Wed. Feb 21st, 2024

Field Sports Scotland

Hunting and Field Sports in Scotland

How to Train for the PRS and Core Series

I’ve been asked several times in the last few weeks about how I train and prepare for competition. I used to just go out and shoot with no real goal in mind and then just call it good and head to matches. This resulted in mixed results, and once I actually began to train for competition instead of practising my results became much more consistent. Like any other sport or competition you must start with a solid foundation. With shooting this involves having a good grasp on the fundamentals of marksmanship and a good system with which to work with. This is usually accomplished pre-season and revisited throughout the year when performance is lacking or begins to show a decline. First is the weapons system:- I look for a combination in which the optics track consistently and the rifle and ammunition will consistently print 5 rounds under a half MOA from the prone position using a bi-pod and rear bag or sand sock.  I also look for the ammunition to have a single digit Standard deviation and at a maximum a 20fps Extreme spread. I can do the majority of this at my local 100 yard range.  I use this time to really concentrate on my fundamentals of Marksmanship; Sight Alignment, Sight Picture, Body position, Breathing and trigger control. This is the most time that I will spend in the prone and one of the few times I’ll shoot groups throughout the life of the barrel.
Gathering Data on a new lot of ammo prior to a match
When I am satisfied that my weapons system is performing as expected and I have revisited my fundamentals I’ll move out to the longer ranges. At this point, this is where having consistent velocities pays off. Loads with low deviation have less vertical dispersion at long range which makes collecting data an easier exercise with more consistent results. It is important at this stage to have as close to a perfect zero as possible. Garbage in equals garbage out. I collect data to the maximum allowable range that a facility has to offer, 1200 yards at my normal range, and will write it down as well as calibrate my Kestrel 4500 to match the actual data obtained. Once this data collection is complete, I can get to effective training. Little Time to Think The majority of competitions that I shoot in are not about who can shoot the smallest group at distance such as is seen in long range bench rest competition, so my training regime is not focused on that particular skill set. A typical stage is as much about your problem solving abilities as it is on your ability to effectively engage targets. All stages have par times which run from 90 seconds to 120 seconds match dependent. This puts a premium on building a good solid initial position and getting first round hits or being able to make corrections after a miss. Being able to build a solid first position on all manner of natural and man-made objects is paramount to a successful stage. The shooter perceives less time pressure and tends to make better decisions and break better shots, I spend a good deal of my time on practice days working on this very skill. This can be done by dry or live fire and is best done with a training partner. A shot timer is a definite plus. I use a dedicated shot timer but there are several Apps available that serve this function just as well. It helps to write your results down in a small note book, so you can track your progress. I know that depending how complex the position I can typically break my first shot from 12-17 seconds after the buzzer and still manage first round hits. I can go faster but my hit rate goes down dramatically, so it’s definitely a balancing act. I typically pull stages from previous matches that I have shot so I can train on with some variations but this isdependent on some range differences. A trap that is easy to fall into is being so overly obsessed with speed that you become sloppy in other aspects of breaking the shot. Building a solid position is more than producing a stable shot it’s also about being able to spot your misses and making sound corrections. If you’re not seeing your misses you are just guessing. Getting square behind your rifle and staying with the recoil impulse until it stops enables this to happen. It takes practice to be able to do this on the clock and should be a primary focus when training for positional stages. In previous seasons I used a 223 Remington training rifle set up very similar to my actual competition rifle in order to save money and barrel life. I actually found this to be negative training due to the decreased recoil impulse of the rifle. Currently I have a barrel for each rifle I use in competition chambered in 308 Winchester. The recoil is substantially more than the 6.5×47 Lapua and 260 Remington that I use in matches, so I have to work much harder to control the rifle than I will in competition. Depending upon local laws and regulations this might not be feasible for an individual, so my advice would be to just train with your actual competition rig.  I also train on much smaller targets. If I generally see a 3 MOA target in matches, I will train on targets 50%-60% of the size. This forces misses and finer holds in order to get hits. The best training is actually just to shoot matches. I search out small local matches and use them as a training opportunities. It puts you on the clock and allows you to shoot stages you may not have previously seen. I will also get together with a few friends and have a mini grudge matches, mainly for bragging rights or a drink a stage. Finally, remember to have fun and enjoy yourself. At times I have become overly obsessed with performance and turned my love of shooting competitively into more of a job. At that point, I noticed a sharp decrease in my overall performance and level of enjoyment.