Speed and Accuracy
Having explained in my last post why we felt the need for a unified and agreed set of rules, at least for some events and as a basis for change, let me now look, in a series of posts, at some of the areas where controversy may arise from our rules.
The most obvious area where opinion has been divided so far has been in relation to the awarding of points for riding fast. This has been an area of constant change over the past couple of years.
I think it is agreed by most people that just awarding one point for every second under the time favours speed over accuracy. Most efforts to correct this have revolved around awarding extra points for hitting multiple targets. This favours riding quickly but still being able to nock and shoot quickly enough. It does not favour accuracy in terms of hitting the middle of the target over hitting the edge. This can lead to some odd situations.
At the Al Faris competition in Jordan there were 10 bonus points for hitting all 5 targets on the Korean serial shot. This means that where two people each hit the first 4 targets the fifth target becomes disproportionately important. If one person just clips the line and another just misses it then that fraction of a cm is worth 11 points (1 for the arrow score plus 10 bonus points). The more bonus points are available the more this issue grows. Award fewer bonus points and you don’t balance it properly against speed.
We did not disagree fundamentally with the awarding of points for hitting all targets (we do exactly that in our rules) but we have kept the bonus points rather lower, so that a rider gains 3 points for hitting 3 targets in a row during the Korean serial shot event and 5 for hitting all 5 targets. There was some support for awarding bonus points for hitting both targets on the double shot but ultimately we decided against this.
Bonus points are only one way in which we have tried to balance speed and accuracy. We have taken an additional step: limiting the points available for speed.
Under our rules points are awarded for going under the allotted time but only up to a maximum of 10m/s. This means that there are no points available for going faster than 9s over 90m, 15s over 150m, 18s over 180m and so on. Riders are free to go faster but gain no more points for doing so.
By way of example, the allotted time for a 90m Korean run under our rules is 14s. Going slower than this loses you points. A rider doing 90m in 14s scores his arrow score. 12s scores arrow score +2 and so on. A rider doing 90m in 9s or faster than 9s scores arrows +5.
Why This Rule?
There are really two parts to this rule. One is why limit points for speed and the other is why 9s.
The idea of limiting the score was introduced partly to balance the sport and partly to discourage excessively fast riding. Not everybody agreed about the second part. I shall not give details of who thought what but some felt, for safety and horse welfare reasons, that the rule should actually penalise faster speeds (i.e. you lose points for going faster) and others felt that you should be able to gain as many points as you can for speed. This was a compromise provision.
Other ideas included using a target with 10 scoring zones (or just doubling the arrow scores) to encourage more accurate shooting and a suggestion that has been made by a number of people: the score for the run should be the arrow score divided by the time. The second was felt to be complicated and the first was felt to favour accuracy too far over speed. The group opted for the limiting of points for speed.
The combination of limiting speed points and awarding fewer bonus points for hitting all targets has one further effect: really accurate shooting is rewarded. There is now no substitute for hitting the middle of the target. If you can do it quickly and repeatedly then so much the better, but there is less chance of being outscored by somebody who only just hits the target but does so on a faster horse.
So why that particular speed? There was some disagreement. Some wanted something slower, say 12s over 90m. Others wanted to go faster, maybe 6 or 7s. 9s over 90m was a compromise that has one very obvious advantage: it works out as 10m/s. this makes it easy to be consistent between different events and distances. Divide the distance in metres by 10 and that is the number of seconds beyond which you get no more points. It was, basically, a practical compromise. As it happens we feel that it works well in practice as well.
We opted to make this rule apply to all events, including the Hungarian. Although this event is not usually the subject of experimentation in the way that Korean is, we felt that consistency was important. In addition it is currently possible to do relatively well, especially at lower levels of competition, by riding the course quickly and just loosing a single arrow. Riding the 90m in 7s and scoring a single point with the arrow gives a respectable score of 60 points over the 6 runs. This does not seem to us to be the spirit of the Hungarian event and limiting the number of speed points to 7 per run (for covering the 90m in 9s or faster) limits the extent to which this tactic will work.
Coupled with a minimum target distance of 7m and bonus points for hitting 3 in a row or all 5 targets in the Korean serial shot, we feel that this rule encourages riding at a decent but not excessive speed whilst shooting quickly and accurately. It is not perfect, and never could be because people have different opinions on these matters. I believe that it is a pretty good compromise between the various views and produces a fair balance between horse speed, nocking speed and accuracy.