In this segment of NRATV, Colin Noir and Travis Haley of Haley Strategic are discussing the subject of “teaching gun fighting“. But, more specifically “can you teach gun fighting, if you’ve never seen a gun fight?”
For those who aren’t familiar with who Haley is, here’s a quick bio taken from his site:
“Travis Haley is a veteran Force Reconnaissance Marine with 15 years of dedicated real world experience including: combat tours in Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. After leaving the military, Mr Haley served as a special operations and security contractor before partnering with Magpul as founder and CEO of their training division, Magpul Dynamics. Mr Haley also served as CEO of the parent company, Magpul Industries, before breaking off to form the endeavor that would become Haley Strategic Partners.”
Colion Noir: Alright folkes, and we’re back, and joining me live is Travis Haley from Arizona, and before we went to break, we started to touch on the aspects of actually teaching people how to shoot. And so I’ll just ask you flat out: What do you think it takes to teach the way you do?
Travis Haley: Whooh, um, well I think– First off, as I’ve been saying, understanding people is the number one attribute to a –and I use the word ‘teacher’ or ‘instructor’ very carefully, and uh, kinda like Bruce Lee did, and I just recently started reading and studying him in the last year or two, and I was like ‘wow, there’s a lot of crossover here from his mindset’– Where, -and I agree with what he said, it’s, he finds it almost impossible to actually teach somebody something. And I know that sounds crazy, it’s like, ‘well why would I want to spend my hard-earned money and time to go to your classes if you can’t teach me something’
Colion: Yeah, ‘you tricked me’.
Travis: Right! [Chuckling] And it’s because only you can really follow through on the teaching aspect, right? It’s the student and teacher combination, it’s not just the teacher, coming in and saying ‘Hey man, here’s my resume, this is how many combat tours I got, this is how I’ve been shooting, how many millions of rounds, here’s my program of instruction, now you better keep up!’ and that’s what– I see that. That has to happen in some regard in the military, and law enforcement, because you gotta see who can hang with that stress and mentality, but when I’ve got three days or five days or six days to work with somebody, attrition is not my mission. It’s upholding a higher standard of care for everybody. And so I think that’s where the understanding of people comes into play, so I always use like a GPS analogy. When that GPS tells you to turn right in 900 feet because you’re trying to get from point A to B, is it actually physically attached to the steering wheel? Does it turn the car?
Travis: No, you turn the car, right? So all we are is a GPS that– we come in and we give you the information which has a lot of data, a lot of research, a lot of failure, a lot of success, a lot of roads, ‘cuz not everybody wants to take the same road, you know? And that’s what I think other instructors or ‘teachers’ out there need to understand is that, don’t ever try to twist somebody into our own preconceived notions or experiences, even if it unquestionably works for you, it may not work for that person. And so, again, my biggest responsibility as a teacher is to protect people from my own preconceived notions or patterns. Because again, some things work for me, but that’s why I get into the science of what we do, that’s why we study biomechanics, why we study the brain. Because as you know, like you and your partner, we talked about it earlier, are two totally different people. So why would I come into a classroom and say ‘Hey, here’s my two cents, now keep up’. My job is to share information, share our research, share our failures and success, and then spend those days keeping up with the student population. And I think that’s what, a lot of times, people don’t know that when they get into the training community, and they want to be an instructor, because I know some guys that’ve got some phenomenal experience when it comes to shooting and runnin’ and gunnin’ and combat, but they can’t articulate. But they will if they learn. I didn’t, man, I couldn’t speak. If you heard me in my first course, my first company, I was like-
Colion: [Makes ‘bumbling’ noises, chuckles]
Travis: And so I had to go ‘Well ok, well that didn’t work out. Now what do I do about it?’ you know? ‘Now how do I be more resourceful and become a better person?’ and I learned through these years that really paying attention to people, really understanding people, and what motivates them, what’s their belief system, and then how do you help them execute that belief system is critically important.
Colion: I’ve taken my fair share of courses, and, you know, for me the biggest thing is the communication aspect, because like you said, you can have all the abilities in the world, but if you can’t tell me how to– not necessarily how to do it, but how to teach myself how to do it, and how to walk away with information that I understand, you know? Like I was always taught, you’ve got to speak in a way that people can understand whatever complex notions or thoughts that you may have that you’re trying to communicate with someone means nothing if you just talk over people’s heads and they don’t get it. And for me, when it comes to instruction, that’s the biggest thing for me. Which I think is a lot of the time why I speak in analogies. Quite a bit.[Both laughing]
Colion: and as kooky as they may come across sometimes, I bet you got what I was trying to put out! You know?
Colion: And that’s the point, when you’re talking about something as fluid and elusive as an emotion from shooting a gun, right?
Travis: Right, and I think something else that people need to keep in mind is, like, you know, you’ll hear it a lot, ‘keep it simple, stupid’, right? The KISS method. Absolutely 100%. If I pck up this device, okay, which everybody knows what that is–
Colion: Shameless Apple plug.
Travis: That is– What’s that? [Laughter] Sorry, we’re Mac guys. So, that is a ‘keep it simple, stupid’ device, but not because I told, or they told me ‘hey keep it simple, stupid’. It’s like the Fighter Pilot where the analogy actually came from, when they’re building a Lockheed Martin S or 71 Blackbird or the U2 spyplane, they said ‘Keep it simple, stupid’, and programmed development as an engineer, as a teacher, as a developer. Not as get up to the Pilot like ‘Hey man, before the cockpit closes, just keep it simple, stupid, alright?!’ Because he’s gonna be like ‘Dude I’m a high-performance– Get out of here! who is that guy?!’ you know? So he needs to have performance, but he does need his machine to work around him, so we don’t have to work around it, which is what was their biggest marketing pitch, right?
Travis: So that’s where we use ‘Keep it Simple, Stupid’. And I see a lot of guys sayin’ ‘Hey man, just Keep it Simple, there’s no way you’re gonna be able to do that under stress’, well, I’ll prove you wrong. Because of science, not just because I was able to do it, but because we know what the human body’s capable of doing. And everybody’s different, so we gotta tweak everybody different again, and that’s where I always come back to, understand the student you’re talking to, not just the group of them. Everybody’s different.
Colion: Gotcha. Now, I wanna get into kind of a more concrete aspect of firearms and shooting, is basically is talk about the guns. And I get a lot of questions from people who are like, I have friends, for instance, when it comes to the AR-15. They typically only have money to put down for a pretty decent AR, but then questions then become– and then they have really no intent on buying multiple ARs. So they kinda wanna get something that kinda can do a bit of everything well. Does that even exist? Is that even possible? Or, in a sense, are you forced to buy multiple ARs to fill certain specific roles, as a civilian? Of course I know when you start talking military applications and things like that, that’s a little bit different.
Travis: Right, no, absolutely. Obviously, look at the world out there, of rifles today. I mean, there’s some phenomenal manufacturers out there, there’s some that aren’t doing the best that they could do, there is always the time or the money aspect, the research that these companies either can or cannot put into their product development, so that’s the big part, and I only advocate companies that– and I think for that customer, that you’re specifically talking about, and this is where the whole ‘Milspec’ thing gets out of hand and stuff, but it does mean something, and if you could go into some of these manufacturers like Bravo Company or Daniel Defense or some of these other great– I can’t even name ’em all, so I apologise to all those guys out there– but they’re doing the work, man. They’re doing the research, they’re doing the testing, they’re scoping stuff out, everything’s micro-Viewed (?), That simple platform, that ‘Keep It Simple’ gun, gets out to the market at a really good price, and it works all-around, for the most part, you know? So I think that you don’t need to go crazy and spend thousands of dollars, just go with a reputable brand that you know is proven, you know. And that’s, that’s again, a full-time job.
Colion: Yeah pretty much. [Laughter]
Travis: And uh, you don’t need to go Whiz-bang on everything, you know? You build up in steps, just like you go out and buy –a lot of people like to go out and buy jeeps. They’ll go out and they’ll go buy a baseline Jeep and then what can you do to– you can built it, build it, build it, build it; specific to how you’re going to go out and drive it. You may never take it off-road, ‘but I just want it to look cool!’
Colion: Yeah I have a friend like that, he literally could drive through Hell, and he literally doesn’t drive anywhere except his parking garage.[Travis laughs]
Travis: Yeah, and there’s a guy that has the same vehicle that takes it offroad, and I think a lot of that comes back to our industry, it’s like ‘well you don’t need all that crap!’ or ‘Oh you need all that crap, but you’re never gonna use it’, it’s like ‘Well, wait, I can do whatever I want because; it’s my right, number one, and I enjoy it.’ It’s a lifestyle, it’s a hobby, and I think that’s where a lot of the risks and stuff start to happen, but it’s like ‘well, what works for you?’
Colion: Hell, I had the biggest Poser gun on the planet: I have an SBR HK MR556, made in every shape and fashion to look like a 416, for what? I have things on there I’ll probably never use!
Travis: Because you shot a real 416.
Colion: Exactly. That was– that was actually pretty fun. That was pretty fun. And I just, only wish I had that switch that went all the way around so that I could make mine do that, then I’d be all good, I wouldn’t even need another rifle!
Travis: Right. And a lot of people say ‘What d’you need that for?’ [shrug] ‘Cuz I want it.
Colion: I could come up with some reasons! When people ask me questions like that, I’m like ‘do you know who you’re talking to?’ I could come up with some reasons. I sat on the phone for thirty minutes one time, and he’s like, ‘I want you to come up with a reason for every rifle that you own’. Thirty minutes in he’s like ‘Alright! I get it! I get it! I get it!’ So, if you force me, I can come up with a reason.
Travis: you’re about to get a lot of Emails. [laughter]
Colion: I’m pretty sure I am. [laughter] But I really appreciate it, it’s always a pleasure talking to you, and I always learn so much from talking to you and having our conversations going back and forth, I hope this isn’t the last time you join us, I don’t know if it’s one of these kinda like ‘one time’ things, where you’re like ‘I’m not never going back on that show again’, but um, it’s open-door policy here for you, so, just so you know.
Travis: Thanks man, just like with you, I’m gonna text you the day before, and I’ll be there. I’ll text three weeks before.
Colion: [Laughter] Don’t text three weeks before, ‘cuz trust me, I’m gonna come up with some issues, but I really appreciate you Travis, and thank you for joining us on CN Live, and you have a good one.
Travis: Thanks for having me guys.
Colion: Absolutely. And that was another wonderful episode of CN Live, this is Colion Noir, and I’m out.
Here’s what they’re saying about this subject:
Source: NRATV, Colion Noir, Travis Haley
If you are just getting into target shooting and need some help fine tuning your shooting skills. Look no further, the NRA (National Rifle Association) has put together this amazing simple shooting fundamentals infographic that will get you on target.
Handguns vary differently from sizes, feel to weight. With all those variables basic shooting skills itself doesn’t change. This infographic cheat sheet shows you the right way to properly sight align, focus, trigger control, and breath control. This visual will get you on the right track to better your shooting skill.
Source: National Rifle Association
For the third time in four years, Greg Jordan took home the win at the FN 3 Gun Championship. Known as one of the only matches in the season that incorporates fast technical bay stages with longer rugged, natural terrain type stages, Jordan is somewhat of an expert of this event. “This year was no different than any other in my strategy – the fast bays require shooters to strategize to save every available second while the natural terrain stages required finding the perfect spot to engage the targets” said Jordan. After a grueling 10 stages with the Army’s Daniel Horner hot on his tail, Jordan managed to keep his head in the game and his Armalite M15 Competition Rifle with Nexus Ammunition on target, walking away with a first place finish.
The NRA World Shooting Championship is known for featuring a wide variety of disciplines with firearms provided by top manufacturers for each stage. This year’s event included an Armalite 3 Gun Stage and Surgeon Rifles PRS Long Range Challenge, both products and events that Jordan is familiar with. “Every year I look forward to competing in the NRA World Championship. You sign up, show up to the range with your eyes and ears – with your fingers crossed! It is one of the best ways to test a competitors raw shooting ability using unfamiliar weapons in several different shooting disciplines” explains Jordan. After two days of shooting the 12 event stages, Jordan walked away with a 2nd place overall finish, and 1st place in Stock Pro.
Team Armalite’s John Mouret competed in the Southern Utah Practical Shooting Range’s LEO 3 Gun National Championships over the weekend. The event features Law Enforcement from all over the United States. Mouret shot his stock Armalite M15TAC16 and Nexus Ammunition a total of 12 individual and 6 team stages, resulting in a team win in Patrol Division, 3 rd place individual patrol division, and a 4th place overall finish.
About Armalite: Armalite is the originator of the legendary AR-10 rifle. For 60 years, Armalite’s commitment to excellence has made our firearms the choice of military, law enforcement and sport shooters worldwide. Armalite has one of the broadest product lines in the firearms industry. They manufacture semi-automatic rifles in 5.56mm and 7.62mm calibers, as well as long range bolt action rifles in .308 Winchester, 300 Winchester Magnum, .338 Lapua, and 50 BMG. Armalite is a subsidiary of Strategic Armory Corps. For more information on the company and products, visit: www.armalite.com.
About Nexus Ammo: Nexus Ammo provides discerning shooters high impact solutions through unparalleled, patent-pending automation processes. The “Nexus Method” meticulously produces ammunition to exact tolerances equal to the attention of hand loading. Our unique machinery and automation allows us to build ammunition to exact specifications, starting with the raw materials. This method is proven to provide a consistency in weight in every cartridge, delivering the quality and ballistic performance you can rely upon.
You can depend on Nexus Ammo to deliver a full ballistic spectrum of ammunition performance for your tactical, defense, or hunting needs. When you require consistency, accuracy, and repeatability… Nexus is your solution. For more information on the company and products, visit: www.nexusammo.com.
About Strategic Armory Corps: Strategic Armory Corps was formed with the goal of acquiring and combining market-leading companies within the firearms industry. Each company that is brought into the SAC family fulfills a consumer need with their brand of niche products. To date, four highly respected manufacturing companies have been acquired with a fifth in the start-up phase. These companies strategically fit together to form a strong base of products and services that are designed to meet the expectations of military, law enforcement, commercial groups, and individual users around the world.
“The most frequent type of trafficking channel identified in ATF investigations is straw purchasing from federally licensed firearms dealers. Nearly 50 percent . . . .” Straw purchasers are people who pass background checks and buy guns for criminals, defeating the background check system.
“About 1.4 million guns, or an annual average of 232,400, were stolen during burglaries and other property crimes in the six-year period from 2005 through 2010.” The FBI’s stolen firearm file contained over 2 million reports as of March 1995. The BATFE has reported “Those that steal firearms commit violent crimes with stolen guns, transfer stolen firearms to others who commit crimes, and create an unregulated secondary market for firearms, including a market for those who are prohibited by law from possessing a gun.” Even gun control supporters have said, “approximately 500,000 guns are stolen each year from private citizens. . . . Obviously, these stolen guns go directly into the hands of criminals.” A study conducted by gun control supporters found that in 1994 “About 211,000 handguns and 382,000 long guns were stolen in noncommercial thefts that year, for a total of 593,000 stolen firearms.”
For more fact-checking help, contact Catherine Mortensen with the NRA Institute For Legislative Action at email@example.com.
Women are not a minority in America, gentlemen. There are some 6 million more of them than us – perhaps even a few more since 2010’s census, where that stat comes from. Many female shooters are interested in the shooting sports as well as personal defense. If you are in a gun-related sales field, you would do well to treat them well. If you are a professional trainer, you must be alert to the nuances and differences of the female thought process. To ignore this significant portion of the shooting fraternity/sorority is a disservice to all concerned.
I am going to gloss over the psychological differences between men and women, as they are vast and touched on elsewhere this issue. What I will focus on are a few things I have found interesting during my 20-plus years in law enforcement and instructing people from all walks of life. Women make interesting choices. They are often very independent, don’t have ego problems and progress very quickly.
I do not live and breathe gunpowder smoke, but it is certainly something I love. When the opportunity comes to indoctrinate a young shooter in the proper use of a firearm, I am always ready, and a large number of these shooters are females. In the basic NRA Course, most of these students are interested in obtaining a concealed-carry permit, while others simply want to learn how to use a firearm safely; few are interested in filling a gun safe. When it comes to firearm instruction, I highly suggest turning them over to a qualified trainer. A father or spouse interested in a female’s shooting progress often diminishes the value of the instruction. I sent my own daughter to driving school, money well spent, in my opinion.
I have been to gun shops where even I have been offended and I can only imagine a female traveling to one of these alone; it can be a disastrous encounter. The good-old boys could sometimes use a Dale Carnegie course. As an example, one of my daughters, who is a very capable shooter, an NRA-certified firearms instructor, and purposely drives a truck because she had been told all her life what type of cars women should drive, went into a gun store and was automatically presented a pink-handled woman’s gun by a gun-store clerk who was very condescending. Now, putting aside the fact that she actually likes pink guns (my other daughter doesn’t care and the clerk couldn’t have known that), these are exactly the problems women are facing.
Men and women alike make the same mistakes. When many purchase their first gun they find out later that it’s too big to carry concealed. Others might purchase one that is too small for personal defense, and still others might choose a low-quality option. Only with good education and a bit of study behind them will they be able to make a choice that is beneficial.
As an NRA instructor I teach the basic handgun course. Often I find that females in my class have no one in their family who is a “gun person.” It’s all new to them, and perhaps that is for the best because they are starting out with a clean slate. Oftentimes, a well-meaning person has taught the shooter bad habits, and those are very difficult to shake. The ladies I have seen – from fledging attorneys all the way to 17-year Army reservists – have impressed me at every turn. One thing I have noticed is women do not care to maintain their firearms as diligently as men. Men are more likely to tinker with what isn’t broken.
It also seems that the most motivated shooters are those who have been a victim of an assault. Confidence in the handgun and a concealed-carry permit, as well as a good working understanding of the handgun, go a long way toward aiding these women to defend themselves, if need be. If you are the right kind of trainer, you should never let the female student’s ability to pay decide if you take them on as a student. Many of these good girls are financially distressed for a number of reasons. When I was in law enforcement, I saw a number of young girls and elderly women who were robbed, beaten and assaulted in my city. I wish they had been better able to defend themselves. Sometimes, though, you hear about the occasional assailant who made a poor decision when choosing their victims. The results are gratifying to right-minded people.
The choice in handguns for females comes up a lot, and often the choice is made before the owner takes a class, which is a shame. The .38-caliber snub-nose revolver remains an excellent all-around choice for most female shooters, but perhaps the worst performance I have seen from them is when they are armed with some type of .40-caliber subcompact purchased by a well-meaning parent or spouse. These guns are just too much; the same goes for the snub-nose .357 Magnum. Even tough men have problems with these handguns. In my opinion, a shooter’s first handgun should be a good quality .22 caliber. The Ruger Standard Model is close to perfect, but even the aforementioned .38 is difficult to argue against for many reasons. A smaller caliber, such as the .380 ACP, has merit when used as a nasal inhaler for the bad guy, but is lacking the requisite balance of penetration and expansion. If you cannot control a 9mm automatic or a snub-nose .38, I would skip the rest and go straight to the .22 Magnum. A revolver may create a bulge on a woman’s hip like a boa that has swallowed a possum, but the nice thing about it is you can place it against an attacker’s chest and pull the trigger repeatably. It will not jam in the worst-case scenario. Think hard about the choices.
There are commercials that depict criminals breaking into homes, and when the alarms sounds, the criminal runs away. This may be true of the intruder who is only motivated by profit or startled by the sound, but a criminal who is abusive or violent will not be deterred by an alarm. Even in the best situation, police response is about 5 minutes, and a lot of damage can occur in that time.
When many of us began shooting, we were hopeless. But if the student has the will to learn, male or female, they will. ASJ
Looking down from atop a three-story shooting tower, 12 steel targets stand out along a green hillside, each one further away than the last. They’re all challenging, and the furthest sits at 936 yards.
When the buzzer sounds, you’ll have three minutes to shoot all 12. The problem is, you can’t actually see the targets yet. You’re starting at the bottom of the tower’s stairwell, carrying 200 rounds of ammunition, a coat, a gear bag, a sling, sunscreen, elbow pads, bipod, and a heavy sniper rifle. By the time you get to the top of those stairs and see the targets for the first time, a minute will have disappeared. You’ll be breathing hard, and shooting fast.
“It started out as a way to test the practical use of a precision rifle in a military or law enforcement environment”
This is a Precision Rifle Series match, where extreme accuracy, speed, and physical toughness come together. Sniper matches have been around for a long time, but the PRS is gluing them together into a cohesive, Winston Cup-like string. There’s a $5,000 check at the end for the season points winner, and if you’re the top gun at the PRS National Finale, you could take home a $20,000 purse and prize package, just like last year’s winner, Ryan Kerr of California.
Unlike classic long-range events, PRS has a hard edge – like maybe a 3-Gun competition for sniper rifles. The organizers (notably Rich Emmons) drew ideas from 3-Gun Nation, USPSA/IPSC, and the Bianchi Cup. The result appeals to practical riflemen everywhere.
“It started out as a way to test the practical use of a precision rifle in a military or law enforcement environment,” says Chris Reid at Benchmark Barrels. “From there it’s morphed into a kind of timed field shooting.”
At every match the courses change. The distances aren’t marked, and some of the targets move. Virtually everyone uses a detachable box magazine or DBM in a bolt-action rifle. Mounted to a fiberglass stock or a chassis system, the DBM allows for fast reloading of 10-round magazines. Although shooting a semi auto sounds tempting, experts say the bolt-action rifles with DBMs are more stable in recoil. This platform helps the shooter watch bullet trace and impacts. Seeing the hit or miss guides the shooter to the proper aim for the next shot. Most of the top shooters use 6mm to 6.5mm cartridges, which aid in viewing impacts. The 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5×47 Lapua, and the 6.5 Creedmoor are popular choices, but cartridges up to the .300 Winchester Magnum can be used. Most guns are heavy, but remember, you’ve got to carry it all day – up to 12 hours at a pop. You also carry everything else you’ll need to complete the event, just like you would if you were going afield. There is no going back to the car to resupply – it’s just you and your kit, dealing with changing weather, wind, and lighting conditions.
Reid helps run matches in the state of Washington. The hikes from position to position are arduous enough that out-of-shape shooters won’t finish.
“I’ve seen guys hang it up halfway through,” says Reid.
Short sprints are common in PRS, forcing you to balance the speed advantage of running against how out-of-breath you’ll be when you get there.
Like the original 3-Gun Nation series, PRS grouped together existing freelance events to make a larger contest. Each event has its own history and traditions, and a different local crew gives each its own special flavor; for example, some require pistol shooting. Scoring varies slightly, but course design varies a lot.
Pay close attention to the course descriptions, because sometimes you can make up a miss for partial credit, and other times, missing wipes out your entire score. If you’ve shot a little long-range, or you’re into long-range hunting, you’ve already got most of the gear.
Jim See, who currently shoots for Team Surgeon Rifles, was building custom rifles in his own shop, Center Shot Rifles, when he first heard about the PRS series. He was “a rifle guy” but didn’t have much experience with practical long-range rifle. The PRS series had just started the year before. “In 2012 I was busy raising kids and stuff, but I managed to place fourth at my first match,” he says. “That’s not the norm, but it shows you that it’s actually pretty easy to get oriented once you get started … I was hooked!”
“I’ve seen guys hang it up halfway through”
Thanks to his day job, See rolled up to the line with an unusually good kit – a Surgeon Rifles action on a McMillan A3-5 stock, in 6mmXC.
“That was a gun I had in the shop,” he says.
See’s friends pushed him to try to make the national PRS Finale, so he went for it, eventually placing 13th in the 2012 series. See won the 2015 Bushnell Brawl this year, making him one of the top guns in the sport. “I was 41 when I started, but I had a lot of experience in various kinds of shooting. If you’ve got some experience in long range, you’ll transition pretty easy.”
Unlike the classic long-range events, PRS is 100 percent field based. Common firing positions include uneven rock piles, mock rooftops, kneeling in tall grass – nothing is easy.
“If you take a guy who’s a hunter and have him shoot PRS matches all year, he’ll be able to kill game out to 1,000 yards the following year,” says Reid. “The knowledge and the practicality of it is huge.” If you’re thinking “this isn’t for me,” you might be surprised. Hunters and 3-Gunners deal with unusual firing positions all the time. NRA Bullseye guys have the long-range part down, but often lack the flexibility that practical shooters take for granted.
“An F-class high-master will do great until they have to get into an unusual, nonstandard position,” says Reid. “Without the ability to go prone, they struggle.” People like Shawn Carlock, owner of Defensive Edge, teach long-range hunting classes all over the country, passing on techniques that PRS’ers use. You’ll face the same challenges and more at each and every PRS regional. For someone interested in practical-rifle work, I can’t think of a better training lab than what John Gangl at JP Rifles calls “the anvil of competition.”
“You’re shooting strong-side, weak-side, doing dot drills, moving into and out of positions, and every shot counts,” says Reid.
In four years PRS has shot up from nothing to approximately 700 shooters nationwide. That’s a lot of new blood for this relatively close-knit world – enough to attract major sponsors. JC Targets, Bushnell, JP Rifles, Surgeon Rifles, GA Precision, Vortex Optics, and Euro Optics LTD (among many) are throwing support behind each new series event.
“This year we have 400-plus guys actively participating in the Precision Rifle Series as competitors,” says See. “These matches cannot be run effectively without dedicated range officers.” ROs set the pace of the match and ensure all participants are safe and receive the points they earned with hits. “It’s nice to travel the country and have fellow competitors volunteer to be range officers on their home ranges. Quality ROs are critical for a successful match,” added See.
A slick member website lays out everything you’ll really need to know, including the dates and locations of all the regional shoots. You can visit them at precisionrifleseries.com. ASJ
Posted in Competitions, Long Range Tagged with: 3 Gun Nation, Benchmark Barrels, Bushnell, Chris Reid, CORE Training Center, Defensive Edge, Euro Optics LTD, GA Precision, JC Targets, Jim See, JP Rifles, Michael Cage Photography, NRA, Precision Rifle Series, Robin Taylor, Ryan Kerr, Surgeon Rifles, Vortex Optics
Story and photographs by Mike Nesbitt
During my initial try at black-powder, cartridge-rifle silhouettes, the first person I met was Beth Morris. She was the match manager who greeted us, accepted our entry fees and also presented the awards after the shoot. Those tasks would keep any person well occupied; however, during the match was when she really got busy.
Beth is a real shooter: She uses Model 1874 Sharps rifles in “buffalo” calibers, and her stocks are decorated with entry stickers from her many competitions. Those stickers are the real marks of experience, but don’t let me suggest that Beth is the only woman to shoot in those matches, because there are several ladies who compete (and hunt) with black powder rifles. You can find ladies shooting in silhouette and long-range matches, as well as the famous Matthew Quigley buffalo rifle match in Montana this month. As a lady Sharps shooter Beth isn’t alone, but she is outstanding.
The real start for Beth was when she pitched in to help her husband Steve with his bullet casting and reloading. Steve started competing in black powder cartridge rifle (BPCR) silhouette matches 15 years ago and had little time to prepare the ammo the way he wanted it. That’s when Beth learned how to cast bullets and, as she says, one thing led to another.
Her next step was spotting for Steve while he was shooting. A spotter watches for bullet impacts to let the shooter know if any sight adjustments need to be made. Spotting, of course, is done with powerful scopes that can see the bullet’s impact from well over a quarter of a mile away.
Their first BPCR match was at the Powder River Sportsmen’s Club in Baker City, Ore., and both of them quickly got hooked on the sport. Beth’s boss at the time was also competing and they would have lengthy discussions at work about reloading, ballistics, reading and calling wind conditions, plus everything else related to long-range, black-powder-rifle shooting. Beth would then share this knowledge and expertise with Steve.
Beth then got involved in the testing and load development for Steve’s Sharps .45-70. Even though she had only shot a rifle once in her life previously, she started thinking about doing some of the shooting herself. So, after one of the matches she fired her first shot with a black-powder, single-shot Model 1874 Shiloh Sharps in .40-65. On her second shot she knocked down a pig silhouette at 300 meters and was hooked.
Steve was certainly excited about Beth’s shooting, although he might have been a little worried about the extra work it involved. She told him she would start shooting under two conditions: She wanted to do all her own bullet casting, reloading and load development so whatever she achieved would be her own accomplishments from start to finish. She depended on Steve’s support and advice, but she wanted to do the work. The second condition was that if she felt at any time her shooting adversely affected her husband’s enjoyment or ability to compete in the matches, she would quickly quit. Luckily, it turned out to be a great experience for both of them and something that they share a great passion for.
Beth began looking for her first black-powder-cartridge rifle and decided on a .40-65 caliber Pedersoli Rolling Block from Dixie Gun Works. She shot in her first silhouette match with that rifle in September of 2002 and reached a score of seven hits out of the 40 targets. Frankly, that isn’t a bad start, and by December of the next year she was shooting in the NRA AAA Class, which generally means she was hitting 26 to 30 targets out of 40, almost a master-class shooter.
Now, Beth shoots three different .45-70 rifles, all Shiloh Sharps Model 1874s. Beth gives her rifles names, and that to me is revealing because it means she recognizes how each rifle can have a character of its own. We might say that people who name their guns know their guns the best.
Her first rifle is named “Freebie” because Steve won her (all of Beth’s rifles are ladies too) in a drawing at the Idaho State Match. She is a Hartford Model .45-70 with a 30-inch heavy barrel, Montana Vintage Arms front sight and long-range Soule rear sight on the tang. This rifle is also fitted with an MVA 23-inch 6-power scope with a 4 minute-of-angle aperture reticle. Freebie is Beth’s all-around gun for iron sights and scope classes, and she has helped her win several NRA national titles while setting several women’s records. Beth uses Freebie mainly for shooting with a scope, and has fired over 16,000 rounds through her.
Beth’s second rifle is called “The Ninety.” It started out as a .45-90 lightweight hunting rifle, but they sent the gun back to have it fitted with a heavy 30-inch barrel chambered in .45-70, half-round, half-octagon. With this gun, she also uses a Crossno .22-caliber barrel liner for practice, and with the liner she also competes in BPCR .22 long-range silhouette competitions. Those Crossno liners are accurate, and with that combination Beth won the “High Woman” award at the national matches in Raton, N.M., in both 2009 and 2010 as well as the Oregon State .22 Iron Sight Open Championship in 2013. Beth achieved her Master Class in .22 Long Range Silhouette competition with The Ninety in 2013.
“Surely” is the name of Beth’s third Sharps rifle, and it’s very special for several reasons. The only time the NRA Nationals, held at Whittington Center in Raton, ever awarded the Shiloh Sharps rifle trophy to a High Woman Champion was in 2008 when this rifle was presented to Beth Morris who used Surely for the competition.
Surely is a .45-70 Model 1874 No. 3 Sporting Rifle with a heavy 30-inch barrel. It is equipped with an MVA front sight and midrange Soule sight on the tang. Beth named this rifle Surely in honor of her mother, Shirley Merrin who passed away after a brave battle with cancer.
“My mom,” Beth says, “was the rock of our family and could always be counted on to support and encourage us. So my beautiful mother’s spirit now is part of that rifle.”
In 2009 Surely helped Beth achieve her highest finish at the Nationals in Raton. That year Beth finished 5th overall out of 182 shooters, and she won the AAA Class and was the high-scoring woman in both the scope and iron-sight classes.
BETH MORRIS’S SHOOTING ACHIEVEMENTS
2006 NRA National Woman Champion Scope
2008 NRA National Woman Champion Scope and Irons
2009 NRA National Woman Champion Scope and Irons, 1st AAA Class, 5th overall
2010 NRA National Woman Champion Scope and Irons, 6th AAA
2012 NRA National Woman Champion Scope and Irons
2014 NRA National Woman Champion Iron Sights
2013 Oregon State Long Range .22 Silhouette Iron Sight Champion (open)
2014 Oregon State Black Powder Cartridge Rifle Silhouette Scope Champion (open)
NRA National Record for Women in BPCR Iron Sights (coholder)
2 NRA Women’s Team Records in BPCR Iron Sights – 3 Woman Team
Numerous State awards in AAA class (Oregon, Idaho and Montana)
Numerous State High Woman awards (Oregon, Idaho and Montana)
All three of Beth’s rifles have added custom pistol grips that Steve makes out of black walnut. Those grips allow for more control, especially in offhand shooting. Steve also adjusts the trigger pulls on the set triggers of Beth’s Sharps rifles so that all three have a very similar light pull. That allows Beth to switch from one gun to another without any real difference in the feel of those rifles. She says she is very lucky to be married to her gunsmith.
Beth Morris is a Sharps shootin’ gal, for sure. She knows what she’s doin’ and more than a few guys ask her advice on loads and bullet styles, especially for black-powder-cartridge silhouette shooting and those shots out to 500 meters. We might say if you want to see how it is done, just watch Beth while she shoots her Sharps. ASJ
Beth is seen here with “Freebie,” one of her three Sharps .45/70 rifles.
Posted in Black Powder Tagged with: .40-65, .45-70, Ballistics, Beth Morris, Black Powder, BPCR, Bullet Casting, Hartford model .45-70, Mike Nesbitt, Montana Vintage Arms, NRA, Pedersoli Rolling Block, Powder River Sportsmen's Club, Reloading, Sharps Rifle, Steve Morris
The media is singularly transfixed on youth issues that present a very disappointing and negative impression of kids today. The truth is that well-raised and properly focused youth produce much less interesting TV, movies and articles, compared to dysfunctional families, parental relationships in crisis and troubled adolescents that have been presented as the new norm. However, since that is what America is usually exposed to, it is almost surprising to find terrific, moral and hard-working kids. What is even more surprising is how many of those outstanding youths are in the shooting sports. One of those well-nurtured young shooters is Emily Robinson, a daughter of Rodney and Belinda Robinson, who are both active-duty officers on the Cramerton, N.C., police department.
I asked Robinson how she started shooting competitively, and she said, “I was raised shooting .22 rifles, but the first competition I attended was a Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) match in Columbia, S.C., in 2009. Both of my parents were competing; I only watched that day. Later that year, I shot in my first GSSF match and was completely hooked!” She continued, “My older brother also started competing, and together with my parents, helped teach me to grow in the sport. The following year, my parents gave me a Glock 34 for my birthday, and in 2012 I got into USPSA action shooting and really loved it.”
Robinson clearly enjoys competing, and we talked about what intrigues her. She said, “I shoot at several clubs (Robinson shoots two or three matches per month between USPSA and GSSF) and enjoy the personal challenge, but it also gives me the opportunity to shoot a variety of courses designed by different people, as well as shooting against other competitors. I have a lot of friends in this sport and enjoy going up against different shooters.” As a result of her commitment to the shooting sports, Robinson is a lifetime member of the USPSA, GSSF and the NRA. She is a Glock-certified advanced armorer and a certified range officer for the National Range Officers Institute.
“I try very hard to live and compete in a way that I can be a role model for other girls.”
Robinson’s favorite pistol is the one that she wins with, her Glock G34. “In competition, I use a G34 because it fits my hand perfectly and has a natural point of aim for me. I’ve had it for five years now and it’s been reliable, accurate and a very controllable pistol,” she said. When asked about other types of shooting Robinson noted, “I love to shoot a variety of other pistols, revolvers, rifles and shotguns and have been practicing with AR-15s and semi-auto shotguns. I want to get involved in 3-gun and am trying to decide what type of gear I will need. I use Atlanta Arms ammunition for pistol competitions and action shooting, as well as CR speed-mag holders along with a Blade-Tech holster.” Robinson also receives a lot of support. “I’ve been very fortunate to have so much help. Ed Turner and Don Anderson with Ed’s Public Safety in Stockbridge, Ga., believed in me and gave me a sponsorship. Danny Wisner at Atlanta Arms were very supportive too, and when Jason Koon took over, he continued to help.” Robinson also acknowledged, “I have to give a lot of credit to friends who shoot with me on a regular basis and share advice.”
Based on her steep learning curve I asked Robinson what she has gained during the last few years of shooting competitively. She said, “The number one thing is safety with firearms and that they aren’t toys. You have to be responsible and know that your actions have consequences. I have also learned that competitive shooting is more than just shooting well. Like any sport, it’s about good sportsmanship, honesty, concentration and physical fitness (Robinson spends almost two hours a day, four days a week in the gym). I know how to be serious and focus, but it’s still exciting and fun. I’ve made a lot of great friends and there are always new opportunities to learn from other competitors.” She continued on about her attitude towards the sport: “Competitive shooting is also about strategy. I love that part because there are so many ways to accomplish a course of fire. I recently had the opportunity to help with a female-only clinic last year, and it was great. I found that I really like to help others who are new to the sport. The response was so good they are doing another one this summer.” I mentioned that due to her ability and success, she is being watched by other girls who would like to shoot like her. Robinson said, “That is a big responsibility, so I try very hard to live and compete in a way that I can be a role model for other girls.”
Robinson continued to explain her love of the shooting sports: “I’ve been lucky enough to attend the US Army Marksmanship Unit’s Junior Action Shooting Clinic in 2013 and 2014, and learned so much. It was great to be able to shoot with some of the best juniors in the country. I would love to be a professional competitor, but first I want to earn a spot on the USAMU Action Shooting Team. I’d be able to serve my country (like her brother Justin who just enlisted in the US Army) and compete. It’s a huge goal and I will be working hard for it.” I asked where her ability to shoot successfully and at such a consistently high level came from and she said, “The success I have comes first from the support of my amazing family and friends.” Robinson continued to explain how her family has provided the foundation for her success: “My parents provided equipment, support, traveling, gave up weekends and challenged me. My older brother Justin even helped teach me to shoot.”
“My parents provided equipment, support, traveling, gave up weekends and challenged me.”
More than anything else, Robinson is a normal teenage girl who enjoys every aspect of growing up in the great community of Cramerton. She is homeschooled and works two part-time jobs, but unlike the kids highlighted by the media, Robinson is a bright, happy, well-raised teenager with a great attitude who has achieved a lot already due to her focus and discipline. Unfortunately, like most kids, her achievements are seldom televised or publicized, but that is OK with her. She would rather be at the range, at work or at home with her family learning more and strengthening an already brilliant future that is unrolling before her. ASJ
Posted in Shooters Tagged with: Andre Dall'au, Belinda Robinson, Columbia, Cramerton PD, Danny Wisner, Ed's Public safety, Emily Robinson, GLOCK, GSSF, Gunny, Jason Koon, NRA, R lee Ermey, Rodney Robinson, S.C., USPSA
Story by Mike Nesbitt
The annual Matthew Quigley Buffalo Rifle Match is really some doin’s! Hosted each June by the Forsyth Rifle & Pistol Club of Forsyth, Mont., it isn’t the longest distance match or the most “critically scored,” but nonetheless, there’s nothing else quite like it, and for a match like Quigley, it pays to be ready. (By not being critically scored I simply mean they count hits rather than 9’s, 10’s, or X’s. A hit is one point, and those are hard-to-get points.)
Quigley is a huge event, very well attended by all types of shooters, and the inspiration for this long-range match, of course, came from Tom Selleck’s character in Quigley Down Under, the 1990 movie about an American sharpshooter who responds to an Australian’s help-wanted ad, but finds the job morally wrong. We can easily say that the shooting in these matches is almost as good as portrayed in the film.
The rifles used in the Quigley match can be any traditional single-shot or lever-action rifle with a caliber of .375 or larger. That means the good old .38-55 is just about the smallest cartridge you’ll see on the firing line. Bullets must be made of cast lead (gas checks are OK) and the powder charges can be black powder, black powder substitute, black powder/smokeless powder duplex loads or smokeless powder. Even though there are no restrictions for the powder used, Quigley is referred to as a black-powder shoot and most shooters actually use it.
One of the Quigley rules is that shooters must use the same rifle for all distances and targets. Those distances, include shooting offhand at the 350-yard target as well as a seated 805-yard shot over cross-sticks, among others.
Last year, I chose my C. Sharps Model ’74 chambered in .44-77. The 400-grain bullets worked very well for me, and the 70 grains of Olde Eynsford 2F sends those bullets out of my 28-inch barrel at about 1,370 feet per second. It shoots well enough to give me good scores at 200 yards and it is enjoyable enough to shoot from the shoulder. But 200-yard shooting won’t even get you started at Quigley, since the distances begin with offhand shooting at 350 yards. I needed some long-range experience very badly. In order to get just that, I entered into a few black-powder cartridge-rifle silhouette matches. That was a whole new world for me and very fun! Why I waited so long before trying the silhouettes, I don’t know, but I certainly learned a few lessons! With my newfound education on shooting silhouettes out to 500 yards and copious notes, I was ready to try Quigley, or at least I thought so.
It all seemed too soon when my partner Allen Cunniff and I drove into the Quigley camp. We were immediately met by “Dangerous” Don McDowell, who was our guide and took us under his wing. He showed us our camp area and then took us down to the firing line to sight in. He made sure we were registered and suggested that we shoot in his same group.
Sighting in can be done throughout the week preceding the actual match; however, once the match starts, that’s it! One reason is simply because the firing line is too busy. Highest compliments must be extended to the staff for the administration of this fine event. They run more than 600 shooters through the course of six targets in about six to eight hours. Each shooter is assigned to a group and those groups are broken down into squads for firing in relays. The target course is doubled, meaning there are two of each target. This allows 12 squads to be shooting at the same time. Hits are recorded by scorekeepers who have earphones and receive an electronic signal when the target is hit.
All shots are taken from the sitting position using cross-sticks except for the bucket target, which is shot offhand. Eight shots are fired at each target, making Quigley a 48-shot match.
Each shooter has a spotter who watches for hits or misses and can suggest changes in sighting elevation or windage. McDowell was my spotter for every shot I fired. Getting at least one hit per target was a small goal that I had set for myself. That goal, I admit without shame, was not met. I just couldn’t get a hit on the bucket. Folks who were watching could see that my shots were close enough to show that I was trying. McDowell, who also shoots a Sharps .44-77, exclaimed, “If you were using a .45, you would have hit it!” As “Dakota” Dick Savage, a shooter who finished in the top 10 at Quigley in 2012, said in reference to getting scores that were lower than what was hoped for, “Well, that’s Quigley.”
Our group started with the large octagon, which means we didn’t take shots at the 805-yard buffalo, the furthest target, until last. This was the target I had looked forward to the most. My first shot, McDowell told me quietly, was right in line but just over its back. With that information, I dropped my rear sight down only about five minutes of angle, and fired again. That time, McDowell whispered, “Good hit, right in the white spot at about 1 o’clock.” My day had been made and I got two more hits on the buffalo with my following six shots.
Sometimes you can hear the bullets hitting the steel targets. But considering the bullet’s time in flight plus the speed of sound for the noise of the impact to get back to you, that impact won’t be heard until four to six seconds have passed. That seems like a very long time.
You can visit the Quigley match online at quigleymatch.com and read all of the details, including the individual scores. Last year over 600 buffalo-gun shooters gathered from 36 different states and three other countries. Ed Tilton from Columbia Falls, Mont., has won the last two shoots with a Model 1874 Shiloh Sharps chambered for the .45-90 cartridge. The record score was shot in 2004 by Al Loquasto with 46 hits out of the possible 48. The long-range course at Quigley has never been “aced.”
For me, the whole experience was simply outstanding, including the obvious brotherhood between shooters. I was talking with Tilton after the match and compared scores, my 11 hits to his 45. He said that my scores would certainly climb and his could only go down, then we’ll meet somewhere in the middle. My personal goal is to get closer to the middle this year.
I’m getting ready for Quigley again. This year I’ll use my heavy Sharps 74 in .44-90, shooting heavier bullets than my .44-77. The .44-90 weighs 13½ pounds and has an aperture front sight with a spirit-level which should have a better advantage over the silver-blade sight on my .44-77. I thought about using my Highwall in .40-70 SS, but to me Quigley is a Sharps shoot; in the movie, Selleck’s character uses a Sharps 1874 rifle chambered for the .45-110 cartridge with long-range sights.
The .44-90 will be used in some of our short-range matches before going to Quigley and maybe at some silhouettes matches too, although it’s too heavy for NRA rules. For ammo, I’ll take at least 100 rounds using 465-grain bullets over 90 grains of Olde Eynsford 1½ F. This way, a lot of shots can be fired for sighting-in before the match gets started. I’m practicing my offhand shooting with this heavy rifle too, and with a good body-rest, it isn’t too heavy to hold.
June 20-21 will see the 24th gathering in southeast Montana, and getting ready for it is time and shots well spent. ASJ
Note: For other great images from BJ Lane on the Matthew Quigley shoot, you can visit them at bjlanesimages.com.
Posted in Black Powder Tagged with: Allen Cunniff, BJ Lane Photography, Black Powder, Cross-Stix, Dakota Dick Savage, Ed Tilton, Forsyth Rifle & Pistol Club, Forsythe, Long Range, Mike Nesbitt, Montana, NRA, Off Handed shooting, Olde Eynsford, Quigley Down Under, Quigley Shoot, Sharps Model 74, Silhouette, Tom Selleck