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A rifle match for hunters with "typical" hunting equipment?

Discussion in 'Competition Shooting' started by MCMXI, Sep 13, 2012.

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  1. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    Steel challenge matches are popular these days with heavy rifles, detachable magazines and high-end optics but how about rifle matches better suited for hunters using "typical" hunting equipment? Has anyone heard of, attended or thought about such a match? A coworker mentioned something similar for PHs in Africa but how about here in the US?

    If I were organizing such a match I would have a 10lb weight limit on the rifle with/without scope and each shooter would have to carry all of their equipment. Rifle cartridge/caliber would have to meet local hunting laws for deer and targets would consist of 8" steel plates set up at distances ranging from 50 yards to 500 yards (all UKD to the shooter). The plates would be painted using colors typical of game animals (not high contrast) and they would be placed such that competitors would have to use binoculars to locate many of them. Shooters would have to shoot from a variety of field positions with offhand/kneeling/sitting at closer distances and supported/shooting sticks/prone at greater distances. All stages would have a time constraint with a maximum of two shots allowed per target with only one hit per target being scored. 10 points for a first round hit, 5 points for a second round hit and 0 points for a miss. The points earned at each stage would be multiplied by the distance to the target and divided by 1000. For example, a first round hit at 300 yards would be 10*300/1000 = 3 points. A second round hit at 50 yards would be 5*50/1000 = 0.25 points. A match would consist of 10 to 15 stages.
     
  2. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    That sounds like a whale of a lot of fun.
     
  3. MtnCreek

    MtnCreek Member

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    It does sound like a great idea! Other than the scoring system, it’s similar to 3d bow matches.
     
  4. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    I've seen SCI courses set up like this online but never participated. The biggest issue is having safe fields of fire for a high powered centerfire rifle.

    My dad and I talked about somthing similar set up in a valley, one shooter one judge/guide. Engage the targets as you see them when you see them. Ie if you can SEE the 100 yard 'deer' after you engage the 25 yard deer, you should shoot it from there.

    We dicussed the need for control of access to the land (rather than setting this up in a national forest) and went back and forth on 'natural' colored targets or high visibility reactive targets (like milkjugs painted yellow). We figured, start with the jugs see how it works, move up to the realistic targets.

    Knob Creek MG shoot has a 'walking course' with an SMG thats set up along this concept. Lee Ermy did an episode of Lock n Load or Mail Call running the course.
     
  5. Blackstone

    Blackstone Member

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    In the UK we have Field Target/Hunter's Field Target for air rifle shooters. Knock-down targets are set out at unknown distances between 15-50 yards.

    [​IMG]
    There's a one-inch kill zone that gets you 2 points if you hit it. 1 point for a hit anywhere else on the target, and no points for a complete miss.
     
  6. Tizona

    Tizona Member

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    Agreed; that sounds like a lot of fun!

    Keep us posted,

    Tizona
     
  7. Tim the student

    Tim the student Member

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    Sounds like a lot of fun. I don't really hunt anything with centerfire rifles, but it does sound like fun.
     
  8. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    The Steel Safari (which goes back to about 1998) used to have a 10# or lighter division, and the specs on the match are very similar to what you proposed.

    We discontinued the "Light Rifle" division when the number of people signing up for it went down to 1.
     
  9. Hangingrock

    Hangingrock Member

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    The problem is that as soon as you offer a prize a used Popsicle Stick as an example the typical hunting rifle becomes much modified.
     
  10. tnelson31

    tnelson31 Member

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    LOL too funny
     
  11. langloisandy

    langloisandy Member

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  12. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    What sort of modifications are you talking about?



    What if the only division was a light rifle one? It seems to me that the one REAL use of a firearm for the vast majority of civilians is hunting, so why not tailor a match that helps shooters improve at something that they actually do i.e. hunt. Shooting lightweight rifles from field positions using typically "simple" low magnification hunting scopes is difficult. This type of match would be very challenging for many shooters but it would also be enjoyable and educational.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2012
  13. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    The Keneyathlon has not taken place for a long time, perhaps 10-15 years. As such it's more of historical interest than an actual operational match at this point. However, today "practical rifle shooting" is much more developed and much more popular than it has been and the number of matches that test practical rifle shooting in some way is pretty impressive.

    Whenever you make something into a competition, people will want to win and they will change their behavior and gear to win. So the question becomes, what are you - the match "designer" - really trying to test, and why?

    I am in the camp that believes that prescribing exactly what equipment must be used in a competition is the wrong way to go about it. I believe one goal of competition ought to be allowing competitors to push the limits of skill, technique, and gear as they are applied to the problems presented to create a new "state of the art."

    Let me propose a different answer to the issue of mandating hunting rifles so we have a "hunting rifle" competition: The typical "hunting rifle" is not the best tool for the job.

    The Steel Safari tests almost everything listed in the O.P.: "carry all equipment", caliber meets typical hunting cartridge requirements, variety of target sizes and shapes, from maybe 6" up to maybe 12", most targets from about 200 to about 600; shooter must locate targets, range, and engage; variety of positions required to engage targets (not mandated but required by terrain), time constraints, etc. (The field portion of the match over two days covers about 3-4 miles per day in high desert terrain.) Median target distance is in the high 300's.

    The fact is that the typical hunting rifles are terrible tools for this job. And that's why competitors have evolved their rifles into ones that look less like a traditional hunting rifle.

    So why are hunters using them? Is it the price tag? Is it the weight? Is their "challenge" different? Do they just not know better?

    The argument about weight is a good one. But even if you set a 10 lb weight limit, people would just build their match/sniper/long-range rifle with more weight-related compromises, but it still wouldn't look like a lightweight hunting rifle with an 18" barrel and a 1-5x scope.

    What I have found running matches with a wide range of physical involvement, starting with the "easy" Steel Safari, and moving up to the 24-Hour Sniper Adventure Challenge (30+ miles of land nav in the mountains) is that nobody takes rifle weight seriously until they have to hike 30 miles and do over 5000' in elevation change. Even when there's over a mile to move and 30 targets to shoot in an hour, competitors will still take the heavier rifle.
     
  14. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Sounds like the original intent of Metallic Silhouette shooting, or Silhuettas Metallicas.

    The sport orginated in Mexico about 100 years ago, and standard hunting rifles were all that was allowed.

    Silhouette shooting came into the US in 1968 at the Tucson Rifle Club in Arizona.

    Today, the gamesmanship arms race has entered into it with speciality target rifles taking the lead away from hunting rifles.

    Too bad!

    rc
     
  15. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    These discussions always fascinate me.

    We have a sport to test our ability with the rifles we have.

    Our sport shows which things succeed and which are less optimal.

    We change our equipment to favor the traits which seem to work best.

    In reaction to those changes, we impose limits on the equipment, by writ, so we cannot use things that work as well.

    Why? Because we want to test our ability to use "traditional" equipment or "realistic" equipment. But that equipment was new and novel and "non-traditional" at some point.

    So...we want to have a competition that favors traditional hunting rifles. But it is hard to think up a competition in which traditional hunting rifles excel. In just about any test (except maybe aesthetics) some more modern design just outperforms them. So, because there isn't some realistic scenario which greatly favors the traditional hunting rifle, we have to write the rules so that they do not compete against "unfair" equipment.

    Seems like one could take the information gained through head-to-head testing of various designs and apply that to real-world situations, were one so inclined.
     
  16. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    Here's about the closest we get to a traditional hunting rifle. This is not competitive any more and it does not "look" like a hunting rifle to many people due to the scope, attached bipod, lack of wood, etc.
    159_5950_img.jpg

    This still looks more traditional than not but is clearly getting more serious
    D463_8118_img.jpg

    And more..
    D463_0835_img.jpg

    To most people this does not look like a hunting rifle
    D463_8219_img.jpg

    And just to show it's not all about prone shooting:
    D464_2564_img.jpg
    D464_2596_img.jpg
    D464_2616_img.jpg
    D463_8903_img.jpg
     
  17. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I just got to wonder how all us old timers learned to shoot from any position, using only a tight sling, out to the next klick on the topo map?
    Before they invented bi-pods and shooting stick rests?

    Seems today, nobody can hit nothing without a mechanical transportable rest of some sort.

    rc
     
  18. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    People use bipods, shooting sticks, shooting slings, their packs, and other stuff because it creates a more stable shooting position-- which increases the chances of a hit regardless of one's skill with the fundamentals of shooting.
     
  19. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm understanding the "job" to be hitting from 200-600 meter targets. Which is not really where most US big game hunters take game, I don't think.

    Sam, in this case, I think you're incorrect. The match rifle optimized for mid to long-distance stationary targets is not going to be the rifle that swings readily up for off-hand shots at moving game, and that is fine for walking 4-8 miles or more in a day, ready to take a shot from 5-250 meters. And traditional form hunting rifles hold that form because that form has a function. Sure, synthetic stocks, better finishes, and better glass all make the rifle better, but the basic form exists for a darn good reason.

    John
     
  20. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    Well, I may be seeing it incorrectly.

    Why could we not somehow develop a type of competition format which duplicates the "real world" needs, then? And if we can replicate the real world in competition, then will traditional rifles win such a match? And if not, why not?

    If we all understand that our traditional hunting rifles are better for longer walks, fast presentations and 5-250 meter shots, then what is it about the competitions we do have that makes it so these traditional weapons aren't competitive?

    As Zak said:
    So is the ONLY facet of the issue that we don't ask competitors to walk 5 or 30 miles with their weapon? If we could make that a strict requirement of competition, would "traditional" rifles then dominate?

    (And I'd be very slow to agree that 95% of hunters walk more than 500 yards in an average hunt, though certainly a few walk quite a bit farther than that.)

    So how would we go about structuring a match so that a Win 94 or a Marlin 336 or a Rem 700 BDL or some other traditional hunting arm can legitimately compete against the high-end "competition grade" rifles Zak sees?

    Or is it merely that when the average guy goes on the average hunt he takes an old familiar rifle that does the job well enough -- because it isn't a competition, and no one's watching and scoring?

    To that end, I could shoot a "Down-0" score on the IDPA classifier with a flintlock pistol -- eventually. The weapon is accurate enough and if I'm not under time pressure I could accomplish the shots. But the pressures of competition dictate to a large degree that I have to have some better gear (a magazine-fed or speed-loader-fed repeater, firing fixed smokeless ammo, with both a front and a rear sight, etc.) in order to stay competitive.

    It is certainly hard to argue that generations of hunters have brought home the game to feed their families with open-sighted traditional rifles without bipods, suppressors, or the ability to shoot under 2 MOA. But that's not good enough for competition where someone else's better gear may make so much of a difference that no amount of skill can close that gap.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
  21. MtnCreek

    MtnCreek Member

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    I think if you size targets within abilities of the average hunting rig, keep them in typical hunting ranges and have, at least some that only appear for a very short time, the typical Rem 7 would be a contender.

    A precision rifle is just a heavy, expensive rifle when you're talking 3moa targets at 200yds.
     
  22. DAP90

    DAP90 Member

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    I’d guess the ranges involved primarily followed closely by the course.

    A big game hunter doesn’t know where the target is, when it will appear or what the conditions will be when they do find it. Hunters need a more generalist rifle because of this. It’s OK to take a large heavy rifle with a high magnification scope if you know approximately where the targets are going to be and that longer distances in open terrain will be involved.

    If the competition revolved around walking and stalking until you found a target and then engaging in cover or open fields, up close or far away, with a limited time to engage before the target moved or left, then the rifles might start to look more traditional.

    All this is just a guess but I’d bet those improvements that are found to be useful in competition and are also useful for hunters do filter down to the hunting rifle market. The average deer hunter would be more hindered by a heavy barreled high magnification hunting rifle than helped; despite that rifles dominance in some competitions.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
  23. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

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    Interesting thread.

    Curious about the "carry all equipment" requirement, though: A shooter would/does carry their rifle & gear at all times, i.e. even when not shooting? Or would/do they hoof their gear to the next "stage", and drop it until it's their time to shoot?

    A requirement that rifle & gear must be on your person at all times when not actually shooting seems an interesting twist. If the range were also limited to 250-300 max (while still presenting unique challenges), a strict "carry all" approach might still allow shooters to develop new & competitive problem-solving skills, regardless the rifle.
     
  24. Hangingrock

    Hangingrock Member

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    Traditional hunting rifle for big came for most individuals would be a deer rifle.

    The definition today would bee somewhat different than 1958 when Rifles A Modern Encyclopedia by Stebbins was published. At that point cartridges like the 25-35Win, 25Rem, 250-3000Sav, 30Rem, 300Sav, 30-40Krag etcetera-etcetera was in vogue. Big game Woods rifles were basically the realm of the lever, pump, semi-automatic rifle and bolt action for the Open.

    Fast forwarding to this day the previously mentioned cartridges are basically in obsolescence. The hunters that I have previously allowed to hunt on the property usually use bolt-action rifles, more optics than required, and hunt from tree stands. The handling qualities of the rifles appear to be the least of their concerns when situated in a stand as they are basically shooting from a rest.

    My Idea of a traditional hunting rifle is a Winchester M94 30-30 with a Lyman receiver sight with an ivory bead front sight in the Woods. Out in the Open a Winchester M70 30-06 with a Leupold Vari-X III 1.75-6E x 32MM fits the traditional concept.
     
  25. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    I'd agree actually, I was just using the OP's specs for the purposes of the argument. I've thought about this question quite a bit. There are some areas where shots to 500 yards are common, but yeah, the vast, vast majority of hunting is done under 150 yards. This is in large part due to terrain - where I grew up the largest shot we ever took on the property was maybe 170. However, I do believe much of the hunting lore about distance and some of the hunting "practical limitations" are simply due to lack of skill.

    But check out a different perspective. I was thinking about competition where we typically engage at shorter distances: 3Gun competition. This is interesting because there is a time element and multiple targets, and a lot of other stuff that is not applicable to hunting. It's not unfair to say that if the average deer shot is 5-150 yards and a few stretched out to 250, and most of the time only 1 or maybe 2 shots are taken with some time pressure but not really stringent time constraints, that the "hunting" problem is just not that interesting or challenging to people who actually practice, train, and compete with rifles on a regular basis. For example, top 3Gun shooters may just shoot an 8" target at 200-250 offhand and be done with it.

    The last deer I shot was using an 18" 6.8 SPC with a TA11 ACOG on top. From a stand, I took a fast shot on a moving deer (quartering towards) at about 40 yards: good chest hit, got the job done. That type of shot is pretty typical for mid-Wisconsin deer hunting. I do believe that that rifle was a better tool for that job than the "traditional" rifles that my family has used for decades. Does it really matter? Maybe not- the incremental utility of my rifle over an old .30-30 or '06 might just be low because the marksmanship required is simply not very complex... which I think is saying almost the same thing as:
    At the Thunder Beast Team Challenge, for 3 days, each morning a 2-man team has to move approx 1.5 miles and engage at least 30 rifle targets (and 15 carbine targets) in one hour. For most of the courses this is pretty tight for time, yet everyone takes their regular competition/long-range rifle. The reason is that this competition is won on hits. It doesn't matter how fast you are if you miss a bunch. On the other side, while a heavier rifle is incrementally harder to carry and incrementally increases your heart rate, etc-- it is dramatically easier to shoot accurately to get that first-round hit. In this criteria, I would think that these competitions are very close to hunting (other than you do not get to choose your engagement; the competition course sets that out).

    In contrast, at the 24-Hour Sniper Adventure Challenge, simply making it through half the land nav was a huge challenge, and the comparative scoring for shooting was less. However, even so, most people either brought their regular LR competition rifles or a slightly lighter version (maybe an LTR instead of a PSS).

    Different competitions that I mentioned have different timing rules; however, at least at the Steel Safari, what I meant was that while you hike 3 or 4 miles each day, you have to transport all your stuff through the desert. There are some "waiting" times, but that's true for hunting as well.
     
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