By Kimu Sensei
If I was asked to choose between all of the shooting disciplines, with both pistol, shotgun and rifle, I would without hesitation say; LRS – Long Range Shooting – long distance shooting.
It is no doubt because it has some similarities to martial arts; in a heartbeat you go into a meditative state, become one with the target, hear the shot being fired, wait in the nature until it 1-3 seconds later says; pliing !. It is completely surreal and makes you feel that you are participating in one of the Matrix films. As this sport only takes place outdoor and often in very scenic areas, wherever in the world it may be, it is as good as it gets.
I also enjoy the US matches where I as a Dane have been received with open arms, after a due introduction by some VIP shooters. A US match is always unique, whether it is a gun or a rifle match. It can sometimes feel like you are participating in a Tivoli, a cowboy party as in the series “Little House on the Prairie” or as taking part in an American folk dancing event. Even during the so-called traditional, prominent and formal matches, there is always a touch of “tombola, barbecue and folk festival”. But one thing is for sure – you will NEVER leave a match hungry!
During matches lasting several days, I have over and over again been close to being adopted by US shooting families who thought I was “sooo thin and was so faaar from home” – and then most Americans love to hear about Europe, the Vikings and Denmark. The time when Americans thought Denmark was a city in Sweden is in the past. After Denmark’s active participation in Afghanistan and Iraq as USA’s allies, the vast majority know that Denmark is the home country of the Vikings’. Coming from an allied country has opened many doors during the POMW project, naturally also combined with my progress and qualifications in the different disciplines of the shooting world.
Long distance shooting is always relative, and there is both a civilian and military part, as with every other shooting sports. In the civilian, as well as military shooting world, 100 m, 200 m and 300 m are the normal distances used to train and achieve competences. In the civilian world of long distance shooting, it’s just like the case of guns, grouped by sport divisions, and as a legacy from ancient times, you can also obtain shooting marks, which show your competences over time. In the military shooting world something similar is done, but here the competences typically are divided into bronze, silver and gold marks per type of weapon. Shooting marks can be worn on your parade uniform or as a cloth mark on your regular uniform. This, however, differs from country to country.
The shooting positions are mostly standing, kneeling, sitting or lying down when shooting from a distance of 200 and sometimes even 300 m/300 yards. When shooting from distances of 500 yard and 600 m/600 yards respective, which are the “normal” long-distances shooting range, you will typically be lying down. In Denmark and other countries the limitation, however, is the availability of civilian long distances ranges, where 600 metres is the longest distance possible.
Military shooting terrains are, on the other hand, often up to two or three times the length of a civilian shooting range, and here you often “build” the range in the terrain when needing a distance of more than 600-1,200 yards. The exception to this is of course the United States. Here you also have terrain ranges that you “build”, but also many 1000 m / 1,000 yards shooting ranges, indeed up to 3,000 m rifle ranges. In the US it is also possible to shoot at the military ranges, which are often modern and state of the art with regards to the equipment, and there it is quite normal that civilian and military shooters participate equally in matches, courses and training. The ultramodern, state of the art equipment is both like the Kongsberg facility with Doppler radar, as well as a friendly human service hoisting the targets up and down. 🙂
I was well aware that again it would be the US, which would provide the best opportunities for the POMW Rifle and LRS, as it had been with the POMW Pistol.
My chief shooting instructor within the “POMW Pistol” had from the beginning said that if I first learned how to shoot properly with the gun at a high level, I would have no problems when starting the rifle shooting. I followed this advice, and upon my return from the United States, after a Steel Challenge match at the Mesa Shooting Range in Arizona, and a pistol shooting course with world class shooters and the world’s best pistol shooter for the last 30 years, the shooting legend Rob Leatham as a instructor, I was doing quite well in this group. It was now time for a gradual transition to the “POMW Rifle”. The Great One – day of Steel.
Having pondered on the “POMW Rifle” on my way home on the plane, I decided that as with the “POMW gun”, to see how far the wings could carry me, even if the theory by Minouchi Sensei says that it is the man and not the weapon, who at any time and place, makes the difference, as already proven through the “POMW Pistol”.
When presenting this to the POMW project steering group, they agreed to this approach and gave green light to continuing the project, even if this would stretch the organisation’s finances to a breaking point. The decision of the union’s general assembly was complied with, even if I had to contribute financially to the project. Multi-track POMW shooting, however, had always been on the agenda, but since I did not have any shooting experience before the POMW project, and we initially did not know that the project (mainly for me as project manager) had to be run internationally due to the Danish shooting conditions and policies, the POMW plan had to be approved step by step, as well as to Shindenkans largest economic project investment in 50 years. As an example just the rifle ammo cost at least 3-5 times as much as the gun and LRS ammo – off the chart.
I then started the planning of the “POMW Rifle and LRS”. The best opportunities for development of competencies lay in the United States and Scandinavia, and the best opportunities for basic skills and training sessions were in Denmark. It was important to the steering group that I would “go all the way”, which included rifle shooting from a 100 metres distance up to 1.500 metres plus, if this could be done, and that I was trained in all common rifle disciplines both civilian and military, if possible.
In the US there are so-called 1,000 yards matches, also named F-class shooting. When preparing for these matches there is a vast number of courses, and with the right attitude, solid results and an outreach to various network, I knew from “POMW gun” that doors, which otherwise were hermetically closed, would open and that training and education opportunities with the very best LRS shooters in the world, would be an option. In “POMW Pistol” the world’s pistol legends, civilian and military had, after all, been willing to give me their entire shooting experience on a golden plate during the “POMW gun” which I humbly received with a big thank you. And being simple-minded 🙂 I reckoned this would happen again during “POMW Rifle and LRS”.
I have experienced skills with pistols, rifles and LRS that surpass the film world. World champions are not necessarily the true champions, but often they have been given the title as they have had opportunities where others did not. In the US, I have every so often heard legendary world champions and legends say that when they return home as world champions, they get a solid kick in their butt on the local course by their childhood friends with whom they have trained an entire life, but that these childhood friends who are poor, never had the opportunity to participate in the necessary championships.
The first time I heard about this phenomenon, was in the United States during a match where the world champions from the US’s team also participated. To my great surprise, there were several Filipinos, Mexicans and people of mixed origin, who shot as good as or better than these champions – and these people managed their normal jobs on top of all the practicalities in connection with the match! What stroke me most was their gratitude that “the world’s elite came to them on their range and match while taking pride in that everyone was well and like it there” as well as being humble and grateful that they were “allowed” to participate, while they took care of their day-jobs.
The second most well-known example is probably about the world’s best pistol shooter ever TGO, Rob Leatham, who last time became triple world champion in 2014. During a break in the match, he told me that he was the only one in the world who had won all five categories and that he was extremely proud of this. So when he returned to the Mesa Shooting range he was pretty cocky, as he put it himself. Unfortunately there was none of his usual shooting buddies, except for one of his oldest friends, who had stopped training. Arnt sat at the bar and hung over a cup of coffee. At first Rob Leatham tried (in a nice way) to get him out on the shooting range, so that he could show him a trick or two, but his friend would rather drink his coffee and sit and philosophise about life. Rob Leathams provocations and “cockiness” increased with the lack of success of getting his friend out on the range, so eventually it became intolerable for his friend, who looked indulgently at Rob, borrowed a belt and pistol from Rob and quietly walked out to the Steel Challenge range prepared by Rob Leatham. After half an hour without a word, his friend quietly went back to his coffee and his chair looking indulgently at Rob Leatham, the twenty-times world champion, who stood deflated on the shooting range, after the worst kick in the ass ever! But as Rob Leatham said, he was for once very quiet that day, but already the next day he was back on the training grounds and training even harder!
The origin of these LRS matches originates formally from the UK with the traditional “National Enfield (Bisley) Match” which was first held in 1864. The distances here were 300 yards, 500 Yards and 600 yards respectively. In the wake of the Bisley match there was a series of LRS matches throughout the Commonwealth, of which the best known is probably the Kalapore match from 1872, where for example India participated for the first time in 1874. The British Commonwealth has many matches and awards, of which the “Queens Prize” with year over 1,000 participants, men and women both, is the most prestigious, while the Grand Aggregate Prize probably is the most pursued prize by elite shooters as this award represents the most consistent shooter. In British tournaments the traditional distances are between 300 and 600 yards, which means that virtually all English courses are maximum 600 yards. There are, however, ranges of 8-900 and 1,000 yards in the Commonwealth matches.In the US, there has always been a tradition for LRS – a practical reasons to get food on the table. By request from the US, a LRS match between the United States and Ireland/England in 1873 was established, called the Creedmoor matches. The distances were 8-900 and 1,000 yards – with iron sights. In 1875 the American NRA established the first real global LRS match where all countries were welcome. The Palma Trophy Match was first held in 1876, and since 1966 this two-day match has been the World Championship of Long Range Rifle Shooting.