Photos by: Barry Evans, Squadsignup.com
We had barely unpacked from the Precision Rifle Series match at Woody’s Rifle and Hunting Club when we were invited back to experience the awesomeness that is the Woody’s Designated Marksman Match Series.
This year was Woody’s first Precision Rifle Series match. While it was a great match to shoot and went relatively smoothly, we kept hearing how great the DMM matches are. It didn’t take much talking to convince my shooting partner Nick, to take a ride back down to New Hill, North Carolina.
Normally a ten hour drive to a one day match requires two nights in a hotel away from home and two travel days. This can be a little bit of a strain financially and on vacation time for those of us who work non-standard schedules. However, Woody’s DMM isn’t the normal match. Instead of “squadding up” and shooting each stage of the match as a complete squad, Woody’s assigns each two man team a “tee time” prior to the match day. You arrive before your tee time. Checkin in, then shoot each stage in order. You finish and go home. One important thing to note is that the DMM match is a “team” match. Both shooters will shoot on each stage during the allotted time for a combined score. There are no separate scores. As we would see, teamwork was critical.
Our tee time was 8:02 AM. Nick and I were there quite a bit earlier than that. We checked in and grabbed a copy of the stage description package. Once we got our gear unloaded from the car and loaded up magazines, we hung out next to the Stage 1 RO. This worked to our advantage because some folks were apparently late for their tee time. The Range Officers like to keep things moving, so they checked us into the stage and ran us through.
Stage 1 was titled “Over Watch”. Both shooters started from chairs set behind the shooting position which was a barricade with a port cut in the bottom. At the start signal, the first shooter was to retrieve his rifle from the staging box and engage all targets from the barricade. When the first shooter felt that he was done, he cleared his rifle and placed it back in the staging box. Shooter two could then retrieve his rifle, place it in the barricade port and begin engaging targets. While one shooter was shooting, the other could spot and call for his teammate. The team had 240 seconds to engage all targets. Targets were placed at ranges from 231 yards to 422 yards. One target was partially obscured by terrain when shooting from the prone position. However the stand supporting the plate could be seen, and with the .308 we were on a severe enough ballistic curve that we were able to “drop” rounds into the target even though it was not on a direct line of sight. Score at least one positive for using a slow 175gr bullet in a match.
This was the first “team” match that Nick and I had participated in. While we shoot together regularly, we don’t often train as a team. This was a good warm up for us. I went first and Nick did a great job of spotting for me as well as letting me know how much time I had left. This was a strategy that we used throughout the match. Although we would later learn it was not the best strategy. When my turn was up, I pulled my rifle out of the port and cleared it in the box to the right of the shooting position. Nick was not allowed to touch his rifle until I cleared mine, so I was “on the clock”. This is something I can definitely use improvement on. Once I accomplished the task, Nick got on his rifle and ripped out each of the targets well inside out time limit.
The first stage was our eye opener that Woody’s DMM was not like the precision rifle matches we are used to. Most precision rifle matches give you points for targets you engage during the time allotted. Woody’s DMM scores are times, with added time penalties for misses. It’s more like USPSA or IDPA with rifles. We thought we did OK on the first stage until we realized that using all of our time was not a good idea. That combined with me skipping a target so that Nick had time to get all of his really hurt us.
Stage 2 was titled “What the Hell”. It was the first stage that required pistol as well as rifle. Both shooters place their rifles on the right side of the rooftop with magazines inserted and empty chambers. On the start signal, Shooter One engages the five handgun targets, dumps his handgun in the “dump bucket”, grabs his rifle and mounts the roof. He then engages each of the six rifle targets from 230 to 592 yards. Once Shooter One is finished, he must clear his rifle and get off the roof. Then Shooter Two begins engaging the handgun targets, then rifle targets from the roof. Shooters had 300 seconds to complete the stage.
Nick and I both shoot handguns as part of our occupation, so that was not a concern. It was pretty fun to have to “bob and weave” to get a clean line of sight through the trees. The poor trees showed some wear and tear from less-careful shooters. Hitting the rifle targets was a different matter. Both of us dropped a few. The rooftop is challenging. You have to mount it and get a stable position under time. You have a tendency to slide a bit and getting the butt of the rifle properly supported is much more difficult than prone. However once you build your position it is fairly stable.
Stage 3 was titled “Helo Pad Contruction Under Attack”. Shooter One starts on the left side of a bulldozer with his butt on the track. His rifle is leaning against the back of the blade with a magazine inserted and empty chamber. Shooter Two is in the same position on the right side of the ‘dozer. On the start signal, Shooter One engages the rifle targets from 183 to 550 yards. Once he is done, Shooter One clears his rifle. Shooter Two can then engage his targets. Shooter are allowed to spot for their teammate with their rifles. The shooters cannot move past the “fault line” which denotes hard cover from the bulldozer blade. Shooters were allowed 300 seconds to shoot the stage.
This stage was fairly straight forward. In fact it was the easiest out of all of them because it required almost no movement and the shooter switchover only required me dropping my magazine and locking my bolt back before Nick could chamber a round and gas-on. Due to the shape of the top of the ‘dozer blade, I used my rear bag to support the rifle’s forend. It allowed me to pin the rifle against the blade and get some added stability. Nick used his WieBad pillow to great effect.
Stage 4 was titled “Hide Ambushed” The “hide” was a camo net draped minivan. Shooter One placed his rifle inside the hide with a magazine inserted and a round chambered. His pistol was placed on the red carpeted area, with magazine inserted and round chambered. Shooter Two started with his pistol loaded, chambered and secured in his holster. His rifle could be inside the hide or outside the hide with a magazine inserted and empty chamber. Both shooters started with their toes on the line behind the hide. On the start signal, Shooter One climbs into the hide and engages the pistol targets. He then dumps his handgun into the “dump bucket” located inside the hide and engages rifle targets from 195 to 488 yards. Once Shooter One has cleared his rifle, Shooter Two can step into the “shooters box” and engage pistol targets. He then moves into the hide and engages the rifle targets.
I believe this was the only stage where both Nick and I got all of our targets in the allotted time. I did have one issue where I hit a target, but the RO did not acknowledge the hit. Thinking the RO may not have heard the target I intended to engage, I called out the range and rang it again. I still did not get an acknowledgement so I hit it a third time and finally got an answer. I finished out my run, swapped over and Nick got all of his. When we were finished the guys waiting their turn (who were spotting on their own scope) told me they saw each of my hits and heard me call the correct target. I was a bit confused as to where the failure was, but since we got all of our targets I was not incredibly worried about it. Nick and I ranked 16th on that stage.
It is important to note that the RO’s at most matches are not being paid anything to be there. In the very large matches, they may get a nice “goody bag” or some gift certificates from sponsors, but generally they are volunteering their time. They are simply there because they love the sport and want to help out. Getting into a pissing match or being rude because they made a mistake is not helpful and it makes you look like an ass.
The flip side of that coin is that YOU as a competitor, took time off work and spent some money to get there. A good showing may be as important as a matter of pride or keeping sponsorships. If you think you were scored incorrectly or a procedure was violated, then you do have the right to request a ruling from the match director. However the key is to be polite about it. Nick and I were there to have fun and get some time running our semi-auto blasters. I didn’t see any reason to request a re-shoot.
Stage 5 was titled “River Boat/River Bank Attack”. Both shooters start from behind a line. Shooter One begins with a loaded rifle. On the start signal, Shooter One engages the rifle targets from any position on the barricade. Once Shooter One is done and had cleared his rifle, Shooter Two mounts the “boat” which is a platform suspended from chains. Shooter One then hands Two his rifle. Shooter Two must engage all of his rifle targets while on the platform. Shooters had 300 seconds to engage all targets.
This stage only had a couple of “tricks” up it’s sleeve. Shooter One could use any part of the barricade, or shoot from prone through the cutout. One of the targets was partially obscured from the prone position, but the top of the bracket could be seen. We shot this same target from this same position during the PRS match at Woody’s so I knew that I had just enough arc that I could lob my bullet into the plate. I also knew that the grass that I might have to shoot through would be no match for the “mighty” 175gr Sierra versus the petit 107’s I was shooting in the .243 at the PRS Match.
The second “trick” for the boat was that the spotter could use his body to stabilize the platform while Shooter Two made his hits. Nick and I discussed this beforehand. Once I handed him his rifle and shooting bag, I stood behind the platform and leaned into it with my shins. This prevented the platform from rocking under recoil and seemed to work very well.
Once Nick and I picked up our brass from Stage 5…..that was it. We finished a full five stage rifle match in two and a half hours! Since were were lucky enough to draw an early morning start time, we had almost no wait at the stages. In fact a couple stages were waiting on us to arrive to shoot. That is the magic of the “Tee Time” format. The only disadvantage is that if you have five or six buddies you like to pal around with, you won’t have the time to converse and see how they did. You come, shoot and done. This was perfect for Nick and I. Although we did spend some extra time running back to each stage to shoot video, we were on the road early enough to be home by midnight. This prevented us from having to spend another night in a hotel and got us back to our families early enough to enjoy a lazy Sunday. Although I do love the BBQ Woody’s has after their matches.
I mentioned this in the Woody’s PRS Match AAR, but I will touch on it again here. Woody’s matches are well orchestrated. The facility at Woody’s Rifle and Hunting Club allows for a nice variety of shooting, and allows for you to move through each stage safely without the range having to go cold. This makes it perfectly suited to the “Tee Time” format. Occasionally targets would break and need to be repaired. As the day wore on, some stages backed up a little, but we did not see any of the waiting like you would have on a typical squad match.
The DM Match we shot was the first of three in Woody’s DMM Series. Overall we were very satisfied with our experience at Woody’s. We can’t wait to go back! Nick and I finished 20th out of 70 teams. We came away with a ton of ideas on how to improve out performance next time,
Woody’s DM Match did not have any equipment restrictions. You could run a bolt action .300WM, .223 AR, or anything in-between. Nick and I chose to run Mega Arms MATENs in .308 Winchester. We felt that these were a great balance of accuracy, power to move the steel “flashers” and speed for rapid engagement.
Nick chose a Bushnell HDMR for his rifle. I dropped the new Nightforce B.E.A.S.T. on mine. Both optics worked perfectly.
Throughout the match I only encountered one malfunction. I believe this was due to the brass catcher I was running on that stage. After the single malfunction I ditched the brass catcher and just accepted loosing some brass for the remainder of the match. After I removed the brass catcher the Southwest Ammunition SW118LR functioned perfectly.
Normally I would go with a longer barrel and hotter load, but with ranges limited to 600 yards, I didn’t feel that it was necessary. Nick was running 155gr bullets a bit faster with a longer barrel, so he had a little bit more ability to cheat the wind and keep the firepower advantage of the gas gun.
Note: A special thanks to Barry Evans from Squadsignup.com for permission to use his photos. It’s always a task to try to shoot a match and drag the equipment for good photos. We didn’t on this match so Barry’s photos are a great help.