Sunday, 29 June 2014

Fat Woman and the reality of competition

Fat Woman shoots for her County. Fat Woman doesn't boast about this because it's for skeet and Fat Woman isn't very good at skeet in comparison to lots of people and she only got in the first year because she is female and willing to do it. In fact, if Fat Woman is brutally honest the only reason she was interested was the chance to be able to say she shot for the County, plus any personal shooting development that came out of it.

Fat Woman booked on the County skeet championship. You have to shoot the championship in to be in consideration for the team. If you're better than everyone else but you don't shoot the championship you aren't on the team, unless everyone who does turn up and participate declines their place. This does happen. Fat Woman had been practising hard with Skeet Coach and had filled in the gaps in her skeet knowledge - she was shooting pairs on stand 4 in beautiful style - and was hopeful for a good showing in the competition. Fat Woman wasn't unrealistic enough to think she'd win, but she had hopes of second place. Fat Woman gave her apologies for a fairly important musical rehearsal and packed up and went off to another county where the championship was being held. It was a disgusting wet day and Fat Woman would rather have been in at home or even at rehearsal where she was meant to be, but she felt she owed it to Skeet Coach to participate.

Fat Woman was on the end of the squad, which she prefers as she is less likely to bother anyone. Fat Woman had shot the inter-counties shoot but this was Fat Woman's first registered skeet shoot and was a pretty big deal for her personally. Fat Woman had spent a lot of time before the inter-counties shoot worrying and practising being coached and had needed every moment of the whole process in order not to come dead last. Fat Woman was fifth from last in the ladies section, which she counted as a success. This time Fat Woman wanted to put in four solid rounds and be a credit to Skeet Coach.

Fat Woman shot her first round and was reasonably pleased with her 21, the one more than the highest scoring round she did in the inter-counties. 84 would have seen Fat Woman in second place that day. Fat Woman was very careful not to bother any other shooter on the squad as she didn't know them - they were all old men and much higher letter class than she was. Fat Woman didn't stand too close to them, or talk to them, although they were passing remarks between themselves, and didn't complain about the smoking.

When Fat Woman stood on the first stand for her second round the referee said to her: "You need to shoot faster." To say Fat Woman was shocked was an understatement. Fat Woman has read the CPSA rules and although she hasn't memorised all of them she had got through an inter-counties without incident. Fat Woman has a great respect for referees in sports and whilst they are not always right, she understand their responsibility. So when a referee speaks to Fat Woman it comes with the weight of authority, and if a referee says you have to do something Fat Woman usually respects that. Except that in this case Fat Woman couldn't have shot any faster. Fat Woman's pre-shot routine goes thusly:
Stand on square, put feet in correct position.
Load gun with two cartridges, already held in hand ready to go.
Close gun and mount it, rifling up to be in the right position.
Point gun into hoop and wind back to one-third in.
Put eyes to the left (or right!), breathe once and call pull.
Fat Woman has no idea how she is meant to go any faster than how she does already. Perhaps if Fat Woman had a lighter or better fitting gun she could be faster, and perhaps if she was better and more experienced at shooting she would be faster, but she saw no way that she could make the change demanded of her by the official referee.

How was Fat Woman meant to feel at this point? Attacked is how Fat Woman felt. Fat Woman knew that some skeet shooters preferred to shoot on a fast squad and had warning that some might complain about slow shooters, but that is hardly the same thing as an official telling you that you are doing something wrong. Fat Woman couldn't believe than an official would wait until she was on the peg to say something like that to her, it gave her no chance for thinking or even discussion. Fat Woman was now caught in a situation where a referee was demanding something of her that she simply didn't have the ability to deliver and by saying "you HAVE to shoot faster" was also implying that she was not within the rules. The referee might as well have demanded that Fat Woman not miss.

Fat Woman does not do well when she feels attacked but she also feels she can't fight back. Fat Woman really wanted to say "Fuck off!" which is what a fellow lady shooter advised her to do in these situations, but Skeet Coach knows everyone and Fat Woman owes it to Skeet Coach not to embarrass her. Fat Woman limited herself to starting at the referee and telling him he couldn't say that, that these other shooters were previously international standard and he couldn't expect her to be as fast as them. The referee wasn't budging and said that nevertheless Fat Woman needed to shoot faster.

Fat Woman didn't know what to do. Fat Woman didn't know what would happened if she walked off then in order to complain but didn't think that getting another chance to shoot that day was likely. Fat Woman didn't have a copy of the rules on her, but suspected that she was caught up in a situation where she was being pushed around to someone else's preference, not because she was breaking the rules, but she wasn't certain. So Fat Woman shot her next round, wondering if the next minute she was going to be disqualified because she was too slow. This was a big blow to Fat Woman's concentration and of course therefore her scores. Fat Woman finds it hard to concentrate on technique when she's under the imminent threat of disqualification for something she can't change.

Fat Woman was on a squad with the County team manager. Now, Fat Woman may have been foolish at this point but she spoke to the team manager between rounds 2 and 3 and said what the ref had said and asked if this was a rule. The team manager simply looked at Fat Woman and said it was a very fast squad. Fat Woman knew this and didn't feel her question was answered so said: "But is that a rule?" Fat Woman didn't feel she was out of line for asking someone who is in a position of responsibility what she considers a simple question that an apparently incredible experienced shooter could reasonably be expected to know. What surprised FAt Woman then is that another shooter exploded at her saying "If you don't like it, you can leave." Fat Woman was taken aback by (1) the intervention by someone she didn't know and (2) the viciousness of the comment. Fat Woman is trying to remember the exact words used but remembers the huge amount of anger thrown at her and suspects that it was this gentleman who pulled the ear of the referee to tell her to be faster. Fat Woman can't imagine why else a fairly young referee would say such a thing to someone who was constantly moving and not holding anyone else up.

Fat Woman finished the next two rounds and went home, filed a report with Skeet Coach and left it at that. Then she ran into Skeet Coach at a trap ground to be told that she had made the team for 2104 but< "We must have a chat about skeet etiquette." Fat Woman then found the following added to the website: "there will be a committee member in attendance at each championship, who will also be presenting trophies. Please contact that member if you have problems on the day, although please keep non-urgent enquiries until after the person has shot, if they are shooting that day - the committee are all volunteers and deserve to be allowed to enjoy their shooting un-distracted too!"

Fat Woman is not inclined to consider everything targeted towards her personally, believing you should never attribute to malice what can reasonably be considered incompetence, but she's pretty sure that this is. Fat Woman is pretty disillusioned with the whole County shooting thing. So far as Fat Woman sees it she is effectively told she is at imminent risk of disqualification (because that's what happens when you do things referees tell you not to do) is a pretty big emergency for a shooter, especially when she really can't control what is going on. Fat Woman wouldn't have minded if the team manager had said "can't think now, sorry" or even "Talk after" or "don't worry about it" and simply doesn't think much of someone who takes on such a role but can't manage to be available for the smallest bit of help when actually needed. What really gets up Fat Woman's nose is that her behaviour was following the example of committee members: when she shot the inter-counties there was lots of talking between rounds, including one committee member who came up to her and said: "You seem to be having a bit of trouble out there!" Fat Woman was undecided whether to reply "Yes, I'm shooting like shit" or "That's not trouble, I'm always shooting like shit." Fat Woman has been given this example at the skeet doubles registered as well. There is quite a "one rule for me when it suits me, one rule for you when it suits me" attitude to what is and isn't considered polite behaviour around this kind of thing.

Fat Woman looked into the rules and found that there is no rule on how fast you have to shoot. The "general rules" in book 5 says you have to call for the target within ten seconds of the referee "acknowledging shooting may commence." Fat Woman has tested herself and is pretty damn sure that she was inside ten seconds, even if she might have been using nearly all of her ten seconds at times. Fat Woman doesn't know if she was actually penalised for shooting slowly as she was at least a point shy on what she thought she had shot on one round, but she didn't see the referee with a stop watch.

Fat Woman isn't impressed by all of this and thinks that when she hears whining about how no one wants to shoot for their County any more she's not surprised, you put all the time and the money in and for what? For the glory of saying you've done it. No wonder the really good shooters don't bother. What Fat Woman takes from all this is that team managers are saying: "Turn up and shoot when we want you to, but that's as far as our commitment to you goes." And as for getting new shooters into the sport, Fat Woman thinks it no wonder that they don't want to bother either.You can shoot a commercial competition for nothing but money and enjoy it far more.

Fat Woman used to think that the person who told her to develop a "fuck off" attitude when shooting was just a bit grumpy, but now is inclined to think that it's necessary.

After all this Fat Woman spoke to someone who knows lots about skeet and found that the gentleman in question is known for being unsporting. Fat Woman feels a lot better  knowing that it wasn't her that was the problem.

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