Every year, a group of die hard shooters head to the desert in West Texas to compete in the Pecos Run n Gun, a centerfire biathlon roughly seven miles in length with six shooting stages incorporating rifle and pistol. All gear that you use must be packed along with you for the entire duration of the run including guns, ammo, water, snacks, first aid kits, etc. The race is this weekend, I’m competing, and the course of fire is after the jump.
The following is a direct copy/paste of the course of fire information I received a few weeks ago.
2014 Courses of Fire
NOTICE: A magazine change is required at every station with the exception of bolt/slide/lever action rifles and revolvers. A magazine change will consist of actually swapping between two different magazines (not taking the magazine out of the weapon, stuffing it in a magazine pouch and then pulling the same magazine out for the reload). AND no bipods or shooting sticks or other shooting aids other than slings and elbows and such will be allowed.
* All CoF’s and scoring are subject to change up to the beginning of the race on account of weather, available range officers, live stock on the range, etc….
* There are generally no shooting position requirements at any stage of the match. Any position allowed by terrain is allowed, as are all slings, scopes, natural rests and magic potions. You may not use firing position marking stakes as a rest. Also, you may not use rocks, branches and such from outside the marked position, to build a rest. If it is within the marked firing line, and you want to spend time building a rest after your time has begun, go ahead.
• The procedure for each range will be the same. The competitor will approach the range. If it is busy, he will start his stopwatch. When the range is clear and the RO is ready for you he will ask you your name, record your wait time, if any, and then escort you to the firing line. Until you are given the command to do so, DO NOT begin to make ready. Once on the line, the RO will ask, “Do you understand the course of fire?”
• When the competitor indicates he understands the course of fire the Range Officer will give the prefatory command of, “Make Ready.” Immediately thereafter the competitor may load and charge his weapon, but will remain in a standing position. The Range Officer will ask, “Shooter Ready?.” When ready you will receive the command of “FIRE.”
• On ranges that require movement, all your gear must move with you as you proceed through the course of fire. If it was on your body when you arrived, it goes down range.
• When you complete the course of fire, unload your weapon, make it safe, present it safely to the RO so that he can verify that there is no round in the chamber and no loaded magazine inserted. On verifying that your weapon is safe, the RO will give you the command to continue on the running course. IT IS THE COMPETITOR’S RESPONSIBILITY TO VERIFY THAT THE RO HAS RECORDED HIS SCORE CORRECTLY, BEFORE LEAVING EACH STAGE.
Stage One — The OK Corral: Pistol only (3 minutes) — the shooter will engage a dueling tree with six, six-inch paddles and must move all six paddles to the other side of the tree, and then back again. Shooter will then proceed to an obstacle, and engage one eight-inch gong from underneath some barrier Larry is making. Magazine change required.
Stage Two— THE REDCOATS ARE COMING (3 minutes): Those of you familiar with the
Appleseed Red Coat course of fire will recognize this stage. There will be four steel gongs in the shape of the
black scoring rings of a Military “Dog” targets (head and shoulders). There will be one target at 100 yards, one at 200, one at 300 and one at 400 yards. On the RO’s command the shooter will engage the four targets, starting with the 100-yard target. Each target must be hit TWO times before the shooter advances to the next.
Stage Three— INTO THE VALLEY OF WOE (3 minutes): There will be two gongs situated 200
yards from the beginning firing line. On the RO’s command, the shooter will engage both targets with as many rounds as necessary to score one hit on each. Shooter will then advance to the second, third and fourth firing lines, repeating the process at each firing line. Each gong must be hit once before the shooter can advance. When the last gong is hit at the fourth firing line, time stops.
Stage Four — MICHAEL’s AND MARK’S WALL OF SHAME (3 minutes) — There will be two gongs at 200 yards. There will be five marked shooting positions behind a barricade. Each shooting position will present the shooter with a fresh challenge. Each gong must be hit once before the shooter moves to the next position.
Stage Five —FIGHT YOUR WAY TO A RIFLE (3 minutes): At the the beginning of this stage shooter will ground his safe rifle on a mat, and then proceed to firing position A. At Position A, after receiving the “Fire” command, shooter will draw his pistol and engage 10, 8-inch gongs. When the last target is hit, shooter will immediately proceed back to his rifle, load, and engage one or more targets at approximately 200 yards until each target has been hit one time.
Stage Six —PEEKABOO (3 minutes): There will be one gong at approximately 100 yards from the firing line. At the firing line there will be a barrier with five holes cut into it, designed to piss you off and make it difficult to shoot the target. The target must be hit once while shooting through each of the holes in the barrier, and holes must be worked from top to bottom.
CECIL’S SEVENTH STAGE (OPTIONAL JACKPOT COMPETITION) — THIS STAGE IS NOT PART
OF THE RACE. The stage will consist of a course of fire for rifle and pistol to be announced at the beginning of the race. IT COSTS $20 TO ENTER and the fee must be paid before you run the regular race. Shooters must show up ready to shoot at the SEVENTH stage within FIVE minutes of finishing the race, no exceptions. The first three places will pay out based on total entries. First place will also receive a belt buckle.
Above is a video a competitor filmed of the race last year. While I ran track in high school and college, the sprint events and hurdles were my forte. I’ve run a few longer races since then, mostly 5Ks and nothing cross country. If I’m honest, my physical preparation is not where I wanted it to be when I signed up for this race earlier this year. I’ve got a lot of excuses, but barring some sort of miracle, the fact is that I didn’t put in the mileage I needed to to be able to run the whole thing. Lessons for next year I guess.
Gearwise, I think I’m overdoing it a bit. Looking at photos of people who have run it before, I think I might have gone a bit too far. There’s always next year to cut it back, but the truth of the matter is that I missed going the last two years due to various events popping up on my calendar. After waiting nearly three years to run, driving 6 ish hours, hotel costs, ammo costs, etc. I’m willing to carry a bit of extra weight to not run out of ammo or water. Here’s what I’m running.
- Shoes: Asics Mens Gel Fuji – I wanted a lightweight neutral shoe that still had plenty of grip for the scrubby, rocky area around Pecos. I took them on a hike up Mount Rose last month and they performed admirably walking, running, and scrambling.
- Shirt: Under Armour HeatGear Compression shirt – I used to wear t shirts under my football pads in high school until a buddy loaned me a compression shirt at which point, that’s all I wore. Compression shirts mean no chafed nipples and better cooling. I’m a fan of both.
- Undies: Under Armour HeatGear Compression shorts – see above about chafing. Then imagine the nether regions. Hence the compression.
- Shorts: The most convenient pair of short running shorts I find. It could be Nike. It could be my Texas Flag ones. Either way, they’ll be short.
- Shemagh: I’ve had one for years that I bought for a paddling trip along the Texas coast. I’m going to soak it in cold water before I head out and wrap it around my neck to keep me cool, and provide some cushion between me and my rifle sling.
- A hat: Standard issue ballcap in coyote tan because of course it has to be coyote tan
- HR monitor: Wahoo Fitness HR Monitor
- iPhone 5: paired with the above HR monitor and the Wahoo Fitness App, I have a pretty powerful tool to give me distance and pacing notifications as well as heart rate info. I’m really bad about going out too hard in races and exhausting myself, something I don’t want in a 7 mile race through the desert. Getting regular call outs on heart rate will allow me to pace myself a bit better and ensure I move efficiently
- Headphones: MEElectronics Sport-Fi – These fairly inexpensive headphones have taken a beating over the last year and continue to impress. I’ll be using them to give me music, and my audio cues from the aforementioned apps.
- Timex Ironman: You gotta know the time
Load Bearing Apparel
- Load Bearing: Enhanced Tactical Load Bearing Vest – it has 4 magazine pouches sized for 30 round AR mags, big thick shoulder straps, and hooks up to my belt. Also it has grenade pouches.
- Belt: Condor Tactical Belt – This is a hellishly stout belt that easily attaches to my load bearing vest and includes two pistol mag pouches with snap locks. This is very important as I’m likely going to fall and I don’t want to lose a magazine along the way.
- Backpack: REI Stoke 9 – No longer available from REI online, the Stoke 9 is a very minimal pack that allows me to use two hydration bladders, my phone, and first aid supplies but not much else. It does just what I need and not much more.
- Water Storage: Camelback 70 oz Reservoir – My wife is terrified I’m going to run out of water and frankly, I’m a little leery as well. I’m able to pack along another 3 liter Camelback without space constraints so I may just take 5 L and hit the finish line hydrated with extra water. I’ll be mixing Gatorade in my water in a very diluted fashion probably 2.5:1 with water
- Food: I’ll bring two Cliff Bars because I have two unused grenade pouches in my vest and I’m a snacker
- Knife/multitool: Leatherman MUT – It has all the things I could possible need in the field
- Athletic Tape
- Gauze Pads
- Ear Plugs: EP3 Sonic Defenders – I wanted something that would save my hearing, allow a good cheek weld, and stay in during active sessions on the course. The EP3’s have been great in the few weeks I’ve had them
- Sunglasses: Oakley Flak w/ polarized lenses
Guns, Ammo, & Accessories
- Rifle: I’m using a bit of a bastard rifle for this race. The upper is the PWS Modern Musket upper that I reviewed last month. It has proven to be accurate, reliable, and light enough for my uses. I’m mating it to an Armalite lower with a Timney trigger and Magpul PRS stock. This rifle is a touch on the heavy side, but it shoulders and balances beautifully, the trigger is a dream, and I have enough time with it that I feel confident using it. I have a Strike Industries Fore Grip attached as well since there will be some barrier shooting and I like the way it helps me index my support hand to the same place each time. I’ve also left the Ambush Sling loop in place to give me more options during the race for carrying my rifle. Lastly, the rifle will be sporting a SWFA SS HD 1-6 x 24 scope on loan from my very good friend Jacob. Expect a review after I use it for this race, but so far, I’m extremely pleased with how it works. The whole rifle with sling just barely crests the scales at 10 lbs unloaded.
- Pistol: FNS 9 – I debated a lot on what to bring to the party and I finally settled on the FNS. I’d originally wanted to run my RDS equipped M&P but I had some trouble with the DeltaPoint not reliably lighting up and decided to keep it simple. I shoot the FNS 9 well, it has plenty of capacity, and it never chokes.
- Rifle Ammo: PMC Bronze 55 gr. The PWS seems to like it, and it groups fairly well so I’ll stick with what I know. I’ll also be bringing some Black Hills 55 gr Remanufactured which the PWS also likes albeit a bit more than the PMC. This will be for my longer shots in Stage 2.
- Pistol Ammo: Blazer 115 gr. I seem to have a lot on hand so I’ll just shoot that. The FNS doesn’t care
- Rifle Magazines: I’ll be loading up 4 PMags to the brim with PMC and 2 GI mags with Black Hills
- Pistol Magazines: Sadly, I only own two FNS mags and I can’t fathom paying out the nose for a third so I’m going to load up a 19 round XD(m) mag and top off as I run.
- Sling: Turner Saddlery – As you saw from the COF, there are no bipods, tripods, or donkeys allowed this year. I really like the Turner sling and I have it set up the way I want at the moment. I might evaluate something different for next year, but for now, the Turner is it.
It is an imposing list when I put it all down, but it packs up pretty nice and clean when I’m wearing it. I’m excited for the race, but a little worried about my physical prep. I’m certain I can finish, but I’d like to move as quickly as possible of course. I’m also a little nervous about shooting at 400 yards from a potentially unsupported position. My ranch is on the way so I’ll likely sling up and check my holds to make sure. I haven’t stepped on a scale with all this gear, because I’m scared of the number. I’ll do it after I get back and give you a final total. Take a guess in the comments. Closest guess will get a box of .22 ammo. As always, I’ll keep you up to date on how this whole thing goes. Wheels up tomorrow morning bright and early.