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Old 09-06-2015, 12:08 PM
Agrivere Agrivere is offline
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 17

First let me say the "post on another forum" which this thread is responding to was my post/feedback from this match. Those who wish to see the original post and participate in the discussion are more than welcome to join the discussion at the National Match forums - http://www.usrifleteams.com/forums/.

I applaud the CMP for taking the time to publicly address these issues and concerns, and I know that in the long run the CMP wants the same thing that competitors want, which is well run matches. While the targets we shoot at are rarely given a second thought at most matches, the introduction of electronic targets has naturally brought up many valid questions about their accuracy and reliability.

As far as I'm aware, I have participated in every public event and match the CMP has offered on the new Talladega range, so while I am hardly an expert, I've seen these targets in action more than once. I shot both the inaugural Garand match and the EIC match which followed it, as well as the Highpower Clinic and the NRA 800 Aggregate match the next day.

Over the course of these matches I've personally observed many issues which I think are cause for concern. I don't think any of them are unsolvable, and I am confident that in the long run the CMP will solve them, but in the shorter term I wanted to provide feedback to my fellow competitors, especially those who have been contemplating the considerable expense and time to come to the upcoming matches from longer distances. That was the primary purpose of my original post.

The issues I've seen that concern me most relate to the failure of the system to record shots for a variety of reasons. Let me elaborate.

The first issue I've seen relates to rapid fire strings. This did not appear to be an issue during the recent NRA match, where only 10 or so firing points were used, but it did crop up during the inaugural Garand match, where virtually all of the firing points were being used. More than a few of my fellow competitors reported that not all of their shots were recorded during rapid fire strings. We all certainly observed how slowly shots appeared on the monitors during the progression of the rapid fire strings, suggesting to me that while I cannot PROVE there was an issue with the target system (obviously they could have crossfired, or missed the target entirely), it seems likely to me that at times the system can be overloaded, and computers, when overloaded, can do all kinds of funny things. I will note that I have not observed this behavior since the inaugural matches, so perhaps it has been addressed, and perhaps it was only a perceived issue and not an actual problem.

I can say for certain, though, that it is absolutely possible for the system to fail to record a hit, as I've seen this on multiple occasions. In fact every event but one has had issues with this which I have personally observed. During the EIC event, the shooter I was scoring for had shots intermittently recorded due to a sensor being shot out. He and I were told by a line official to "record it as a miss". Later tests clearly showed that the target would record most but not all hits. This was ultimately corrected on his scorecard, but had this occurred toward the end of the string it's very likely he would have been forced to accept a "miss" for a shot which clearly did not miss the target.

During both the clinic and the NRA match, the system "crashed" and simply failed to record shots for anyone. The competitors at the match and during the clinic were understanding, but I'm not sure everyone will be so understanding if a failure like this occurs during a match where the stakes are much higher. When championships are often determined by a single "X", a failure like this is a great cause for concern.

The CMP has stated that both of these issues are caused by sensors and wires being shot, and that's understandable. What's not so understandable to me is how they could possibly think that such things would not happen. It's clear that if something is downrange, it WILL be shot at one point or another. Guaranteed. If the sensors and wires cannot withstand being shot by a .30 caliber bullet (understandable for sure), then they need to be armored in such a way that they cannot possibly BE shot. At the recent match I observed many more of the targets had armor on the corners, presumably to prevent the sensors from being shot, so I imagine the CMP is aware of this and is taking steps to correct it. I would think it likely that the vast majority of these issues will go away once the sensors and wires are properly armored such that they cannot be shot. Suggesting that competitors should "shoot the middle of the target" is cute, but not terribly helpful. We've all seen plenty of highly skilled shooters miss the target, and those shots clearly have to go somewhere...

And while I appreciate the communications from the CMP Talladega range staff, they are not giving competitors a complete and accurate picture of the issues in question. The target system did indeed "fail" during the standing stage of the NRA match. What they forgot to tell you is that is also failed in the same way during the clinic the day before. After the system was "rebooted", it STILL wasn't working quite right, and all of the clinic participants had to move to another block of firing points to finish up the clinic. They somehow forgot to mention that one of the targets was "down" because overnight it had recorded over 41,000 hits. Apparently it was recording raindrops as hits. They didn't mention that the system is apparently not currently capable of using a correct "shot overlay" for each shooter, that corresponds to the caliber they are shooting. I'm told that feature is coming soon, but what overlays were used during the match? 223? 30 Caliber? We were never told.

They did mention there were "electrical issues", but didn't share exactly what those issues were. The issue was that apparently the rain caused the raising and lowering of targets to be less than completely reliable. The net result of this was that all targets were left up during the 200 yard stages, and each line was brought down only when the stages on that firing line were complete.

While this is a seemingly minor issue, it relates to the issue my daughter had during rapid fire, which the CMP post mentions. During the 300 yard rapid fire stage my daughter had only 6 hits come up on her monitor. She is a new Highpower shooter, but she indicated that all of her shots were good, and she definitely fired 10 shots. We could find no evidence of any crossfires, the shots simply weren't there. The 6 shots which were recorded were all inside the 7 ring, so it was and continues to be my assertion that it is unlikely that she missed the "paper" entirely on 4 shots, and put 6 in the center.

As the CMP has said, she was allowed to take a verification shot, which came up as an X. Once the target was verified as working, no alibi was granted. Well after discussion with her and with other competitors, it seems most likely that what happened is she fired her last 4 shots at the 600 yard target. Of course that target should not even have been up there for her to shoot at, so I'm not even sure what the rules say about such a thing. In my mind that qualifies as a range failure, and she should have been granted an alibi. After all, the sight picture is basically the same, and it has the right number on it. It's very easy to understand how one could accidentally shoot the 600 yard target during that string. As a new shooter she was unconcerned with her score, but when the EIC match is held later this month will the problem be fixed? I certainly hope so.

I also find it troublesome that the target system has problems in such an unlikely weather event as rain. I'm sure that in the long run issues like this will be fixed, but I can't help but wonder why these things weren't tested thoroughly in the first place. Every time I've been to the range at least some targets have either failed to go up, or failed to go down, or we've had a delay while someone goes downrange and futzes with them until they work. I also can't help but wonder if the addition of armor to the target frames has overwhelmed the motors used to raise and lower them.

At the end of the day, I will continue to shoot matches there, and I will cross my fingers and hope that none of these issues bite me during a string of fire. I am confident that ultimately the CMP will address these issues, but while they may have "full faith in KTS electronic targets", most of the competitors I have spoken with do not. And yes, I have absolutely found the attitude of many (certainly not all) of the CMP staff to be extremely arrogant at times. To suggest that any shots not recorded are the fault of the shooter, when the system is clearly failing in some way every time it's used, is arrogant. To suggest that "the targets worked exactly as they should" when the targets completely failed to record shots, and then blame it on the competitors for shooting their electronics, is arrogant. It's been said many times that you can't fix a problem until you admit you have one. Maybe we're finally moving in the right direction there - time will tell.
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