After having such a blast at the Owens Armory Battle Royale match there was no way I couldn’t do a recap after getting home. This was the first National Rifle League match I’ve attended and only the second that they have hosted in 2017. I have to say it was an absolute blast! It was a really fun match with all kinds of interesting stages arranged along the Arizona landscape. They didn’t just pick any spot of land in Arizona, either. They pulled some strings and managed to host it at Gunsite Academy which has never allowed a national level match like this on their property before! Talk about an incredible facility. Gunsite is every shooter’s dream. Thousands of acres of landscape and dozens of ranges dedicated to the refinement of shooting skills!
Check In & Facility
As I mentioned they hosted the Owens Armory Battle Royale match at the fabled Gunsite Academy. Coming from Colorado and having planned an additional stop or two my wife and I made the trip in a rented RV. Gunsite has a campground that offers not only tent space but hookups for water and power for RVs. The rates were quite reasonable and it worked out well for us. The campground has bathroom, shower, and even laundry facilities as well. It makes for a really good option if you’re coming from way out of town but don’t quite want to pay hotel room rates while you stay. It was double convenient for this match since the check in and awards took place at the small pavilion area of the campground.
Checking in was simple and I was able to meet one of the match directors, Nick Owens! He was very friendly and approachable as was Tomas Meraz. They both love shooting and hanging out with like minded folks. I grabbed a couple T Shirts while I was checking in and asked a little about how we would be getting to the firing positions. This was mainly because the RV wasn’t exactly an off road vehicle. As it turns out we were shuttled out to the shooting positions by pickups, trailers, and a giant army truck!
Day 1 – Owens Armory Battle Royale
The first day of shooting was a challenge! The wind the first hour or two on Saturday was just insane. It was blowing steadily in the 20s with frequent (several times per minute) gusts up into the low 30s. It made for some lower scores on stages than I think a lot of guys were expecting. This isn’t to say it wasn’t challenging or fun. You just know the conditions are tough when even some of the top guys in the sport are kicking themselves a bit coming off a stage. Fortunately, this wasn’t long lived. The winds calmed a bit and the scores started going up. It makes shooting a stage all the more satisfying when you put up a decent score after such a rough start to the day!
One interesting approach to the Owens Armory Battle Royale match was with ranges. This is the first national level match I’ve shot where all the ranges were provided for the targets ahead of time. I have to say I kind of enjoyed that. It was one less thing to worry about and as Tomas Meraz put it, “It levels the playing field and keeps the match from turning into a gear race.” That’s a true statement. How does the new guy shooting his first match feel at this kind of match? He may not be used to scanning for and locating targets. He probably doesn’t even own a rangefinder. If he does it’s not likely to be up to par with the high end Sig, Leica, and Vectronix units carried by guys at these matches. It was a great idea and I hope to see more of it!
Day 2 – Owens Armory Battle Royale
The second day went considerably smoother for most guys. The wind was present but much more consistent the second day. A lot of guys had already found their groove by this point. Even some of the more serious personalities lightened up. I had a great squad of guys to shoot with. Friends were made and a good time was had by all. There was a really cool mix of shooting stages at the Owens Armory Battle Royale. Some stages you could shoot entirely from the prone. Several positional shooting stages were mixed in as well. We shot off barricades, Luckett sticks, a Hog saddle, even a tree!
Several stages were really bad time clinchers. Every stage was 120 seconds. You had two minutes regardless of the course of fire. That’s something I’d like to see more of in the future. It keeps things a lot simpler mentally when you know how much time you have to work with. I’ll say this, though. Sometimes that felt like a long two minutes and some stages it felt like you were out of time almost as soon as you started. There were stages with five targets that you had to engage in order. Then you had stages where you had to engage them in order, then start over and do it a second time. One stage even had three passes through the target list. If you aren’t already, it’s time to start practicing holdovers because you flat out don’t have the time to dial on a stage like that!
Gear Considerations and Lessons
Yes, I did bring the Kilo 2400 to play with a bit in a match setting! I was able to freehand targets out into the teens but I’ll say this, it makes sense to bring a tripod so you really know what you’re ranging! I didn’t need the Kilo 2400 but wanted to get a feel for how it did in a match setting. It performed very well and I didn’t encounter a single target it wouldn’t have been capable of ranging had I needed to. Unfortunately, it was time to return the test unit after the match. That was bittersweet. However, I did manage to grab a certificate off the prize table for a discounted Sig Kilo 2200MR! So I’ll be acquiring and reviewing that bad boy here in the future and I’ll compare it’s performance to the Kilo 2400!
While we’re talking about targets and optics, I should have brought my tripod. I had left it behind after seeing the stages were largely set up so gear wasn’t an advantage. If everyone already had everything they needed for a stage, why lug it around? The answer is stability. There was a stage or two you could use the tripod for additional support. More importantly, it really helps to be able to mount your rangefinder or monocular. When you start looking for targets beyond about 600 yards it can be difficult to see details like target numbers free handing an optic. I won’t make that mistake again. Fortunately it wasn’t a huge error and other guys had tripod supported optics.
How Did It All Go?
Honestly, this may have been the most fun I’ve ever had at a match. The facility was just awesome. I was squadded with a great group of guys. We all laughed and had a good time shooting all the stages of the Owens Armory Battle Royale. The whole match ran very smoothly. We only had a little downtime the first day to fix targets that had fallen down. We had just a bit of downtime the second day when we bunched up behind the next squad. The bunching up has less to do with the match and more to do with guys standing around shooting the breeze instead of keeping things moving.
Socializing is part of this sport and I’m not knocking that. At all! However, it’s all of our responsibility to make sure the next guy is ready to go and we keep things moving. This way the match finishes on time and we can accomplish all the match directors have planned! Prior to the awards everyone was served dinner! It was delicious! There were tortillas, cheese, shredded chicken and beef, beans, rice, and cookies. I’ve never had a meal like that at a match before and it was great! Speaking of food, they kept everyone well hydrated and fed all weekend. There were coolers full of cold water bottles every hundred yards or so at the firing positions. Around lunchtime we took a break and all the fixins for turkey and ham sandwiches were delivered with chips to the stages. The prize table itself? Damn impressive!
I think Nick Owens and Tomas Meraz deserve a big round of applause here. I really had a blast and so did everyone I talked to. The whole Owens Armory Battle Royale match ran very smoothly. Everyone was safe and there were no negligent discharges or safety issues. The guys at Gunsite seemed pleased they had taken the chance to allow the match on the property. The prize table was really impressive. I know there were still some really cool certificates for money off rangefinders and even for expensive triggers that still hadn’t been picked up when they were reading names off 80+ positions deep. I’m sure everybody walked away with a little something.
More importantly, I’m sure everyone that attended the Owens Armory Battle Royale had a good time. We all have a bad stage here and there but I think the experience overall was very positive. That’s really what it’s all about. Having a good time with like minded people ringing steel. I hope the guys at Gunsite allow a follow up match next year. I would do whatever I could to be able to attend again. This was my first National Rifle League match and I have to say I like what I see very much so far. I’m going to hit another match in September and I’m going to try and squeeze a third into my schedule in July!