have marvelous shooting conditions there because when they have a state or zone shoot, you are usually lining up the 100’s from 27 for the shoot-offs.

    3. Reduced Shot Charges. We’ve been talking about this idea forever. Some people say that the good shooters will still win all the time with mandatory one-ounce loads. Well then, how about 7/8th oz or ¾ oz ? The point is, there will eventually not be enough shot for even the best shooters to break high scores from back on 27 yards. This could be researched by the ATA (matter of fact I think past President Gene Clawson from Montana already has some data on this) and announced with a grace period of whatever time was felt necessary for the ammo companies to convert over and for shooters to burn up the old shells. And just look at the shot we would save! That looks pretty good with the price of lead where it is right now.

    4. Add the 28-Yard Line. Phil Kiner believes that this one-yard would be a bigger change and have a bigger impact on the very good 27 yard shooters than most people realize, and it would be possible for most clubs to add one yard. (Ah yes, great minds do think alike. The 28 yard line was a component in the “masters class” rule that was discussed, but not adopted, by the PITA back in the 80’s)

    Separate The Good 27-Yard Shooters from Everyone Else. This could be
    done in a variety of ways including: (A). Establishment of a professional shooting circuit. (Easier said than done however, as earlier attempts will testify) (B). Create a Master Handicap class or Master Shooter group. Neil Winston would have them shooting from the 27, and to stay in the Master Handicap class, a shooter would have to maintain a 92 average from 27 or earn yardage from there. Winston would leave money division to local option and have no set national policy. Different areas could tailor the new system to best serve their shooters. The 1980’s PITA proposal would have had the Master Shooters on 28 yards and they would be shooting for their own money only. Phil Kiner suggests a separation (at least at all major shoots) into A and B money groups. The A group would consist of shooters who qualify based on All-American team placement, number of punches received, average (he suggests 91.5%) and anyone else who is crazy enough to want to shoot against that group. (C). Have a maximum number of punches you could receive from the 27-yard line in a year. Perhaps 20? At least this would make them be selective about where they won, and might protect most of the smaller to medium-sized shoots. When you earned your 20th (or whatever number was decided upon) punch, you could shoot no more handicap events for the rest of that target year. (D) Just don’t invite them to your shoot. Put in your program that this is an invitational event and that 27 yarders with whatever criteria you want – average, punches, etc. will not be allowed to shoot the handicap events. They could still shoot the singles and doubles if they wished. If the ATA won’t allow you to do this, you could certainly do it on a non-registered basis.

    Group Three. These Are Radical, Man! They Would Not Just Affect One End Or The Other Of The Handicap System. They Would Affect All Handicap Shooters, And In Some Cases, Even The Way The Events Would Be Shot.


    Change The Handicap Events So That All Shooters Shoot From The Same Yardage. Dick Bennett made this proposal in the 1990’s. All shooters would shoot from the same yardage (23? 25? 27? Whatever we want to pick) and they would be put into classes like we do on doubles and singles. This would be based on their handicap average and would just require another classification table. If you never got a chance to read his entire article, you should, as there are an awful lot of good things about this idea. There was an awful lot of discussion about this idea and a lot of shooters thought it was a plan that had a lot of merit. However, except for one shoot in Oregon that tried this format, I don’t know of any serious attempts to check it out. It probably had as much chance of flying with the ATA and our delegates as a lead balloon. Perhaps it is time to revisit this idea 10+ years later.

    Change All Money pay-offs and Trophies Awarded in the Handicaps to Yardage Group Distributions. After reading Dick Bennett’s proposal, quite a few shooters said that they liked it but felt it would be a long time (if ever) before it would be accepted. Dean Brubaker from California believes we could accomplish two of Bennett’s goals (give all shooters an equal chance to be a winner, and spreading winning dollars to all shooters rather than a very few 27 yarders, of whom many are considered professionals) within the present rule structure. All that is needed are two changes in shoot programs: (A). All handicap purses would be paid out by yardage groups only and, (B). All trophies, honors, etc. would be by yardage groups only. There would be no single high-gun purse or Champion’s trophy for all yardage groups together. You could have 2-3-4 or more yardage groups depending on the size of the shoot, but the 27 yarders would always be in a group by themselves. Dean feels if this were successful locally, then it would be time for changes on the national level. (Wishful thinking perhaps, given the history of attempted changes over the past 30 years.)

    If Money is The Root of All Evil, Let’s Help Shooters Not Be So Evil. Drew Painter from Washington sent me an interesting email some time ago. He pointed out that many of the shooters where he is from no longer shoot registered targets because they have grown tired of “the big fish feeding on us little fish.” Drew feels that one solution to this would be a “money limit” on how much a shooter could earn from his handicap scores (his actual shooting – not clinics,etc.) during any target year. Any money earned on a score would count, including added, purses of all kinds, options, jackpots, special events, etc.

    We could set the limit at whatever we wanted. How about $5,000? That is sure a lot more than 99% of registered shooters will win in a year. Depending on the size of the shoot, some shooters would go over their limit with just one handicap. Well, good for them. They have had their big hit for the year and they now can continue to shoot the rest of the year for trophies and honors only, or they can put their gun away until next year and give somebody else a chance to win. People might think this would be hard to keep track of – not really. The ATA and their computers could keep a running total of winnings reported by the clubs just like they keep track of reported punches. Also, make the shooter responsible to know his running total and if he goes over it and is caught, then suspend him or kick him out of the game. A shooter could win $4,999.99 and still shoot the next handicap but any winnings put him past his limit and he would be done for the year.

    I have visions of shooters that start to pick their shoots very carefully as they close in on the $5,000 limit as they look for one last big payday for the year. If they get it in a big money shoot and go way over the $5,000, good for them. But, again they are done winning handicap money for the year. This would also slow down some of the sandbaggers so many shooters worry about.

    By the way, this would not be “after expenses.” We don’t care how much you spend shooting – just how much you win. As Drew points out, we would probably lose some big-guns if we went to a system like this but as most average shooters would say: “Too Bad” or even “Hoorah”.

    Well, as you can see, there are lots of things we can do (if we want to –do we?)
    PART VI. CONCLUSION – DONE AT LAST! DONE AT LAST!

    Well, congratulations if you made it this far. I hope some of the things you read got you to thinking about experiences you have had, or things you have thought about regarding the handicap system.

    Almost all shooters know by now (whether they admit it or not) that there are big problems with our handicap system. It is like a race car with a bad engine – it “kind of works.” It can get around the racetrack but it sure won’t win the race. Our system satisfies the group of shooters who are good enough to win often under the present set of rules, and it satisfies the group of shooters who just shoot socially and don’t care if they win. But it doesn’t satisfy the rest of us including the thousands who drop out of the sport every year.

    We can complain all we want, but we shouldn’t blame the superior shooters,
    because they are just following a set of outdated rules and conditions that allow them to dominate the handicap events. It will only get worse until we finally take action and make some sweeping changes. Some might be simple and others complex. There is an old saying: What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.” This sure fits the situation in trapshooting at the present time.

    For a number of years the ATA was preoccupied with relocation of the Grand American Grounds. This has been accomplished, and I have no problem with the move to Sparta. I hope to get there at least once (but I don’t plan on doing it until they get the Hall of Fame and Museum down there). I believe that if we can direct as much energy, effort, and thought to the handicap system as went into relocation, we could accomplish a great deal of positive change in a rather short period of time. I believe that if leadership realizes there are problems, it is their duty to try and correct what is wrong. For the ATA and the delegates to continue to do nothing would be an insult to the sport and the ATA membership.

    Some people will resist changes and they will argue that lots of shooters will never get good enough to win. I would agree with that, but I would also argue that many just get discouraged and quit before they get to develop to their full potential because of what they see as a system that lets the same shooters keep winning and winning and winning in the handicap events. As Dan Orlich said: “All the average shooter wants is a chance.” If they believe their association (s) is doing all it can to make the handicap events as fair as possible, they won’t resent the fact that they won’t win very often (However that’s not the case at the present time). For well over 30 years the handicap events have been dominated by the good 27-yard shooters. If we want the average American shooter to come to trapshooting (and stay with us) this cannot continue. To borrow a quote from James Thurber: “You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward.” It’s time to stop leaning over backwards to accommodate the few and start to accommodate the many.

    Nobody is going to like all of the changes that will be necessary to make the handicap system fair (or at least as fair as it is possible to get it). But we must either change or we will decline – in quality, in enthusiasm, and in membership.

    I guess the question really boils down to, do we want to make the handicap system work better for the average shooter while “handicapping” our super-shooting 27 yarders to bring the handicap events in line with what the original purpose was?
    I think most trapshooters would say, “You bet!” I’m not so sure about our leadership and our representatives (delegates).

    In closing I would like to share part of a full-page ad I saw in a shooting magazine not too long ago. Part of the ad was as follows:

    --Skeet & Sporting—
    The Sports for Fun – for Family – for Life!

    Join the fastest growing shooting sports organizations in the US
    Over 34,000 members and growing!
    The National Skeet Shooting & Sporting Clays Associations are the leaders in recreational shooting sports.

    I had to grind my teeth a little bit when I read this. Ten years ago I would have smiled at these claims, but today they are a little bit closer to the truth. Trapshooting is still the dominant American clay target shooting sport but it’s like Satchel Paige used to say, “Don’t look back. Something may be gaining on you.” Those of us that enjoy and love the sport of trapshooting better be looking ahead to the future and working to give the membership the best experience possible.

    We are all aware that many things impact the success of our sport. There is very little we can do to control the price of things such as fuel or lead, but we do have control of how the handicap system operates. Let’s be smart and change the system so that we can give the maximum number of our members a fun experience when they do shoot with us.

    It’s simple really, if you have fun shooting registered targets you’ll probably keep doing it. If you don’t have fun you’ll soon be doing something else.

    One last thing (honest!). If you have never had a chance to read the complete articles by Neil Winston or Dick Bennett I would encourage you to do so. You can probably get a copy from Shotgun Sports. If not, give me a call (208-345-0711) and I’ll send you one. Thanks for your interest. As they say in Italy,

    Ciao!

    INTRODUCTION

    Trapshooting has a long and prestigious history in the United States, but like many institutions today it is struggling to stay healthy in a rapidly changing society. To get an idea of how popular trapshooting was in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, read many of the articles in Dick Baldwin’s great book The Road To Yesterday. Another wonderful example is a set of tobacco cards from 1887 that I ran across in Smithsonian Baseball. Inside the World’s Finest Private Collections. On page 16 there was a picture of all the cards in this set titled “World’s Champions” and they included sports champions of the day from boxers, rowers, and wrestlers to baseball players, billiard players and marksmen. I recognized the four shooters. They were Captain A.H. Bogardus, W.F. (Doc) Carver, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Annie Oakley. All but Cody were enshrinees in the first group to go into the ATA Hall of Fame in 1969.

    Trapshooting does not enjoy such widespread popularity today. It’s tough to get anything in the sports section or the outdoors section of the local papers anymore. My daughter who is nine was told to read a book on a sports figure at school. She has been around guns and trapshooting all her life and so she chose a book about the life of Annie Oakley. The librarian then told her to chose another book because “shooting is not a sport.”

    Factors such as growing anti-gun sentiment and a vast increase in recreational choices have made it more difficult to attract new registered shooters. The growth of other shooting games such as Sporting Clays also siphons off shooters that in the past would have been attracted to registered trap.

    These circumstances (and many more) combine to make the registered shooting population less stable than in the “good old days” (whenever that was for your particular area – in Idaho it was the late 70’s and early 80’s when we had our largest state shoots, etc.).

    Our sport has a lot of things that work against it that we have little or no control over, such as the ever rising costs of transportation, shells, components and targets.
    Since we can’t control those factors, we must do the best job possible with the things we do have control over to give our shooters the most enjoyment possible for the money and time they choose to spend with us.

    One thing we do have complete control over is the handicap system we use. If we want to attract more shooters (and keep more of them that do start with us) we must
    convince them that we have their best interests in mind and have made the system as fair as possible for them (You won’t convince most shooters today that this is the case). This paper is a collection of opinions, thoughts, numbers and statistics that address this situation. Enjoy your reading and I hope you will reflect on what you see here.

    TABLE OF CONTENTS







    PART I. LET ME INTRODUCE MYSELF. P. 1



    PART II. WHAT’S THE PITA AND HOW DO THEY DEAL WITH
    THE HANDICAP SYSTEM? P. 3



    PART III. A SHORT HISTORY OF THE HANDICAP SYSTEM. P.7



    PART IV. HOUSTON (OR THE ATA), DO WE HAVE A PROBLEM? P. 11



    PART V. OH-ME-OH-MY! WHAT TO DO? WHAT TO DO? P. 34



    PART VI. CONCLUSION. DONE AT LAST! DONE AT LAST! P. 40
     
  2. bobdog

    bobdog Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    774
    I didn't think so. Pretty interesting and level-headed stuff.
     
  3. Gary Waalkes

    Gary Waalkes Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,400
    Rev - is that quote from Earl Scripture?

    To Kentdeadapair - As Dave S points out, the governing body of the ATA is at the Grand and will never read a word of this. If you want to have change, you need to get the ear of a well regarded Delegate who is willing to champion the proposals. That is not so easy as they are like a pack of wild dogs when it comes to accepting inputs of any sort from the shooters they are supposed to represent. If a shooter with the reputation of Mr. Kiner does not have an impact on them, who does?

    To your suggestions, you put out many of them and I will respond to a couple - I believe reduced shot charges actually enhance kill probabilities. I believe that punches for 96 and up should remain, punches for being the high gun at a shoot with 15 entries should be eliminated. I do not believe how a person makes a living should have a bearing on any ATA rules. I agree that the BOD is and always has been looking for the boogey man when it comes to sand baggers.
     
  4. Alex Ragulsky

    Alex Ragulsky TS Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    129
    Or maybe those shooters who don't shoot well enough to win could just practice more, make some sacrifaces, take some clinics and do several other things that it takes to succeed.

    Maybe the ATA can make this sport more like soccer in Boulder (Colorado) where they don't keep score and everyone wins a trophy.

    When those horrible (my words, not yours) 27-yard shooters who win everything are driven from the competition who will the next bad guys be? 26 yard shooters? Then we can get rid of them and then concentrate on the top 25 yard shooters. And that's exactly what will happen if you restrict how much a good shooter can earn. It will drive many out of the sport. While some shooters will say "good" as mentioned above it isn't good for our sport. It only serves as dumbing the sport down.

    Making the targets harder for 27 yard shooters such as 3 or 4 hole targets is what the distance increase to the 27 was supposed to do. And it didn't in the opinion of some. But the really good shooters will soon master the harder targets, just like they did the 27 yard line.

    Shooters who play the money, any money, takes their chances. And willingly do so. Don't believe me, look at the Calcuttas. It's more than just new shooters and 27-yard shooters who play.

    Giving less skilled shooters extra targets (or taking some away from not proficient shooters) will kill handicap, in my opinion. There is no reason to compete at your best because no matter how good you are they will take your targets away and no matter how poorly you shoot you'll get some extra and unerned targets.

    Why do the winners seemingly almost always win? Ask any GOOD 27 yard shooter how much they practice. And I mean REALLY PRACTICE. Not go to the club, sit around BS-ing with the boys and shooting a couple rounds. I'm talking about really working at it. I think that many of you would be surprised to learn the practice routine of the top guns. Time consuming, often uncomfortable and certainly expensive--but they do it so that they can win. Do you?

    What about physical preperation? Get a good night's sleep, moderation (or elimination) of the consumption of alcohol. Good meals (not gun club food). How many who feel that the handicap system is broken have had a physical or eye exam recently? And speaking of that when have they gotten new shooting glasses (of the proper tint for the conditions that they are shooting in)?

    What about guns? Look at the top shooters. Most shoot high quality (read that as expensive) guns. Of course a few don't but the majority do. Those who have trouble at caps, what kind of gun do you shoot? I know that many of you have great guns, but do you know how to shoot them? Really?

    What about shells? I see folks shooting reloads at caps. Most reloads are just fine. but I have shot (recently) with shooters who have shells of which no two sound alike. Might not mean anything but I doubt that consistency exists. Of course my hearing what it is maybe everything is just fine. I know my limitations and shoot top quality factory shells in caps. Expensive? You bet. More so than my reloads. But although expensive they are better for me. My observations indicate that most shooters shoot reloads or economical shells at caps. You get what you pay for I guess.

    How many of the folks who say that the system is broken have ulterior motives? And if they do what is that motive? In my opinion it's just that they can't win. That's motivation enough to demand change. To be fair I win every now and then and that is my motivation to argue for something contrary to the above post.

    I don't think that the system is broken but it can use some tweeking.

    The ATA doesn't like the Calcutta so let's do away with it. And we can do that while fixing the handicap system just by going to a class system. Everyone on the 27 yard line but in classes.

    When people talk about passing new gun laws I hear the arguement that we have enough. We only need to enforce the ones we have. Same with ATA rules. Enforce the ones that we have. That means the (mandatory) reduction issue. If we don't go to a class system then the mandatory reduction is probably the next best thing.

    Couple that with the handicap starting at the 17 yard line and you have a great start.

    Next, add a lower break point for a (mandatory) reduction. But keep the pnches for 96 and above or a win at a smaller shoot.

    If you want to remove or restrict the money that a good 27 yard shooter can win or restrict the number of wins that they can have in a year do the same for ALL yardages. I could name you a lovely young lady who moved back to the 27 in about a year. Through no fault of her own other than she can put it all together. Under the rules proposed (if applied across the board to ALL yardage shooters) she would have been restricted from competing half way through the target year and probably would have walked away from the sport.

    Just my opinion. I will concede that I am probably not right on most of what I said and may have angered some. Not my intent. But I can't see punishing the top shooters just because they have what it takes to be the top shooters.

    But remember, when you run out the best it lowers the bar. And the next group of winners will become the plague and will be ran off. And the bar goes lower. And we do it all again. And the next, admittedly less proficent group of shooters are ran off. And the bar becomes lower still. Finally our Grand American Handicap Champion will have shot 39 out of 100 for that honor. Unintended consequences but consequences none the less.

    I don't have the answer nor do I have a crystal ball. But I do have an opinion and you can take that for what it's worth (probably not much).

    Respectfully,

    Alex Ragulsky
     
  5. oleolliedawg

    oleolliedawg Banned User Banned TS Supporters

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    The 17yd. line for Handicap is virtually meaningless. Just ask those shooters who find out how difficult it is getting a squad at very short yardage!!
     
  6. Alex Ragulsky

    Alex Ragulsky TS Member

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    Olie:

    I agree with you as far as the 17 yard line is concerned. But I have seen 18 yard shooters (and 16 yard shooters for that matter) that were not competitive. I think that the 17 (or whatever starting yardage is) is meant to be the first step back. Some people wouldn't be competitive even if they stood next to the trap house.

    Ed hit upon some issues that I had forgotten. For the folks who have made the 27, no matter where they are now, do you remember that day? It's been a while since I've thought about it but even now my memories are vivid. Then, and even now, it means something (if to no one else but me) to be on the 27. No one is suggesting or saying this but getting to the 27 should be hard and staying competitive there should be even harder. I know that I bust my hump every time I step to the line.

    Kent wrote a wonderfully post and I know that I twisted a little of what he said. Although I don't agree with everything he wrote I can't critize what he wrote because even some of the things I disagree with I know are correct from his point of view. No matter what side of the issue you are on you surely can't fault the guy for trying.

    Respectfully,

    Alex Ragulsky
     
  7. shot410ga

    shot410ga Well-Known Member

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    All good ideas. But, none will be adopted. It's an old sport with old rules, like baseball. Tradition is the name of the game. But, I do think going to a 24 gram load is the way to go. At least to match the rest of the world.
     
  8. Big Heap

    Big Heap TS Member

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    Great post, well researched by Kent Harris.

    If the game didn't rely on a perfect score - 100X100 - first dictated by the number of shells in four boxes, scoring and handicapping could be like golf and everyone's handicap would be dictated by scores shot in the past, awarding more or subtracting targets based on averages.

    There are several ways to accomplish this method of handicapping, as pointed out by Kent. New shooters are turned off by the current handicap system and leave the game. This trend will continue until some constructive changes are made.
     
  9. Michael Jobe

    Michael Jobe TS Member

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    Couple things I'd be interested in if anyone knows the answers or where I can find them at...

    How many handicap targets does the average ATA shooter register each year?

    What is the handicap yardage of the average ATA shooter?

    If a shooter is shooting more targets than the average number, is their yardage higher than the average also?

    I think the first thing that's wrong with the game is people simply have a bad attitude about handicap and don't shoot enough of it (registered, or practice). I'm guessing the average ATA shooter registers at least as twice as many singles as handicap. If those numbers were reversed, I'm sure a lot less people would think the handicap system was broke.

    This is my third year of shooting ATA targets, and my fourth year shooting trap. I've made the 27 yard line in 4600 registered birds. I'm there, and I'm going to beat you, because I practice.

    Second thing wrong with the game... two hole targets. It should be mandatory that they are three hole.

    Third, max load should be 7/8 oz for singles and doubles, 1 oz for handicap.

    ~Michael
     
  10. oleolliedawg

    oleolliedawg Banned User Banned TS Supporters

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    Michael, I believe Neil Winston has plenty of charts and graghs to illustrate your position!!
     
  11. KenC

    KenC Member

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    No Shooter Left Behind. I love it.

    A few years ago I analyzed the handicap averages for an entire years worth of ATA shooting and posted the results here on ts.com. The results were not surprising. 27 yarders had, by far (by 2 birds!), better handicap averages than ANY other yardage group.

    To me, the conclusion was obvious. 27 yarders were simply better shooters than the rest of us. How did they become such monsters? They worked their butts off. They made the personal and financial sacrifices that they had to in order to become the best. They [27 yarders] put more work into it than the rest of us and so for that, THEY should be punished?

    You want to win, 200-300 targets per week ain't enough to get'er done.
     
  12. Michael Jobe

    Michael Jobe TS Member

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    Come on now KenC, that 20 yard liner that registers 800 targets a year, and shoots 25 or 50 handicap practice targets once or twice a month should be able to beat those guys back at the 27 yard line who shoots 6000 or so registered and practice handicap targets every year. And if he can't something is obviously wrong with the system, and the 20 yard liner needs to be put on the 18, given a 5 bird head start, and the 27 yard liner moved back to the 35 yard line and only allowed to shoot 1/2 oz loads.

    IMO, for the most part the current handicap system is a good one. There are going to be cheaters (it unavoidable), and the best are going to win most of the time, but when it comes to handicap, the playing field is as level as it's going to get in our sport, and everyone has a chance. It comes down to what they've done during practice to give themselves that chance come competition time.

    ~Michael
     
  13. jimbotrap

    jimbotrap TS Member

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    Kent spent a considerable amount of time on his study. He also conversed with some of the better shooters in the sport to assist in his writings.

    I believe he sent a copy of his study to all members of the EC and delegates. He heard from only a couple.

    I must agree with most of his writings. Expecially, elimination of score punches, higher average for reductions and mandatory reductions. The old argument about having earned the yardage does not hold any meaning, unless a shooter can maintain a reasonable average. Nor does the argument about shooting with friends. The system allows for up to 3 yards differential on a squad providing only 2 yards between shooters. - Jim Elliott
     
  14. Alex Ragulsky

    Alex Ragulsky TS Member

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    Rick: Contact your State ATA delegate. I think that he or she could help you.

    I would really like to add some comments to this thread but to vice my opinion would be nothing less than redundant because I agree with KenC, Titewad2, Tammers and Slick13. Of course that certainly doesn't make them or I right just because I agree.

    I looked at my records on both practice and registered and I fall into the category of 27 yard shooters who shoot 6,000+ targets a year. Now the question that begs to be asked is why, if I shoot so much am I not a better shot than I am? I guess it's because I miss so much.

    My point is that at least for me and my moderate degree of success it takes a lot of shooting. And I don't mean shooting half-heartedly while telling jokes between posts and getting frustrated and shooting from the hip because you miss but rather shooting (at) every target like it's the most important target I'll ever shoot.

    I think that I understand what Kent is trying to accomplish in his writings but you can't force people to be winners. He is not complaining but many of the people who complain won't do what it takes to win. Winning is fun but it's also a lot of hard work. At least that's my preception from my limited experience. Just like being rich. I could imaging that being rich would be great! But it too is a lot of hard work. I guess maybe that's why there is not that many rich people or winners around.

    Respectfully,

    Alex Ragulsky
     
  15. phirel

    phirel TS Member

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    Alex- It quite possibly requires more dedication to work to become a top shooter from the 27 than is required to gain a strong financial position.

    Pat Ireland
     
  16. KEYBEAR

    KEYBEAR Active Member

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      Why is it we are told the ATA has a Handicap problem only by AA27AA shooters ?    It seems that most of us are happy to be shooting and really could care less about your saving of the handicap system .    As for 7/8oz. loads they are laughable . Does anyone really think less shot will help anyone . Shot410ga. If 7/8oz is better then go to 1/2oz.(it would be better). Is there anyway you could just stop messing with my sport ?

    When you get everyone standing on the proper post let me know so I can just shoot the dam targets .

    ALF
     
  17. Little Dog

    Little Dog TS Member

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    I like the brilliant idea of banning the calcutta. Only 1 problem though- calcuttas have been illegal for at least 30 years and probably longer.
     
  18. Hauser

    Hauser Member

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    Little Dog


    The ATA rules do not say calcuttas are illegal.


    Jerry Hauser
     
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