Editor’s Note: Travis wrote this up for a private audience and then we asked if we could publish it here for everyone to read. – Zak
I have just returned from shooting the Rocky Mountain Steel Quest competition held by Competition Dynamics in Douglas, Wyoming. It was a two day event that involved hiking and shooting and it proved to be an amazing experience. Here are some pictures I took at the match:
I’m relatively new to competition rifle shooting, I shot my first match at the Steel Safari competition held last year in Logan, New Mexico. I shoot a (left-handed) GAP Precision .308 with a Nightforce optic. I am also from Canada, eh?
The course format is almost the same as the Steel Safari. During each day you shoot about nine stages. Shooters will hike up to a stage, and get five minutes to find three to six targets (which are usually cleverly hidden), range and engage them. On stages with three targets, you will engage the targets from two different shooting positions, and on stages with six targets, you will engage from one shooting position.
Time management is a key factor for success, in addition to wind reading, and target identification. This match though introduced some pistol stages, which added some flavor to the match. In all, I think each day I hiked about four miles with a 29 pound pack and a 15 pound rifle. I would say targets were on average 400 yards from the shooter and ranged between 200 and 700 yards. Targets were of varying sizes and most a high percentage of shots were taken from the prone position.
The match was a two day match, but the days could not have been more different. The first day was 20°C/68°F and warm, and wind was not a significant factor. And as you will see from the pictures, the second day was -5°C/23°F, with lots of snow, with strong winds. Wyoming had even issued a storm warning for this particular day. While the snow and wind made the course of fire much more challenging, it was a great experience to shoot two days back to back with such different conditions.
The bad weather on Sunday made for some interesting challenges – all shooter’s range-finders stopped working mid-way through the day – likely due to reflection from the falling snow. A range-finder is an essential piece of equipment for this type of competition, not having a functional one is a disaster. However, given how much of this sport is mental, having a proper attitude is also requirement for success. There is no time in the five minutes to get flustered and distracted. Rather than get frustrated about it, I saw the humour in not having a range-finder and took it as a challenge, and ended up making some good range estimations with no range-finder and I picked up a 2-3 hits per stage in the afternoon.
The pistol component is where this match differed from the Steel Safari. Each day there was a dedicated stage for just pistol, where shooters would engage 15 targets of varying size and distances distributed across creek beds. These stages were a ton of fun to shoot, as long as you remembered which targets you had already engaged, and which ones remained. Also, each day had a rifle pistol combination stage which had shooters engage 4-5 targets between the usual two rifle positions. In order to get to your second rifle shooting position, you had to successfully engage each of the pistol targets – twice. No points were awarded for the pistol targets, and no extra time was issued in addition to the five minutes for these stages. It made a standard rifle stage that much more difficult.
My favorite stage of the match was a rifle/pistol combo stage on day two. After engaging three targets from the first shooting position, I had to make my way down a hill to the edge of a creek. Due to the snow, I ended up sliding down the hill on my ass. There were five IPSC targets across a creek to be engaged, and then the three rifle targets were engaged again from the same position.
This was my second Competition Dynamics match and it was another great experience and I look forward to shooting this competition again in the years to come. Not only was the competition efficiently run, it was well sponsored and had a generous prize table.
For more details about this match and other matches, you can check out the Competition Dynamics website.