Precision Rifle competition has become so popular in the last few years that matches sell out in minutes. I love this sport for its combination of long distance precision shooting, wind reading, range finding, and the excitement of performing it all in a time limit. Think of bearded tactical sniper guy in a gaming format. Although beards are not required, having the right equipment will give you that extra edge. Your rifle choice and caliber is the obvious first priority but it is the accessories that can help a competitor to excel.
I started in Precision Rifle with just the rifle and a backpack. That quickly changed after the first match and from watching the seasoned shooters. Then it became a game of trial and error to find what extra accessories were worth the effort and the money. Accessories range in price from $10 to $10,000 or more. Yes, I have introduced you to another hobby that will cost you all of your hard earned money, but who does not like to buy more gadgets? From bipod feet to pillows we have you covered in the latest and greatest gadgets for the precision rifle sport. And what is even better is the fact that most of these products are by small, locally owned manufacturers and are 100% U.S. made.
Bi-Pod Spiked Feet
I never really thought much about bi-pod feet until I tried a replacement kit for my Harris bi-pod. Doug Glorfield of Northwest Precision in St. John, Wash. has a kit of very sharp spiked feet you can replace the rubber feet of your Harris bi-pod with. They will fit the bench rest and spring retractable models.
The original rubber feet of the Harris are good until you try the spiked ones; to say they are sharp is an understatement. I have a couple of scratch scars to prove it. The feet dig in to any surface and truly stay put, and I never had an issue on a hard slick surface either.
The kit is set up so that you can slip the rubber feet back on anytime if you wish. The spikes have an aluminum body with a steel replaceable insert, and the main body has been anodized black and the insert can be sharpened. They sell extra ones so if they wear out you can feel safe knowing there are replacements available. NWP will also make custom leg extensions as long as you wish for those steep angled shots, price upon request.
The complete spiked feet kit includes a threaded adapter that pins to bipod leg, two-inch extension, extra roll pins, spiked feet and an adapter that goes into original feet and allows them to be simply screwed back on. The main kit setup with spikes adds four inches of height.
Available from $89.99 at nwprecisioncustoms.com
Steady Rest Bags – Wiebad
Before I tried one out, I though that Wiebad was a strange name to go with a strange product, but these rest bags or “Pump Pillows” are a big advantage. Yes you have to carry a pillow with you throughout a match but you will use it any time you have to shoot from a position other than prone off of a bipod. You can attach it to the outside of your pack with a grimloc and it is super light in weight. If you find yourself in a seated or kneeling position you can slide the Pump Pillow through the straps on to your strong side elbow. It fills in any gaps so you have a stable place to rest your arm on a leg or knee. It makes a world of difference in stability and I now see every shooter using one or two of these. You can use it as a pillow to rest your rifle on when shooting off of a hard ledge as well.
Available for $106.00 at wiebad.com
The Hog Saddle
There is a bit of gaming that happens in this sport. When you approach a stage and there are no rules specified then really anything goes. If the stage is to be fired in the offhand position, but does not specify that it be unsupported, you can pull out your tri-pod to support your “offhand” position. The newest gadget to put on the tripod is the Hog Saddle platform designed by a Marine Scout Sniper and an OIF Veteran. Used by hunters as well, the Hog is omnipresent in competition and is used to steady the rifle in most any unstable position. It is a rugged and stable platform you rest your rifle on. It has adjustable sides that tighten around the stock or chassis. Your rifle is rock solid in the saddle and it makes shooting awkward positions much steadier. There is the Pig, which is a lighter, smaller and less expensive version of the Hog.
The Pig is available for $135.00 and The Hog is available for $309.00 at hogsaddle.com
Tactical Wrist Coach
I call it an Arm Caddy. A valuable data-holding accessory made by Scott Marquez of Sunrise Tactical Gear, the wrist coach allows you to hold range data cards under a waterproof cover. The outside plastic cover can be used to write stage plans with a grease pen or dry erase marker. A quick swipe from a cloth or your hand and you have a clean slate for the next stage.
I position my caddy on my left arm near my wrist so I can quickly glance at it during a stage. They use a 20 MIL Clear Vinyl which has outstanding cold weather performance down to -40˚ F. It is U.V. resistant with a high tear and abrasion resistance. They are available in Coyote Brown, Multi-Cam, Ranger Green and Kryptek Highlander.
The Tactical Wrist Coach is available for $39.99 at sunrisetacticalgear.com
Precision rifle matches never seem to have the perfect weather. You are either in dusty desert environments or it is raining sideways on you. There is a lot of down time where your rifle sits on the ground as you wait to shoot. Bolts need to be open for safety and that leaves too much room for dust and water to accumulate. Enter the Rifle Tote, another product from Sunrise Tactical Gear. The tote wraps around the action and the scope and has a carry handle, which is ideal when hiking from stage to stage. It is padded and has enough room to allow the bolt to remain open as required. It also has an attached muzzle cover that is adjustable for multiple barrel lengths. They will have bigger sizes if you have a suppressor. This tote is a great way to protect your expensive assets.
The Rifle Tote is available for $129.99 at sunrisetacticalgear.com
Save your pennies. You can only mooch off of your squad mates or shooting buddies for so long. Range finders are a must in this game; most matches are shot at unknown distances. Depending on the match, you get time individually or as a squad to range the targets before you start the stages. The match program may provide the distances but I have found in some cases they were as far as 100 yards off what we ranged ourselves. You can find range finders for as low as $150 but you will mostly see them in the price range of $3000. If you really want to splurge you can purchase the Vectronix Vector 23 Rangefinding Binoculars for $23,000. You can easily avoid spending this much if you do not need your binoculars to be undetectable to night vision.
Two of my favorites and among the most popular with competitors are the Leica and Vectronix brands.
Leica Geovid 10×42 HD-B
Binoculars and a Rangefinder all in one! I love these because not only will they range for you but it has a built in ballistics program with most standard calibers. It gives you environmental information, angles of targets and barometric pressure. If your target is 600 yards away but up a steep incline it will give you the true distance with the angle. You can also upload your own specific parameters for hand-loaded or special ammunition from a microSD memory card. The glass is excellent and the laser works well and is effective to 2,000 yards. I have found sometimes that the illuminated reticle on the glass is too big for really small targets far away or within trees. It may read the trees or ground in front or behind target instead. Unlike the Terrapins with a much smaller illuminated reticle that seems to find every target no matter its location. However, having the ballistics system built in like it is on the Leica is very helpful. Because these are binoculars they are heavier and bulkier than just a range finder component.
Features include: ABC™ ballistic system, rapid reticle adjustment, ability to input your specific ballistic parameters, and an LED display with automatic adjustment to ambient lighting conditions.
The Leica Geovid 10×42 HD-B is available for $2999.00 at amazon.com
The Terrapin is a small, lightweight range finder and I love how crazy accurate its readings are. It is still not the most expensive one out there yet its overall approval rating is very high. The tiny circle reticle makes ranging small targets far away or in trees much easier. It Ranges small targets out to 1 mile in bright, midday light, and hillsides to almost 5,000 yards in ideal conditions. The glass is very bright and crisp. It has a built in tripod adapter. I always seem to stand next to someone with a Terrapin to compare notes with readings from my own range finders when targets are difficult to range. It does not have any ballistics programs built in but you can use a Kestrel for that information if needed. The only complaints are that for such great ranging capabilities it only has a 5X magnification and it only has a one year warranty.
The Vectronix Terrapin is available for $1995.95 at europtics.com
For more information on precision rifle competition, including match schedules and locations, check out precisionrifleseries.com or the 65guys.com.
By Annette Wachter. Originally published in the April 2015 issue of GunUp the Magazine.