Bringing the 5 man musket team up to par

by Mike Kendra on March 8, 2010

8 man musket teamOur sport of Skirmishing was built on the grand and majestic Musket Team match, and what an event it is! Since 1958 the N-SSA has been running these competitive, yet friendly matches…

The idea of an 8 man team working together to break a series of targets in a timed event is very unique in the shooting sports. But it wasn’t always that way, in fact the very first N-SSA style skirmish featured two teams, one consisting of just 7 Confederates, and the other just 5 Union men.

So, what do you do when you get to an event and only have five, six, or seven men on your musket team? What if there are no “pick-up” shooters?

There is one option being explored in the ACWSA, the idea of handicapping a musket team. It’s an idea that I read about on their website, and I think it’s another “outside the box” idea that deserves to be looked at.

The ACWSA, so far as I am aware, only allows handicapping, or pro-rated targeting as they call it, at some regional events for provisional teams and new skirmishers.

Here is how it could work: you are setting up an event, let’s say it’s 32 clays on a backer, this event can be tough to complete for 8 men, let alone 5. This event has been crafted to consist of 4 targets per shooter, so to make things fair for a five man team, just setup 4 targets per man, or 20 targets on a backer.

Now we have a level playing field for a smaller team size.

Just to be clear, I’m not advocating an immediate rules change in the N-SSA, but it is an interesting idea to consider…

Now, let me reverse my thinking. This may give smaller teams an unfair advantage, lets say an eight man team sat their three worst shooters. That’s no good honestly, it would stack the odds in the favor of the smaller team…

What do you thing of this idea? Post your comments below!

PS: Consider attending next Monday’s live chat event, at 9pm EDT in the CivilWarTalk Chat Room. Last week we had more than 20 people attend and we really missed seeing you there!

PPS: I should be attending the Early Bird Skirmish next weekend. If you have any thoughts, rants, or ideas to share with me, I’ll be around!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Phil Spaugy March 8, 2010 at 7:16 am


I do think this idea has merit. But you are right it, there might be an unfair advantage with fewer targets to a 5 man company of good musket shooters. I think what would propose is an extra share of targets for a 5 man company, ie 24 birds on a board, or 12 hanging targets.


David March 8, 2010 at 8:52 am

I agree, Mike. It would help those that love our sport and show-up for a skirmish, but are unable to squad a full team. They wouldn’t have to sacrifice their competitiveness & a chance at a medal. I don’t think that there would be any unfair advantage just because a 5 man team may be comprised of 5 good shooters….if that were the case then we would have to add more clays to the 8 man team that is comprised of 8 good shooters. Having said that, your example of benching the worst shooters to field a team of the top shooters should not be allowed as that really would be a manipulative move.

Sherry Myers March 8, 2010 at 8:54 am


While the idea may bear merit, thinking long term (and WAY outside the box), how would this affect B, C, D, etc teams. Without some strict guidelines, a member unit could conceivably shoot 5 on A team with prorated targeting, leaving the B team essentially with the 3 remaining A teamers, thus stacking the deck and completely skewing the current system of team classification. Not to mention the nightmare for the national logistics crew with the differing amounts of targeting to be delivered God knows where along the firing line.

At regionals this would work and probably work well, allowing smaller companies to compete on a somewhat level playing field and also enable the host team to make a few more bucks for their treasuries with the added team entries.

It’s an idea that bears fleshing out, but don’t hold your breath.


Tom Magno March 8, 2010 at 9:09 am

Concur with Phil – idea has merit, but unless there is some control measure in place, it may be commonplace to have the better teams only sign up 5 shooters. I can already see a Census of sorts to keep things honest – if your muster rolls for that skrimish show that you have active members enough to field more than 1 8-man team for instance, you cannot then field a ‘handicapped’ team. Or another way to possibly look at it, is to remove the full advantage of fewer targets by placing a ‘cap’ on the handicap as Phil suggests – for instance no fewer than 24 birds on a backer, or 12 hanging targets. There has to be a way of mitigating the ‘competitive advantage’ factor of smaller teams – it just has to be explored in depth.

Wally Gibson March 8, 2010 at 10:52 am

One important thing to note is that the ACWSA requires a vote of approval at the commanders’ meeting prior to the team event before permitting reduced targeting for the team. Instead of providing a competitive advantage, I see the primary intent as being the removal of a significant competitive disadvantage from shooting an event with less than the full team size. In addition, everyone shoots is the primary consideration. This means until all available “loan-outs” are placed, you wouldn’t be shooting with less than a full squad.

Chris Hubbard March 8, 2010 at 4:45 pm

In my opinion this solution ignores the root of this problem which is why are teams having a hard time finding 8 shooters?

I think another aspect of this solution is about philosophy, which is also contained to a large degree in your recent article contrasting “having fun” vs “shooting competitively”

Greg March 9, 2010 at 10:03 am

Phil and David, the ACWSA rules seem to say REGIONAL skirmishes and PROVISIONAL teams. That would solve a lot of problems. Sherry, Simple, if you habe a B and/or C team, your A team must be at full strength. Chris, you are absolutely correct! Of course, why can’t you be having fun and be competitive too?

Marty March 10, 2010 at 12:38 am

Another option that can work well in a small regional skirmish is to share some shooters around so that all teams have as close to the same number as possible. That is of course as long as each can keep 5 of their own to make everyone “legal”. And, again, it has to be agreed upon in the captain’s meeting.

Norm Gibson March 10, 2010 at 12:35 pm

The idea is to have fun not figure out how to scam the system. Some of the best (most fun) shoots have been the ones where we drew names from a hat to form teams.

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