A little over a week ago I went down to the JP Blue Steel Ranch in Logan, New Mexico, to shoot the Butch’s NMLRS Match! The drive down wasn’t bad at all from Colorado. We got into town, had our rifles inspected for safety, and checked zeroes. That evening we had the obligatory safety briefing and the following morning it was game on. I’ll tell you what, this was a tough match! It was set up similar to the Steel Safari in that all the stages were blind! You had just three minutes the first day, and four on the second, to finish the stage. You had to find the targets, build a position, switch positions, and engage the targets all on the clock! It was rough, but fun!
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I signed up for the Butch’s NMLRS match but what I got I had not expected. The Steel Safari format proved to be tough. One of the guys I drove down with for the match was shooting his first match. What a rough format to cut your teeth on! I’ve never shot the Steel Safari and having to locate all the targets on the clock adds an interesting twist of stress. The time crunch on some stages was really tight, especially the first day with a three minute par time. Some stages had three shooting positions and three targets to engage from each position. That meant you had twenty seconds per target to find it, build a position, and engage it.
That’s pretty tight fellas, I’m not going to lie. These targets weren’t painted white either. You’re looking for unpainted steel scattered around the terrain. It’s not all that hard to find, but every second you spend looking is time lost on the rifle. I won’t lie, there were some stages that had me more than a little frustrated. What I could find I did pretty well hitting but holy cow did I leave points on the table left and right not finding everything. Clearly, I need to do some work on my target acquisition. I also need to work on building positions faster so when I attend this type of match format I’m not losing so much time getting set to shoot.
Lessons from Butch’s NMLRS
As I just mentioned target acquisition was big in this match. I’ve never had a real had time finding targets in the past. Then again I’ve never had to do it on the clock before, either! There’s a phrase that goes something like, economy of motion. That’s a pretty important concept when you’re on the clock. It’s something I need to practice more, for sure. I need to start building my positions in practice quickly and efficiently. The idea here is to be efficient and build positions quickly so you can spend more time on the gun locating and engaging targets. You don’t want to burn all your time building the position.
There’s another phrase that ties in with the first pretty well, “train like you fight.” In other words if you take your sweet time building a position in practice, you’re likely to use the same pace on the clock in competition. So I will be adjusting how quickly I build my positions in practice moving forward. I’m going to do what I can to make my practice sessions more closely resemble time on the clock in a match. I think this was probably the biggest takeaway lesson for me after attending Butch’s NMLRS match. Work on making practice resemble the live fire shooting and work on economy of motion.
Butch’s NMLRS Report Card
I always like to talk a bit about matches like the Butch’s NMLRS and how they were run after attending. Not all matches are created equally, believe me. I can definitely give Wes Rolan and the guys a tip of the hat. This match rolled really smoothly. There was hardly any bunching up of squads, just a bit on the second day but I’ve seen worse. Safety was excellent. I didn’t see any safety problems and didn’t hear about any either and that’s always the primary concern. There was water at every stage. That’s huge, believe me. It’s one less thing you have to carry around with you. In states like New Mexico it can be damn warm at times so it’s nice to be able to stay hydrated without carrying gallons of water yourself.
The guys provided dinner for us both nights with BBQ on Saturday and Mexican on Sunday ahead of the awards. The awards ceremony was fun and there was an impressive spread on the prize table. Thanks to all the different companies and businesses that supported the Butch’s NMLRS match! Big thanks to all the Range Officers too! They’re the lifeblood of this sport! I really couldn’t criticize anything about how the match ran. It was silky smooth. I had a good time despite really being out of my comfort zone. It’s nice to be surprised from time to time and this match definitely caught me by surprise a number of times over the weekend!
I really had a good time competing in the 2017 season of the National Rifle League. This year I managed to attend three matches for the season and met a bunch of cool people. While attending these matches I made some new friends and shot at some really cool new places. I had never been to Gunsite or the Blue Steel Ranch before and now I can say I’ve shot at both of them! The level of social engagement in NRL matches is a good bit higher than some of the PRS matches I’ve been to. It’s really cool when everybody meets up for a meal and a few beers after a day of shooting in the sun. It feels like you’re actually part of something at the National Rifle League matches and that’s a fun experience!