column By: Steve Garbe | April, 19
I’d like to bring up a topic that I have touched on in the past, but I think it bears repeating. Recently, I had become curious about a different shooting discipline. Interested about what equipment was used, I thought I’d pick up a magazine that featured articles and results from several of the matches that were held across the U.S. I was disappointed, however, as the winners of each match were listed, but there wasn’t really much mentioned in the way of what they had used to garner the win. It actually took a good bit of looking on the Internet to draw some conclusions as to what was being used by the top shooters, how much the rifle and equipment would cost and who to contact in case I was interested in participating.
While I was on the Internet, I visited several BPCR and Schuetzen websites and noticed more than a couple of “threads” dedicated to how we, as black powder cartridge shooters, need to promote our sports, get new people involved, introduce young shooters to the sport and the general cheerleading that is necessary if we want to see our vintage-rifle disciplines grow. I couldn’t argue with any of the suggestions, knowing all too well that it takes effort on the part of all and real dedication from a few to keep matches going year after year.
Then it was time to begin work on another issue and as always, we try to include match results and equipment lists that are sent to us from match directors. Some of the reported matches only included scores, and the few that had equipment lists were far from complete. It’s no fault of the individuals that took it upon themselves to gather up equipment lists from the participating competitors; some shooters simply jotted down the barest of information in regard to rifles and loads used. To be honest, much of what was provided wouldn’t have been very useful to a prospective competitor trying to make important (and expensive) decisions on what to buy in order to participate in our sports.
Now, it’s not my intention to come across as your nagging Aunt Martha. Whether or not a competitor fills out an equipment list is entirely up to them, as it is up to a match director to go through the bother of providing forms and then gathering them up. Having a little experience in this regard, I can say that match directors generally are under-appreciated and short-handed; it’s very easily understood how getting equipment lists would simply be yet another job on a long list of necessary things to get done.
All that being said, let me point out a few things that weigh on the plus side of equipment lists. There is no better advertisement for a manufacturer of shooting equipment than to see shooters, especially top shooters, using its products. If you as a match director have sent out “gimme” letters in the hopes of having merchandise donated for prizes, having an equipment list published is a great way of giving something back to the folks who support your match. Prospective customers will read what is being used and will contact the company when they decide to outfit themselves for competition.
Match results and accompanying equipment lists are also a “reloading manual” of sorts for new shooters. As publishers, we caution folks to use judgment and common sense when it comes to published data, but a good equipment list will let a tyro know that entering a 1,000-yard competition with a .32-40 is not something that should be tried. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I think you get the idea. The equipment list that is provided from a match has the added advantage of giving an idea of what worked and what didn’t. This is something that store-bought manuals don’t generally provide.
Here at The BPC News, we have always held to the motto, “For Shooters, By Shooters.” This means that rather than give subscribers shooting “fluff,” we try to provide solid information that one can actually use in reloading and shooting black powder cartridge rifles. Many firearms magazines do not provide match scores, let alone equipment lists, most likely for the reason that space in a magazine equals advertising dollars. Reporting on a match is one thing, but using up space with the “nuts and bolts” is many times regarded as unnecessary. We disagree. The BPC News has a standard form for reporting scores and equipment lists available free of charge to any match director. Simply contact us (email@example.com) and we will forward those layout forms to you. Priority on publication has always been placed on match scores accompanied by an equipment list.
In my experience as a match director, I have occasionally been told by some shooters, “I’m not going to give out my hard-earned information so that some new guy can beat me at the next match.” My personal feelings are if those are a shooter’s sentiments, they are going to be out-shot at the next match simply because they need to work on their mental game. Thinking that the only way to win a match is because of some “secret” edge clearly shows a lack of confidence. If that’s your crutch, you will eventually fall flat on your face. I’ve had match directors tell me that they have given up trying to get competitors to fill out equipment lists at matches because people said they couldn’t be bothered. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a match where at some point I didn’t have five minutes to fill out an equipment list form.
We all talk about getting new people into our sport by being positive, helping beginners get started, loaning equipment and the like. Providing something as simple as an equipment list at the next match is a great way of promoting our sport, helps out the match director and takes a minimum of your time. If we “talk the talk” about making our black powder shooting sports grow, we also need to “walk the walk.” – Gut Ziel