Practice for my first PRS Match - Signed up for Match!

northny

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I did a previous post on my preparation to shoot 1000 yards for the first time which was an after the fact report.

Now I am preparing to go to my first PRS match, and I thought I would let you in on the laughs as I go along. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes without making them. Feel free to make your own mistakes in your own practices and post them here for all of us to learn from your misery.

For my starting point, I have a bolt action rifle / scope set up capable of going to 1000 yards. It will shoot sub MOA. Same set up that I used for going to 1000 yards but this time in 6.5 Creedmoor instead of 308. I have decent dope in various weather temperatures that I have confirmed out to 500 yards. I have a ballistic calculator. I covered all that in the other post so I won’t go over any of that again. This post is not about the rifle, loads, scope or dope. Its about practice.

For practice equipment I have an Armegeddon game changer bag that I really like for hunting. Over the rail of a ladder stand, or used on the sill on a shooting house it is great. Right now I plan to use the game changer bag as my one “do everything” PRS bag. I have a couple of empty chamber flags, a few spare mags. I have a shooting matt, and an 18” x 18” by 6” box I put together from scrap lumber. I have access to a couple of ranges going out to 300 yards. I have a CED7000 shot timer, which I picked up a few years ago but hadn’t used at all.

So that’s the starting point. Doing my online research, I came up with the following initial training plan, based on what I think I need. It is likely wrong and will be modified.

First, I’m planning for almost all my practice to be out of position shooting. I don’t need more time shooting small groups either prone or off the bench, but I will do some.

Second, I planned to do a selection of drills that I feel would be beneficial to me.

Third, I wanted to run some simulated stages in addition to the drills. Both the drills and simulated stages would be on the clock.

For the simulated stages I elected to begin with three of the PRS Skill Stages that are listed in the back of the PRS Rules book. Skill stages 1, 2 and 3 can be scaled to 100, 200 or 300 yards fairly easily. I chose to work at 200 yards. As you go from stage 1 to stage 2 to stage 3 they get increasingly harder but build on skills as you go. Stage 1 is prone with multiple targets. Stage 2 is a barricade with movement after each two shots. Stage 3 is multiple targets, movement, and mandatory mag changes. Use your google fu, and look up a copy of PRS rule book for 2020. The descriptions for the skill stages are at the end in the appendix. The PRS rule book is a short pamphlet, and I recommend you read the whole thing. At a minimum read the safety rules expected of each shooter. I plan to follow the rules in my practice and it will be one less thing to stress about in my first match.

As far as drills for practice, I opted to ignore (for now) the ubiquitous dot drills. Seems like a great way to burn a lot of ammo and get into bad habits. I may come back to them. What I am currently using is an 11 second drill. (I will have to go back and see where I first learned about this and give credit). The basis of the 11 second drill is you get in your starting position, and you have 11 seconds to move to your position, establish a stable shooting position, and make one good shot. So for PRS skill stage one, it was move to mat, get prone, make one good shot. For Stage two move to barricade, make one good shot (repeating for all four positions on barricade). For stage three I start prone on matt, move over to box, make one good shot.

Dry firing at home, the drills worked. I experimented with various ways to quickly build a stable shooting position. Times came down so I could meet the 11 second target. I was also breaking my habit of automatically chambering another round so I would be ready to move with an open bolt and empty chamber. I added to my 11 second drill a 15 second drill, where you have to make two good shots. I was ready for the range, and the first warmer afternoon I had free last week I headed out.

As an experienced deer hunter, I tell newer hunters that there are more ways you blow a chance to kill a good buck than you can count, most of which occur before the shot. Seems the same thing is true for running a PRS stage. I’ll continue in next post on what went wrong.
 
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northny

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So for my afternoon at the range I expected to successfully run through my drills, then the stages, and leave feeling good and looking forward for new items to increase my skills. Well that didn’t happen. If this had been a match, with only one chance to do it and then move on it would have been a disaster, and it would have had little to do with my shooting.

So lets run through the failures, which are all based on my dry fire practice at home having been done incorrectly. My dry fire practice was with my shot timer, the rifle, and either my bag or bipod my bag depending on whether I was shooting prone off the mat or off box or barricade. I use the shot timer for two reasons. The first is that it is a convenient way to give a starting beep, and an ending beep for 11 sec drill or the 90 sec par on simulated stage. The second reason is I’m told everyone loses 10 IQ points when the beep goes off if you are not use to it.

So my first time up on the 11 sec drill. ”Shooter ready?” “Yes.” “Standby.” At which point I hit the timer start button and 7 seconds later the start beep will go off. I anxiously wait for the beep ready to charge out the gate. And wait. Then I realize the beep went off and I didn’t hear it. A few more tries and I confirmed my normal range headwear of both plugs and muffs are effective and I could not hear starting beep. Cr*p. So I dug a pair of electronic muffs out of my bag, and solved that problem. Kind of indicative of how the afternoon would go.

So let’s run through the other issues

I found that with the mag in the rifle, and the bipod on, I could not use the bag the way I had practiced as there wasn’t enough space under the rifle. I had not used a mag in dry fire practice, and had used either the bipod or the bag. So I took some time figure out a way I could use the bag with the magazine in and the bipod on. Its just your average Harris Bipod.

Next I found out I was running out of hands in the starting position. At the command “load and make ready” I had rifle and bag in left hand, mag in the right hand, and a chamber flag in the barrel. Only two of which I had simulated in my dry fire practice, not having used a magazine or a chamber flag. I pulled the chamber flag out with two fingers and tossed it aside and inserted the mag. The problem came when the RO told me to clear and make safe at the end of the stage, and my chamber flag was back at the starting point. The RO gave me grief about that. I should point out that in my simulated stages I am both the shooter and the RO. You should also know that the RO is a pr*ck. I am, he is? (I really do have to find someone to practice with or all this calling out range commands to myself and then responding may create problems.) So I worked out a routine of where I am going to keep my chamber flag, (and a spare) and where I will have my magazine (pocket or pouch) at the start.

Then I had to figure out how I was going to handle two or three mags for the mag changes for the third skills stage, when I was also carrying my bag. I was running out of pockets. I had not brought any mag pouches with me, or used them in practice

Two other things also cropped up. One was that the jacket I was wearing was loose enough to sometimes grab and hold the adjustable butt plate of the rifle in a position I did not want it to be. It was distracting and cost me time, I did not successfully complete an 11 sec drill when it happened. The other was that a few times I short stroked the bolt, and the following round did not feed. Another distraction and time thief.

So the bad news was a lot of issues cropped up that I had not anticipated. The good news is they are easily remedied, and I am happy they came out early in a practice and not at my first match. I mean as it was it had me annoyed and swearing at myself, and that was before my dual roles of shooter and RO came into play. (Insert official disclaimer here. Please turn on your sarcasm meter. I really don’t hear voices in my head, its just literary license and hyperbole. Which is exactly what you would expect a nut job to say. OMG JK!)

There were a few good things that came out of the practice. First of all, the RO never had to call me out for moving without the bolt back and an empty chamber or any other safety violation. I think I am getting the habit to immediately rechamber another cartridge under control. Second, I shot fairly well. I’m getting a feel for the cadence of how to split time in establishing a stable position and getting off good shots to use most of the allowed time. My first stage I used only sixty seconds to get off 8 shots (two misses). I rushed more than I needed, the other attempts much better. Another advantage of the shot timer is it records the time of each shot in the stage so there is no guess work involved in how much time you used.

So I have a list of things to work on for next time. I am revamping my dry fire practice simulations. I ordered a bunch of snap caps so I can work with a mag loaded with snap caps in my dry fire simulations and fix short stroking the bolt. I already have some spare mag holders that I need to determine how Im going to use.

The other two things I have on my list is to square myself more to the rifle on the barricades, and (my personal never ending quest) to follow through the shot and not have a happy finger.

As a side note, for a barricade for skills stage two, I simply used my 18” wood box I build for the PRS Skills stage 3. I clamped the box to the top of a bench at the range. My four barricade positions were on the bench to the left of the box, on the top of the box, on the bench to the left of the box, and then back to top of the box. For everything my targets were colored construction paper in four or six inch squares, or 5” circles.

I know it will be three weeks before I get another chance for range time. Longer if the weather is too cold. But I can still do lot indoors. I’ll do an update after the next range session.
 
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northny

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So day 2 update. I will start by saying the dry fire simulations using the snap caps fixed my short stroking the bolt. I used a package of 10 blue AZoom snap caps from Mid South Shooters. They worked great.

Day two provided ideal conditions (sunny and calm) so I used it to transition from my .308 Win to the 6.5 Creedmoor rifle I’m going to use. I got a good 100 yard zero and chronographed the ammunition. Ran a ladder test on scope and confirmed dial ups for 200 (207 yards -Harvard) and 300 yards.

The scope on 6.5 Creedmoor is identicle to scope I have on .the 308. It was purchased at same time from same vendor. It also has the exact same issue of the elevation clicks are closer to .262” instead of .25”. I’ll live with it for now and put it on list of things to upgrade. 😔. I put an update on this test with the details / pictures on my thread of “shooting 1000 yards for first time.”

I also plan to shoot some CMP high power matches this year so also got a good zero and chronographed loads for my service rifle.
 
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northny

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So day 3 update. Worked mainly 12 second and 20 second drills. Then PRS skills stage two, 2 shots from 4 position at Barricade in 90 seconds par time. Things went well, got off all eight shots on both attempt under time. Didn’t shoot it clean. Six of eight both time. Target was 5’ paper circle at 200 yards.

Conditions were ideal for practice. Targets in shade and sun in my face. Wind 8-10 mph full value Right to left, except when it stopped for a moment. I’m still using up some .308 practice loads I have which are lite and slow and more effected by wind. My first two shots with center hold impacted near left edge so I changed to right edge hold which fixed me up. I was pleased with seeing it and making adjustment on fly.

My misses were not related to wind. Probably all due to clock in my head yelling hurry up and take the shot, and I rushed a shot to not run out of time. Then felt stupid when I had time left over. So I will be working on only making a good shot, and let time worry about itself. I had same problem when training for Appleseed shoots, I’ll get a handle on it. I still need to work on squaring to barricade, and I’m not doing free recoil correctly. Things for dry fire practice.

That’s it for now.
 
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northny

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So if I can’t shoot....

A lot of dry fire practice. Can’t say it’s exciting. I did take the time to rebuild a section of my portable barricade. Just updated it to change the height to match new spec for PRS skills stage.

I did buy a Dillion 550 and a RCBS chargemaster, both out of NES classifieds. Setting them up to do my .223 / 308 / and 6.5 CM.

That’s about it
 

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So if I can’t shoot....

A lot of dry fire practice. Can’t say it’s exciting. I did take the time to rebuild a section of my portable barricade. Just updated it to change the height to match new spec for PRS skills stage.

I did buy a Dillion 550 and a RCBS chargemaster, both out of NES classifieds. Setting them up to do my .223 / 308 / and 6.5 CM.

That’s about it
You can always buy a decent 10m target air rifle for at home practice .
 

northny

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So I have been slacking off on my PRS practice. A little dry fire and cadence work. BUT that’s about to change. I have signed up for a PRS match scheduled for Aug 15. Stuff is about to get real!

Two pieces of good news.

First the scope issue of post three is resolved. Turns out my scope elevation clicks are in MOA so each click is quarter MOA (.262 inch) not a quarter inch. I changed my ballistic program to give my dial ups in MOA and all is in agreement. Life is much simpler.

Second I am becoming happier with my ability to call the wind. last week I shot a 600 yard known distance range with my AR with a near 5lb CMP trigger. I was shooting a heavier bullet (69 grain) at a slower speed that was optimized for small group size and as a result I had more wind drift than normal. After my two sighter shots, I held everything from 4 MOA left to one MOA right as the wind shifted and dropped the next twenty rounds into the black.

I’m going to have limited range days between now and the match. I’m will also only have opportunity to shoot to 300 yards, but I’m not too concerned about that. My immediate concern is to get some stretching and yoga in to become more limber
 
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So I have been slacking off on my PRS practice. A little dry fire and cadence work. BUT that’s about to change. I have signed up for a PRS match scheduled for Aug 15. Stuff is about to get real!

Two pieces of good news.

First the scope issue of post three is resolved. Turns out my scope elevation clicks are in MOA so each click is quarter MOA (.262 inch) not a quarter inch. I changed my ballistic program to give my dial ups in MOA and all is in agreement. Life is much simpler.

Second I am becoming happier with my ability to call the wind. last week I shot a 600 yard known distance range with my AR with a near 5lb CMP trigger. I was shooting a heavier bullet (69 grain) at a slower speed that was optimized for small group size and as a result I had more wind drift than normal. After my two sighter shots, I held everything from 4 MOA left to one MOA right as the wind shifted and dropped the next twenty rounds into the black.

I’m going to have limited range days between now and the match. I’m will also only have opportunity to shoot to 300 yards, but I’m not too concerned about that. My immediate concern is to get some stretching and yoga in to become more limber
Reading your posts is inspiration for those of us (ok, me) on the outside looking in... Sort of a PRS - Get Off Your Damn Couch And Go F’in Shoot Challenge
 
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