Standing in the dark, cold night with the echos of gun shots and muzzle flashes, the horizon peppered with the faint glow of chem-lights, I thought to myself this looks like a rave gone mad, but in reality it was just this year’s annual TCGC Practical Rifle night match. The annual TCGC night match is probably the only time and place that you can have the opportunity go out and compete in the worst of conditions, cold, dark, wet, muddy, etc. and really see how you and your gear handle the adverse environment. You see a lot of lights/lasers/night vision/etc on rifles but when it comes time to use them how many of us can honestly say we’re up to the task? It’s funny how the simple addition of a light can change so much in a process that is so ingrained such as running a stage with an AR. I remember the first time I shot a match at night, a Practical Rifle night match, and upon the first buzz of the shot timer I felt like I was new to the sport. I quickly realized my light was mounted in a terrible location, that my red dot being turned down low (it was night after all) was quickly overpowered by my light, and the smoke from my shots when combined with my light pretty much obfuscated my view of the target area. Hard lessons learned on the clock.
Shooting in cold weather also presents it’s own challenges, namely, keeping your hands warm while maintaining fine manipulation of your weapon system and accouterments, which almost seem mutually exclusive. Thank God for a thermos of hot tea! Keeping warm also means more layers which affects your access to gear and magazines, as well as how your rifle moves around your body which is not as “slick” as you’re probably used to being.
The match directors and RO’s did a tremendous job of putting on a safe and challenging night match and getting everyone quickly through all of the stages before the cutoff time. A big thanks goes out to their time and efforts! We had four challenging stages this year but unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any pictures or video any of it since I don’t have the equipment to record at night. There were stages calling for you to shoot through light blocking/reflecting portals without hitting them, bowling pins, arrays of various sizes of IPSC style targets, a Glock with a light attached to be used in part on a stage, and of course what would a PR match be without steel. All and all a great time and lots of learning and fun competition. I’m already looking forward to next years night match.