Fear & Loading: C’mon Match Directors

posted on July 6, 2017

Image copyright Guy Sagi

I traveled to Rogers, Ark., over the July 4 holiday, as I have done for most of the last decade or so, to cover the Daisy National BB Gun Championship Match. Watching kids punch paper with BBs at five meters, indoors, probably isn’t your idea of a traditional Independence Day celebration, but I find the event and people there inspirational. Daisy staff has it down to a science after 52 years and probably did during the inaugural event, but—unlike some other match directors/organizers that’ll remain nameless—they’re also willing to evolve.

Don’t get me wrong. Daisy still has a long way to go, but in a sport that doesn’t exactly have a reputation for spectator draws, it’s making moves in the right direction. 

Good reporters dig deep enough to find each participant’s story, when they’re willing to share and not on the firing line. In Arkansas, I’ve learned how the concentration required for good marksmanship helps in school, how a grandfather customized a competition gun for a shooter with physical challenges, soccer mom conversions and why a reluctant coach who signed up for a year is still around after 35.

It’s great, perfect, in fact, until you need photos and videos. You know, the stuff folks share on social media, spreading the news and attracting new shooters when they click on an image and read a little about the match. Over-the-shoulder and behind-the-back firing line photos are great advertising for hairstyle salons, but they aren’t real effective at getting newbies behind the trigger.

It’s time to evolve, and we don’t need to change the rules or violate safety commandments, either. Many of today’s cameras can be set up downrange—where no one is allowed when the range is hot—to take photos facing the shooter during a competition. NRA Publications started doing that about 10 years ago.

I have Sony and GoPro models that allow me to see through the lens on my smartphone from the safety of the stands. Daisy lets me run them during practice days, but the foreign objects downrange during competition are verboten. The latter blinks a red light (that shows even around duct tape) when waiting for me to hit the shutter, so it’s a good rule. There wasn’t enough time to get my new, flat-black, blink-free, Wifi-enabled Sony approved this year. I place the units on a tabletop tripod, using the range lights as “cover,” so I’m betting that’ll be different in 2018.

Those wide-angle lenses, unfortunately, often make the range look every bit as curved as the earth is when seen from space. Plus, the shooter usually isn’t smiling when they’re concentrating on their sight picture or visualizing that next bullseye.

After-match photos are critical for that reason. You get to see the person’s smiling face and most of the gun, not cheek weld and muzzle. No, it doesn’t show any action, but grandpas, grandpas, nieces, nephews, boyfriends, girlfriends, moms, dads and work/classmates will like and share the image, spreading the news and increasing audience.

Getting them done without disqualifying the “model,” though, requires chief range officer approval, oversight of another range officer, strict muzzle-direction control, checking the firearm used in the photo (yet again, sorry), trigger finger discipline and designation of a spot on the range for a few minutes at a time when everyone wants to break down and go home. And you also need a designated target/stage or background that’ll look nice. Sounds overwhelming, but match directors know it’s just an extra order, one or two volunteers with 15 minutes to spare and a breakdown schedule that leaves that area for last.

Daisy’s evolution proves it’s possible to harness modern technology and increase audience without breaking a single safety rule, which begs an interesting question. If an organization with a 52-year legacy that doesn’t really need any improvement—they had a record number of teams this year, after all—isn’t it time all the other paper-punchers follow suit?


Nssa Nationals Revolver Skirmish 5
Nssa Nationals Revolver Skirmish 5

North-South Skirmish Association Revolver Match

The North-South Skirmish Association is a competitive shooting organization dedicated to the active use of Civil War-period arms. "American Rifleman Television" had an opportunity to get a closer look at the group's revolver matches at its Fall National Skirmish.

New For 2024: Daniel Defense H9

Though Hudson Manufacturing met its demise in 2019, new for 2024, the H9 design has been revitalized by Daniel Defense, marking the company’s first foray into the conventional handgun market with the Daniel H9.

Vista Re-Files Notice To Committee On Foreign Investment Over CSG Sale

Vista Outdoor announced it had voluntarily withdrawn and re-filed its joint voluntary notice to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a move that allows committee members additional time to conduct due diligence on the proposed sale of The Kinetic Group to the Czechoslovak Group (CSG).

Rifleman Q&A: M1 Garand Plastic Stocks

Did the M1 Garand rifle ever use a plastic stock like the M14?

Preview: Hornady HIT Target Impact Indicator

When shooting at extended ranges, particularly with small-caliber rifles, seeing steel move or hearing the “ding!” of an impact can be difficult. Hornady is making it easier to spot good hits with its HIT Target Impact Indicator. 

I Have This Old Gun: Carcano TS Carbine

For almost 55 years, the Carcano served the Kingdom of Italy. When it was adopted in 1891 as the country’s first smokeless-powder firearm, it was a cutting-edge design that defined the modern service rifle.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.