AAR Arena Training Facility Gas Gun match

I just got home from Arena Training Facility in Blakely Georgia.  They hosted a precision gas gun match that was put on by Ash Hess and Jack Leuba.  Both guys know a thing or 2 about precision Gas guns and the guys that shoot em.  Ash & Jack are accomplished shooters themselves.  If you get a chance read about some of what they’ve done in the service & on the range.  Ash is a pretty good author with some real insight, constantly trying to improve the level of marksmanship & effectiveness of our war fighters & LE.  They are both pretty public figures & work for Knights Armament.

I shot a 5.56 AR.  I’ve pieced it together but the real heart of it is a 20” upper from Sons of Liberty Gun Works.  (I’m a big fan of theirs). SOLGW makes real duty grade ultra reliable ARs & Uppers.  I first heard about them several years ago from other Swat guys & they have never disappointed me.

The rifle has a trigger & rail from Geissele.  The high speed national match is one of the best triggers I’ve ever used. The rifle has a stock from Seekins. The grip & sling are from Magpul.  My muzzle brake is a Lantac Dragon that really helps improve shot to shot recovery.    I use one on my precision bolt gun as well.  The scope is a Leupold Mark6 3-18x with the H59 reticle.  I really like that reticle, it gives me the ability to dial less and hold more often for both wind and elevation without sacrificing precision too much.  This can really increase your speed.  The scope rides in a Bobro QD mount, this mount has an impressive return to zero ability if I need to break the rifle down and has 20 moa built in so I can use more of my available scope adjustment and stay in the center of my glass where clarity is the best.

You don’t need a half minute gun, it doesn’t hurt but a solid reliable 1moa gun shot well will get you in the mix.

I use 2 support bags, a. Mini fortune cookie from Weibad and a pump pillow from Armageddon gear. (I actually won a new Armageddon gear sling at the match I’m excited to try out) 2 bags and a good sling is all I feel I need to be stable on most stages.

I use a Kestrel to take weather readings and a program on my phone called Ballistics Arc to come up with my firing solutions. I get my velocity data using a Magnetospeed chronograph.  Never trust the speed listed on your box ammo.  Good data in to a ballistic calculator means good data out.  A solid zero, a true height over bore measurement and an accurate velocity are key to good firing solutions.

I feed this rifle Sierra bullets 77 grain tipped match kings almost exclusively.  Sometimes I hand load them, sometimes I’m lazy or too busy to sit at the bench so I feed it Black hills or Creedmoor Sports factory ammo with that bullet.

Almost without fail I buy or win my own equipment.  There is a misconception that top level shooters get paid or get lots of free gear.  For the most part that isn’t the case.  It dang sure isn’t for me.  I use the stuff I use because I believe it works.  Given the choice between 2 equally functioning products similar in price though my deciding factor will be the companies support of and involvement with the end users.

I’ve been fortunate to shoot with, often squad with, meet & talk to reps or owners of many of these products because they are among us and approachable.  I’ve given feed back straight to owners in person. Many of these companies  give back to the community, their stuff is on prize tables, they loan out gear… it’s amazing really.

You can’t beat guys like Mike at SOLGW, Ryan at Magneto Speed, Tom at Armageddon gear, Joe at Geo Ballistics and several others that are so giving, helpful and hands on.

But back to the match.  Arena Training Facility was beautiful, well appointed, well layed out and is beyond big enough to host about anything they need to.  Including a pretty good sized rifle match and high level rifle training for the son of the president at the same time. (Yeah did I mention Donald Trump Jr. was there shooting while we were and came out to visit with us?)

Scott from RangeRecon traveled with me and we stayed on site in a nice cabin.  We got up the morning of to beautiful weather and after a match brief with the usual safety reminders we got right to shooting.  I believe 55 shooters showed up, some of the best in the nation, probably the world.  Many elite units from Military and Police were represented as well as Training organizations and industry reps.

That might sound intimidating but it shouldn’t be.  You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer or more helpful group anywhere, especially in a competitive setting.  At several of these matches the guys from the Army Marksmanship Unit have been there.  They are always especially helpful and really impressive to watch.  Tyler Payne for example was there helping run a stage instead of shooting, but I’ve seen him in action and think he is probably the best precision Gas gun shooter in the nation.

There were 8 stages, each with a 120 second par time.  Fastest time after penalties wins.  Penalties occur if you don’t get the necessary amount of hits per target in the given time.  A target not neutralized adds 30 seconds.  The majority of targets were 200-600 yards with a few out to 800.  I’d say targets are generally 2-4 moa in size.  This match had a good mix possibly leaning towards a larger target size average.  There was a lot of positional and barricade shooting with some short distance movement but no crazy physical exertion like running or anything.  You need to be mobile but don’t have to be a PT god to be competitive.  (Which is good because I’m no gym stud these days) 

I know some guys had primarily 3gun experience and some had service rifle experience and some were more PRS bolt gun oriented guys.  There was a bit of something that played to the strengths of each of them in this match.  

There were divisions for 5.56, 308 and then open for the 6mm, 6.5 creed/Grendel, 224 Valkyrie or whatever precision wildcat you can think of that is 30 cal or less and under 3200fps.

If you like accurate scoped ARs/MSRs/SPRs/DMRs or whatever you wanna call em and pushing past the 200 yard berm then these type matches are calling your name & this was a pretty dang good one.

As always, my advice is get out and shoot.

Signed N.S.

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