We have discussed what gear is required for a tactical rifle match in prior posts. In this post the plan is to discuss different ways of actually getting ready to attend a tactical rifle match. Things worth doing and some little tips to make sure you are organized before you attend a tactical rifle match. This is a topic I often see discussed with shooters that want to get into competing but they aren’t necessary sure how to go about preparing. They might have the gear they need but there’s a lack of information with regard to how to get everything ready to go. That’s what this post is all about, getting squared away and preparing for a rifle match!
Preparing for a Rifle Match – Gear
Obviously there is a gear component to preparing for a rifle match. We did an article here at AccuracyTech on Gear for Long Range Shooting Matches that you can read up on with regard to specific pieces of gear you might need. That said, once you have it, then what should you be doing? I would start by reading the match description to get an idea what to expect. Is this going to be more of a hike and shoot type match like the Steel Safari where you have to carry everything you need for the day with you? Or is it structured in segments where you will have time to eat and resupply between them? Sniper’s Hide just announced that Registration is Open for the 2015 Sniper’s Hide Cup! Lets use that as an example!
The 2014 SHC was broken up into morning and afternoon segments. So since we registered and plan to attend the 2015 SHC we’re going to assume a similar setup since it ran so smoothly last year. This means we will have time between morning and afternoon segments to resupply and eat. That’s a significant factor in planning your loadout for your pack. If there was no time for food and resupply, you have to bring more with you. When setting up your gear I find it helps to lay everything out and make sure all your stuff is accounted for!
Since we know from last year to expect around four stages per segment, and a maximum of 20 rounds per stage, we need at most 80 rounds of ammo for each segment. In reality we’ll need less because even on a challenging day you’re bound to get lucky with some first round hits or encounter a stage with a modified round count. We also know from our review of the TAB Silent Ammo Carrier that we can easily carry 100 rounds of loaded rifle ammunition no problem. This by the way is another big gear consideration, ammunition. You can’t shoot the stage if you run out, so bring a little extra.
You don’t want to neglect food and water when preparing for a rifle match. You must have water to stay hydrated, and it gets hot in the sun on the plains of Colorado. So I’ll be including either several bottles of water or a hydration pouch with my pack to make sure I have enough fluids. Food is another matter. Some guys say bring plenty, I prefer to eat kind of lean. I’m not saying don’t eat, keep a couple power bars handy and snack occasionally as you go through the stages of your match. Just don’t eat a ton and wind up needing time on the throne with a magazine if the plan is to hike around and shoot all day.
Preparing for a Rifle Match – Train Up
If this is to be the first time you are preparing for a rifle match, look to see if your Match Director is doing a train up. A Train Up is a class, usually 2-3 days long, and takes place immediately prior to a rifle match. The Match Director and Staff will typically be instructing and the idea is to run everybody through an abbreviating training class. This gets everybody up to speed immediately prior to the match. The Match Director will work with shooters on shooting techniques, match tactics, gear requirements, etc. I don’t know if I’d suggest you do one before every match, but if you are new to competitive shooting, I think the time and monetary investment will pay off.
With that said, I do advocate in preparation for a match doing your own train up. Shooting is a perishable skill. You get better at it the more you do and you get less great at it the less of it you do. That’s just a fact of life. However, if you are aware of this and take note of it, you can use it to your advantage. Try to get out and shoot every weekend for the 2-4 weeks leading up to the match. Preparing for a rifle match means knocking the rust off your trigger finger. I notice that there is a noticeable improvement in my trigger press and my shooting in general after shooting a few hundred rounds when coming off a break from shooting. Life gets in the way of shooting sometimes, but you can still get back to the height of your ability with some extra practice beforehand.
Preparing for a Rifle Match – Ballistics
The last point I’m going to touch on for general overall success when preparing for a rifle match is going under the ballistics heading. What I mean here is everything required for successful shooting. Make sure the gun is clean, screws are torqued and loctited, and the gun is ready to go. You should check your dope or at least the accuracy of your ballistics calculator before game day. The middle of a match is not the time to find out that your drop chart is off, so check it ahead of time. Chronograph your ammo the week before, if not the day before, the match if you can. Double check your muzzle velocity because if that changes for any reason, it will throw off your adjustments for the whole match.
Wrapping up Preparing for a Rifle Match
Don’t over think this. This was not mean to be a post about nitty gritty specifics of preparing for a rifle match. The idea here is some general tips to help ensure success. Check your gear ahead of time. Make sure its all accounted for. The morning before you leave for a match isn’t the time to start scrambling because something is missing that you need. Make sure all your ducks are in a row before you leave the house to head for the match and when you get there the only thing you will have to concentrate on is your shooting. Your gear, equipment, and even your body will be well prepared!