Precision Rifle Series Competition

Precision Rifle Series Explodes

Story by Robin Taylor

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.

Jim See at the CORE training center in Florida. Note the big pillow-like pad under the foreend, along with the fully adjustable stock and heavy barrel. Items like that pillow pad offer great stability on uneven surfaces like this rockpile. (MICHAEL CAGE PHOTOGRAPHY)

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.

BB5It 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.

aiming rifle
Jim See firing one of Surgeon Rifles’ guns at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Range in Arizona. Jim campaigned with a rifle in 6XC in his first season, a caliber that has been gaining support in PRS ever since. (COURTESY OF CHRIS REID)
Jim See shooting a Surgeon Scalpel rifle in 6.5×47 Lapua..

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 thro6ugh,” 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.

More than the sum of its parts

10485963_700047636782404_8089469778077936045_oLike 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.”

Practical Application

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.

Observing from awkward terrain
Awkward terrain forms a big challenge in PRS shooting. Chris Reid tried more-conventional-looking postures, but just couldn’t get settled on this rock pile/shooting position — until he tried laying back. Thank goodness he had a relatively low-recoiling rifle! “I shot that way on the mover too,” says Reid. The rifle is a Benchmark Barrels-built 6.5 Creedmore. Reid runs a suppressor, which helps dampen both blast and felt recoil. (COURTESY OF CHRIS REID)

“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.

Growing Participation

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.

PHOTO 4 k&M 2014 #4
PRS-style shooting draws ever-larger crowds to what is normally a small, close-knit community. Here’s a typical get-together at the CORE training center in Florida. (MICHAEL CAGE PHOTOGRAPHY)

“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 AmSJ

Long distances help make PRS matches distinct. Here a shooter reaches out over the plains at Vantage, Wash. (COURTESY OF CHRIS REID)

Vortex Viper PST 2.5-10×32 FFP

And Why you should Get One
First off if you’re not familiar with the Vortex Scopes it is a high end piece that goes well with anyone that’s into long range shooting. The Vortex Viper PST 2.5-10×32 is a FFP scope, there are some differences to a second FFP. In this segment we’ll keep it real simple.

Frontal Focal Point – First focal plane scopes are specifically designed for “tactical shooters and hunters” where the distance to target changes and is often unknown. FFP scopes place the reticle in front of the erector.

The first focal plane reticles do not grow or shrink in size as magnification increases, but it appears they do. The reticle is being magnified to match the magnification of the target. The reason this is important to tactical shooters are many. First and foremost tactical shooters and hunter tend to use mil scales to calculate bullet drop and wind calls.

The basics of a first focal plane scope, the mil scale is the same at 2x as it is on 10x. So the scale is always the same. Tactical shooters are also speed based shooters – either need to follow up quickly or engaging the target immediately. So it means they may not have time to calculate the difference in magnification and the difference it makes in mil scales.

Vortex Viper PST 2.5-10×32 FFP Cool Stuff

  • Adjustable turrets
  • Illumination
  • Parallax Adjust
  • Reticle focus is at the rear

Another feature that seems to stand out is the reticle brightness stands out more than other PST scopes. This may be due to the smaller lense bringing in less light so that it allows the reticle to light up more. (based on HighJaker86 Youtuber observation)

Go to Euro Optics for Vortex Viper PST scopes.

Sources: Vortex, Euro Optics, HighJak86 Youtube

Leupold VX-6 HD Multi Gun Scope

Whether you’re looking to top your custom rifle like this one, or just a factory gun that shoots really well, one thing you need to know is: Your optics are just as important as your rifle when it comes to accuracy. Good rule of thumb is to spend as much money on your optics as you do on your rifle. The gold ring of Leupold and the VX-6 models of rifle scopes is worthy of being on top of any rifle ever built.

The VX-6 line of rifle scopes comes in various different kinds of models, from the 1-6×24 all the way out to the 7-42×56 models. Most of this line comes with a 30mm tube, however the higher magnification units come with a 34mm tube, which allows for greater windage and elevation adjustments, which is ideal for long-range shooting, as it is with this model.

This scope features unsurpassed light transmission, un compromised mechanical performance, and unbeatable optical clarity. The VX-6 is undeniably as good as it gets when it comes to high-end optics. The powerful 6-1 zoom ratio makes this scope ideal for all ranges, whether you’re stalking animals in the timber or laying out prone to take a 700-yard shot at an antelope. You can count on a good field of view and the ability to put the crosshairs right on the hair you want to hit.

The features and benefits of this scope are nothing short of spectacular. Leupold’s quantum optical system with legendary extend-twilight lense coatings and diamond-coat tube, combined with edge black and lead-free lenses enable the scope to provide crystal-clear images at those most critical hours when game is most active, and sub-standard optics falls short.

The extreme fast-focus eyepiece ensures a generous eye box, superior field of view, and an optical diopter adjustment in the field. The illuminated reticle VX-6 models feature either traditional or super bright fire dot illumination. The one-button low-profile design allows users to choose between 12 intensity settings. Proprietary motion sensor technology automatically deactivates illumination after five minutes of inactivity, yet reactivates as soon as any movement is detected. It comes with twin bias spring erector system, and a pop-up zero finger click adjustment ensures maximum adjustment for range and precision.

The 34mm tube on this scope is very rugged, it gathers a lot of light, and it’s unbelievably lightweight. The scope weighs in at 24.3 ounces, making it a great choice for those of you looking to top an ultralight rifle, and still keep it ultra-light.

All Leupold VX-6 rifle scopes have Custom Dial System, and include a free customized dial with purchase. the CDS dials allow you to quickly dial your elevation to different sight-in ranges with a custom adjustment matched to your specific ballistic information. The CDS dials change out easily allowing for flexibility with different loads, conditions, and caibers. Every CDS dial features quarter-MOA ajdustments, or one centimeter per click for the metric versions, which is finger-adjustable, and no adjustment covers to lose, making it simple to operate and extremely accurate.

CDS Advantages

  • Swap dials quickly by loosening set screws.
  • Match dials with specific loads for maximum accuracy.
  • Precision ¼-MOA click increment adjustment.
  • No adjustment covers to lose.
  • One revolution stops available for custom dials.
  • Use in tandem with Leupold’s RX rangefinder family for unmatched long-range precision.

The CDS system works by laser-inscribing your scope’s elevation dial to match your load, velocity, and conditions, once you have validated your data. Your scope will be in perfect sync with how your rifle and loads shoot, regardless of shooting factory ammunition or handloads. Each CDS dial is unique, taking all practical ballistics and environmental factors into account, and is a must for anyone looking to take shots at animals out past 500 yards and be consistent. Each VX-6 rifle scope is waterproof, shockproof, and backed by Leupold’s full lifetime guarentee, and the Leupold gold ring electronics warranty.

If you’re into hunting and expect to deliver every time you go out. Get a scope that’s dependable, lightweight, and performs flawlessly without any problems, each and every time to the field, the Leupold VX-6 model is just that scope. Pick one up online at Euro Optics they have a sale with discounts up to 35% off, click the links below to see further details.
Leupold VX-6 sales.

Sources & Photos: Euro Optics, Leupold, Wikipedia, Sportsmen News TV