Written by Curtis Winner
“It gave all the competitors a chance to test their various ballistic solutions, as most matches we shoot aren’t near this high in elevation.”
Just got back from shooting the Mile High Shootout which was the 5th NRL match presented as part of the series championship this year. Robert Quigley, Jeff Odor, Andy Puszman, and a host of Range Officers put on a great event with 15 challenging shooting stages each day, presented in the natural terrain of NW Colorado just outside the town of Craig. This was my first opportunity to travel to this part of the country and the trip did not disappoint. One of my favorite things about traveling to matches throughout the country is the opportunity to visit new places that I would not otherwise have a reason to travel to, and the Colorado High Country did not disappoint! A group of buddies and myself made the trip up from New Mexico, and having good traveling companions like Wes Rolan, Ron Paiz, Ried Driscol, Danny Burson and my son Landon made the miles fly by. We arrived mid afternoon on Friday and after a brief thunderstorm that cooled things off we had the chance to check zero and validate our rifles out to distance. It was a pleasure shooting at a higher DA than my local shooting spot in NM with DA’s running anywhere between 7,500-almost 10K, it gave all the competitors a chance to test their various ballistic solutions, as most matches we shoot aren’t near this high in elevation.
Over the Edge
Overall the flow of the match was fast paced with a great mix of target opportunities set in the natural terrain and utilized a good mix of man-made and natural obstacles. My favorite stage was Stage 2 – Over the Edge where the targets ranged from 230 to just over 900 yards and required shooters to take a position within a defined box laid out on a slight incline that included a 2 foot drop off. I’ve learned that its best to have a solid plan when approaching a stage and to stick with it. As the first shooter I thought I could get prone, and after burning about 30 seconds trying to contort my body in into a prone position within the defined box and not being able to make it work, I quickly ditched that plan in favor of my trusty Really Right Stuff Tripod and managed to salvage a few points. The rest of the stages did not disappoint and with target engagements out to 1407 yds, it gave all of us shooters a chance to experience the effects of the switchy Colorado winds. Which included some crosswinds that at times cancelled themselves out and left lots of us wondering what was going on with strait up holds for one engagement, to holding 10mph full value on another!
4-H Shooting Sports Kids
The Local Moffet County Youth 4-H Shooting Sports kids provided refreshments to ease the 90+ degree heat and keep the shooters supplied with food and drinks. It’s great to see these organizations working for their money to provide shooting sports opportunities to our kids. As a Youth Shooting Sports instructor myself here in NM, I can vouch for the quality of these programs and can’t say thank you enough to the competitors who send some of their hard earned cash their way. These kids likely earned enough dough to help defer their lots of expenses traveling to their state shoot down in Pueblo.
One of my favorite parts of this match was being able to shoot alongside my 13-year-old son, Landon, who was competing in his second match of this year. It’s awesome to see his skills mature, in fact he even beat me on a couple of the stages! I was about 13 when I got my first centerfire rifle and proclaimed myself an expert shooter. I wanted to shoot a mile from one of our center pivots to another and remember my grandfather scoffing and stating I would have to “aim at the moon” to reach that far……… how have times changed. While hits a mile are never easy they are increasingly routine. I can’t imagine what he would think of all the over 100 competitors at this match all likely capable of accomplishing that feat with predictable regularity. Desert Tech and Bison Tactical sponsored a stage with a 375 Chey-tac drop gun capable of such engagements and while target we engaged was a little sort of a mile Landon was able to get a second-round impact and got to keep a fired case as a souvenir for his accomplishment. His favorite stage was the JC Targets spinner, for some unknown reason he thought it was fun to try and time his impacts to get a complete rotation. He showed tremendous improvement over his first appearance, he had his dope ready, magazines loaded and ready when it was his turn to shoot without much help from me at all. In fact, he was the top young gun and received a nice belt buckle for his efforts!
Overall, we had a great time, the local residents were appreciative of us shooters visiting their town and the hotel staff went out of their way to open up the breakfast bar early as we all arrived at the range about 0630 to get an early start in an attempt to beat the Colorado summer temperatures. The prize table showed the support of numerous Sponsors and included four rifles and some high-end optics as well as stocks and other great prizes. I was able to grab a 50% discount off a Thunderbeast suppressor that I plan to use to re-core one of my existing cans to their new and improved Ultra cores, its great winning prizes that you can actually use as a competitor. The Awards presentation back at the Hotel was much appreciated by the shooters and RO’s alike with one of the lucky RO’s winning a custom rifle from HS Precision for his weekends volunteer efforts. Speaking of RO’s, they are the unsung hero’s of this sport for without them we wouldn’t be able to have consistent stages of fire or have a fair and balanced match for all us competitors. Overall the quality of the RO’s was excellent with a couple buddies from Colorado I know sitting their rifles down for the weekend to help with the match.
Squad 10 was awesome, thanks for the good time. Congratulations to Jake Vibbert, Jon Pynch, Jerry Karloff, Austin Orgain and Rusty Ulmer for rounding out the top 5, Ill see you all down the line at future events!!