Care, Cleaning & Sportsmanship
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One of the juniors left a note on my hut at Camp Perry saying he hoped I would address "Cheating" in my section on sportsmanship. He said he sees a lot of it going on. I wanted to talk to him directly, but I'll have to answer here. Before we begin, we must first define our terms.
All cheating is breaking the rules, but not all breaking the rules is cheating. The best example is, all collies are dogs, but not all dogs are collies. The guy shooting a miss, who then fires an extra round, is a cheater. The guy who placed his elbow on his ammo pouch was using artificial support, but he had been shooting three years and no one had ever told him about artificial support. Was he cheating? I don't think so. He just needed to be educated.
Have We Given Up?
In the "Old" days people talked about: Honor, Duty, Integrity, Sportsmanship, and the list goes on. Society did not put up with a liar, a cheater, a murderer, a rapist, etc.. These miscreants were exposed, dealt with and/or ostracized. Today we "accept" movies that glorify the bad traits in people, we "allow" ourselves to be told not to be judgmental. We, as a society, have abdicated our responsibilities, allowing "The Law" or someone else to handle it. We don't want to make a scene or bring any attention to ourselves.
Like the man (Edmund Burke?) said: "The only thing required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." If we are not part of the solution, then we are part of the problem. What can I do without causing a big scene? Simple. Cockroaches do not like the light of day. Shine a little light on the subject and take away the opportunity to cheat. If the person had no intention of cheating in the first place, you may be educating him to the rules and/or the etiquette of the sport.
For example: during slow fire, someone shoots on your target. You can call out to your score keeper: "I did not fire that shot." Make sure you call loud enough to be heard on the next firing point. You may wake up "His" scorekeeper and alert "Him" that everyone around knows. It will reduce any temptation "He" may have about firing an extra round.
Inform a rule violator that what they are doing is not legal in a non-threatening and non-confrontational way. Example: the guy who was placing his elbow on the ammo pouch. I told him "See that NRA referee over there? I know him very well. If he saw you do that he would disqualify you." The competitor was shocked and said he had been shooting three years and no one ever told him. He no longer uses artificial support.
The Team Captain of our State Resident Cheater is his friend and will cover for him. The Team Captain has made public statements that he too would cheat. He knows I keep a close eye on both of them and I don't mind shining a light or two.
Our State Resident Cheater said "From now on, in all my rapid fire stages I'll just load eleven rounds. If I don't get caught, I'll get the high ten. If I do get caught, I'll get the low ten." If that isn't bad enough, look at it this way: You are shooting next to him and you just shot a knot in the 10 and X ring, but they can find only nine holes. Your target is at half mast marked with insufficient hits.
He is shooting the same caliber and fired eleven hits. His scorekeeper didn't catch it (I know, it's the scorekeeper's job to count the rounds as they are fired, but we all know the reality is, he doesn't always do his job, particularly if he is a new shooter). His target is disked with the eleven hit rule and he gets the high ten. The Range Official rules you have insufficient hits and he has excessive hits; you shot on his target. You lose your presumption of a double hit by having all your shots in the 9 & 10 ring. You lose your refire, your challenge, ten points and possibly the Match. More importantly, you lose your faith in the system.
What Can You Do?
The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Contact the NRA and demand they change the rule back to being disqualified (*note, it looks like our calls have done some good, the 1999 rule should be changed back to the old way). The rules should not encourage cheating. Any person who can't count to ten, or has his head so far into where the sun doesn't shine, has no business with a loaded firearm in the first place. If it was an honest mistake there is still a price to pay. Stupidity has a price. It will cost: time, money, effort or embarrassment. If a safety violation, it could cost a life!
Sportsmanship is a fascinating study in human nature. We usually think of the "Poor Loser" when we think of sportsmanship, if we think of it at all. What's fascinating is watching the winners. We cannot all be National, State or local champions. The winners have a special talent that deserves respect. It is up to the winners to keep that respect and build on it or lose it by their treatment of other people, i.e., put downs & snide remarks thinly veiled as "Jokes." These people I refer to as "Poor Winners."
Boots Obermayer has won a few National Championships, many State Championships, and tons of local matches. He is used to winning and handles himself extremely well. He has not only earned respect for his shooting ability, but for his treatment of other people. He is a true sportsman and a "Good Winner." Boots is used to winning and it's second nature to him. We have a common friend who you would never guess to be "The Match Winner."
The Little Giant
Mark Anderson is a Racine County Deputy Sheriff. He has a lovely wife and two wonderful children. He recently built a new house on the old property and he works long hard hours to provide for his family. Unfortunately, Mark doesn't get to shoot as often as he would like. We get to see him only two or three matches a year. He will not shoot a team match for fear of being called into work and having to inconvenience another shooter.
Look up "Nice Guy" in the dictionary and there is Mark's picture. I have never actually seen him give the shirt off his back, but I would not be surprised. Boots and I believe that even the people Mark arrests like him.
Mark's first trip to Camp Perry was put on hold. He was taking his wife's car in for a tune-up when the "accident" occurred. An oncoming car lost a wheel which came straight at him. There was a school bus ahead and to the right and the oncoming car full of kids to his left. Mark ducked just as the tire went through his windshield. The driver couldn't make a get-a-way on just three wheels. He said "Please don't call the cops, it wasn't my fault. I just forgot to put on the lug nuts." Mark whipped out his badge and said: "This is not your lucky day."
When Mark did make it to Camp Perry, we shared a hut and I got to know him better. We would go places together, like commercial row and to restaurants in town. He refused to go anywhere with me when I wore a particular T-shirt. It said: "I'm with Stupid."
Mark wanted to buy an extra rear sight I had, a Redfield International. During my wild spending spree on commercial row I needed more money so I sold him the sight. He shot for several years and worked his way up to Master scores. At 600 yards, he shot several 197s, 198s and occasional 199s, but he never fired a 200.
On Sept. 6th, 1997 we had a four gun 600 yard match. A person has to use Iron Sights for two of the four matches and CAN use a Scope for the other two matches. Mark shot a 200-9X for his first match with Iron Sights. He fired a 200-7X for his second match, again with Iron Sights. He told Wayne Anderson things were going so well, he wondered if he should not switch to the Scope for the last two matches. Wayne told him, "If it's working, don't fix it." For his third match, Mark got careless and dropped a point for a score of 199-11X. He came back for the fourth and final match with a score of 200-11X (He had never shot a 200 before, but once he found out how easy it was, he just kept on doing it). Boots had his usual 798 with 50 some Xs and we thought he had won again. The surprise of the day was Mark Anderson with a score of 799-38Xs.
At our range all the prize money is split three ways: The State Team, The Junior Program and Fire Arms Tech (a legislative fund for defending our gun rights). We have a cook-out and the food is included as part of the entry fee. Everyone gets fed and talks about the day's events.
As each person came up to congratulate Mark, he smiled and said, "Thank you, I got a new sight." He not only smiled, his eyes were smiling. He was in a daze and he floated. He was a perfect "Gentleman." He handled winning with such grace and dignity, he earned double the normal respect due for shooting a good score.
Mark Anderson is Sportsmanship personified. If you run into him at a match and would like to make your own life a little richer, go up and shake his hand. He may be a little puzzled when you look behind him and wonder: "How does someone, 5'9" tall, cast such a long shadow."
Susan Smith & Sportsmanship
When it was learned that Susan Smith had drowned her two small children, someone said, "It just shows how many bad people there are in the world." I replied, "WRONG, it shows how many good people there are. Remember when she said the kids were stolen? Everyone in town turned out on foot or horseback to search the woods for those children."
Unfortunately, poor sportsmanship is not limited to individuals. A club in a neighboring state holds annual "Leg" matches and has a reputation for "Screwing" with out-of-state shooters. They are the equivalent of Susan Smith in sportsmanship, the ones who are noticed and get all the attention. The bad examples stick out like the proverbial sore thumb and you can't help noticing them.
The other side of the coin is the good people. The guy who loans his $2,000 rifle to a perfect stranger whose gun has broken. The fellow who loans his Kowa scope to the new shooter just getting into the sport. The guy who pulls two targets. The people who teach juniors and new shooters so the sport can survive. This is sportsmanship on a daily basis. We see it so often we fail to recognize it as sportsmanship. Look around and recognize the dozen or so examples of good sportsmanship at each match and your heart will wear a smile.
Teams of Giants
Life ( People) has a way of surprising me. Just when you run into one of nature's misfits and your faith in mankind takes a dip, something happens that not only balances the scales, but far outweighs the negative.
I was helping out on the firing line at our Service Rifle Championship during the "Leg" match when one of my former students came up to me and told me the man on the next target cheated. I told him: "I'm not a match official and you should report it to the Match Director or the Range Officer." He didn't want to do it, so I quietly checked into it and found that the man, in fact, did cheat. He fired his first shot on the wrong target. Since there are no sighters in a "Leg" match, he should have been scored a miss. He buffaloed the junior keeping score and continued to fire ten more rounds for record.
I talked to his Team Captain and told him, "That man will not take a Leg medal because of his cheating." The Team Captain asked, "How can we handle this quietly?" I thought to myself "Cockroaches don't like the light of day." I made sure the score card was changed to a miss for the first shot, and the cheater did not place in the medal category.
Respect cannot be demanded, it must be earned. One doesn't "lose" respect; it does not get lost. It dies, a little at a time or all at once. When it dies, a piece of us dies with it, and our level of faith diminishes. Life has a counter balance. Things happen that not only replace that little bit of diminished faith, but fill the cup once again to the brim. At the end of the DCM week at Camp Perry they hold an impressive awards ceremony in the base theater. My daughter Maria noticed that as each of the twenty-some dignitaries was introduced and took his place, only Marines, former Marines or the wife of a Marine received applause.
She also noticed that as each individual went up to get his award, the whole audience applauded, but the members of the individual's team stood. Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, and State Teams each gave their own a standing ovation. The National Trophy Team Match is THE biggest and most prestigious match for the Service Teams. The Army had won the NTT Match. As the members of the Army team walked down to the stage, the entire Army and Marine Corps Teams stood and applauded.
My daughter asked: "Why is the entire Marine Corps Team standing and applauding?" "Respect and Sportsmanship!" I told her. Competition is fierce and the rivalry is great, but once the match is over these two professional teams give each other the respect that has been earned.
The theater was quiet as each member received his award. From two rows behind me in a voice that filled the auditorium, a Gunnery Sergeant said "WAY TO GO, ARMY!" The applause that filled that theater was twice as loud and twice as long as any previous round. That applause was for respect and sportsmanship, not just for the Marine Corps Team, but for the shooting sport as a whole.
A cockroach can sit on one end of the scales and maybe even tip them, but when two teams of giants step on the other end ... there's no contest.
For Chapter Four of the Care, Cleaning & Sportsmanship Book, Click Here