What do YOU feel is needed to be competitive...

morganlamprecht

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Mainly looking for the newer/less experienced shooters opinions as i hear similar things echoed quite a bit

gear, reloading equip, time, etc...any of it

i will save my thoughts for later and lay out exactly what i prep before a match and hopefully some misconceptions can be revealed, or some positive can be shared/gained in both directions
 

kthomas

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Good rifle + scope, bipod, good DOPE to 1,200 yards (or more), ammo that shoots good in the rifle (1/2 MOA or better) and one bag such as a WieBad mini fortune cookie.

Besides shooting skill and PRS competency (stage management, etc) that's all a shooter really needs to excel at the sport.

I think field oriented matches require a couple more tools, but the above will work for 95% + stages at 95% + of the matches.
 

hookedonbrass

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Decent Rifle/Scope/ammo to feed it that you are comfortable behind
bipod
gamechanger type bag
accurate/reliable way to gather dope (app/weather meter, kestrel, etc)
a bag to carry everything in

most importantly, Practice. if you don't practice - you'll suck every time you go out no matter how much gear you have.

I need more practice. I don't need any more gear. Do i like gear? sure, we all do. it's part of the fun. but it's not all necessary.

you end up meeting so many people and shooting with the same guys. you can share half the crap anyway. only one person shoots at a time.


This was my first year. I shot 5 matches. Did i end up with a tripod and binos for spotting? yes. did i end up with a pump pillow? yes. did i end up buying a nicer/expensive pack to carry my stuff around in? yes. did i change something on my gun between almost every match? yes (scope, chassis, barrel/caliber)...but I didn't need to. and none if it made me any better. practicing and shooting more matches made me more successful.
 

hookedonbrass

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what other gear are you expecting people to say you need? that you NEED a tripod? i don't think anyone thinks that.

that you NEED 6 different bags? i don't think anyone think that either.

from my view, i think it's well known and accepted the more crap you haul around and try to manage during the stage the more time you can lose and the bigger chance for a screw up.

as others have said. i think the stage descriptions just need to be more specific. and i've already started seeing this happen at my club matches. so bring as much crap as you want, you may or may not be allowed to use it. but rarely are you going to do better than someone that brought PRACTICE with them.

i think we are making this a bigger problem than it is honestly.
 
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morganlamprecht

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what other gear are you expecting people to say you need? that you NEED a tripod? i don't think anyone thinks that.

that you NEED 6 different bags? i don't think anyone think that either.

from my view, i think it's well known and accepted the more crap you haul around and try to manage during the stage the more time you can lose and the bigger chance for a screw up.

as others have said. i think the stage descriptions just need to be more specific. and i've already started seeing this happen at my club matches. so bring as much crap as you want, you may or may not be allowed to use it. but rarely are you going to do better than someone that brought PRACTICE with them.

i think we are making this a bigger problem than it is honestly.
i agree, but i often see posted (just saw it a minute ago which is why i posted this thread to not derail it) and hear about its not fair because of those things like more expensive gear...and then you mention guys who are winning without it, and that gets ignored and they circle right back around to gear

there are some big misconceptions about what the REAL separators are between shooters, and was hoping to hash some of that out
 

hookedonbrass

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there's definitely not a CHEAP CHEAP way to do it. but there's a guy at my club matches that runs circles around us with zip tie/duck tape all over his rifle. his made his own cheek rest out of a piece of plywood. shot a .223AI and finishes top 3. his rear bag looked like it had been through the wash and a hurricane 60 times. his binos had duct tape on them, and looked horrible. he definitely spends substantially less many than the average person.

but he practices. a lot. and kills it
 

cattleman99

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there's definitely not a CHEAP CHEAP way to do it. but there's a guy at my club matches that runs circles around us with zip tie/duck tape all over his rifle. his made his own cheek rest out of a piece of plywood. shot a .223AI and finishes top 3. his rear bag looked like it had been through the wash and a hurricane 60 times. his binos had duct tape on them, and looked horrible. he definitely spends substantially less many than the average person.

but he practices. a lot. and kills it
My cheek rest is made from sponges and ace wraps. My rear bag and pump pillow are homemade too. Having top of the line gear doesn’t make you a top of the line shooter, in my opinion. Just helps some
 

morganlamprecht

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and more time to practice

time=money=time=money
very true...to a point

how bout this...

i was a pretty good bball player...time wouldnt have made me an nba talent
i was a scratch golfer in college...time wouldnt have given me pga tour skills

and its clear that comp shooters arent actually "professionals" like the above sports, but the idea still stands that when it comes to putting rounds on targets...which is what a match tests, the guys winning at the highest levels are the best at doing it

with any competition, there is a level of talent and an understanding of the skills required, that hard work and time simply wont beat...maybe a 1 off, but not consistently...as long as the talent puts in just enough to stay above

you could hit a golf ball all day, every day, but if you never learn to control the spin, height, distance, etc you wont ever be competitive against top tier talent

thoughts?
 

davsco

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definitely dope, including different temps, elevations, etc
accurate gun and scope, i'd say at least moa if not somewhat better, just provides a cushion for imperfect wind calls, jitters, etc
reliable gun and gear
of course solid and consistent fundamentals
 

rgv

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i agree, but i often see posted (just saw it a minute ago which is why i posted this thread to not derail it) and hear about its not fair because of those things like more expensive gear...and then you mention guys who are winning without it, and that gets ignored and they circle right back around to gear

there are some big misconceptions about what the REAL separators are between shooters, and was hoping to hash some of that out
The group of people who insist that the top shooters are buying their points with expensive gear cannot be reasoned with.

It's like arguing with anti-gunners who latch onto blaming inanimate objects for man-made results.

At the end of the day, those who want to shoot will show up and run what they brung, and the haters won't and never did.
 

morganlamprecht

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The group of people who insist that the top shooters are buying their points with expensive gear cannot be reasoned with.

It's like arguing with anti-gunners who latch onto blaming inanimate objects for man-made results.

At the end of the day, those who want to shoot will show up and run what they brung, and the haters won't and never did.
i feel similar...i was hoping to give a thread to bounce ideas back and forth for each side to gather info from...unfortunately it might end up just like an anti gun debate lol
 

Sheldon N

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What do I feel is necessary to be competitive?

A clear head
Steady nerves
Positive mental outlook and focus
Foundational skill of building stable positions and making good trigger pulls
Gamechanger bag + sub MOA rifle with predicable dope

Those first three are tough to come by. The fourth you can acquire through practice. Anyone can easily obtain the 5th.... that one is not what separates the winners from the losers.
 

Tactical Taz

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I still consider myself a relatively new shooter. This was my second year competing. I have shot 1 national each year. Aside from the obvious rifle, ammo, optic. I think one really only needs a bipod and a GC type bag. I shoot all matches with an OG gamechanger for both front and rear support, nothing else. I have bought multiple heavy bags to try them out, but never carry more than one. With only a bipod and bag I have placed top 4 (90-95% of the winner) at several club matches this year among some of the top shooters in the country. I also placed 20th at the national doing this (~75% of the top shooter).

It is perfectly fine to shoot factory ammo. One of my top 4 finishes was shot with factory hornady. It was nice not having the stress of reloading the night before and actually probably helped in that finish. Better yet, the national match was shot with reloads that had a velocity spread of over 50. I found an accuracy node but certainly not a velocity node. Most of my shots i missed in that match were because of bad positions and bad trigger presses. All of this was done with an RPR and a Burris.

For everyone who complains about those using a tripod for rear support needs to actually try it. It does not just magically take all wobble out of a position. It takes practice to get that down. I know because trying it has bit me in a match before.

I think in the end, people read too much on the internet and make up excuses for why something will not work. I did not come into this thinking I would have overnight success. No, I know that I want to compete at the top and know that it will take a lot of work to get there. Just because a "pro" does it one way, does not mean it can't be done another way with success. They aren't buying buying points with gear, unless blatantly gaming/ border-line cheating. For those who complain about tripods being used as rear support need to actually try it and also try it on the clock. That is not a magic pill for hits by any means, especially for new shooters.

If you really want it, you will work for it. If not, you will just find whatever excuse you need to not make it happen.

Also, I am a full time college student in grad school. I've just found how to make it work. I save in other places to be able to do this. Do work ahead of time or make up for it later, just like everyone else with a regular job.

Most who complain about the gear have never been to a match I figure. JUST SHOW UP TO A MATCH WITH WHAT YOU HAVE. I have been able to use plenty of gear at these matches that was not mine, mostly club matches. Plenty of people have helped and offered advice. Let's face reality. You will not win your first match and likely will not win one for quite a while, no matter what gear your show up with. Go see for yourself what works and what doesn't. In my last couple matches I have let new shooters with no bags use my GC. I have had two matches now where my GC was used for the whole squad on every stage.
 

VP47PPC

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Rifle ; Accurate, Ruger American Predator, Tikka CTR or Bergara HMR Pro different price points but if its accurate (sub MOA) does not matter
Ammo; Factory or handholds that run sub MOA in your rifle
Muzzle break; Very helpful staying on & getting back on target for follow up shots
DBM; Several 10 round DBMags
Bipod; Get the hang of using a bipod
Scope; Repeatable dialing up and down and a quick power turn lever
Ballistic app;
Density Alt app; or some way to load elevation, temp and barometric pressure into ballistic app
Bag; A bag or two or maybe three that you like using
Range Finder; one that gets you out to 1400 and gives range corrected for angle (nice to have item)
Range card; Some method to write your dope for the stages with multiple varied distant targets requiring dial up
Pack; or some way to carry all your gear
Notebook; record matches, stages, keep notes on stages you approached successfully or what you might want to do differently & DOPE
Form; Good shooting form behind the rifle, good trigger squeeze and follow through after shot
 

morganlamprecht

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I still consider myself a relatively new shooter. This was my second year competing. I have shot 1 national each year. Aside from the obvious rifle, ammo, optic. I think one really only needs a bipod and a GC type bag. I shoot all matches with an OG gamechanger for both front and rear support, nothing else. I have bought multiple heavy bags to try them out, but never carry more than one. With only a bipod and bag I have placed top 4 (90-95% of the winner) at several club matches this year among some of the top shooters in the country. I also placed 20th at the national doing this (~75% of the top shooter).

It is perfectly fine to shoot factory ammo. One of my top 4 finishes was shot with factory hornady. It was nice not having the stress of reloading the night before and actually probably helped in that finish. Better yet, the national match was shot with reloads that had a velocity spread of over 50. I found an accuracy node but certainly not a velocity node. Most of my shots i missed in that match were because of bad positions and bad trigger presses. All of this was done with an RPR and a Burris.

For everyone who complains about those using a tripod for rear support needs to actually try it. It does not just magically take all wobble out of a position. It takes practice to get that down. I know because trying it has bit me in a match before.

I think in the end, people read too much on the internet and make up excuses for why something will not work. I did not come into this thinking I would have overnight success. No, I know that I want to compete at the top and know that it will take a lot of work to get there. Just because a "pro" does it one way, does not mean it can't be done another way with success. They aren't buying buying points with gear, unless blatantly gaming/ border-line cheating. For those who complain about tripods being used as rear support need to actually try it and also try it on the clock. That is not a magic pill for hits by any means, especially for new shooters.

If you really want it, you will work for it. If not, you will just find whatever excuse you need to not make it happen.

Also, I am a full time college student in grad school. I've just found how to make it work. I save in other places to be able to do this. Do work ahead of time or make up for it later, just like everyone else with a regular job.

Most who complain about the gear have never been to a match I figure. JUST SHOW UP TO A MATCH WITH WHAT YOU HAVE. I have been able to use plenty of gear at these matches that was not mine, mostly club matches. Plenty of people have helped and offered advice. Let's face reality. You will not win your first match and likely will not win one for quite a while, no matter what gear your show up with. Go see for yourself what works and what doesn't. In my last couple matches I have let new shooters with no bags use my GC. I have had two matches now where my GC was used for the whole squad on every stage.
very solid post
 

cattleman99

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I still consider myself a relatively new shooter. This was my second year competing. I have shot 1 national each year. Aside from the obvious rifle, ammo, optic. I think one really only needs a bipod and a GC type bag. I shoot all matches with an OG gamechanger for both front and rear support, nothing else. I have bought multiple heavy bags to try them out, but never carry more than one. With only a bipod and bag I have placed top 4 (90-95% of the winner) at several club matches this year among some of the top shooters in the country. I also placed 20th at the national doing this (~75% of the top shooter).

It is perfectly fine to shoot factory ammo. One of my top 4 finishes was shot with factory hornady. It was nice not having the stress of reloading the night before and actually probably helped in that finish. Better yet, the national match was shot with reloads that had a velocity spread of over 50. I found an accuracy node but certainly not a velocity node. Most of my shots i missed in that match were because of bad positions and bad trigger presses. All of this was done with an RPR and a Burris.

For everyone who complains about those using a tripod for rear support needs to actually try it. It does not just magically take all wobble out of a position. It takes practice to get that down. I know because trying it has bit me in a match before.

I think in the end, people read too much on the internet and make up excuses for why something will not work. I did not come into this thinking I would have overnight success. No, I know that I want to compete at the top and know that it will take a lot of work to get there. Just because a "pro" does it one way, does not mean it can't be done another way with success. They aren't buying buying points with gear, unless blatantly gaming/ border-line cheating. For those who complain about tripods being used as rear support need to actually try it and also try it on the clock. That is not a magic pill for hits by any means, especially for new shooters.

If you really want it, you will work for it. If not, you will just find whatever excuse you need to not make it happen.

Also, I am a full time college student in grad school. I've just found how to make it work. I save in other places to be able to do this. Do work ahead of time or make up for it later, just like everyone else with a regular job.

Most who complain about the gear have never been to a match I figure. JUST SHOW UP TO A MATCH WITH WHAT YOU HAVE. I have been able to use plenty of gear at these matches that was not mine, mostly club matches. Plenty of people have helped and offered advice. Let's face reality. You will not win your first match and likely will not win one for quite a while, no matter what gear your show up with. Go see for yourself what works and what doesn't. In my last couple matches I have let new shooters with no bags use my GC. I have had two matches now where my GC was used for the whole squad on every stage.
So to summarize your post, it seems the answer is simply work with what you’ve got, find out what works for you, and put in the effort required to get you to where you want to be.

Great post.
 

morganlamprecht

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well this thread got as much action from the anti gear squad as most matches lol go figure

anyways...i guess i can lay out what i feel is important for being competitive in a match

again, these are my OPINIONS and what i look for myself as a benchmark

ill probably forget some stuff, but if the thread continues it can be brought up

1) reloading: consistency wins...consistent ammo can be made with very generic equipment if you know how to use it properly
- knowing how to properly size brass to prevent stuck cases or case head separations that will cost points...easy to do, but it costs lots of shooters
- using same component lots across the board or verifying effects of any changes if you do mix...another easy one
- realizing when good enough, is good enough...plenty of guys spend time chasing a 1/4 moa load when they cant hold 2moa from a barricade position, priorities are out of order

the main advantage of most of the more expensive reloading equipment is the time it saves...think hand trimmer vs giraud, both can get from A to B, but one does it WAY faster and knocks out 3 steps at once...similar applies to powder throwers and certain presses...the value of a ProMe or auto trickler isnt that it throws very accurate charges...you can do that with a scoop and a decent scale...the value is, it does it faster, and hands free so you can multi task and save time

that said, you can 100% be competitive with factory ammo granted it performs well in your rifle, but youll need to track lot to lot performance and know what needs to be monitored and adjusted as you go

2) rifle and scope (+bipod and sling): #1 thing in my book is reliability...you wont have a good time and youll bleed points if youre fighting feeding/extraction/ejection/trigger issues/scope tracking issues
- knowing what to check and how prior to matches to confirm everything is good to go is a skill set in itself that can be taught in general, but experience is big here...your scope can cost $300 and as long as you can see what you need to see and it tracks true, it can get the job done...although its not something id recommend lol
- accuracy: consistent 3/4moa @ 100 with sub 30 fps ES for 10 round strings is good enough for most everything except for maybe the few stages that stretch out 1200-1500 in certain matches or a few of the stages with things such as tiny TYL/KYL targets...1/2 moa and sub 20 ES will get it done every time, its on the shooter after that

3) dope management: if a shooter understands how/what to do here, this can be completed in less than 20 rounds given 300 to 800 yds (1000+ preferable but not a must)...some guys prefer to verify this on multiple days for confirmation, but if everything is done correctly the first time and there are no weird environmental effects going on, its not usually needed
- the biggest issue with this is, it relies on the shooter skill level to consistently deliver on their end, day to day, for it to be verifiable and consistent...not all shooters are equal

4) gear: kestrel or ballistics app - like above, having either of these doesnt promise anything...knowing how to use them properly is the separator
- range finder - not usually needed during a match unless its a field/hike/find type, but a must for out shooting outside of a match or setup range...does no good to hit things if the distance you think they are is wrong...bad data comes from this and itll will bite you eventually
- pack - personal preference
- tripod - really nice to have for hunting or holding spotter/binos/range finder...rarely NEEDED in a match other than hike/field type, but can be used to an advantage IF THE SHOOTER TRAINS ON USING IT
- dope card holder - not NEEDED, but handy...for the first 2 yrs or so i just wrote everything on my hand lol
- bag - this is another personal thing, but most shooters out there are using some form of the game changer, fortune cookie, rudder, or similar...key is for a shooter to find out what works for them and learn how/when/where to use it

...probably forgetting something here, but thats what i use in matches 99.9% of the time/stages

i think that covers most everything that really matters before getting to the shooter...keep in mind, im basing these off what i expect from myself...im not one of the top 10 shooters in the country, ive finished in the mid 30s ranked the past 3 yrs shooting 4 matches + finale each year...there are others who are way more strict, and others who are more casual, but this is about being competitive which i have no issue putting myself in that tier

5) shooter...
- can you put up 3moa dots at 100 yds and once you have a position built with 1 bag, your reticle never leave the dot? can you dry fire and watch the reticle stay on them every time? if youre not 100%, youll be a step below in skill level
- can you put up 3moa dots and hit them from any solid, front supported position (solid barricade, log, tank trap, etc...not wobbly props)...how confident are you, you would go 100/100 untimed? if youre not 100%, youll be a step below in skill level
- can you change them to 2moa dots...how confident are you, you would go 100/100? if not 100%, again, youll be lacking
- now put 90 seconds on it, and hit 95+% out of every 10 shots from 3-5 different positions...again, if not here, you wont be near the upper level of competitors
- now change it to 1moa dots...can you hit them under reasonable time constraints better than 75% of the time? if not.....refer above^^
- similar applies to 1moa dots prone...if you cant engage them at a 95+% clip under stage times...youll be lacking

the above can be done with very little financial investment other than time and commitment to learning the process...investing in proper training, more ammo, etc will certainly speed up the process and understanding, but if youre on a solid prop, and your reticle isnt holding close to 1moa under no time constraints...shooting more ammo isnt going to be as beneficial as learning how to tighten that hold....i can promise you, top shooters can hit 1" dots at 100 from positional props far more than they miss them without any doubt when they break the trigger...its not a hope/prayer/timing execution, its solid and deliberate...the main issue here is most people dont like practicing...they like shooting ;) all the time i go to the range and i see newer shooters sending rounds, i rarely, if ever see them working thru posititions, and the ones that i do see working them...also move up the ranks much faster

all the above can be evaluated at just 100 yds, nothing special needed and it removes most all of the "extra" that goes into engaging at extended ranges

if we stretch it out...
- if the bullet makes a splash, do you see it 99% of the time? <-- a big skill
- if you see it...can you ACCURATELY call it, correct, and not miss the follow up? <-- another BIG skill that isnt a given for many shooters
- if youre consistently seeing something off down range...can you evaluate and make adjustments on the fly to get things back on track? <-- other than a mechanical failure, this is a skill that can be the difference between salvaging a match, and bombing a match

im probably forgetting more than i think, but im already typing more than i thought this would be lol i figured it would get pretty long tho...

all the above also doesnt depend on caliber, as far as actual accuracy is concerned...i can complete the same things with 6, 6.5, and 308...gas gun, custom with a light trigger, or AI with the factory trigger

what the various calibers and rifles offer is forgiveness IMO...im faster on follow ups with my 6 vs 6.5 vs 308 due to less recoil disturbance between shots...slightly, but its there
if i make a bad trigger press under pressure, my bolt guns will be more forgiving than my gas gun
if im not on the rifle properly, my gas gun vs 308 vs 6.5 vs 6, will exploit it more, in that order
the ballistic advantages are a given but again, if you execute at a higher level, you can beat a guy running a 6mm bolt gun with a 308 gas gun...what happens in a major match is youre running against a partial field of shooters with similar or better skill, and youre giving them a larger window for error over yourself

and all this isnt a given...some guys can cover all these bases within a year and be off and running...others have been going for 10 yrs and still dont have it...everyone has a ceiling, everyone isnt equal, just reality of competition...there are really good new shooters with a limited budget, and there are really bad ones with an endless budget...same goes for experienced shooters

last thing ill cover is what i prepped for the finale this year...and it covers pretty much any match i go to now that i have an understanding of whats needed to be competitive (minus the whole new barrel thing, that doesnt happen every time)

i put on a new barrel the friday night before the finale...i loaded 150 rounds friday night with a $20 lee powder drop of a random charge that i expected to be near a velocity i wanted <-- experience helps speed things up

saturday i went to the 100 yd range and shot 125 rounds, checking the velocity every 10-20 rounds to see when it sped up and settled out...i didnt want a barrel speeding up on me mid match...it settled out between 100 and 120 rounds...i shot some from a bench and others from a barricade to break up the boring...accuracy was easily 1/2 moa, so instead of wasting more time working up a load, i was good enough with what i saw and was comfortable...i went home to load 25 rounds actually weighing charges to verify the next day

sunday i went to a friends land with a buddy...he has an 800 yd range setup...i fired a couple rounds @ 400, couple @ 600, and a 3 shot group at 800...i adjusted what i need on velocity/BC to align it (was only off .2 at 800)...i fired 3 more rounds at 800 and i was done...went home and loaded 250 rounds for the match

match range day (friday) i fired less than 20 rounds from 500 to 1360...dope was good to go

during the match i timed out on 5 stages that i was clean until time expired (cost me 5-6 pts), missed initial wind calls on 3 stages (cost me ~10 pts), and i shot one stage targets out of order (cost me 2 pts)...i used a game changer as my only gear...no tripod for anything other that spotting

i was 16 pts behind the winner and can attribute at least 17 pts to me and my prep...they had nothing to do with actual shooting, but instead execution...btw this takes nothing away from Phil, it was a blazing fast match that required a lot of skill to navigate and hit the targets

i was too slow engaging and transitioning on the stages i timed out <-- my fault for not practicing transitions and position building enough
i missed wind switches/calls during stages <-- my fault for not catching them
i engaged out of order <-- my fault for losing focus and not executing

no gear or gaming would have helped me get those points back

im tired of typing...im sure some can add to this and i forgot some things...we can discuss, but this is basically what i look for and evaluate when going into a match...

now that i have a legitimate understanding of what is required to be competitive and how to execute it all <--- this is a key, and something lots of shooters struggle with

ive had many conversations with matt b. about the fact that once you understand what ACTUALLY needs to happen and how to get there, its much simpler than most think...once you understand how to build a solid position, its just a matter of doing it under pressure, etc...trying to convince people of this is pretty tough sometimes tho...and of course, im welcome to other top shooters opinions and ideas on these things...other viewpoints can shed some solid light sometimes so its always open ended...

*disclaimer: im not proof reading this so hopefully i didnt fat finger anything too bad lol
 
Last edited:

Tx_Aggie

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Excellent post, thanks for taking the time.

Would you mind talking a little about your dry fire practice method (how often, how long per session, what you work on, etc.)?
 

Sheldon N

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Great post Morgan. Like you said, it doesn't take too much gear to be competitive. Just good preparation, knowledge and confidence that your gear will do what you expect it to, and the skill to go out and execute. The only bag I used at the finale was a game changer. I used a tripod exactly once during the match and managed to drop a point anyways (I think you actually watched me shank that one).

The one thing I'd add to your "shooter" section is that in addition to shooting skills, there's the added challenge of doing it under the pressure of competition when everyone is watching and it really matters.

I practice at home on 1MOA targets from barricade positions under tight timelines, and feel pretty good about it when I'm by myself shooting. But at the finale I can think of at least two huge 1 mil by 1 mil targets that I missed for no other reason than just me being sloppy and letting the pressure get to me. The pressure of competition and how you respond is a big factor in how well you perform. Some guys show up and shoot and no big deal, for me it's a huge thing I work on trying to cope with.
 

cattleman99

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Confidence in your equipment is a very large part of it in my opinion. I shot trap through high school. One match I shot like crap. Couldn’t figure out why. I had it in my head that something was wrong with my shotgun, and i lost confidence in it. Didn’t finish so hot that day. The next morning, I went out and repatterned it. The comb had moved just bit and my pattern was off. I fixed it, and regained confidence in the firearm. Shot a 50/50 the next weekend. Same goes for rifle, if you aren’t confident in your gear, your data, or your ability, you just as well sit and watch. Most every match I’ve been to there’s always a guy saying “there’s gotta be something wrong with my dope” or making up other excuses. I’ve heard a lot of cussing because they missed most the targets. Have confidence, take the time to get things right, and always be willing to learn. Practice.
 

morganlamprecht

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Confidence in your equipment is a very large part of it in my opinion. I shot trap through high school. One match I shot like crap. Couldn’t figure out why. I had it in my head that something was wrong with my shotgun, and i lost confidence in it. Didn’t finish so hot that day. The next morning, I went out and repatterned it. The comb had moved just bit and my pattern was off. I fixed it, and regained confidence in the firearm. Shot a 50/50 the next weekend. Same goes for rifle, if you aren’t confident in your gear, your data, or your ability, you just as well sit and watch. Most every match I’ve been to there’s always a guy saying “there’s gotta be something wrong with my dope” or making up other excuses. I’ve heard a lot of cussing because they missed most the targets. Have confidence, take the time to get things right, and always be willing to learn. Practice.
Absolutely, confidence in your gear and having a rock solid mental game go a long ways

You can also get to a point where when equipment fails, and it will...you know it and can address it afterwards

Perfect example was my Jurassic match this year, I dropped 3 shots thru the first 6 stages and then my barrel dumped...I was missing and trying to make corrections and nothing was consistent the rest of the match...verified the barrel post match and it was lucky to hold 1.5 moa post match...gnarly fliers

I know what it normally looks like when I shoot and how it should be down range, and it wasn’t happening...tried to clean and revive it but no luck...that’s when the new barrel went on and all problems went away
 

morganlamprecht

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Excellent post, thanks for taking the time.

Would you mind talking a little about your dry fire practice method (how often, how long per session, what you work on, etc.)?
Man...this is the part I don’t like giving advice on lol it might not help anyone

I don’t really have one...

In 2016 before the brawl, i was shooting pretty well in the club matches and I made a conscious effort to win that match...I went to the 100 yd range 4-5 days a week for the 2 weeks prior...I’d get on each position I could work from by flipping the range benches or whatever and find something I felt was stable by experimenting...elbow on knee, knee under butt stock, slung up, etc...once I found what I liked best, i would fire a couple rounds to check recoil management in comparison...then I would run thru a stage dry firing and check speed building the position...once I had those basics I did it for time until I liked what I saw relating to the accuracy above

Since that match the majority of my shooting time is spent either
a) working up a load/confirming zero @ 100
b) conforming dope prone
c) helping MD and shooting in club matches
d) shooting a new rifle/scope/etc and testing it out or getting it setup

Other than out messing around or experimenting with random techniques, I haven’t dry fired with the intent of practicing in a couple years (this is why I still make careless mistakes and finished in the 30s each year instead of moving up... I haven’t put in the effort to move myself up like others have, that’s on me)

I use the club matches as my practice now...I try new things there and sometimes it doesn’t always relate to the best finishes, but I’m good with it as I’m there with a purpose...which is always to try and win lol but sometimes I have stuff I’m getting in order for a bigger match that’s coming up...since I usually shoot at least 1 club match per month, I’m usually not too much out of practice at any given time

I also try to learn something from every shot...I don’t just take a guess at wind and send it and hope for the best or ask for someone to spot it and correct me...I try to take wind readings and make purposeful evaluations, I look at terrain/mirage/etc and try to quantify it so I have a reference for later on...every shot I send, I want to see it, and I don’t rely on a spotter to call it (this also slows me down some as I get caught watching every now and then when I need to be moving)

If I was going to have a practice routine it would involve what I mentioned above...get things down where you can execute them consistently without time constraints, then work on efficiency and time management

Once you have a rifle that shoots well, you can run thru a mock stage dry firing and should have a certain level of confidence on how well you would have shot it firing actual rounds...if you have to guess if it would have been hit or maybe a miss...there’s room for improvement there

I feel comfortable saying I could run thru most stages dry, and given making a proper wind call and having correct dope, I could tell you what my score would be pretty closely based on the dry fires I broke

Like Sheldon mentioned above, being able to do it on command with everyone watching is a big part...I had an old bball coach who used to say “pressure bust pipes, but can also make diamonds”, it’s always stuck with me...I’ve competed in various sports at a pretty high level my whole life so I’m pretty comfortable under that stress, for others it’s new and something that needs to be worked out thru reps and preparation
 
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anotherwannabe

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Nov 16, 2018
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tough act to follow for my second post on the forum and two guys who can shoot lights out. but since morgan asked and i’ve exchanged messages with sheldon on this exact topic (though we differ in opinion) - i thought maybe my input might encourage new shooters to come out and compete more next year.

i shot with morgan’s squad at the finale and was bringing up the rear at #132/145 (ohhhh ahhhh). i think my % finish was 73% of winner, which i’m pretty happy with all things considered. in slightly better news, i did win production class at the finale, and for the season. who doesn’t like getting a trophy in the end? it would be sweeter if we had more people in production obviously, but i'm not sure why so many guys talk about shooting production and maybe even buy equipment, but never turn out.

i probably would never have attempted a national PRS event if i thought i needed a (minimum) $3500 rifle + $2500 scope to start plus all the extras. despite the nay sayers, production class actually “worked for me”. if shannon wants my feedback as just some first year dude on how to make production better and more accessible, i’d be happy to try.

topics at hand: are there jersey’d guys that are dicks? absolutely. i've seen a few things PRS should be ashamed of if they knew it happens. are most of them dicks? absolutely not. don’t let a few spoil the bunch. i’ve received far more beyond the call of duty help and advice, than dickery from top 100 guys - but i have received some of each. in a previously life i’ve been a nationally competitive athlete in something totally different, story is no different here or there. enough type A competitive personalities and shit happens.

i can’t say enough about people who did help me through the season with advice - justin watts, ryan hey, nate peterson, micah hedgecoke (who is like 20 years younger than me) and even morgan, who helped me at the finale a few times when i still looked like a deer in the headlights.

as for equipment, i won production this year with $795 6.5 creed ruger precision rifle bought off gun broker, a $125 harris bipod, and a vortex pst ii for ~$1200. the barrel had 2650 rounds down it just before the finale. my only modification from off the shelf, is a bolt on sawtooth rifles arca rail $119 that squares up the round foreend on the RPR. it is a nicety i added just for the finale, but i don’t think it really changed my scores dramatically.

i’ll save some of the specific equipment, reloading, or other stuff for a later post if anyone even cares. after a first season of shooting in production class, my opinion is that aside from making a few really limiting bad mistakes (no box mag, shit that doesn’t hold zero, failure to feed or eject), the equip isn’t holding my scores back yet. do i have a few wish lists on better equip? sure. but they’re probably not what anyone buying a PVA arms or MPA production rifle is thinking about yet. if they think a RPR isn’t accurate or “fancy enough” to compete successfully in production class, i'm proof that it is.

the number of points i dropped in the finale due to the modest equip is clearly much harder to quantify than the 14 points i obviously dropped due to writing down the wrong f*cking dope on a stage and a prs barricade at 400 yds i missed 7/8 on (for reasons i still can’t explain) as two huge mental errors. i’ll never know until i try, but i would guess a fancier rig would have picked me up 10 shots, at most, of the 48 missed , the rest is all me . equipment envy is real, i feel it, but $6k in a new gun plus 2k in tripod and binos buys another two years of matches and ammo. i clearly need the practice and experience more than a gun still.

i beat some other production shooters who own -multiple- $1999 production class rifles and even an open setup, but chose not to shoot it to stay in production. what i'’ve got above is the nicest stuff i’ve got, not because i can't afford a nicer setup, but because i don't need one yet. if you’ve got something similar and are willing to practice then let’s squad together and go toe to toe, that’s the fun of it! i’ll help you get better as much as i possibly can until we can both give morgan a run for his money!

what is next? after winning production this year, will i invest in open class gear next year? maybe... but probably not. it’s unbelievably easy to gear up and blow 10k on things that aren't really going to change your score substantially. my % of winner finishes was nearly a straight line up from first match into the finale this year, due to just practicing - same equipment all year. if i continue to improve my % finish vs top open at each match next year, it’s clearly me, not the gun....

i think i -might- be able to get to ~85% of top open with, just, more, f*cking, practice. at some point i’ll certainly be equipment limited, and maybe i’m already missing a point or two here and there, but it’s certainly not the main reason 80% of the dropped points at the finale.

i don’t know how to end this... reddit style? i'm a production shooter - ask me anything?
 
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djarecke

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Mainly looking for the newer/less experienced shooters opinions as i hear similar things echoed quite a bit

gear, reloading equip, time, etc...any of it

i will save my thoughts for later and lay out exactly what i prep before a match and hopefully some misconceptions can be revealed, or some positive can be shared/gained in both directions
Sam Statser and I just wrote an article for Guns and Ammo Precision Rifle Magazine on what is needed to compete for new shooters. Our hope is that the article will be published in the spring.

In summary, I wrote that a top level shooter could win a national level match with a Ruger RPR, a Gamechanger bag and factory ammo. I personally carry 2 bags with me and use one bag 90% of the time.

Obviously there's more to it than that like wind calls, strategy, having good dope, etc., but that's where the club series comes in - to pair up newer shooters with more experienced shooters that will help them develop their skills. In my opinion, the biggest issue one needs to overcome is performance under pressure. In other words, we shoot great at the range or in practice, but at a match we're making simple mental errors and sacrificing good form to try to get all our rounds downrange before we time out.

To counter this, I always focus on form. "Form" means fundamentals and sending a perfect shot at every target independent of time. The only instance we even consider "time" is when the start buzzer goes off. Shoot at the pace at which you're capable of sending shots with perfect form. If you time out, who cares? You just reinforced good technique which will invariably help you shoot more quickly as you gain experience.

I shoot in North Texas and if anyone wants to pair up at a weekend match at Cresson or one of the club matches, I'd be happy to shoot the match with you and introduce you to the sport. Just PM me or send me a message on the old Facebook machine.
 
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morganlamprecht

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tough act to follow for my second post on the forum and two guys who can shoot lights out. but since morgan asked and i’ve exchanged messages with sheldon on this exact topic (though we differ in opinion) - i thought maybe my input might encourage new shooters to come out and compete more next year.

i shot with morgan’s squad at the finale and was bringing up the rear at #132/145 (ohhhh ahhhh). i think my % finish was 73% of winner, which i’m pretty happy with all things considered. in slightly better news, i did win production class at the finale, and for the season. who doesn’t like getting a trophy in the end? it would be better if we had more people in production, but a lot of guys talk about it and maybe even buy equipment but never turn out.

i probably would never have even tried national PRS event if i thought i needed a (minimum) $3500 rifle + 2500 scope to start plus all the extras. despite the nay sayers, production class actually “worked for me”. if shannon wants my feedback as just some first year dude on how to make production better and more accessible, i’d be happy to try.

topics at hand: are there jersey’d guys that are dicks? absolutely. ive seen a few things PRS should be ashamed of if they knew it happens. are most of them dicks? absolutely not. don’t let a few spoil the bunch. i’ve received far more beyond the call of duty help and advice, than dickery, from top 100 guys - but i have received some of each. in a previously life i’ve been a nationally competitive athlete in something totally different, story is no different here or there. enough type A competitive personalities and shit happens.

i can’t say enough about justin watts, ryan hey, nate peterson, micah hedgecoke (who is like 20 years younger than me) and even morgan who helped me at the finale a few times when i still looked like a deer in the headlights.

as for equipment - i won production with $795 6.5 creedmoor ruger precision rifle off gun broker, a $125 harris bipod, and a vortex pst ii ~$1200. the barrel had 2650 rounds down it before the finale. my only modification from off the shelf is a bolt on sawtooth rifles arca rail $119 that squares up the round foreend on the RPR. it is a nicety i added just for the finale, but i don’t think it really changed my scores dramatically.

i’ll save some of the specific equipment, reloading, or other stuff for a later post if anyone even cares. in production class after a first season of shooting, my opinion is that aside from making a few really limiting bad mistakes (no box mag, shit that doesn’t hold zero, failure to feed or eject), the equip isn’t holding me back yet. do i have a few wish lists on better equip? sure. but they’re probably not what anyone buying a PVA arms or MPA production rifle is thinking about yet if they think a RPR isn’t accurate or “fancy enough” to compete in production class.

the number of points i dropped in the finale due to the modest equip is clearly much harder to quantify than the 14 points i obviously dropped due to writing down the wrong f*cking dope + a prs barricade at 400 yds i missed 7/8 on, for reasons i still can’t explain. i’ll never know until i try, but i would guess a fancier rig would have picked me up 10 shots at most of the 48 missed , the rest is all me . equipment envy is real, i feel it, but $6k in a new gun plus 2k in tripod and binos buys another two years of matches and ammo. i clearly can use the practice...

i beat some other production shooters who own -multiple- $1999 production class rifles or actually own an open rifle, but chose not to shoot it to stay in production. the crap i’ve got above is the nicest stuff i’ve got... if you’ve got something similar and are willing to practice then let’s squad together and go toe to toe, that’s the fun of it! i’ll help you get better as much as i possibly can until we can both give morgan a run for his money!

i don’t really know what i should do next... after winning production this year, will i invest in open class gear next year? maybe... but probably not. it’s unbelievably easy to gear up and blow 10k before your wife even notices. my % of winner finishes was nearly a straight line up into the finale this year, due to just practicing - same equipment all year. if i continue to improve my % finish vs top open at each match next year, it’s clearly me, not the gun....

i think i -might- be able to get to ~85% of top open with, just, more, fucking, practice. at some point i’ll certainly be equipment limited, and maybe i’m already missing a point or two here and there, but it’s certainly not the main reason for the dropped points at the finale.

i don’t know how to end this... reddit style, ask me anything?
good post man, and ill add that im sure most of us started in a similar spot...my first match i showed up with a garage assembled savage with a prefit barrel...looking back it shot plenty well enough then to be competitive, but i sucked ass lol

after a few matches, i got to the point where i figured i was going to enjoy doing this for a while so i just made the choice to buy what i wanted and enjoy it...everyone is in a different situation of course so thats up to each individual

another thing for the newer guys coming in, sometimes at a match, myself and im sure others too, might be focused on something or sidetracked...someone asks a question and it may just be a short/straight answer...its not an attempt to blow anyone off or be a dick, its just a "im focused here, not there..." type thing im sure we can all relate...there are some guys who are just dicks always, but some may just be bad timing

i know myself and local buddies i shoot with, we haze and bag on each other on the clock and between stages mercilessly...we try not to direct any of that at the newer shooters until theyre more comfortable, but im sure sometimes they might get caught in the crossfire on accident lol none of it is personal, just how we are
 
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Txmxracer

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Thank you for all of the great information Morgan. I have been shooting 3-gun,carbine,USPSA,PCC pretty much anything with triggers for 8-10 years and finally made the leap into precision rifles this last year. I was all wrapped up about gear when I started but after going to a few matches I realized that a solid rifle/optic combo,good dope and a few bags was all it took. Sure all of the latest gear is fun but watching the good shooters work a stage you realize it always comes back to the same thing. Getting into a stable position and breaking a clean shot. If you can not do that then all the gear in the world wont help.

shane
 

Tactical Taz

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tough act to follow for my second post on the forum and two guys who can shoot lights out. but since morgan asked and i’ve exchanged messages with sheldon on this exact topic (though we differ in opinion) - i thought maybe my input might encourage new shooters to come out and compete more next year.

i shot with morgan’s squad at the finale and was bringing up the rear at #132/145 (ohhhh ahhhh). i think my % finish was 73% of winner, which i’m pretty happy with all things considered. in slightly better news, i did win production class at the finale, and for the season. who doesn’t like getting a trophy in the end? it would be sweeter if we had more people in production obviously, but i'm not sure why so many guys talk about shooting production and maybe even buy equipment, but never turn out.

i probably would never have attempted a national PRS event if i thought i needed a (minimum) $3500 rifle + $2500 scope to start plus all the extras. despite the nay sayers, production class actually “worked for me”. if shannon wants my feedback as just some first year dude on how to make production better and more accessible, i’d be happy to try.

topics at hand: are there jersey’d guys that are dicks? absolutely. i've seen a few things PRS should be ashamed of if they knew it happens. are most of them dicks? absolutely not. don’t let a few spoil the bunch. i’ve received far more beyond the call of duty help and advice, than dickery from top 100 guys - but i have received some of each. in a previously life i’ve been a nationally competitive athlete in something totally different, story is no different here or there. enough type A competitive personalities and shit happens.

i can’t say enough about people who did help me through the season with advice - justin watts, ryan hey, nate peterson, micah hedgecoke (who is like 20 years younger than me) and even morgan, who helped me at the finale a few times when i still looked like a deer in the headlights.

as for equipment, i won production this year with $795 6.5 creed ruger precision rifle bought off gun broker, a $125 harris bipod, and a vortex pst ii for ~$1200. the barrel had 2650 rounds down it just before the finale. my only modification from off the shelf, is a bolt on sawtooth rifles arca rail $119 that squares up the round foreend on the RPR. it is a nicety i added just for the finale, but i don’t think it really changed my scores dramatically.

i’ll save some of the specific equipment, reloading, or other stuff for a later post if anyone even cares. after a first season of shooting in production class, my opinion is that aside from making a few really limiting bad mistakes (no box mag, shit that doesn’t hold zero, failure to feed or eject), the equip isn’t holding my scores back yet. do i have a few wish lists on better equip? sure. but they’re probably not what anyone buying a PVA arms or MPA production rifle is thinking about yet. if they think a RPR isn’t accurate or “fancy enough” to compete successfully in production class, i'm proof that it is.

the number of points i dropped in the finale due to the modest equip is clearly much harder to quantify than the 14 points i obviously dropped due to writing down the wrong f*cking dope on a stage and a prs barricade at 400 yds i missed 7/8 on (for reasons i still can’t explain) as two huge mental errors. i’ll never know until i try, but i would guess a fancier rig would have picked me up 10 shots, at most, of the 48 missed , the rest is all me . equipment envy is real, i feel it, but $6k in a new gun plus 2k in tripod and binos buys another two years of matches and ammo. i clearly need the practice and experience more than a gun still.

i beat some other production shooters who own -multiple- $1999 production class rifles and even an open setup, but chose not to shoot it to stay in production. what i'’ve got above is the nicest stuff i’ve got, not because i can't afford a nicer setup, but because i don't need one yet. if you’ve got something similar and are willing to practice then let’s squad together and go toe to toe, that’s the fun of it! i’ll help you get better as much as i possibly can until we can both give morgan a run for his money!

what is next? after winning production this year, will i invest in open class gear next year? maybe... but probably not. it’s unbelievably easy to gear up and blow 10k on things that aren't really going to change your score substantially. my % of winner finishes was nearly a straight line up from first match into the finale this year, due to just practicing - same equipment all year. if i continue to improve my % finish vs top open at each match next year, it’s clearly me, not the gun....

i think i -might- be able to get to ~85% of top open with, just, more, f*cking, practice. at some point i’ll certainly be equipment limited, and maybe i’m already missing a point or two here and there, but it’s certainly not the main reason 80% of the dropped points at the finale.

i don’t know how to end this... reddit style? i'm a production shooter - ask me anything?
it is nice to hear from someone actually shooting production. The issues with production class are probably for another topic and probably already been hashed on here plenty before. I essentially shot production this year also in that I used my rpr and burris. I practiced a shit ton with it, saved my money and built a lower end open rig this fall. It would be nice if production class was more accessible to newer shooters. I would have made an effort to shoot it this year if PRS, under the previous ownership, hadn't blown me off on recording my scores last year and showed that they really didn't care about the class. If I can only make three matches to get my score and the first score doesn't get counted, it doesn't leave a ton of incentive to go to the other two. I hope a lot of other new shooters didn't have a similar experience. I think production should somehow tie into the club series. I suspect participation would increase substantially. I think a production class shooter is wise to burn out a barrel of two. When you are thinking about building an open class rig, you can fondle all the fancy rigs you want at matches while still working with what you got.
 

LH_Gina

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I agree with all the points @morganlamprecht made but most specifically this:

"now that i have a legitimate understanding of what is required to be competitive and how to execute it all <--- this is a key, and something lots of shooters struggle with

ive had many conversations with matt b. about the fact that once you understand what ACTUALLY needs to happen and how to get there, its much simpler than most think...once you understand how to build a solid position, its just a matter of doing it under pressure, etc...trying to convince people of this is pretty tough sometimes tho...and of course, im welcome to other top shooters opinions and ideas on these things...other viewpoints can shed some solid light sometimes so its always open ended..."

Jim See posted something a while back that I started doing. I have ridiculous jitters for the first couple of stages of every match. He recommended having a friend go to the range with you and put you through a stage. Basically, your friend designs a stage and gives you about as much prep time as you would get at a real match. Being the first shooter on any stage sucks, so I think of this as training some of the mental errors away. In practice, this means keeping the stage a secret from the person we're going to the range with and surprising each other with a COF. We get 2 mins to prep, gear limitations, round count limits... In other words, all the same stuff you'd be faced with at a match. I prefer to use the mind erasing device known as a shot timer as well.
 

Hollywood 6mm

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I'm on the same train of thought as Morgan and Gina. I intentionally went to a smaller pack for the 19 season because it limited the amount of crap I can carry around. I still carry 3 bags (Pint Size GC, Python, and large Fat Bag), but two of the three (FB and Python) are now firmly in the 'insurance' category - I only carry them because they're light weight and there are rare times I genuinely need one of those bags. 95% of the time, though, they stay in the pack. I have a couple of other insurance items I carry (bipod leg extensions and different bipod feet), but they are also light and take minimal space.

IMO, all the gear you 'need' to be successful in 90% of PRS stages (beyond rifle, optic, and ammo) is pretty simple - A good 'do-all' bag like a GameChanger/Pint Size/etc, solid data for your rifle, and a way to keep up with said data. Everything beyond that is going to be very situation specific (IE: Tripod required stage, long bipod legs, additional bags), and can usually be borrowed from another shooter or provided by the MD. If you have the budget (both in money and how much weight/bulk you're willing to carry) to haul those fringe items, then do so - I have a decent amount of gear I carry for those fringe cases, but it's all selected to minimize weight and/or bulk so it's not a pain to keep up with. That said, for 90% of shooters (especially newer shooters) you can easily get through a PRS match without hauling that stuff around - just borrow it from the guy that's got it.

Mental tools are FAR more important than physical tools. Ability to read wind (especially if it changes mid-stage), self-spot and make accurate and timely corrections, problem solving and solid position building under pressure, and time management (Lots of people overlook that last one) are several orders of magnitude more important than what gear you're hauling around or using. To me, simpler is better - have a small number of physical tools that are highly flexible and that you can use proficently under pressure, and expand your mental toolbox to handle what gets thrown at you during a match. Refine your use of physical and mental tools until both are second nature, and you will see drastic improvements in your performance.
 
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kabarNC

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So much good info here, thanks to all who posted. I am running a rebarreled Tikka in 6.5 Creed, Bushnell DMR2, Gamechanger, and some kind of fat bag, and I am 100% positive my gear is not holding me back. I've shot around a dozen club matches local to NC here, and have plateaued in points around 25th to 35th/100.

It's me that's holding me back now. My buddy and I decided to get into rimfire trainers a bit ago, and that has helped me out alot. We have 300yds to work with, have a small course set up, and try to get out there at least once or twice a week. I feel, for me, a rimfire lets me get rounds downrange for cheaper, gives me good feedback on rifle/trigger control, and run match scenarios, all while being able to read wind, dial scope, watch for impacts, etc. We had a rooftop stage kick our butts awhile ago; we built our own roof. Barrels, barricades, you name it, if it's in a match, we want to practice off it, along with the "mind eraser button" lol.

Again, thanks for the thread. @morganlamprecht , @Sheldon N , @LH_Gina , your posts are gold, thanks for the tips and advice
 

Keyrock

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This is one of the most interesting discussions on shooting I’ve seen in a while. I’d like to thank you for sharing your wisdom.

I have shot about about a dozen national matches over the last four years and I am convinced that the biggest issue is the mental state of the shooter.

Every once in a while, better gear will make you shoot like a rock star, but that’s the exception. The biggest issue with gear is that you have confidence in it.

It’s really easy to start questioning your zero, your dope and your life choices during a match and that’s not going to be a good weekend.

Everyone will run into gear problems at some point, but it doesn’t seem to really drag down the top shooters. They might not have finished as well as they intended, but they still finish much higher than me.

Also, to the the new shooter thinking about bags and tripods and such, it is incredibly easy to borrow a bag or pillow from your squad. Don’t let the lack of the latest bag hold you back on signing up for a match.
 
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ThePretzel

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I started shooting in PRS matches this past spring and here's the items I have and take with me to every match now:

  • 1 rear bag (mainly used for zeroing the gun in the morning, but also used on the occasional prone stage)
  • 1 barricade bag (I like my Tactical Udder - this is the bag I use probably 95% of the time I need a bag)
  • 1 larger "positional" bag (I've got a Traust that works well for me, but I mostly use it as a chair or on rooftops/standing shots)
  • 1 rifle with a decent travel range scope
  • Ammunition that's accurate in my rifle with known and measured velocities
  • 1 Kestral (though other ballistic calculators will work as well, the Kestral is helpful for determining current conditions)
  • 1 Python dope holder (real helpful to draw out the stage above the dope, so you know where to look for the next target)
  • 2 1-liter water bottles (I drink plenty of water, and these are normally refilled when I eat lunch if it's an all-day match)
  • 1 backpack to carry it all around with me, I just use my backpack from college
I would like to get a tripod, but for me it's not something I'd consider a "must-have". It's something extra to carry, and on many stages I feel just as stable free-recoiling off an obstacle using my Udder as if I had a tripod while being able to move faster.

If I had to compile a list of the bare minimums it would be 1 barricade style bag, some kind of ballistic calculator or a comprehensive data book on your rifle with that ammo in various conditions, and the water. The rest fall more into a "nice-to-have" category where I appreciate them enough to not leave them behind, but I have and would shoot matches without them if needed.
 

Lionsbreath

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I’ve enjoyed reading all these awesome posts here, I’ve shot 3 matches so far and the fire is just getting stoked.. I’ve been running a 20” .308 in Tac division currently in the process of getting a 6.5 rebarrel.. I’ve done my share of dry/ fire and recently acquired a Vudoo for training!! Rem 700, good scope, good dope, and a game-changer is all I run, or can afford..For me it’s all about staying loose, talking junk, and having fun, (thinking about), but not over-thinking each stage- screw those 25 guys watching you 🤨 I’m on fire and hunting heads, losing sucks I wanna win, and help as many people as I can along the way-
 

Dthomas3523

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So, I have been shooting PRS style matches about 6 months now. I’m lucky enough to shoot with Morgan’s club and have learned a lot.

When I started I thought like everyone else does, I’m gonna get out geared. I can shoot, but these guys are gonna beat me with gear.

Over the course of the past year (and the 6 months of competing), I have probably had $50-100k worth of gear pass through my hands. I didn’t pay that, I spent probably 10-20k and sold/traded around a lot.

I won’t go into all the gear I’ve tried, but after 6 months, this is my list:

I have an impact and an AI rifle. Also a vudoo. They all play important roles in my competing and training.

Kestrel 5700 elite w/link

Data book

Fortune cookie bag

Pump pillow bag

Rangefinder

Tripod (rarely uses more than spotting)

I also have an ingenuity Gunworks rail with barricade stops and quick moving bipod adapter. The barricade stops are ok for some things, but the fortune cook works as good or better once you learn to get behind the rifle properly.

That’s all I carry with me now after playing musical chairs the last 6 months with gear.

The last couple matches I have mainly only used the fortune cookie, and on a stage or two the pump pillow. Since I’ve just gone with those bags for 90% of stages and just focus on the fundamentals, breathing, trigger control, sight picture, npa, recoil management, etc while I’m shooting a stage, my scores have improved dramatically.

I also went to a regular skmr reticle without the tree, as I’m dialing 90% or more and when I do need to hold, it’s typically not too far off the vertical.

So, my point is, less often more in this game.
 

rgv

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So, I have been shooting PRS style matches about 6 months now. I’m lucky enough to shoot with Morgan’s club and have learned a lot.

When I started I thought like everyone else does, I’m gonna get out geared. I can shoot, but these guys are gonna beat me with gear.

Over the course of the past year (and the 6 months of competing), I have probably had $50-100k worth of gear pass through my hands. I didn’t pay that, I spent probably 10-20k and sold/traded around a lot.

I won’t go into all the gear I’ve tried, but after 6 months, this is my list:

I have an impact and an AI rifle. Also a vudoo. They all play important roles in my competing and training.

Kestrel 5700 elite w/link

Data book

Fortune cookie bag

Pump pillow bag

Rangefinder

Tripod (rarely uses more than spotting)

I also have an ingenuity Gunworks rail with barricade stops and quick moving bipod adapter. The barricade stops are ok for some things, but the fortune cook works as good or better once you learn to get behind the rifle properly.

That’s all I carry with me now after playing musical chairs the last 6 months with gear.

The last couple matches I have mainly only used the fortune cookie, and on a stage or two the pump pillow. Since I’ve just gone with those bags for 90% of stages and just focus on the fundamentals, breathing, trigger control, sight picture, npa, recoil management, etc while I’m shooting a stage, my scores have improved dramatically.

I also went to a regular skmr reticle without the tree, as I’m dialing 90% or more and when I do need to hold, it’s typically not too far off the vertical.

So, my point is, less often more in this game.
Dthomas3523 my experience is very similar to yours, I’m fortunate that I can buy and try a lot of gear but similarly I’ve ended up actually shooting with fairly simple stuff.

Whenever I fool around On the internet and think I need to buy a Prometheus scale or a $500 bipod my policy now is to go to my shop and dryfire for 20 minutes at my 1moa targets stapled to my fence line. About 2 or 3 minutes in I get reminded where the weak link is and I buy powder, primers, and bullets instead.
 

bschneiderheinze

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The question ask what you need to be competitive ( I would define competitive as being in the upper half) and all the stuff mentioned is a must but I will throw in to be competitive a cheap practice rifle definitely helps so you aren't burning up barrels on your primary rifle. I just starting shooting last April and have already burnt through 2 barrels. Switched form 6 creedmoor to 6br which should help a little.
 

DownhillFromHere

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Interesting stuff. I've shot five large matches over about a year and a half. I come from a competitive clay-target (skeet) background. I got to the top of that heap (AAA classification in all four gauges) 20 years ago, and burned out. See below.
  • I practice about twice a week with .22/.223/6.5CM, usually at 500 yards and occasionally to 1000
  • Needed change: practice positional stuff. I know my rifles now; no need to continue the "is it right?" routine.
  • Ammo: I get 1/2" or better with Prime or Hornady match rounds. That's enough.
  • Handloading: See preceding point. I regard handloading with the same affection as swabbing toilets. I load thousands of pistol rounds a year. Pick up whatever brass I find on the range, tumble it, cram in cheap polymer bullets, gage it, and go shoot. I've loaded centerfire ammo for a rifle I traded for my first 6.5CM Tikka. I Really.Do.Not. want to get sucked into the time sink again. I save my once-fired brass and sell it.
  • Equipment: I'm fortunate and blessed to be able to buy pretty much whatever toys I want to try. As others have posted, less is often more. Great custom rifles and top-rung optics help, but they doggone sure are not necessary. My first "serious" rifle was a Tikka TAC A1 with a Gen-1 Vortex Razor. The only time I wished for "better" was an early-moring stage where it was hard to see targets in the deep shade. I now have "better" in both rifle and optic. Is it about $2k difference "better" than the Tik-TAC-OldRazor? Definitely not if $$$ are limited. Not even close.
  • Kestrel & similar: So far, not having one hasn't hurt me in matches. Of course, those who do have them are gracious in sharing temp & wind info.
  • Classes: I've taken two. The first one didn't help much; it was a 1-day thing too basic and unfocused. The second was a 1x1 class that focused on managing movement on different props after confirming that my rifle's zero and dope were good and I knew how to use them.
  • What does help the most? Practice. Have a plan for progressing. For me, the plan has been:
    - Gain experience with and confidence in my rifle and supporting gear, especially ballistic calculator.
    - Attend matches with an emphasis on "learn" as opposed to "win" (which will never happen - I'm almost 66 years old and I'm too arthritic and slow to get all my shots off in stages requiring a move-shoot-move-shoot-...).
    - Start running positional drills on the clock.
    - Worrying about building expertise in wind calls, for me, is secondary to the preceding. Some of that expertise accumulates naturally with participation in matches and in practice. It's simply not something I concentrated on early in the journey.
Skill limit - As Morgan described above, no amount of practice and gear will elevate the typical mortal to "best of the best" levels. If that were the case, anyone with time and money could be "professional" at whatever sport they want. There's just something "extra" in the true champions of any sport that practice cannot put in them. I've shot skeet for 50+ years. I've had the privilege of shooting with and officiating for true legends of the sport - guys who shot 2,500 competition 12/20 gauge targets in a season and hit them all. Running perfect scores was analogous to walking upright - it was just what you had to do to get into the shootoffs. I was in the same NSSA classification as them. I worked hard and practiced hard to get there. But was I competitive with them? HAHAHAHAHAHA no. If one of them had a bad day and missed a target, I might have beat them. But over time, I wasn't even close. It's a fact of life. Shoot for enjoyment. If you have to win to have fun, well, 99.9% of people are not gonna have fun.

Mental game - This is the aspect of shooting sports that fascinates me. There's a Facebook meme that shows Will Smith in "Men in Black" holding the neurolyzer. Caption says "Shooter ready? Stand by... BEEP" And the next picture is the face of the guy whose skin the "bug" moved into, captioned "I don't know what happened after the beep."

So true. In skeet, if you put the right lead on a target and do the shot right, the target will break. The myriad variables that are always present in rifle are not in play - the targets, course of fire, etc are always exactly the same, subject only to whims of the weather. It's an almost completely mental sport. You KNOW you have to hit all 100 targets to have a prayer of winning (class winners notwithstanding). Hitting any individual target is easy. It's hitting all of them, staying on the mental edge for 75 minutes, that's challenging. So when you're coming down to the last half-dozen targets in a 100-target event and you're still straight - especially the first time - the mortal shooter's hard is racing, breath is shallow, mouth dry. I've seen national and world championships lost on "easy" targets missed - @!#^ I have lost top gun a bunch of times by missing the last target out for a 99, the equivalent of missing a 6-inch putt in golf. HEAD GAME. One world champion I've shot with over the years missed one target of of 400 in the 2nd biggest shoot in the country - a low 7 single, a target I can shoot all day from the hip.

My point is simply that what goes on between your ears is the limiting factor in how good you can become. One guy I know was running 100-straights before his voice changed. A 99, or heaven forbid a 98 were Bad Days for him. Another guy I know has shot at least 200 targets a week for years and he has never run a 100-straight.

For me, I'm going to enjoy rifle for whatever years I have left that I can get into position and shoot, however slowly. I know that having all the best equipment is never in a million years going to transform a mediocre shooter into a winner. "Winning" for me is simply participating and improving.
 

Alpine 338

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Great conversation here, one thing I'd like to add that will help those new Shooter's in addition to Practice, Practice, and more Practice... When you're shooting a match, concentrate on making quality shots vs. trying to engage all the targets or get all your shots off in the required time limit. I've been shooting PRS style matches going on 8-years now, and my biggest obstacle to success was always trying to beat the clock. Many matches will have redicalous short time limits, and they design the COF to challenge even the most seasoned Shooter's. The last two years, I found that If I ignore the clock, and just take quality shots, I will do better in the end. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and I still find myself at times racing the clock trying to finish the stage before I time out. I need to remind myself to relax, slow down, make those hits. Any amount of hits are still better than a bunch of misses within the time limit.

In my experience, everyone I've ever squaded with over the years has always been helpful, and always willing to share gear. As Morgan said, many Shooter's or "Jerseys" get into a zone, trying to plan out how they're going to shoot a stage, and it appears they may be jerks or standoffish, but once you get to know them, they can be some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet. When you get squaded with new people you don't know, go introduce yourself, tell them your new at the game, and ask them if it's Ok to ask for help and pointers, often they will bend over backwards to help you out.
 
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DownhillFromHere

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Great conversation here, one thing I'd like to add that will help those new Shooter's in addition to Practice, Practice, and more Practice... When you're shooting a match, concentrate on making quality shots vs. trying to engage all the targets or get all your shots off in the required time limit. I've been shooting PRS style matches going on 8-years now, and my biggest obstacle to success was always trying to beat the clock. Many matches will have redicalous short time limits, and they design the COF to challenge even the most seasoned Shooter's. The last two years, I found that If I ignore the clock, and just take quality shots, I will do better in the end. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and I still find myself at times racing the clock trying to finish the stage before I time out. I need to remind myself to relax, slow down, make those hits. Any amount of hits are still better than a bunch of misses within the time limit.

In my experience, everyone I've ever squaded with over the years has always been helpful, and always willing to share gear. As Morgan said, many Shooter's or "Jerseys" get into a zone, trying to plan out how they're going to shoot a stage, and it appears they may be jerks or standoffish, but once you get to know them, they can be some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet. When you get squaded with new people you don't know, go introduce yourself, tell them your new at the game, and ask them if it's Ok to ask for help and pointers, often they will bend over backwards to help you out.
Excellent points re concentrating on making quality shots vs. beating the clock and top-rung shooters being helpful.

When I was doing skeet competition, we shot during club off-hours when we could have a field to ourselves. Any casual shooter would think we were way too serious and not having fun. I thought that myself before I started sanctioned competition. Even now, with rifle, on weekends I avoid the ranges to which I belong. Hard to practice seriously while being showered with steel casings from the BANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANG HEY I HIT IT guys (who often bear careful watching for other reasons).

But any of us would help the newbies all we could after we'd shot our 100 targets and a round or two of tiebreaker doubles.
 

Mporche

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As a second year shooter I think practice is the most important and cheapest thing you can do to better yourself.One of the top shooters in the country told me dry firing and having a consistent form doesn't cost a dime.
 

ThePretzel

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As a second year shooter I think practice is the most important and cheapest thing you can do to better yourself.One of the top shooters in the country told me dry firing and having a consistent form doesn't cost a dime.
It's definitely the thing that helped me improve the most. A barricade bag is a must, but at the same time it's the only bag I use 95% of the time.

The bag makes for easy practice too since you can go around the house/apartment setting your rifle on desks, counters, tables, chairs, and whatever other unusual objects you can find practicing dry firing at a target print out (if you have short focus or a focus adapter) or out the window (if you're not pointing it at your neighbor, no matter how much you hate his 5:00 AM lawnmowing routine).
 

bitchkitten25

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A good rifle, scope, and ammo combination that is capable of shooting 1/2 MOA seems to be a standard response. Outside of that, for me personally I'd add a Gamechanger as wsll as my fat bag since I'm short and I need to use it quite a lot to make up for that. Outside of gear, I think the right attitude and a good mental inventory is about it. By that I mean you need to have a drive to improve, get rid of negative self talk, learn to be a good observer, and keep careful track of not just your shortcomings, but also your strengths.