This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the National Rifle League match in northern Colorado, the Mile High Shootout! This match was put on by Robert Quigley and a host of good folks that donated their time to make it happen! It was set in the hilly countryside about 17 miles west of Craig, Colorado! It was a great venue that offered extremely challenging wind conditions. That was all paired up with a challenging course of fire to round out maybe the most difficult match I’ve ever shot. I think there were a number of guys who walked away from it a bit humbled! It still made for a great time!
Mile High Shootout Venue
As I said, the venue of the Mile High Shootout was stunning! We all shot from stages arranged along a ridge with about a 180 degree field of fire from all the stages. There were numerous terrain features from open fields, to small canyons, to large mountainous bowls that made for a really challenging course of fire. The match directors did a really good job of keeping water pretty handy. This kept the shooters from having to lug a full days worth of water around in addition to ammo, the rifle, and all their gear. It’s one feature of the National Rifle League matches I really enjoy.
They’ve set things up to be kinda nice with regard to amenities. Its nice when you can focus on shooting because basics like hydration and food are taken care of! In addition to water the local 4H club was walking around with snacks, lunch the second day, and even ice cream. It may sound silly but it was really pretty awesome. I happily paid a couple bucks per slice of pizza delivered to the stages the second afternoon. The first afternoon they had premade lunch bags that were free. Sandwiches, chips, and napkins all ready to go. Hard to beat. The shooting location of the Mile High Shootout was a whopping 15 minute drive from the Best Western I stayed at.
Mile High Shootout Course of Fire
This was a real humbling match for a lot of guys. The wind was very challenging the entire weekend of the Mile High Shootout and a lot of the courses of fire was just as difficult. I saw a lot of guys who consistently shoot near the top of the pack drop down on the leader boards. My Bighorn 6×47 Lapua was shooting well but there was some bizarre stuff going on all weekend. The match was set up with 15 stages on each day. It was essentially the same course of fire on day two but with a 90 second time limit instead of 120. There were also gear restrictions the second day that made things a bit more difficult.
What I found perplexing was to have a stage on day one where I felt like I was going to run the table only to take a goose egg on the whole thing. Then the next day on the same stage, with less time, I’d hit 7 or 8 out of 10 shots. I’m going to check the rifle over just to be sure nothing was going on. However, I’m pretty sure it was wind, stress, and difficult stages that made for such an ego gut punch. For example, if I were to try and blame my rifle for a bad stage I’d have to base it on muzzle velocity, a bad barrel, etc. Then how would it be possible to connect at 1100 and 1200 yards the next day? I think it was just that tough!
Keeping Things Moving
Some suggestions for keeping the course of fire moving. There were some hiccups with this the first day. I think a lot of it was people just going nuts with gear. Likely because there were hardly any restrictions that day. However, there’s this aversion to leap frogging stages I don’t quite understand. Nowadays, with Practiscore on tablets it should be as easy as telling the RO your squad number. It makes more sense to leapfrog a stage if there’s a bottleneck for whatever reason and to circle around for it later. I understand the concern about making scoring confusing, but it should still be pretty straight forward.
With regard to guys taking all day to set up and goof around with gear, we need set amounts of prep time. When one guy fires his last shot or times out, give him a few seconds to grab his brass, then the next guy gets 30 seconds to prep. After that, you’re on the clock for the stage again. I saw a number of times where squads were backing up because of essentially unlimited prep time. This is typically something you see with a less experienced RO. We need ROs and I’m not blaming them or the match directors. Nobody can be everywhere at once. I think it just makes good sense to build prep time into the stage description and briefing.
Good Time Had By All
The Mile High Shootout was a good time. I was squadded with a buddy from the NRL match at Gunsite and several of his friends. We had a great group of guys and I think it speaks volumes about the whole match. Our group was joking around and having a good time the whole weekend. Had it been a less personable group that didn’t interact as well it may have been a much less fun weekend. Despite a challenging course of fire that gut checked a lot of people we all had a blast. At the end of the day that’s the whole idea, to have a good time shooting. Where you place and prizes are icing on the cake of a good weekend. We should all strive to have that good time at every match.
The Mile High Shootout presented by the National Rifle League was well worth the investment of time and money. It was an extremely challenging match, I’ve said that several times now. This might be the toughest match I’ve shot so far. The match showed me some things I need to work on. I also identified a gear weakness or two, and I’m going to correct it all before the next match. I’m scheduled to attend the Butch’s NMLRS match at the end of September at the JP Blue Steel Ranch. So that should be a good way to finish out my shooting season and hopefully secure a slot to the NRL Championship in January!