AAR Written by Sara Arrington
“My squad mates were so supportive; folks from the other side of the country that I had just met! That is the beauty of this sport: Camaraderie.”
National Rifle League’s 2018 season opening match was it’s first ever on the East Coast. Held at Frontline Defense USA, in Warrington, North Carolina, match director Paul Smith hosted the Absolute Zero Sniper Match on February 23rd-25th 2018.
Friday Before The Match
I was honored to attend the NRL’s first east coast match at Frontline Defense in Warrenton, NC, February 23-25, 2018. This event marked my first two day pro level competition after shooting the Gap Grind as an amateur with my pro partner, Regina Milkovich, in October 2017. Open range started with check-in and 100 yard range access. I verified zero, then was able to verify my D.O.P.E. on the 1000 yard deck. I managed first round impacts from 500 to 1000 yards. When finished for the day, I was given Saturday’s course of fire to study.
Day 1: The Camaraderie
Match briefing was held around 0730. There were several new faces in attendance, but plenty of old friends as well. The match director, Paul Smith, went over range safety and match flow, then made the introduction of the NRL staff. The organization’s president, Travis Ishida, gave a brief mission overview of the NRL and a quick introduction of other members on the executive team; one of which was in my squad, Tyler Frehner. His wife Janae, who was in our squad as well, was so helpful to me. She and I are about the same height, which helped with planning positioning on the stages. It really helps to watch how others approach a stage.
Before being released to get with our squads, we did something that made a lasting impression on me. The flag was brought out and flown for all of us to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. At such an American sporting event, it was so refreshing to honor our freedoms before starting the day.
Three stages proved to be my arch nemesis. My squad mates were so supportive; folks from the other side of the country that I had just met! That is the beauty of this sport: Camaraderie. Despite the encouragement, I left feeling pretty defeated, but decided I must stick it out and do better on day two.
Day 2: Redemption
We began again a 0730, but this time without a full briefing. I came seeking redemption from the first day! Thankfully I shot three really good stages, which would have been four, but a few shots into the “Little Man” stage I realized that I was having a mechanical issue. Turned out that my elevation turret set screws had came loose. I was next to last in the shooting order, so I had a few minutes to re-zero on the way to the final stage, the ‘platform”, where I shot a 7/10 to finish the day with a literal bang!
The squads finished close to the same time, then we all met back at the range clubhouse, where scores came in pretty quickly. I finished 53rd out of 70 shooters. After the day I had Saturday… I was OK with that! Some of my good friends were at the top of the scoreboard, which always gives me a feeling of pride. The prize table was supplied by several generous sponsors, where I was able to pick up a valuable certificate from Huber Concepts. A range member and match RO, Connie Hutchinson, recently had a house fire in which she lost all her possessions. The President of the NRL presented her with a check from the organization! That was so kind of them! After awards and prize table walks, we were treated to a cookout with burgers, hotdogs, and good conversation.
I was blessed to be a part of the first east coast NRL match at Frontline Defense. I am very much looking forward to attending more events in the future. The facility, staff, and fellow shooters were fantastic and the course of fire was challenging, creative, and fun! A word of advice for anyone on the fence about shooting a match: Get Out There! The people in this sport are ready and willing to help you improve. We are all in this together, and the NRL is wonderful resource for the precision rifle community.
About Sara Arrington
In the fall of 2016, I started researching hunting rifles for my son. YouTube videos led me from one thing to another and eventually I came across precision rifle competitions. After raising my children the first 14 years of my adult life, with very few hobbies of my own, I decided to give this sport a go. Having researched for a few months, I made some purchases and started seeking knowledge. I had never shot a rifle beyond soda can plinking when I was a kid, and had never even looked through an optic! Luckily, I found support in a great local group in my home state of Virginia: The Virginia Precision Rifle Club. After spending some instructional time with VPRC’s Andy Slade and Bryan Lewis, I was ready to jump into a match ASAP. Since then, I’ve participated in as many matches as I can afford!