2015 Carolina Cup – Final Day

Home of the Carolina Cup! With owner Frank Glover on the Gator to the left - working hard the entire match.

Home of the Carolina Cup! With owner Frank Glover to the left – working hard the entire match.

June 20th: Saturday is the final day of shooting and the awards ceremony. The staff was onsite early again and the traditional photo of the volunteer team in matching t-shirts was taken around 7:30am.

Here are the people who host the match and make everything run smoothly, Frank and Paula Glover:

Paula Glover, who handles registration and the stats team behind her  on a well deserved break.

Paula Glover, who handles registration and the stats team behind her on a well deserved break.

Frank Glover handling the dirty work but still smiling!

Frank Glover handling the dirty work but still smiling!

Safety is a serious concern. Around 8am one of the RSOs wasn’t looking very well and even though he said he’d be fine, someone alerted the EMT on staff that the gentleman appeared to be in pain. The EMT asked him to sit and started asking questions.  It’s a damn good thing he did. An ambulance was called and, once assessed at the hospital, he was sent via Life Flight to Duke Hospital. Turns out he had an abdominal aneurysm and underwent surgery before lunch time. His prognosis is good. If he had been at home I have to wonder if he’d have called 911 in time.

Ambulance on site around 8am Saturday.

Ambulance on site around 8am Saturday.

After the ambulance left, I wandered by to talk to the chrono team before we got busy with scores. I asked what they did and a bit about the process. They ask each shooter for 6 rounds. Two of the 6 must pass the power requirements per the IDPA rules. Note: my comment yesterday that a shooter was DQd for not making power factor was incorrect. As far as I know, no shooter was DQd for this reason.

A lower powered round will create less recoil, but may also cause the gun to malfunction. Serious competitors reload and will try to hit the sweet spot of a round that meets the minimum requirements but creates as little recoil as possible. Per wikipedia, “The power factor is calculated by multiplying bullet weight (in grains, 7,000 to the pound) by muzzle velocity (in feet per second), then dividing by 1000.”

For this match, two chronographs were used and the higher number was always selected (to favor the shooter). In the photo below, you can see the scale used to weight the bullets (lead portion of the round) and the two chronographs directly in front of the shooter (both are surrounded by a red box).

Chrono Team at the 2015 Carolina Cup

Chrono Team at the 2015 Carolina Cup

Other trivia from the last day of shooting:

  • At least one RSO was wearing a kilt!
  • Lunch was a choice of hamburgers, fried bologna on a bun, or hot dogs.
  • Over 10,000 score sheets were entered for the match: 328 shooters with 16 stages entered twice into the scoring system for error checking purposes.
  • Final scores were posted by 5:10pm Saturday.
  • Dinner was served starting around 5pm. All attendees were treated to a traditional southern pig pickin’ and some of the best BBQ pork I’ve had in quite some time.

Awards started at 6pm. The volunteers (stats team, RSOs and the buggy drivers) were acknowledged as “the people who make this match possible”.  Several guns were given away (either based on skill or random drawings). The top 5 placements in each Classification/Division were awarded plaques or trophies. And the top finisher in each of several categories were announced: High Military, High Law Enforcement, High Lady, High Junior, High Senior (Age 50-64), High International, and High Distinguished Senior (65 or older).

I think that last award is pretty special. These are shooters that are no longer in their prime who are still at it, doing their best even with the issues age can deal out: bad joints, accidents that have left damage, tremors, degraded eyesight, etc. They may be fighting a losing battle as far as improving their shooting over time – but they never give up. I seriously admire that mindset and I like the fact that shooting can be a lifetime pursuit.

The final announcement of the award ceremony: There will not be a sanctioned IDPA Match next year. However the Carolina Cup will be held as usual and will be the best match Frank has to offer.

2015 Carolina Cup – Day 2 for Competitors

June 19th: There was a another serious storm in Oxford that started in the early evening just after the match shut down Wednesday for the night. There were flood warnings in effect until early morning. However, it cleared again before the shooting started for the day and shooters had a hot, humid day again.

Shooters who shoot on Friday and Saturday do not shoot the match all in one day. They either shoot Friday morning/Saturday afternoon OR Friday afternoon/Saturday morning. So by 12:30 pm today, every shooter had checked in for the match. Of the 346 registered shooters, we had 328 competing.

At the morning shooter’s briefing, Frank asked for a moment of silence for two long time friends/shooters who passed away since the last Cup. After the moment, Frank said, “The world is a sadder place without them. Go shoot.” The two men remembered:

  • Bill Shellhammer had attended every major match at The Range until he was too sick to shoot.
  • Kelly Howard designed the original scoring system used for matches at The Range.
  • In both cases these men had been in involved with The Range for well over 15 years and were valued friends.

More Cup trivia:

  • Six countries are represented this year: Finland, Austria, Italy, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Poland (possibly), as well as many U.S. shooters.
  • Lunch was a choice of hamburgers and hotdogs.
  • One RSO was benched due to the heat. There is an EMT on staff and he ordered a cool down and rest before returning to volunteer duty tomorrow.
  • We had at least 4 shooters DQ’d today. In one case the shooter’s ammo didn’t pass the chronograph test. The ammo was underpowered to reduce recoil and was outside the specifications required to shoot IDPA (DQ mean disqualified).

Side Matches

I shot both the Glock and S&W side matches to be entered in the random drawings for a gun. It was the first time I’ve gotten my hand on a Glock 43 (the new 9mm single stack) and I liked it! I told the guy not to bother to run the timer. There were 5 steel targets and 6 rounds. I tried it twice and hit all the steel each time.

Glock Tent / Side Match at the 2015 Carolina Cup

Glock Tent / Side Match at the 2015 Carolina Cup

The S&W side match was with a gun (M&P 9mm, I think) using a new green laser. To enforce the use of the laser, the sites were taped over. I’d never shot with a laser so I wanted to give it a try. I hit every target but had a heck of a time getting the laser on the targets. I don’t see the appeal but I was really happy to have the opportunity..

Vendors

There were vendors onsite. The local gun shop, 9 Forward, shut down shop to shoot the match with the volunteers, then be available onsite for shooters during the match.

Gun Shop onsite: 9 Forward from Oxford, NC

Gun Shop onsite: 9 Forward from Oxford, NC

And finally: custom ear protection while you wait from EAR Inc.

aEAR inc

2015 Carolina Cup – Day 1 for Competitors

Stage 4: Thornton's Thugs. Art work by Hannah G

Stage 4: Thornton’s Thugs. Art work by Hannah G

June 18th: There was a serious storm in Oxford last night, so this was a humid, hot day to compete. The day started by repairing stages that were damaged by the rain and high winds. The parking area had puddles. It was quite a change from the last two days.

Thursday competitors shoot the entire match in a single day. I arrived at 7am and helped Paula with rush hour registration. Shooting started at 8am so everyone needed their packets. Here’s how it works: The shooter receives

  • 17 labels with their name, #, classification and division. 16 are for score sheets and one is for the chronograph.
  • 16 score sheets (labels to be attached at the top, stage numbers to be written in)
  • a badge and a clip for the badge (self assembly)
  • a match booklet with sponsors and stage descriptions
  • a T-shirt, this year in “brushed denim”
  • a goodie bag that may, or may not, contain a prize certificate

Shooters may or may not receive a prize that they want or can use. If not, they are free to sell, gift or trade with other shooters. The sponsors are listed on the Cup website.

There are two side matches: one sponsored by S&W and one sponsored by Glock. In each case the winner will receive a free gun. Another free gun will be given away to a random participant.

Other random details:

  • There are 346 registered shooter although there will be some no-shows. So far two shooters have been DQ’d.
  • The stats team entered scores for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. This is our longest day.
  • Lunch was fried bologna on hamburger buns and hot dogs.
  • I was onsite from 7am till 6pm.

At times I was the only one in the office and covered registration for Paula when she went after more ice. At other times it was loud with voices asking questions, looking for supplies and cracking jokes. The Italian team will be shooting tomorrow but stopped by around 5pm to pick up shooter packets to avoid the wait tomorrow. At that point multiple languages added to the chaos. Through all of this, the stats team is pretty much heads down, focused on getting the scores entered and the score sheets sorted and filed.

I spent most of the day inside, with air-condition. The Range Safety Officers I shot with Tuesday and Wednesday were out in the heat and humidity, running shooters. Remember to thank them for their time and attention to everyone’s safety.

For a deeper dive on how scores are entered and accuracy is kept to a high standard, see the article I wrote when I worked the Cup in 2013.

2015 Carolina Cup – Day 2 for Volunteers

Stage 16 Start: "Old Office"

Stage 16 Start: “Old Office”

June 17th, 2015: The heat continues in Oxford, NC. We shot in smaller squads today and I finished the last 8 stages in 4 hours. The photo above is the start of Stage 16. The gun and magazines are in the inbox to the left of the laptop. There is a nasty moving target set off by shooting a popper behind cardboard. I knocked that down first try today. That was a moral victory after yesterday’s full magazine experience.

I’m tired and I’ll be back in Oxford tomorrow at 7am to help in registration before I start with entering scores so I’ll keep my comments short:

  • The boys making water deliveries were diligent and cheerful.
  • On the camping stage, load your gun before you pick up the firewood for the stage start. There is a story behind that comment but you’ll have to ask me in person.
  • It’s seriously hot. Plan for the weather.
  • The weeds and poison ivy have been mowed down for the stages in the woods. I wore shorts and wasn’t worried about the vegetation.
  • I swapped from sunglasses to clear glasses again today. This time it was for the two stages in the woods.
  • I shot 123 rounds yesterday, 110 rounds today for a total of  233 rounds. I did shoot an extra mag or so into “the popper that would not fall”.
  • I was stung by a small wasp on the garage stage. I’m not allergic to stings, but if you are, bring an epi pen or whatever works best for you to battle the reaction.
  • I’m not really aiming at close targets any more. I used to slow down for site alignment, but no more if they are close. It’s point & shoot. Finally. I’m still kind of amazed I can hit them this way, but it’s working for me.

    Loaded H&K mags the night before the match

    Loaded H&K mags the night before the match

  • My H&K is a work horse. It worked flawlessly for the entire match. I shot Lawman 124 gr. rounds with zero issues.
  • I used a tactical reload on Stage 16, the office stage. I dropped the magazine onto the desk because I have always practiced reloads by dropping the magazine. Duh! I need to work in some tactical reloads and stow the magazine since IDPA requires that per the rules.
  • In some places there are both Men’s and Women’s PortaPotti’s. They think of everything!

More photos from both days:

Water crew! They even pose for photos.

Water crew! They even pose for photos.

Stage  13: Not my Garage! Shooting through the back of the NC Moonshine car

Stage 13: Not my Garage! Shooting through the back of the NC Moonshine car

Stage 15: Get off my Deck!

Stage 15: Get off my Deck!

2015 Carolina Cup – Day 1 for Volunteers

Stage 1: "A shooting at the library"

Today, in 90+ degree heat, I shot 8 stages of the Carolina Cup. Volunteers shoot on Tuesday and Wednesday to be available to run the match Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Most of the volunteers are RSOs. I will be working on the stats team (entering scores).

The photo above is from Stage 1, “The Library”. From what I understand, it’s taken quite some time to collect all the books on these shelves and it was a family effort.

I didn’t run video as I was focused on shooting today. I will share a few observations:

  • There was plenty of water and everyone was encouraged to stay hydrated.
  • There were moving targets on 5 of 8 stages. I need much more practice shooting at targets that move: swing, drop or pop up then disappear.
  • After being out in the sun for 4 stages, the shoot house appeared dark to me. I swapped out sun glasses for clear glasses to shoot “inside”.
  • I’d never shot at poppers behind cardboard before. They are set up that way to require 2 shots on the target while dropping the popper starts other targets in motion. On stage 6, my worst stage of the day, I unloaded 11 shots into one target trying to set off the popper. Persistence prevailed but it did add insult to injury to hear a call for a “roll of pasters” to paste up my shots. There is always something new to learn. Never give up!
  • On every bay, shooters were squeezed into every bit of shade that could be found while waiting to shoot. Wet towels and battery powered fans were used to help shooters stay cool.
  • We took a break for lunch and had build your own sandwiches and delicious watermelon. It’s nice to be able to have a conversation with other shooters where you can actually hear the responses.
  • Shirts this year are denim blue T shirts with actual denim caps. I’ll be wearing my new hat tomorrow when I go back to shoot the last 8 stages.

The first step toward winning is to show up

1st Place Novice ESP

1st Place Novice ESP

I won my division at the Carolina Cup. I was a bit embarrassed to pick up the winners plaque though as I was the only one in the division.

I did achieve my two goals:

  • Don’t come in dead last overall
  • Don’t get DQ’d

I’m a slow shooter. My accuracy is improving but the winners could have shot this match 3 times in the time it took me to shoot it once.

Over 16 stages I had 2 procedurals for

  • not reloading behind cover
  • shooting targets out of order (didn’t slice the pie)

I had 1 hit on a non-threat and 3 failures to neutralize. Total points down: 128. That averages to 8 per stage. I did finish my last stage with “zero down”  and that felt good!

I know there was at least one other Novice shooter in another division, but this match was for the more experienced shooters. I’m happy to have the experience and I hope to one day come back and shoot it in a higher division – then if I “place” I’ll know it was earned.

 

My 1st Carolina Cup: photo with Frank (The Match Director)

My 1st Carolina Cup: photo with Frank (The Match Director)

The 2013 Carolina Cup: Getting your Score

Stats Central

Stats Central: Four laptops, no waiting…

I volunteered for the Cup and was placed on the Stats Team. I worked stats at a prior match so I’d been vetted for the team. I shot the match on Tuesday. Other volunteers shot on Wednesday. We started entering all scores on Thursday morning. The Stats team posted final scores just after 5pm Saturday. Here’s some detail on how that happens.

Every score sheet is entered twice: once in the pink tables, and once in the blue tables. Each entry is done by a different person. In theory, if there is a mistake made, it is very unlikely that two different people would make the exact same mistake. With roughly 350 shooters, 16 stages and a double entry system, the team entered approximately 11,200 score sheets.

For each score sheet we enter the shooter number, stage, and time. Next are any penalties, then we add up and enter the total downs. Then it’s on to the next score sheet. I’ve never really used a “10 Key” pad before, but I learned quickly.

As they come in the door, we consider them “virgin” or “naked”. Once entered in one table they are marked with a highlighter to show they have been entered for that color. Each entry is color coded, so they get “pinked” and “blued”. There is a special way to fan the pages that allows you to color them quickly, but I’m going to treat that as a trade secret for now :-)

Once both “pinked & blued” they are sorted by shooter number and filed in hanging manilla folders for later reference if needed. We found it faster to pre-sort stacks then have one person call shooter numbers while the other person stuffed score sheets in the correct folder.

An error report is run periodically to look for any stages that were only entered once or have any mismatches. All of those are pulled from the file folders, re-examined and corrected until they no longer appear on the error report. At the end of the match other error reports are run as well to look for missing stages.

Using this approach, the final scores were posted by 5:10 pm Saturday. Shooters have one hour to file any protests. We had one shooter who asked us to re-examine his scores as he didn’t think his total was correct. We pulled a report of all his entered scores, then I pulled his folder, sorted by stage and checked off each entry. It was an exact match and it was clear to him, using that method, that his score was correct.

Volunteer time: I worked 7am till 5pm Thursday and Friday. I helped out with registration until the stats team started with score entries around 9am. On Saturday, because all shooters were checked in, I started at 9am. I could have left at 6pm but chose to stick around for the awards ceremony and an impromptu picnic afterwards, so I didn’t leave until 9pm. Add an hour commute to/from The Range each way and I invested 35 hours volunteering for the event. One important note: I did that in an air-conditioned building.

I admire and want to say thank you to the RSOs and other volunteers who spend their long days out in the heat.

Carolina Cup 2013: Overview

The signature Bunker Stage

The signature Bunker Stage

Random facts and comments about the match:

  • There were 376 registered shooters. I think roughly 350 participated.
  • There were 3 shooters DQd.
  • There were competitors from 4 foreign countries and one US territory: Italy, Chile, Venezuela, Austria, Finland and Puerto Rico
  • Roughly one third of the registered shooters received a gift when they registered. These were donated by sponsors and randomly distributed.
  • During this match the only job of the competitors is to shoot. Volunteers run scores and paste.
  • The RSOs stay with the stage, so every shooter has the same RSO for each stage.
  • Some of the competitors showed up early to walk the stages. One forgot to bring his ear protection so the Match Admministrator loaned him a set from the lost & found. They were lent out and returned on the honor system.
  • There was an assortment of sun screen and bug spray at the registration station for anyone’s use.
  • Shooters registered for Thursday shot all 16 stages in one day. That was the hottest day of the match and peaked just under 100 degrees. A storm rolled in and unleashed torrents about half an hour after the shooters finished for the day. The storm cooled thing off 20 degrees or so for the Fri/Sat shooters. There was no rain during any of the shooters heats.
  • The host hotel, the Comfort Inn, lost power during the storm and it wasn’t restored until 2:30 the following afternoon. One of the RSOs overheard a hotel employee say, “I’ve never seen so many people prepared with flashlights.” The RSO just laughed at that… clearly they didn’t understand who was staying at the hotel.
  • Due to the power outage, most of the shooters showed up Friday with no shower and no coffee. The tough folks took a cold shower.
  • Friday/Saturday shooters shot the match over two days. They had one morning start at 8am and an afternoon start at 1pm. Friday morning shooters finished Saturday afternoon. Friday afternoon shooters finished Saturday morning.
  • The lunch vendor served a very limited menu: Bologna Burgers & Hot Dogs on Thursday, Hamburgers and Hotdogs Friday, and back to Bologna Burgers & Hot Dogs Saturday.
  • Most stages had sponsor banners and there were several vendors onsite. The result was festive!
  • Friday at 7am was the staff photo. The photographer was in a Utilikilt! So at least one male shooter shot the match in a “skirt”.
  • I met Jim HIcks during one of my lunch breaks and bought a copy of “Fall of the Republic: Seasons of War-Volume One“. It was one of the last 4 copies and I’m looking forward to reading it.
  • Cart drivers ran bottled water to all stages continuously. There was no charge for the water and everyone was strongly encouraged to stay hydrated.
  • There were small dramas. But some turned out well. We had a shooter ask to be moved to a different squad because he “heard” that the international shooter’s on his squad were difficult to deal with. The squads were packed and no one was being moved. The shooter came back at the end of the match and said he had a great time. The team he was concerned about turned out to be very friendly and there might now be an international match in his future!
  • There was a paramedic on duty the entire match. He treated roughly 6 people and mostly he handed out band-aids. There were no serious injuries.
  • There was a complimentary BBQ after the match completed on Saturday. All shooters and guests were invited to eat. The menu included: Shredded Pork BBQ, potatoes, green beans, a roll, dessert, and the expected southern “sweet tea”.
  • Final scores were posted just after 5pm Saturday. IDPA rules state challenges can be made to the posted scores for 1 hours after posted. The awards ceremony started at 6:30pm.
  • The awards ceremony included 8-10 gun giveaways in random drawings.
  • Awards were given to the top shooter in each of these categories: Ladies, Juniors, International, Active Military, Senior (50+) and Distinguished Senior (65+).
  • Awards were given for the top 5 places in each category of each division. Top place in the expert division won a large trophy.
  • The Italian Team hosted an impromptu picnic after the awards ceremony with delicacies from Italy that included salami, cheese and grappa.
  • There were still folks on-site after mid-night celebrating.
Awards Ceremony

Awards Ceremony

Note: any inaccuracies are my responsibility.

Shooting the Carolina Cup

Shirt, Cap & Badge: Carolina Cup 2013

Shirt, Cap & Badge: Carolina Cup 2013

I shot the Carolina Cup yesterday (Tuesday, June 11th) with other volunteers. Most of the volunteers are RSOs but I am not, so when the RSO for our squad said “You are all RSOs so I expect you be safe” I spoke up and made him aware that I was a novice shooter that would be working stats. In spite of that or because of that, everyone on my squad was welcoming and helpful. I was not sure I was “good enough” to shoot a regional match but I’m very glad I made the decision to sign up.

Some details that might be helpful to other shooters:

  • Pack sun screen. Really. We had a beautifully sunny day after several days of major thunderstorms in the area and I was thankful that it was dry. However, you will be in the sun for 8 hours over 1 or 2 days — assuming it doesn’t rain again. 
  • Bring snacks for the time before and/or after lunch.
  • Frank recommends 250 rounds. I brought 400. I had to completely reshoot one stage and I never opened the last box of 100 rounds. Even if you want to be conservative, 300 is plenty.
  • When you arrive you sign in and get a goodie bag along with match info. Your score sheets and scoring labels are in the bag. Since I was running late, I set up my scores sheets and caught up with my squad. I read the info later.
  • I’d never shot a major match so the way they handle score sheets was new to me. You get a stack of duplicate score sheets. Top copy is white, bottom copy is yellow. They have pre-printed labels that you attach to each top copy. Write in the stage numbers (move each score sheet off the stack or the carbon on lower sheets will get that stage number as well). As you shoot, the RSO will give you the yellow copy as soon as you complete the stage. I really liked the instant and clear feedback. They also took the time to explain any penalties I incurred, which I appreciated.
  • I started shooting at 9am, took a break for lunch, and finished my last stage by 4:15pm. You can opt to shoot the match in 1 day or across two 1/2 days. I am commuting an hour each way and didn’t want to drive back Wednesday so I opted for the 1 day experience. We started with a squad of 10 or 12  (of which 5 were women) and ended with a squad of about 6 (3 women finished the day). About half our squad dropped out for the afternoon and will shoot the rest on Wednesday. It was a long day and I’m not used to being on my feet all day, but it was a good decision for me.
  • The Range fed us lunch – it’s part of the volunteer experience. We had a never ending supply of cold water and there were canned drinks at lunch. They will have a food vendor on Thurs, Fri and Saturday and I’ve been told I HAVE to try the “bologna burger”. Stay tuned for the assessment on that!
  • If you haven’t worn ear muffs for 8 hours straight – they can give you a headache. Next time I’ll pack my in-ear protection and swap off during the day.
  • I wore shorts but I was in the minority. I didn’t find that to be a problem and I did find that to be cooler. If you are considering shorts be aware there are a few stages where you must kneel and there is poison ivy in the woods on the “across the road” stages. I know what it looks like and I’m not very allergic, so I would wear shorts again.

I have much more to write about my performance and the stages I shot, but I’ll reserve that for future posts. I’m headed back up at 6am tomorrow to help folks check in who will be shooting Thursday. I’ll be in the “Stats Building” entering scores until the end of the day Saturday. I’ll write more about my shooting experience and my volunteer experience next week.

For other tips and reasons to shoot a reagional match, I recommend this podcast from Triangle Tactical: http://www.triangletactical.net/2013/06/05/club-vs-major-matches-ttp-ep-31/

If you are shooting the cup, please stop by and say “hello”.