What do you get when you bring one hundred people together, give them an exciting activity, feed them and hand out prizes? Well, you have a shooting competition, that's what!
Some time ago I realised that I'd enjoyed many years of shooting in the field where each shot counts, in competitions all over the country and down to club level. I've shot a lot! What I hadn't done though, was give much back to the sport; I hadn't volunteered much, just some coaching here and there. I decided to make that an area of focus and got together with some mates to come up with an idea.
When I shoot in the field it's to kill things, in competition it's for series points or some type of ranking; It's all practical in nature though.
The field is practical shooting because it's shooting at live targets in an uncontrolled environment and in competition it's the same although the scenarios, the stages of competition, are contrived to simulate real-world situations: Hunting, law enforcement and military. I've had a lot of success but also performed poorly but the common denominator is that it's all been a lot of fun. With that in mind we started talking.
When a few of may mates and decided to put something together in an attempt to give back to the sport of shooting, the clubs and ranges, we also decided we wanted to promote the sport, present it well and responsibly, plus give shooters a chance to do something that most never will, especially at clubs and ranges; Introducing new people was also a focus.
We set to work putting together a rimfire challenge series that would promote safety and fun whilst offer challenging shooting, the need to problem-solve, speed and accuracy and an over-arching buzz around the sport of shooting in general. It was also designed to get some cash flowing back into the ranges that hosted our events through entry fees, food and drinks sales and other commercial opportunities. We thought we'd get 15-20 entrants...
We were wrong.
We decided to use the .22LR rifle as the firearm as they are cheap, most shooters have one and the ammunition is also cheap. They are reasonably safe in a new shooters hands too so easier for our Range Officers (R.O's) to police during shooting stages.
We have a couple classes of firearm being Open Division One (Anything can be done to the gun) and Division Two (Accessories limited to scope and bi-pod only). We have guns ranging in price from a $500 system to $11,000+ systems, some are purpose built for our competition and others are just bunny-guns straight off the farm.
We have shooters from 12 years old to 76 years old, male and female. Some are serving or past military personnel and law enforcement shooters, farmers, club/range shooters, brand new shooters and just about everything in between. They come far and wide too, with four Australian States having been represented.
The event ethos
My mates and I are all practical shooters. This means we are presented with complex shooting stages of static and moving targets, urban and in-field environments, cardboard and steel targets and scenarios that require planning and strategy, accuracy and speed. You can Google IPSC Shooting if you are interested to learn more.
In that form of shooting scoring is done differently. Points aren't simply tallied from a target. It's Comstock scored. This means the score achieved, minus any penalty points are divided by the time it took to complete the stage. This gives a hit factor which is the score.
So, 115 points divided by 25 seconds is a hit factor of 4.6 for example.
It's designed to put the shooter under pressure to perform in the shortest possible time, with the greatest possible score and fewest penalties. It's hectic.
In handguns for instance I might shoot some 32 rounds, run, climb, crawl, lay, kneel and so on in a stage that uses only 15-22 seconds. It's pretty furious. I've posted video of this previously.
So, we wanted to bring that sort of dynamic action to our rimfire challenge as it hadn't been done before. We thought a few might be interested in a run and gun rimfire rifle event...
We were wrong.
Yep, we were wrong with a few being our expectation.
Our first event brought 70 shooters together to compete over the course of the day. We had some 25 support staff for Range Officers, score-runners, target maintenance, match director, scorers, spotters and the like plus the range had around 10 people to handle the catered breakfast, lunch and after-event drinks. Since then we have had that sort of turn out and up to 100 shooters.
One of our steel targets we made. The green dot is the target, the pink thing is a laser cut steel jeep. The black cable slightly behind is a hit indicator - Hit the green dot and a light flashes.
We run the event 4 to 5 times a year and use different ranges to keep things interesting. Some are local and some are over 5 hours away from the capital city in which we all live. So, we have to travel a lot, take time off work to set up and pack up...None of us gets paid for this but like I said, it's about giving back.
We use various props as available at each range which we survey months ahead. We make all the targets ourselves, plus additional props, and design the stages in
heated friendly stage-meetings at the pub.
We also like to use cool props to keep things interesting and so far have used a jeep, plane, buggy, motorbike, flintstones car, pickup truck, angled roofs, deck of a ship and various other big props. (The deck of the ship is simulated - A platform suspended off the ground by long chains that the shooter must shoot from - It's wobbly.)
One of our past props. The shooter had to do some physical activity, climb the back of the jeep and shoot off the roll bar at targets down range.
We also make our moving targets which activate when struck using electronic switches, magnets and mechanical means. So, in a stage a shooter may hit a target that might activate another that runs on a cable, that activates another that bobs up and down then disappears and so on. One of the ranges also has a western town set up which we make use of...It's a pretty cool run and gun stage when we add some of gizmos and gadgets.
Making the competitors shoot in odd and awkward positions, under physical duress and on moving (dynamic) targets all adds up to a challenge. Add in the comstock scoring and yep...Hectic shit.
I mentioned the Flintstones car. It ran on rails for about 60-70 metres. We started the shooter at one end and they had to sit there and roll it backwards with their feet.
As they went backwards it dragged targets (by cable) from concealment to concealment and other targets would present themselves as it moved, then disappear as it moved further back. The faster a person moved it, the faster the targets would appear and disappear. Too fast and you missed targets and gained penalties, too slow and you were not going to get a good stage-time, so not a good score. Savvy? It was one of our most popular stages.
We make our targets in various sizes as we are limited for range (distance) depending on what range we are at on each occasion. So smaller targets are used, some only 0.5mm in width, that's 0.19 of an inch. Of course that would be for a close up target, say 30 metres or so and with the time factor it becomes a challenge. We range the targets out to about 120 metres though and they are a little larger out there but still very challenging.
A steel popper in purple, that falls forward when struck) and a know your llmits rack. The smallest target at the other end is a 0.5mm strip of steel. Start at the big end and see how far you get...Miss and your scored is zero and the stage ends. Eight targets on the rack with a transition between each to a target target down range required before engaging the next smallest - 60 seconds on the clock. Hectic.
The Range officers either start the shot timer with a beep and shooting commences and finishes when the shooter is finished, or time elapses and the score and time is recorded (for the scorers to tally and calculate later). We use stop plates for the comstock stages also. This is a steel target plate rigged with electronics to stop the clock when struck. We make all of this gear ourselves.
We reward 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each Division with a trophy plus top female and top junior. We have had cases where the top female or junior has also placed in the top three in their Division.
Everyone has a great time. It's good-natured, fun and safe. We all hang out together for some food and a drink and to chat about what happened, what should have happen and what will happen next time. Shooters are often extremely optimistic about their next event.
We, as organisers, get a lot of enjoyment out of doing this event although it is a lot of work. I also mentor a few people so there's extra work too.
The hosting range (club) received the greater portion of the entry fees, around 80% and with takings at the canteen normally make somewhere around $4,500-$5,500 per event. We take a portion for target manufacture and trophies and that's it. There's no profit for us.
We have ranges both here and interstate begging for us to run an event at their location but we keep it exclusive to 4 events, 5 tops, per year so we have to say no. They could run one themselves I guess, but considering we have around $10,000 of equipment that we don't lend out...It would be costly and not possible.
This year we had some special events planned in some excellent locations. One, the finale, was a two-day event about 300km north of the capital city on a property tat would have given us opportunities to create some amazing stages. Unfortunately the virus struck and we won't do an event this year at all. It's a bummer, but we will come back strong next year and are already planning some devious stages.
So, it's long I know, but I hope it gives you an idea of our little event. I don't shoot rimfire myself, so I do not compete in them. But I still get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing the fun people have and to seeing shooters improve each event. As I said, I do some coaching for some of them so it's great to see that paying off and my people moving up the leader board.
So that's about it. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments.
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