We headed out to Blakely Georgia for Quantified Performances “A Weekend in the Arena” long range gas gun match for the fourth time last weekend. There was some concern the hurricane might dampen the fun. And the thought of shooting targets at distance, in rain, in hurricane force winds only sounded fun for a second. The storm passed and it turned out perfect shooting weather.
We arrived at the Arena Training Facility on Friday. This is the day you go to the unknown distance range to sight in your guns on the 100 yard targets. With plenty of targets stretching out to around 2500 yards, more than a few people took shoots at the longer distances. Everyone making those last minutes checks on their guns and equipment to make sure everything is dialed in for the match. Fridays before the match are great. Pros are out mingling with amateur shooters going over equipment and generally just jaw jacking about shooting stuff. Jeremy Tye was out on the zero line helping out and spotting for people. It’s not often you get a shooter of that caliber hanging out helping folks zero guns. It’s really pretty cool. He was also pimping some or the sponsors gear, Kahles and Swarovski optics. Scopes, Binos and Spotting Scopes. Pretty sweet prize table stuff at this one.
As people clear off the zero range they tend to head back to the clubhouse of the Arena or the cabin areas. Beers are cracked, BBQ smells replace the smell of gunpowder for the night. Personally, I don’t know which I like more! The comradery is a great thing to be around. Friends who haven’t seen each other in a while joke, tell stories and reminisce. New shooters who venture out are brought into the fold. It’s really one of the friendliest groups you can find at any match. Drinking tends to be light Friday night, but the good times are not.
The food is great and beers go down easy. If the guys at Tbox Barrels and Sgt of Arms ever want too, they could probably start a pretty strong BBQ joint.
Saturday morning starts early. This year of the Corona virus, the match is officially eight events. We all group up in our respective squa………event areas and get a quick talk from Ash and Eddie. The safety brief was digital due to restrictions and we all watched it on our home devices prior to showing up. It was kind of a disappointment as Jack has given some seriously entertaining safety briefs in the past. I think most of us look forward to them. It’s quite a privilege rubbing elbows and getting the opportunity to shoot with guys of this caliber.
We were event 1. Our first shot of the day was a thousand-yard target, then eight hundred and finishing up with five hundred from the prone position. Easy peasy, right? In past QP matches, the thousand-yard shot was a bonus shot. Hell, you even got a certificate for hitting it. Nope, not this time, not any more buddy. It’s time to put your big boy pants on and let her rip. Ash informed us the matches would become more challenging as time went on. He did not lie. (Or his printer broke) What a way to get the butterflies out.
Tyler and Scott were on our squad and I have to say it was a great learning opportunity watching them shoot. You can not understand how good these guys are until you shoot with them. Watching the foot work, how they hold the gun and the positioning they use to achieve stability is highly educational but annoyingly difficult to replicate. If you pay attention to the good guys it’s a great way to learn and improve, and there wasn’t a shortage of great shooters at the match. By our last stage Tyler and Scott let it rip. I think most of the guys were caught off guard, stunned even. What the f@&k just happened? Tyler said “I figured I would try and go fast on this one” as he walked off. He did, it was hard to believe how fast he went.
There were a couple groups who showed up in force. Sgt of Arms with Tbox Barrels, Sons of Liberty Gun Works and the Hood Rats of Title 2 manufacturing had their crews out there. Learned some cool stuff about the hood rats. Seems like they really press innovation over there. One of the guys developed his own round and shot it in the match. Who would have thought Cameron Hays would have pulled 7th place with his new 6mm CHyeetA (soon to be HAZE) . Probably a lot, dude can shoot.
Jack and Ash did a great job with the stages. There was a good mix of long range and “short” and fast. One of the most talked about stages was in honor of Russell Norman. The one armed dude who shoots with us. Five targets at 250 yards, shot at a total of fifteen times, one handed, using a 55 gallon barrel as a rest. Reloading was tricky. If you had to reach for and wound up touching the gun, or the prop, or the bag, you timed out and missed all the targets you hadn’t already shot. I think our level of respect for what Russell Norman does easily went up another couple notches.
Jeremy Ty was there ROing the stage dedicated his buddy Bill Guesman. All the RO’s were great, but he was probably the best RO out there. I’m sure a lot of folks would like him to continue his RO responsibilities at the next match. Not really for the tremendous job he did, but it would leave more stuff on the prize table. This was definitely one of the more challenging stages, as he said his buddy Bill would have liked it. Hope to see you ROing next time Jeremy!!
One of my favorites was the last stage. Starting with a relaxed siting position. Feet kicked up on the table and all. We shot at five targets at around three hundred yards from two positions on the porch. It was pretty cool and in todays political climate, it just seemed fitting!!
The trailer stage is always a challenge. Trying to go fast, but not fast enough to make the trailer move. More than one of the shooters I’m sure would like some revenge on that thing. It’s one of those stages that looks really easy until you get up there. Should I shoot it left handed or risk getting my butt up on the edge and risk making it move more? Do I walk slowly or get into position quickly and hope it doesn’t move to much? And you have the guys that make it look easy.
Ash was out and about talking it up with all the shooters. It’s a pretty big deal when him and Jack come by to shoot the shit with everyone. Kind of gives you that warm and fussy feeling, like you are special or something. They do a pretty great job of having little chit chats with everyone there. Checking in to see how people are liking the match and getting feedback. If you were wondering, there will never be a pistol stage at this match. Fairly sure Ash set that in stone this weekend, for me anyway.
After the match everyone goes back to the office to talk about the match and have some beers while waiting for the scores to be tabulated. As expected, the AMU guys kicked butt. Tom Fuller with Armageddon Gear donated a Numero Uno we shot off to the person who won the stage.
Just happened to be Tyler Payne who used magic on that stage. For the short time I’ve been around the long range sport shooting, I have to say Armageddon Gear does a amazing job supporting it. All of the sponsors for this match threw in some super nice stuff, and we all appreciate them for it. This time around, the prizes were really freaking nice for the guys who placed toward the top.
Saturday night the BBQs were raging again. The alcohol flows a little more freely on Saturday night with people not as concerned with the next days performance. This leads to great stories and that unique brand of humor you find with groups like this.
Only thing missing from the nights festivities was the AXE throwing. Eddie was out checking on everyone and the owner of Arena even stopped by to say hello. It’s an amazing group of people who make all this happen.
Sunday morning there is more opportunity to learn the craft. The AMU shooters put on a Q&A for all of us mere mortals. I’m sure folks learned a ton having their ears for that time. Cameron Hays brought up some basic reloading equipment and was in the clubhouse putting on a reloading class for any who wanted to attend. Sponsors were out letting guys check out their equipment and the entire range was open for those who wanted to re-shoot the stage they didn’t get quite right. Or they just learned some new stuff and got a chance to immediately apply it to the stage that got the best of them, or the stage they thought could go a little faster.
If you take advantage of everything this weekend has to offer, I don’t think there are many other places you can walk away with so much, if not prizes, a really good time and certainly the satisfaction of knowing you learned some things, and will be a better shooter because of it. This idea was put together by Ash Hess and Jack Leuba who started Quantified Performance. They’ve done a damn good job making it a reality! If you own a range or know a range owner, Ash and Jack would like to spread this format around the country. Give them a shout. They will even help fill the event. This one sold out in days!!
Thank you to the match sponsors who continue to help grow the sport: