Advice For New Match Directors

“Falling in love” with precision shooting is hard enough. What with the outlay on money or the borrowing of equipment, firearms, ammo, joining a club or league–it’s a big step to take. You have to find matches. Travel to matches. Participate in matches. Recover from matches (gun cleaning, ammo replacement, etc…). But what if you’re not lucky enough to have precision leagues or matches already running at your local range? What if your only choice, even as a relatively new shooter, is to become the person responsible to setting up, running and completing the match? It happens more than you think, so here is my advice for new match directors with a place willing to let them shoot.

Step 1 – Stay Calm and Learn the Rules

Seriously, don’t sweat this. There’s no need to start with getting sanctioning from any of the big organizations to achieve any sort of national recording. Start off simple with a nice little league and run it according to the rules of the game you want to play. So you’ll need to know the rules of how your game plays and how your game runs. There’s a big difference between knowing how to take part in your precision match, it’s another thing entirely to know the rules of the game and how its run. Where most causal shooters will shrug when a question of rules or procedure pops up, a match director has to know what to do or how to handle the situation. But don’t feel that you have to memorize every single rule. Just have a copy of the rules with you in case something comes into question. No one will fault you for making a judgement call as opposed to spending twenty minutes searching for a rule while delaying the match. You can always look it up later.

How Can PSM help? Links to view and download for every rule you could want to find are right here: Precision Match Rulebooks

Step 2 – Stay Calm and Get Competitors

The willingness and drive alone are unfortunately not enough to create a match league. You need people to compete. This is a little tricky because more often than not you are going to find shooters at very different extremes of skill: those who have never shot precision before and those who have a good deal of experience at it (but have not taken up the responsibility to run matches). In either case and with many people who fall somewhere between these two extremes, it is a challenge. The solution? Depends. For the experienced rules lawyer trying to run your match out from under you, but who accepts no level of responsibility for the work involved, memorize the words; “While I certainly appreciate your comments and level of experience, I have taken on the role of Match Director and will run this league based on everyone’s level of skill and knowledge involved.” For the newbies… just explain the commands, the courses of fire, the basics of what is allowed and when and go over it with them on a sample score sheet. Attract competitors by putting notices up around your range and on the range website (if available). Even if you start with just three shooters–three is better than none and gives you the opportunity to settle into the role and make your mistakes with minimal impact.

How can PSM help? You have the greatest tool for pulling in competitors at your fingertips. Post your match on PSM in detail (did you know that we offer a free Match Bulletin generator for your use?) and then watch the inquiries and sign-ups come rolling in.

Step 3 – Stay Calm and Run Your League/Match

So you’ve arrived at your first match event and you’re reasonably sure that everyone involved understands the rules of safety, both the basics and the particular rules about the type of match and overall game that you are playing. They know when to do what and why, and if they don’t remember, you’re there to give little nudges in the right direction. So they shoot, they score, they do a little basic addition, shove the signed scorecard in your face and leave. So you’re done for this match, right? I’m reasonably sure that you know the answer is a resounding “no”. You see, all those scorecards are full of math errors. Even if they’re not, you’ve got to assume they are and do all the math over for them to make sure the totals are correct for each competitors “aggregate score”. It’s always the SHOT VALUE that is most important. As long as the shot value and the X-count is correct, then that’s where the competitors responsibility for math-related accuracy ends. That can be a lot of math and a lot of your time to spend doing it. And sure, you could fire-up your copy of Excel that you haven’t opened on your desktop since 1997 and start punching in numbers and creating formulas…. Or…

How can PSM help? C’mon. If you haven heard the rave reviews of the PSM scoring system yet then you, my friend, are missing out! It is SO easy and SO intuitive and SO fast to use, you’ll never know how you ran a match without it.

Step 4 – Stay Calm and “Process” Those Scores

Match completion–check. Collected all scorecards–check. All scoring and verification of scores–check. This would be the point where, if this was a “Sanctioned”, “Approved”, “Recognized”, “Sponsored”, or some other word that expresses domination and ends in “ed”, you would be printing out match results in a neat and organized format and sending it off to these various sanctioning bodies. It would be a small pile of paperwork that has not changed since 1972. But since the match we’re talking about is a simple league match, then none of that is necessary. Well that’s just great, right? All done! 

Welllllll…. not exactly. You see, despite the fact that you don’t answer to any three-letter organizations for this match, you STILL have to let your competitors know how they did and somehow keep track of how they are doing week by week, by month, by year, by decade. How else do both you and your competitors track improvement? Sure, you can email their results to them directly. Yeah, you can keep your spreadsheets and hope to God that your backup was actually backed up in case of catastrophic data loss. Maybe even post them to a little website and put in all the time and effort to even make it look pretty. All in all… it’s more work and a lot of responsibility but a good Match Director should offer this service.

How can PSM help? When your scores are recorded on Precision Shooting Matches, they are retained forever and will always be accessible through the Match Directors portal as well as the competitors portal. So long as your competitors maintains their free account with PSM, they can look up every shot value from every match ever shot and recorded with PSM. How’s that for easy?

And there you have it, four steps of easy advice for MD’s to get started on those first steps of ensuring the future of precision shooting. Even if you don’t use this website (for which reasons would escape me), it’s still important that competitors step up and take on the mantle of Match Director. Without a new and ever-growing crop of MD’s, the sport stagnates, loses participants and eventually disappears. We cannot allow that to happen, shooters. Be brave and most importantly…stay calm and make it happen.

Go have a match.