I know many of you wanted a quicker update, but I got back from Wyoming at 3:00 AM Monday morning, and then got up at 6:00 AM to go to work. (very busy day, thank you, Air Force!) I’m still fighting a cold, so went home, went to bed at 6:00 PM, and got up at 6:00 AM to go back to work. So 12 hours of sleep and I feel a whole lot better.
The ITRC (International Tactical Rifle Championship) is a different kind of match. It is part precision rifle, part 3gun, part hoser, part run your butt off, and you’ve got to be a really really really good shot.
I don’t know how we did, because we had to bail out as soon as we were eliminated from the team v. team to get home in time to go back to work. We missed the awards ceremony. That said, if we weren’t dead last, I’ll call it a win. The ITRC is the kind of match that people train and prepare for months in advance. Dave and I figured out we were going about a week ago. We scrounged up ammo and Dave borrowed a Sean Hardy’s sniper rifle. Not exactly a recipe for success.
Even then, this was one of the funnest matches I’ve ever shot.
My partner, Dave Seely, and I left Utah at about 7:00 in the morning. Gillette Wyoming is about 10 hours away. Of course, we both had a terrible cold. I was using an old Rock River 20” with Burris XTR 4×12. (the one from my profile picture). Dave was shooting a DPMS SASS, also with a Burris XTR.
Did I mention that Gillette is very far away? We killed 3 birds with the Focus and about half a million grass hoppers.
We started out on stage 2. It may seem weird to shoot only one stage in a day, but keep in mind that the stages are 2 hours long. This was the easiest stage, but Dave and I still managed to screw it up pretty good. You start at the front gate of the Bliss Ranch, and start walking. The shooting positions are scattered across the ranch. The entire thing is natural terrain. Carbine guy (me) shoots the red targets from 100-500 yards, precision guy (Dave) shoots the blue targets from 500-1000.
I didn’t realize how hard it would be to actually find the targets. You walk to a marked shooting position, and there in front of you is a hill covered in brush and trees. All you know is that somewhere in there are X number of rifle targets. Find them and shoot them.
As a 3gunner, I’m really good and running up to something, picking out the obvious target and shooting at it. If I miss, I watch the dust impact, adjust with the scope, and then hit it again. So we shoot fast, and we miss fast, but we shoot a lot. That strategy will not work at the ITRC. You get 20 points for hitting targets, but you also lose 20 points for each MISS. So if you need to hit a target once, but it takes you 3 shots to do it, you are now at -40 points.
Even if you run the whole thing and finish early, each minute finished early is only worth one point. Dave and I went way too fast, rushed too many shots, and ended up finishing an hour early. So stage 2 was firmly blown.
But then we flew in the chopper! Yay! That was a blast. I’d never flown in a chopper before, let alone shot a gun from one. Our team was in the lead with 6 hits for a little while, but then there was a 7, and by the time the first day was over I think there was a 9. I don’t know what the final was, but I heard some team got like a 15 or something. That’s some darn good shooting.
You got 2 passes, hanging out the door or standing on the skid, shooting a carbine with an Aimpoint and a brass catcher on it. It was great.
Stage 3 was also on the ranch, except they haul you on a Mule out to Montana (literally), drop you off and you start walking. I don’t know how long this stage was, but it was uphill, both ways. I was still sick and sucking wind, but I’m really glad we didn’t do this one the first day, or I would’ve died.
This state was much more mountainous, and there were lots of difficult shots. We slowed down quite a bit and used up all our time. We sucked on long range rifle because of the wind shifting. As I was spotting I don’t know how many times I watched Dave’s impact mere inches from the target, and then the wind would change and the next shot was ten feet away.
I did a lot better on carbine, and I don’t think I missed a shot on anything under 300. 300-500, I did okay, and missed them when the wind picked up. I made a few 350 or so hits across a ravine, but I was holding two and a half Mils to the right and letting the wind carry them in. it was tough.
Stage one was called the Gully, and was at the Surefire training center. This was the hoser stage, and I’m really glad we did it last, as this was the least sick I’d been the whole time. I borrowed a Sig X5 from my friend Sonny from Montana because he’d brought 37 magazines. That is not a typo. I used all of them and reloaded probably ten of them during the lull in the middle. I used them all.
I was on pistol, Dave was on carbine. (my DSA middy but with Dave’s ACOG/Doktor on it). This one starts out with a drive by where you sit in a cart, you drive along at 5 miles an hour over a bumpy lane shooting as many shots as you can at steel plates. (no penalty for missing, so we shot a LOT).
Then the first 45 minute part started. You are on foot and have to move through a forested ravine. The terrain is rough, and Dave rolled his ankle in the first 50 feet. Targets are everywhere, but if you move too far forward, you are no longer allowed to engage. So you’ve got to communicate, spot for each other, and still keep moving.
I’ve got to say that our shooting on this portion was awesome. If we saw it, we killed it. I hardly ever missed, and the pistol targets were out to 50 yards, and I was breathing hard the whole time. We did good until we got to Puke Hill. Which is darn near straight up, forever, and we were both gasping and sucking wind at the top. We kept shooting really well, but only made it ¾ of the way through the course. I felt bad about that until we found out that that was about normal. Only a few teams made it all the way through, and most of those missed piles of targets.
The next 45 minute part consisted of Dave engaging like 200 carbine targets from various positions. The gas block on my DSA turned white. Then we had to head down into a shoot house where I fired something like 400 pistol rounds. I went through two school busses, room after room, out windows, ports, around corners, and the Sig just kept getting hotter.
I didn’t hardly miss anything until the final three plate racks, but it wasn’t because of me shaking, it was because I hadn’t worn gloves and the trigger was actually burning my finger. Looking back I could have moved faster through the house, but I was trying to pace myself. We finished with plenty of time to spare.
That afternoon we did the man on man shoot off. We lost (shocking), but because both teams timed out trying to hit the long range stop plate. I actually did really good on the carbine part. I had to clear a Texas star at 100, and did really good, but that last plate was swinging too fast, so it took me about 4 shots to pick it up. Then there were 5 tiny targets at 200, and I just nailed them super fast. (except I forgot the 5th one, unloaded and showed clear, had the RO tell me there was one left, had to reload, and still nailed the little bugger in 1).
I really enjoyed the ITRC, and I’d like to try it again next year, only this time I’d like to be better prepared. It was a great match.