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My First PRS Match: I Screwed Up!

TechPilot

Private
Minuteman
Jan 11, 2024
24
25
Kansas City, MO
After months of preparation I entered my first match yesterday at the Gadsden Shooting Center in central Missouri. I was the fifth shooter for our squad and had a chance to locate all five targets and watch others shoot. Members of my squad were helpful in locating targets and distances. The stage consisted of shooting all five targets off of a tripod that had a flat circular top. It looked as though I was using the same type of bag as everyone else, but I may not have taken enough of the fill out of it yet to make it sit well and provide a stable shooting platform on that flat, round top.

By the time I sighted the first target and loaded my round, the bag had begun to slip. The RO fortunately saw the bag begin to slip and alerted me right away. I moved my left hand (from above the scope) to below the front of the rifle and began to lift it while the bag fell. I then touched off an accidental discharge downrange into the hillside. I didn't feel my finger touch the trigger since it was 47 degrees and my hands were numb. Credit to the RO again for stepping in to offer help as I removed the mag and left the firing line.

In fifty years of hunting and shooting I have never unintentionally discharged a firearm, and I'll do everything necessary to make sure that never happens again. I'm posting this in the hope that it keeps someone else from making the same mistakes, which are:
  1. Be certain of the stability of your shooting platform. Stop and borrow a bag if needed. You have too many things to concentrate on to try and balance a setup.
  2. Don't risk cold hands or a shivering body. Dress appropriately in layers. Bring shooting gloves and/or hand warmers. If your fingers are cold at all you should not be shooting.
  3. Don't be pressured by the clock - especially if you are a new shooter - as this will drive mistakes. Take all the time you need to take every shot safely, and let your speed increase with practice and experience over time.
  4. If your shot is interrupted for any reason, flip up the bolt!
  5. Using a simple hunting reticle won't cut it. Our first stage included five different holdover distances and did not permit dialing elevation. I had each holdover written in inches before the match, but unless you know (and even if you do) the height of each target it is nearly impossible for a newbie to gauge that at distance. Have a scope reticle with markings that will put you on target with a holdover at a glance.
Kudos to the guy that ran out to my truck as I was leaving to encourage me not to give up. He let me know that the Match Director had only DQ'd me from the stage and not the match. I wasn't aware of that when I left the stage, but I knew that the PRS rules called for a match DQ. I told him that I was too cold and too afraid that it would happen again. He said to make sure I came back to another match, and I assured him that I would definitely do that after I had more practice safely moving in and out of stages and setting up many different shooting platforms.
 
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Not the first and you’re far from the last, you’ll be more cognizant going forward so don’t let it dishearten you too much. It’s one of those great learning experiences that usually only happens the one time.

One thing though, I don’t use the safety in those situations, I just lift the bolt up which disables the firing system without extracting all the way backwards kicking the round out on the clock so I don’t introduce another variable I can forget about. When you’re back on target you can simply close the bolt back down like you do before every other shot.

Unless you’re shooting gas gun, in which case ignore what I said
 
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Kudos to you for going to your fist match and for posting up about it.

No one got hurt and you learned something, so that’s a big win.

You should have stuck around though to help score/spot and to just absorb more from other shooters. And I can guarantee you that people would have also let you keep shooting for no score to just get more comfortable. My first match, I timed out just about every stage, but everyone in my squad said to keep shooting just to learn
 
Shit happens. Learn from it and move on. Don't be scared to go shoot another match. You should have stayed but I get why you didn't. Jump right back in and find another local match and go shoot it soon.

To your list:

1-3 are no brainers and should have been known before heading in. Be stable, warm and a slow hit is better than a fast miss.

4. Negative. Lift your bolt. Do not put the safety on as you will forget to take it off. You won't forget to drop the bolt before a shot.

5. That is something else you should have known before going in from reading this site and talking to anyone who has shot a match. A reticle that can be used for holds is a must. Inches have no place in a match.
 
I was at that match but did not hear of this happening to you. Which just goes to show that no one made a big deal about it.. That would be a tough stage for a new shooter. Hope you come back out and shoot again. I personally shot a few rimfire matches before I went to a centerfire match. I helps you learn the ropes without the added pressure of long ranges and loud guns. But do come back and shoot again. Just go into each stage with the mindset of only getting off half of the shot for each stage. If you see a complicated stage ask if you can simplify it maybe shooting just the closer targets or instead of 5 positions just shooting from 2 or three but more shots. When you are a new shooter most RO's and Match directors are easy to work with.
 
Shit happens. Learn from it and move on. Don't be scared to go shoot another match. You should have stayed but I get why you didn't. Jump right back in and find another local match and go shoot it soon.

To your list:

1-3 are no brainers and should have been known before heading in. Be stable, warm and a slow hit is better than a fast miss.

4. Negative. Lift your bolt. Do not put the safety on as you will forget to take it off. You won't forget to drop the bolt before a shot.

5. That is something else you should have known before going in from reading this site and talking to anyone who has shot a match. A reticle that can be used for holds is a must. Inches have no place in a match.
Thanks Rob. I'll be right back in the saddle.
Agree re: 1-3, they were known, and I even had shooting gloves in the truck; I included everything I could think of for the sake of other newbies.
The advice on #4 is great, and I'll be doing that.
Re #5: I have a new scope picked out but don't have the $$ for another month. Everyone on here said just get out there for the experience. I would've been fine on the other stages.
 
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Good to hear it didn’t do you in for good. Get back in and have some fun.

What scope are you looking at?
 
Feel free to make recommendations, but I want to learn to use the Tremor 3 reticle, and for the price the Nightforce NX8 4-32x50 looks like a good choice. I've been looking for one in-stock to see through it before buying one. Second choice was the PR2 MIL reticle in a Leupold Mark 5HD 7-35X56. The more I look at what the Tremor (2 or 3) reticle can provide the more I like it.
 
You learnt something new. More than others have done.

Props for keeping gun down range and not hurting anyone or any thing.
IF theres a next time, just voluenteer to score or hold a timer. You learn a bunch by doing that.
 
Feel free to make recommendations, but I want to learn to use the Tremor 3 reticle, and for the price the Nightforce NX8 4-32x50 looks like a good choice. I've been looking for one in-stock to see through it before buying one. Second choice was the PR2 MIL reticle in a Leupold Mark 5HD 7-35X56. The more I look at what the Tremor (2 or 3) reticle can provide the more I like it.
Nightforce reticles are really good. They are among the better reasons to buy A Nightforce optic.
 
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Numb hands? Lol I see you’re from Missouri.

I’m just making a little gentle fun of you for being cold at 47°F. That’s downright hot for Feb in Minnesota. It was around that temp today and I have a flannel shirt on and wanted to take it off when exerting myself. My hands were fine after shooting at 34°F after the sun went down.

It’s an incredibly weird winter up here.

Was it really windy with 100% cloud cover? That can make a difference.

Get back out there! You can do it. I’m not a competitor but I have a 4-32 NX8 and it is pretty amazing. I heard when they were first released they had issues but current production is great.

I use the Mil-XT reticle but a military guy I respect flip-flopped from hating the Tremor3 to liking it after extensively testing his times with/without it. I believe @Rudy Gonsior likes it for the speed as well, and he’s a SF mil guy too.

I think it obscures too much for a small varmint shooter like myself, but I get it. Horus has a simulator on their site and after using it I’m a believer if you’re shooting 2moa+ targets.

I just think it could be designed with a lot less clutter.
 
Feel free to make recommendations, but I want to learn to use the Tremor 3 reticle, and for the price the Nightforce NX8 4-32x50 looks like a good choice. I've been looking for one in-stock to see through it before buying one. Second choice was the PR2 MIL reticle in a Leupold Mark 5HD 7-35X56. The more I look at what the Tremor (2 or 3) reticle can provide the more I like it.

First I would recommend sticking with a standard tree reticle like the Mil XT if you go with the NF. The Horus reticles seem great but they aren't for matches. You will regret getting it and paying more for it also.

If you are in the NX8 price range there are a bunch of good scopes out there. Look at some next match you go to and/or read up in the optic section about what people use for matches.
 
Stuff happens, and nobody got hurt.

This is a great learning and reflection moment. You've obviously learned from it, and while you have probably always been a safe shooter, you've shown that you've used this opportunity to reflect on the incident and going forward this will never be an issue again.

I would much rather have you next to me on the firing line than some of the very seasoned PRS shooters I've witnessed, who can be somewhat cavalier about safety.

Don't let this stop you from shooting
 
If most PRS shooters are 100% honest with themselves, they will admit that they have torched one down range before they intended to. Maybe it was pretty close to the target, maybe it even hit the target, but they weren’t actually ready to fire. I’d hazard a guess that few DQs are handed out relative to the actual number of NDs, and that many/most DQs arise from self-reports.

I mean, not me, but other shooters… 😏
 
I was at that match but did not hear of this happening to you. Which just goes to show that no one made a big deal about it.. That would be a tough stage for a new shooter. Hope you come back out and shoot again. I personally shot a few rimfire matches before I went to a centerfire match. I helps you learn the ropes without the added pressure of long ranges and loud guns. But do come back and shoot again. Just go into each stage with the mindset of only getting off half of the shot for each stage. If you see a complicated stage ask if you can simplify it maybe shooting just the closer targets or instead of 5 positions just shooting from 2 or three but more shots. When you are a new shooter most RO's and Match directors are easy to work with.
Hey Sarge, what bag did you use on Stage #2? The tripod had what looked to be a 6" in diameter flat round plate (could've been 4") on top.
 
If most PRS shooters are 100% honest with themselves, they will admit that they have torched one down range before they intended to. Maybe it was pretty close to the target, maybe it even hit the target, but they weren’t actually ready to fire. I’d hazard a guess that few DQs are handed out relative to the actual number of NDs, and that many/most DQs arise from self-reports.

I mean, not me, but other shooters… 😏

It's definitely not extremely rare to hear "oh shit" right after they send one and its pretty obvious they weren't completely ready. If I'm on the squad or the RO, I'll usually ask if that was an ND just to let them know I know. So far, have only had a couple admit it.

Unless the round completely launches, then I stop them. As the rounds that hit the berm or the target....I'm not going to get into a he said/she said argument when they can claim they didn't torch one.
 
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Hey Sarge, what bag did you use on Stage #2? The tripod had what looked to be a 6" in diameter flat round plate (could've been 4") on top.
Schmedium tits down. But you do have to pay attention they can slide off if you aren't careful. I've practiced it a bit. Take the extra time to make sure bag is placed correctly and get the gun in the center.
 
You did good, except I’ll reiterate what others have already made clear, you should have stayed and use the bolt as your safety. It not only works, it’s visual for everyone else too.

I agree that most NDs and subsequent DQs are self reported. As a MD and competitor, I once had an ND at the second to last shot on a five position tank trap stage. I was smoking the stage and then at the last bag move, I came down on the trigger just before I was on target. The miss was so close that some argued with me when I stopped and called it. Then a guy filming that stage did slow-mo replay and saw it.

It’s always a learning experience, and those that want to, do learn from it. I knew a guy that said, if you’ve never been DQed, you’re not trying hard enough. I’m not sure that I agree with that, but do know that it should serve as a reminder.
 
Everyone has touched one off when they didn't mean to...and if they havent...they are lying or haven't shot enough. It's actually good it happened early so you are more cognizant of that going forward. I know when it happened to me it changed the way I shoot and it's always in my mind.

Saftey is the most important thing. It's a game that we take for granted but from the outside and from an insurance point of view its dangerous as shit. We all get a little to comfortable at times.

When you are new you are trying to absorb so much info so fast and then you end up rushing to try to keep up with the experienced guys. You can't. All that stuff will come in time, most important thing is to be safe, take your time, build a good position and get good trigger pulls off. It's OK to time out if you only get 6 of 10 shots off better to take 6 good hits than 10 fast misses. Speed will come with time.

Have fun and don't let it discourage you. Learn from it and like everyone else said, your bolt needs to be open untill you are on target and ready to shoot. Can't ND if your bolt is not closed. Get into that habbit and your chance of a ND goes way way down.
 
Had an experienced shooter in a rimfire match do it yesterday, RO caught it and they had a discussion. Probably should have been a DQ as that shooter had some attitude after a couple poor stages. But he was actually better after their interaction so maybe it was for the best. It happens, no one got hurt and you learned a lesson.
This game is hard, if it was easy it wouldn't be as much fun when you run a stage well. Give it another try, be safe, have fun, it's a long learning curve.
 
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And I can guarantee you that people would have also let you keep shooting for no score to just get more comfortable.
Is that how it works in 2-day PRS matches ? The briefs I’ve heard say you are done if you ND. Is that not the case ?
 
As a shooter (and a Missouri shooter to boot) looking to get into NRL and PRS, your story and your advice are really helpful. I can quite vividly imagine how the same thing could happen to me during my first match. As I prepare and practice I am reminded to always prioritize safety ahead of anything else. Forgetting safe, relaxed, and deliberate execution is too easy when I am focused on improving such seemingly crucial skills like speed and accuracy. For the last few months every other weekend I have been practicing stages and gathering my DOPE but only recently did it occur to me that within this practice I need to include the use of a chamber flag and other safety measures employed in this style of shooting. I can imagine what a disaster it would be if I showed up to my first match using a chamber flag for the very first time. I would probably be walking to my truck with my head hung down as well. Anyway, I cant think of many other sports where in a similar situation another competitor is likely to come running after me to make sure I will be coming back.

Gratitude to the more experienced competitors here who help the noobs get a better sense of perspective, reminding us that we should not be worrying about the timer or score until we are completely comfortable with the fundamentals of shooting within a match environment. I hope to see some of you Missouri shooters at a match sometime soon.
 
Happened to me too.........
National match traveling with my team mate, 4 hour drive. I AD on the first stage, to hopped up, sat in the truck for about 8 hours waiting on him to shoot the match.
Do not give up.
 
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I like to shoot and am a decent shot (for a hillbilly) how would I get involved in something like this? Asking here as techpilot is new and may speak to his journey. If rimfire is the way to start I have a .17 that shoots impressively well under 200. A 6 arc gas gun and a 6.5 creed (that is my hunting gun sfp. Would be willing to change optic but must stay lightweight as the gun is already heavy for hunting) prs seems fun and a good way to improve skill.
 
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I like to shoot and am a decent shot (for a hillbilly) how would I get involved in something like this? Asking here as techpilot is new and may speak to his journey. If rimfire is the way to start I have a .17 that shoots impressively well under 200. A 6 arc gas gun and a 6.5 creed (that is my hunting gun sfp. Would be willing to change optic but must stay lightweight as the gun is already heavy for hunting) prs seems fun and a good way to improve skill.
Mrz Ominous, go to PrecisionRifleSeries.com and click on "Learn." Also consider the National Rifle League, which is similar but geared toward hunters at NRLHunter.org
 
I like to shoot and am a decent shot (for a hillbilly) how would I get involved in something like this? Asking here as techpilot is new and may speak to his journey. If rimfire is the way to start I have a .17 that shoots impressively well under 200. A 6 arc gas gun and a 6.5 creed (that is my hunting gun sfp. Would be willing to change optic but must stay lightweight as the gun is already heavy for hunting) prs seems fun and a good way to improve skill.
Rimfire is probably the most accessible, but limited to 22lr.

https://practiscore.com/ is a pretty good resource for finding a match in your area. You do need to register in order to use the site effectively.

“Do it all” guns fail pretty hard in PRS. The competition format favors heavy rifles chambered for light recoiling cartridges. That doesn’t mean you can’t use your hunting rifle, just that you will be at a disadvantage from the jump. All you really need is a rifle that will hold ~1 moa for a string of 10 shots, a decent bipod, a rear (multi-use) bag, enough rounds to complete the course of fire (+ a few for match day zeroing), and a good attitude. Show up early. Confirm zero on your rifle. Expect to miss, a lot. Be safe. Have fun.
 
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I like to shoot MOA for a couple of reasons: one I've learned the system, am comfortable with the reticle, and most new shooters trying out their first match are more likely to shoot MOA. I try to help new shooters as best I can.
I can't shoot many matches right now. So I keep a few things in mind: a slow hit is much better than a fast miss. Don't be afraid to time out on a stage only getting 7 good impacts.
I've also had to take a match DQ when my barrel went south halfway through the match. It happens. It's the same to me as a ND at a match.
 
There's 2 kinds of match shooters- those that have dq'ed and those that will. I broke the 180 in a cqb carbine match and flagged about 10 guys. Luckily my safety was on and finger off the trigger. Still tho that walk of shame really teaches you a lesson. We have multiple levels of safety built in because we're all human.
 
TechPilot, I was at that match as well. I had no idea it even happened. Shit happens, don't give up. Def should have stuck around, as you can learn a lot by watching. There is a match at Shield Solutions on 3/23, if you can make it, it will be a fun match.