So You Think You Can Shoot

It’s interesting to talk to other gun owners, and it’s one of the real joys of my job. One thing that I find interesting is that many shooters tend to self-identify.

“I’m a revolver guy.”

“I’m a trap shooter.”

“I’m an IDPA shooter.”

“I’m a rifleman.”

Prior to May 3rd, I probably would have come closest to identifying myself as a rifleman. That was before I saw very talented two-person teams of shooters take on Woody’s Designated Marksman Match (DMM). While I can hit targets from prone out to 500 yards and I’ve made shots from a bench out to 960 yards, I don’t think I have the field skills to call myself a rifleman… not after watching these people shoot.

A DMM is a field shooting sport where two-man teams of competitors go through a number of stages, engaging targets at distances out to 650 yards.

I camped out at Stage 5, the last stage of this match. Here’s the scenario.

Stage # 5 RIVER BOAT/ RIVER BANK ATTACK Rifle ( Par Time 300 seconds )
Both shooters start behind start line. One shooter shoots from river bank barricade and one shoots from the boat. 1st shooter shoots from barricade with rifle loaded hot pointed down range. After 1st shooter is done and rifle is cleared then 2nd shooter can move into position on the boat. 2nd shooters rifle can be placed anywhere forward of both shooters before the buzzer. The 2nd shooters Rifle can be handed to 2nd shooter by the 1st shooter. 2nd shooter “Can not” charge rifle till in prone position on boat.

The targets ranged in size from 4″-6″.

stage 5

Yes, there are  six targets in front of these shooting positions, they’re just too small and far away to see them in this photo. The “river bank” is the black barricade on the right. Competitors could shoot off any part of the barricade, or prone through the gap in the base. While I was there, everyone chose to shoot through the opening at the base. This was the “easy” part of the stage in this team shoot.

When the first shooter had successfully engaged all targets (or ran out of ammunition) and made his weapon safe, the second shooter then mounted the “boat” and got into a prone position, at which point shooter 1 would pass him his or her rifle.

The “boat” is a metal frame suspended at the corners by chains. As the shooters shifted from target to target, the boat would buck, twist shimmy and shake. While the first shooter could use his body to help brace the “boat,” it was never a solid shooting platform.

All of the shooters were very skilled, and it was interesting to see the way each chose to tackle the stage.

stage 5

Some shooters (firing from position”XX” in the image above) chose to engage the targets from the nearest to the farthest, starting with the plate in the center of the target cluster at 150 yards, shifting over to the target in the ally between two sets of trees at 225 yards on the far right, before shifting back the the obscured target at 256 yards hiding behind a “hostage,” “no shoot” target. If you shot the hostage, you had a minute added to your score.

The shooters then took on the target at 334 yards that they could see through a gap in a stand of young ditch-bank pines, before engaging a target in the open field at 368 yards. They finished off on the long-range target at the treeline, 412 yards out.

Did I mention that the targets were only 4-6 inches in size, because in a “real world” scenario, a designated marksman will likely be shooting at an enemy hiding behind cover, providing only the smallest parts of his body for a target?

The fastest individual time for the six targets was 40.58 seconds for a barricade shooter. That’s 6.76 seconds between hits. The fastest team time on the stage was 94.65 seconds, or 7.89 seconds between hits, with the second shooter having to transition on to a moving platform before firing.

I hung out exclusively at this stage, and they tell me it was one of the easier stages of the match.

barricade view

Most shooters chose to shoot right-to-left instead of nearest to farthest. I can recall only one shooter who took the stage left-to-right, starting with the longest target.

Is there any real advantage shooting the stage from one direction or another, or shooting from near to far? I suspect that there is a slight advantage in shooting from one side to the other, but I don’t think that it was of major significance.

us tactical 2

The mix of rifles used was quite interesting. There seemed a rough parity between bolt-action and semi-automatic rifle shooters, and there were a number of mixed teams, where one shooter fired a bolt-action, and the other fired a semi-auto. As a matter of fact, the shooters in the pictures above and below are one of the mixed-gun teams.

When it came to cartridges there were a wide range in use, including .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, 6XC, 6.5 Grendel, .260 Remington, 6.5×47 Lapua, 6.5 Creedmoor, 260 Ackley Improved, 7mm rem mag, .308 Winchester, and 300 Win Mag. There was a tendency for civilian shooters to gravitate towards the 6.5mm (.284 caliber) cartridges, while military shooters all seems to use the .308 Winchester and .300 Win Mag that they shoot every day at work.

stage 5 platform

The mix of shooters was even more interesting that the mix of rifles, with a truly open field of competitors, ranging from complete amateurs to the most experienced professionals. There were husband-and-wife teams just getting into the sport, one-time amateurs that are now sponsored shooters, up to those best simply described as “the best our military has to offer.”

bob owens woodys 2

Before the serious shooters arrived at the fifth stage I took a few cracks at the “easy” 225 yard target, shooting off the barricade from a seated position with the Bergara Long Range Hunter (BCR15) that I presently have out for review. It is a scary accurate rifle, and once I figured out my hold, hits on the 4″ target was almost easy.


Woody’s has an even more difficult Precision Rifle Match June 14, where the range stretches out to 1000 yards and the individual shooters have no teammates to offer them help or spot for them.

It’s going to be interesting to watch.