This event is a medium range field shooting event. This is a great event for hunters and medium range target shooters alike. Competitors can enter in one of two classes – open or hunter.
Team Optimistic Shooter
In the end, we had a crew of four.
I contacted Simon fairly early on to confirm a spot, I had been to the Tarata shoot twice previously – and knew it was always going to be a good event. I had shot the day in the rain and the cold, and last year, it was heat and sunburns.
Matt was keen to shoot his first centrefire competition, Geoff from The Gunrack also got in on it, and, we managed also managed to line up a shoot for visiting Australian Bronte.
Four shooters with new gear heading down to a competition? Yup. Sounds like a group of optimistic shooters.
We headed down on Friday, were put up by our gracious host (Graeme from Taranaki Long Range Shooters) – and after some very unsuccessful work on a rifle that just doesn’t want to hold zero (more on that later – but I should have just grabbed the CTR), we realised to was way past our bedtime, hit the sack, and were up, ready to go in the morning.
Actually, I realised it was past midnight, woke up with a cracker of a headache, still couldn’t get Bronte’s rifle sorted in the morning. But, I digress.
Down to the meeting point, safety brief (kudos to Simon for pulling up the guys resting barrels on their toes) done and we were off shooting.
Let’s change everything before we go!
I had many interesting conversations, during the competition and at the after match event.
One recurring one centred around the (somewhat true) observation that a lot of competitors (particularly us from Auckland) tend to make a lot of changes to their equipment before heading out to competitions.
By comparison, several competitors have been shooting the same rifle for over a decade – and do very well at it.
The issue/challenge/reality is – for many of us up in the 09, we simply don’t get to shoot enough. So, given the opportunity for a well set up and well-run competition1 we tend to jump at the opportunity to try out and test equipment.
All going well, we will soon have somewhere to regularly hold our own competitions and courses and get more of an active shooting community going up here as well.
As expected, the shoot went well, Simon has been doing these events for a while, and, despite him having to work it all around his day job, managed to put together a course of fire only days before the event.
There was a mix of familiar stages and some new, and, instead of going too in-depth into it (if you really want to see what it’s all about, come and shoot one!), I thought I would just put down some notes on a few of them…
The Divisions – Hunter and Open
Simon likes his practical shooting – specifically, he likes it to still relate in some way to hunting. As such, the competition has a dedicated Hunter Class, and an Open Class. The Hunter class had a round count of 40 – most of
the hunter class stages only involved a single target and target distances varied from as close as 10m out to
about 350m. Open Division had 65 ‘required’ shots and targets out to 600 meters.
I ended up shooting close to 80 rounds – as some stages had unlimited round count – and there is nothing like missing a target to tempt you into volleys of fire.
By my quick count, there were 20 shooting hunter and 16 shooting open.
All of our squad, Golf, were shooting open.
Basically, the design of this barricade is awesome. It provides a large number of options in regards to how you shoot off it, and, it’s just the right size to be a bit of a pain to fit into. It’s construction and breakdown also seems to be fairly simple, but robust, and, well, it was fun to shoot.
Competitor may not use one of the front levels of the A Frame for more than one target. Competitor may not use the sides of the A Frame for support. No prone, no bipods, no tripods.
For the Open division, ironically, we almost interpreted the stage brief as harder than it needed to be – Simon likes to make people work for their points, so we all but assumed that you would have to shoot and move, shoot and move – but – some quick calculations also revealed that there wouldn’t be enough spots to shot from, so instead, it was a case of achieving all hits on target, then moving and reengaging.
For me, the first target was shot much like the photo below – the front of the rifle resting (with a small bag2) on the frame, and the rear cross providing somewhere to rest both the body and the rear arms – it resulted in a very solid position.
The second target, I moved into the barricade and rested the rifle on the next bar down. By resting my firing arm on my rear knee (the opposite of what you would do unsupported kneeling) and then pushing back against the rear cross strut – I was able to again get a very solid position.
This was my best stage, and, ironically, the one I most felt I got my grove on – sadly, it was also the last stage, so it seems it only took the entire competition to properly warm up!
Simon, can be a cruel, cruel man.
Basically, drag everything under the net, get set up, shoot.
Everything got caught.
I thought I would straddle the rifle and basically do a high bear crawl under the net, pulling the rifle along under me. The idea being that I wanted to keep all the sticky out parts away from the net. In theory.
In reality, I got my hat caught, then my boots, and while freeing those, hooked up the rifle, and basically struggled to get into a firing position. Got the shots off, moved to the last target, and realised that I didn’t have enough bipod height to get onto the last target. Struggling with the net more, I ran out of time. Poor execution.
Frustrating for sure, but also very entertaining!
Unlimited round count for 1 hit from each of the 8 marked positions with the tyres. A position on the tyres cannot be used twice once a hit is achieved on any target with it.
It did rain on the day, for about 45 minutes we had fairly heavy and consistent rain down on us, and this was one of the stages we were shooting at the time. Amazing how much a little bit of rain can fluster you.
This was a toss up if the bipod was a help or a hindrance. However, I do like stages where you do have to shoot and move, shoot and move. It forces you to think quick, try and make the best of hasty positions and then still remember to not rush the final part of the shot execution and still follow through. Certainly, more than once, I found myself breaking a shot before I should have, and, slapping that trigger when I shouldn’t have. Ah well – still learning, like us all.
This was a stage where I didn’t worry about any kind of bag. These have become more and more predominant over the last couple of years (possibly due in part to me bringing them in and making them available) – but on this stage, where the tyres were already fairly ‘soft’ anyhow – there didn’t seem to be much point – in fact, even the bipod got a bit in the way, as I started with it deployed for two of the shooting positions, but then didn’t need it for the rest.
I am trying to remember, but something happened on this stage, either I totally lost the target, or literally got the bipod stuck at one point, but I do know I ran out of time having only got a couple of shots off. One of those things.
Bags, bags and more bags.
There were a lot of bags to be seen at the shoot. Obviously, a lot I had brought in and sold as well.
Several of the guys were running the Game-Changers strapped to their firearms, and, talking to the lads, they had also been using them a lot for hunting Thar and Chamois in the mountains.
I, personally, don’t use the straps much on mine – simply because I have had them slip and slide on me once too often. A couple of competitors came across the same issue – especially in the wet, however, the secret was basically strapping them on tight around the rifle and scope. Yes, some people might be appalled at the idea of strapping something around the stock and scope – but – the theory would also be, that we are paying good money for the scopes, rings and stocks we are using – they should be able to deal with a little compression around them – especially considering the distances we were using them at.
I had opted for the lighter weight options I have, but it was cool to see such a variety of gear out there.
A Common Issue – the little things.
It is interesting how time can cause little things to become an issue.
On one stage, I chambered a round, settled in, pressed the trigger, only to have a click.
Maybe, a little too quickly, I pulled back the bolt and dropped a loaded round straight into my lap. After a brief moment of concern regarding a potential hangfire, I flicked it away, loaded another and continued on.
Looking at the round after the stage, there was such a minimal primer strike that it can’t have been that, and, a couple of stages later, Geoff came across the same issue, with Matt doing it on the last stage. The issue? Not fully closing the bolt. And I mean by the smallest of margins.
I think a combination of the wet, causing just that tiny bit extra of friction/seating effort, and, well, a timer behind you, meant we had all slammed a round in, but not fully swung the bolt knob down. When we pulled the trigger, it dropped the last of the way, but the energy had already been robbed out of the primer strike and we all ended up with a primer that just had the most minute of marks on it. I suppose the good part being that we all know now our guns won’t shoot from a slightly wonky half-cock position?
It was also interesting, talking to multiple shooters, just how many were starting to see the odd pressure spike or heavy bolt knob lift on their guns – I think it’s a combination of tight brass, hot loads and a little water that caused it. I don’t think anyone had a major issue, but I do know of one rifle that required a decent bang on the bolt to get it back open.
For most of us, it was ‘admin’ – like loading, reloading, sorting bipods that caused the hiccups. All things you don’t normally have to practice under time. Makes something like the LR Proficiency Test even more relevant.
Filming, shooting, the failure of multi-tasking
While I had a Nikon P1000 with me to try out, as soon as it started pouring down, I relegated it to one of the staff trucks and it stayed in there.
As it turned out, we had one of the ‘slowest’ squads – that is – four Open Class shooters – meaning we all had higher round counts, and some of the other squads actually only had three shooters in them. It meant I had to be aware of keeping moving and shooting – so that we weren’t an hour later than everyone else back to the shed. As it turns out, we were the last lot back in, but not by a huge margin.
But, what it did mean, is that I also realised that I wasn’t going to have time to both shoot, and well, shoot.
Instead, likely next time, I will be there with a couple of cameras and focusing on capturing the competition, instead of shooting it. Which again, if you realised this is how I got into the precision shooting side of things – will be fine.
Congratulations to Jason and Greg who came first in Hunter and Open respectively. Both in squad Juliet, who, also had Jono who placed 2nd in Open. A good squad that worked well together, spotting and helping each other out a lot.
So, how did I go?
Well, technically, I didn’t. Because I opted to lend my TAC A1 to Bronte to shoot, one of our scores wasn’t going to count. Being that he was visiting, and I had seen him shoot before (and knew he was likely a better shot) – I figured he would be the better score to count. Though in the end it was included and I came 7th, so I came upper-middle, which for me is fine. I am not practising and shooting enough, nor at the end of the day competitive enough to come much higher. That’s fine, I wasn’t there to win, I was there to enjoy a day shooting, have some good yarns and some fun.
Thanks to Simon for all the photos, to him and his crew for another well run, thoroughly enjoyable event. It just makes us want to get our own going more regularly up here!
Make sure you follow the guys on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GPREventsNZ/ – and, keep an eye out on here for announcements of their next shoots!