Shooting the NRA National Defense Match

Shooting the NRA National Defense Match

Last month, I was privileged enough to be invited to Camp Perry, the great bastion of traditionalism,  to shoot a rifle match that was pretty far from the norm for that neck of the woods. In an effort to get more owners of black rifles out to the range and compete against their peers, the NRA's competitive shooting division tasked ex-SEAL and all round good guy Trey Tuggle to come up with a course of fire that would be both challenging and non-threatening. His response was the NRA National Defense Match, which stresses marksmanship from 7 yards all the way out to the 500 yard line.

The first relay to shoot the new event were drawn from various Service teams, from the media, the shooting industry and with the odd 3-gunner thrown in for good measure. FNH USA were title sponsors and they sent along KenPfau and Tommy Thacker from their 3-gun team as representatives.  As befits a new match, a new target system was used, supplied by Shot Response, which enables each shooter to be scored in real time, with results posted immediately on a flat screen TV in the back of a trailer for all to see.

As with most first-time ventures, there were a few bugs to be worked out, such as the propensity of competitors to cross-fire onto an adjacent target, especially when transitioning from one side of a barricade to another. Without a penalty system in place, this slowed down the match a little, but the overall concept proved to be viable and fun; in the words of the inimitable Mr Thacker, "kinda like Bianchi Cup for rifles."


Three equipment divisions were recognized 1. Open, where anything goes, 2. Limited, which meant that you could have one, non-magnified optic on the gun or iron sights and 3. Optics, which permitted one magnified optic only. Limited & Optics guns needed a sub-20" barrel, no bipod and 4.5lb trigger.


I used a home-built AR15 with an 18" SPR barrel, rifle length gas system, lightweight carrier & buffer and a Jard trigger. Optics were a Leupold Mk4 1.5-5 with a Deltapoint in a Predator Tactical offset mount, and while the package worked great, I would have liked a little more magnification for the longer range targets. A 3-9 power would have been about ideal.

For all you 3-gunners or even non 3-gunners: What set-up would you have used?

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