I finished my first NRA High Power match last weekend. If you remember, it was a goal of mine a few months ago to start shooting both High Power / CMP and tactical rifle matches with the same AR15 A2. What is the purpose of this? It is to encourage others to take what you have and learn to shoot with no excuses about equipment. I had NOTHING with me but my rifle, case, a shooting mat, and crappy spotting scope. My rifle was not a CMP HBAR match rifle; it started out life as a home built mil-spec A2 Rifle with two modifications: 1) A free float Larue 12.0 rail, and 2) a 1/2 min x 1/2 min Armalight NM rear sight. I wanted to shoot this event with a fighting rifle, so I removed the NM peep and replaced it with a USGI A2 aperture.
- FNH GI take off barrel: Chrome lined 5.56 chamber
- FNH Bolt carrier / bolt (used)
- FNH FK marked upper receiver
- Larue 12.0 FF rail (used)
- ALG defense QMS trigger
- A2 buttstock assembly
- GI Nylon Web Sling
My goal was to shoot this event with a rifle that I could use hard if the need arises. The next goal is to run this rifle in a tactical rifle competition. That’s the beauty of this platform; you don’t need a specialized weapon to compete in any event. A box stock AR15 can shoot high power and then compete in a tactical rifle match. Don’t be fooled by equipment. You are not in a race. You shoot these events to learn about your rifle.
True mastery of your rifle will come when you have shot it under many different scenarios and conditions… and then you will understand it is *not* the rifle you must master.
My first event was a good learning experience. I had nearly no equipment compared to the rest of the shooters. This High Power match was shot at 200 yards standing slow fire (20 rounds – 20 minutes), 200 yards sitting rapid fire (10 rounds), 300 yards prone rapid fire (10 rounds), and 600 yards prone slow fire (20 rounds – 20 minutes). The courses of fire was run while the pit team managed the targets and scoring.
I prepared for the event by obtaining a 100 yard zero and then calculating my dope with paper references and ballistic calculator. Shawn from LooseRounds.com provided me some additional resources for my 69 grain hand-loads and a sheet on how to read the wind. This info was in my tan document holder with pens. I also dry fired at home every chance I got. Overall, I did very little in the way of preparation. I ran this event with the minimum of preparation to show everyone out there that you don’t need a 300-400-600 yard practice range to prepare yourself for a High Power competition… you can prepare at just 100 yards.
Each round was allowed 2 sighter shots and this is where I had to get my rifle ready on the fly…
200 yards slow fire: I noted my two sighters were pretty low. I adjusted up 3 minutes of correction (if I recall correctly) to put myself in the black with a 6 o’clock hold. When i started seeing more consistent groupings (still low and off center) I continued to adjust my windage and elevation until I was on the 10 ring center of target. After the corrections, I received an X and a few 9s, 10s. Up to that point I had a pretty sad string of fire since, in essence, I was still sighting in my rifle. Score 166 – 1x
200 Yards rapid fire: This was a good string. My rifle was on center target from the prior session and my sitting position was rock solid. Feet crossed with sling tension was my method of choice. This event was run with 20 rounds in two separate, rapid fire strings of 10 rounds each. This was a good run. Score 183-2x
300 Yards rapid fire: I was chasing my zero again. My data was putting me low on the black. I had to come up 2 minutes to get out of the low black and center myself more from the first string to the second string. As the sun came up, I noticed a bit of wind, but I kept my hold and didn’t chase the wind with rear sight adjustments. At this point I felt that would not be a good learning experience to screw with my windage. Score 171-0x
600 yards slow fire: I knew my rifle would be running a little low. The match director asked me if I had dope for 600. I told him I had *calculated dope* since I didn’t know my projectile velocity. He volunteered to watch my sighters and gave me 6 shots to get on paper or I couldn’t shoot the leg. After my first sighter came in low on the berm, he told me to dial up 5 minutes. I was on black. The first 10 rounds went really good. I was on near center of the black and even had an X. After that I noticed a distinct deterioration. I could not focus on the front sight with a 6 o’clock hold. My eye was fighting between the front sight post and the 600 yard line. Very hard to concentrate. Score 168-1x
Total Score: 688-4x
Working the Frame:
I scored and ran a target with the help of a gentleman next to me, but I was alone on the frame. Typically frames are worked in 2 man teams. The process during a slow fire course is to pull the frame down after each shot, mark the shot with a spotter disk, repair the last shot with a sticky, and mark the target with a red score disk on the bottom in a U shaped pattern to score a shot. You can score in the pits by writing down your shooters numbers on the official score card, or you can score on the line watching the shots behind the shooter based on the marking disk from the pits.
I had to score another competitor from the pits and I was a little confused at first since things had to keep moving despite my questions, but after the first string of slow fire I had an understanding of the system and how I was to pull and mark after each leg. I worked a frame by myself and it was an education that I needed to get. I have a comfortable understanding of the process and there are no more questions. It’s just something you have to do once, and then your done.
I went to the competition with a slightly modified Mil-Spec rifle, a cheap spotting scope, and a shooting mat. No specialty equipment other than 69 grain reloads. No shooting jacket. A 100 yard zero is what I went in with along with some wind and ballistic data on paper. I wrote down my dope as I went along.
I was not made a fool. I was helped by other shooters. I didn’t let my lack of equipment cower me into staying at home. I didn’t stay at home because, gosh darn it, I don’t have a CMP / high power rifle with a stainless steel match barrel and a leather sling. I ran what I had and I am better for it. I heard other shooters on the line talk of family who has gotten the gear they need to shoot but they feel they are not ready to compete yet. I don’t know where that person is in their marksmanship journey, but I bet they will make massive gains by showing up to shoot instead of practicing by themselves at the range.
So get out there. You don’t need two separate guns for two different aspects of the same sport. Be the man with one gun.
Good luck with your first match.