The 2016 Heatstroke Open, this year presented by Nightforce Optics, once again proved to be one of the best precision shooting matches in the county. With over 170 competitors and 30 courses of fire, there were challenges for everyone.
Day 1: Production Class match
Friday we arrived at the range, and the Contingency X team had the pleasure of watching a handful of shooters run a few different stages during the PRS Production Class match. It was interesting to watch these guys compete in a sport in which most competitors have thousands of dollars invested into their rifle and gear. Well, not so much for these guys. The Production Class was pretty damn cool; although the competitors had nice rifles, they didn’t have all the customization and top of the line scopes that you normally see at this type of match. Needless to say Jason Cummings won the Production Class match with a .223 and in a shoot-off, to break a tie. Who said you couldn’t compete on a budget? Congrats Jason on your win in Oklahoma!
Day 2: Opening Flag Ceremony and the Competition begins
So day 2 (Saturday) kicked off very early for us, with a 3am alarm set (we were still on CA time, so it felt like 1am) we were out the door to make our way to the range and arrive by 5am (range was almost an hour away from the closest hotel). The early start was well worth it – we watched the flag get raised during the Oklahoma sunrise and the with sounds of an electric guitar to the National Anthem. What an awesome moment. Once Old Glory found her spot on top of that flagpole, it was off to the race as competitors scattered towards their first stage of the day.
That morning everyone was in high spirits as you heard the first crack of shots impacting targets before 7am. The sun was still rising and proved to be challenging for shooters on the East side of the range. The sun glare put several targets in the shadows of the hills, making it difficult to quickly identify targets. Regardless, the competitors pushed through – difficult targets were hit and easy targets were missed.
This is why it’s called the Heatstroke Open.
By mid-day we figured out why we started so early in the day. The Oklahoma sun beat down on us, and we got our first real understanding of why the match was designated the “Heatstroke”.
Only with a few minor issues, with targets needing to be reset and shooters having equipment malfunctions, the 1st day ended with a lot of tired and sweaty competitors heading back for some food and an early night’s rest. Not to mention there were threats of an incoming storm later that night.
After grabbing a bite to eat and visiting Butch’s Gun Shop, we headed back to our hotel to get some rest, and sure enough, just as we were parking the sky opened up and poured on us. The rain, the wind, and the lightning made for a spectacular sight as friends back home joked about tornados. Luckily there never was a tornado.
Day 3: A Whole New Day
Sunday morning the team woke up and we began loading up the Contingency X Beast (aka our media van) as we planned on heading back home after the match was wrapped. The team was excited to get to the range and see everyone shoot. We were ahead of our filming schedule and had a lot of great content. So this final day was more about getting those creative shots and a few more interviews.
We realized after talking to more people, there were many new shooters that came out to compete. And they all seemed excited and anxious to learn. It was pretty awesome and humbling to find out that we had fans all over the country; we even had the opportunity to sit and chat with a few fans from Australia! It made us realize how impactful our support has been, and really made our team happy to be a part of such a great sport.
Targets become more difficult as winds kick up.
Now back to the final day, again there were minor issues with targets and the sun was relentless, but it was the wind that really kicked up. With reported gusts of up to 25mph, unique terrain shooters experienced issues with wind calls throughout the day. Let’s keep in mind, the Heatstroke Open is known for having small targets, so any miscalculation was detrimental to scores.
Overall the match ran very smooth, especially for the amount of stages and shooters. Minus the issues with the mover target, I would have said it was a very successful match.
Christmas in July
Around 2 in the afternoon, the last of the competitors finished up their final stage and we headed over to the community hall for a delicious steak dinner and the award ceremony. It kinda felt like Christmas, as there was still a Christmas tree up in the corner and all the awesome prizes on the table. As BJ Bailey got on stage and shared his appreciation for everyone’s help, he started awarding prizes to RO’s and competitors. Again it reminded me of why I love this sport so much. The selflessness and generosity of our community is like no other. It was humbling as we watched an RO give the rifle he won to a young man that assisted him at his shooting stage all weekend. The smile on the kid’s face and the applause from the crowd was worth all of the sweat, sunburns, and bug bites!
One for the books
That night Jerry Karloff (203) took home the grand prize of being the 2016 Heatstroke Open Champion followed by Paul Reid (198) and then Hunter Sykes (189). From our standpoint, all of the competitors had a great time shooting, hanging out, making new friends, and trying to figure out wind calls. Some were happy with their performance while others wish they had done better, but overall everyone walked away with a smile on their face.
As always, Match Directors Matt Clem and BJ Bailey produced an amazing match with help from an incredible and gracious staff – we couldn’t have asked for anything else. The 2016 Heatstroke Open presented by Nightforce is one in the books, but plans are already in the works for next year.
Thank you everyone for making this a memorable event!
Here are the results from the match!