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  • Writer's pictureSun and Shadow

Planning Long Range Stages for The Tactical Games

Longer range stages were introduced to The Tactical Games in the 2023 season, with shots as far as 700 yards. Prior to this, shots at The Tactical Games had been limited to about 400 yards max, where an increased understanding of both wind and ballistics were not as necessary to achieve impacts. However, with LPVOs finding common use among athletes and the desire to further test shooting skills within the sport, TTG began to implement further distance stages at facilities that could support these shots.

We built a guide to plan your shots on a long distance stage for The Tactical Games. This guide can also apply to stages in Quantified Performance, PRS, and other long range matches where you'll encounter multiple targets at different distances.

Find and Range the Targets

The first step in planning a long range stage is finding all of the targets. Most of the time they'll be obvious, but you should always confirm the correct targets before starting the stage. Drawing yourself a diagram of the target layout will help you visualize the targets while you plan the stage. During the confirmation process, we also recommend ranging the targets for yourself with a laser range finder. Many times, the ranges will be given, but it's good practice to range for yourself. It helps with confirming the correct targets, and sometimes, the given ranges might be wrong.

Apply Your Ballistic Data

Solid, trustworthy ballistic data is critical to the shot. Be sure to come to an event with your rifle and ammo chrono'ed and a ballistic profile of your gun built in a solver. After ranging all the targets and drawing a stage diagram, consult your hard data card or ballistic solver in order to apply the required elevation hold at each target distance. We recommend writing the holds down for reference in case you get lost in the middle of the stage and need a reminder.

Reduce the Number of Holds

One little trick we like is figuring out how to reduce the number of holds to use in each stage. Less holds to remember simplifies your stage and helps you concentrate on other things, like wind holds and corrections. You can reduce the number of elevation holds by splitting the targets into "distance zones" and measuring the target heights with your reticle. Once you understand all target ranges and how tall each target is, decide if you can cut out any holds.

For example, if you have two 1 MIL-tall targets at different distances, requiring elevation holds of 1.9 MIL and 2.2 MIL respectively, you can probably just hold exactly 2 MIL of elevation in the center of each target and still achieve a hit on both. You have reduced the number of holds to remember from two to one, and you have simplified the hold to a whole number that is easier to remember and find in the reticle. If you're comfortable with the math, you can also dial your elevation turret for the closest target, which will eliminate another hold. All other targets would need to have the elevation of that first target removed from their hold. See our blog post for further explanation on Holds versus Dialing.

Apply the Wind

The next thing to look at for long range stages will be the wind direction and speed. You'll want to choose a starting windage hold on these far targets, and correct from there as needed. We do not recommend dialing for wind, as it can fluctuate very quickly and will not have the same hold for each target. Wind is a pretty involved topic that we can't cover in depth here, but as you go along in your journey of long range shooting, you'll become better at understanding how wind will push your shot. Check out our guide on Gun Number to help you learn more about applying wind calls with your rifle.

Determine Target Engagement Order

Once you've determined wind and elevation holds for each target, you should choose the target engagement order. Most of the time, the target order will be given to you. Occasionally, you'll have the opportunity to choose the order of engagement. We recommend starting with the "easiest" target (whatever that might mean to you) and going from easiest to hardest targets.

Set up Your Optic

In addition to dialing any elevation that you might want, you'll need to select the correct magnification for the stage. Ideally, we'd set the magnification to the level that allows us to always see the next target in the field of view, but this is not always possible. Unsupported shots are usually easier on lower magnification in order to reduce the perceived "wobble zone," while supported shots at distance on small targets might need maximum magnification depending on the power of your optic. If you have an optic in Second Focal Plane and want to use hold overs, ensure you're on the correct magnification for accurate reticle measurements. Lastly, if your optic allows, you'll also need to adjust parallax and the illumination to your desired setting.

Select Your Body Positions

Finally, the last step will be to choose your firing positions. Body position should be considered for maximum visibility and stability on all targets, so that we can break clean shots and follow-through to see hits or splash. You'll need that information to make corrections. We're looking for body positions that will help us achieve Natural Point of Aim. If there are multiple shooting positions, consider what stance you'll take on each position before you start the stage. Keep in mind that it's OK to shift positions in the middle of the stage in order to gain better stability if you guess wrong the first time.

Visualize and Apply!

Visualize the targets, your elevation and wind holds, body position, and overall stage plan as many times as you can before you start the stage. When it comes time to perform, you'll be ready!

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