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Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Rating System for 3-Gun?



I've had some interactions in the past few weeks which gave me an idea. I'm sure nobody is waiting with baited breath to actually hear this idea, but I'm going to tell you anyway. LOL

I think somebody should come up with a rating system for matches - especially 3-Gun matches - and especially for us amateurs.

I'll tell you why. Because we as shooters are a REALLY diverse group. We've got middle-age average and novice shooters who shoot for fun, all the way up to hard-core-cross-fitting-tough mudder-running-adventure-seeking bad-a$$es who are always looking for the next level. 

Those diverse groups  aren't always looking for the same thing in a match. Some folks want their match to be all about pushing themselves to the very limits. Whereas, I personally prefer a match to be more about shooting than windsprints, and more about accuracy than climbing up into, or over physical obstacles. There's nothing wrong with either one of those styles - as long as the folks shooting them know ahead of time what the expectations are. Knowing ahead of time what KIND of match is being held would help each group better choose what to sign up for.

For instance, I'm over fifty, and I have a "big girl" job. I'm in private practice, which means that I don't have "sick leave". I am essentially self-employed, and if I'm not working, I'm not making money, and my bills are not getting paid.

Which means that I have zero interest in getting into a match in which I might seriously injure myself, or aggravate a pre-existing injury. If I'm at home in a knee immobilizer awaiting surgery, I'm not at the office or hospital taking care of my patients, and I'm not paying the light bill, either. 

Being realistic about my abilities and my life situation does not mean that I am somehow "afraid", or "untrained" or being a wimp, or anything else. It simply means that I am not willing to trade my ability to eat and support myself for a few thrilling minutes of shooting entertainment. And honestly, that's what shooting is for me - entertainment. I will never be good enough to be anything but an unsponsored amateur, and I totally accept that. I actually prefer it that way. But I still LOVE to shoot - especially 3-Gun - because it's fun. And I spend a crap-ton of money doing it, too. But I also recognize that it is "only" fun. It's not life or death, (at least not in competition), and I recognize that sometimes one has to make prudent choices. I personally choose to not be permanently injured by my hobby.

The problem is, that there seems to be an increasing trend toward matches trying to out- extreme each other. That's fine for the young, athletic shooters whose bodies are still cooperative. But folks like me might prefer to shy away from that particular style match.

In my opinion, it's not fair to sign up for a match,  only find out in the last week when the stages are finally posted, that the physicality is not something you want to chance. (This recently happened to a friend of mine) And though I know that sometimes accommodations can be made, nobody that I know of wants to ask for special treatment. It seems to me that there ought to be a way to know ahead of time what you're signing up for - especially for bigger matches that involve large registration fees, and travel expenses.

SO. I was thinking that maybe somebody could come up with a rating system for matches - kind of like ski slopes. Like "AA" (or Double Black Diamond) for very athletic with many obstacles, "A" (or Black Diamond) for athletic, "B" (or Blue Square) for intermediate physicality, and "C" (or Green Circles) for almost anybody can do this. 

Back when I skiied alot, I had a T-shirt with a big green circle on it that said "I suck" - LOL. I sustained an ACL tear when I was in med school at age 40, trying to learn how to play soccer with classmates who were 15 years younger than me. I had neither the time off, nor the money/insurance to repair the injury at the time, and just rehabbed it as best I could. Because of that injury, I think I skiied a black diamond once - just to prove that I could - and never did it again, because I didn't want that weak knee aggravated or worse. I'm kind of feeling that way about 3-Gun now. I'm very happy just tootling around on Greens and Blues, because I don't want to end up eating dog food when I end my medical career with a permanent injury.

I know that a rating system like I described would help me personally immensely, and I know of many people in my age bracket who could make use of it too. That way, cranky old bags like me aren't holding back the hard-core young go-getters, but I don't have to give up 3-Gun completely just because there is a defacto "race" to out-extreme the next guy. I can find the matches that are most friendly for me and my bod.

I realize that I am a "nobody", and one older gal dropping out of 3-Gun wouldn't make the world come to an end. But, the thing is, I'm not alone. There are a bunch of older guys and gals out here who have great shooting skills, but whose bodies just don't work as well as they used to. Some of them successfully adapt and overcome with prostheses, and replacement parts, but some of them aren't able to make the new parts work as well as original equipment. That doesn't mean that they don't still have money to spend and a desire for shooting competition in their blood. It does mean however,  that making them climb up on top of things, and into or over obstacles etc, can essentially shut them out of the game. I think leaving these shooters behind in the mud, in a relentless race to the physical extremes, would be a really bad idea for the sport. A rating system would help these shooters find matches that still suit them, and keep them in the game for as long as they want to play.

My two cents.

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