Missing Two Holes

Through the ‘scope, I could see only eight holes in my completed center-fire slow fire target.

Are there two doubles or a triple I can’t see? I scrunched up close to the eyepiece and adjusted the focus.

But as I did so, I overheard Erin at the next firing point telling someone, “There are twelve holes in my target.”


Had I cross-fired twice on her target?

Down at the targets, I checked mine first. But none of my eight holes looked like doubles.

The extra holes in Erin’s target are probably mine. Checking with the shooter on her other side, they have all ten of their holes so, again, it looks like the extras are mine.

But, with both of us shooting .45 caliber semi-wadcutters, they’re no way to tell whose shots are whose.

Picture Erin in your mind’s eye now. She’s a very attractive red-head, standing with hands on hips and staring right at you.

She’s not smiling.

She’s definitely not smiling.


As victim of the cross-fire, Erin now has a hard decision to make. Should she re-shoot the target or accept the ten lowest hits as her official score?

The rules are very precise for this situation but the reasoning behind them may not be obvious.

I reasoned them out like this.

Erin’s shots could be any ten of the twelve holes in her target. The best ten holes and the worst ten holes establish the best and the worst she might have done.

So, the scorer – me in this case – calculates two totals, one for the ten best and the other for the ten worst, thereby establishing the best and worst.

In this case, there was a range of ten from best to worst.

According to the rules, she then has the choice of either accepting the ten worst as her score, or re-shooting the target.

But there are two odd wrinkles in the rules about re-fires.

First, since the “ten best” in that original cross-fired target represent the best she might have shot, her official score will be limited to that value. No matter how well she shoots in the re-fire, her score will be recorded as no better than the original “ten best.”

But she might shoot worse.

And that’s where the second wrinkle in the rules applies because if you shoot worse, you get that (new!) worse score no matter how bad the low ten were in the original cross-fire.

In other words, by re-firing, you cannot do better than the original ten best, but you can do worse, and possibly a lot worse, than the low ten in the original.

Why does this rule work that way? Shouldn’t your official score be limited to the range between the original best and worst?

It’s almost like they don’t want you to re-fire!

And that’s exactly it, I think. The reason for this out-of-balance rule is to discourage re-fires. They take time. They hold up the shooting and force everyone to wait on one shooter. So, because of the delay that would cause that would then ripple down through the schedule for the rest of the day, re-fires are discouraged.

You can do it if you want and you might better your score a little, but you could also make it worse, much worse.

It’s a gamble.

One shooter, talking with Erin as she made up her mind, said that if the high-to-low difference between best to worst was four points or less, he would just accept the lower score and be done with it. He wouldn’t re-shoot. But if the range was bigger than four, he’d give it a go. He’d re-shoot. (This attitude is exactly what the somewhat unbalanced scoring rule for re-fires is hoping to foster.)

And so, with a ten point spread between low and high, Erin chose to re-shoot this Slow Fire target.

Re-shooting a slow fire target all by yourself on a firing line with 100 firing points must be intimidating. Even though the re-fire was scheduled after the Rapid Fire match so most of the other shooters had already packed up and left, the line caller and safety officials are still all there, and they’re there just for you.

They can’t leave until the re-fire shooter is done.

In this case, they were all waiting for Erin.

I packed my box and fell back to the assembly area but then waited to see how Erin did – after all, it was my fault.

Coming off the line, she didn’t look particularly happy so I feared the worst as, from a distance, I gave her a wide-eyed questioning look with my thumb alternately up and then down in the air.

But her smile was obvious as she answered thumb up.



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