Long-range shooters take part in the “Death March” | Community sports

No lamas were harmed or injured during the Taos death march on Saturday March 26. Death March is a “hunter style” match designed to replicate the practical application of sniper rifles in the field.

This puts shooters in positions where they could see targets from a certain location, but they might have to execute a lateral movement to get to a position to engage the targets. Or they can see the target from a prone position, but there is something interfering with a clean shot, such as a tree branch or fence. White lines indicating a line of fire and orange flags setting the limits from which one could engage determined the gunner’s approach to targets downriver.

Shoot ’em’ Up Taos, a community organization that promotes shooting events for all ages and in various formats in the area, organized the death march on private property. US Optics, MDT (Modular Driven Technologies), and local gun store Gunslingers sponsored the event.

Competitors were pitted against each other to achieve the fastest possible time to locate particular targets over eight firing stages and impact with a match or hunting bullet – no steel core, steel jacketed, armor-piercing or tracer incendiary was authorized. The stages were placed about an eighth of a mile apart, making it more of a contest of marksmanship than a contest of endurance. Shooters had to wear their equipment throughout the course.

This came into play every time they reached their targets – they had to lift their gear and mechanically shout “TIME”, to declare the end of the stage, thus stopping the clock.

Scenes have been named with colorful names such as Pump N’ Stump, Middle Aged Farmer’s Gate, ISIS Tags. The language used in the scene guides is descriptive and gets the adrenaline pumping:

“Hunt down and kill the coyotes in the flea bag so you can steal their coyote diamond.”

“Defend the sky. Alternate shots between the orange circle and the diamond at 492.”

To get to the check-in and security briefing area before the game starts, you must drive on US-64 past the Double D Ranch and stop just past milepost 238, where a gate on the left. greets participants in the death march.

Two gates, one after the other, require you to get out of your vehicle, open the gates and close them behind you. Between the two gates, the llamas graze and rest far away and opposite the path of the shooting range.

About a mile down a dirt road requiring a high-clearance vehicle—and a set of new shocks and struts once you’ve driven it—you’ll find a figure of pickup trucks, creating a kind of boundary for walking of death .

The event organizers are security hawks, as they should be at an event featuring lots of high-powered guns. Everyone on site receives a liability waiver and a rulebook including safety precautions.

One of the simplest rules, which if not followed could lead to life-changing situations, was that “At each station, all guns must be positioned in the waiting area with the muzzles pointing down with actions. [the functional mechanism of a breech-loading firearm] open.”

At one point, after the feeling of walking around competitors firing thundering rounds of ammunition had normalized, it was easy to casually stand in front of a few guns leaning on the ground while interviewing shooters waiting their turn. Alex Schoenfeld, who was one of the main organizers of the event, noticed the slippage and moved the guns to another section of the path so it wouldn’t happen to other people passing by the scene. The guns were probably empty, but why risk losing a limb?

Range Officers (RO), or someone directly responsible for shooting on the range during the competition, helped set the tone for the event. They helped reset the scene after a contestant shot the targets. Then they would facilitate setting up the next shooter to approach the stage from a designated waiting area, marked by a numbered rebar planted in the ground.

Even with the help of sophisticated ranging technology and a shooting guide telling you where to find the target in the field, visibility proved difficult for both the shooter and the RO. The landscape was a rising slope lined with gnarled, splintered trees. The targets were steel plates, some of which were painted white and did not reflect enough.

The competitors had no prior knowledge of where the target would be, and most of the difficulty stemmed simply from knowing where to shoot. Then you have two chances to land on a small target about 500 meters away.

Indigenous Arms 1680 owner and former Pojoaque Pueblo governor Joseph Talachy was one of the event’s sponsors and competitors.

Newer to the sport of competitive shooting, Anita Ramsey and Paul “Pecos” Gonzalez have been offered outlaw status. The designation acts as a handicap system where DOPE (data on previous engagement) and time spent locating the target are not factored into the time recorded by competitors. They both rejected the offer, wanting to play on the same pitch as the others.

In Stage 5, Ramsey said all she needed to do better was “to light a fire under my butt.”

For “Pecos”, the death march is “just for fun – shooting well is just an advantage”.

With a good pair of earmuffs, the damage to your eardrums from a round shot is mitigated, but the force of the blast is something you can feel in your body several feet from the gun. This makes the term “shell shock” more concrete as an individual experience. Behind the shooter, you heard the explosion of the rifle, and a second later a high-pitched ping of metal-to-metal contact, or the sound of a bullet hitting hard dirt.

Joe Riechard won the Taos Death March with a final time of around 32 minutes.

First place earned him a 50% discount on an MDT ACC Chassis System – a fancy rifle stock that can cost up to $1,550.

Riechard said he enjoyed the event and expects to return; “The longer you shoot, the better you get at it. And, you know, it takes a lot of practice… Yeah, I’ll be back up there. I think April. I don’t know when it’s April , but if it’s not in April, I’ll definitely be back there in May, so yeah, I’ll be back to shoot it again, I still have some winnings to do, I guess.

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