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First PRS match. If I can do it, you can do it.

Discussion in 'Competition Shooting' started by kayak-man, Mar 4, 2018.

  1. kayak-man

    kayak-man Member

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    I've wanted to shoot PRS for about a year, but haven't, mainly because I don't have a ton of high end equipment or a super flat shooting cartridge, and I was afraid it would be a waist of time. I was very very wrong.

    Yesterday I shot my first match. A couple weeks ago I posted on one of the Facebook shooting groups asking for tips to prepare for my first match. Instead of just stuff like "dry fire" or "confirm zero first" I got a lot of guys giving in depth answers, and one guy even said "I'm shooting that match, squad up with me and we will look out for you."

    It was probably the most enjoyable shooting competition I've ever taken part in. I actually liked it more than USPSA, and I found the par time wasn't bad at all.

    Equipment wise, I'm using a savage 111 in 30-06 that I picked up for about $300 when I was 20. The rifle itself is stock: no muzzle brake, zero trigger work (and it's not an accutrigger model), only the single 4 round magazine, and the flimsy plastic stock that came with it. Aftermarket accessories were limited to a Blackhawk bipod, an SWFA 4-14 scope (falcon menace) with MOA turrets and a mil-dot reticle, and a precision rifle sling from Armageddon gear. I did not have access to a chronograph, and used IStrelok as my ballistic app, with a muzzle velocity that I guess-timated from comparing reloading manuals.

    To show that I'm not a ringer, I'm unclassified in 3 gun, USPSA, and IDPA, have never shot past 200 yards, and when I went to appleseed, I was about 20 points shy of making rifleman.

    The experience: everyone was friendly. I found that on the whole, everyone was easy to talk to, and people went out of their way to set me up for success on each stage. Did I need a shooting bag? By the end of the day, I must have tried 4 or 5 diffeferent types and styles. Need help with strategy for a specific course of fire? I was able to run my plan by more experienced shooters, and get input along with explanations why. Did I maybe have my seating die a little too shallow, so once or twice, when unloading, a bullet got stuck in my rifling while the case ejected and gunpowder went everywhere? Yes, but one dude had a hammer and cleaning rod (which I will be carrying with all rifles from here on out at all times) and helped me out.

    Every match I shoot, regardless of the discipline, I go into with the primary goal of not getting DQ'ed, and the mantra that Sam1911 is fond of sharing: no one will be impressed with how fast you are, but everyone will be impressed with how safe you are. I had a second goal of I wanted to hit a target. Just one single target, and I'd be happy. My tertiary goal was I wanted to hit a target at 600 yards. The first stage was tricky, I think my dope was off, and my fundamentals were definitely off. I missed them all. The next stage my dope was also off, but I got a hit.

    The next two stages where from prone, and I was able to hit multiple targets at 390 and 600 yards. From then on, I performed much better, and except for the ocasional instance of shooting at (and sometimes hitting) the wrong target, and a tactical miscalculation that resulted in an inability to properly manage the rifle under recoil, I felt like I did pretty well for my first time shooting at those ranges, and one guy in the squad even said he thought I was doing well. In the end, I had 8 points, but I'm not knowledgeable enough about the scoring system to be able to make any determinations about how that reflects on my performance, other than "better than I was expecting."

    If you're thinking of shooting a match like this, but are reluctant because you don't have all the cool guy gear, don't let that stop you. Here's a breakdown of how much I used the gear I had:
    - bipod x 3: there were two prone stages that I used it in. There was another stage where I used it, but I shouldn't have, and one more where I should have used it (or a bag) to help lock into the barricade but I didn't.
    - sling X1+: I only used it to help build a more stable position on one stage. In retrospect, I probably would have used it on a couple more, but it didn't occur to me at the time because no one was doing it. I feel it's important to note, I used the bungee in the sling for support, not the loop/cuff like I was shooting at appleseed.
    - super fancy custom trigger x 0 cause I don't have one. The trigger on my rifle is about the same as the trigger on my glock or m&p, maybe a little lighter.

    Newbies thoughts on a scope: I picked up a used SWFA/Falcon Menace a number of years ago. I wish I had taken the time to put zero stops on it, as I can see now how that would be useful, and that will probably be my next gear purchase. My scope reticule doesn't match the turrets, because when I bought it, I didn't understand what that meant, and the price was right. This wasn't really much of a handicap for me, once I told my squad about it. Everyone else was using Mils, so them being able to give me corrections in Mils was very helpful for my hold overs. For the most part,I didn't use the 14x that often, keeping it around 10x or 12x, because the limited field of view made it hard for me to find the target sometimes, and when I mounted the scope, I messed up, and the eyebox wasn't adequate enough and required a slight change in head position. To me, the number one thing that made a difference was being able to easily dial in my corrections, and adjust the focus, since targets ranged from 325 to 600 yards. If I was only going to buy one piece of kit before shooting a PRS match, it would be some kind of scope with turrets that have good tracking (in other words, I don't think the bushnell 3-9 duplex reticle that comes with the Savage 111 combo is adequate.) and some kind of ballistic table or app is a must.

    Things I would have done differently prior to the match:
    - if I could have chronoed my ammo so that my D.O.P.E was more precise, that could have helped out a little bit.
    - worked on building a stable position at different elevations.
    - spent more time on familiarizing myself with the focus and power adjustment of my scope.
    - spent more time shooting from a variety of surfaces so I would understand that my specific bipod was a horrible choice for plywood (should have used a shooting bag.)
    - given the round count, I may have had more success if I had come up with a faster way to jack cartridges into my gun than reloading from a pocket. (I see one of those elastic forend mounted cartridge holders in my future.)

    Things I would have done differently at the match:
    - written down the distance, target size and type, and my hit/miss/round count ratio for each stage (I assumed that practiscore would show that, but either it doesn't or I am incapable of finding it)
    - used my sling for more support on some of the baricades.
    - afterwards, tried to take pictures of targets through my scope to practice ranging later at home.
    - kept a written record of what gear I borrowed and how I liked it. Eventually I will need a couple shooting bags, and I liked some better than others.
    -made a point of getting glass on target at EACH AND EVERY stage before shooting, so that I knew 100% what target I was supposed to shoot, and how to easily find it in my scope.
    - asked questions about resources for information on dryfire and building a more stable shooting position. I saw a couple guys using tripods, and other guys using bags in creative ways, and asking more technique/gear questions may have payed dividends later on down the road.

    If you made it this far, I hope you enjoyed it, or got whatever information you were hoping to scavenge from this. If you want to shoot a match, but are worried about not having the right gear, don't worry about it. Reach out to the local PRS or long range community and I'm confident they will help you get squared away.



    Stay Frosty,
    Chris "kayak-man" Johnson
     
  2. Laphroaig

    Laphroaig Member

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    That's a great report. It goes to show you don't need $4000 worth of gear to get started in PRS and have fun. It sounds like you certainly didn't "waste your time."

    It will only get better. What ammo did you use in your -06?
     
  3. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    Happy Valley, UT
    Thanks very much. Can you elaborate on this please?
     
  4. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Glad your first experience went well! Don't worry, experience is worth a lot more than knowledge when it comes to eliminating little mistakes during a match, so the mess ups which are common to newbies will find their way out of your system in time (and revisit later to make you feel really silly). At my first match, I remember spending a lot of prep time the week before (course of fire is released ahead of time), planning on one stage to hold under at 370yrds and dial for 500. Unfortunately, in the heat of it, I forgot to hold under on 3 different shots (of 10) and sent misses over the targets into the dirt. Easy shots on big targets - I just made that simple mistake of forgetting to hold under 1.4mil... I also COMPLETELY forgot to apply proper barricade technique, and dropped 3 points before I remembered to mash my rifle into the corner and shoot free recoil (which works for me because that's what I'm more used to - doesn't work for everyone). I also remember being terrified of the wide arrangement for one of the skills stage, but then ended up with the fastest time in my squad.

    I print off the CoF's and the respective DOPE for each shot on paper for my wrist coach, leaving enough room for hand written corrections and wind calls, which I add as I'm loading mags for that stage. I have different rigs to mount data cards on my rifle, but I'm used to the wrist coach.

    All a guy needs is ammo, a good 100yrd zero, a rifle, and the balls to show up. Every match I've been to has accommodated newbies to get them on a chrony before the match starts, and squad them with a good squad mom who can give them pointers and help them calculate their trajectory. I always take a spotting scope, LRF, kestrel, spare mags, and spare bags, but by and large, I really only use an Armageddon Gear Game Changer - maybe a Wiebad Fortune Cookie on top of wider barricades like rail road ties or rooftops - plus a homemade pump pillow.

    I've competed in a lot of different types of matches, cowboy action, service rifle, bench rest, bullseye, silhouette, 3 gun... Most of the time, the experienced guys are awesome. Some of the time, they're stoic jackasses. I've yet to meet a stoic jackass in Precision Rifle competition.
     
  5. Jenrick

    Jenrick Member

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    That's cause we keep them all quarantined over in High Power shooting, where they continue to change the rule book so they can shoot a "service rifle" that's lost all pretense of being anything close our current service rifle. That however is a story for a different time.

    OP: Good write up, you've sparked an interest here to go check it out.

    -Jenrick
     
    ontarget and kayak-man like this.
  6. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    @Jenrick - you said it, brother, I wasn’t gonna call them out. I love the matches, usually hate the way I’m treated at them.
     
  7. kayak-man

    kayak-man Member

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    $4k is definitely not needed! Excluding ammo, here's my gear list broken down by price:
    - rifle $400 approx (I think it was closer to 300, but I bought it at least 8 years ago, so who remembers)
    - scope was $300, used
    - bipod was around $40 at sportsmans
    -sling was about $80
    I carried all my stuff in one of my many backpacks, this one was about $60 at REI
    - ear pro was about 60, I think (Howard Leigh Impact Sport)

    So, even if you're not really a shooter, you can get out onto the range for less than $1k (not including ammo)

    I was using handloads. Mixed brass (new and once fired hornady, and some once or more fired Winchester and Springfield) with a 168 grain Nosler BTHP Custom Competition seated too close to the lands, over 45 grains of IMR 4895. All brass was full length resized.
     
  8. kayak-man

    kayak-man Member

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    In regards to my failures at recoil management:

    There was a stage that required engaging targets from a barricade that was made up of three plywood boxes, each about 12"x12" the one on the left was about 3 feet high, the one on the right was about 4 or 5 feet high, and the one in the middle was about 1 and a half feet tall.

    I watched a lot of other shooters go through it, and everyone used their bipod, which is what I did. My bipod had rubber feet, which were unable to get much traction, so I couldn't load the bipod at all. In retrospect, I probably should have either hooked the base of the bipod on the forward edge of the barricade, and used the sling to pull the rifle into my shoulder, or borrowed a bag and used that for front support, or some combomination of the two.

    Hell, I'm not sure if it would have been allowed, but using the loop in my sling and planting your elbow on the prop as if shooting from a sling supported kneeling position would probably have been much better than using my bipod. I'll have to go to a range and practice that.
     
  9. kayak-man

    kayak-man Member

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    Good to know. I really liked the Game Changer, and will probably be the first bag I buy. It will probably go with me if I do a high buck hunt this year, as seeing it work on the barricades makes me think it could come in handy in the mountains. My dad is pretty handy with the thread injector, and he's already said he'd love to try fabric welding something like a pump pillow.
     
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