Positional shooting has been my biggest struggle and I’ve learned a ton
To the OP, come with an open mind and have fun.
Lastly, wind is the great equalizer, if you can spot your misses on far targets or hear your misses from a spotter it will help tremendously. In my experience my elevation has always been pretty darn good but the wind is tough. Take your time to correct.
Honestly for your first match, a rifle that you know the dope out to 1000 yards is pretty much all that's needed. JBM Density altitude charts in 25 yard increments are how I had that data for my first few matches and it worked well. Just had to check in with someone that had a kestrel every couple hours.
As said above, a packing list is good. Bring clothes for all conditions and some snacks. If you have any shooting bags you can bring them, but you will be able to borrow and try many different things throughout a match to see what works best for you.
DO NOT go on a shopping spree buying gear before a match. You'll end up not needing most of it. Go to the match, see what works for you and what doesn't. Buy gear from there.
And also as said above, practice in every other position other than prone once you've got your dope down.
Get your DOPE with the atmospherics before the match, write your hold down next to each target distance in your match book and then put the damn kestrel/phone away. Focus on the wind. Don’t worry about staring at a damn screen before every stage.
Dial your scope back to zero/zero before you set your rifle down after every stage.
I’ve been in two matches. A NRL22 and a NRL BorderWars, in both events my biggest problem was acquiring the target, second to positional body configurations at 68 years old. A lot of guys said they came in last or near last in their first events. Same here. NRL22 4/60 points, third from last. BorderWars 7/80 points, last place (with Nico as mentor). I shoot in another NRL22 this Sunday with practice this Friday. Pray for me.
Check torque on all fasteners, verify zero, and verify dope. Bring binoculars if you have them. Sunscreen and hat. Knee pads if available. I like volleyball knee pads, not the tactical crap. More water than you can drink on an average day, food.
Practice shooting barricades kneeling(low and high), low standing, and high standing. The object isn’t to get really good at these but to figure out how you want to position yourself (right knee up left knee down when kneeling etc...)and how you will move between the positions. You cdo a lot of good with a few minutes a day dry firing between those positions. This will get you used to leaving bolt open and moving to the next position without having to fidget all around. This will give you a base to work from and keep you from shooting like a total rookie.
KNOW your dope is correct and have your app or cards as true as possible.
Try not to get too nervous. You will feel like everyone is staring at you but unless you are doing something unsafe, they aren’t. They are focused on what they are doing on this or the next stage. Everyone has bombed a stage, no one will care if you do. It happens all the time. They will pay attention and care if you are all nervous and do something unsafe because you aren’t thinking straight.
Depending on the match you may be able to tell your squad leader that you are a total rookie and to coach you if needed throughout the stages. It’s crazy how quickly you can forget which target you are on or are supposed to be transition to. Ask me how I know lol.
Targets from 275 to 5-something yards on alternating sides of a fire road. I have no memory of what the shooting position was... I just remember having my scope cranked all the way up... it was a gen-1 Razor 5-20.
I think I scored on exactly one target - the close one. Not that I didn't hit other targets.... it was just that, at 20x, I couldn't find the targets in the narrow field of view and when I found one and shot at it, it was the wrong target and/or holdover was wrong so I missed.
Lesson: 12x or so is what I use 99% of the time.
I didn't know I'd need a dope card - I use a wrist coach and cards cut from index cards; other people use gadgets that attach to their scope or pic rail.
There is a lot of good advice for you here. Main thing is go in with a good attitude and be ready to learn. Accept mistakes and jitters as part of the process. Be ready to shoot when it's your turn. Have fun and, above all, be safe - especially coming off the line where you want to avoid sweeping your squad.
I’d get really drunk the night before so you feel like total shit. You know you’ve done it right if you puke on the chain platform or the weak side/weak eye stage. Those wrong eye stages give me vertigo even if I’m not hung over. I joke, but I did almost puke on that stage hung over a couple of years ago... No one has accused me cheating or of being too intense a competitor!
Don't worry about getting all your shots in. Just get that first hit and work from there. I've seen people not time out once all match and walk away with 4-5 hits the entire day. If they give you 90 seconds...you will swear it was 9 seconds. It goes fast...but don't worry about that. Slow is fast....and it will eventually lead to being faster.
Crank your magnification back to get a wide Field Of View...address the target with both eyes open and find the correct target.
Breathe.....don't hold your breath.
Ask questions and have fun.
Thank your RO with a polite and honest thank you...and maybe offer them a snack cake.
Bring plenty of snack cakes...and share!
Don't fret about the details of anything...except safety. Try to come in first place as the safest person of the day.
Above all else, have fun, take in your surroundings....and realize what a great time it is to be alive.
A positive attitude And ask lots of questions. If you don’t understand the COF ask. My first match I ever shot I had 8 impacts. Patience and Practice. It’s a ton of fun. Be mentally prepared for a day in the sun and the concussion of muzzle breaks It causes fatigue and leads to simple mental errors.
First one, dead last. Was shooting a borrowed RPR in .308 with questionable hand loads, I couldn’t group better than 5” at 200yrds after it heated up. No zero stop, non-zeroed elevation and windage knobs. How did my day go? I missed 10 straight targets at 330yrd because I still had wind dialed for the 970yd. I refreshed some of my training from the 90s and when I was on the game, I was fine. Multiple hits at 1070 with the iffy rifle/ammo. Was open to advice from my squad, had a great attitude and had an amazing time. Take home lesson, shoot known equipment.
Shoot number two. Was using my rifle and factory Berger match loads. Comp site has no zero range to verify, well shit, this is going to end poorly. A week earlier I had forgotten/neglected to dial out my 20-25mph full value wind or zero my wind knob... had to leave the range quick because kiddo was sick at school. Think I would have learned from that first shoot? HA, fat chance!! After missing my first 50rds a member of my squad pulled me aside and had me look at the target stand through some binos.
The Saint: “See to the left of the target, right by the leg of the stand, on the berm, you see that dark splotch of dirt?”
The Saint: “That’s where ALL 20 rounds you just fired landed.”
Me: Thank you!
Bagged up my rifle aimed on target, then moved my reticle to POI. The last 50rds went much better, and ended middle of the bottom third for the day. This included going 3/4 off the floating dock, and clearing the KYL at 660 in 7rds with one miss and one double strike on #4 because I forgot where I was.
Since then, bought a new scope because reasons, and got lucky with a dead calm day for zeroing. Elevation is now zeroed right at 100yrd, zero stop at -5mil, and wind knob is now at exact zero. He glitch has been fixed.
Just bought my first bag, Warhorse Clyde. Till now people were happy to loan their kit to try out.
Moral of the story, good attitude will get you far when shit goes south, keeps others willing to help. The shoots were a blast, even though I was doing very poorly, my squad kept me going. If there was serious shit being talked, I didn’t hear it. Only thing I heard was the expected ribbings, people offering advice, and providing help for the newbie. Oh, and make sure you know where zero is, you’ll be making lots of adjustments through the day.
Already signed up for my next Border Wars comp, and can’t wait. Wife says I’d better break the 50 percentile this go, or she’ll not let me live it down.
Make sure everything on your rifle is tight and all mounts are torqued to spec, and have a solid zero. It's easy to have fun at these but if you're just constantly missing when you really feel like you should be hitting, it can get frustrating and the fun can dwindle. Hate for that to be due to hardware issues (though better that than shooter suck). Other than that soak it all in and have a good time.
Having just shot my first one a couple of weeks ago i can say. Have fun (you will). Keep that scope in the 12-16ish range( ask how i remember that), have good dope, watch how others set up on each stage. Its gonna be different than layin on your belly and shooting a 20shot string at 600-1000 yds. You will time out on some stages, dont sweat it ,lots of folks do. Practice as much as you can at getting the wobble down to a mininum before hand. Get ready to ask for a lot of forgiveness from the wife for spending your lunch money on some shooting shit. But most importantly have fun. You aint gonna win the thing but as a friend says if you aint dead last when you leave then you have won. Remember 5 solid impacts scores better than 10 misses anyday
Don't worry about trying to get all your shots off that the stage calls for. Focus instead on getting GOOD shots off. Take your time. Inform your squad mates that this is your first match. I guarantee you they will all help you along and will loan you whatever gear the stage requires. Your job is to take it slow and be safe.
This sport is full of people who want the new shooter to do well and have fun.
Measure your success at the match based on your hits based on the amount of shots you take. If you take your time to get three good shots off on a ten round stage, and get two hits, that is a 66% hit rate.