I have finally got around to shooting PRS style matches. So far I have only shot a 1 day match after getting most of the equipment I think that I need. After 1 day, that basically makes me an expert right? I prepared much in the same way that you are; by reading lots of articles from a whole array of different people. I didn’t want to go in blind.
Rifle
I shoot an FN SPR chambered in 260 Remington. It started life as one of the rifles Tactical Coordination had a sale on. I had the action completely trued and reworked (because I could), stock pillar bedded. My barrel is a 1:8 Kreiger medium palma with a Harrell’s Precision brake.
I absolutely prioritize feeding more than anything else. I think it pays off for these kinds of matches. It’s not uncommon to see some custom actions hang up due to improperly sized ammunition, or bad bolt manipulation technique, or just general grit interfering with actions/components better suited to Benchrest.
On bolt manipulation technique; I like to use my pointer and middle finger to sweep up on the bolt to open it and flick it back. In the video I posted earlier this week you can kind see what I do. A lot of other guys really rip on the bolt handle as fast as they can, and I think this can cause issues.
The other thing that can cause feeding issues is pressure on the front of the magazine. Since the AICS is only secured in the rear, it has a tendency to tilt downwards and can cause feeding issues. A bottom metal with some kind of material in the front of the magazine probably helps a bit; like the unit that Surgeon produces.
Any bolt action rifle that is accurate over a 10 round rapid fire string, that can feed reliably from AICS style magazines, in a cartridge/bullet combination that can reach 1000 yards supersonic is a good starting point. I felt that having a high speed caliber like 260 Remington probably improved my score by 10-20% because most of the targets were not over 500 yards away.
Scope
I shot the match with a Bushnell HDMR in Seekins rings. I dialed my initial elevation for all the stages, and then held off for different ranges. It allowed me to keep targets fairly close to the center of the scope, and seemed to be the best compromise between speed and precision. I didn’t give up any points because of holding off.
I usually kept the scope between 8 and 18 magnification. I only went up to max to verify my 100 yard zero in the morning.
Binoculars
I used a pair of Steiner 8×40 binoculars to watch other people shoot the stages and help gauge the wind. It really pays off to watch how other people shoot stages, and see how they use their bags and supports. I probably saved some points in the morning because the wind was switching just enough to push people off the left of the target.
Bags
I brought 3 bags to the competition. 2 Armageddon Gear Fat Bags (the large and medium) and a Red tac large rear bag. The Armageddon gear bags are large and lightweight, and are fairly reasonably priced. The red tac bag is pretty heavy but makes a good rear bag.
The fat bags are really good for taking up space and providing support. They also work pretty good as pillows when I’m being a lazy hunter.
Sling
I used an Armageddon Gear Precision Rifle sling. It’s pretty useless as a carrying strap because I don’t have side mounted flush cups. It ends up hanging upside down and banging into my knees. It did pay off during the positional stage for kneeling though. I didn’t use it for the barricade because I thought a bag under the front would suffice and saving time by not having to remove it for prone.
Sidearm
I brought my CZ75 for the pistol portion. All of the targets were large and close enough that having a race pistol wouldn’t have made that much difference.
I also used a cheap safariland holster and uncle mikes magazine pouch.
Really any kind of double stack pistol would have worked just fine.
Backpack
I used an Eberlestock pack to carry ammo, bags, and miscellaneous stuff. It really isn’t important. A normal ALICE pack would have worked just as well and not be expensive.
Things to bring next time
I think that the next thing on the list is a tripod with a hog saddle type thing. There are stages in other matches that a versatile tripod will be useful.
A scope with 10 mils per revolution might also be helpful on stages with lots of different distances. I do not want to give up the Christmas tree style reticle to get it though.
I’d also like to put flush cups in my stock. Looking online, it looks like a fairly simple do it yourself job.
I also have a Bushnell 1 Mile ARC CONX on order. It’s not really required at matches but that’s more for hunting than rifle matches. Some of the more sniper-ey adventure race matches recommend bringing a good range-finder.
A kestrel would also be useful just to have a good read on atmospheric conditions. But usually I just got atmospheric information from somebody else in my squad.