Here’s a new tactical-style rifle you should consider if you are involved in the Tactical/Practical shooting disciplines. It features a modern, adjustable Archangel stock with the smooth, made-in-Japan Howa 1500 action, outfitted with a detachable 10-round box magazine.
Legacy Sports, distributor for Howa rifles, is offering the new Howa Archangel Rifle in .223 Remington and .308 Winchester. The ambidextrous, carbon-reinforced polymer stock features a click-adjustable cheek-riser, adjustable length-of-pull, grip storage compartment, plus front/rear quick-detach flush cups. There is also a clevet, integrated, push-button bipod attachment system. The Howa actions mate precisely into the stock and ride on aluminum pillars.
In .223 Rem or .308 Win, the complete rifle, with either 20″ or 24″ barrel, starts at $915.00 MSRP, including 10-round mag. We expect the actual street price to be around $800.00. That makes this a more affordable alternative to the Ruger Precision Rifle, which is commanding $1200.00+ these days (if you can find one). Note: Archangel Mfg. offers this Howa 1500-compatible stock in Black, OD Green, and Desert Tan, but it appears that the initial Legacy Sports complete rifle will be in black only. These rifles are fitted with the very good HACT adjustable two-stage trigger and 3-position safety. The Howa Archangel rifle is also available (for about $230 more) in a scoped package with a 4-16x50mm Nikko Sterling Scope (see below). For more information call Legacy Sports at 1-800-553-4229 or visit LegacySports.com.
What do you get when you cut a 6.5 Creedmoor-chambered barrel down to just over 16 inches? A lot more velocity than you might think. Our friends at Rifleshooter.com recently did a barrel cut-down test with 6.5 Creedmoor test rifle, shortening the barrel from 27 to 16.1 inches in one-inch increments. Surprisingly, with a 142gr Sierra MK, the total velocity loss (as measured with a Magnetospeed) was just 158 FPS, an average of 14.4 FPS per inch of barrel length. With the lighter 120gr A-Max bullet, the total velocity loss was 233 FPS, or 21.8 FPS average loss per inch of barrel.
Five (5) rounds of each type of cartridge were fired at each barrel length and the velocity data was recorded with a MagnetoSpeed V3 barrel-mounted chronograph. The rifle was then cleared and the barrel was cut back one inch at a time from 27″ to just over 16″. NOTE: During this winter test, the air temperature was a very chilly 23° F. One would expect higher velocities across the board had the outside temperature been higher.
The photo below shows how the barrel was cut down, inch-by-inch, using a rotary saw. The barrel was pre-scored at inch intervals. As the main purpose of the test was to measure velocity (not accuracy) the testers did not attempt to create perfect crowns.
6.5 Creedmoor vs. Other Mid-Sized 6.5mm Cartridges
The 6.5 Creedmoor is a very popular cartridge with the tactical and PRS crowd. This mid-size cartridge offers good ballistics, with less recoil than a .308 Winchester. There’s an excellent selection of 6.5mm bullets, and many powder choices for this cartridge. When compared to the very accurate 6.5×47 Lapua cartridge, the 6.5 Creedmoor offers similar performance with less expensive brass. For a tactical shooter who must sometimes leave brass on the ground, brass cost is a factor to consider. Here’s a selection of various 6.5 mm mid-sized cartridges. Left to right are: 6.5 Grendel, 6.5×47 Lapua, 6.5 Creedmoor with 120gr A-Max, 6.5 Creedmoor with 142gr Sierra MK, and .260 Remington.
When asked to compare the 6.5 Creedmoor to the 6.5×47 Lapua, Rifleshooter.com’s editor stated: “If you don’t hand load, or are new to precision rifle shooting, get a 6.5 Creedmoor. If you shoot a lot, reload, have more disposable income, and like more esoteric cartridges, get a 6.5×47 Lapua. I am a big fan of the 6.5×47 Lapua. In my personal experience, the 6.5×47 Lapua seems to be slightly more accurate than the 6.5 Creedmoor. I attribute this to the quality of Lapua brass.”
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Last summer we published our comprehensive 6.5×47 Lapua Cartridge Guide, researched by the 6.5 Guys. In case you’ve been wondering what kind of accuracy is possible for a tactical-type rifle chambered for this mid-sized cartridge, check out this tack-driver built by gunsmith Ryan Pierce. That’s a mighty impressive 0.206″ five-shot group fired with Berger 140gr Hybrids using a Brux cut-rifled barrel. The powder was Hodgdon H4350, a very good choice for this cartridge.
Ryan reports: “Here is a 6.5×47 I built for a customer. It features a trued Rem 700 action, Brux 1:8″ Rem varmint-contour barrel, Mcmillan thumbhole stock, Surgeon bottom metal, and 3-port muzzle brake. The customer’s preferred load is the same that has worked in the last couple dozen 6.5x47s I’ve built: 41.1-41.3 grains of H4350 with 140 hybrids .050″ off the lands. This should run about 2810-2815 fps from a 26″ barrel. The 3.128″ refers to length of a loaded round from the base to ogive including the Hornady ogive comparator tool.”
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We often get questions about the 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge — folks ask where they can find good resources for this cartridge, which is popular with Across-The-Course, High Power, and tactical shooters. We did some searching and found that the August 2011 digital edition of Shooting Sports USA has a good article for all fans of the 6.5 Creedmoor.
Development of the 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge
In the August 2011 Edition of Shooting Sports USA you’ll find a lengthy feature on the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge. This story covers the origin of the cartridge and its performance both as a match cartridge and as a hunting round. Hornady Chief Ballistician Dave Emary explained: “the original intent of the cartridge was as an across-the-course match cartridge. We envisioned it as an off-the-shelf round that would produced the accuracy and ballistics to compete in all match disciplines right out of the box. At the same time we realized that the same characteristics would make an exceptional hunting cartridge with the right bullets.”
6.5 Creedmoor Brass No Longer Washed After Annealing
Here’s an interesting update on Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor brass and loaded ammo. In a move to improve case quality and neck uniformity, Hornady recently changed the 6.5 Creedmoor production process, eliminating the case-washing step after annealing. So now you will see annealing coloration on 6.5 Creedmoor brass, just like on Lapua brass. Dennis DeMille of Creedmoor Sports wanted to improve the consistency/uniformity of 6.5 Creedmoor case-necks. At Dennis’ suggestion, Hornady conducted tests which showed that the “standard industry practice” of washing brass could potentially alter the necks in undesirable ways. Bottom line, unwashed annealed brass was determined to have an accuracy edge over washed brass. Looking at these results, Hornady decided to forgo the post-anneal washing process. As a result, the latest 6.5 Creedmoor brass now displays the distinctive coloration left by neck/shoulder annealing. Learn something new every day, eh?
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Here’s an AR configuration suited to the new AR Mid-Range Prone Discipline: Moderate-length barrel, Harris Bipod, Leupold Mark AR MOD 1 4-12x40mm scope. Photobucket image by Ingo1978.
The NRA has created a new mid-range, target-shooting discipline for AR owners. The provisional rules for the new AR Mid-Range Prone Competition will allow calibers from .22 up to .308. Rifle weight will be limited to 14 pounds. Competitors may use Harris (or similar) compact, “tactical” bipods, and optics up to 12-power will be allowed (but iron sights can also be used). The goal of this new competition is to get the many AR owners to the range to compete.
The NRA’s Information Sheet for the new mid-range discipline explains: “These rifles are of the ‘AR-Platform’ variety, semi-automatic, chambered in any caliber from .223 cal./5.56mm. up to and including .308 cal./7.62mm. The courses of fire will be the same courses of fire currently used for other NRA Mid-Range (Prone) High Power Competition (300, 500, and 600 yards) and are designed to be fired concurrently with other forms of Mid-Range competition. The targets will be the same targets that are used for Service Rifle, Match Rifle, and Palma Rifle Mid-Range Prone competition. Mid-range telescopic sights will be allowed, but not required. Because this is prone competition, shooters may use tactical front rests such as Harris-type bipods and limited rear rests of the type one might find used in military or police tactical situations.”
A very prominent NRA member who works with the Competition Committee recently posted this explanation of the new AR discipline on our Forum:
NRA Mid-Range (Prone) Tactical Rifle (AR)
For those clubs and match directors who have members with ARs who want to shoot Mid-Range Prone but who don’t want (or can’t afford) to shoot traditional “sling” or F-Class, we have a new opportunity to get those ARs out of the closet and onto the range with very little in the way of additional costs:
It’s called Mid-Range Tactical Rifle (AR). A copy of the description and the Rules (Provisional) are attached as a PDF file and should be published by the NRA very soon. CAUTION — these are NOT official — but I think they are accurate:
In brief, here’s how it works:
1. The event will be fired concurrently with any other Mid-Range event, alongside of F-Class and “sling” divisions.
2. The Event will be fired on the “sling targets”.
3. AR Rifle General Standards:
Calibers: 223/5.56 up to and including .308/7.62mm
Weight: Overall weight not more than 14 pounds
Support: Harris-type “tactical bipod” (no large F-Class bipods).
Optics: Scope not more than 12X
Barrel: Not more than 20″
Trigger: Trigger pull not less than 4.5 pounds
4. This is NOT F-Class — this is designed to be closer to “tactical”. F-Class competition gear is generally illegal; competition stocks are generally illegal. [The event] is designed to attract more law enforcement and/or military (maybe local National Guard?) and other “tactical shooters” out to the range shooting for precision. For more info, check out the attached PDF file.
You’ll find a discussion of this new AR Mid-Range discipline in our Shooters’ Forum, HERE: AR Mid-Range Match Forum Thread. Here are some interesting comments from that thread:
“Opening up mid-range matches for ARs is a great idea. I’m not an AR guy myself, but I have lots of shooting friends who are. They tend to have a lot of ideas what their guns are capable of out to 600 yards, but most don’t take many opportunities to shoot them at those ranges, and none of the existing High Power disciplines are very appealing. Until now. I hope it doesn’t become an equipment race. A 185/200 is a respectable score even with a 12″ 10 ring. I hope everyone is supportive — helping get these guys on the paper and providing positive feedback even for scores that seem modest by F-Class standards.” — Comment by Berger.Fan222
“It looks like the recommended targets will be the same as conventional shooters use (i.e. ~1 MOA X-ring). Given the specifications for rifles/bipods/scopes/etc., I think this would be an appropriate level of difficulty to start. It will be challenging, particularly at 600 yards, but by no means impossible. Of course, at 600 yards, anyone shooting an AR15 (.223/5.56) will be at a disadvantage to ballistically-superior calibers unless they come up with a good way to load 80+ grain bullets that will mag-feed. Personally, I’d like to see this limited strictly to .223 ARs. Almost everyone has one and the mag feed requirement would really keep things even across the board. The inclusion of other calibers will allow this to become a ‘caliber race’ in that .223 will have a very hard time keeping up with other, better calibers at 600 yards.” — Comment by gstaylorg
“Looks like a great new addition. The PDF document says rule 7.20 for course of fire which is mid-range slow fire. I believe all slow fire is currently ‘one round loads’. The PDF explicitly states 10-, 20- or 30-round magazines and no sleds. Does anyone know if this new discipline would be fired from magazine or one-round loads? Shooting from magazine would be keeping with the ‘tactical’ aspect and enforcing mag-length loads. But it does not seem to jive with the ‘one round load’ currently stipulated for slow fire?” — Comment by Highpower-FClass
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This Wednesday (February 3, 2016), Shooting USA TV features the 2015 GAP Grind Pro-Am held at the K&M Shooting Complex in Finger, TN. Conducted in association with the Precision Rifle Series (PRS), the GAP Grind features a Pro/Am format with professional and amateur competitors vying for individual glory and team honors.
Here is Shooting USA Host John Scoutten (in Blue/White shirt)
Lots of Action, with 20+ Stages
The GAP Grind is a notoriously challenging, “high tempo” match with minimal down-time between stages. Over the course of 20+ stages, competitors will fire 200+ shots at a variety of steel, paper, moving, and reactive targets out to 1,200 yards. Targets vary in size/difficulty based on the shooter’s position, distance, and time allotted. Most stages include “stressors” — i.e. time limits or required movement(s).
GAP Grind Hardware Shelley Giddings, a skilled shooter of both firearms and cameras, snapped these images of state-of-the-art tactical rifles at the 2014 GAP Grind. See more firearms images on Shelley’s Facebook Page.
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A good sling is a vital accessory for a hunting or tactical rifle. Along with enabling over-the-shoulder carry, a good “tactical” sling will also provide support for shooting from hasty or improvised shooting positions. In fact, in many tactical/practical precision matches there will be at least one positional shooting stage or a stage where only a sling may be used for support (that means no bipod, no tripod, no sandbags, and no shooting sticks). The 6.5 Guys, Ed and Steve, recommend tactical slings that allow quick set-up and easy adjustment. The best slings allow shooters to quickly slip into them and then make rapid fine-tuning adjustments to build a stable shooting position.
Six Tactical/Practical Slings are Reviewed in this Video:
In this episode, Ed and Steve provide an overview and compare/contrast different designs and the functionality of six popular slings from these suppliers: Armageddon Gear, Tab Gear, Rifles Only, Hard Target Interdiction, Short Action Precision, and Accuracy International.
To learn more about tactical/practical shooting disciplines, or to access more shooting gear/accessories reviews by Ed and Steve, visit 65guys.com and subscribe to the 6.5 Guys’ YouTube Channel.
Video Tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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Newly-issued CMP and NRA competition rules now allow Service Rifle competitors to use optics with a max magnification of 4.5X. That’s right, Service Rifle shooters can now use scopes, not just iron sights. These rule changes have created a need for a new type of riflescope, one optimized for today’s “optics-allowed” Service rifle discipline.
March Optics has just introduced a brand new 1-4.5x24mm scope designed for Service Rifle competition and tactical applications. With ultra-sharp ED glass, this new March scope should set the standard for AR-friendly 4.5X optics. This compact variable-power scope offers ideal eye relief for AR-type rifles, along with plenty of windage and elevation range. The new March 1-4.5x24mm scope is a second focal plane optic with 1/4-MOA clicks. Weight, without caps, is 18.7 ounces. The scope comes standard with a speed lever for quick zooming throughout the magnification range.
The optics experts at March tell us: “This scope was specifically designed for the Service Rifle match shooter. New rules were announced in October 2015 that allow scopes with magnification up to 4.5X power. This 1-4.5x24mm scope also makes a great optic for SWAT work as well as for a sporting rifle. Oversized tactical turrets allow for easy windage and elevation adjustments. The high quality ED lenses provide superior image resolution that make March the best in its class”. The MSRP of this high-end scope is $2750.00. March is offering a 15% OFF special now for regular purchasers*. This scope will be on display at SHOT Show Booth 549.
* March offers a 20% off MSRP price on this scope for Law Enforcement/Military members (current and retired), Pros, and U.S. Team members.
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How is a modern, metal-chassis rifle built? This very cool video from Masterpiece Arms answers that question. The nicely-edited video shows the creation of a Masterpiece Arms tactical rifle from start to finish. All aspects of the manufacturing process are illustrated: 3D CAD modeling, CNC milling of the chassis, barrel threading/contouring, chamber-reaming, barrel lapping, laser engraving, and stock coating. If you love to see machines at work, you will enjoy this video…
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For years we have touted the advantages of Burris Signature rings, with polymer Pos-Align Inserts. Now this system is available in a beefier, heavy-duty ring system for tactical rifles. The new Burris XTR Signature Rings offer six (6) clamping bolts per ring plus strong, dual steel base-clamps that self-center on Weaver or Picatinny rails. These aluminum XTR Signature Rings provide strength and holding power, plus the key benefits of Pos-Align inserts. As impressive as XTR rings are — they aren’t that expensive, with 1″-diameter XTRs starting at about $90.00 per pair (30mm and 34mm XTRs cost a bit more).
The polymer inserts in Signature rings perform three key functions. First, the inserts provide full, uniform scope-to-ring contact, with no need for lapping. You get a very secure “grip” on your scope without ring marks. Second, the Pos-Align inserts can provide elevation “pre-load”. With eccentric (offset) inserts, you can raise the back of the scope relative to the front, gaining up to 54 MOA of built-in elevation, without the need for expensive tapered bases. Third, the offset inserts can be rotated clockwise or counter-clockwise to shift point of impact. This lets you zero your rifle easily while keeping the turrets in the center of their travel.
Burris XTR Signature Rings are offered in 1″, 30mm, and 34mm diameters, and three (3) different heights: 1″, 1.25″, and 1.5″. Each ring set includes two sets of concentric inserts and one set each of the following offset inserts: +/-5 MOA, +/-10 MOA, +/-20 MOA. These allow you to “pre-load” elevation and/or center up your cross-hairs.
– Pre-load Elevation. No need for expensive tapered bases for long-range shooting.
– Correct misalignment caused by off-center receiver holes.
– Correct for bases or rings being slightly off-center.
How to Pre-load Elevation
To add elevation, set the Pos-Align Offset Inserts to raise the rear of the scope and lower the front. As long as there remains sufficient clearance between the front objective bell and the barrel, Burris recommends lowering the front of the scope the most and raising the rear of the scope the least. The amount of actual elevation “pre-load” will depend on the ring spacing (see chart). In the illustration, with 4.75 inches between ring centers, a +/- 20 MOA pair in the front combined with a -/+ 5 MOA pair in the rear will yield +25 MOA of total elevation. (If the rings are positioned further apart, you’ll get less elevation pre-load.)
Using Inserts to Adjust Point of Impact in Any Direction
Although it is convenient and most understandable to refer to the ring inserts as a “bottom” or “top” insert, the inserts may be rotated to any angle within the scope rings. This allows the shooter to correct the point-of-impact in any direction. The drawings below show how the inserts can be rotated to induce both elevation and windage changes at the same time.
Product tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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Sierra has released two new Tipped MatchKing (TMK®) bullets that should find favor with PRS competitors and tactical shooters*. Sierra is producing a new 95 grain 6mm projectile and a new 130 grain 6.5mm bullet. Both feature acetal resin tips that lower drag by improving the ballistic coefficient (BC) and making the BC more uniform from bullet to bullet. The 95-grainer should work well as a higher-speed option in the .243 Win, 6mm Creedmoor, 6mm Dasher, and 6mmBR. We were able to push other 95gr bullets nearly 100 fps faster than 105gr bullets from a 6mmBR. For those shooting the 6.5×47 Lapua and 6.5 Creedmoor, the new 130gr TMK should be a near-ideal bullet weight. We know that Berger’s 6.5mm 130gr VLD works great in those mid-sized cartridges, so Sierra’s new 130-grainer should be in the “sweet spot”. Also, in the .260 Remington the 130gr TMK should be capable of velocities that hit predicted accuracy nodes with ease. The 6mm 95 grain TMK requires a twist rate of 1:9″ or faster to stabilize while the 6.5mm 130 grain TMK requires a twist rate of 1:8″ or faster to stabilize.
We expect the 130gr 6.5mm TMK to find favor with Tactical Shooters
* In addition, Sierra plans to add a 7mm 160gr TMK to the line-up, product #7660, but we don’t expect this to be used for tactical games because of the heavier recoil.
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Weatherby’s new TacMark Rifles should be popular with long-range shooters (at least those with plenty of coin). We hope you like recoil — all three chamberings are powerful: .30-378 Wby. Magnum, .338 Lapua Magnum, and .338-378 Wby. Magnum. To handle these powerful cartridge types, TacMark series rifles have a beefy receiver with integral recoil lug, set in a CNC-machined aluminum bedding system. The bolt is interesting — it has nine (9) lugs and a 54-degree bolt throw.
The composite stocks are adjustable for length of pull (13¼ inches to 14¾ inches), drop at comb, and drop at heel. The stock also has a near-vertical pistol grip with a trigger finger depression and a wide, flat-bottom fore-end with a stud for bipod and/or sling. The TacMark (11.25 lbs w/o scope) comes in black while the TacMark Elite (11.75 lbs w/o scope) is finished in High Desert Camo with black accents.
The $5000.00 TacMark Elite features a hand-lapped 28″ Krieger cut-rifled barrel*, fitted with a large muzzle brake. The Range Certified (RC) TacMark Elite is accompanied by an Oehler Ballistic Imaging System printout signed and certified by Ed or Adam Weatherby, verifying the accuracy. The Elite is guaranteed to shoot sub-MOA for three shots (and we suspect it can do a lot better than that).
The less expensive ($3600.00) TacMark also boasts a 28″ barrel — one of the longest barrels currently available on a factory rifle. This should be good for a little extra velocity. Both the TacMark and the TacMark Elite feature Weatherby’s Mark V action and Weatherby’s new LXX trigger, which is user-adjustable for pull weight down to 2.5 pounds. The Mark V TacMark and TacMark Elite rifles will be available through the Weatherby Custom Shop.
* A features list on the Weatherby website shows 26″ barrel length for the Elite. However the actual specifications show the barrel to be 28″ for both TacMark and TacMark Elite. You should verify barrel length before ordering.
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The prestigious GAP Grind tactical match took place 16-18 October, at the K&M Shooting Complex in Finger, Tennessee. Here’s a “sizzle reel” video showing highlights from this year’s match, which drew talented competitors from across the nation. Held in association with the Precision Rifle Series (PRS), this year’s Grind features a Pro/Am format with professional and amateur competitors aiming for individual and team honors.
Watch GAP Grind 2015 Video (Loud Soundtrack):
Lots of Action, with 20+ Stages
The GAP Grind is a challenging, “high tempo” match with minimal down-time between stages. This year, over the course of 20+ stages, competitors each fired 200+ shots at a variety of steel, paper, moving, and reactive targets out to 1,200 yards. Targets varied in size and difficulty based on distance and time allotted. Most stages included “stressors” — i.e. time limits or required movement(s).
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The prestigious GAP Grind tactical match runs this weekend, 16-18 October, at the K&M Shooting Complex in Finger, Tennessee. The 2014 GAP Grind drew a huge turn-out, and this year’s Grind promises to top that — with more competitors and even tougher challenges. Held in association with the Precision Rifle Series (PRS), this year’s Grind features a Pro/Am format with professional and amateur competitors aiming for individual and team honors.
Lots of Action, with 20+ Stages
The GAP Grind is a notoriously challenging, “high tempo” match with minimal down time between stages. Over the course of 20+ stages, competitors will fire 200+ shots at a variety of steel, paper, moving, and reactive targets out to 1,200 yards. Target vary in size/difficulty based on the shooter’s position, distance, and time allotted. Most stages include “stressors” — i.e. time limits or required movement(s).
2014 GAP Grind Highlights Video:
Want to see what a “GAP Grind Experience” is all about? Then watch this video from the 2014 Grind. You’ll see a lot of movement through a wide variety of shooting positions. This ain’t no benchrest match, that’s for sure…
GAP Grind Guns by Giddings
Shelley Giddings, a skilled shooter of both firearms and cameras, attended the 2014 GAP Grind last week. While there, Shelley snapped some cool images of state-of-the-art tactical rifles. Here is a Giddings Gallery of Grind Guns. You can find more GAP Grind pix on Shelly’s Facebook Page.
Click any photo below to see a full-screen version.
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Our friends, Ed Mobley and Steve Lawrence, aka the “6.5 Guys”, have written an excellent article on getting started in practical/tactical competition. If you are new to the game, these tips can help you save money, progress faster, and have more fun. Here are article highlights, but we recommend you read the full story,5 Tips for Attending Your First Precision Rifle Match, onwww.65guys.com.
We often meet people who are new to long range precision shooting, and want to improve their knowledge and skill level. However, they aren’t sure if they are ready to sign up to compete in a match. They often ask, “What knowledge or skills are necessary to compete in a match?” Others may state, “I need to purchase this gear or that gear before I can attend a match”. For those guys who have a strong interest in precision rifle shooting, and who wish to chec out a precision rifle match, below are Five Tips to make it a positive experience.
TIP ONE: Make Plans and Commit to Go
First you need to start by finding a match to attend. This may entail a little bit of research and investigative work on your part to find what matches are scheduled in the next few months. We recommend starting with any match that may be within a reasonable driving distance. This may likely be a local “club” match, many of which are held on a regular basis. These make great venues because it will provide an opportunity to meet some of the regular attendees as well as shooters that are from your geographic area. Additionally, most of the smaller matches are a little more relaxed in terms of level of competitiveness.
Once you decide on the match you want to attend, do your homework. This means finding out if you need to pre-register or pre-pay the match fee. Commit to going by registering for the match and putting it on your schedule. Be sure to find other useful information for questions such as:
— What time should I arrive?
— Is there a mandatory safety briefing for new shooters at that venue?
— What is the travel time required to get to the match site?
— How many stages will there be?
— Is there a description of the stages available before the match?
— How many rounds should you bring?
— Are there special equipment requirements? (E.g. do you need chamber flags, is there a pistol stage?)
TIP TWO: Bring What You Have
(Don’t Spend a Fortune at the Start)
Some new shooters often assume they need a custom match rifle or all of the miscellaneous shooting gear associated with long range precision shooting to compete in match. While having a Kestrel weather meter and a high quality laser range finder and other shooting accoutrements are invaluable kit, you will find other shooters at your first match that will provide you with the information and coaching you need to get on target.
In fact, the only gear you really need to bring is a scoped rifle with a bipod and ammo capable of consistently shooting within one MOA. Also, be sure to know the ballistic drops or have a ballistic drop table prepared for your rifle/ammo to dial the correct DOPE on your scope for different target ranges. Many of the other participants at the match will be willing to let you borrow a support bag, bipod, tripod or other gear if you need one — just ask. Don’t use the excuse of not having the right gear to delay getting out to a match!
One reason not to make a big initial investment in a new rifle and assorted gear before competing, is we’ve seen a number of people come into the sport and try it for a year and then make the decision to move on to something else.
TIP THREE: Be Prepared to Learn
As a new shooter at a match, there is no better opportunity to learn. We often look to our local club matches as a group ‘training’ session to prepare for the bigger matches. You will find competitors at all levels of skill and many of your fellow shooters will enthusiastically provide helpful advice once they learn you are new to the sport. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions if you would like ideas for how to engage a stage, but also be sure to do more listening than talking as you receive guidance and tips from more experienced competitors.
Watch and observe other shooters and how they approach and ‘game’ a specific stage or course of fire. You’ll begin to recognize which shooting positions work best for different scenarios, and maybe even come up with some new ones that no one has thought of before.
Seeing what the better shooters do is an invaluable instructional tool. You can use your smart phone’s video camera to record other shooters (with their permission). When you’re ready to shoot, ask another shooter to record your performance. Watching yourself will point out needed areas of improvement.
After each match conduct an informal after action review and summarize for yourself the things that went well and what you should continue to do. You should also identify the specific shooting skills you should develop and make a plan to integrate the appropriate practice drills into your practice sessions. Finally, if you maintain a shooter’s data book or journal you’ll want to note things such as:
After Action Review – How you did, what went well, things you need to work on in practice. Stage Observations – Successful methods used for specific courses of fire. Note barricades, positions used, specific gear used for stages. Gear Observations – How your rifle/gear performed, what new items you should add to your “buy list”.
TIP FOUR: Be Safe and Have Fun
You’ve all heard a parent or teacher say, “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.” The same can be said of the shooting sports. Safe handling of firearms is the number one rule at any match, and comes before the FUN part in terms of importance.
Before all matches start there will always be some form of a mandatory safety briefing. Make sure you know, understand, and follow any unique safety protocols for the match you attend. Some matches require all rifles have chamber flags inserted and are stowed in bags/cases while not on the firing line — other matches may not. If you run afoul of any safety rules, you risk the chance of being disqualified from a stage or worse, the entire match.
The second rule is simply have fun. This starts with having a good attitude throughout the day. Keep in mind that as a new competitor you should think of a match as a solid day of practice and training. If you blow a stage, use it as an opportunity to diagnose what you could have done differently or what you need to improve on — then smile and drive on.
Any day at the range or shooting is a good day. A match is an opportunity to hang out with like-minded people who are passionate about shooting and impacting targets far-far away. Life is great when you are doing what you enjoy!
TIP FIVE: Make Friends
There is no better way to meet lots of precision rifle shooters and make friends than at a match. The people that attend the tactical precision matches on a regular basis are those that have ‘fallen into the deep end of the pool’ and are really into the sport. As a result, they have become part of the local precision shooting community. As you strike up conversations at the match, find out if your new-found friends visit specific forum boards or social media outlets, or if there are other matches they attend.
Precision shooters tend to congregate and share information in different corners of the Internet. It will serve you well to meet some of the guys in person at matches and be able to connect a face to a screen name. As you develop your friendships and develop a level of trust, you will find opportunities become available to shoot with others in your local area, or get ‘read-in’ on a secret honey-hole of a spot to shoot long distance. Additionally, the local shooting community will often find it more convenient to sell or trade gear and equipment locally than deal with buyers/sellers that are out of state.
The Precision Rifle Series (PRS) is holding its season-ending Championship Match this weekend at a “top-secret” ranch location near Tehachapi, California. The nation’s top 75 PRS marksmen (plus 30 regionally-qualified shooters) have been invited to compete in a challenging series of stages, with targets from 100 yards to well over 1000 yards. This is supreme test of marksman and rifle. The PRS involves shooting from multiple positions, carrying all your hardware over considerable distances. This ain’t no belly benchrest match that’s for sure.
This video showcases the 2014 PRS Championship in Frost, Texas. This year’s PRS Finale will be held in California. (Video is well worth watching — with LOTS of action):
The PRS has attracted a host of sponsors, so the prize table will be huge for this event:
For those interested in learning more about the PRS game, Rich Emmons, one of the founders of the Precision Rifle Series (PRS), has written an insightful article about getting started in the tactical game. Here are highlights from Emmon’s PRS — Intro to Competition article.
Precision Rifle Series — Intro to Competition
by Rich Emmons, PRS President
Tactical Shooting with a precision rifle is not like other disciplines, there is no set course of fire or format. That is what makes it so fun! What I quickly learned from my first competition and the many that followed was there is so much to learn and shooting in competition put everything you thought you knew to the test.
Getting Started — What to Expect
If you’re reading this, you have probably already have been bitten by the long range shooting bug. It can seem quite intimidating to just jump in with a new bunch of shooters you don’t know and shooting lingo you don’t quite understand yet. But here is the key — show up and shoot! I guarantee you if you show up to a match as a new shooter, other experienced shooters will guide you along and give you help on anything you need.
AUDIO: Click Button to hear Rich Emmons Talk about the Precision Rifle Series.
Now, a couple things you should just expect. You’re not as good as you think you are. Don’t expect to come into your first match and beat all the veterans. That just doesn’t happen unless you have had some really good coaching or other shooting competition experience to get you ready for this type of competition. If possible, find a local rifle club that has monthly long range matches, or any type of match will help prepare you for a larger PRS event. Getting involved with a rifle club and starting out shooting monthly matches is definitely the way to jump into competition shooting.
The Gear You Need
The first question that many ask is: “What kind of rifle/caliber/scope do I need?” The easiest answer to this is, the best you can afford. It’s no secret the gear is expensive. It took me several years of buying sub-par gear and eventually trading up to figure this out. Now, a guy can get a real sense of pride of doing it on the cheap, or with a factory rifle. I’ve seen many old Savage 10FPs take down custom rigs that cost 10 times as much. And if that’s all you can afford, then eventually you will learn the limitations of yourself or your gear. As for choice of cartridge/caliber, the Precision Rifle Blog has analyzed three years worth of match results from the best tactical shooters in the nation. CLICK HERE to read an article that reveals what the “top guns” use.
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Surgeon Rifles makes excellent tactical actions and complete rifles. Now you can save 10% off all Surgeon products (actions, rifles, bottom metal, bipods, suppressors etc.) with Coupon Code SR10. The sale even includes optics (if purchased with a complete rifle).
Surgeon recently marked 10 years in business, and the company now has 10,000+ Facebook fans. To celebrate those milestones, Surgeon has announced a special Customer Appreciation Sale:
Now through August 31st, all Surgeon Rifles’ products* are 10% off MSRP! That means EVERYTHING! In-stock rifles, custom rifles*, actions, bottom metals, bolt knobs, bi-pods, small parts, apparel, and AWC suppressors** are all on sale. Surgeon is even extending 10% off MSRP to all optics that we offer when purchased with a rifle.
All you have to do is use coupon code SR10 during online checkout, or mention this sale to Surgeon’s sales reps. NOTE: Discount cannot be combined with any other offers, deals, or discounts including MIL/LE or dealer pricing. The 10% off does not include tax or shipping.
*Custom rifles must be ordered and deposit received by 5:00 pm MST, August 31st, 2015.
**Only valid on AWC Silencers’ PSR, THOR PSR, Thundertrap, THOR Thundertrap, Raider, and THOR Raider models.
Sale tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Larry Vickers is a respected firearms trainer who has served with the U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF). In the course of teaching classes he’s learned that many gun owners waste money on impractical gun accessories. In his recent Ammoland.com article, “Don’t Be a Tacti-Cool Fool”, Vickers examines today’s trend of over-accessorizing firearms, particularly AR-platform rifles. Vickers doesn’t mince words… he states that too many people are spending too much money on poorly-designed hardware that may be “useless” at best.
Equipment Selection Advice from Larry Vickers
Every class I teach I see and hear students talking about the realization that some things about their gear and shooting in general just doesn’t add up on the range. Everything looks good in a Brownells Catalog but a significant amount of the parts and accessories offered on the market today are: a) useless; b) poorly designed; c) of questionable value; or d) downright dangerous.
No one is better at taking fully-functional, factory-made firearms and turning them into junk than a certain segment of the American gun-buying public.
Some people really don’t apply the common sense approach of not messing with what is potentially a life-saving tool. Sadly some of those same people will get on the Internet and talk bad about how the firearm they modified no longer functions and therefore is junk. Or they will recommend to fellow shooters the same parts and modifications they have used to turn their gun into, at best, a range toy.
Some of this shows up in my classes and usually by lunch on the first day the obvious flaws of the equipment at hand become apparent for everyone in the class, most of all to the owner of said equipment. It may have cost the shooter some money but in turn he learned a serious life lesson –be careful what you read on the Internet about firearms modifications and there is no substitute for shaking out your equipment at the range in a structured class.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you’ll learn more about guns and shooting in one class than you could in a month on the Internet.
READ about guns, gear, and shooting on the Internet. LEARN about guns, gear, and shooting on the range during well-thought-out and useful training. This approach is proven and consistently produces results and shooter confidence.
Larry Vickers is a retired U.S. Army Special Operations Forces veteran with 20+ years of service. Vickers served in Panama, the Middle East (Desert Storm), Somalia, Bosnia, and other locations. During his time with Delta Force, Vickers worked on weapons R&D, and served as a combat marksmanship instructor training new operational members of Delta.
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Shown above are bolts with TAC-6 Fluting and two-tone Vortex knobs. The fluting and knob installation are two different operations, priced separately.
Paul Fakenbridge of Pro Precision Rifles (PPR) is running a “Group Buy” promotion for AccurateShooter.com readers. For the next month, you can enjoy significant savings on a bolt-fluting job OR on the installation of a custom bolt knob. For Rem 700 bolts, the fluting is now $55 ($30 off), while a new custom PPR knob, installed, is $65 ($30 off). (NOTE: Knob installation does NOT include bolt fluting, and vice-versa.) Paul does excellent work, with a wide variety of fluting options. All fluting is done on a Haas TM1 with four-axis capability. Here is how the Group Buy, a limited-time offer, works:
For this Group Buy, PPR offers Bolt Fluting at $55.00 total (with $5.00/bolt going to AccurateShooter.com to help support the site.) The regular price for fluting Remington bolts was $85.00 so you save thirty bucks. You can choose from a variety of fluting styles for Remington bolts. While Group Buy terms apply to Rem bolts, ask about Savage and Tikka bolts — PPR has some options for them as well.
For this Group Buy, PPR offers a new bolt knob, installed, at $65.00 with $5.00 going to AccurateShooter.com. The $65.00 includeds the price of the new knob. The regular price was $95.00 including knob. Again, you save $30 with this Group Buy.
There’s no denying that 3-Gun competition is growing in popularity nationwide. Using a pistol, rifle and shotgun to shoot multiple targets at varying distances is exciting and challenging. Here are some pointers for performing better on the 3-Gun range by the USAMU’s SSG Daniel Horner, a two-time winner of Crimson Trace’s Midnight 3-Gun Invitational (M3GI) match.
Competing in Night-Time Stages
“I use the same gear all year long, so when it comes time for this match (the M3GI), I just adapt the guns, so they will work for the night time,” stated Daniel Horner. “I attach the Crimson Trace lasers and lights to the guns in whatever is the easiest way possible. Last year I just screwed a rail to my shotgun with wood screws. So, people can compete with pretty much whatever they have available and make it work.” Horner also recommends using a pair of head-mounted lamps. One can illuminate your firearms’ iron sights while the other headlamp is aimed at the targets.