I would just like to put in my two cents on some of the points raised, and also possibly suggest an alternative idea.
I can see both sides of the argument. This is not a new issue. The perceived unfair advantage given to a dispensation shooter has been a contentious issue in the lower grades for years. As alluded to by Holly, it is only being debated so much nowadays because it now affects the AA shooters.
In recent weeks, Iíve heard all manner of suggestions on the topic. From the all sitting class, to dropping disciplines from the sport entirely (the response to which some have threatened to leave the sport).
Personally I really donít want the sport to be discriminatory and I can fully appreciate Ian Challisí argument as to why the all sitting class would be exclusive. Not to mention the other issues it creates to do with stats, qualifying, top shot of the day etc.
If I understand it correctly, Ian Taylorís idea in the original post is to level the playing field in the showdown only, by allowing both competitors to use the sitting position throughout that round. Yes, this seems like a good idea, Iím sure that no dispensation shooter would argue that their competitor must be made to stand/kneel when they themselves are not. But it does only work for the showdown, in which two competitors are going head to head against each other only, and their scores do not count towards anything other than that round. It is not a complete solution for the whole of FT. The issue remains for normal shoots, shoot-offs, and for the silhouette side shoot.
On the subject of legal issues, Iím less convinced about the legal issues alluded in earlier posts. I believe this is reference to the new Equality Act 2010, which partially came into force on Oct 1st 2011. Iíve read this Act. It seems to me that the only part of it that could apply to the organisations in this sport is Part 7 - Associations. But this only applies to associations who have over 25 members, AND whereby admission to membership is regulated by the associationís rules and involves a selection process. Neither the NSRA or BFTA have any involvement in the membership process. Membership is set by each individual club. Also, even if the Act did apply to the NSRA through some other means (e.g. being a registered charity), I donít believe that merely affiliating to NSRA would legally bind the BFTA. I could be completely wrong in my analysis, and donít want to get into a debate about that, but thatís how it reads to me.
Anyway, the issue as I understand it. The BFTA rule itself about Ďnot having an advantage or disadvantageí seems adequate to me. The contentious issue comes from the fact that the positions that have been adopted as the accepted dispensation positions, many would suggest, donít actually meet the criteria of that rule. This debate stems solely from the fact that that many people look at those positions and think ďhang on a minute, I could have got those targets from that positionĒ, ďIt isnít fairĒ. So it is the current dispensation positions that are under question. Maybe that needs changing? However that is also a difficult problem to solve.
For me, one of the most difficult factors in taking a standing shot comes from getting blown around by the wind. Standers are hard enough on a still day, but being only 9 stone 4, even a moderate gust can have me swaying around so that sometimes I canít even keep the crosshair on the faceplate, let alone near the kill. So I can conceive that the modified discipline positions, sitting lower down and less affected by the wind, would give an advantage.
However, going down the route of changing those accepted positions to something else has its own issues. In my opinion, the only time you will truly know that a dispensation position does not give an advantage, is if your able bodied shooters look at the dispensation position, and given a free choice to use it themselves, decide that theyíd rather stand or kneel. I just have no idea how to come up with a position that removes the advantage in the way it needs to be removed, and then still be viable. Unfortunately, given that all disabilities are different, and so everyone has different needs, it is practically impossible to legislate a one-size-fits-all position that is much different to what we have now.
Great! Back to where we started, and still with no viable solution that addresses the issue, without discriminating against disabled shooters.
So, to put another idea into the mix for debate, what about this.
Each discipline lane has four targets. Two have white face plates and two red. Each red one is exactly double the distance of one of the white ones. Every shooter is given a choice before they join the course, either shoot at the white ones kneeling or standing as per the current rules, or the red ones sitting (the normal sitting position, not any modified sitting position). I know then that Iíd be thinking, Iíve got a better chance of hitting a 20 yarder and a 45 yarder standing, than a 40 yarder and 90 yarder sitting. Shooting grounds that canít accommodate 90 yards, can use a combination of X% further distance and/or mini kills.
Ok, double the distance may be quite extreme. Maybe it should be 50% further or some other percentage. A statistical experiment is needed to determine the right balance of distance or mini kills. Iím sure some you of mathematicians can fine tune the idea. But the point is it would allow dispensation shooters to compete in the main event, in their current grade, and does not create any additional stats or prize giving burden. By giving everyone the free choice of what targets they want to shoot at on those lanes, makes it fair for all. And by balancing the advantage of sitting down, against the disadvantage of a significantly harder target allows us to keep the standing and kneeling disciplines in the sport, along side an option for those that cannot or donít want to do them.
I guess two sets of silhouettes will be needed though. Or stop giving prizes for the silhouette side shoot.