We have people visiting, so I've been largely absent from the computer. One a little shooting, and all in all it's been a fun break.
Back in the saddle again next week, when me and the Mikes are going to hijack an airplane. Not only darn good fun, but an exercise in reponse to a violent attacks in constrained spaces.
Surprisingly, I got some negative response after mentioning USPSA has added a new provisional division, essentially Production with a red dot optic. I thought this was a great idea...in fact, I had sorta lobbied IDPA to do exactly the same thing before they opted for their new Compact Carry Division.
The criticism was that USPSA had too many divisions as it is, and adding a new one further dilutes the competition. A fair point, to be sure, but that has always been a criticism of USPSA. Here's some of the comments on Brian Enos' forums.
Kevin from Misfires and Light Strikes correctly (I think) noted that:
It's interesting, though, that USPSA/IDPA are catching up with the realities of the concealed carry/tactical world, rather than the tactical world taking their cues from the competition world. Which speaks volumes about how practical shooting organizations have kept pace with today's shooting culture.I think it takes us back to the fact that both USPSA and IDPA are what I think of as mature sports, with very dedicated and vocal "installed bases." I guess the closest analogy I can think of off the top of my head is image the differences between golf and frisbee golf. I suspect (but don't know) that you might have a greater chance of influencing the direction of the sport if you're paling frisbee golf rather than the stick and ball version. Frisbee golf is still an evolving sport, while Big Ball Golf doesn't give a damn what you think about the specifications on club design. Golf is mature; frisbee golf is still getting there.
Maturation tends to bring a calcification to rulesets, which are aimed at retaining and pleasing the status quo. The installed base, after all, has spent a sizable amount of money and time accumulating the gear that has been developed to specifically meet large and small needs of the specified division. Part of the maturation process is a steady refinement of rules, that is, the elimination of questions, uncertainties, ambiguities, etc. As the rules become more specific and fixed, the gear designed to meet those rules becomes more specific and specialized. The more specialized the equipment becomes, the less suited it is for anything other than the specific niche within the sport. The less suited the gear becomes for activities outside the sport's specific niche and the greater the pressure from the participant to not change the rules.
I think this is neither good nor bad, just the Way of Things. Even in sports where we specifically sought to minimize this evolution — think Rimfire Challenge — we weren't able to stop it. There's a second evolutionary pressure on participant sports, and that is the previously identified tendency of the sport to move in the direction of what the sport's top athletes do best. Sports are also showcases for the participants, and — surprise surprise — the participants want to look good doing it. If you're designing matches, you're competing for a limited leisure time/dollar resource. So how do you choose to design your match? You see the more egregious example of this in Cowboy Action Shooting. where as the sport evolved to pure speed, the targets got bigger and bigger and closer and closer to the point where many shooters complain about "long distance" targets set at 12 yards.
Anyway, just some pondering. I was talking to a top shooter recently who opined that he was at a complete loss to understand the concept of classes and division; rather, the only thing that made sense to him was shooting "straight up," everybody shoots in a single division and there is a single list of scores. The winner is the person whose name appears first on that list.