The advent of Practiscore has given match directors the ability to completely administer matches from the field – the right tablet makes it even easier
By Bobby Walla, 3GN Club Series
It’s 2018, so I would assume that if you are running competitive shooting matches, you are familiar with Practiscore (PS). Undoubtedly the top program for running matches, Practiscore is even easier to use when paired with the right tablet. Here’s a rundown of the three devices I have had experience with as a match director.
Barnes & Noble Nook
The Barnes and Noble Nook has probably been the most popular for the simple fact that it has been used pretty much since the inception of tablet scoring for competition shooting. With that said, the Nook’s have pretty much been phased out by most ranges. The Nook’s positives include small size, inexpensive price, very daylight bright, good battery life, and pretty much bomb proof (at least in my experience).
The downsides far outweigh the positives though. The Nooks need to be modified and “hacked” to upload PS. Though finding the information to do it is pretty easy, as well as the process, it’s still a strike against it. Another big downside is that they are not as user friendly as other options. The buttons are not as responsive, and older Nooks seem to lag more than the competition.
The Amazon Fire is what we used at my range primarily, and spoiler alert, my favorite, as its very easy to use! Simply download the PS app and get started! The Amazon Fire can be had for around $50 and sometimes are on sale too! The device is very responsive and features brightness adjustments to be able to see the screen even on very sunny days! They’re compact, not as much as the Nook, but still can fit in your cargo or back pocket, and accessories are cheap!
The only downside to this device for me is battery life, as it drains really quickly. The stage RO’s need to make sure to lock the device as soon as a stage has been scored or they will not last the day of a 4-5 stage club match. It’s not that big of a deal though, considering how cheap battery packs are now. Regardless, that’s a lot more stuff for a MD to remember, because it would not be good having one die on the range!
Finally, arguably the best tablet and most widely-used on the market today, the Apple iPad. These are great and I always used it as my “master” device. Pretty much every positive of the Fire holds true for the iPad, except battery life is outstanding compared to the Fire. The downsides are pretty much all based around price. IPad’s are $300+ and replacing them due to water damage, being dropped, etc., would not be very cost effective to most ranges/clubs. The daylight brightness is not very good either, compared to other options. I believe PS actually came out with “sun shades” to use in their large events to combat this problem. One option, if you really like iPads, is to find the old 30-pin charging iPad’s on eBay or other classifieds sites. These are very cheap now because they’re “vintage devices” according to Apple.
The Nook, Amazon Fire, Apple iPad: three great options for helping you administer and run your next club match! Practiscore is a great program, and utilizing a tablet helps get the most out of it. And as long as you’re not still writing scores down on paper and making your stats person do math for two days to get the match results up, then you’re obviously on the right track!