The good news this morning is that many of the ridiculous weight limits for specific classes, especially revolvers, in the new International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) rulebook that has caused so much controversy (and, yes, even outright anger) since it's release January 5 are apparently typographical errors, proof-reading mistakes, just plain wrong!
Without delving into how a rulebook that was released with the notation that it had been professionally edited to guarantee its accuracy could be so (to use professional terminology) friggin' screwed up, I'd just like to note that this is the second case of typo/misinterpretation in the second shooting sport in recent months. Wthout going into the details, a miswritten/misinterpreted memo wracked cowboy action shooting recently.
Well, maybe there's some cosmic convergence affecting editors...could happen, I suppose.
Before I go slay a chicken to read its entrails about this editor crisis, let me say a few words about the concept of open source. Open source is a software concept, whereby you as a software developer make the source code of your software available free of charge to other developers. The most famous open source software has been Linux.
Okay, stay with me here, because I'm going to make a sweeping generalization. The wholesale revolution of information technology (you know, like computers), followed by the wholesale revolution in communications technology (the inter-duh!-net) have triggered a third business revolution, which for lack of a better word (probably due to lack of coffee or just lack of available RAM), we'll call open source. CBS, for example, learned what happens when its proprietary news analysis functions are open sourced up by those pesky bloggers.
The reason I call this a revolution is that I believe we're seeing a fundamental change in people's expectations...customers, clients, members, the public at large are beginning to expect their businesses, clubs, organizations, news media, etc. to be open source, all the bloody entrails out there for their examination — and, in many cases, modifications. The new media/MSM debate is only the tip of the iceberg!
Okay, now let's whip from macro to micro. Most of the shooting sports organizations I've worked with are based on very old paradigms: They are very narrowly defined, proprietary, extremely secretive, obsessively concerned with tiny slivers of market share and about as far from open source as possible to be and still remain in this physical universe. I could count off a dozen reasons for this paranoid mindset, but let me just hit the Cliff Notes version: 1) There's not a lot of money in this sport compared to other similarly sized personal sports (think mountain biking), so it's hard to make money and keep it in your pocket; 2) we are constantly under attack by a well-financed, sophisticated enemy with no compunctions about telling lies and 3) perhaps because of those years of battle, we share a prevasive fear that we are what our enemies say we are, a shrinking vestige of older times.
Most of our shooting sports organizations are perfectly designed for the Cold War world of 1962. Unfortunately, it's 2005, and the customers (in the case of for-profit shooting sports organizations like IDPA or the Single Action Shooting Society, the cowboys) or the members (as is the case with the non-profits like the United States Practical Shooting Association or the National Sporting Clays Association) are beginning to demand open sourcing. "My way or the highway" just ain't cuttin' it anymore.
There are other critical factors that I could drone on endlessly about, but in an effort to get to the coffeepot quicker, I'm just gonna whiz through them:
1) Brands are big-time yesterday's news. Read this column in Forbes...it's only one of many. Here in 2005, no one much cares about brands. Because Gun World is fundamentally conservative, that message is just now getting to us — and in the last few weeks I have seen a ton of money lost by an organization who thought their brand was more significant that it turned out to be! IDPA? USPSA? SASS? NSCA? Snore, nod! Get over it.
2) Proprietary doesn't mean a heck of a lot in an internet world. If you're a shooting sports organization, what do you have that is proprietary in the real sense of the word...something that can't be obtained from another source? Your rules and rulebook? Using open source concepts, we can whip up a better one in about 20 minutes, have it on-line and reviewed by thousands of shooters and e-published by the end of the day. Your targets? Give me five minutes to design a new one with help from the on-line community, and another five minutes to let the contract to a printer and a metal cutter. Your sponsorships? See Point 1 about the death of brands.
SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...where does that leave us? How about, let's cut the editors some slack and made a commitment to open source our organizations, for-profit or non-profit. Let's use the new technology to grow the shooting sports (which, BTW, are growing in spite of the boat-anchor effect of the organizations). Let's WAKE THE HELL UP!