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How to find PRS / Field Shooting matches in NZ

If you’re new to the precision rifle sports, or maybe you just read our recent article on what PRS and Field Shooting are, next steps are probably to find out how to get involved and where matches are held. This article will list out all of the current organisations which hold these kinds of matches – if we do miss any, feel free to drop us a message on Facebook and we’ll make sure to add it.

Speaking of Facebook, the bulk of info on matches, entries, updates, etc., is done through Facebook and Facebook Messenger. If you don’t like social media, or you’ve just never got around to it, it would be worthwhile creating a profile just so you can interact with these organisations.

A rare non-natural prop at a TLRS event. Featured shooter Mizz Gunrack

North Island

Gillice Practical Rifle Events

The original and the best! Simon has been running shoots for longer than most of us have been in the sport, and his events inspire and inform a lot of the other matches held across the country. You can follow GPRE on their Facebook or Instagram pages. Regular matches held by GPRE include the Pre-Roar Eye Opener (Mar), Desert Duel teams match (May), Speed vs Precision 22LR Match (Nov) and Tarata Practical Rifle Match (Nov).

As and when other properties / locations have been available, Simon has held other medium range and long range matches, as well as frequent 22LR shoots. Keep an eye on their social media for events not listed above. GPRE events are mostly held in the Central North Island, around Taranaki and Waiouru / Taihape.

Taranaki Long Range Shooting

TLRS, run by Graeme (and his loyal crew of volunteers), largely follows the format established by GPRE, adding its own flair and personality. Having started off as some social gong shoots a few years ago, the organisation and matches have evolved significantly to be some of the best precision matches in the country.

Surplus Steel is an awesome Service Rifle / Field Shooting crossover event that is a highlight of the shooting calendar

Regular events for TLRS include Surplus Steel (Jan), Ahititi Long Range Challenge (Feb) and Winter Blast (Jun / Jul). Other matches have included Bowers Valley Brawl (a dedicated long range / magnum event), and some 22LR matches. The Ahititi Long Range Challenge is the biggest event in the precision sports calendar, with the 2022 match consisting of 3 days of shooting, each day being a separate event. TLRS operates mostly in Ahititi (Taranaki), and other Central NI locations, up to Waitomo District.

TLRS and GPRE have collaborated in 2022 to run the SPARC 22LR series, four matches with distinct flavours, different match directors and locations, culminating in an upcoming series final.

To follow TLRS, you can check out their Facebook or Instagram pages. Graeme also runs Bolt Action Media, and co-hosts the Precision Unloaded Podcast with Mark (land owner / match director / podcast host extraordinaire).

The Gun Rack

Yes, that’s us! We’ve run a grand total of two 22LR events in the northern Waikato region (out towards Port Waikato) over the course of 2022, and hope to do more in the future. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for more updates.

Our aim is to provide matches that the other regular match directors/ hosts can participate in (as they’re always doing the hard work), as well as holding events closer to Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland. This means a little bit less driving for those of us up this way, and also means we can attract new shooters to the sport.

Rifle being made safe at the end of a stage. We shoot in any conditions, so long as we can see the targets.

Precision Rifle Series New Zealand

PRS NZ are the official PRS affiliated organisation in New Zealand, and run matches in the Waiouru / Taihape area. It seems to be the aim of the organisation to get other match directors / locations involved and part of the series in due course, as well as qualifiying shooters to compete in the PRS USA Finale.

You can find them on Facebook. PRS NZ is also supported by Long Range Academy, and you can find out more at their website.

Central North Island Gun Club

CNIGC are primarily a Service Rifle club, and they host a few really cool events every year (along with all their club shoots). If I’m not shooting a precision or practical rifle match on the same day, I’ll try and be at their ANZAC shoot, Rapids, etc.

A couple years ago CNIGC worked with Simon from GPRE to run their first 22LR precision match. As far as I know, they have held more matches since then and have gone from strength to strength. Some of the CNIGC members have become familiar faces at other North Island matches, so it’s good to see the sport spreading to shooters from other disciplines.

CNIGC have a website where you can get in touch or find out more.

Auckland Shooting Club

Auckland Shooting Club are based in Makarau, about 45 mins north of Auckland central. They host 22LR precision club matches, amongst lots of other shooting disciplines. It’s not clear if this is restricted to members only, so get in touch, I’m sure they’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

Auckland Shooting Club have a Facebook page and a website for contact details.

The dreaded camo net is a prop that features at GPRE shoots every now and then – gear management is essential.

South Island

Now, I have very limited knowledge of the precision rifle scene down South, so Mainlanders, please excuse the brevity of this section.

Section 22 is a great resource for our Mainland friends looking to get into precision shooting. Blair also imports some essential gear for the sport

Section 22

Section 22 is run by Blair, and hosts a bunch of 22LR matches in the North Otago region. Blair also imports a bunch of shooting gear, including tripods, ammo pouches, Wiebad bags, etc. Section 22 is run as a private group on Facebook, so have a look for them there.

Sparrowhawk NZ

Sparrowhawk NZ has been around for a minute or two. These guys have their own range in South Canterbury and run regular shooter education and training courses. They also host matches at their range. You can find them on Facebook or at their website.

Boundary Creek

Another venue down South which frequently hosts precision style matches, the range is just outside of Oamaru. A private group on Facebook contains info on upcoming matches, so search for them on there.

Hokonui Precision Rifle Matches

22LR is a great way to get into precision shooting, yet is still a highly competitive and fun subsection of the sport when you’re fully into it.

Another private Facebook group for you to search and apply to. A great resource for matches being held in the South Island.

Alpine Long Range

Alpine Long Range hosts matches in the Canterbury region, not too far from Christchurch. You can follow them on Facebook to keep an eye out for upcoming matches.

Peak View Range

PVR operate an established range with targets available for plinking or practice at distances from 100m – 1000m. They also run competitions and have a shop to buy gear you might need. If you or your significant other need extra motivation to get out there, they also operate Peak View Retreat.

Peak View Range can be found in Nelson, on Facebook or their website.

New Zealand Mountain Challenge

The Vortex NZ Mountain Challenge has been running since 2015, and is a world class long range event. The most recent event had a 3-day format, with a 1000 yard shoot off, the main mountain challenge match, and a precision rifle match on the third day.

You can find more info on the Mountain Challenge on their Facebook page. The match is sold out fairly quickly from what I hear, so make sure to keep an eye on it if it interests you. The Mountain Challenge is an annual event in Wanaka.

Field Shooting and PRS in New Zealand

If you’re interested in competitive or long range shooting, you’ve probably heard the term “PRS” or noticed the preponderance of new shooting gear aimed at the “precision shooting” market. If you want to understand a bit more about what this is all about, and how you might be able to get involved, this article is a short primer on what is available and happening in New Zealand. We’ll do some follow up articles on what gear you need, basic skills to practice, etc., so keep an eye out for those.

What is PRS?

Precision or practical rifle competitions are not all “PRS Matches”. The PRS (Precision Rifle Series) is a trademarked, sanctioned series of matches in the USA, in which some of the best precision shooters in the world compete. It has developed over the years, and the level of competition and the equipment used has changed dramatically. There are PRS affiliated organisations around the world, notably Australia, South Africa and recently New Zealand.

In a PRS or PRS-style match, you would expect to have around  8 Р10 stages (small courses of fire within the overall match) in a one day match, with varying challenges to test different aspects of your shooting ability. Two day matches are more prevalent overseas and will probably feature more and more in the NZ scene. Two-day matches that have been run locally tend to be the same overall match course of fire, but day two might be .223 only, or some other variation.

Each stage will have a description which will tell you what targets you need to engage, and how you need to engage them – you don’t need to know this stuff in advance. You will also be given a time limit for each stage. If you’re new to the game, concentrate on making good hits instead of trying to be fast. You’ll have more fun if you hit steel, and it will be easier to operate safely and smoothly if you take your time.

What kind of shooting should you expect?

Precision shooting has developed largely around “square ranges”, which lends itself to man-made props, rather than using natural terrain or obstacles

Generally speaking, you would be engaging steel plate targets from 200m out to 700 / 800m, with the occasional long range stage over the 1000m mark. Some dedicated long range events stretch this out further.

Your shooting position is usually built around using a prop or obstacle for support, and you might have to “build and break” several positions on the same prop or multiple props and engage a single target or multiple targets.

There are occasionally prone stages, which would usually be long range stages or stages with a complex order of fire. Some match directors do offer a more prone focused match, whereas others might be more heavy on the positional / prop side of things. Unsupported positional shooting is not very common, but can be expected.

Does this sound like a bit much? Don’t worry. At every match in New Zealand you will find that you will be put in a squad with experienced competitors who are happy to help you out, guide you through the day, and probably even lend you a bit of gear if you need it.

What is Field Shooting?

Field shooting is similar in ways to PRS-style matches, but has distinct differences and challenges different aspects of your shooting, gear management, admin and stage management. For an international comparison, it might be considered to be closer to the NRL Hunter series in the USA.

The Precision Rifle Series has largely developed using “flat ranges” or “square ranges”, with a perpendicular firing line, berms and often fixed target distances. This has lent itself to a lot of standardisation of types of props and stages you might encounter, including several “PRS Skills Stages”, which are the same at every match. Given the sheltered and somewhat artificial environment these kinds of ranges have, the sport has revolved around small targets and tight time limits.

Field matches often take advantage of natural terrain or props. Photo credit Dylan Ackley, featured shooter Kassie Phillips

Now, to be fair, not all PRS matches are like this, and depending on the geographical location in the USA, you might have a much more “field style” match. New Zealand matches are trying to emulate the US and Australian matches, but we are generally shooting on farms, not fixed ranges, so our PRS-style matches might favour the field shooting side of things overall.

So, what is field shooting? How is it different? Field shooting is based around the “practical” side of competitive shooting, rather than the “precision” side. Now, just as precision matches might have the occasional field flavour, the same is true in reverse, and depending on location and match director, you might find a lot of props, small targets and tight time frames.

When we say “practical”, we mean using shooting skills that are beneficial in practical scenarios. For most of us this means hunting or pest control. For our military and law enforcement friends, their skills might be deployed in a more “tactical” scenario when they’re on the job.

Loopholes and obscured targets are not uncommon, nor is unsupported positional shooting

In field shooting the target sizes and time limits are generally a bit more generous, but the shooting positions are often uncomfortable, improvised, unstable or offer limited visibility of the target(s). This forces you to think on your feet and approach each stage differently, developing a broad set of shooting skills. Precision matches, on the other hand, tend to offer stable props, familiar positions, and somewhat standardised courses of fire, which means you are focusing on a narrower set of skills, but you might become much more proficient at them over time.

There is a lot of crossover between these two styles of shooting, and you’ll often find the same competitors at both types of events. If you start investing in rifles and gear for one, you’ll be able to shoot the other as well. A lot of the same sills will translate across both sports equally well, such as focusing on your natural point of aim, building a solid position, squaring up to your rifle, etc.

If you’re keen on getting into this game, you will shoot in interesting conditions, see some gorgeous country, develop great friendships, and ultimately become a better shooter.

In the next article we’ll talk about how to find local matches and who to follow in NZ for updates on the sport and related content.

*Featured image credit: Gillice Practical Rifle Events*