Thursday, March 21, 2013

First National Defense Match Part 2

It’s Tombstone Time!
At 60 yards we saw the last of the NDM-’s and settled into NRA’s tan D-1 tombstone.  Most of us were glad.
Lefty checks out the tombstone targets.

 “I’m glad to see that go,” one shooter told me.  “I’m a combat soldier and shooting colors doesn’t work for me.  I’m trained to shoot any target I can see, as I see them.”  He wasn’t the only one.  Many of the civilians didn’t like their performance either. 

“No, I didn’t care for it,” another shooter told me. “ but I’ll make up for it at the 200 yard range.  See, I’m a high power shooter and that’s what I’m used to.”  The junior shooter was quite serious.  I was expecting him to have enjoyed the up close shooting but I stood corrected.  I was moving with some fast company!

The longer ranges brought out the traditional rifle stances: standing without support, kneeling and prone.  Trey added right and left side barricade, using a chair and weak-hand shooting.  I have to admit, shooting a right-handed rifle on my left side took some serious mental gymnastics.

Corey Schwanz lines up his shot using the barricade for support.

Longer times came with the increased range and late shots carried stiffer penalties.  It paid to take an extra second to make sure you were on your target.  The incidents of shooting the wrong target increased with distance.  
Ian Harrison shows off his seated chair form.

 You lost your rounds and the cross-fired person had to reshoot.  I slowed down and took that extra second to confirm my target.  It’s one thing to shoot a single target at 200 yards; it’s very different to shoot a specific target surrounded by identical targets. 

Ken Pfaun works out his course of fire.  When he is ready he'll set R2D2 off and start his match.

Match Ends.
The match ends at 500 yards.  Trey, as Match Director, estimated we’d finish by 5:00 Saturday afternoon.  This left Sunday to shoot a second match, making the matches perfect bookends for the weekend.  Unfortunately he didn’t take into account equipment failures.  Oh, not the Sius Ascor equipment.  That worked like a charm.  It was the shooters.  We had a number of reshoots due to cross-fires and it simply took 48 shooters longer than expected.  At 5:00 we still had several relays left.   

The day’s heat and unyielding sun had taken their toll and it was decided to finish the match the next day.  In retrospect it was the right move.  We were so whooped that none of us realized we had only 30 rounds to finish the match.

The next day saw delays caused by boats in the impact zone (Lake Erie is part of Camp Perry’s impact zone!), rain followed by water spouts, but the match killer was lightning.  We beat a hasty retreat to the safety of the base’s buildings.

Sunday Rainstorm over Lake Erie  Can we finish before it gets here?

The match continues ans so does the incoming storm

Bowing to the inevitable, Trey called the match.  We still had 10 rounds to go



What did you need to compete?  The bare necessaries were eye and ear protection, a reliable rifle, several magazines and ammunition.  After that you were free to improvise.  I suggest plenty of water, electrolyte replacement, sunscreen and a hat.
Each rifle was sorted into one of three classes:
 Tactical Limited - At least 4.5 pound trigger, a barrel 20 inches or less, and field grade manual sights must be present.  You could have one non-magnifying optical site like a dot or 1X fixed telescope with cross hairs.  There were 21 limited shooters.

Super Gun, Scope, suppressor, thermal shield, bipod, and sand bag, free floating barrel

Tactical Optical - Your trigger still had to be 4.5 pounds or heavier, but you could use magnifying optics and your barrel still had to be 20 inches or less.  This class fielded 12 participants.

Open Class - Any weight trigger, any length barrel and as many scopes and dots as you could carry.  Bipods, sandbags and suppressors were allowed.  The key to remember is that all your accessories had to remain on the rifle for the entire match.  Fifteen shooters populated this class including Iain Harrison, History Channel’s first Top Shot winner.
Super gun in action.  He did shoot better than me.

Tommy Thacker shoots from his chair position with his FNH.

The majority of rifles were AR platforms, but FNH SCARs and Ruger’s Tactical Mini-14 were well represented.  Despite optics, bipods and dots the one common feature was reliability. There were a few jams; most required removing the magazine and working the action to get the gun back into operation. 

Deb Cheek shooting her scoped, dot, free float, muzzle break, bipoded rifle.

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