Stage Design Recommendations

Stage Design Resources

For those who would like to design their own stages, the following links provide MS Word templates and stage prop graphics that can be used to layout your own stage design.  Some familiarity with MS Word is required.   

3D Stage Design - Google has developed a free 3D modeling program called Sketchup that can be used for 3D stage design.  The program can be downloaded via the first link below (make sure you download the FREE version and not the version for sale).  Also listed below are three additional files:  brief instructions for using Sketchup to design stages,  a blank stage template containing a wide array of standard props, and lastly a sample stage.  The program takes a little effort to get the feel for it but it is very powerful, e.g. allows the user to do a virtual walkthrough, spot potential shoot-throughs, etc.  The only thing missing is Joe Touchton shouting directions.  Have a look.

Online Stage Resources

  • Stage Exchange is a free site offering over 1000 IPSC/USPSA-style stages, indexed by round count, discipline, etc.  It is a great site to browse for ideas or stages can be downloaded for use in local matches.

  • Use wire cables only as activator lines. Never use nylon or guy wires. Nylon stretches and delays `reaction time' specially during in the early afternoon. Guy wires get bent and get you easily agitated. Always, have the cable lines run in a straight line as much as possible from the activator to the releasing device.
  • Grease up all the line area in the wire cable that will pass thru a pulley or corner, make sure the pulley is on a proper angle. Putting connections on the ground is better having them on top of the activating door but make sure you cover the lines with PVC pipes and don't tangle the shooter.
  • Don't put a low stiff barrier like a piece of wood anything lower than the hip as a fault/charge line behind a door wherein the shooter would still have forward momentum while opening it. This causes shooters to fall forward because of the forward momentum yet they can't make a step to brake themselves because of the barrier. Just put a big prop behind the door to visually remind them. Fault lines on doors are not needed unless for safety reasons.
  • Doors are better off and safer being opened towards the shooter rather than being pushed thru. I have seen a shooter that smashed to the door because it didn't open and subsequently broke 180.
  • Only have a maximum of 2 activator lines attaches to an activator be it a popper, door, window, etc. More than 2 creates big-time problems and unwanted delays, not to mention big-time irritation towards the stage range officers and shooters.
  • If you want a shooter to shoot thru a window make sure it is wide enough for Rosey to take a peep, tall enough so that a 6.2 footer shooter won't have a backache, and low enough for Chepit to hang his arm over it. This also avoids brushed elbows and shoulders.
  • Never put targets close enough wherein a shooter can almost kick them. This creates powder and wax blast that can sometimes blast the entire alpha zone away not to mention all the blasted taped hits.
  • If you have a prop partially covering a target make sure you have a hardcover maker on the area of the target that is covered by the prop. This clearly delineates the scoring against the non-scoring specific portion.
  • Steps and ladders must be covered so that the foot can never go thru the steps thus breaking his leg. Likewise, the steps must also be wide enough to allow some traction.
  • Don't use see thru materials such as screens as hard cover when you have a swinging target behind it. A hit on the wall in front of the swinging target must be very visible so that it may not be counted as a hit.
  • Wooden platforms and planks must have very rough surfaces so that even if it rains it doesn't get slippery. You can either put upside down nailed bottle caps for ultra traction, nailed down small pieces of wood, serrate the surface, etc.
  • Have wide doors for Rosy, don't skim on its width just to save wood. Have at least another 10 inches of space between shoulders. Remember these shooters are running 127 mph while opening it. Some 180s have been caused by narrow doorways.
  • Avoid have vertical or horizontal slots too close to one another wherein it already hampers the shooting performance of a good shooter, if he can shoot it at least 2 feet away from the prop. You don't want a stuck frontsight in your prop nor having to change slots per shooter because the slide can't even pass thru.
  • Make sure the boundaries of the secondary safety area is very defined and small in parameter. Have festive crowd control lines, not the yellow ones with the `police' marking on it, unless its for real. Make sure you put charge lines wherein you don't want shooters to pass thru a `wall' as its intended design, remember Ormoc?
  • Make sure you have the big clear plastic wrappers for the targets in case of rain. Once you have the targets place ready for the first shooter, cover all targets including no-shoots so that the next day you'll be more relax and have more time to make last minute debugging if needed.
  • Whenever possible, have moving targets rather than disappearing. Modify disappearing targets in such way, that at least the head part still appears when it settles down or stops moving. You eliminate big-time problems with it.
  • Always have 2 more targets that can be engaged while the activator is still activating the swinging target. This will cater to the better shooters and not have to wait.
  • On swinging and running targets, attached a plywood shaped into an IPSC target behind the target. This will make it more stable with less breakage and not folding the target-board.
  • Don't put boxes on windows, doors, or on ports. They are going to shoot thru there anyway. Boxes are only to be seen in a starting position or if not at all.
  • Angle targets with a hardcover/prop wherein if the shooter did break 180 while engaging the target, the prop will be hit then, you have a stronger evidence on your call. Position the prop and target so that the shooter will not be able to see the target while breaking 180. *The lip of tire rims and drum have been notoriously report to have spun a bullet back up range with some considerable deadly velocity. Try to deform it halfway so that it will break the centrifugal action.
  • Put a popper ahead of an IPSC target if they are to be placed close to one another. This will eliminate splatters piercing the target board.
  • Use a lot of sponsor streamers, banners, billboards, etc. They make the range festive in ambiance and your sponsors happy. Drink sponsors usually have a bunch of them readily available if you ask.
  • Always have 2 carpenters ready in case there is anything to be done like a broken door, window, detached wire connections, etc. You don't want any unnecessary delays in your match.
  • Make sure that all the `cut' targets, hard-covers, and no-shoots have already been done with enough supply at least 3 days before the RO match. *A reasonably large portion of the alpha in each targets must at least be exposed to the shooter if it covered by a prop, hardcover, or no shoot. The shooter must be given that opportunity to score the maximum stage points.
  • To the RMs, when you give the stage supplies to the CRO, make sure you give him everything he needs so that you don't want to see his face for supplies till he closes his stage in the afternoon. You'd like to see and ask him if he needs anything or making sure the stage is running fine. That way you keep everybody smiling and happy.

Website problems or comments: Don Hardy