If you do any serious research on precision rifle competitions you will inevitably run across the Snipers Hide Cup. This is a precision rifle match run by the owner of the Snipers Hide website, Frank Galli. Snipers Hide is synonymous with tactical long range marksmanship. The website hosts a wealth of information pertaining to equipment, and specifically, training in the art of long range tactical shooting. The site offers articles on the main page, a bulletin board forum service, and online training put together by some of the best rifle instructors in the game.
Each year, Snipers Hide organizes, promotes, and hosts the Sniper’s Hide Cup. It is regarded as the match to attend for tactical marksman. In 2012 Frank Galli of Sniper’s Hide teamed up with Zak Smith of Competition Dynamics to put on the 2012 Snipers Hide Cup. The competition was held on a private ranch in Douglas, Wyoming which exceeds 7,000 acres. The price for a slot in the match was set at $300.00. I had wanted to get into these competitions for some time and having one within driving distance of the Denver area made it a no brainer. I signed up within minutes of the registration opening and found myself on the waiting list. It shows how popular the match is. 100 slots were full in no time. As it turns out several people dropped out before the match started and many on the waiting list were granted slots and allowed to attend, myself included.
There was a mandatory meeting on Wednesday for all shooters with the match scheduled for Thursday through Saturday. Wednesday was also the ‘sponsor demo day’ where vendors were allowed to demo their products. There was also space and targets set up for verifying your zero and dope cards prior to the match. There was a representative from Barrett Firearms present allowing people to try out their MRAD .338 Lapua caliber rifle. That was a fun gun to shoot. It was equipped with a Thunderbeast Arms suppressor that reduced recoil and muzzle blast below the level of a standard .308 Winchester caliber rifle. Quite impressive. Some other vendors were present but at least for the time I was there, it was a little sparse as far as vendor demos. Not that big a deal really, most were there for the competition. There are other venues to try out new toys.
The shooters meeting went as scheduled with the basics of the competition and rules laid out for everyone. The match was designed as a field style match. For those uninitiated in the style, it is typically comprised of competitors and their gear, and the wilderness with targets placed at varying distances. There are no range flags, there are no marked distances. In fact, this match was all unknown distance shooting. Meaning you had to range the targets and determine all the adjustments yourself. It gets better. The targets were all unpainted steel which doesn’t exactly jump out at you from natural terrain. Many targets were easy to pick out, and some were positioned in more occluded spots and a lot harder to find. This was not your typical steel painted white set of targets. The shooters were also under time constraints. They were given five minutes in the staging area to locate and range their targets before moving to the first firing position. You then had five minutes to engage ten targets, either ten individual, or the same five targets from two different firing positions.
The different firing positions were an interesting twist. You could range targets from the staging area, but, at times, that was quite well removed from the firing positions. The positions themselves, on stages with more than one, were often separated by anywhere from 5-30 or so yards. Just enough to introduce a little uncertainty in your firing solution. The target might be 800 yards from the staging area, but how far is it from the first, or second firing position? It forced shooters to adapt and roll with the punches a bit. There was at least one stage where you couldn’t see the targets at all from the staging area. Five minutes sounds like a lot of time, but when you add movement in, varying weather conditions downrange, reloading the rifle, and the like to the mix, it gets very challenging very quickly.
The location was nothing short of astounding. The private ranch has some of the most breathtaking terrain I’ve come across. It was truly awe inspiring and being able to hike around it and engage targets with a precision rifle was just a kick in the pants. Make no mistake, this was a challenging match. Even with good dope on your rifle and a good handle on the range and adjustments, making first round hits on MOA size or smaller targets at ranges out past 1000 yards was not a walk in the park. One stage all five targets, to be engaged from two different positions, were no closer than about 990 yards, give or take a few. It was a match that was structured to really press a shooter’s grip on the fundamentals of shooting. If you weren’t able to drive your rifle and maintain good follow through you weren’t able to spot your own hit or miss, which meant you were spit balling on your subsequent shot. Shooters were only allowed to engage any given target twice. If the first shot was a hit, you scored a point, if you missed you were able to engage it a second time for half credit. If you missed on the second shot, that’s it, move on to the next target. So you can see how the ability to make corrections and get a hit on the second shot was a critical skill.
There were some really hot shot shooters at the competition, making first round hits at extreme distances. However, there were plenty of guys that were brand new to long range shooting and competitions of this caliber, and the bulk probably fell into the middle of the pack. This brings me to another point, the camaraderie between shooters of all ability levels was great. I really expected some people to be pretty standoffish with regard to ranges on targets and helping other shooters find the unpainted targets out in the natural terrain. I figured some guys would be ‘all business’ and playing to win so they wouldn’t offer help to others. I could not have been more mistaken. Everybody was helping everybody else out. Whether it was with locating targets or handing off ranges to shooters who maybe didn’t have the $2000.00 for a Vectronix Terrapin. Guys were super helpful all around so nobody found themselves unable to locate a target, or range it, or get their adjustments in time. Truly it came down to the shooting and not who had the biggest piggy bank for all the best gear. Just how it should be.
There was a supply tent set up with water and grilled food for guys to filter through to refill their water packs or grab a bite to eat. Everybody started out early, 0700hrs, and had the morning time block to shoot all three stages at a given zone. Then there was a break for lunch and you would shoot the next three stages at a new zone in the afternoon. Saturday was the only exception where everybody just shot in the morning. After the break everybody showed up at the tent for the awards and prize table.
This part of the competition deserves its own mention. You really have to hand it to Mr. Galli and Mr. Smith. They organized an awesome competition. Everybody had a blast. The support they lined up from vendors for the prize table was just amazing. There was easily six figures worth of products on the prize tables. The top prize was a brand new Barrett 98B worth upwards of $9,000 by itself. There were custom rifles from GAP on the table. Gunsmithing services. Upper receivers. Targets. Certificates for products and services. Scopes. Data books. If you can think of something, it was on the table. Vendors like Vortex and Surefire sent in so much stuff they were giving one away to everybody before the winners and prizes were even announced. This was my first big rifle match and out of 90ish people I placed in the mid fifties, 56th if I remember correctly, and I walked away with a cert for 50% off a Thunderbeast Suppressor. Given the level of competition that showed up and the feeding problems I had through the match, I felt great about the result. I also learned a lot about my own shooting and the competition pointed out a few weaknesses in my setup and some of my gear, most of all my magazines, which I corrected immediately after getting home from the competition.
I really can’t hype this event enough. It was a load of fun and I recommend it to anybody regardless of skill level. It can be a little intimidating showing up at a match of this size but it really is a great community with a great group of guys. Everybody stepped up to help each other out and I really believe everybody had a good time and didn’t feel like they didn’t get their money’s worth, and then some, out of the event. As I write this article I’ve already registered for the same competition in 2013 and am preparing to attend again this year. I plan to have more photos for the gallery this time around and better coverage of the actual event. Hopefully with some video of guys running through some of the different stages for the YouTube channel.
Honestly, the $300 dollar entry fee is a bargain. Even if all you walked away from the prize table with was some free schwag, the location, organization, and overall professionalism exhibited by everybody involved with this match make it well worth the price. You can’t put a price on experience and professionally run shooting competitions like this will really teach you a lot and elevate your game!
You can check out more photos on our 2012 Sniper’s Hide Cup Gallery Page!