Originally published December 2021.
Like many shooters I was excited to see the announcement of the NRL22 matches beginning at Silverstone Shooting Centre, also excited was my colleague, Dan, who’s in the process of applying for his FAC. Having seen the fun I have shooting matches and being keen to sharpen his marksmanship skills for his pest control duties, Dan was very enthusiastic to learn.
The NRL22 releases a monthly course of fire which uses a standardised set of props and targets to allow shooters to compare how they fare to others around the world. The idea being that the stages are available to everyone and are easy to setup. Two of the trickier standardised props are a step ladder and a folding chair, each have their own nuances to get used to as they’re at awkward heights and don’t have much room for maneuvering in!
Dan and I met up on a Saturday morning and were ready to put my Lithgow through its paces, as well as going over basic safety we also covered some PRS specific things, such as only moving with the bolt open and removing the mag and replacing with the breech flag. These habits will help Dan feel at ease when he’s on the range.
With a variety of targets out we covered some basic positional shooting principles, such as using a bag to eliminate hard on hard surface contact, keeping square behind the rifle and keeping Dan’s face on the rifle as he cycles the bolt. One thing that always feels unnatural to a right-handed shooter is kneeling on the left knee to allow the right elbow to rest on the right knee for extra support. However, after a few goes Dan was hitting things consistently and ready for the specific barricades.
Beginning with the step ladder, the first thing to do is make sure it’s stood firmly on the floor to eliminate wobble as much as possible. Starting from the loop at the top, it’s usually a solid position and with a neutral point of balance, shots can be made easily. Coming down to the top step requires some thinking, as the centre is usually quite springy which induces more wobble. By positioning the rifle to the side, it allows a firmer platform to shoot from. Moving between the other steps requires some finesse. As there’s not a lot of room for a scoped rifle and a bag, my preferred method is to use a thin bag for this kind of prop to minimise the amount of scope bashing that goes on.
The folding chair has many uses and to begin with we shot from it with the chair facing downrange as shooting from the top is a relatively straightforward supported kneeling position. Shooting from the seat requires the support bag to be placed further forwards than expected to avoid the chair folding back up, as well as avoiding more scope bashing! Adopting a seated position behind the chair allows for a more stable shooting position, at the expense of being able to move quickly.
Feeling suitably well practiced, MrsC, Dan and I met up on a cold, snowy morning to drive to Silverstone Shooting Centre, this time around MrsC was taking pictures along with Arius from Outdoor Technica. The facilities at Silverstone were very welcome, the log burner was roaring, hot food and drinks were served from the kitchen in the warm clubhouse and there were proper toilet facilities! There was an excellent group of shooters booked on for the morning sessions, including Andy and James from the PRS UK, as well as Russ Taylor and Joe Pask, and some other first time Precision Rifle shooters. Following a full safety brief from the Silverstone team, we made our way to the 100y range to begin proceedings.
As is customary names were selected to decide the shooting order, my name was drawn first which normally means you become the “wind guinea pig”. However, this time it meant I was the first person to shoot an NRL22 match on UK soil! The first stage utilized the step ladder, taking one shot from the first four rungs, coming back down and then going back up! The practice with Dan paid off for me and I only missed one shot, Dan struggled with the range gun he’d hired and timed out with one impact. His troubles stemmed from the cheek piece being low and length of pull being short, luckily this was quickly rectified on the adjustable stock and he made up for it on subsequent stages.
One of the stand out funny moments was at my expense. Something I’m big on is a pre shot check list and for whatever reason I let it slip, beginning a stage without a mag in my rifle and getting a dreaded “click” on the first shot… much to the amusement of everyone watching, who laughed like hyenas! Thankfully I realized my mistake quickly, put a mag in and cleaned a tricky prone stage with a lot of movement between targets.
With this being the first NRL22 event Silverstone had run, all of the shooters booked in to shoot in the morning were watching us shoot and spotting impacts for us whilst we shot. This also meant that we got to watch and encourage the other first-time shooters, helping them correct for their next stages by relaying their fall of shot. This supportive and encouraging atmosphere meant that everyone scored well and thoroughly enjoyed the day (at the time of writing everyone who shot the first round has booked on to do it again).
When everything was finished and the scores were tallied up the results were; Russell Taylor in third, Joe Pask second and I took top honours, becoming the first person to win an NRL22 match in the UK as well as start one!
There’s still room to book onto the remaining rounds, for further details on the NRL22 UK check out www.silverstoneshootingcentre.co.uk/ For details on recreating the monthly NRL22 courses of fire look on www.nrl22.org/