Cloud Dancer
Sport Accuracy Seminar
2002 World Freefall Convention, Rantoul, IL
August 5, 2002 (Monday)
Speaker: Jeff Steinkamp
Seminar Notes by Tamara Koyn


The following material does not necessarily represent my opinions and represents my best effort to capture the material actually presented in the seminar. This material may contain significant errors.

Jeff, 51, is a life long Quincy, IL resident and made his first parachute jump in 1971 while attending the University of Illinois as an engineering student. He is a senior staff member for the World Freefall Convention.

Jeff is a member of the USPA, and a USPA Nationally Rated Accuracy Judge. He is also a member of the Christian Skydivers Association (CAS), Parachutist Over Phorty Society (POPS) and the Frogs Fly West On Silver Wings (FFWOSW).

Jeff holds US Patent (#4014546) on the Para-Pad Scoring System and the Swoopee Cushion, both electronic scoring devices used in measuring skydiving landing accuracy.

Jeff is currently employed by Dielectric Communications as a Principle Mechanical Engineer where he is responsible for the mechanical and structural design of radio and TV broadcasting antennas.

Jeff Steinkamp is co-developer of Sport Accuracy with Jim Hayhurst.

Jeff discuses the history and development of Sport Accuracy, the purpose and goals of this competition and a step-by-step review of the USPA competition rules for this event. Also, included is a review of basic canopy control and techniques used during accuracy jumps plus the "Seven Sins of the Final Approach."

Classic Accuracy is a dying discipline. In the 1970s, it was the most popular discipline. 100s of competitors were competing in accuracy at the US Nationals. Today, 25-30 competitors are competing at the US Nationals. Half of those competitors are over 45-50 years of age. Younger jumpers are not getting involved with classic accuracy. A Sport Accuracy discipline was established in effort to revitalize interest in accuracy jumping.

History and Development of Sport Accuracy

Stand-Up Accuracy at Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta - 1988 & 1989 At this competition site, the available landing areas was unforgiving desert floor with rocks. Since there also was no tuffet nor peas available, a stand-up version of accuracy competition was held.

Arizona Classic Accuracy Meet, Marana, AZ - 1992

Stand-Up Accuracy Competition was held at the World Freefall Convention in Quincy from 1994 through 1998. Different variations on rules were explored. These events demonstrated that it was possible to do these events at large boogies.

The Sport Accuracy discipline was proposed to the USPA board in January 1999.
First USPA Demo Sport Accuracy Nationals - WFFC, Quincy 1999
Second USPA Demo Sport Accuracy Nationals - WFFC, Quincy 2000
These competitions served a role for refining the rules for the USPA Nationals.

The first USPA Sport Accuracy National Championships was held in Eloy, AZ in 2001. 32 competitors competed. This was almost as many competitors as there was in the classic accuracy division.

Pre-Nationals Sport Accuracy Competition - WFFC, Rantoul, IL 2002

The second USPA Sport Accuracy National Championships will be held in Chicago, September 2002

Purpose and Goals of Sport Accuracy

One of the goals of Sport Accuracy is to introduce accuracy competition to mainstream jumpers who are using medium to high performance canopies, with the goal of having them migrate to Classic Accuracy.

Another goal of Sport Accuracy is to promote, teach and reward proper canopy handling and landing skills. 30% of the deaths in skydiving occur under perfectly open and flying canopies. Are you jumping a "Packet Rocket?" Sport Accuracy is not Swoop Accuracy. There needs to be control. When making demo jumps, jumpers shouldn't be bounding onto the bleachers out of control after touching down on the spot on a demo landing!

Accuracy is an individual sport, even more individual than freestyle because, in freestyle, the videographer is a part of the team. Every jump is an accuracy jump. Cut a red rug to size. Place the rug away from the main landing area in a safe location away from other canopy traffic.

Review of 2002 USPA Sport Accuracy Rules (USPA SCM, Section 9)

Since there are no 3,000 feet hop and pops conducted at WFFC, the exit altitude is 12,500 feet.

Competitors are judged on three criteria, accuracy, standing up and remaining within the designated area. That's:
A ccuracy
S tandup
S tay Put
A skydiver can make a good "ASS" of himself. Remember to do that in this competition and you will earn a good score.

For the accuracy requirement, 15 meters is the worst penalty. Landing outside the 15 meter circle will result in an accuracy score of 15 meters. Standing up results in a score of 0, failing to standup results in a score of 15. Touching just a knee or a hand even for an instant does not qualify as a stand-up landing. Only the bottom of feet can touch the ground. Running out the landing to a location outside of the 15 meter circle results in a score of 15 for the third criteria. Remaining inside of the 15 meter circle results in a score of 0. 45 meters is the worst total score a jump can receive.

There are three rounds of competition.

For round 1, a 1.5 meter (60 inches) diameter circle will be used for the target center. Touch it first on landing and you will earn a dead center. If you land outside of it, your landing distance is measured from the parameter of the 1.5 meter circle up to 15 meters.

For round 2, a 0.40 meter (16 inches) diameter circle will be used for the target center. If you land first anywhere on the yellow pad, you will score a dead center.

Round 3 is conducted using the Para-Pad which has a 0.03 meter (1.2 inches) diameter circle representing dead center. The Para-Pad will score in the range of 0-15 cm. The Para-Pad is used to avoid a situation of having any ties. In 1974, Jeff got a patent on the Para-Pad. The 1978 US Nationals was the first year in which electronic scoring was used in accuracy using the Para-Pad. Manual scoring was used in 1977 and was less accurate with competitors under a Para-Commander. Landing competitors splashed pea gravel out at hot fatigued judges. Manual scoring is less precise and ties were becoming too common.

For the Sport Accuracy competition, a MMD (Manual Marking Device) will be used to mark the location where a competitor lands when he misses the target center. It is small circular piece of carpet colored green on one side with a black dot in the center. A judge will place it with the black dot at the first point of contact. This is safer than a tent stake upon which a following landing competitor can get hurt. Also, tent stakes can be difficult to stick into the ground.

80-83% of the competitors end up landing short of the target.

After landing, a competitor will want to keep an eye on their landing point MMD. It is the competitor's responsibility to be sure that they are judged.

In Sport Accuracy, since it is a relatively new concept, Cheryl's natural reflexes are challenged at the last moment on whether or not to land dead center with the typical heel fall-down landing utilized in Classic Accuracy or to land a meter out in order to achieve a stand up landing.

Canopy Control

Considerations of spotting, the wind, and wind cone affect how well you are able to get into an ideal position on final at 200 feet. We will discuss the last 200 feet of final approach.

The "Seven Sins of the Final Approach"

1) Failure to be on the windline. This is the most common mistake. Jumpers even get 45 degrees off the windline and try to slide in sideways. Being on the windline is most important for achieving an accurate landing. If you are on the windline, this guarantees that you will either land before, on, or after the target. An airplane pilot needs to be able to line up on the runway. The windline is your "runway."

2) Failure to "Aim It." Set up your sights. Cheryl Stearns visually puts the target between the knees. Establish a perspective that works for your canopy. You need to Aim It ALL the way to the ground.

3) Wiggling. "Didn't you go to the restroom before boarding?" Novice accuracy jumpers tend to wiggle to make the sight picture appear correct when it is not. Another wiggling behavior is pawing with the foot. Just sit still in the harness and fly your body to the target. Stay steady. Relax. Fly your whole self to the target.

4) Failure to Go Slow. Cheryl is having a bad day if you see her hands move more than a couple inches during the last instances of her final approach. Make slow controlled inputs. As you are under canopy, you are like a pendulum and radical input ruins your perspective.

Make a stair-stepped descent. To loose altitude, deepen the brakes. To make your approach angle more shallow raise the brakes. Do not use S turns. Every S turn takes you off the windline. Do flat turns by lowering one hand and raising the other slightly. A normal turn loses perspective as you pendulum out from under your canopy and you go off the windline.

5) Failure to Relax. This is a hobby for fun! Jeff has observed strain on competitors' faces on short final. They are ready to say "Aaarh." If you relax, you'll usually do better.

6) Failure to Be Serious. Skydiving is serious, i.e., it is dangerous. Work to stay safe. Be sure that you put out your accuracy rug so you can practice accuracy on every jump. Check the winds before jumping. Serious accuracy jumpers will measure the wind speed and their distance even place visible land marks, such as small reflective mirrors, out there for themselves. Log the conditions and your results for each jump.

7) Failure to Observe. Observe the winds and other jumpers. Watch what they do correctly and what they do wrong.

Be Safe - this is the most important criteria. An award is nice but it is certainly not worth breaking a leg. Do not do Hook turns. Hooking will get you disqualified.

Additional Tips

22% fall down, 80% land short. When you see that you are going to be short, the natural reflex is to raise the toggles, letting the canopy surge forward. However, due to the pendulum effect, you do not go forward. When you think you are going to be short on short final, use a hard flare. This will cause you to float and the canopy will throw you forward a little, putting you closer to the target.

Pick a leg that you are going to use. Classic Accuracy people use a favorite leg or elect to not try at all, simply land, and just walk off.

Learn to fly in half brakes. New jumpers use an "on/off" flying style. They are either in full flight or flaring. They are not learning to fly with brakes. Find out at how much brakes your canopy stalls at. Do this while high aloft. Hotter canopies have more dramatic stall characteristics. There is no need to abruptly stall the canopy with sudden control movements. How does your canopy behave when it stalls? Is it just the end cells? Or, does it make a "U" shape? Look to the side and watch the much tilt is there?

Learn to speed up and slow down, all on the windline. If, in last 200 feet, you are using front or rear risers, you are outside of the envelope.

One audience member has a problem of always landing a little long. To solve this problem, look at a false target that is closer to you by the same amount that you are consistently overshooting.

US accuracy competitors tend to fly into the pad for dead center. They tend to not reach for the pad. The last 10 inches is a blind hit. French competitors don't fly close but they reach with either foot to achieve consistent dead centers. The French practice foot placement.

FFI: Jeff Steinkamp, 217 224 6284,

Cloud Dancer
© Copyright 2002. Tamara Koyn. All Rights Reserved.