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Pikes Peak Precision Rifle Match AAR

by Lou Smith June 16, 2017

Pikes Peak Precision Rifle Match AAR

Below is an After Action Review (AAR) I've created for the latest monthly match that I shot in Colorado Springs (Fort Carson Rifle Range) on June 10, 2017.  As an excel geek (Engineer by day, Tactical Rifle Competitor on the weekends) I tend to over analyze things.  But my time wasted in front of a computer is your benefit.  

Each match I create an AAR will have a bunch of colors.  For the Match and the stage rankings, Green is an Easy stage and Red is a Hard/Extreme stage.  The average score for the match will help identify if this is an easy match or hard match for the shooters.  The graph of competitors and their finish place gives you an idea of the population curve for the match.  You will be able to tell if there were a bunch of experts or all beginners that competed.  

For each stage, Each column is conditional formatted so that good score/rankings are green and bad ones are red.  This will help you compare yourself to how everyone else did.

At the end there are several stage categories (Prone, Barricade, Positional, Circus).  I've groups the scores for each category and listed the competitors by ranking.  This will help people figure out what it is they have to work on.

I'd like to give a shot out to the 65guys and the match director Andy Hawkens for helping me figure out how to present this info in a meaningful and user friendly format.  It's an evolving format and I'm open to suggestions on how to improve it.  Don't forget to support Bison Tactical by purchasing your precision rifle equipment and components from the website and store in Boulder.  That's what will help keep AAR's like this going.


Lou Smith (LouisCSmith@gmail.com) 


Stage 1 was the first stage of the day for me.  I don't have any photos of it but if you can imagine a 4 foot diameter black plastic culvert pipe with 5 complex shaped holes cut in the side to shoot from.  That's what we had to shoot out of.  The inside was slick and maneuvering inside it was difficult for my 6' 250# frame.  The first time I shot it (last month) I only got 1 hit.  This time I felt a little more comfortable and concentrated on making good holds and easy trigger pulls rather than rushing it.  I think it helped but there's still room or improvement.  Time was tight and I think I got my last shot off just before the buzzer (I rushed it and missed).


Double tap has been a nemesis of mine for the last couple of matches.  I'm not sure if I'm rushing it or something.  This month, I forgot to write down my wind calls for each distance.  Considering that, I think I did fairly well.  The jump in distance from target 2 to 3 is sizable.  And target 3 is skylighted on a ridge with grass behind it making it imposable to spot your misses and make corrections.  That's where I dropped two points.  I managed to get one hit each on targets 4 and 5 by spotting my miss and making the correction.


Dog town is one of my favorites.  I don't know why, maybe it's because I grew up shooting at prairie dogs as a kid with 22s and a Rem 17.  Stage preparation bit me in the a$$ again as I thought I dialed down to my 100 yard zero and then up to my 185 yard hold but instead I dialed to 1 Mil + hold.  First two shots were way over the target.  I figured out the mistake and then it was off to the races.  Took me all 10 rounds to get 6 hits and the last one was just before time went out.


KYL is where the shooter is suppose to "Know" his "Limit" and know when to stop shooting targets before he shoots and misses.  If that happens, then a zero is scored.  TYL is "To Your Limit" and is a lot easier.  You take one shot at each sized target and move to the next sized target (from largest to smallest) hit or miss.  All hits count for points even if you miss the last one (unlike the KYL).

I had a flub.  Maybe it was the new gun I was shooting but shooting prone usually comes easy to me.  On the second target I missed, I looked around and scratched my head.  Then moved on the the TYL with not a lot of expectations thinking maybe my zero was off or something changed.  No issues, I ran all 5 while shooting from an improvised barricade position off of a tire.  I think the gun shoots fine it's just the guy behind it.


I took this stage as an opportunity to try a friends piece of gear that I've wanted to test for a while (The Game Changer Bag).  It worked well but I still haven't decided to spend the money on one.  I started from the lowest rung and use a tripod as a rear support after moving up to the third rung and above.  I've gotten comfortable with the tripod rear support approach.


Not exactly the same as the PRS Skills Challenge Stage but close enough.  We had 5 positions to shoot from and one target.  I usually shoot this stage with a the tripod for rear support but wanted to try it more to the letter of the PRS Skills Challenge Stage rules and only go at it with a single bag.  I did better than I expected.  Usually using the rear tripod I do very well and my performance on this stage at PRS matches hasn't been stellar so I didn't have high expectations for this one going at it with only a single bag.  But 8 out of 10 hits is great for me, and I was quicker, something that I struggle with in the PRS matches.


With a target distance of 615 yards this one isn't the easiest in the wind.  And I think that played with me a little bit.  When I got on the roof I felt like I had a very stable position and created an almost-as-solid of a shooting position as when I shoot prone.  I used a bag under the hand guard and a large bag under the rear stock.  The issue was I as just missing off one corner and after a couple rounds down range I heard a wind call correction from the spotter and finally made the correction and started connecting.  Shooting off hand / off trigger finger at the end of the sage wasn't easy and I don't remember getting any hits.  My time management wasn't very good and I ended the stage with 30 sec. plus left (I went way too fast).  And that was after hearing that I had a full minute left when I got to the off handed shooting side.


A fun stage with a bit of a challenge to it (at least for a rifle shooter/non-pistol shooter).  Last month I shot this stage (it was different) but because it was used as a tie breaker and I didn't do well at it, I tied for 4th with 4 other guys and ended up 7th (last in the tie breaker). This time I wanted to do better and the Match Director (MD) said that faster times = more points.  So I ran hard and tried to make a good hold and trigger squeeze.  But still only got 7 out of the 20 with a friends 9mm.  Not quite as good as the guys with 22s.  This is something for me to practice.  It's becoming more and more common to have pistol stages in the large PRS matches.



The wind was not kind to us at the end of the day.  With gusts up to 15mph at a 1 to 3 O'clock direction, it made it hard to get hits.  The 130gr Berger OTM Hybrids seemed to be running out of juice and the wind had it's way with me.  My tactic was to keep making wind corrections until I got a hit and then rapidly send several more with the hopes that the wind stayed consistent through the string of rounds.  I think that's when I got two or three hits in a row.  I need to become a better wind reader and pay attention to it while shooting.  Currently, I'm shooting with sensory blinders on.  I'll check the wind before I start the stage but once the clock starts I'm oblivious to it.


The ranking of the stages types are purely subjective.  There wasn't any positional stages and the only somewhat circus stage was the pistol stage for 2 points.  So I didn't include them in this finally summary.  The results of the analysis for me say that I didn't do as well at the belly stages as I did the previous month with the 7SAUM.  But the previous month I didn't do well in the barricade stages where as I did quite well at them this time with the 6.5x47.  Maybe I'm beginning to believe the hype about low recoiling rifles for barricade and positional Matches/Stages...  I'm going to switch back and forth between the two rifles a couple times before coming to a final conclusion.  

I defiantly gelled with the other shooters in my squad and feed off of their good performances.  They were all good shooters and everyone finished in the top 10.  I think that can happen and the other shooters will help you pick up your game.  I think it can also happen the opposite way too.  Choosing who you squad with can be a big deal.  It also helped that several of the top competitors from the area were at the UT Dog Valley match leaving the door open for us here at home.


I hope you've enjoyed this read.  I'm in my 3rd year of shooting tactical/practical matches and I just recently got my two twin competition rifles.  So really I'm just starting to become a competitive shooter.  I have lot's to learn at the reloading bench and in the field shooting.  I'll continue to try to create the AAR's when I can.  

Until next time!


Lou Smith
Lou Smith

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