15 Aug JUST STARTING IN PRECISION RIFLE SERIES (PRS)? CHECK OUT THESE ESSENTIAL ACCESSORIES.
So, you want to compete in your local Precision Rifle Match? Not sure exactly what you need to do it? Lucky for you we’ve got Eugene White on tap and dispensing knowledge of the highest caliber. Eugene ain’t no slouch, he’s an NRA Training Counselor and Certified Instructor, Utah Concealed Firearms Certified Instructor, NRA T/C Certified Instructor: (Home Firearms Safety, Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, Muzzleloading Rifle),
NRA Certified Pistol Coach, NRA Chief Range Safety Officer AND Owner Rocky Mountain Firearms Academy.
He’s got you covered. Take it away, Eugene.
Ok, first things first:
WHAT GEAR DO YOU NEED?
When it comes to purchasing gear, you can keep it simple or you can go extravagant. Let’s hit the basics to getting started. As you become more proficient or see what others are using, you can then invest in the higher end gear- something I’ll cover in future posts.
Rifle: the first step is to purchase (or if able build) a rifle that has the capability to obtain 1 MOA (Minute of Angle) accuracy or better if possible. Remember, this includes your capability as well. Having a magazine equipped version will also increase your capabilities.
Rifle Scope: with target style exposed turrets. Based on your ability, the scope should be capable of either MOA or Milliradian (MRAD) which are conical measurements that show your accuracy at distances between the tip of your muzzle and your target.
Ballistics data computer: Available on a smart phone, PDA or tablet. There are many out there, and it will be yours to decide upon which one you like based on your choice of platform. Based on most users, these are the top three that come up during discussions.
- iStrelok/PRO: iStrelok is an easy-to-use ballistic trajectory calculator that allows you to plug in factors such as rifle make and model, cartridge, weather conditions, wind direction and speed, slope angle and scope and reticle information. iStrelok is currently available for Apple and Android devices.
- Shooter: Shooter has a great user interface that just makes sense to a shooter and gets you to a solution quick and easy. Shooter uses saved profiles for your firearms and ammunition so you never have to keep entering this static data over and over again. You can also use your device’s GPS, Accelerometer and Compass to help you out with data input.
- Applied Ballistics: The app allows the shooter to select from a large library of bullets. The user inputs the bullet and gun properties as well as atmospheric information, sight scale factors and zero shift offsets, and the Applied Ballistics calculator will provide the results. This app is compatible with both Android and Apple device.
Ammunition: I know it seems redundant to state the obvious, but many a shooter has packed their vehicle, jumped behind the wheel and left without their ammunition. If you don’t believe me, ask! One thing you also want to consider is that each PRS event will be a different course of fire. You will need to have enough loaded rounds to meet the needs of the course as well as enough for you to verify your zero.
Bipod: There are many choices out on the market and while this is ultimately your choice, please refrain from support fakes or knockoffs. A quality, sturdy and reliable bipod is paramount for attaining a stable shooting position. You will learn this as you progress in PRS. Beginning with a top-rated bipod like Harris, Atlas or Evo will make it easier than you think.
Rear bag: As you are choosing a rear support, you want to ask yourself, “Can this bag…”. A) Support the rifle? 2) Create a level shooting platform? 3) Keep it from skewing (shifting) right to left? 4) Retain firmness yet malleability for your hand to squeeze and adjust the height while shooting for quick alignment with the target? This is where networking will save you some time and allow you to find a great starting bag. Stay away from bags designed for ‘BENCH REST SHOOTING”. We’re talking PRS and bench rest bags are heavier and not as malleable so they can not be adjusted easily. As for MONOPODS, their extremely small footprint make them difficult to adjust on the fly, they become stiff and require cleaning to maintain their ability to adjust. All these lead to the ultimate question: during a PRS match do you want to rely on that essential piece of equipment and have it fail? No. Invest in the bag. There are tons of bag options out there but Warhorse Development, Armageddon Gear and Wiebad are at the pinnacle of the Precision Rifle Series gear selection.
Basic tools: Sometimes adjustments are needed before a match, having the basic tools on hand to adjust your scope or for that unnerving possibility that you didn’t tighten your base correctly will be a life saver. You also might be a savior to someone else who forgot to pack his kit when he left the house and needs an Allen Wrench or for that matter a Torque wrench to tighten down his rings.
Magazines: If your rifle has been set up to run magazines, you will need them to shoot. Also, many matches are 10+ round stages.
Tactical Arm Board/Dope Card: referring to your phone for scope adjustments is not always the best option. Electronics turn off and trying to turn them on while you’re in a timed match will eat up precious moments that could give you the opportunity you need to adjust or get on target. Having the information written down at a glance will ensure you are spending the time looking through the scope and not at a blank digital readout. While there are many options that you can wear similar to a play book coaches wear on the side lines, I prefer something that attaches directly to the picatinny rail of my rifle.
Pad and Pen/Pencil: Shooters are prepped at the opening of an event on the overall aspects of the match. You are then instructed at each stage as to the targets, the rules of the stage and sometimes the distances to the target. You still want to take notes, this will help you prepare for the stage as well as give you the opportunity to jot down the do’s and don’ts you encountered during the execution of the stage, that way you can practice later and overcome those deficiencies. Or you can get contact info, gear information, or directions to the nearest watering/steak restaurant after the event.
Eye and Ear Protection (REQUIRED): Some match directors run suppressor only matches but the match you are attending may not be… and having ear protection will make your life better down the road. Eye protection is a requirement, you must have it to be at the match. Make sure to chose a set that provides both protection from flying debris and to help you from squinting.
Clothing Appropriate for the Weather Conditions: Being prepared for your match also includes having clothing that will provide the necessary protection from the elements as well as provide comfort and the ability to perform to the rigors of a match. PRS is built around the shoot and move or move and shoot principle and wearing clothing that doesn’t hinder you from attaining a position will increase your proficiency. One other article of clothing that I find is a must is a wide brimmed hat to keep the sun off of my neck and to help shade my eyes, Long days in the sun can do some serious damage to your skin especially the ears, having a hat can also keep your head warm in the winter. So, try to include it as part of your PRS kit.
WATER and Snacks: Hydration, even in winter you can become dehydrated, having water and something to keep your mind, stomach and blood sugar happy will make for a more enjoyable time.
Sunscreen: Not much worse than a full day under the sun with the burnt skin to show for it. Keep your focus on the next match, not the burn you got from the last one.
Backpack (hydration compatible): The one thing that makes your life easy is the ability to carry everything around. Not every match allows the shooter to drive between stages. So, having something to tote your err, “stuff” from stage to stage is a must. When selecting a backpack, you really want to look at a uniform size with multiple facets that can be utilized as a rest if the stage requires it. Eberlestock LoDrag I/II is one that many PRS shooters prefer due to its ability to carry a lot of gear, your rifle and back up as a rest or as a shooting bag for those really weird stages where you need additional stability while shooting. One thing that I suggest is to refrain from an exterior framed pack, they can get in the way and if you are using your pack as a brace between you arms the frame gets in the way. Some other bags to consider are Mystery Ranch, Maxpedition and 5.11.
Remember, this is basic gear to get you started but there are additional items that are recommended.
As is found in many sports, team work comes into play while you’re in the field. Working as a team can make it easier for you to attend a match as a participant without spending a ton of money up front, but you never know what gear your team will have there. If you are going to become proficient, then you must practice, practice, practice and to do that, you will need everything to attain that proficiency. Please come back later and look for our Beyond the Basic Gear post and check out what we recommend as great assets to also have in your Precision Rifle Shooting Kit.