Saturday, March 30, 2013

First National Defense Match Part 3

Pass the Ammo.
“I think I just shot up all my good stuff.”  A shooter lamented to his buddy.

Every shooter had a plan and few plans lasted the match.  The most common was different ammunition for different stages.  More than one shooter discovered he was shooting the wrong ammo at the wrong distance.  I chose to go with 55 grain FMJ for the entire match.  My groups opened up beyond 200 yards as my fired rounds started to tour bus the neighborhood.  Several of the military shot the green tipped 62 gr SS109 bullet.  It was a better choice.  The best approach seemed to be shooting the same heavy bullet for all the stages.


Trey Truggle, Match Director and course designer, wanted a match to mentally challenge the shooters and reenergize rifle shooting.  Americans are known as rifle shooters, but our growing cities make it almost impossible to find convenient long range rifle ranges.  Rifle sales are up, but attendance in organized matches is declining.  

The NRA has never been shy about promoting shooting.  Trey’s match is a gateway activity for making rifle owners into a rifle shooters and plinkers into competitors.  The course was meant for beginners who could compete and not be overwhelmed.  There’s no scoring of the targets other than hit or miss.  A reliable ‘gun show’ rifle will get you started.  The match opens doors to new shooters.

This was also a departure for the NRA.  Accuracy is not the supreme ruler of this domain.  The ruler is combat accuracy.  Hitting your target often and quickly was perfection. 

Prize Table  with Trey center  and  Mike Kreil from the NRA on right. 
Does this signal a change for the NRA shooting sports?  No.  “The NRA will remain America’s precision marksman organization,” said Mike Krei, Director of NRA Competitive Shooting.  “But the NRA wants to establish more shooting matches that will bring new people to the shooting sports.”

Where did this match come from?  One shooter told me it was a ‘time relaxed’ qualification for elite military units.  I wondered if it was from Trey’s experience as a Navy SEAL.  Wrong on both accounts!

Trey Tuggle developed it to shoot with his children using a .22cal rifle.  That’s also part of the match’s charm.  You don’t need R2D2 computers at the local level.  The match has a short course ending at 100 yards with reduced targets.  Sure, you have to score and patch after every relay, but scoring is a yes or no and a patched hole.  The equipment is minimal: a ply wood barricade and a timer.  Each string ends with an open bolt for safety.

In the end, two questions remain.  Did you have fun and will you shoot it again?  One shooter had the perfect answer to both.

“I could shoot this until I die.” 

Last words
Who were the high shooters in each classification?
                Iain Harrison (remember him from Top gun?) was top shooter in the open class;
                Edward Altmeyer took the top position in the limited class;
                Colton Cerino, a junior, claimed the top slot in the optics class.

My reflections, a year later

It was an amazing week-end.  But even as I pulled my last shot off target, I knew the match was doomed at Camp Perry.


You needed R2D2 and an IT department to run the match at Perry.  Scoring targets manually and replacing them would have been a logistical nightmare.  Cross-firing and the resulting reshoots sapped everyone’s stamina.  They resorted to painting the target frames different colors, but the targets needed to be farther apart.  Not too many ranges have 500 plus yards to shoot.  The barricades, sand bags, chairs and R2D2s needed to be moved to the next firing station after every stage. There was already a lot of labor involved, now do that carrying our rifle on a hot August day.  Even as we were moving the equipment, Tray was talking about how you could shoot it on a 200 yards course with reduced targets and range officers watching the gun muzzle to guess which colors were shot in what order on the NDM-5-120.  

I knew I was hearing the death knell.   The rules needed to be better defined.  We got bogged down in a discussion of “What’s kneeling defined as?”  or “How much of me has to be behind cover.”  

It was a great and humbling experience.  I never shot that far in my life.  I made changes based on that match, partially in the hope of seeing it again.  I changed my dot to a scope, put a better trigger in the rifle and started to load 68 gr HPBT rounds.  I hope I’m wrong and it comes around again.

It was well worth my time!


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