Bright and early Friday morning I found myself loading gear into a rented minivan with two other shooters, heading east for North Carolina and Woody’s Precision Rifle Series Match at Woody’s Rifle and Hunting Club in New Hill, NC.
Woody’s is well known for their Designated Marksman team matches. 2014 was the first year for the Precision Rifle format. This match was an individual effort match and qualified for points in the Precision Rifle Series.
Prior to the match, shooters received an email containing stage descriptions and Saturday starting time. The stage descriptions are a great touch. It allowed me to more confidently pack my gear and help prevent the “kitchen sink” packing I usually do.
Saturday morning squads were required to check in one hour prior to their start times. Woody’s made this easier by staggering the start times. Squads 1-4 started at 7:45. Squads 5-7 started at 8:20. This helped reduce the amount of standing around.
Check in went smoothly. We signed the roster and were given an updated stage description pamphlet as well as an information sheet with ranges to each known distance target. This was a great touch. It allowed me to quickly write out my dope to each target to minimize prep time at the stage. Accuracy International was kind enough to provide each shooter with a 5-round AICS Magazine. For those of us shooting AI based systems, it was nice to have another backup. For those who weren’t, it was still a gift worth $70 on the open market.
Normally matches start with each squad on a different stage and rotate from there. However the first stage at Woody’s was a 200 yard Cold Bore shot on a B&T Industries Ace of Spades playing card. Since this was a true “cold bore” it had to be the first stage for all shooters.
I applaud Woody’s for the staggered start times. There is nothing I hate more than waking up at the crack of dawn, then standing around for hours. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. A thick layer of morning fog prevented the first four squads from taking their “cold bore” at the assigned time. This pushed their time back into squad 5-7’s start time. This was understandable and totally outside the control of the match staff. The upside was the delay allowed me time to finish my hotel coffee (no close Starbucks) and talk to other shooters. The match staff was great about keeping us informed about the delay.
Soon enough it was our turn to line up for the “cold bore”. Weather was a classic cool and wet North Carolina morning. I was covered head to toe in my goretex, so I flopped right down on the ground and felt the heat sucked out of me. I set my bipod hight, lined up my rear bag and settled in. Unfortunately I did not realize that we could dry-fire prior to the shot. When the order came, I loaded and readied the shot. The conditions were almost perfect. The light was even. The wind was down and there was no mirage. Shooters had one minute to prep and one minute to engage. I went though my pre-shot checklist and pressed off the shot. It felt perfect. However since we were shooting to hit the black spade in the center of a card placed on a black background, hits were almost impossible to spot. Slight misses were easy. Thankfully I didn’t spot any hits in the white. We wouldn’t know our score on this stage until we picked up the cards at the awards ceremony.
The next stage was a 200 y egg shoot. One at a time, shooters engaged the egg furthest to the left. A first round hit was worth 50 points. A second round hit was worth 25. After pressing off two shots my Humpty Dumpty was still perched on his wall and I took a zero for the stage.
Our final two, 200 yard stages were a five shot dot drill on 1″ dots and a seven yard grouping drill on a 1.5″ dot. Since I missed the egg, I used the dot drill to verify my zero. Unfortunately I didn’t “believe the gun” quick enough and lost some points. It was at this point that I realized I was two tents off on my windage. I was able to correct and drive on. Interestingly enough I had made a two tenths correction to my zero prior to leaving for the match. Seems like I wasn’t shooting 100% on my final prep day.
After our paper stage was done we had some time to wait until a squad cleared our next stage. We got word that we would be heading to the “Lagoon” stage. As we watched shooters come back from the Lagoon we realized we were in for some fun. Most of the shooters from that stage were coming back coated with a lovely Carolina clay/mud mix. Apparently the shooting position was a mud puddle.
The Lagoon stage was actually titled “Sniper on Run #2 Over Watch”. The shooter was required to carry all equipment he needed to complete the stage. The start point was at the bottom of a dike around the Lagoon. On command the shooter was to draw their handgun and engage six steel pepper poppers. The shooter then set their pistol on top of the provided barrel and sprinted to the top of the dike with their rifle slung. There they had six steel “flasher” targets from 144 yards to 412 yards. The shooter had four minutes to complete the stage. Each target was worth 10 points and a failure to neutralize on a pistol target would result in a -10 point penalty for each.
Thankfully by the time we got to the Lagoon, the other shooters had absorbed most of the water from the mud puddle and left us with a damp clay pad. The Lagoon held one other surprise. After engaging the pistol targets and dropping into your shooting position, you could only see five of the six targets. The 207 yard target was hidden from view. Additionally if you positioned yourself too far right, the 406 yard target was obscured by a tree branch. After a great run on the handgun, the tree branch got me. I tossed three rounds into it before I shifted my position. That is one of the disadvantages of the light 107gr bullets. A .308 probably would have trucked on through the pine needles and gone 200 more yards to hit. The time I spent on the branch caused me to run out of time before I was able to get a stable sitting position on the 207 yard obscured target.
The Lagoon was one of the first stages for the “equipment race” shooters who had the foresight were breaking out shooting sticks, tripods and other forms of support. My teammates and I misunderstood the rules when prepping for the match. We though that we would be required to carry all our needed equipment (for the day) on our backs. So we packed light. Had I known that we could select gear from the van for each stage, I would have brought my excellent Alamo Four Star DCLW Tripod and shot he whole stage from a high kneeling. The tripod would have helped on two other stages over the two day match….but it was safe at home in the shop.
It was a short hike from the Lagoon to the “Pole” for our next stage. More properly titled “Sniper in Hide being Overrun”. Shooters had one minute to shoot six steel “flasher” targets from 195 to 490 yards, then draw their handgun, chamber a round and shoot six steel pepper poppers. There were no tricks. This was just speed and accuracy. The field was relatively open and wind was gusting from 5-12 mph. Some shooters were blessed with relatively calm wind, some got ugly gusts in the middle of the string. I managed to pull my head out of my posterior and run this stage clean. Without any “gaming” or equipment advantages to be had, most shooters did well on this stage.
With my confidence slightly restored we loaded up the van and drove down the road to “Sniper on the Run”. This was the last of the Day 1 pistol stages. The shooter started with his rifle slung, pistol holstered and his hands placed on two marks painted on the roof of a decrepit Jeep Cherokee. On command the shooter drew his handgun and engaged six pepper poppers from through and around the Jeep. The shooter then sprinted 20 yards to a barricade and box arrangement. The rifle targets were set from 267 yards to 465 yards. The shooters box was a landscaping timber set a couple feet from the barricade. The shooter’s body had to remain inside the “box”. This required shooting 90 degrees to the axis of the bore. To add more difficulty there was a second barricade set at a right angle to the first. This kept the wind off the shooter and made accurate wind calls extremely difficult. I started the stage well and cleaned my pistol targets. When I got to the box, it took me an extra, valuable seconds to get a solid position and begin engaging the targets I took two with first round hits. The wind picked up as I moved to the third and I didn’t catch it until I sent the shot. I saw the impact, adjusted and whipped another, but didn’t hold enough and still missed. The 210 second time limit ran out on that target. This stage bit a lot of shooters and I blame the windbreak for it.
We jumped back into the van and rolled on down the road to our last two stages of the day. First up was the Roof. Woody’s built a fantastic Roof Prop. It was shingled exactly like your roof at home, a standard angle and extremely sturdy. The description for this stage had the shooter standing behind the roof with all gear in hand. On command the shooter mounted the roof and engaged his choice of three plates downrange at 600 yards. The plates were sized 6″, 8″ and 10″. The smallest was worth 50 points. The medium plate was worth 20 points and the largest was only 10 points. The shooter could divide his five shots between the plates however he wished in the 120 seconds allowed.
This stage should have been easy points for most shooters. The roof allowed for a very stable shooting position. I borrowed my partners “tactical pillow” and was able to settle into a really nice position. However I was not able to score a single hit. My wind was good, but after talking to the spotter all my shots were high. The plates were all “flashers” so a hit on the very top will not activate them. I was able to calculate that I was about two tenths high. I knew my dope was good for 600. Also interesting was the fact that most of the shooters in our squad were two tenths high. Looking down the score sheet shows lots of zeros for that stage, including one of the top ten shooters. Once we finished the Roof, we moved over to the “Wall” the targets were the same. Time was reduced to ninety seconds and shooters had to use the stepped “wall” barricade for support. Again, lots of shots over the top and zeros down the sheet. I managed to score one hit on a large plate once I got in my mind that a dope correction really was needed. Arguments abounded that the plates were shorter than 600 due to the placement of the obstacles. Another theory was that a headwind was causing the difference. We were not able to verify either situation and it doesn’t really matter as long as the level of difficulty was equal for all shooters.
Sunday started at 8am. Squads were each sent to different stages. Our fist stage of the day was Range Estimation.
Shooters were allowed time to glass the area and locate the six LaRue targets. Two were 10″ round LaRues and four were 20″ silhouette LaRue Targets. Shooters were given 240 seconds to estimate the range to the target. Each target was worth 5 points if you calculated the range within 5% of its true range. No laser rangefinders were allowed. Any manual or electronic calculators were allowed. I chose to use the rangefinder portion of the Ballistic AE app on my iPhone. In hindsight, I believe my MilDot Master would have been faster.
The furthest target could not be seen from a prone position. This was another stage where my tripod would have been perfect. While I had time to range 4 targets, I was only credited for one.
Once all of the sheets had been scored and handed back, it was time to shoot. Shooters were given four minutes to engage all six targets. A first round hit was worth 50 points. A second round hit was worth 25. Even though I was only credited with one correct range, I scored five first round hits. I knew I was running out of time, so I guessed on number six. I could see the target marker, but not the target itself. I knew it was over 800 yards and sitting was not an option. I estimated it’s position threw a hold on it a let one fly. It was a miss, so I cranked my last shot out. The spotter called that I landed short. I was still pretty happy to roll out from that stage with 250 points.
The Safety Officer cleared us to head back to the Lagoon for the “Boat Simulator”. The Boat stage used a 4×8′ platform suspended by chains as the shooting platform. The rifle targets were the same as the Saturday Lagoon stage. The pistol targets were changed to two IDPA type steel plates. The shooter could choose to start from a barrel at the middle of the hill, closer to the steel. This would require them to shoot the steel, then run up the hill. Alternately the better pistol shots could start at the top of the dike. This placed them a couple feet from the “Boat”. Shooters were allowed five shots in the handgun. Pistol targets had to be hit twice to neutralize. Once the pistol had been expended the shooter dropped it on the barrel and climbed on the boat. Shooters were allowed to touch the ground to steady the platform, but could not touch anything but the platform when the shot was fired. Most shooters chose to drag their toes, only lifting them before the shot. Time limit was 150 seconds. I cleaned my pistol shots from the top of the dike, then jumped on the boat. I started well with a clean hit on the close target. I went to the left for the 406 yard target, but could not find it against the tree line. To increase the difficulty, none of the targets or stands had been reprinted. I then got out of order and called out my intent to engage the 300 yard target. However I swung past the 300 yard target to the 360 yard target. I nailed it, but since the spotter was on the 300, no points were awarded. When I figured out what I did, I swung back to the 300 and time expired before I could score a hit.
This stage was a perfect learning point. Prior to starting the stage I got overconfident and did not “run” the stage in my mind. Once I decided how I was going to shoot the pistol and mount the platform, I did not plan through the rifle targets. It bit me hard. If I had played it through I would have been able to smoothly swing between the targets and improve on Saturdays score. The time to socialize is after you shoot the stage. Before the stage I should have been focused solely on how to shoot the stage.
Sunday was an example of how well Woody’s is run. The fields of fire for several of the stages were overlapping. Additionally they crossed roads on the property that had to be closed. Great care was taken to make sure stages were cold so that shooters could move between points.
After we cleared the Lagoon, we moved out to the “Escape and Engage” Stage. This was in the same shooting area as the Wall and Roof. Once we got to the staging point there was some down time. We ran into the squad in front of us. This provided ample time to socialize. A few took the time to stretch out in the trees and grab a nap. I took the time to grab a snack and pound water. Dehydration had been creeping up on me all day since I drank far too little on Saturday.
At the “Escape and Engage” stage, all but the 10″ plate had been removed from the 600 yard line. Shooters started in the woods with their hands on a downed tree limb. On the start signal the shooter had to draw, then run down the trail shooting four pepper poppers on the way. The shooter could engage on the move or stop to shoot. I chose to shoot the first two while stationary at the start point, then sprint to the “end point” and drop the other two. This prevented the many trees from getting in my way. Pistol was limited to six rounds. Once the pistol targets had been neutralized, the shooter moved to the rifle position. The firing point consisted of a chain covered by a rubber hose. This was strung between two sturdy steel posts. The chain could be used however the shooter wished as long as it contacted the bottom of the stock. Several shooters chose to use a tripod and just hold the chain against the bottom of the stock. This took a considerable amount of time for these shooters to get setup. With a ninety second time limit, I chose to run it “old school”. I took a double kneeling position. Set the rifle on the chain and drove the magazine into it to tighten everything up. This allowed me to get three rifle hits before the time expired. That was good enough for a 14th ranking on that stage.
The last stage of the match was the most technical. During the briefing, shooters were taken up into a hide constructed in the second story of an unfinished house. Three targets were pointed out. Shooters could glass the targets, but no reticles or rangefinders could be used. Once all shooters had a chance to look at the targets, they were returned to a staging area. We were given the sizes of the targets, but not the ranges. On command the shooter was to run up the stairs to the second level and engage the targets near to far. Shooter had two shots for the first target, three for the second and unlimited for the third. Only the second and third counted for score.
After the briefing I broke out my Kestrel and plugged in the numbers to estimate the range. I knew I wouldn’t have time to do math on the clock. I quickly wrote out a table based on the ranges I guessed. This would allow me to measure the target in my reticle. The height in mils would allow me to run across the table and output my holdover without any math or electronics involved. I did this for each of the three targets. When my time came I mounted the stairs, jumped on the platform and hit my first target. That one was easy. With a 10″ target and .243 I could be off on my range by 50 yards at intermediate ranges and still nail it. The second target killed me. It was around 650 yards and placed on a rise. I sent my first one and got no visible feedback at all. I confirmed my hold and ripped another one. Still no splash. I figured I was sending them over the top, so I held low and still got no splash. Three misses ended my run with a dismal failure. Once I finished, the SO asked my estimate for the middle target. I told him and he confirmed my 650 guess was very close. I have to attribute the misses to a wind call. I could have been so dialed into getting the range, that I didn’t second guess my wind call.
Once our carload had all finished the stage and packed up, we were cleared to return to the barn for BBQ and to await the scores. I was really not feeling good about my performance. I made far too many stupid mistakes and generally did not have my head in the game. When the scores were tabulated I pulled a 34th place finish out of the 76 shooters who shot all stages. Bryan Morgan from K&M Precision took home the win. Ryan Castle took second and Dustin Morris won third.
Regardless of where I finished in the scoring, I had a great time. The courses of fire were challenging and forced me to re-evaluate how I approach some shooting problems. It will help me to fine tune my training at home. I feel that any match that forces me to improve as a shooter is a win in my book.
Overall Woody’s provided a professionally run and friendly atmosphere for shooters to come together. No match is without problems. The few that I saw were handled well by the staff. When possible the rulings were in the shooters favor. Our experience at Woody’s PRS Match had me and my partner trying to figure out a way to make it back for a DMR Match.
• War Sport
• Accuracy International
• BB Shooting
• Bullseye Camera Systems
• US Optics
• Vortex Optics
• Thunderbeast Suppressors
• FNH USA
• JP Rifle
• Manners Stocks
• Tactical Suppressed Weapons
• BT Industries
• Schmidt & Bender
• GA Precision
• Devil Dog Arms
• Hawk Hill Customs
• Spectre Target Systems
• Short Action Customs
• Tactical Firearm Finishes
• Crye Precision
• Wicked Edge
• Oakwood Controls
• Diamond X Custom