The Big Dog Steel Crucible Team Match
2 blondes + 2 competitive attitudes + 2 Precision Rifles + 2 Bushnell Elite scopes + 2 days in the Florida heat mid July = A Perfect 10 combination.
The Big Dog Steel “Crucible” Team match was held in the dead heat of summer in Baker Florida at the renowned CORE Shooting Solutions. The team match is similar to the individual match, except you have to rely on your teammate for shooting related procedures, even supported positions. You both work together on each stage to accomplish shooting your targets.
I have shot team matches before with my Husband Jim Gilliland. This time around, I thought it would be neat to have an all girl precision rifle team since I had never seen one here in the Southeast. I knew Steph had a pretty solid 3 gun background and she just started getting into the precision rifle matches last year. With her experience, I knew we would make a good team plus we are both shooters for Team Bushnell. Not only does Steph shoot for Bushnell, she is also a member of Team GAP. I shot this match with Jake, my custom built Ashbury Precision Ordnance 6.5 CM and my Bushnell Elite XRS scope. I always have with me my Armageddon Gear Precision Rifle Sling with XWing rear bag and my Wiebad Pump Pillow for those barricade stages. I shoot factory load Hornady 140gr AMAX. Another staple I always keep in my range bag, is my Hoppes 9 field kit.
The first day of the match started at 7:30 am. We had an absolute wonderful squad of men. The first stage started with a 300 cold bore on a 6” shoot and see target with scoring rings. On the command, the team loaded and engaged the 6″ target with 3 shots each which totaled 6 shots on the target. Steph and I both landed shots on the 6” target with a combined total score of 4.7 (highest score was a 5.8). After the cold bore shot, everyone broke up into their squads at their designated stages. Our next stage was a tough one. There was a hidden target that only one team member could see. Using the reference targets, the team member that could see the scoring target had to walk the other team member (which was in prone position) onto that target, which they couldn’t see. Did I mention this was a tough stage? We scored a few points on this one but didn’t let that get us down.
Our next stage was the “Mix up Mover”. The team started in prone and alternated shooting the 300 yard Larue targets and 500 yard mover. It was up to the team how they wished to accomplish alternating between the 300 yrd and 500 yrd targets. However, each target (500 yrd mover and 300 yrd Larue Targets) must be successfully hit before the other can be engaged. You had 20 rifle rounds total for the team and 2 minutes to complete. Target value was 1 pt for each hit. Out of 20 points, we successfully hit 16. What a team! Each stage had a time stressor and made you and your teammate work together. We did well on our next few stages, especially on Stage 5 which was titled 800 yrd Leap Frog. You had to maintain cover behind an orange barricade, switching between weak and strong side. You each had one shot on each target regardless of hit or miss. Shooters alternated shooting in the white box for strong side and blue box for weak side. We came up with the perfect plan. Steph shot first on the strong side, then picked up her rifle and shot first on the weak side. When she was transitioning to the weak side, I layed prone on the strong side with my rifle and shot the target she just shot. Our plan was simple. We would leave my rifle on the strong side with the DOPE card laying beside it for quick elevation change. Steph left her rifle on the weak side with the DOPE card beside it for the quick elevation change. Since we both shot the same with the same scope, Bushnell Elite XRS 4.5 – 30 with a G2 reticle, this made the stage seem flawless. Plus, instead of worrying with picking up our rifles and transitioning, this plan worked extremely well. You had 8 targets total ranging from 250 yrds out to 800 yrds. You had 2.5 min to complete course of fire with a max total points of 16. We scored 15.
Now don’t get me wrong, we had a few stages that we had some problems with, but overall we shot well on the first day. As you can imagine, the heat and humidity in Florida in mid July was not an easy relaxing day. By the end of the day, I was ready for a cool shower, dinner and a comfy bed!
Photo courtesy of Michael Cage
Day Two started early. We started with a stage called Close Encounters. You had to run through a small green tunnel with your rifle in hand. On the other side you shot at 3 cardboard IPSC targets, with a shot each inside the A zone perforations. After that it seemed like a 3 gun course where you had to shoot pistol at different designated steel targets. You had two shots each on the pistol target, then your partner shot 2 as well on their target. Then you had to maneuver together through each “window” and barricade. You had 1 minute to complete this course of fire. A REALLY fun stage on Day 2 was the Racer stage. You and your teammate had to “race” against another team. Well low and behold, we raced against my Husband and his teammate. Each team had a member in prone on their rifle with the other team member in a ready stance to run 100yrds then shoot a plate rack. This stage was also timed to use as a tie breaker at the end of the match. Since Steph had the background of 3 gun and she was a much better pistol shooter than I, I got behind the rifle. Each rifle shooter had 5 targets to hit ranging from 350 yrds out to 800 yrds. We were color coded blue which meant I shoot all the blue targets and Steph had to shoot the blue plate rack. On the command GO, Me and Jims teammate, Brent Keith started with rifles. We both hit the first 3 targets around the same time. Then I quickly hit my 4th and 5th target. Upon seeing the hit I started yelling Run Run Run! Steph took off running. Soon after, Jim took off running. Our whole squad was cheering both on. I was screaming Run Girl Run!!! Jim got within arms reach of Steph, and after she took a quick look around, something jolted in her and she took off extra hard. That was probably our most favorite and fun stage.
The whole match was just a blast and I would highly recommend shooting this team match, even in the dead heat of July!! I want to Thank Steph Payne for being an awesome teammate. Out of 36 teams, she and I placed 20th. Thank You to Ryan Brandt of Big Dog Steel and Bryan & Misty Morgan of CORE Shooting Solutions. You guys are just the best! Thank you to all the RO’s who took the time out of their busy schedule to withstand the heat and help make this a successful match. To the sponsors who donated to the prize table, Thank you. Thanks to my sponsors, Ashbury Precision Ordnance, Bushnell Tactical, Hoppes 9, Armageddon Gear and Wiebad. You guys rock and without you, well it would be hard to be out here!!
Photo courtesy of Michael Cage
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