I recently shot the Steel Safari rifle match, run at a private ranch
near Logan NM. This match follows the general idea of the
Keneyathlon-- movement, target location, and engagement. The match
format this year was two field courses, and a couple side-stages.
The field courses comprised a "short" 2.0 mile and a "long" 2.5
course. In each of these events, shooters departed the meeting area at
10-minute intervals, and followed orange or pink flags along the
route. The path was cross-country, usually off even a foot-path, with
elevation changes and some obstacles to negotiate. The "short" course
was actually more physically challenging due to elevation change and
terrain features. Movement was not timed.
Each long course had approximately 10 stations. Upon arrival at a
shooting station, the shooter waited at two yellow flags until the
shooter acting as his "RO" was ready. Once ready, the shooter would
approach the position and the RO would read him the stage briefing. A
typical briefing specified the shooting location and any restrictions
on shooting position or equipment used, along with flags or geographic
features locating the general area in which to locate targets. Almost
all rifle stages had 5 targets: 4 normal targets and 1 bonus target.
The shooter got 1 point for locating each normal target, and one point
each for hitting the normal targets. Once all the normal targets had
been engaged, the shooter could engage the bonus target for 3
points. There was one stage that only had 2 bonus targets. At some
stations, instead of 4 regular targets, there would be 2 targets,
which would have to be engaged once from each of two positions. Once
at a station, each shooter had generally 4 - 5 minutes to locate,
range, and engage the targets.
Each day, there were a couple pistol stages, just to keep things
interesting. These targets were worth 1/2 point each, and were things
like steel chickens or pigs at 10-20 yards. At one stage, you started
out at about 20 yards and shot at a steel ram. If you hit, you got to
retreat 10 yards and try again, until you got to the last position at
approx 60 yards.
The two side stages were a 400, 500, and 560 yard stage on the KD
range, and a very challenging 12" mover stage (approx 5mph) at 135
The longest rifle shot was a bonus target at 725 yards. Most targets
were between 300 and 500 yards. Shooting positions were varied. About
1/3 of the shots could be taken from what I would call a good prone
with bipod. The rest, due to terrain features, target location, or
stage briefing, were shot from the best improved position the shooter
could come up with. Two stages were shot offhand.
Heat and sun were issues this year. Temps were 100F in the shade, with
no cloud cover. Shooters found shade under scrub bushes while waiting
on the course (for shooters before them, or to RO the next
shooter). There was some relief as the winds picked up Sunday.
To be successful at this match, a shooter needed to bring together a
number of skills. First, he had to be able to locate targets spread
out and sometimes hidden in the terrain, then he had to range
them. Laser range-finders were allowed. Next, he had to know his
rifle's trajectory to be able to make hits at arbitrary distances out
to 725 yards. Beyond just dialing, it was helpful to know things like
point-blank range for closer engagements, and how much of a difference
in target distance made a difference at longer range. Finally, he had
to be able to find and get into improvised and hopefully stable
positions with some speed. At each stage, over-all efficiency was
important. There's no time for fiddling around.
Overall, this was one of the best rifle matches I've shot so
far. Targets were challenging, and the terrain of the course is
fantastic. Winds on the course are deceiving, and the angles change
dramatically as you move around a large "cap" rock formation and shoot
down into flats below.
My setup-- I shot an AI-AW chambered in 260 Remington shooting the
139-grain Lapua Scenar bullets. Scope is a S&B 3-12x50mm PMII
(metric). For ranging, I used the Swarovski LRF. Suppressor (cover
visible) is a .30 caliber JET.
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