Tag Archives: Competition

Ultimate Reloader: Gavin’s First PRS Match

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Ultimate reloader first precision rifle series
Gavin goes prone!

Gavin’s First PRS Match: The Experience

By: Ultimate Reloader

For a long time I’ve talked with friends about trying out a PRS-style match. Life has been busy, but when the right opportunity came, I decided to give it a try. My friend and shooting partner Jim Findlay offered to help me prepare, and told me it would be “fun to shoot gas guns together”. I decided I would shoot an AR-15, and thought that would be an ideal opportunity to try something new: the 22 Nosler. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was getting myself into, but that’s typically the way things happen when you’re really trying something new. It was a great experience, and it taught me a lot about shooting. I also made some great connections and friends during the match. If you are at all interested in PRS (Precision Rifle Series, or just Precision Rifle in general) I would suggest you enter and compete in a match. You most likely won’t regret it.

In this post, I’ll talk about preparing for the match, and the experience of competing in the match. In a follow-up post, I’ll go into more detail on the gear we used, and some of the gear we’d like to try in the future. So stay tuned for that!

Preparing For the Match

There were a few things to take care of before I started practicing with Jim in earnest for the match. I decided on the rifle platform I’d be shooting: it would be the AR-MPR AR-15 rifle, but with a 22 Nosler Upper. While I was waiting for the upper and components to arrive, I started practicing with 5.56 ammunition that I thought would be close to what I’d be shooting with 22 Nosler. I signed up for the match and paid my entry fee, and then downloaded the Practiscore Match App.

Practiscore is great, because you can read about each of the stages in order to prepare for each activity within the match. Here’s an example from the match I participated in:

After reading up on the match, it was time to create a game plan with Jim, and start practicing!

Practicing For the Match

Jim and I spent quite a few range trips preparing for the match, and I did quite a bit of practice up at my place, the “Ultimate Reloader Outpost”. First up was to sort out our gear, and get on target- we started at 600 yards. As I mentioned, this initial practice was performed with a .223/5.56 AR-15 configuration. With distances going out to 700 yards on match day, I chose to load 77 grain bullets for practice in 5.56 cases. At our 600 yard practice distance, these rounds did fine, but I wasn’t as confident about going out to 700 yards as they were getting into the trans-sonic zone.

Enter the 22 Nosler. The added velocity provided by this new cartridge combined with the extreme performance of the 70 grain Nosler RDF bullets I decided to use were a great combination. Here are the first shots I fired at 600 yards after the 100 yard sight-in and testing (see bottom group on target). The first round fired at 600 yards was on-target thanks to the G7 BC supplied by Nosler and Shooter App dope I had calculated. That’s a great feeling!

During our practice sessions, Jim and I focused on prone shooting, barricade shooting, and even shooting at a moving target at almost 600 yards. It was a lot of fun, but 90 seconds (the allowed time for each stage) was proving to go *very* quickly. Would I be ready on range day? I couldn’t wait to find out. Here we have Jim (far) and myself (near) shooting at 400 yards in preparation for one of the stages:

Match Day

On match day, I was fortunate to have friends Eric Peterson and Carl Skerlong running the camera and drone respectively. That meant I could focus on the shooting stages, and final preparations. I had printed out the courses of fire, had printed a dope card and zip tied it to my rifle, had dialed in the shooter app, and had all of my gear ready to go.

Overall, the match was more fun and more laid back than I thought it would be. The guys in our squad were all really helpful, and even loaned me gear to try out when they noticed my gear wasn’t right for a particular shooting activity. One such case was when Ken Gustafson (of KYL Gear) offered to loan me one of the bags he had made. Below you can see me shooting off the infamous unstable tippy tank trap with a KYL Gear bag, and I’ll have to say- it was amazing. It helped me lock down my rifle and get on target. What a great feeling!

I did run into some trouble- I had loaded my 22 Nosler rounds to max charge weight with Varget powder and experienced some failure to feed issues during the match. Initially I thought my bolt needed more lubrication, but after the match I discovered pressure signs on the rounds I had fired to investigate what went wrong. While I didn’t have malfunctions in practice, the match day was between 96 F and 100 F at the hottest part of the day- the same time I experienced issues. I was over pressure! I switched to a slower powder after that discovery (H-380) and found 22 Nosler to run perfectly (and at higher velocity), even in similar temperatures. I learned that you have to test everything you plan to use on match day, and take into account things like weather conditions as well. I also had my bipod fly off the rifle while shooting off a barricade- but continued with the stage and did alright. Even with these challenges, I kept on “giving it my best”, and I still had a ton of fun.

Summary

PRS is all about pushing your rifle skills to edge. You may have to hit targets at four different distances in 90 seconds- and dial in your dope between each shot. These kinds of challenges are super-difficult, but with enough experience and practice, it’s amazing what you can do. I saw guys that were so smooth, steady, fast, and accurate, it was mind blowing! It doesn’t come easy, and the guys at the top of the heap are super-dedicated. One such guy named Sheldon Nalos (in my squad) told me about how he dry fired off scale replicas he made of the T-Post Fox Hunt stage- practicing again and again until he was confident he was ready.

I don’t have the goal to be at the top of the heap within the PRS community, but I do think I’ll compete in more matches- they are super fun to experience, and the friends you’ll make may just last a lifetime. If you have any thoughts of trying PRS, I say “do it”! Stay tuned, because in my next post, I’ll talk about the PRS gear I used (and wanted) and then after that it’s time to go deep into 22 Nosler.

Thanks,
Gavin

REVIEW: Springfield Armory SAINT

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We have been waiting a long time for Springfield’s AR15 and it is worth the wait, and worth the money. Here’s why…

by Bob Campbell

Springfield’s ads had been teasing us with the introduction of a new product and very recently we learned that the SAINT was an AR15-type rifle. This is the first-ever AR15 with the proud Springfield Armory stamp. The rifle had been described as entry level but this isn’t really true. There are more expensive rifles but the Springfield isn’t cheap — it is simply below the $900 threshold. That is a pretty important price point. The rifle has good features and is built for reliability. The SAINT is intended to appeal to the young and adventurous and to those serious about taking responsibility for their own safety. I agree but older shooters such as myself who are able to discern quality at a fair price will also appreciate the SAINT. As a Springfield fan, the SAINT will take its place beside my 1903 Springfield and the modern 1911 Operator handgun, but there is more to the puzzle than the name. At present I have fewer than 600 rounds fired through the SAINT but the experience has been good. (I fire the rifles I test for real on the range, and not with the typewriter. I know the difficulty in firing one thousand rounds or more in an economic and physical sense.)

SAINT and 1903
The SAINT is shown with a 1903 Springfield. A proud tradition!

Let’s look at the particulars. The SAINT features the A2-style front sight/gas block and a folding rear sight. The rear sight is stamped with the Springfield “crossed cannons” emblem. The rear sight isn’t target grade but it is useful for short-range defense work and snagging predators to perhaps 100 yards, the use I will put this 6-pound, 11-ounce rifle to. The gas system is a mid-length architecture. Without getting into a discussion that would fill these pages all its own, the mid-length system is ideal for use with common bullet weights. The SAINT has a 16-inch barrel chambered for the 5.56mm NATO cartridge. This means you can fire .223 Remington or 5.56mm cartridges without a hint of trouble. Its 1-in-8 inch barrel twist is increasingly popular. Midway between the 7- and 9-inch twist this barrel twist rate has proven accurate with the majority of loads I have tested. So far this includes loads of 52 to 77 grain bullet weights.

SAINT
The SAINT handles well. The author found the SAINT exceptionally controllable.

The trigger is a GI-type that breaks in my example at 6.7 pounds. This is in the middle-ground for an AR trigger and it is clean and crisp. There is also a special coating that allows the trigger group to ride smoothly. The receivers are anodized aluminum, no surprises there, but the bolt carrier group is also specially coated, and stamped with the Springfield logo. I like that a lot. Springfield has added a new design with the Accu-Tite Tension system. This is a set screw located in the lower receiver that allows the user to tighten the receivers together. I like this feature and I probably will not add any other tightening measures to the SAINT. The furniture is Bravo Company and the handguard is a Springfield exclusive. The three-piece handguard features a heat shield in the lower base, and allows for accessory mounting via a keylock system. The handguard offers excellent grip when firing but doesn’t abrade the hand when firing in long practice sessions. I like the stub on the end of the handguard that prevents the hand from running forward onto the gas block. Optics are not optimally mounted on the handguard since it isn’t free-floated, so the receiver rail is available for mounting optics. The six-position stock utilizes a squeeze lever for six-point adjustment. The grip handle is the famous BCM Gunfighter.

SAINT sights.
The front and rear sights are adequate for shorter-range use, and the controls are excellent. Note bumper on handguard to prevent the hand running forward off the handguard.

To begin the evaluation I filled several magazines with Federal Cartridge Company American Eagle cartridges. The rifle had several hundred rounds through it and I expected the same performance for this Shooters Log test. These 55-grain FMJ cartridges burn clean, are affordable, and offer excellent accuracy in a practice load. I loaded the supplied MagPul magazine and a number of other various magazines I had on hand. The bolt was lubricated. AR15 rifles will run dirty but they will not run dry. I addressed man-sized targets at 25 and 50 yards, firing as quickly as I could get on target and align the sights. Keeping the hand forward on the handguard (and avoiding the gas block!) and controlling the rifle fast and accurate hits came easily. The rifle is controllable in rapid fire but then it is an AR15… The sights are adequate for the purpose. The Gunfighter grip is particularly ergonomic allowing excellent control. As for absolute accuracy with the iron sights, it isn’t difficult to secure 3-shot groups of two inches at 50 yards, par for the course with an iron-sighted carbine.

Accuracy Testing
For a complete evaluation, you have to go further with accuracy testing and this means mounting a quality optic. I settled down with a mounted Lucid 6x1x24 rifle scope. This optic provides a good clear sight picture and has many advantages a trained rifleman can exploit. I settled down on the bench and attempted to find the best possible accuracy from the SAINT. Hornady has introduced a new line of AR15 ammunition. Since black rifles run on black ammunition the new loads should prove popular. My test samples of Hornady Black Ammunition featured the proven 75-grain BTHP. This is a good bullet weight for longer-range accuracy and it proved to give good results in the SAINT. I also tested a good number of popular .233 loads including a handload of my own, using the 60-grain Hornady A-Max bullet.

Meopta MeoRed
The Meopta MeoRed Red Dot gave good results.

I have also mounted a MeoRed red dot with excellent results. For use to 50 yards this red dot offers good hit probability and gets the Springfield up and rolling for 3-Gun Competition.
I like the Springfield SAINT. I drove in the rain to get the rifle and was at the door at my FFL source when they opened. I had to wait to hit the range! I am not disappointed and the SAINT is going to find an important place in my shooting battery.

Check out the complete specs HERE

SAINT free-float
The SAINT is also available with a free-floating handguard tube.

Bob Campbell is an established and well-respected outdoors writer, contributing regularly to many publications ranging from SWAT Magazine to Knifeworld. Bob has also authored three books: Holsters For Combat and Concealed Carry (Paladin Press), The 1911 Semi Auto (Stoeger Publishing), and The Handgun In Personal Defense (The Second Amendment Foundation).

Here’s the Basic Gear You’ll Need for USPSA & IDPA

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By Justin Smith

Action shooting sports like USPSA, IDPA, and 3-Gun can seem intimidating, and a lot of interested shooters will never get around to participating in a match.

In this video, I discuss action shooting equipment basics: the bare essentials required to get through a match. And I promise…it’s not going to make your head spin, and it’s not going to break the bank.

Not only do folks express concern over “not being good enough yet,” but the equipment aspect of the game can also drive people away. Understandable. If you catch a 3-Gun competition on TV or watch a Steel Challenge shoot at your local range, you’ll often see a wide variety of fancy race guns, speed holsters, shirts covered in company logos, specialty athletic shoes, and a whole lot more. But here’s the crazy thing. You don’t need special equipment. You don’t need a $3,000 “space gun” attached to your belt, and you don’t need Solomon Trail Runners on your feet. All you need is some basic gear (which you’ve probably got already), respect for firearms safety, and a good attitude. That’s it. That’s all it takes.

“Run what ya brung” is a popular saying in action shooting, and some of the best shooters in the world still compete with relatively basic stuff. By all means, once (not if) you get hooked on the game, go out and upgrade. Until then…keep it simple.

-Justin Smith

Look for a more in-depth look at competitive shooting gear in our next issue! You can find more of Justin’s videos HERE!

Crawfish Cup 2017: Welcome Back!

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We’re excited to be heading back to Lake Charles, Louisiana for the 2017 Midsouth Shooters Crawfish Cup! Familiarize yourselves with this illustrious Action Pistol Championship with our previous articles by Clicking here, and here.

Last year, we saw Bruce Piatt take the cup in a dramatic finish to what was one of the most exciting Crawfish Cup competitions yet. Team Black Nitride took all three top spots with Tony Holmes, and Doug Koenig taking second and third, respectively. Midsouth Shooter, Kevin Angstadt took home the fourth place prize.

Members of the Army Marksmanship Unit, plus Bruce Piatt and Tony Holmes find some shade on the Mover
Members of the Army Marksmanship Unit, plus Bruce Piatt and Tony Holmes find some shade on the Mover

We also saw greats like Vera Koo, and Team Yackley compete hard, and take home honors of their own. Tim Yackley won the Junior Division, and Vera achieved Grand High Lady!

Every year, The Crawfish Cup becomes more than an NRA Action Pistol event. It’s a place where greats come to hone their skills before the Flagler and Bianchi Cup Championships, and it’s a place where amateurs and professionals can compete side-by-side. The undercurrent of the shoot is always one of friendly competition, and conversation. It’s a warm environment for every shooter involved, and it’s not just the oppressing humidity of a Louisiana late spring.

Range Master George Mowbray and Head Range Officer Gary Yantis
Range Master George Mowbray and Head Range Officer Gary Yantis

We look forward to seeing all of our friends next week at The Midsouth Shooters Crawfish Cup!

Sponsors Take Crawfish Cup to Next Level

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The 2016 Crawfish Cup has grown by leaps and bounds this year, and it’s all thanks for the sponsors who gave generously to the competition. Sponsors help make shooting sports possible through donations of products, money, or improvements to the range.

George Mowbray 2015 Crawfish Cup
Range Coordinator George Mowbray, the heart and soul of the Crawfish Cup at the 2015 awards ceremony.

At the time of this article, there are 90 competitors, with 19 of those competitors shooting the Aggregate Match. You’ll be able to follow all the action with live updates at the Crawfish Cup’s website. Click Here to check it out!

Our event sponsors top our list:

  • Secure Firearm Products: Moving Targets Event
  • TK Custom: Practical Event
  • Lucas Oil: Falling Plates Event
  • Western Powders: Open Gun
  • Briley Custom: Barricade Event
Western Powders
Western Powders Sponsors the Open Gun Event

The Special Categories:

  • “What-Ya-Say” Hearing Protection: Ladies Awards
  • Zero Bullet Company: Junior Category

Communications Provided by:

  • LRC Wireless (Louisiana Radio Communications)

Platinum Level Sponsors:

  • Hornady
  • Montana Gold Bullets
Hornady Reloading
Hornady Ammunition and Reloading Products, Platinum Level Sponsor

Gold Level Sponsors:

  • Rainier Ballistics
  • Zero Bullets
  • Swab-Its

Silver Level Sponsors:

  • Leupold
  • NRA Competitive Shooting
  • Graf & Sons
Leupold Optics
Leupold Optics, Silver Level Sponsor

Bronze Level Sponsor:

  • Sierra Bullets
Sierra Bullets, the Bullet Smiths
Sierra Bullets, the Bullet Smiths, Bronze Level Sponsor

Supporting Sponsors:

  • Boyd’s Hardwood Gunstocks
  • Shooting Chrony
  • Flitz Polish

Finally, there’s just us, Midsouth Shooters Supply. All we wanted to do was see the event take off like it deserved. Not only is the event a great build-up to Bianchi Cup, but it’s a great match in and of itself. Further more, it’s ran by some of the best people you could meet in shooting sports. Come to Lake Charles, Louisiana and see for yourself. At least stay long enough to enjoy the crawfish boil.

Follow the action of the cup HERE. Enjoy the site, look at the pictures from matches past, and stay tuned for pictures from this year as we’ll be uploading those during the matches. Also, check out the competitor profiles here. There are some great contenders attending this year. Doug Koenig, Bruce Piatt, and Kevin Angstadt are all past champions, and will be in attendence. You’ll also see some relatively new faces like Tracie Rushing, and some legends in the sport, like Carl Bernosky!

We’ll have more to come soon. Thank to you, and thanks to the sponsors that make events like this possible.

Will you be making the trip to Louisiana?