First off, I have an amazing wife and two wonderful kids that keep me going. If it weren’t for their incredible understanding and support for everything I do, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this! Second, I want to give a shout out to all of our AWESOME shooters that attend our NRL22 matches and to Great Guns Sporting LLC (Northern Colorado’s best Outdoor shooting range in my opinion)…without all of these folks support, there wouldn’t be a match!
I have been around firearms a very good portion of my life and do a good bit within the firearms industry locally including running my own firearms and reloading components business after hours along with the help of my wife. Having been raised in Colorado on a small family farming/ranching operation, you learn young how to work hard, shoot straight, reload your own ammunition, and grow your own food. Fast forward now 20+ years later and not much has changed since then. I still wake up each and every day and get to go to work on farming/ranching operations, but just in a bit of a different capacity and much more “hi-tech” manner now.
People often ask me what I do and even after telling them…they still have no clue what I do. When you tell someone that your title is a “Product Performance Specialist for a GPS Navigation company”, they will just look at you with a lost stare and think…huh?! Then when you tell them simply put that you “get paid to break things” for a living…it clicks, and they finally get it. For more than 10+ years I have been installing, operating, and professionally testing some of the most advanced and state-of-the art GPS Navigation Systems and equipment you will find on the market in the Agricultural Industry. I also do a bit of beta testing for a few big-name technology based products within the firearms industry when I am afforded some free time in my after hours and weekends as well.
Why I Became a Match Director
The biggest appeal to hosting matches for me is the ability to interact with fellow community members that support and exercise their 2A rights and freedoms. Whether these folks be experienced, novice, or juniors just starting into shooting and learning from their mother / father / aunts / uncles / grandparents / siblings…being able to help them become better Marksmen by pushing them outside of their comfort zones, making them learn to shoot in new positions and at new targets at distances they have never shot at before is always fun and satisfying.
As a Match Director, it is my responsibility to ensure that we aren’t just running the same ole boring and stagnant COF. The NRL22 COF does an excellent job of “shaking things up” each month with the provided (5) stages of various positional and traditional shooting stages for the start. I then design and layout an additional (5) stages of our own various flavor and touch around the NRL22 provided stages to ensure the shooters are getting a chance to dabble in a bit of everything at each match.
If the NRL22 stages call for prone, seated, and sling only positions for example, I will throw in (5) extra stages that cover shooting at greater distances of 100-300 yards, standing, shooting off barricades, multi-positional, and various other methods of getting the shooter out of their comfort zone. I will also design stages with the concept and consideration of building shooters ‘mental game’ up through stages where they see a 20” x 40” Wild Boar target at 275 yards and they think it is going to be a slam dunk stage, but then I deflate their confidence with having to shoot weak side and/or from a standing position with no support. I may then throw in a decent sized 1” spinner on a KYL rack at 25 yards, but then make them shoot the spinner while in constant motion and if the spinner stops the shooter is done…this helps with increasing the shooters firearm cycling rate times and follow-up shots, focuses on marksmanship and follow through, and helps teach “shot timing” of when to break the shot and when/how long to wait or lead moving targets.
Preparations that go into a Match
To ensure that each of our NRL22 matches run as smooth as possible, there are numerous tasks that must be done leading up to each monthly match and often lean towards upward of 10-12 hours of preparation before each match. Just a few of these tasks include:
-Updating our website registration forms and posting the upcoming match COF details for our shooters
-Posting in our Facebook group to let shooters know what range we will be shooting on and what distance(s) we will be shooting to
-Printing out targets that will be part of the COF for the upcoming match
-Designing the additional COF Stages I host for each upcoming match
-Getting each and every Stage of the upcoming COF entered into, configured, and detailed within the Practiscore App scoring system
-Double/Triple checking every Stage of the COF entered into Practiscore App for accuracy and correctly assigned points/targets
-Getting all submitted shooter pre-registrations logged and input into the Practiscore App
-Updating and syncing all our Android tablets with the most recent Android and Practiscore App updates and COF Stages
-Charging the batteries to run our Wifi network for use when scoring at the range
-Running through checklists of the equipment, targets, supplies, and props I will need for the upcoming match
Once I get to the range, then the following aspects of planning and preparation kick in for another ~2 hours of match setup the morning of:
-Spreading out targets to ensure targets don’t overlap others
-Securing smaller targets that may be problematic during the match with fasteners
-Painting targets to ensure good visibility of each and every target
-Use a laser range finder to ensure all targets get placed at the correct and accurate distances for each particular stage
-Visualizing good line-of-sight to each target and trying to ensure no targets are obstructed from the shooters point of engagement
-Securing paper targets extra well to ensure minimal target failures encountered during high winds
-Getting all the targets, equipment, scoring, registrations, COF printouts, and props staged and setup
-Running a pre-match Welcome/Briefing to greet new shooters, say hello to returning shooters, covering the safety brief, and determining if any new/return shooters have any injuries or conditions that require special modifications or setup for any stages due to mobility or the lack there of.
One of the things that I firmly believe in to keep a match running smoothly and fairly is not competing in the match which I am also hosting. While the NRL22 is designed to allow the Match Directors to be able to shoot in their own matches, I personally believe that it takes a great deal of focus and attention away from your duties as the MD if you try to shoot the match and run it at the same time. When I am running a match, while the shooters have all wanted me to shoot in the matches, I always decline because I want to serve them, our shooters, the very best I can by putting 100% of our attention and focus into running the match and not on how I am going to be gaming or executing MY next stage.
The NRL22 has become so popular within just its first 2 years of existence and there are so many great matches popping up around in states near you…host your match and shoot others! I have shooters that have attended our matches to get a feel for our format in order to apply it to their own local matches and I would rather MD my match and then shoot in theirs as a competitor! I have nothing against those who do both, but I prefer to stay committed to focusing on the task at hand and making it the best match possible for our shooters.
After the completion of every match and all shooters have finished the COF…the MD’s job doesn’t stop there either! I must then go and collect all the targets, load up all the props, clean the range, and then back to the office to verify and post the scores. From there it is posting the scores to Practiscore, uploading the scores to our website, posting the results in our Facebook group, and updating our “local” NRL22 Season Standings so that our local shooters can all see how well they are doing and progressing throughout the season and compared to last season by keeping tabs on their local match performances and statistics. Then to wrap everything up, you email all the scores to the awesome folks over at the NRL22.org, update the website for next month’s match and registration, and then kick back and enjoy a nice cold one, two, or….three!
Match Director POV
When I see and hear shooters discussing the next Stage in the COF and the words such as…”seriously”, “you’re kidding”, “I’m going to do terrible on this one”, or “I’ve never done that before!” are expressed…I know I have done my job and gotten the shooters out of their comfort zone and into the ‘learning zone’ where they have to try/do something new!
Remember folks, a little bit of “oh, this sucks!” is a good thing…too much is a BAD thing, push your shooters, but DON’T BREAK THEM!!!
When shooters get pushed to do new things, they tend to amaze themselves at their own capabilities. For example, the huge Wild Boar target that I put at 275 yards and everybody was itching to shoot at until they found out it was standing, weak side, unsupported…they all started complaining…”you just had to give us the hardest position with the biggest target didn’t you?!”. Then those very same shooters turn around and shoot a 7, 8, 9, or even a clean run on the stage and turn and say “that really wasn’t that bad”…you know you have taught them something…TRUST IN YOURSELF!!!
We have several GREAT shooters that frequent our event and they constantly find ways to amaze myself and the other shooters, each and every COF. For example, we have one shooter that has a hook in place of a hand and he can run a bolt rifle faster than many of our semi-auto shooters and he is constantly in the top 2 or 3 shooters each match and season!!!
We have another shooter that is legally blind in one eye due to an accident he experienced in the past and he can shoot AMAZING for somebody that I have yet to see actually make contact with his cheek and his rifle stock. This shooter as well is always in the top tier of the shooters each match!!!
Bottom line here…if you believe in yourself and work hard enough at it, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that can hold you back from achieving great success! Turn your “disability” into a strength and your ABILITY to show others that you can cycle a bolt and pull a trigger fast as lighting despite the fact that you are doing it with a HOOK or a bad eye!!!
What to expect from a match at Steel Marksmanship Challenge
There is always some NEW twist, configuration, target, position, prop, or stage that our shooters have never done before that I try to incorporate into our matches even beyond the NRL22 stages. I don’t expect nor try to make it so that anybody can shoot a perfect score at our matches…because if you did, you likely didn’t learn anything while you did it!
I run a super laid back, fun, and inviting match that anyone can attend regardless of experience level. Accidents happen when you rush and for that reason, I let all of our shooters just take their time and allow them to move at their own pace throughout the match. We all often chat about new equipment, old equipment, equipment failures, ammo, how to improve, ideas on how to execute the stage(s), and we all just have fun!
Have a disability? NO PROBLEM!!! I ask before each match if anyone has a disability and then upon squadding, we work with each and every individual to ensure that they are able to safely and comfortably stage, engage, and execute each stage of each COF. As the Match Director, I will often suggest a recommended method for executing a said stage, then ask for any rebuttal from the other shooters in the squad if that is in any way ‘unfair’ and we all collectively work to ensure you come SAFE and leave SAFE!
My Rifle Build
I currently have a Savage MKII .22 LR with Boyd’s At-One Stock, Thunder Beast Arms 22 Takedown Suppressor, and topped with an SWFA SS 12×42 Scope. As a good compromise between accuracy and economy, my current preference in ammunition is Eley Target. Unfortunately, due to busy schedules and the timing of other matches, I don’t get to frequent any NRL22 Matches myself as a competitor, but I do often take my rifle with me and get in some good practice on the COF after all the competitors have left the range for the day. I do also occasionally get to shoot prairie dogs which are highly mobile and small in nature which helps to keep my practice up as well.
Quote I Live By…
When it comes to life, my general motto is as follows….“when things start to work, I start to worry!”
If you spend more than a decade of your life testing products in a professional capacity, you will begin to understand how this begins to make perfect sense and how if it is working ‘just fine’, there HAS to be something wrong with it!
Piece of Equipment I Can’t Live Without…
Well, obviously a good rifle and ammo for sure…but a VERY good sense of humor is the best piece of gear/tool you can carry with you!
These matches are all about having fun, learning, and interacting with people. I see many products from low end Ruger’s to top end Vudoo’s and everything in between at matches. Shoot and gear up with the products that best fit your budget (like a great Thunder Beast 22 Takedown Suppressor) but with the best reliability for that budget (also a Thunder Beast)! If a piece of equipment fails you when you need it most, it’s worse than not having it at all!