Target Visibility Discussion

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Target Visibility Discussion

Postby GarrettKQ » Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:20 am

I wanted to contribute some thoughts regarding the target visibility rules.

As a Match Director on a range that has very specific limitations on trimming flora and the natural environment, there are some lanes that are inherently not possible to accommodate shooters in very low positions. There are lanes that have bushes, and cacti that are not able to be removed to accommodate a shooter that is at ground level or very near the ground. We prescribe to the philosophy that you take the shot that is presented to you, and you accommodate the position that is most beneficial to you the shooter to be successful. Now that loosely translated, means that if the shot doesn't work in the position you feel most comfortable in, even if it is or not on the ground, you find the next most prosperous opportunity. So, that being said, as a MD I do not want to be a position discriminator. However, in nature, certain specific positional opportunities are more abundant than others. Thats how it works. So you train to be able to be flexible to take advantage of the terrain that presents itself. Nature discriminates. Otherwise, lets shoot in a cleared out range without greenery, or in a parking lot.
Looking at this from a practical standpoint. The rules as written make it impossible to have even a 14" bush line right infront of the shooting line. Why? because as a prone shooter, my barrel may be only 9 inches or less off the ground if I lay prone. The entire AAFTA match may not occur because of one's specific needs in this example. That's big. In reality, if I were a hunter, I'd be forced to get off my butt and shoot sitting. And if that didn't work, because I'm 6'11" tall and that cacti is in my way when i sit, well then dang, i better learn to bend over or kneel. Here is where subjectivity and vague rules work as a disadvantage.
If we require specific visibility tolerances, we need to be specific about the distances above ground level (AGL) that need to met. For example defining an Open position as "being visible from 15" to 48" AGL" makes this a measurable instance and can be checked and verified. Rather than requiring every AAFTA Sanctioned lane to be cleared the entire elevation range from say 2" (very prone) all the way up to 84" (a 7+ foot tall person shooting standing) AGL as defined now with "all positions". As demonstrated this becomes a significant challenge to many ranges. Another case in point was when at the Nationals, there was a shooter that protested that he could not see the KZ in the position he felt most comfortable shooting in. Although, while sitting, if he had slightly bent over say two inches, or even at worse took a kneeling position, he could have had a clear shot. But because he argued that it wasn't visible from his most comfortable preferred position, he wanted the target removed. And of course, this was denied by the BOG due infact that it was visible "from at least one position" Perhaps we would be better served if we removed the definition that includes the statement "any position" (meaning "all positions" and/or "every and all remotely possible heights"), and reinstitute greater specificity (e.g.:"any one position"), while seriously considering measurable and enforceable standards.
I whole heartedly support prone and pretzel yoga shooters, however the natural constraints of the environment and enforceable standards takes priority over ill defined, subjective, positional preferences that act as a sanctioning determinate and can jeopardize match viability.
Bottom line, is that some ranges may not be able to legally and physically comply with this rule change for every lane. And that really sucks.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my perspective.

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Re: Target Visibility Discussion

Postby richard » Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:53 pm

I already did my tirade on the green FT forum so I will try to keep it brief. I have always advocated following the rules and being a member of AAFTA. We are beyond fanatical about target visibility when setting our courses and every match we run is different. The old rule was just fine and very fair. If we want to continue to make our course diverse and interesting I suspect that we cannot always be in compliance which means simply that we will not be in compliance. Technically speaking, if we are not following the rules we cannot be an AAFTA club. We are good for 2018 because we already have run a match for the 2018 season and we followed the rules that were current at that time. Most of our targets are visible prone anyway and I mentioned in my other post that we don't get prone shooters at our matches and someone responded that it doesn't matter then. Unfortunately it does still matter because we would still be obligated to set the course so that a prone shooter COULD see the targets! Clubs that have flat open courses probably will have no issues with this but it would be unfair for me to try to speak for them, but one club I know of doesn't have room on the firing line for prone shooters.
I have three associate MDs and we are going to have to huddle on this and try to figure out what to do.

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Re: Target Visibility Discussion

Postby Scotchmo » Sat Dec 09, 2017 1:27 am

AAFTA members are only required to have one AAFTA match per year, GP match or not. For that match, only use lanes that comply with the rules. For all other matches, you can do what you want, regardless of AAFTA rules. Except for our GP matches, most of our club matches are non-AAFTA. We often run it the way we want to (match directors prerogative) and we shoot the way we want to (Freestyle - shooter's prerogative). For our AAFTA matches, I'll either fix, or skip lanes that don't comply with new visibility rules.

The match director has options for visibility at their AAFTA match. Raise the target using a cinder block or two. That alone can solve many of the visibility problems. The Handbook gives the match director discretion to allow variations to shooting position as long as no unfair advantage is accrued. If the variation is strictly for visibility, then no unfair advantage is realized. If the obstruction is close to the firing line, raise the shooting box. Or allow the shooter to sit on a higher seat (without foot placement restrictions). Just notify in your match announcement that you will be making that concession for any shooter so affected. A pallet or other platform in the shooting box could be used to provide an elevated position to meet the visibility rules. I've seen that done at a couple of venues that have issues with terrain. If match directors don't want to, or are unable to correct visibility, they can pull the target from the match, or last resort, give the affected shooters free points - no different than if a target was out of range.

An easy way to check for a clear path to the target - pull the reset string tight and hold that end a few inches above the firing line. If it does not contact anything, you have a clear line to the target. You can also raise the string up if you want to check for obstructions affecting tall shooters.

The last three years, I've sat cross legged, partially sitting on the sides of my feet (yoga position). Sitting on the ground or a mat is fine for targets that are visible from a low position. I knew that some courses have targets that cannot be seen from a low position, so I often brought along a 6" high seat and sat in my most comfortable cross legged position on the seat. That extra elevation can get me up high enough for many of those low visibility targets.

A new rule for 2018 requires that feet be on the ground when sitting, so using my preferred position, I must now sit on the ground (the dirt?) without the height advantage of a seat. And I'm OK with that as long as match directors follow the new visibility rule. I won't feel the need to lug around a seat anymore.

For GP matches that I attend, I plan on holding match directors to that new visibility rule, or they must make the necessary accommodations.
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Re: Target Visibility Discussion

Postby Bob Dye » Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:38 am

I've been to several GP weekends at venues of long-standing history where the MD (to include Brad Troyer, David Slade and others), stakes targets directly to the ground. I wonder if these venues will now feel obligated to purchase dozens of concrete blocks, twice that number of clamps, etc,, on the chance that the odd prone shooter may (or may not) show up?

Given the unique situation in Phoenix, I agree with Garrett that they cannot mow down protected species of cacti to accommodate this rule. At this year's Nats (in Phoenix), I shot with Cameron and his "deadman" cross-leg position (on the ground). When the view did not permit his default position, he simply used a bipod to adapt... without complaint. Good for him. To my way of thinking, this is no different than placing a target that dictates which side of the shooting box is needed to address the first target, the second target requiring the other side of the box.
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Re: Target Visibility Discussion

Postby Sean McDaniel » Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:28 pm

15" minimum to see the target, no less. At this point I don't care what AAFTA says. If you can't see the target below that, too bad. Change from prone to sitting.

I'm not sure what AAFTA is thinking wrt this whole issue because there is absolutely NO reason to go below 15".

The problem is that a true "prone" position as defined many years ago had your elbows sitting on the ground completely supporting the gun (look at the 2013 handbook with the prone example picture). At some point hunters modified that to include a bipod and got rid of the elbows, typically putting their fist directly between the ground and the gun to manage vertical corrections. (been there, done that)
IF you are to use a true prone position with your elbows on the ground you would in fact see that the typical height is around 15 inches.
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Re: Target Visibility Discussion

Postby Scotchmo » Wed Dec 20, 2017 11:12 pm


The final (Dec 2) 2018 Handbook has already been superseded.

The final-final (Dec 16) 2018 handbook now says that it is OK to have natural terrain features that present visibility challenges to any free position except sitting. That's a little nebulous since sitting positions vary a lot. You will not be required to accommodate prone shooters.

For GP matches, they specify a visibility height requirement of 15" for any free position.

Not sure what the final-final-final handbook will say :).
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