Every lady knows that having the right handbag, or pair of shoes to go with that new dress is absolutely critical. Well it's no different having the right gear for a tactical rifle match, you've just got to have it! So let's just say for the sake of argument your rifle is good to go. My APO 6.5 Creedmoor SuperSport "Jake" is completely squared way and I even gave his bore a nice rub down with Hoppe's #9, which he strangely craves since his time in the Emergency Room after the infamous "bolt incident"
Now, like a pair of high heels, gear is something of personal preference but perhaps a bit more practical. What I love and works well for me, may not necessarily work for you. But I like to think I have good judgment, listened to some of the best shooters in the USA and would suggest you consider each piece of kit mentioned below. My hope is that there's something in my posts that will help you score a few extra points at the SHC or another match!
After your precision rifle, "the" next most important piece of kit would of course be your day optic. I use the Bushnell Elite XRS 4.5-30 with the G2 reticle. The Bushnell Elite XRS has done more than work for me. It also has taken out the worry of when I'm doing holdovers (the reticle is pure awesome) and when I'm competing in the rain, I don't worry about the lens fogging due to Bushnell's advanced RainGuard feature. This scope is a first focal plane which I prefer, and with the G2 reticle it's not overly busy and very easy to use! The glass is crisp, clear and sharp so you can make out all of those little sub-MOA targets that Frank Galli likes to hide all over the course of fire.
I also like to bring along my LMSS 8-40x Bushnell Elite Tactical spotting scope and Elite Tactical 1 Mile Arc laser rangefinder. I am constantly working with Jim (aka Hubby) on my mil-dot ranging skills and I am slowly improving. With that being said, a solid LRF is a God send and it's also one of the coolest I have ever used! This rangefinder instantly accounts for the angle when calculating distance so you know precisely where to shoot and provides true horizontal distance out to 1000 yards/meters. It also has a feature that provides holdover/bullet drop data in inches, centimeter MOA or MIL. This little piece of equipment is just pure badass. In a tactical rifle competition environment it's great to know you can depend on technology to do a "gut check" on your ballistic calculations.
A good bipod is a sound investment. I use the Harris bipod but know a lot of people that use Atlas and Long Range Accuracy, all good pieces of kit. Rear bags are a must when you are shooting from the prone. My husband made me one a few years back that I use (it's shaped like a heart). I have a sniper skid plate on the fore end of my SuperSport rifle which is made by Hard Target Innovations (available at www.triadtactical.com). This is great to use when you are shooting off of barricades and don't want your forend sliding all over the place. The nonslip material helps keep your rifle in place when on obstacles and also keeps your rifle from getting scraped up! A scraped up rifle is harder to fix than smudged makeup...seriously!
You will definitely need a Precision Rifle Sling. I use the Armageddon Gear precision rifle sling. This sling provides support when firing from alternate positions. The SHC has several stages that will require you to use a sling. There are other slings on the market, but I have had the most success with this sling and my scores are consistently rising!
I have a Kestrel with Horus ballistic software that I use for all my DOPE and to calculate wind holds. You plug in all your data for your ammunition and the Kestrel will provide you with elevation and wind. You have the optics, ammunition and gun - this little hand held weather station/ballistic calculator helps take the guesswork out making shots as well as aiding you to practice of reading the mirage and recognizing environmental conditions that effect your shots.
On many stages you will have targets at different distances. I use the Armageddon Gear Competition Data Armband to record my holds. These armbands are great for writing your come ups on each stage. You could have up to 6 different targets at different ranges, so being able to quickly look at your armband & adjust your elevation or hold saves you time on the stage of fire.
Some additional shooting aids that I successfully use are Wiebad bags. I don't care how you look at them, these bags really do help on different barricades & positions that you are in. The one I use the most is the Pump Pillow. When approaching different stages, you might have a barricade where you can't exactly kneel or stand. These pillows help fill that gap. When you place these pillows on your arm, you can kneel on one knee with the bag on your arm that helps stabilize your position. You will see shooters employ these differently while shooting. They really do come in handy, and I think they are quite fashionable for use by men and women.
All this gear I carry in my Eberlestock Phantom rifle back pack. What is cool about the pack is that I can keep the rifle scabbard on or take it off the pack. For those not familiar with the scabbard, it allows you to place your rifle in it and you carry it on your pack. The scabbard would definitely be something you would want to keep on for SHC as you do some walking. By the way don't leave your pack laying around on the ground, you could end up with a nice rattlesnake as a passenger if you're not careful. Boy will that liven things up back in your hotel room after a hard day of shooting!
Along with the gear, prepare for the weather. It could be chilly or hot as hell so check out the extended forecast, and always bring your snivel (rain) gear. You never know if a quick rain shower might make an appearance on front range of the Rockies, so you always want to be ready.
Along with your gear, don't forget your lip balm, sun screen and lotion. Cracked lips, sunburn and dry skin are just plain uncomfortable. A good First Aid Kit is a mainstay in my pack and ladies, always stay classy with a compact mirror.
Safe shooting everyone, I can't wait to see you in Colorado!!
Melissa Gilliland is a well known competitive shooter in tactical long range matches, She is sponsored by Ashbury Precision Ordnance Mfg, Bushnell Tactical Optics, Armageddon Gear, Wiebad bags, Spuhr mounts, Gungoddess.com and FrogLube. She can been seen online with her husband Jim Gilliland at Trigger Time TV and at her featured blog. For more information follow the links below
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