Chrono: Trust, but verify

Ben BerryBlog

  1. Match Format & Stage Inspection
  2. Walking the Prize Table
  3. Five Minute Walkthroughs
  4. Staff Reset
  5. Chrono: Trust, but verify

The way that most major matches run chrono, including Nationals in my experience, would be trivially easy to cheat if you wanted to. Just keep a box or mag of full-power chrono ammo in your bag and take it with you when you walk up to chrono, and you can use whatever else you want for the rest of the match. The only people that the current system catches are incompetent cheaters and people unlucky enough to tinker with their load or run untested ammo.

Do I think that there is an epidemic of cheating chrono in USPSA? Probably not. But then again, if there were, how would we know?

So if you imagine someone was at your match with a special box of chrono ammo, how could you catch them?

One idea that we tried quite successfully at the 2019 Carolina Classic was the simplest. At the stage right before chrono, which happened to be the stage I was working, we had a handful of ziploc bags for each squad. As each shooter finished the stage, we had one person assigned to pick up the mag(s) they had used in the stage and shuck out 8 rounds. If there weren’t that many in the mags from the ground, we’d pause the scoring of targets to ask them for the remainder (or in the case of PCC, the entirety) of the 8 rounds from the mag they had just unloaded from the gun, as best we could tell.

The bags for each competitor got bundled together with a zip tie, and handed to to the shooter who happened to be going first for the chrono to carry with the squad. That way, if someone did want to tamper with the bags they’d have to talk to that person, and then re-do the bags with the zip tie. Maybe it’s paranoid, but it only cost us a zip tie to do, so why not?

The feedback from the shooters was good. The ones that had nothing to hide loved it and appreciated knowing everyone else was playing above board too.

We started running the 2020 Carolina Classic the same way, but unfortunately ended up tossing chrono because of unrelated issues, which is a shame. I was looking forward to having a second test run of the system.

What are some other approaches you could take?

What if chrono wasn’t a mandated stop on the schedule? What if the threat of being pulled to chrono at the end of any given stage was enough to keep shooters from risking it?

Imagine having someone roaming around on a golf cart. You finish a stage, sign your score sheet, and are told to hop on the golf cart, you’re taking a quick trip to chrono, with only the mags you have on you.

Or maybe the same guy on the golf cart, asks for 8 rounds taken out of the mags you used on the stage to be held at chrono. You can show up any time you want, but if you do not turn up before the end of the match, you will be assumed to have failed to make power factor and shoot for no score?

I’m not saying we have cracked the code on how to do this right. I’m just saying its is self-evidently possible to do it better, and we should figure it out. Whether or not it’s “worth” cheating in this sport, people do it big and small. Let’s not make it any easier on them than we have to.