We had so much fun at the 2012 Snipers Hide Cup that we had to give it another go this year. The competition and its organizers did not disappoint! The 2013 Snipers Hide Cup raised the bar over last year in a number of ways. The same staff that was responsible for last year’s competition returned this year. The 2013 Snipers Hide Cup was run by Competition Dynamics. Zak Smith returned with Ray Sanchez as the Match Director and Assistant Match Director. They did an outstanding job. The list of competitors grew from approximately 90 competitors last year to over 120 this year and the timing and progression of competitors through the stages was the same. Frank Galli, owner of Snipers Hide LLC, again ran the match promotion. Helping out in a big way were Jeff and Ann from Competition Dynamics that assisted with logistics and match promotion by the numerous sponsors. When it was all put together what we wound up with was one of the largest, most challenging, most efficient, and most fun tactical rifle matches in the world!
As we mentioned, the organization of this match was outstanding. There was a plan in place and it was adhered to strictly. The competition was broken up into five ‘complexes’ which each contained three ‘stages’ of the competition. Thursday and Friday shooters reported to one assigned complex in the morning and shot three stages. The same process was repeated in the afternoon. I would say, having been through this two years in a row, that most shooters were done with all three stages of a complex in roughly 2.5-3hrs. That’s pretty amazing given the logistics of squadding over 120+ competitors and cycling a group of more than 25 through three stages in a matter of a few hours. Saturday the shooters reported to their last complex in the morning and reconvened at the prize table in the afternoon for awards.
Each complex was set in a different part of the 7000+ acre private ranch just outside Douglas, Wyoming. What I really like about this setup is that each stage has its own personality and challenges. You can’t be a one trick pony at the Snipers Hide Cup. You might be a dynamite shot from the prone position but several stages were set in such a way that you couldn’t see the targets from a prone shooting position. Each complex featured different terrain features and were facing different directions. This presented different wind conditions and environmental factors for each stage. You might be shooting with no value into the wind one one stage and across the terrain with a full value wind on the next.
Each stage had its own Range Officer assigned to it. Their job was to make sure the competitor adhered to the rules of the stage and to score hits on targets on their stage. Each stage had ten rifle targets to be engaged from one shooting position, or five rifle targets to be engaged from two separate shooting positions. A first round hit granted the shooter a full point and a second round hit earned the shooter a half point score for each target. If you didn’t hit the target by the second round, you had to move on to the next target. Several stages had targets that were to be engaged on the first round only, which presented a challenging twist to that particular stage. My only suggestion for such stages would be to consider an increased point value for targets only engaged with a single round.
Each shooting position had a stake in the ground with tape wrapped around it. You had to be able to touch the stake with your hand from where you set up your rifle, or in some cases, stand on it if shooting over an obstacle. There were also two pins with tape delineating your right and left limits for the stage. All targets for the given stage would appear within the arc of the limit stakes. This ensured that you would not engage targets from another stage from your shooting position. Rarely was this even an issue with such an expansive piece of land at the disposal of the match staff.
The Amenities of the 2013 Snipers Hide Cup are truly second to none. I don’t know where else you can have access to shoot on such amazing landscape with such outstanding terrain features unless you are independently wealthy or you are a Military Service member in hostile territory. It really is amazing landscape and I’m not quite sure how else to describe it. Aside from the landscape you get to shoot up for several days there are a host of other amenities offered. A whole crew from Mac’s Gunworks and Supply were on hand Thursday through Saturday grilling burgers and dogs for all the competitors. Free grilled food for lunch every day in the middle of a huge shooting competition is pretty awesome. Plenty of water and chips to augment the grilled staples really helped guys recharge their batteries between stages. The staff from Mac’s Gunworks were also immeasurably pleasant to chat with during down time. You can visit their website at http://www.macsgunworks.com.
Additionally, there was space available for on site camping if you so desired, you need only contact match staff ahead of time to get it set up. There were portable toilet facilities scattered about so if nature called it wasn’t a long walk to take care of it. The headquarters tent gave guys plenty of shade and a chance to re-hydrate with some bottled water. We can’t finish talking amenities until we talk a bit about the demo day. While not directly related to the competition it was a huge amount of fun in and of itself.
The demo day took place on Wednesday during the day before the mandatory shooters meeting. This was a huge improvement over last year. The demo day was nothing short of impressive. Several vendors were on hand to demo all sorts of goodies. Ashbury Precision Ordnance brought several rifles, chassis systems, PDAs and rangefinders for guys to fondle and try out. McMillan had a representative on site with their new Alias Star Rifle complete with suppressor for people to try out. The good folks from Mile High Shooting Accessories had guys on hand with some Accuracy International goodies to check out.
One of the fun features of the demo day is steel targets scattered about the landscape for guys to shoot at with the demo rifles or whatever they brought themselves. I hope this never changes. There was talk of only being able to engage the targets with demo rifles and not rifles that competitors brought with them. One of the great things about shooting and shooters is that it is a social event. Guys like to chat, try each others gear, and show off / show up one another. Its a good time and it offers people coming into the sport a chance to shoot farther than they may have ever done before ahead of the competition. Competition-Dynamics and Snipers Hide LLC offer a train-up ahead of the competition. I attended last year and I think if this is your first match, or if you haven’t had much in the way of formal precision rifle instruction, that you should absolutely attend. It is well worth it. However, not everyone needs, or can afford to take advantage of such an offer. Some guys don’t have access to enough open space to shoot to some of the distances found in this competition. Targets were placed in excess of 1200 yards this year. Giving guys an opportunity to gather a bit of dope the day before the competition, especially if they only have access to say a 600yd range, is really a nice touch and one I think worthy of preserving.
Regarding professionalism at the 2013 Snipers Hide Cup I can’t think of anything negative to say at all. The match staff was, and always has been, extremely professional. Last year there were a few DQs due to negligent discharges. While that sucks for the guy being DQ’d after investing money, it is the appropriate response. It is also the most professional. As much fun as these matches are, they are also inherently dangerous. 120+ adults running, sliding, and shooting there way around the Wyoming countryside has the potential to be a dangerous affair. I believe there was only one DQ this year and it was stage specific, so I don’t believe it was a safety violation that caused it. All the shooters were very conscious of muzzle direction and firearms safety.
The interaction between shooters was exceedingly professional. One thing about large matches is they can intimidate lesser skilled or experienced shooters. Do not hesitate to take part in the Snipers Hide Cup. Shooters were very helpful with each other all around. If a new shooter was having issues finding targets hidden in the terrain somebody helped point them out. If someone’s range finder wasn’t up to the task, another shooter would offer up the range they had acquired with theirs. If shooters had questions or asked for tips or advice, it was given freely and with kindness. This is truly a competition for anybody that has the desire and means to participate. Don’t feel like you have to purchase a whole host of expensive gear. There were many a shooter making their way around the stages with their trusty hunting rifle and binoculars. Even if tactical rifle competitions aren’t necessarily an obsession you hold, the practical experience you gain from such a competition is immeasurable. It will improve your shooting by giving you valuable experience and it will help you identify weaknesses with your gear or your shooting setup. If you have questions about how to switch it up, ask, somebody will give you an informed answer.
While the entry fee for the 2013 Snipers Hide Cup is pretty standard and in line with similar competitions I have rated it a five for this part of the review for a reason. The match staff did such an amazing job promoting and acquiring sponsors for the match that the prize table had in excess of $150,000 dollars of gear on it. Every competitor got a stack of free schwag in the form of stickers, t-shirts, hats, and bags. They went even farther when every competitor received a stack from the prize table valued at several hundred dollars. Frankly, I didn’t place well this year, and I still walked away with around $500 in prizes. You get your money’s worth at the Snipers Hide Cup, and then some. It is important to mention while on this subject, that if you do attend, and you then reap the rewards of attendance, that you help the match staff continue to offer such an awesome event. When Frank Galli posts the ‘Thank You” thread on the Snipers Hide Forum, write down the email addresses, and send a thank you to each of the match sponsors. The match staff has the job of putting the match together. The competitors have the job of making sure the sponsors know we appreciate their participation. If we don’t show our appreciation, the sponsors won’t see a return on their investment. So if you do attend, or you have attended, drop those guys a ‘Thank You’ email.
We have included all the photos in the slideshow below, obviously all of them don’t have a story some just are cool shots of the landscape. Have a look and see what we had the privilege of running around and shooting up all week! We managed to get some decent video, but not nearly as much as we wanted. We had issues with one of the cameras that was going to be doing most of the work so we don’t have a whole stage breakdown in video form like we wanted. We do have a POV video of one of the stages and another which really highlights the windy conditions everyone was shooting in that week.
You can check out more photos on our 2013 Sniper’s Hide Cup Photo Gallery!