Stage Design Help Files
This page contains some help files for Stage Writers.
See below for an example file in Excel that I use for stage design.
(Once you download the Excel file, note the bottom two tabs for the sample graphics.)
I also have some graphics to use in any program you like.
Some Stage Design "theory"
Let us first consider a "generic" stage. Two pistols loaded with 5 rounds each, rifle loaded with 8 - 10 rounds, and shotgun shooting 4 rounds. The target sequences are the common ones such as sweeping all appropriate targets or "Nevada" sweeps.
Is that fun? Yup, but we don't want them to all be that. So we add "extra challenges."
The folks that got me into this game gave me some great advice that helps to keep stages fun - with variety, but not making it so tough that folks get discouraged. I call this the Three Challenge Rule.
From experimentation, these "old timers" found that having up to three challenges added fun variety to the game. But a stage with more than three, or several stage with three, are too much for many folks. The number procedures and misses in the match start to climb significantly. Folks will accept a few misses, but at certain point the fun-factor goes way down.
So what do we mean by "challenges?" Any significant change from the generic stage. Here are some examples:
- Saying a line on the clock.
- If they have to run more than a few steps.
- A complicated target sequence
- Different target sequence between pistols
- Different sequence with a rifle
- Shooting at a moving target
- Shooting flying birds with the shotgun
- Smaller than normal targets
- Distant targets
- Special prop handling
- Any special gun handling/staging
So if you have a stage where you stage your long guns in scabbords and require a spoken "line" between shooting your long guns, you have added three challenges. Or you can have them shoot the first pistol left to right, then the next pistol right to left - that's one added challenge.
You can have 1 and two challenge stages pretty much all day and folks will enjoy it. Add one stage with 3 and it is great. But if you have several stages with 3 challenges or go beyone 3, and folks will struggle through the match.
An interesting sidelight is WHEN folks have trouble. They often survive the "tough stage" or two, then have an increase in misses and procedures on a following easy stage. So keep this in mind as you analyze the after match performance. (I always anayze each stage for the number of misses and number of procedure penalties. If I see a an an average of well over 0.5 misses per stage, there may be a stage design problem.)
Some good hints from Grandpa Willie SASS #26996:
- Follow SASS Guidelines for target size and placement
- Shooters like Simplicity and Variety
- Use "customary" patterns, for example, 2-2-1, or Nevada Sweep, then a Progressive Sweep, then a double tap sweep, and then two sweeps and the a 10 target sweep.
- Use the same patten on pistols and on rifles,-- i.e. if ya use a double tap sweep on rifle then use a double tap sweep w/ pistol. If ya go right to left with the pistols go right to left with the rifle too.
- For variety of course ya get by using different types of sweeps on each stage, changing the order of the guns, etc.
- Listen to shooters
- Shooters do not like anything that introduces an element of luck into the outcome.
- Shooters like options. let 'em sweep "either direction"
- Shooters do not like procedural traps
- Use start lines - "I'm Ready", if nothing else
- Keep to about 4 lines of instruction: one for each gun
- Specify where the hands are at the start
- If you use pistol knock-downs allow clean-up w shotgun is written
- If possible, use only knock downs w/ shotgun write 'em 'any order / must fall'
- Include some cowboy fluff is good keep it off the clock
- Stories are good keep 'em short
- Do NOT schedule a 'must kill' bonus target like where a lucky shot nets the shooter a big bonus ( like 30 sec ).
- An occasional bonus shot is ok,-- don't over do it. 5 sec max fo any bonus shot.
- You don't want the bonus shots to skew the match in favor of those who are good at shooting bonus targets -- see SASS guidelines for target size and placement.
- Stand & deliver and dump targets -- once in a while
- Movement is good
- Always have an experienced pard go thru the stages with ya when ya think ya got 'em right to pick the glitches out of 'em
- Never try to affect the outcomes in favor of 'these guys' or 'those guys' by putting stuff into a stage to help or hinder. write 'em right and let 'em rock!
Example Stage in Excel Format
Look at all the worksheets (tabs at bottom) UPDATED
Props Small Building Medium Building Large Building Bar Colorful Bar Hay Bail Start Box Box B Buck Board Wagon Table Square Table Table 3 Chair Table & Chair Horse Rifle Shotgun Cactus Targets Shotgun Target Shotgun with Flying bird Shotgun Knockdown Target Rifle Target Pistol Target Texas Star Target