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Precision Rifle Competition Teaser (pic heavy)

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Precision Rifle Competition Teaser (pic heavy)

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Old 09-10-2019, 06:16 PM
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Nontypical Buck
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Default Precision Rifle Competition Teaser (pic heavy)

I expect this will be of little interest for most, and without a competition sub-forum, it doesn’t really have a fitting home here, but it might pique curiosity for some. I’m not a jersey’d professional shooter, but I thought I might share a bit about Precision Rifle Competition such as the Precision Rifle Series or National Rifle League. I’ll share first a bit about the different target types and shooting obstacles, but can elaborate a bit about courses of fire, equipment, and techniques if there’s further interest beyond this initial foray.

Precision Rifle Competition in a nutshell:

Precision Rifle competition is focused on diverse field shooting from varied positions, at varied target sizes, and varied ranges. We’ll typically shoot 250-1400 yards at targets 1-3MOA, but occasionally as small as 1/2MOA or as large as 4MOA at longer ranges. Matches will consist of 8-12, sometimes as many as 15 stages per day, with each stage usually 10 rounds, with a handful of stages of 8-12 rounds common for any given match, with a time limit of 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Some stages might only have one target, fired upon from multiple positions (I’ve seen a stage with 11 positions!), or might have 10 targets receiving one shot each from one position, and any imaginable combination there between.

What we shoot from:

Matches are typically broken up into about 40% prone or modified prone shooting, with the 60% balance as positional shooting. Prone’s pretty well understood, so I won’t soak too much bandwidth with those photos here, but I’ll share some of the positional obstacles below – certainly not an exhaustive photographical record.

Elevated platforms are relatively common, often with shooters going prone from the platform for longer shots. In the past, it was very common for multiple shooters in a squad to line up prone and alternate shots down range, but timing for the stages didn’t line up, so we see that stage design less in the current season.



Outside of prone, positional shooting is extremely varied. To remain relevant for field shooting, match directors are encouraged to temper their obstacles to realistic supports, but are also encouraged to offer shooters a varied and challenging course of fire. No silly tricks or gimmicks, but plenty of challenge. The game is designed around shooting and moving – but unlike most action shooting sports, we’re still focused on precision. We might shoot one shot from each of 10 positions during a 90 second stage, but it’s not just a feverish run and gun with huge targets at short ranges, we’re still usually talking about ~2moa targets at 600-800yrds when shooting positional stages.

The PRS Barricade is a standardized obstacle with a corresponding standardized course of fire. Starting behind the barricade, standing at port arms, mag in, bolt back, the shooter advances to the barricade and fires 2 shots at a 10” circle at 400yrds from each of 4 positions. This stage is often used as a tie breaker, based on number of impacts and time to complete. Very fast shooters will finish 8 shots in ~30-35 seconds.



We see a lot of various obstacles, including rooftops, concrete culverts, cattle gates, angled pipes (fencing brace sections), fence posts, telephone poles, wooden fiberline spools, 55gallon drums, coolers, railroad tie walls, truck beds, car hoods, HMMWV turrets, and more. Stacks of heavy equipment tires are also very popular (yet I realize in writing this, I somehow don’t have a photo of one).







Tank Traps are a common obstacle for positional shooting, and match directors get pretty good use of them. We’ll shoot from the tips of the traps, from the middle, and from the legs below the junction, and various height traps can be used to put the shooter in different positions behind them. We’ll often see a couple of them side by side, one smaller than the other.





Boat simulators and swinging obstacles are also relatively common. Hanging ropes and chains offer a frustrating swing as well, but swinging platforms are another flavor entirely. Most boat simulators are flat platforms, 4’x8’, hung by chains at each corner. Such, they remain relatively level as they swing. However, some are a bit different, for example, the swing at the Lone Star Training Center in Texas. They have a swing platform shaped like a Z, but with right angles, producing a lower platform and an upper. Last season, we shot modified prone/kneeling from the ground with the rifle supported fully on the lower platform at 3 targets, 2 shots each, then had to jump up to stand on the lower platform, with the rifle on the upper platform, fully off of the ground, and engage 2 more targets with 2 shots each. Their swing is suspended by close coupled chains at the top center, such it swings like a real swingset, meaning on the upstroke, you’re looking at the sky, and on the downstroke, you’re staring at dirt about 20yrds in front of the firing position. Pictured here is my rifle with the bipod withdrawn on the rail to fit on the upper platform.



What we shoot at:

There are relatively loose guidelines for target sizes and ranges. The National Rifle League posted a new rule for target sizes in 2019, limiting prone targets to 2moa and smaller, and positional targets to 3moa and smaller, but it’s still common to see 1/2moa targets out to 800yrds, and common to see a few bigger targets, at least bigger in one dimension, when we get out there to 1000+, like full size deer, elk, or even buffalo. We tend to see a blend of “regular” target shapes like circles, squares, and diamonds, mixed with various scales of IPSC (torso) targets and realistic silhouettes.

In this stage, we were shooting from 3 positions on an HMMWV, shoot the “terrorist” on the hood from the hood with 2 shots, move to modified prone in the cab and engage the targets in the cab with 2 shots each, then move to the tail an engage the targets in the bed with 2 shots each.



In this classic troop line stage, we shoot each target near to far with 2 shots each.



Here’s an example of a full size buffalo target, hidden on a hillside, all alone at 1200yrds.



In this stage, hit to advance the prairie dog targets at ~300yrds from prone, left to right, then right to left.



Sub-optimal Conditions:

Since this is an “outdoor sport,” we don’t always get to pick the weather. As a rule, only lightning, hail, or tornadoes will delay or cause cancellation of a match. Many of these matches are communicated through social media, and inevitably, if the weather forecast shows high likelihood of rain on match day, some new shooter will ask, “what do we do if it rains?” and the match directors almost unilaterally answer, “we get wet.” I’ve shot a January match where the morning temp was 17 degrees, and we never broke over 32F during the day, and have shot June and July matches where we were baking in 104F sun all day. Because the squads rotate through the stages throughout the day - over TWO days for national level matches - the light, wind, temperature, and precipitation conditions can change drastically. For example, in this picture below, I needed to fire at 3 targets in the clearing on the right side, then a target in the center clearing, and finally, reach 1400yrds out to the horizon on the left side at this match last summer in Texas. Unfortunately, visibility was poor, and I couldn’t even see the 1400yrd target in my scope during my turn to shoot. The shooters who rotated to this stage the following day had bright, clear skies, where the target was easily seen, even with the naked eye.



A few more shots of some other sub-optimal rage conditions we've been stuck in.



At a national level 2-day match last season, we had temps over 100degrees on the first day, followed by wind and rain on the second day. As one might imagine, the squads rotating to the longest range stages were significantly hindered by low visibility and high winds compared to the squads shooting those stages the first day. Below are pictures taken from a similar position both days of a 2 day match – you might imagine the conditions the first day were more amenable to long range shooting than those on the second day.





Night Matches:

I always seem to do a good job of taking my camera along to matches, but rarely remember to actually take photographs. But a few weeks ago, gladly, I remembered to take several photos such I could share a rather unique precision rifle match experience. Although rare, there are a few specialty precision rifle matches around the country which are fired at night. Usually, these involve illuminated targets and require illuminated reticles and are suppressed rifle only matches, and no white lights are allowed. It’s an extremely fun experience, and presents a unique challenge. Being suppressor-only, no hearing protection is used, and the darkness of night means we can’t see wind cues, and can’t see any impact splash from missed shots. Here are a few shots from the 2019 Light’s Out match presented by Burris at Fouled Bore Precision in Oklahoma. The first photo shows our squad, complete with red headlamps and glow sticks, with the white illuminated targets showing in the background across the valley, the rest are phone-skope photos of the target arrays on the hillside as photographed through my 15x56mm Swarovski SLC binoculars.





The stage below was an 8 shot string, 2 shots each, near to far, fired from sitting or kneeling from a tripod.



In this stage below, we alternated between the IPSC's at the car and the square "confirmation target" in the foreground. The IPSC's were something on the order of 800, with the square at 600 and change.


Last edited by Nomercy448; 09-10-2019 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:50 AM
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I think this style of shooting competition is great, and it looks like good fun. I would bet that you do not see very many (if any) older fellows at these shoots. Squatting, kneeling, etc. usually do not go well with older knees and backs. If I had to shoot this style for any length of time I would end up limping, groaning, and seeking medical attention. Do they have a senior division where fellows can just amble around, sit comfortably, and shoot slowly?
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Old 09-11-2019, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Uncle View Post
I think this style of shooting competition is great, and it looks like good fun. I would bet that you do not see very many (if any) older fellows at these shoots. Squatting, kneeling, etc. usually do not go well with older knees and backs. If I had to shoot this style for any length of time I would end up limping, groaning, and seeking medical attention. Do they have a senior division where fellows can just amble around, sit comfortably, and shoot slowly?
Theres a pretty broad spectrum of ages. We regularly have guys on squad in their 60s. Its a relatively popular sport with retirees, guys with disposable income and time to enjoy a demanding hobby. If theres a gap in attendance, its most likely in the 20 something range, since the cost of competition is pretty high.

One of the guys I shoot with frequently did 52 years in the Navy. Not sure his actual age, but Im going to say hes at least 62, since hes been out since I knew him, and he did 52yrs in, assuming a 17-18yr old enlistment age. If memory serves, he was 4th nationwide in the Production Division. He pulls a firewood wagon for his gear, instead of packing it, wears knee pads and puts down a shooting mat a lot, but he keeps pace. Another guy I shoot with is 77yrs old, hes a 2x stroke survivor and cancer survivor. Both knees have been replaced, pacemaker, lost vision in one eye due to complications with diabetes. He might not win, And he might not be able to finish every stage (cant shoot off-side portions of stages, for example), but I dont think I have ever seen him place dead last at a match in the last 3 seasons. I shoot quite a bit with a 65yr old retired surgeon as well, and a 57yr old former jump school instructor (think he said over 12,000 jumps = 2 new knees) who wins a handful of club matches each season.

Theres movement, but its not a run and gun action shooting game. If a shooter can build positions in 5-10 seconds, they can compete. Speed is a part of it, because were on the clock, but even the older guys, with a few matches under their belt, will finish stages with ease. Might be a little slow getting up out of prone after a stage, but they tend to keep up just fine.

New guys will time out because they dont build stable positions. Some stages are designed as separators, for example, 10 positions in 90 seconds - 1/3 of guys will time out and not finish, 1/3 will miss a few because they rushed, and 1/3 will shoot it just like any other stage.
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Old 09-11-2019, 01:48 PM
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Very very cool thread. Very interesting. Looks like a ton of fun (and money)

Tons of skill to do stuff like that!

-Jake
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Old 09-11-2019, 03:38 PM
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Yeah Jake, its not necessarily an inexpensive hobby, although Im not sure any competitive shooting sport is inexpensive. Most club matches are only $40-50 for entry fees, but youll figure on 100-120 rounds at the match, and 20-30 rounds in velocity check and zero confirmation. Call it 150 rounds per 1 day match at ~70 per round, good for about $100 in ammo. Most of the regional matches I go to are within 3hrs, so I get $50-75 in fuel, and then end up spending about $20 in breakfast and lunch snacks. National level 2 day matches are $225-275, and 200-250 rounds, plus velocity and zero rounds, plus usually twice as far to drive, and necessitate a hotel night or two. So I figure on about $250 budgeted for each one day regional match, and $800 per 2 day national level match.

Of course, the gear isnt cheap either. I run a pretty affordable match rig, a Seekins Havak with a Bushnell DMR II. It has a new Bartlein barrel out front, and a Silencerco Omega, but the base Rifle was under $2000, and the riflescope I bought at a significant discount, but runs something like $1600 street, plus $80 for Vortex/Seekins rings and $150 for the Area419 Arcalok rail. I had a Jewel HVR in a drawer, to replace the factory Timney 510. Im down to just using one bag per match now, an Armageddon Gear Pint Size Game Changer with heavy fill and waxy canvas, which I think run $120? Harris HBRMS for $130, and an Area419 adapter. I carry a Leofoto LN-364c tripod with a Really Right Stuff TA3 Leveling Base with the arca clamp as my spotting tripod, which is about $800 all in, and a set of Swarovski SLC 15x56mm binos as my spotting set up. I only paid $600 for them in a raffle, but street is $2500.

A guy could get started with a Vortex Viper PST and a Ruger Precision Rifle for a lot less, and skip the spotting set up. Personally, I will always carry my own spotter because of the advantage it brings being able to watch the wind, and other shooters wind calls when Im not shagging brass, prepping my stuff, or scoring. Vortex Vultures on a $100-150 tripod can work very well too though.

Another thing which does make up for the costs, at least a little - at big matches, the sponsor prize tables are substantial. The winners get trophies and cash prizes, but we also all walk the prize table according to our rank. The lowest value prize I have won has been a $165 muzzle brake. Guys make a pretty regular habit of trading or selling stuff they win but cant use - or donating it to new shooters. At the last match I shot, I picked up a cert for $1000 off a $1300 Burris XTR. I also have won 3 certs this year for free barrel work, so my next 2 seasons are covered. Ive picked up 8lb jugs of H4350, 500ct boxes of Berger bullets, shooting bags, etc. I usually expect to get back my entry fees in product value from the prize table.

So cheap it aint, but not many things as fun ever are.
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:48 AM
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Looks pretty cool friend. I doubt if I'd ever get involved with it but I wouldn't mind seeing a match sometime. My days of competition are over. But I do like to play. I'm just getting started in this long range thing and going to something like this I bet I could really gain some valuable input from the shooters.
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Old 09-12-2019, 09:03 AM
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Yeah Bronc - I like to pretend I'm still a "competitive person," so I still shoot matches and still fight Judo & BJJ, still play video games, heck, I still want to get on bulls every day. There are pro's I shoot against any given weekend which eat, sleep, and breathe rifle competition - that ain't me any more. But I still like to play. I know I won't win, but I still want to play. So maybe that's the way I'd say it to myself - I don't live for competition, I live for a challenge.

But as you mention - it's a great challenge to accelerate a learning curve. I'll offer an anecdote from my recent life to that point:

I don't get on Facebook very often, really only to see my nieces and nephew, and share info about our son and his activities with family - and keep pace with precision rifle matches. About a month ago, Aug 4 to be exact, I noticed a post by an old high school friend whom I had not seen in over 15yrs. He posted a photo of his 6.5 creed Bergara + Vortex rig on a bench, with the caption, "Getting better at 400yrds, working my way out to 1,000 someday." So I sent him a message - said if he wanted to get together at my range back home sometime, we'd have him on target at 1,000yrds within an afternoon. I asked how long he'd had the rifle - a little over a year - and how far he'd tried shooting it - only to 400yrds. The conversation evolved that evening as we discussed timing and location where we'd get together to shoot, and I pointed out I was shooting a match that following weekend not to far from home. I invited him to come along and try it out, knowing 3 things: 1) he'd have a chance to learn a lot more in a single day at a match than he had in months of shooting at home by himself. 2) he'd get a chance to engage targets at 1,000yrds+. And 3) he'd hit a target at 1,000yrds+.

So we had to hurriedly source a couple 10rnd magazines for his rifle, get Strelokpro downloaded for him and established a trued BC, measure his true muzzle velocity, and the hardest part, source 150+ rounds of 147grn ELDm's. But it all came together in those few days, and he came to the match.

Almost as if scripted in a movie, several stages had targets out at 800 to 900 and change, but the only stage of the day with targets past 1,000yrds. Unlike most newbies, he didn't "blank" any stages, and shot very well on several stages. The last stage of the day was a long range troopline, the photo with the "1088yrd" label in my original post above, I was spotting for him, noticed the wind picked up a bit during his run, and I saw both of his impacts hit the righthand, downwind edge of the 984yrd target, the second to last target in the stage. I called for him to hold an extra Minute of wind for the last target, and send it. "Dammit!" He hollered, as he yanked the trigger for the next shot, sending his bullet careening two full target widths off into the grass. "Settle in, breath, and ask this last one a little more nicely."

DING!! "Impact!"

Nothing mystical, nothing magical, trumpets didn't sound and Angels didn't sing from the Heavens, but it sure felt like they had for my hold high school buddy.

Afterwards, I asked him - since your home range only reaches 600yrds, and since it's taken you a year to get to 400yrds, so thinking back 6 days ago, how long did you think it was going to take to get to 1,000yrds? "I don't know, maybe never, really." A full size IPSC might seem like a big target, since it's 18" x 30", but it's equivalent to hitting a golfball at 100yrds, and doing so with a 22-24mph wind call, pushing the bullet the full width of the target.

Making the shots wasn't the part that really astounded him, it was the fact it really was that simple, just being given the appropriate tools and instruction. Just a matter of making the opportunity, and taking it.
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:50 AM
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That a real good story. Thanks for sharing. I'm going to be taking my 6.5CM out next week on its virgin range test. No handloads yet just a batch of Winchester 125 gr Range loads. I picked two 60 round boxes up at Walmart for $43 each mostly for the brass and to go through a barrel break in. They will also get my scope close enough for my handloads with the Hornady ELDX bullets I plan on using.
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Old 09-14-2019, 05:34 AM
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Ill be interested to see how the 125 Wins treat you. I never did buy a single round of factory ammo for my 6.5 creed while I had it, and only reloaded for the 140 ELD and Hybrid, with H4350 in Lapua brass. The high school buddy I mentioned above shot the 147 ELD factory ammo for that match, which was pretty consistent in velocity, but wasnt particularly spectacular for group size - small enough to hit a 1.5moa target at 1088yrds, of course, but not the 1/2-3/4moa load guys might expect of a factory target rifle and match ammo.
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Old 09-15-2019, 12:41 PM
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Are spectators allowed at any of these events (dang, question mark key isn't working) I did a little internet research and found three shoots in Nebraska within a days drive of where I live. Not real close but close enough. I have neither desired nor equipment to compete but I wouldn't mind watching.
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