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Rimfire Tactical Precision Match
Californians Hold Innovative Multi-Stage 22 LR Rimfire Tactical Comp

Bill Erwin and his crew of tactical precision shooters (including avid shooter and graphic designer DesertFrog) have pioneered a new kind of rimfire match in Southern California. Erwin's brainchild is a challenging, multi-stage fun shoot that combines precision work, reactive targets, action shooting, and offhand silhouette-style marksmanship. By adapting popular tactical/precision centerfire match formats to rimfire rifles at shorter distances (200 yards max), Erwin has created a new "gun game" that is fun and very affordable. At a time when many shooters are worried about gas prices and ammo costs, the rimfire tactical precision match offers a "high fun factor" experience that won't bust your budget. We think Erwin's formula of a ten-stage match you can shoot for ten bucks or less, with inexpensive factory rifles, is a sure-fire winner. We predict other clubs around the country may soon offer similar matches.

Composite photo copyright © 2008, DesertFrog, All Rights Reserved.


The Birth of a New Rimfire Discipline
The first-ever SoCal Rimfire Tactical Precision match was held June 7, 2008 in Saugus, California at
A Place to Shoot (APS), a large range 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The day was sunny, warm, and surprisingly not very windy--a blessing for the shooters. With good weather, a fun course of fire, and plenty of bang for the buck, the event was a big hit with participants. Match director Bill Erwin believes the Rimfire Tactical Precision Match will become a regular Southern California event, based on the high turn-out and many positive comments. With the rising cost of ammo and fuel, we think this is a form of competition whose time has come. Erwin and his match crew may have started a new trend--an affordable, yet challenging match that offers few restrictions but lots of fun.

Bill tells us: "This type of match is a relatively new concept in smallbore competition. To my knowledge this match was the first of its type in Southern California. Basically this is the same type of multi-stage, multi-distance Tactical/Precision match we run for our centerfire shooters, except the Rimfire Tactical/Precision Match is conducted with smallbore (22 LR) rifles at caliber-appropriate reduced distances."

Rimfire Tactical Precision Match -- Stage by Stage

ZERO HOUR--Shooters Get Their Scope Dope
Bill notes: "The first half-hour or so was spent with the shooters getting their respective zeroes and wind dope for 25, 50, 75 and 100 yards. I thought it was very important that we provide zeroing time at the start. I realized that we had a variety of shooters, with different backgrounds, who may or may not have solid dope for those yardages. Further, recalling my days of small bore shooting, I remembered that rimfire rifles, unlike centerfire rifles, have a nasty habit of changing their zeroes from range session to range session and from location to location. Hence I decided to dedicate a portion of the match to let the shooters acquire a good zero and dope for all yardages."

Rimfire Tactical Match

STAGES I through IV: DOT DRILLS at 25, 50, 75 and 100 yards
The first four stages were all dot drills with 4 or 5 dots per target. The shooters had one minute to place four, and in some cases five, shots on the target, with one shot per dot. We had a wide variety of scores ranging from zero to cleaning the respective targets. The dots at 25 yards (Stage I) were 0.5", at 50 yards (Stage II) they were 1.0", at 75 yards (Stage III) they were 2.0", and at 100 yards (Stage IV) they were 3.0". No one cleaned all four stages. However, a couple shooters ended up just one shot shy of a perfect score.

Rimfire Tactical Match

STAGE V: 4.5" Steel Plate at 150 Yards
In the Fifth Stage, the shooters engaged a 4.5" plate at 150 yards from the prone position. The Shooters had five (5) chances to hit the plate, which was scored on decreasing value. If the shooter hit the plate on his first shot, he received 100 points. If he missed shot one, but hit the plate on shot two, he received 80 points. Same way down through shots 3, 4, and 5 (as necessary). The more shots one needed, the lower the score. We had two first-round hits, a couple of second-round hits, and a few third-round hits. It was not easy to hit the plates. In terms of wind drift, shooting a 22 LR at 150 yards is equivalent to shooting a .308 at 330 yards.

STAGE VI: 6" Steel Plate at 200 Yards
The sixth course of fire was exactly the same as Stage V, except the plate was larger and placed at 200 yards--our maximum distance for this match. Four shooters managed hits with 5 rounds. Only one shooter made a first-round hit at 200. That was Wes Chilton, our eventual match winner. Wes couldn't miss that day.

After Stage VI we moved from "A Place to Shoot's" high power range to a shorter, 50-yard, "members' only" range. I figured this might be a good location to depart from the precision prone world and try some tactical-style scenarios.

STAGE VII: 50 Yards OFFHAND (Standing)
In this Stage the shooters engaged a 4" dot target with a total of five shots, all taken offhand. This proved to be very challenging for quite a few shooters as you can see by the targets. As with all stages of the match, the Par Time for Stage VII was one minute. Experienced silhouette shooters definitely had an edge on this standing stage.

STAGE VIII: Know Your Limit Target at 50 Yards
This Stage was a Know Your Limit challenge with a total of four dots ranging in size from 1.25" decreasing to 0.5". The rules dictated that a shooter could stop anywhere in the process, but if he opts to keep shooting and then misses, he gets a zero score for the entire target. Learning a hard lesson from last weekend's High Power match, several shooters took just one shot and stopped.

STAGE IX: Save the Hostages, Using Cover
In Stage IX the goal was to "drop" two bad guys standing watch and then proceed to save the hostages by hitting the really bad guy holding them cowardly in the middle with one round. The bad guys standing watch were 3" midi clay birds at roughly 30 yards and the other bad guy was between two hostages at 50 yards. The shooters engaged the clay targets off-hand with one round each and them proceeded to dispatch the hostage taker while using a turned over 55-gallon drum for cover. Dusting the clay bad guys counted as 25 points each and hitting the bad guy on the hostage target was 50 points. However, if a hostage was hit there was a 100-point deduction meaning if you nailed both clays but hit a hostage you'd end up with a negative 50 points for the stage. Unfortunately, this occurred several times.

STAGE X: 5-Shot Group at 50 Yards
In this tenth and final stage, the shooter engaged a target with a rack of 1.25"-diameter pool balls. The shooter had to put five rounds into the pool ball with the number matching his shooter number. Several 100s were scored in Stage X.

Know Your Dope -- 22 LR Ballistics

Shown below is a chart calculated for the very popular Wolf Match Target ammo. This 40gr ammo is rated at 1050 fps muzzle velocity and has an estimated Ballistic Coefficient (BC) of 0.130. The elevation and windage numbers are very close to the actual, range-tested and confirmed come-ups used by DesertFrog with Wolf Match Target in his Savage Mark II. Ballistics will vary somewhat with different rifles and with other types of 22 LR ammo. However, if you're shooting 40gr match ammo, this chart should at least get you on paper, elevation-wise. Ballistics were derived using JBM Small Arms Ballistics, a free online ballistics program.

It's challenging to shoot a 22 LR Rimfire all the way out to 200 yards. These slow moving bullets drop like a rock after 100 yards. Starting with a 50-yard zero, a 40-grainer with 1050 fps muzzle velocity drops 26" at 150 yards and a whopping 55" at 200. From your 50-yard zero, you'll have to crank in 16.3 MOA at 150, and 26.3 MOA at 200. That may be a problem for some scopes so you may need to resort to angled bases or Burris Signature Rings with offset bases. The Burris rings let you pre-load up to 20 MOA of "up" elevation.

CLICK HERE for DesertFrog's Elevation and Windage Data Sheet (in MOA and Mils)

Savage MK-II BTVS photo copyright © 2008, DesertFrog, All Rights Reserved.

22 LR vs. .308, Distances for Equal 10 MPH Wind Drift
This table shows the corresponding distances at which a 10 mph full-value crosswind pushes a 22 LR bullet and .308 projectile the same amount. Values are based on 0.130 BC for a 40gr 22 LR bullet, and 0.496 BC for 175gr .308 bullet.
22 LR
1050 fps
50 yd Wind
75 yd Wind
100 yd Wind
125 yd Wind
150 yd Wind
175 yd Wind
200 yd Wind
.308 Win
2650 fps
130 yd Wind
180 yd Wind
230 yd Wind
280 yd Wind
330 yd Wind
380 yd Wind
440 yd Wind

This table shows how the 22 LR can be an effective substitute for a .308 Win during training. Because the smaller bullet drifts more in the wind, a 22 rimfire shooter will experience roughly the same crosswind effects as if he was shooting a 175gr .308 twice as far out. So, rimfire work can teach you to dope the wind like a .308, but at less than half the distance. Shooting a 22 LR at 100 yards is like shooting a .308 (with 175 SMK) at 230 yards. Both drift nearly four inches in a 10 mph full-value crosswind. Shooting a 22 LR at 200 yards is like shooting a .308 (with 175 SMK) at 440 yards. Those are the comparable distances at which both 22 LR and .308 Win bullets are pushed roughly 14 and a half inches.

Running Rimfire Tactical Matches--by Bill Erwin

The Concept Behind the Rimfire Tactical Match
Many guys who shoot long range tactical matches practice with 22 LR rifles of similar configuration. In today's times, rimfire ammo is way more affordable than centerfire, you do not need a big range facility, and shooting rimfire saves wear and tear on your centerfire rifle. Further, for learning how to read the wind, there really is no better training tool than a 22 LR, even as close as 50 yards. From these considerations, the idea was born to have a match similar to our centerfire Tactical Precision rifle matches. Since we already host a monthly tactical/precision rifle match at the range where I work, it seemed logical to duplicate the centerfire match, but tailored for rimfires.

Working Out the Course of Fire
In setting up the course of fire, we didn't try to re-invent the wheel. We borrowed heavily on stages used in centerfire tactical matches, just adapted for shorter distances. The rules and course of fire for my 22 LR matches are similar to "regular" tactical matches. This is done to keep the rimfire match similar to the standard centerfire long-range precision-type matches. The major differences are the distance and the size of the targets.

Placement and Size of Targets
In our standard long-range centerfire matches, we have targets from 100 yards out to 800 or 900 yards, sized normally 1 to 1.5 MOA. For the 22 LR matches, the targets are placed from 25 to 200 yards and the target sizes range from one-half inch at 25 yards to six inches at 200 yards. Through trial and error (and online research), I found these target sizes to be about the standard group sizes for your average out-of-the-box varmint style (heavy barrel) 22 rimfire rifles. We didn't want to make the targets so small that you'd need a $3000.00 custom to hit them.

The main thing to remember is to design a course that is challenging, yet not so difficult that the shooters loose interest. We didn't want to make the targets so small that you'd need a $3000.00 custom to hit them.

Keeping Equipment Affordable Is Key
The good thing about our match is that a shooter does not need a custom rig, with high-end optics and high-buck ammo to be competitive. There are many factory-built, varmint-type 22 LR rifles available in the $200.00 to $400.00 that can be competitive. (See Gallery of Guns below). When topped with good glass and fed decent target ammo, these affordable factory rifles can certainly hold their own. For example, the Ruger 10/22 and Savage MkII are very popular choices. As for optics, I recommend one with mildots, adjustable parallax, and no less than 10X upper magnification. A variable in the 6-20X range works nicely, so long as it can focus at close ranges. Adjustable parallax is important as we shoot as close as 25 yards, and as far as 200.

Ruger 10/22 tactical

Range Layout and Distance Considerations
Any range of between 50 and 100 yards can be used for this type of match. Many interesting scenarios and stages such as hostage targets, reactive targets, odd positional, etc. can be run within these confines to make for a very exciting match. At our match, the first portion, which consisted of all paper from prone, was shot on our High Power range. However, the second half (the tactical scenario portion) was shot on a part of the range with a max distance of 50 yards. So you CAN run a Rimfire Tactical match on a pretty short range. The main thing to remember is to design a course that is challenging, yet not so difficult that the shooters loose interest.

One great aspect of Rimfire Tactical Precision matches is that a wide variety of rifles can be competitive. On the firing line you'll see a bone-stock Ruger 10/22 next to a $1400 Anschütz model 1712 Silhouette rifle. You'll find plenty of "hot rods" as well--factory guns upgraded with stiffer, more ergonomic stocks, and after-market barrels and triggers. But, rest assured, many of the box-stock factory models, such as the Savage MK-II BTVS, are 100% capable of winning with no extras other than optics and bipod. As you can see from the list of the Top Five finishers in the first Rimfire Tactical Precision match, affordable factory rifles fared extremely well:

First Place: Wes Chilton, Savage Mark II BTVS, Bushnell 5-15X Mildot
Second Place: Mark Edgreen, Sako Finnfire, Nikon Buckmaster 4.5-14X
Third Place: DesertFrog, Savage Mark II BTVS, Bushnell 3200 10X Mildot
Fourth Place: Alan Campbell, Ruger 10/22 (Green Mtn. Bbl.), Mueller 4.5-14X
Fifth Place: Dennis, Anschütz model 1712 (Silhouette), Leupold 6-20X

If you're looking to try your hand at this discipline, here's a selection of suitable rifles, ranging in price from $300.00 (base 10/22) to over $1400 (Anschütz and Cooper):

The Tactical Rimfire Rifle of the Future?
What would you want in a "perfect" bolt-action tactical rimfire rifle? First, it should offer really outstanding accuracy. And it should have excellent ergonomics for prone work, ideally with an adjustable cheekpiece. The bolt throw should be quick and smooth as butter. Trigger? A choice of single-stage or double-stage would be nice, with a final pull weight under 1/2 pound if desired. The barrel should be relatively short for good handling, and the gun should have a flat underside to sit securely on barricades or when shooting off a ruck. Oh, it should also have ultra-reliable magazines--and plenty of them. After assembling this "wish list"--does such a rifle exist? Maybe not, but the new Anschütz model 64 R comes very close. The stock is similar to the famous Anschütz prone, but with some enhancements. The trigger is as good as you'll find in anything short of a benchrest rifle, and you can choose between single- and double-stage.

We hope to put one of these beauties on the firing line at the next Saugus match. A Savage Mark II or even a Ruger 10/22 could still win all the marbles, but the Anschütz 64 R will certainly be up to the task. And we suspect that, as this sport evolves, we may see more sophisticated rifles like the 64 R, plus very highly modified semi-auto rimfires from American manufacturers. We can see Volquartsen offering a 22 LR version of its Fusion Rifle, complete with front and rear rails--in "tactical black" of course. At present, the Fusion is offered only in 17 HMR and 22 WMR, but you can bet they'd build a 22 LR, given sufficient demand. Is this "tactical" enough for you?: Volquartsen Fusion

A Shooter's Report--DesertFrog Talks Rimfire Tactical

Wolf match target ammoWe recently kicked off a new kind of shooting match in California--the 22 LR Tactical Precision Match. It's fun, challenging, and ultra-affordable. Imagine shooting 10 stages with 10 bucks worth of ammo! In many respects you'll enjoy the same experience you'll get at a centerfire practical/tactical match. Given the low BC of the 22 LR rounds, there's plenty of challenge when shooting at the longer match distances. At 200 yards, a 22 LR drifts as much as a .308 Win at 440 yards. This is not easy stuff.

This was an new and interesting crowd, a mix of rimfire silhouette shooters, long-range tactical precision shooters, and many others who just wanted to try a fun, affordable match with 22 rimfires. I expected we would have had many more people coming from the larger precision matches, but more than half of the people that showed up were new faces.

I must say, it was VERY interesting to participate and I learned quite a few things that I can apply to other matches. The mental aspect is the same, I have NO DOUBT that shooting many of those inexpensive matches would help any shooter in the other precision matches. 50% is a mental game and learning also how to "unstress" yourself. Understanding the wind is actually MUCH MORE crucial as well. At the longer distances (100+ yards and beyond), the 22 LR is very unforgiving of mistakes.

I’ve also learned some new things about my hold on the rifle. Because of the low recoil, I was able to see a mistake I was doing sometimes with my .308, which is "relaxing" my hold a bit. With the 22 LR, that mistake was extremely obvious.

I started the match very badly with all my rounds going to the left because I was too relaxed and it actually took me three stages to start to understand what was going on. So I had a lot of catching up to do during all the other stages. Overall, I’ve learned many new things that I can apply to my shooting. That made the match well worth the fee.

The choice of arms was interesting! We had all kinds of rifles on the line. In the other tactical, precision, and sniper matches I’ve attended, we usually see a lot of similar rifles. That wasn't the case here. There were a wide variety of guns, both bolt actions and semi-autos. We had Savages, Anschutz, Sako, Ruger 10/22s, and quite a few hybrids (modified factory guns).

SPECIAL BONUS--Rimfire Tactical Precision Targets

These FREE targets by DesertFrog are offered in Adobe Acrobat format for easy printing.
CLICK HERE to download all six targets as a .ZIP archive.

Larger Sample of Know Your Limits Target.

CLICK HERE to download all six targets as a .ZIP archive.

All these targets are in Adobe .pdf format for easy printing at the proper size.These targets were created by DesertFrog. They are copyright © 2008, Bauder Studio, All Rights Reserved. They are free for personal, non-commercial use.

22 Tactical Precision match
Graphics design by DesertFrog

MAP to Facility with Discount Coupon

CLICK HERE to download "A Place to Shoot" RANGE MAP as .pdf (Acrobat) file

TOPICS: Rimfire, 22LR, 22 LR, Savage MK II, Mark 2, MK-II, BTVS, Anschutz, Silhouette, Tactical, Precision, Action Shooting, Reactive Targets, Mils, Mildot Scope, Magazine, Mag-feed, Rimfire Challenge, A Place to Shoot, Bill Erwin, DesertFrog, Long Range, Wind Dope, Zeros, Centerfire, Ruger, Ruger 10/22, Sako FinnFire, Range, Finnfire Sport, CZ, CZ 52, CZ American, Precision Shooting.

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