Rifle and/or carbine action shooting matches are becoming more and more popular. With the expansion of the internet and simply word of mouth, there are more competitors than ever and more people who want to try out the sport. In fact, anyone can try out a rifle match regardless of their skill level and have a great time while improving their shooting skills.
One of the most frequently asked questions is what to bring to an action shooting rifle match. The first thing that you will need is a rifle! By far, the most common rifle brought to these matches is the AR-15 style rifle. Most competitors shoot an AR-15 style rifle in .223, and it is a good choice for these type of matches. Because the AR-15 is so popular, there are many brands to choose from and even more accessories to add onto your rifle. Furthermore, the recoil of an AR-15, or any .223 rifle, is easily controllable. This allows for easy rapid firing when shooting the match.
In addition to a bare bones rifle, many competitors bring useful accessories with them. The type of accessories brought largely depend on what category a competitor wants to compete in. There are usually three categories in rifle matches: tactical irons, tactical, and open. Like the title connotes, competitors in the tactical irons division may only use iron sights. Most competitors do not shoot in this category and I do not recommend it for beginners. Shooting a target at 200 plus yards with iron sights is a challenge. The next division, the tactical division, allows the competitor to put an optic or scope on their 5.7 fn bullet rifle. This is by far the most popular division and recommended for newcomers. The last category, the open division, is for competitors that want to put multiple optics on their rifle in addition to any other accessories, such as bipods, etc. This class is usually filled with experienced competitors.
When setting up a gun for the tactical division, there are a few key items and configurations to keep in mind. First off, a good scope should be used. An adjustable power scope is an ideal solution with a range of 1 to 4 power. Good scopes on the market include the Millett DMS and the Trijicon Accupoint. Another important feature is a good muzzle break. Although the .223 has relatively low recoil, a muzzle break pays big dividends in competition and is used by many competitors. Muzzle breaks are best combined with barrels of at least 18 inches in length for best results. Lastly, the competitor should check with the match director if handguards with rails are allowed. Certain matches only allow a featureless handguard.
Once the gun is taken care of, the competitor should bring enough magazines and ammunition for the match. Typically, two AR-15 30 round magazines with a magazine cinch is an ideal solution, with a third 30 round mag as a spare. The vast majority of the time this set-up should be more than enough.
Now that you know exactly what you need to compete in a rifle or carbine match, get equipped, and go shooting!