Sarah and I made the cross-country roadtrip to Warrenton, NC for the first ever Guardian Long Range Two Day Team Match. This is our second trip to Frontline Defense USA. Paul Smith has gone above and beyond to build a chunk of North Carolina woods into a top notch range. Gary Larson continued to demonstrate his ability to put together a spectacular match in order to support a very worth cause. The Guardian matches serve as a charity fundraiser for Bethany Christian Services and to my knowledge, this arrangement is unique in the shooting and charity communities.
This Guardian match was Gary’s first “Team Match”, but was designed in a very unique way. It follows more of a Pro-Am format, than a true Team Match. The first day of the match was a traditional individual style match. Shooters competed against each other for a individual score. The “Team” aspect arrived at the conclusion of Day 1. Paul Smith of Frontline Defense tabulated the scores and divided the field in half. The first place shooter was teamed with the last place shooter. Second place was teamed with second to last and so on. These teams were then re-squadded and would shoot together for all stages on Day 2.
The course of fire for Day 2 mimicked those stages from Day 1. During Day 1, each “bay” had two stages of fire. The whole squad would shoot through one stage. Once everyone was done, the second stage would be briefed and shot. Once both stages were done, shooters would move to the next bay.
On Day 2, one partner would be assigned one stage obstacle. His teammate would have the second stage obstacle. For most of the stages each team member had to fire four rounds before yelling to his partner to take position and four shots. Total stage time was 85 seconds.
This type of format was interesting in that the stronger shooter of the pair was always required to shoot first. This, combined with the tight time limit caused teams to have to choose how they wanted to spend their time. If the high score was your goal, then most teams would choose to give shooter one the time he needed to get solid hits. If putting both shooters on the stage for the same about of time was the goal, then the stronger shooter may have to rush to get his hits. There wasn’t a right or wrong way to do it. The grand prize for the top team was a all-inclusive hog hunt at Droptine Ranch. This definitely put a little pressure on the teams.
When it was all over, I felt that I had cheated my partner out of a little bit of shooting. We had several stages where we timed out before he got all of his shots off. I am used to working on the clock, but I usually take my time to get solid hits even if that means I time out with rounds in the magazine. To me, a slow hit is more important than a fast miss. Nevertheless, I felt that we both came to shoot and by taking too long, I was not properly sharing the fun. My partner, John did not seem to be bothered.
The stages were mostly standard precision rifle stages with a couple of curveballs thrown in. There was one stage on Day 2 that stood out. In this stage, teammates had to shoot their partner’s rifle. This stage was all prone, so you didn’t have to worry about dropping or scratching someone else’s rifle. However it did give some newer shooters exposure to different equipment. Due to the way the teams were matched up, very often you had a newer match shooter behind a fully tricked-out competition rifle. I am sure this caused some marital conflict when the discussion of rifle upgrades came up after the match.
Overall the Guardian Long Range matches continue to impress. No matter what the venue, the Guardian matches are a low-stress, friendly match to shoot. The environment is welcoming to new shooters and seasoned veterans go out of their way to give advice. I have yet to see a Guardian match where a jersey clad shooter was screaming at a RO. It just doesn’t seem to happen at Gary’s matches and that is why I keep coming back. Moreover, it is what I am happy to keep bringing my Wife Sarah to them. It is a family environment.
If you are tired of the “Pro” match shenanigans or you are just getting into precision rifle competition, make sure you check out a Guardian Long Range Match. You will be glad you did.
If you are in the Warrenton, NC area and looking for a top-notch place to shoot, give Frontline Defense USA a visit!