About the WSCR/NWSCR AWARD Criteria--why don't the rules for qualification change?
In the past, there have been some discussions about the "rules" for obtaining a WSCR or Night WSCR. Because skydiving has changed in many ways since the early 1970s when the awards were originally established, some feel the award program should be modified to reflect these changes in the way we skydive now. Examples of some suggestions: to allow different formations to qualify (other than the original "star"--the traditional round formation); to allow skydivers to fly pre-formed bases out the door; to allow skydivers to build on the legs of the first 8 women in the star (like a snowflake); to not require all jumpers to exit individually; to allow regrips (such as make a formation, then regrip into a star); and to not require all jumpers to face inward on the formation.
These suggestions reflect some of the different ways we skydive today, compared to the early "pioneers" of our sport. Advances in gear and jumpsuits, as well as freefall techniques all make our sport into a very different one than it was three or four decades ago. So, why doesn't the WSCR/NWSCR award criteria reflect those improvements? It's important to keep in mind that this award is an historic one--with its origins from days when skydiving was different--and far more challenging to individual jumpers.
Let's take a glimpse back to "the old days" of our sport. Along with the intense exhilaration of jumping with others, "Relative Work" was a new and exciting aspect to freefall. Some say it was more difficult because of heavy gear, bulky jumpsuits. No specific skills for freefall movements were known or taught. There was no "maneuvering" back then--you just tried to get where you wanted to go and not go low or take out the other guys at the same time. Everyone was "self-taught" and learned from experience with little coaching from others.
There's no doubt that, historically, the challenge of relative work was the Mother of Invention, and brought sweeping advances in skydiving's evolution for equipment and freefall skills. There were no wind tunnels to learn new maneuvers or fine-tune your skills. Only a few were trying to apply ideas involving physics or aerodynamics to any aspect of the sport. Changes resulted from making mistakes and then sitting down after a jump and talking (or arguing!) about who did what. No video replays were available, and rare camera jumps produced film footage that took days to process. Everything was done out of an airplane, the hard way. And you even had to pack your own parachute!
This was a time when skydivers at most DZs made dozens of jumps together in an effort to get only eight or ten people into a single formation. It was truly momentous to accomplish this. Also, at some DZs it was considered unsafe for anyone to jump with others until he/she had made 50 or more jumps--alone! It was a privilege to be able to jump with other skydivers who trusted you enough to let you do it with them. Over half of skydivers chose to skydive alone, using "Style and Accuracy" as their way to enjoy the sport.
A good thing about keeping the old star traditions is that everyone who gets IN qualifies, as long as the 8-woman star remains intact for five seconds or more. When number eight enters, the count begins. More skydivers (both men and women) can enter the star during the count, but the formation must remain unbroken to the count of five. As more people enter the star, regardless if 9th, 10th, or 11th, everyone who is IN qualifies. If the star breaks at some point during its growth over eight, everyone who was in qualifies.
Unlike formations today, it doesn't have to be "completed" with all jumpers in the formation. Here's the rationale: A star is totally flexible for numbers. An 8-woman star or a 12-way (women and men) star is still a star, even if some jumpers are out. One person going low doesn't ruin it or waste the skydive for everybody else. We're not making world records or fancy sequential formations--we're just fun jumping.
This is the foundation for the WSCR awards. These were the challenges in the past that, today, are so easily overcome, by people with many fewer jumps. Those of us who met those past challenges believe that the standards should remain the same today because this is an historic award. With modern skills training, it's entirely possible that on any given weekend, at many DZs across the country, eight women skydivers could exit an aircraft and easily get all eight together in any number of possible ways. If the rules were changed or modernized, they could get their WSCR--while on the way to accomplishing even greater feats on that same jump. But, would that be a "special" jump for them? Would they have a sense of accomplishment, pulling an instant 8-way off the tail, while looking at the elbow or knee of their freefall neighbors? Perhaps.
Never-the-less, the "rules" that we have today weren't "rules" back then--it was just the way we skydived. It was the only way we knew how to do it, and it was challenging and fun. The challenge today is different--to be able to duplicate what the first relative workers did, and do it the way they did it. It may seem simplistic to some--"What? Only make one round formation? Everyone facing in? Grinning into the faces of everyone else? Holding it for five seconds? Not taking anything out the door? Well, how easy is that?!" Yup, how easy is that...try it!