July 2005 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
My perspective on knockdowns: by  Rowdy Yates

Shotgun KDs are excellent. They eliminate the “Golden BB” and provide for “shooter feedback and spectator appeal”.

Rifle KDs (rare) also provide the occasional entertainment factor but because of the distance involved can be a problem in a larger match.

Shotgun and rifle targets currently have no standard and I consider that a good thing.

Pistol KDs are another situation altogether. Many shooters of all talents have gone to the lighter is better concept and for that reason SASS adopted a standard for pistol KDs. This standard is clearly stated:

“Although the .32 caliber revolvers and .36 caliber cap and ball pistols are legal, they may not be powerful enough to handle all reactive targets. To the extent possible, reactive targets are set to fall when squarely hit with a standard .38 special 158 gr. Factory load”. 

In chronographing the available, off the shelf, .38 special 158-grain loads we’ve found that, under the ambient conditions during tests, the average velocity was around 830 fps.
My friends, that is a very specific standard.


Well, maybe. Is this standard a maximum or a minimum? The handbook clearly left that information out and therefore left us subservient to assumption.

I’ve never been to a match that adhered to the upper limits of that standard.
In all matches I’ve attended the pistol KDs are set very light using the standard as a maximum. This has resulted in many of the problems of reliability and consistency.

I wonder what would happen if a Match Director regarded the standard as the minimum and in fact set his targets to go down with a solid hit from a 200 grain at 900 fps?
This could clearly meet the SASS standard if so interpreted.

What we have is a standard that has been disregarded and as such serves no purpose, especially in its currently flawed rendition.
In my opinion the standard should be completely removed from the SASS handbook.

Whether or not a match uses knockdowns and how they are set should be at the discretion of the match director since that is pretty much how it has been handled in the past.

But Wait, you say, the shooters need to know whether or not they will have trouble with the KDs at the up coming match. May I submit that this is only a consideration for those shooters with questionably light loads and the Match Director that would set the KDs so that they were extremely difficult would be asking for a very low attendance the following year.

Yes, of course there are many who want some kind of standard but in my opinion, although knockdowns appear to have some validity, the current crop is not the answer.

Rowdy Yates

Tip for capping on the fly by Engineer Bill

        On the 5+1 pistol stages, where the cartridge folks load 5, shoot them, and then do a single cartridge reload, the C&B folks will powder & ball all 6 chambers and cap only 5.  Showtime, the first order of business is to cap the remaining cylinder, to prevent chain fires, and then shoot the 6 shots.

        I used to use my standard capper and pusher and just drop them when done capping, trusting their lanyards to keep them from getting lost.

        I’m now using a section of cut down hardwood chop stick with a cap lightly glued to the tip.  This makes a single cap easy to handle, the pusher is ready to use, and if you can’t find the stick later, big deal.  I try to have several in a vest pocket.   Considerations are to use as little glue as possible and as you seat the cap with the push stick, break the stick away cleanly and use the tip of the stick to burnish any remaining dried glue off the cap.

        The use of a chopstick will definitely take less time than a 5 second miss and might be useful to rehabilitate a chamber that has lost a cap or a cap ignition only miss fire.

Even the C&B crowd can get game!
Engineer BILL

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