A year event that is organised and run by Simon Gillice from Gillice Practical Events, the day is well organised, well run and well worth getting along too.
I wrangled up a couple of guys from up in Auckland and we headed down to participate in the event in November.
Held in a private block in Tarata – about 45 minutes east of New Plymouth, like many field shoots, the day involves heading up a hill and shooting down into the surrounding ground – this provides a 360 berm the nullifies the chance of any rounds heading outside of the shooting area.
Simon’s shoots have a particular lean towards the hunting aspect of a field shoot – there is no rifle zero stage – you are expected to have your gear working when you turn up and many positions are intentionally difficult and unstable. Forcing you to think about your shooting position and often shoot in less than ideal situations.
The shooters were split into hunter and open class – the open class essentially shooting additional targets placed out further. Stages varied – from shooting short then long, know your limits style stages, a swinger that required you to take your time, test your patience and wait for the target to stabilise and a rapid-fire stage that stipulated an unloaded start and 30 seconds to get three rounds off-hand into a 20-meter target. Not so easy when it’s the end of the day, your hands are cold and you are lifting a target rifle build with a varmint weight barrel and heavy, heavy scope ((my Vortex Razor HD II)).
The barricades are always a challenge – and often, as Simon pointed out to me – the most obvious method of shooting them is not the best. In the end, getting down with multiple points of contact between the barricade, yourself and the ground sets yourself up a stable shooting platform – helping with recoil management and ultimately, accuracy.
The weather was wet, but not soaking – a constant drizzle most the day keeping everything damp. Scopes were fogging up, clothing (like the poor bastard wearing Jeans) soaked through and rifles required a good cleaning the next day.
It was an excellent event. The shoot is ‘competitive’ but like most field shoots in NZ, it’s really about having a good time and improving your shooting. I was very surprised to hear that I came fifth on the day in the open class. The quality of shooters in the top pack was very high – and I consider myself lucky to be able to hang around and learn what I can from them.