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It's a Rebuilding Year

It's a Rebuilding Year

My name is Brandon, and I am a long range addict. My first introduction to precision rifle matches in general, and the Precision Rifle Series specifically, was the PRS Finale in 2013 at (what was then) K&M Shooting Center in Baker, FL. One of my long time friends and shooting buddies (Mike, whom I will forever hold responsible for my addiction) often did match photography, and asked if I was interested in checking out the event and maybe helping him out at the match. At that point, I had already started shooting at the same range on the weekends and was slowly building my first 'real' long range rifle, but this was my first introduction to a match like this. Some of the people I met that weekend would quickly become friends, mentors, advisers, and even sponsors as I grew into the sport.

At the end of the match, Shannon Kay (the match director of the Finale that year, and now the man in charge of the PRS) announced that the following year's GA Precision GAP Grind match (also held at K&M) was going to be something different. Instead of being an individual match as it had been previously, it was now going to be a Pro/Amateur team match.

That did it. I decided before I even left the range that afternoon that my goal was to shoot that match.

Over the next few weeks, I finished building my first 'real' long range rifle. I started off with a Remington 700 AAC-SD in .308, added a Seekins 20MOA scope rail (picked up from the Finale prize table, no less), a Bell and Carlson Medalist stock that Mike and I hand cut with a Dremel to take a set of PTG bottom metal so I could run AICS magazines, an AAC 7.62-SDN-6 suppressor, and topped it off with a Bushnell Elite 6-24 optic I bought through a discount program.

(Photo Credit: Michael Cage)

I shot my first two one-day matches the following year, and happily signed up for the GAP Grind as an amateur when the match signups became available. By the time the Grind was over, I had learned the hard way how limiting .308 (especially when launched from a 20" barrel) is for precision rifle competitions, and quickly set out to upgrade both my rifle and my skills.

(Photo Credit: Brandon Haywood)

5 years later, I have shot over 20 2-day matches on the Precision Rifle Series, roughly as many 1-day matches, and have a handful of trophies on my shelf - but I still felt frustrated. Every now and then I seemed to have that one weekend where nothing went wrong, and my finish would show it. The rest of the time? Not so much.

(Photo Credit: Brandon Haywood)

Ironically, 2019 turned out to be my most frustrating season - and my most successful. Out of 6 PRS matches, 5 left me feeling like I had left too many point on the table, often for reasons I couldn't make sense of. By the end of the season, my frustration had grown to the point where I decided I need to take some time to reevaluate what I was doing and why.

So, I made two decisions. First, I was going to sit out most of the 2020 PRS season while I got my head back in the game. Second, I needed to build a list of things I trusted and had confidence in, and things I thought were suspect.

Next would be the hard work. Over the next year or so, I will be documenting that hard work in my posts here on the Bushnell Blog. It is my hope that not only will these posts help keep me accountable to myself and my goals, but may also help inspire and educate other shooters that may have struggled or gotten frustrated with some of the same issues that plagued my shooting the last few months.

(Photo Credit: Michael Cage)

If you follow any kind of college or professional sports, you've probably heard the term 'rebuilding year' before. Often it's in reference to a team that lost key players due to trades, graduation, or retirement. In my case, it's an intentional process to find the weakness in my match performance and fix as many of them as I can.

(Photo Credit: Brandon Haywood)

Welcome to 2020 - it's a rebuilding year.