What To Do If The Board Does Not Remove Mike Foley

Ben BerryBlog

  1. Petition For The Removal of Mike Foley
  2. I Have No Faith the USPSA Board of Directors Will Do Anything About Mike Foley
  3. Mike Foley Has (At Least) 155,000 Reasons Per Year To Fight Any Attempts To Remove Him
  4. What To Do If The Board Does Not Remove Mike Foley

I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations over the past few days since I started publishing this series of articles. Some thank me for bringing everything that’s been happening together in one place so busy folks can keep tabs on what’s going on. Some think I still just have my feelies hurt from being called mean names three years ago.

But the most common conversation starts with a question: “So what do we do about this?” Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of options, especially in the short term.

Let me preface this by saying that I have been told that after USPSA’s investigation concludes, a Bylaw 7.7 motion will be made and a vote taken. It ain’t over ’til it’s over, so we’ll see if that actually happens. If it does, and the vote carries, all bets are off. If the vote fails, at least note which way your AD voted and act accordingly. The rest of this post takes as a premise that it doesn’t happen.

Boycott Nationals

Unless you are in one of the Areas who have a Director election this year (more on that later), you don’t have much you can really do this year. One immediate shift you can make (if you plan to compete in the four divisions that haven’t already had their 2021 Nationals) is to shoot matches that aren’t Nationals.

In theory, Nationals should be the best match of the year. It should be the match that the whole season builds up, the Super Bowl of USPSA. It should be an honor to be invited. It should have the best stages, the best staff, the best quality everything. It should be the bringing together of all the best shooters at one match to… whoops, sorry. Different rant.

USPSA HQ is in charge of a few things, many of which they are doing badly: establishing a standard rulebook, maintaining the classifier system, vetting and approving Level 2 and above matches for quality, representing us to IPSC, and putting on Nationals. Part of the problem is that the current structure and incentives of Nationals just does not lend itself to being a good match. Except for the rare exceptions where it was held at ranges where the local crew on the ground really put their soul into it, it has consistently been at best an underwhelming match.

Meanwhile, there are Level 2 state/section matches run by folks local to the club, who know the bays and the props, who know how to keep things running smoothly at their range, and who have real pride of ownership. They want competitors to go back to their home club and tell folks that they shot a great match. I can say from experience that North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia all have this attitude, at least this year. (They also all manage to have staff reset, which it was pointed out to me is also a feature of the World Shoot.) It looks like the Wisconsin Section match is going to be run by a local MD and crew that are highly motivated to put on a good match. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the crew that are running the Tennessee match this year.

The point here is: rather than spending a week to go shoot Nationals for three days, consider supporting your local matches. Maybe go shoot two Level 2 matches instead. Invest your time and attention on matches that are actually competing for it, instead of a match that you pretty much have to shoot because they have a monopoly on it being the biggest show of the year.

I did exactly this in 2020, withdrawing from Nationals despite having a slot and having paid. I’ve been to Frostproof enough times, and I couldn’t bring myself to make the trip again for a match that was going to be, best case, just okay. (Watching the match video and reading how things went, I can’t say I’d do any differently given the choice.)

Yes, I did go to the 2021 Locap Nationals, and the reason for that is simple: I was asked. I had some buddies shooting the match and there was a spot at the Airbnb that was mine if I wanted it. It seemed like it would be–and was–a good vacation. But because of the folks I shared the house with, not because of scenic rural Alabama, the quality of the match, or the outstanding banquet.

If faced with the same choice today, I think I would float the idea that the friends I saw there instead meet up at any number of other matches that would be both better-run and ideally in a better location.

Get Involved At The Club And Section Level

I can guarantee that your section match is not a flawless, automated operation. They could definitely use help in one way or another. The same goes for most club matches.

I haven’t been able to make any change at the National level, but working with the local clubs and within the NC Section, we’ve done our best to put on a great Level 2 match each year and spread the word about what’s working. It’s one thing to say Nationals should work a certain way when you have never tested it in action. It’s another thing to point to it being done repeatedly at a particular match, and have a plan for how to scale it up.

My personal philosophy is that while I would like to win State Champion in my division each year, the goal of putting on a world-class match comes first. I go to bigger matches like A6, IPSC Nationals, and Nationals to really compare myself to other shooters. The NC Section match is my chance to, in my small way, give back to the sport the best I can.

Organize a Challenger For Your AD

This one is simple. Each member of the board should be sufficiently afraid that if they don’t start sticking up for the right things, they will be voted out and replaced. This isn’t just about Foley. It’s also about doing away with paper rulebooks; it’s about changing gear rules incessantly because ROs aren’t smart enough to enforce them; it’s about USPSA’s social media presence being wall-to-wall shilling for sponsors; it’s about inactivity on fixing problems like popper calibration which can change the outcome of a National Championship; it’s about wasting time on pointless ‘features’ like classification badges nobody cares about while doing away with classification cards; it’s about kicking out Ryan Flowers while allow Cowden to keep his G-card; and on and on.

One of the greatest failures we as the membership of USPSA have to shoulder is failing to organize a reasonable contender to run against Mike Foley in 2019. I think it was so generally assumed he was disliked that surely someone was going to step forward and challenge him. The result ended up being a phoned-in campaign thrown together at the last minute that still managed to get 30% of the vote.

Don’t make that mistake again. Start the discussion. Who’s running? What resources do they have to get their message out? Make sure they file early, get their profile in Front Sight, do podcast and video interviews, and generally earn the election. Only 26% of the eligible voters even voted in 2019, and even in that group, there’s a strong “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” bias towards re-electing incumbents. Campaign accordingly.

Continue Talking

Things have quieted down quite a bit in the last few days, which is to be expected. Without something happening each day, it’s easy to assume someone else is keeping tabs on the situation and get back to regular life. And without a strong way to keep the Board accountable to following through on what happened, it seems increasingly likely that the result will once again be nothing.

That said, even if something were happening behind the scenes with the Board, we would see the same outward messaging: nothing but Board minutes. I have been told by a former Board member that the Board feels being more forthcoming than required in situations like this only adds fuel to potential lawsuits. (Of course, such an attitude is consistent and self-reinforcing with the lack of communication we have historically seen from the Board.)

But regardless of the outcome of the 7.7 motion, if what happened in 2018 and again this year is something you think is concerning, keep spreading the word when things are bad. Even if you don’t post publicly, email a few friends. Talk about it at matches. Start asking who’s in the running. Take Matt Hopkins up on his offer to help get you get set up to run, or forward to someone you think might be.

Four years is a long time (I’m starting to wonder if that’s really the right term length, especially for President), and it’s easy to dismiss things like the importance of your Area Director election. As far as I can remember and find records, the 2019 Area 6 Director election went uncontested. (As Hopkins has pointed out, they do not make it easy to find information on whose term is up when, and the status of uncontested elections.)

If you have other ideas of ways motivated members can make a difference in the sport and get it back on track, email me. I want this site to be about so much more than just Mike Foley and all the ways HQ is making the sport worse. But I realize I find myself in a particular unique niche, having been a thorn in the side of Foley, the Board, and HQ generally. If there’s a way I turn that into helping members and the sport, I’m happy to do that.