The NRL Bighorn Classic was a challenging match, offering a variety of both field positions as well as man made props. We shot from rocks, trees, pipeline markers, jiggly bed, ropes, pipes and yes some prone long distance. It covered a lot of ground and was pretty fun. I look forward to the next years event being even better!
NRL Bighorn Classic Match Director: Chaz Macrander, Title Sponsors Bighorn Arms & Thunderbeast Arms
Dates: March 3rd-4th 2018, zero on Friday March 2nd
Location: Nehawka, Nebraska – Lodging in Bellevue, NE or Nebraska City, NE
Weather: The temperature fluctuated between 32F – 65F with winds from 10mph to 25mph.
Bighorn Arms / Zermatt Arms Factory Tour
After driving 8 hours to the NRL Bighorn Classic and zeroing we went to visit the Bighorn Arms facility in Bennett, NE. It was pretty amazing seeing how the Bighorn Arms TL3 actions and now the new Origin action are being produced. Even though I knew the main company Zermatt Tool’s primary industries are Aerospace, Medical and Food device machining it was still sort of awe inspiring how bright and well organized the shop was.
Above is a picture of Eric Stieb President of Zermatt Tool giving us the tour, along with Aaron Tritsch (green shirt to the left of Eric [center[). I think the station he is showing us is the EDM station. Just to point out in case it is not apparent Bighorn Arms is one of the title sponsors of the 2018 NRL Bighorn Classic.
Some more pictures of TL3’s waiting for completion !
And here are some of the Origin actions – should be delivering soon !
The 2018 NRL Bighorn Classic was a fun match, the weather was nice, and the stages were challenging. On my squad was Team Bison Tactical teammate Andy Reinhardt, Austin Angus (AA Targets was also a match sponsor), Josh O., Devin K., Adam B and myself.
One piece of kit that proved invaluable at this match was my Steiner M830R 1535nm rangefinding binoculars. Never did they let me down in producing a range on a target out to 1,194 yards. It didn’t seem to matter if the target was in the trees or not. I hit the button, and the range was transferred to my Kestrel 5700 with AB and LiNK, making is very fast to get a firing solution.
Stage 7 Bighorn Arms Jiggle Bed
We started the match on the stage “Bighorn Arms Jiggle Bed”, which was a very mobile platform. There was a single 12″ steel diamond which started out painted blue at 495 yards. The shooter had 10 rounds and 1:30 sec to attempt to gain 10 points.
This design with the chains made for a very moveable platform. I found myself timing my shots to the movement of the platform was the best way to try to get hits. I didn’t have much luck trying to reduce the movement by controlling my entrance to the table. I did decently getting 6/10 on this stage. It helped to keep my Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-20 UltraShort on lower magnification to help anticipate when the targets would come back across the reticle. I am anxiously awaiting the availability of the new elevation turret the Multi-Turn II, which will be available for many of the scopes, providing much larger numbers than the low profile now on the UltraShorts.
Stage 6 Manners Composite Stocks Pipe and Rope Barricade
One stage I had trouble with was the barricade stage named “Manners Composite Stocks Pipe and Rope Barricade”. This stage had 12″ steel diamond painted red at 558 yards, with a total of 2:30 to hit 10 times from 5 different positions on the barricade. You were restricted to having your rifle in certain positions based on tape placed on the barricade. This forced you into the center of the items (like pipes or ropes). Additionally, being a shorter person, I couldn’t use the top pipe position which forced me to use 2 pipe positions, and 3 rope positions. I ran the MPA wedge locks which work great on the BA Competition chassis on the pipes, however I got the size wrong and lost a bit of time. I also struggled with getting stable on the rope and ultimately timed out on this one.
Later I heard squad 1 had come up with a novel way around the ropes, and wish I had thought of it ! Here is Jake Vibbert (won 1st place) shooting this stage. It wasn’t prohibited to have your rifle touching the prop, but was prohibited to have your rifle system touching the ground.
Stage 5 Bison Tactical Utterly Tank Traps
Bison Tactical sponsored the 2018 NRL Bighorn Classic with a stage at this match which featured (2) 10″ yellow diamonds at 355 & 456 yards. The competitor had 2:00 to hit each target twice from each of the 3 tank traps. This stage required the use of the provided “drop bag” the Tactical Udder by Bison Tactical. Here is some video of Team Bison Tactical competitor Andy Reinhardt absolutely rocking the stage !
Here are some interesting alternative positions that were in use on these tank traps – notice the leg positions and where they have the rifles positioned. First is Jon Pynch who got 3rd place at this event.
Next we have Austin Orgain another great shooter, and I notice how good a job he is doing stabilizing his trigger side elbow with his upright knee – he is however a left hand shooter so modify to suite yourself.
Stage 8 Magpul Industries (Standing, Kneeling, Sitting, Prone)
This is a fairly common stage in PRS competitions, and actually one I practice for, but kind of dislike. There was 1 10″ diamond at 241 yards, and shooters had 2:00 to kit it 8 times. Twice from each of the listed positions. My background is positional shooting like highpower using a sling. I struggle with these because I am not using the same sort of rifle I am used to shooting with a sling. Additionally, the times are short and you must transition across all the positions while on the clock, not common to other disciplines. In any case, after reviewing the photos of the NRL Bighorn Classic from ConX Media, I realized I might start practicing some other positions which competitors are using instead. Here are some of those I like
Stage 12 American Defense Mfg. “The Tree”
This stage gave almost everyone fits, and was fairly unique to the NRL Bighorn Classic. There were 5 10″ orange squares located between 435 – 560 yards, but staring from the left spanning several hundred yards to the right. So a very large swing going from the left to the right. The shooter had 2:00 to hit each target twice from their position for a total of 10 points.
The kicker was that your position was in a juniper shrub loosely called a “Tree”. With the branches and position it was difficult to get a good positions. A bag was allowed for support, however no tripods. The Tactical Udder came in very handy here, along with a Reasor Gamechanger bag. We used the Tactical Udder to weigh down the branches in the way in front of the shooter so we could get a lower position in the tree with the Gamechanger wedged between two branches.
Most shooters struggled with finding the targets while keeping their position good.
Stage 3 Really Right Stuff Tripod
This stage was shooting at 4 50% IPSC and 1 100% IPSC targets ranging between 297-820 yards. Shooters had 10 rounds to hit all 5 targets twice within 2:00. This was a drop equipment stage so shooters were forced to use the provided Really Right Stuff tripods.
I actually did pretty well on this stage on Day 1, but fell apart on Day 2 due to action screws coming loose earlier in the day. I scored a 7/10 on the first day, and the Really Right Stuff tripods worked Really Rite :-). They were rock solid and made it easy to hit out to 820 yards from the standing position. These were using the RRS Leveling base, but I can’t wait to get my hands on the new Anvil-30 coming out soon!
Well, that wraps it up for my coverage of some of the stages at the 2018 NRL Bighorn Classic. The match was the inaugural match, so it will be interesting to see how it evolves next year if Chaz decides he is up for the challenge of putting it on again!
Ok, I guess the article wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Nick Hoier. Amazingly after losing in a road race to a Ford, crashing, surviving the night before the match. He lost his rifle to the undercarriage of the Ford. Borrowed a .223 rifle and beat me coming in 22nd place!
Looking quite the worse for wear and “saying” it ABSOLUTELY was NOT that he was beat up by Marybeth, here is the photo proof (yep he is posing).