Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Multigun is More

Multigun is more.

My work partner of thirty-some years is as much a tool enthusiast as anyone who's been in the trades as long as he has. He's not blind, though- he recognizes that there is such a thing as overdoing it.
For all these years, he'll conclude a discussion about such an excess, whether it be tools proper, equipment, accessories, materials, or whatever else has gotten to where there's not enough space or time to contain it, with these final words:
"Too much stuff."

That's often an excellent description of multigun competition.

In the last five years or so, multigun competition, most especially in the form of USPSA 3-gun, has seen very considerable growth. There was a time when an interested shooter would wonder at how he or she might have stumbled upon this amazing and complex contraption, become enthralled of the sheer muchness of it, and then puzzled at how there were so few opportunities to actually shoot a multigun match.
There's a good reason there aren't so many: it's too much.
Unless one has actually assembled a real-life stage, it's often hard to see what the difficulty is. I wouldn't want to take a high-and-mighty, you peons don't get it position on this, but if you haven't ever actually built a stage, well, even a simple stage is more complex and interconnected than it seems when you're actually shooting it.
Shoot-throughs leap out of what looked like a good design like snarling gremlins at Halloween, trashing the best of arrays and demanding all sorts of wall-repositioning.
Steel targets creep closer and closer to the potential shooters' position as if to create distortions of space by jamming in close and displacing fault lines like toys floating in a stormy lake.
Angles of fire that were so intriguing back on the desk suddenly turn into vanilla pudding with little redeeming value.
Then... go multigun and your problems multiply, just like that.

Often the toughest block to a good flowing stage are the abandonment issues. Yes, we all have abandonment issues, but when you're looking for handy places for adrenaline-saturated hotshots to leave powerful rifles and shotguns on their frantic way towards the rear berm, things can get even more crowded with points- drop points, shooting points, steel clearance points, and so on.
It can get downright claustrophobic lost in all those points.
So, having sorted out and carefully established all those issues, then you move on to providing something for the shooters to actually shoot at.
Arguably the most important point about simply adding long guns to the familiar pistol stages you're accustomed to is that: long guns are long, and that means long ranges. Much longer. Things get longer and longer and... further apart.
Not only do you have to differentiate between the various guns' targets, you have to create spaces within the stage for the full scope of the gun's run. But if you do expand the space to suit the problem you're trying to create, your good-sized bay shrinks into a little shoebox and you start wishing you had an airport instead of a bay to set up in.
That expansion creates a whole new problem, though, in that the stage becomes physically huge, requiring so much walking that it becomes a sort of a low-speed cross-country event, most especially for the weary-footed range officers dragging themselves around the thing again and again.
Stage reset times climb into many minutes. The match slows as squads stall in stages and the competitors' attention spans snap off. Fewer people are helping reset and upcoming shooters forget what they got in the car for earlier in the day.

The simple fact is, you can put on a six-stage, 130-round action pistol match for forty competitors and have a hope of being down to the last shot fired in four hours if you did your part right.
But getting through even four multigun stages will take quite a bit longer, and shooter's ennui will be thrice the problem it might have been for your nice, efficient pistol match.

Home club N just opened up their multigun program and ran headlong into the clock on the wall. Some of the best club-level match putter-onners I have the privilege of knowing threw the kitchen sink at the match, and got bogged down in four bays full of clogged drains.
These heroes (they're my heroes, and guys like them should be yours, too) pushed themselves harder and harder and yet the match still wouldn't end.
The weather was awful, an energy-sapping 90+ degrees and bright sun with nowhere to hide on a range known far and wide for being the best place to shoot in the winter. Unfortunately, the characteristics that make for those kinds of winter-shooting benefits help turn the place into an open-topped microwave oven on a hot summer day.
No cats blew up, but soggy, sagging, dragging officials and shooters put away bottles of water as fast as they could be trucked in and still the place looked like it was a giant wide-screen epic being projected in slow-motion.
They fretted and discussed and worried over getting the total match time down. Efficiency is not often the front-burner topic at shooting matches, but it became so for Our Heroes, as they tried to re-engineer their lavish creation into something they themselves would be interested in attending the following month.
Things will indeed be changed, and more care will go into compression and efficiency, but in the end, they're just going to have to face the basic, fundamental fact of multigun matches:

They're just too much stuff.

1 comment:

  1. What you just stated is the obvious. I agree, multi gun matches are difficult to design, setup & RO. Yes they take along time to setup, shoot & teardown. I would hope the people that come to these events realize that. Don't show up & hope to be done shooting in a few hours. You should come prepared to be there awhile. I've never been to a multi gun match that wasn't almost an all day affair. Getting all those guns, ammo & gear ready days before the match is work. I really don't see a way to make multi gun matches quicker without sacrificing quality of the match. This is probably why most clubs don't hold many or any multi gun matches. It's a lot of work for everyone!! I'm sad I missed the match, I would have been there, but I was shooting at the Area 4 in Louisana. You want to talk about heat!! You haven't lived until you shot in 95+ degrees, 100% humidity with no shade & no breeze. Brutal! RePete