Dear Jim, et al,
We seem to have a completely different definition of skill here.
In MY book, the more aids you allow in a class, the less you promote and reward skill, and the more you allow the competition to become an arms race.
I also think that the main problem is that AAFTA's BOG refuses to recognize that we have a two dimensional problem and wants to solve everything using only the linear structure of "divisions" and "classes".
On one hand we do have a hard nucleus of shooters that are extremely competitive (in all classes), though small in numbers, they are the "not so silent minority" that has driven most decisions as pertains rules and guidelines. The smallness of these groups means that, as far as technological development and economic pull, they do not count for much.
On the other hand we have the larger groups of shooters in all divisions that shoot mainly for the experience, fun, and extremely high level of camaraderie that THE SHOOTERS have managed to keep in the sport, sometimes IN SPITE of AAFTA's BOG.
Now, if you ask ANY supplier which section they want to capture, they will tell you that numbers matter most.
Sure all manufacturers recognize the importance of having "flagship" products, but those do not pay the payroll, nor the R&D, nor the rent or capital expense of machinery.
So, the "Sport/Athlete" shooters AND AAFTA, need the "Fun/Hobby" shooters. They just don't want to admit it.
It is in the "Fun/Hobby" section where growth lies and where the secret of the future success of FT lies.
And no one is paying attention to those shooters.
The PAC started something very important; probably its greatest seminal idea, which was to split the WHOLE field into "Amateur" and "Pro" sections. Perhaps the names chosen were not the best, but the general idea of having the Field split into "Hobby" and "Athlete" shooters has some merit and should receive a long, hard, analysis.
By splitting the Field it would be clear that the competition STYLE would be totally different.
Prizes, awards, and incentives could also be different, but above all, an ORDERLY PATH to growth would be laid out for the future.
Just to make myself clear, though I think it's obvious, the "Fun/Hobby" section would allow all kinds of aids. The "Sport/Athlete" section would, above all, promote true shooting skills.
My father used to say that "the happiest man is not the one who has the most, but the one that needs the least"
In the same sense, the most skilled shooter is not the one that reaches high scores with high power or a bunch of aids. It's the one that does it with the simplest of equipments.