Written by Sam Nelson
Ive shot quite a few platform stages before, but Cole took this to the next level
The Friday morning before the Dog Valley Precision Match started with cloudy skies in Boise as my partner and I loaded up to get on the road to my second NRL match of the year. After an epic JC Steel Target Match in Washington last month, we had pretty high expectations for the weekend. Six hours later we turned off the pavement and followed the trail of dust till we found the match check in. It would have been hard to miss with the enormous support trailer from Timney Triggers and Travis Ishidas CONX war wagon in plain view. We had the opportunity to check zero and shoot our assigned Ace of Spades card for the chance to win a bipod from B&T Industries. Swarovski was on sight with plenty of top level glass to check out. We also got our first taste of what was to be the story of the weekend in the form of 15-20 mph winds and blowing dust! Later that night we were treated to some pretty awesome Karaoke put together by Match Director Cole Quarnberg at the Salt Creek Lounge.
The first day of the match started with the National Anthem played on electric guitar. We were treated to a great course of fire, with lots of movement and dope changes being the norm. We even managed to get a couple stages in before the wind came up. Cole even had a stage shooting a 45-70 lever action off an old buckboard. Probably my favorite stage the first day was the floating platform. Ive shot quite a few platform stages before, but Cole took this to the next level by having a platform floating in a stock tank. Ill tell you, its a lot tougher when youre actually floating on water, in 15-25 MPH winds.
The winds were pretty tough on day one. I can recall several times where the winds changed completely between shooters. Everything you had was covered in dust by the end of the day. I was fortunate enough to be shooting an Axial Precision Convergence action. They put a lot of thought into making it run when dirty and still perform at a high level. It didnt let me down. Overall it was a fun but challenging course of fire for sure, and having only shot 49% at the end of the day I was shocked to find myself tied for second place with Jack Wilson and Austin Overman. Jake Vibbert was way out ahead and the field seemed stacked pretty close behind us. My partner Tristan and I headed out to a local shooters place to troubleshoot an issue with his rifle. We got it figured out and decided to skip out on the live band that Cole had put together and hit the rack early.
Day two started out pretty early being on site at 630 and rounds being sent by 7am. Cole had us shooting in a whole new location a couple minutes past where we shot the first day and again came through with some stages that would challenge even the best shooters. The winds started out light and picked up as the day went on. The stages had the same feel with lots of movement and transitioning between targets as day 1, something that I like. It really gives a fast paced feel to the match and keeps you on your toes. Most stages would have been easy to time out in if you didnt go into it with a plan. Really Right Stuff was out there sponsoring a stage and giving everyone the chance to shoot off their tripods. After shooting off one I have to say that it has made it to my short list.
Cole also put a new spin on the spinner stage, by adding another spinner. Man that was fun, having to alternate between spinners and trying to time them was a blast, even if it proved too much for me. My squad finished out on the long range stage, being ROd by Tyler Frehner and Aron Suzuki. By then the winds were howling at least 25mph and switching from left to right. Everyone still managed a couple hits and as soon as the last rifle was cleared Ty was offering up beers. What a great way to finish the match.
After shooting we all headed back to the Salt Creek Sports Lounge for some dinner, beverages and awards. As if the opportunity to shoot guns and the camaraderie with friends werent enough, Cole had put together an incredible prize table for this match. Several firearms, action certs from Defiance and Kelblys, chassis from XLR and PDC Custom, certs for suppressors, stocks and anything you could imagine were all laid out. As well as a prize table for the ROs. Taking care of the ROs like that was awesome, and a great way to guarantee ROs for next year. Great job Cole!
All said and done I finished up in 15th place. When I walked the table I spotted a certificate for a Caracal USA Enhanced F pistol. Having shot that pistol a little I quickly grabbed that up. Jeff Spalding and Caracal USA have been a huge sponsor to the NRL and to my local club. Their pistol is top notch, and Im proud to have had the opportunity to have won the pistol instead of buying it the minute it hit the shelf. Thanks Jeff. Overall this was a great match, very challenging and I felt pretty good about my performance. I liked the mix of natural terrain and man-made props and the ingenuity that Cole brought to the stages. Ill definitely be back next year, and would recommend it to anyone. One of the biggest takeaways from this match was the superior level of sportsmanship portrayed both by the shooters and the ROs. The camaraderie in this sport is unparalleled and Im proud to be a part of it.