This past weekend I attended my first ever shooting event, run by the good lads at Gillice Practical Rifle Events in conjunction with Ruahine NZDA down in good old windy Dannevirke. The event was a biathalon – where the competitors were scored on their overall time and also shooting ability. 99% of the targets were steel gongs and placed at varying distances, were multiple sizes and of differing presentation. I will say no more but man some were challenging!! I’ve been inspired to create my own gongs in these new lay outs as the difficulty was up there but it was also very satisfying to be awarded points on these stands.
Overall I didn’t do so great – I’ve yet to confirm if my scope was indeed knocked on my fall down the slippery hill just before my final stand when I tallied up a whopping zero out of 25.. But I guess my shooting was pretty average otherwise. I didn’t take the event too seriously in terms of competition. It was more of an opportunity for me to get the feel for these field events and see how I could train in the future to better my score. I think there is work to be done for the organisers in terms of running order (we were let off one by one with a time delay in between, but in many cases, competitors were catching their predecessor and having to wait) but it wasn’t the Olympics, so most people weren’t really worried. The timed stands however were well administered and really got the blood pumping.
Especially to the novice hunter, I would heavily recommend these events. I see the value here being more for the simulated stressful hunting environment (limited timing for shots, challenging shooting positions, moving targets) than for the glory of the highest score. I consider any time behind a hunting rifle to be valuable but by mixing it up from the regular paper or gong shooting, I think these events make practice much more enjoyable and challenging. The more we are comfortable in a situation, the better our shooting will be. Train hard, fight easy!
Following the Practical Rifle Events facebook page is a great way to keep in touch with upcoming events, but I’m sure chatting to the organisers might just give you some tips to run your own competition locally with friends. For my local Hawkes Bay buddies – watch out, we might just be making some new, tricky gongs…