precision rifle competition preparation

Precision Rifle Competition Preparation

In Blog by Rich3 Comments

Precision Rifle Competition Preparation is going to be this week’s topic of discussion. It’s no coincidence that I’m getting back from Arizona this week after the Owen’s Armory Sickness for Distance match at Gunsite. It’s part of the first season of matches in the National Rifle League. Often some of these articles are inspired by what I’m doing in our great sport at the time. As I’m getting ready for a match there are some things I like to do to prepare. It sounded like the makings of a decent article. There are plenty of questions about what to do with regard to precision rifle competition preparation. We’ll discuss some of those now!

Precision Rifle Competition Preparation

When I say that I’m talking about housekeeping items before the match itself. There’s plenty of things that could fall under preparation from practice to gunsmithing work to the reloading bench. The focus of this article will be things to do in the week or so leading up to a match. Hopefully these suggestions will help some guys looking to get into the competitive side of things. I’ve done this before. I like to define specifically what we’re going to talk about so we’re all on the same page before we get down into it.

Like I said these suggestions are for the week leading up to the match itself. You should be practicing and making sure major things are taken care of long before that. These are just some little reminders for things to pack and things to do that last week.

Precision Rifle Competition Readiness

I’ve talked about the benefits of dry fire several times now. You want to try and get a good five minutes of dry fire in each day in the last week leading up to the match itself. It helps with consistency and it helps smooth out any flinches you may have developed. Look for good, clean, presses and watch the crosshairs the whole time. You don’t want to be knocking rust off your finger when the shots are being scored. The idea is to be fresh and ready to go when you walk in!

precision rifle competition preparation rifle

Make sure you go over the rifle, torque everything down and make sure it’s all tight

Ammunition. If you don’t have it ready, it’s crunch time so get to work. You need to either purchase match grade ammunition or set a schedule to load it. You do not want to be pulling an all nighter loading ammunition the night before. Try to get any work on the reloading bench done early on in the week leading up to the match day. Make sure you’ve got enough for the advertised round count. Then load an extra 50 rounds for checking zero and any side matches that might take place!

Precision Rifle Competition Gear

There’s plenty of gear to pack and plenty of gear to check. Lay it all out and make sure you have absolutely everything you think you’re going to need. Then pack a few items that you might need but hope not to! Bring rain gear. The weathermen couldn’t tell you what the weather was going to do if they saw the rain rolling across the terrain towards them. Better to have it and not need it than to shoot a match soaked to the bone. It’s never happened to me but I’ve seen people suggest bringing some immodium in case breakfast doesn’t agree with you.

Go over your gear. Check the batteries in your laser rangefinder and Kestrel. Then pack some extras in the pack you will be using at the match. While on the topic of batteries, bring analog backups for your gear. If you use a Ballistics version of the Kestrel, print out some density altitude cards too. Anything with a battery can fail. Make sure you go over the rifle itself. Break out the torque wrench and make sure all the screws and mounts are tight. The last thing you need is a loose scope in the middle of a match.

Precision Rifle Competition Checklist

Make a short list of things to check the day prior to the match. Most of the time check in tends to be the day before the match itself starts. There’s almost always an opportunity to check your zero. I highly recommend you do so. Make sure your zero is good to go the day before. Then maybe hook up your chronograph and check your muzzle velocity at the same time. A newer barrel may have picked up some velocity just as an older one may have lost some. Better to discover this the day before when you can still adjust your ballistics charts to account for the difference! I’ve had a barrel pick up several hundred feet per second during the day of a match and it makes for a frustrating experience. Learn from my mistake!

precision rifle competition preparation zero

Was chasing an issue with accuracy right before the match, finally got it dialed back in though, 5 rounds in a half minute after making some adjustments

Don’t forget basic personal maintenance items and throw them in your pack too! I’m talking about a couple bottles of water, minimum, and some snacks. Some matches will break for lunch and some keep on shooting to avoid bad weather. You may be nowhere near your vehicle or a place to stash food. So bring some water you can drink at any time and some snacks that won’t spoil. Little things like not eating for 6-8hrs can have a real effect on your performance as the day goes on. Especially if you find yourself out in the heat, the rain, or the cold.

Wrapping Up

Most of this stuff about precision rifle competition preparation is common sense. If you’re after a list of gear to bring we’ve got an article for that! That article has a more comprehensive list of items to bring. The whole point here was some simple reminders of things we sometimes forget to do during the excitement. Don’t expect anybody else to take care of your needs like food or water. Bring a small tool kit in case you need to do something simple like rezero if the rifle takes a hard knock. Try to check simple stuff like torque settings on bolts ahead of time. That’s a rookie mistake we should all be able to avoid. The less you have to worry about, the more you can relax! The more relaxed you are at game time, the better you will do! Have fun everybody because that’s what it’s all about. If you do forget something or get hit with an inconvenience just roll with it and keep having fun!

Owner and Proprietor of AccuracyTech, LLC. Rich is a Firearms Enthusiast, Precision Rifle Competitor, and Writer. He is committed to bringing readers quality reviews and articles related to the Precision Shooting Sports. If you have any questions for him, please use the contact form on the site.


  1. After shooting the Owens match is there anything you would have done different? Considering you went to another state?

  2. Author

    I’ve since bought a case gauge to check my rounds against. I made a bit of an error loading ammo from multiple lots of brass and some wasn’t sized properly. So I may add that to the list. Double check your ammo!

    Gave me feeding problems and cost me time/points. The match was a blast, though, I’ll work on a write-up for next week.

  3. I will definitely second you on personal maintenance items too. At the match I was at recently I saw a lot of guys that just flat hadn’t prepared for the match like they should have. I noticed at least one guy who hadn’t eaten since breakfast near the end of the day and it was badly affecting his shooting. I passed him one of the Cliff bars I packed in my bag and after he ate it he said he just flat didn’t realize how his hunger was throwing him off.

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