That was a fun, eye-opening, and exhausting two days! If you’re serious about both your physicality and gun handling you’re doing yourself a disservice if you miss next year’s event. (They’ll hem and haw, but they’ll do it again next year)
I’m listing the stages by their true order, but not the order I shot them in. I was in Squad 6, so I shot them in the following order:
Day 1: 6, 7, 8, 5.
Day 2: 2, 3, 4, 1.
I figure it would be weird to list them in that messed up order, so I’ll just present them in the most logical way for someone outside my squad.
Scoring is ‘Time Plus Penalties’, which means your time is your score. Penalties are time added onto your raw score. All penalties are +60 seconds. Procedural errors are +60 seconds, as are targets you didn’t get shot because you missed or didn’t get to before your par time was up. I believe the par time for all stages was 180 seconds. It is entirely possible for someone to par out on particularly high round count stage and have more time from penalties than they actually spent shooting. I know I did on Stage 2, and by a large margin.
The key to Desert Brutality is to shoot straight and make up time with your legs when possible. Also, magnification on rifles and red dots on pistols seems to be the way to go. I know for a fact that my 1-6x LPVO really came in handy.
FOB Assault (stage 1)
You run ~40 yards around a berm/barrier, scale a chemical container, and double tap a steel at about 75 yards. Shoot paper to the left and right, advance, and shoot more paper to the left and right. Advance to the fox holes and engage all 3 steel targets in 2 sweeps, from each hole.
This was actually my last stage of the weekend. FOB Assault ended up being one of my favorite stages, even though I had been on my feet all day for 2 days straight in chilly, cloudy, rainy weather. I’m the Sunshine Shooter, I’m not supposed to be out in that drizzly crap! DON’T THEY KNOW WHO I AM?!?!?!
Anyway, the stage was fun. I’m kinda bummed that I timed out on the last stage of the weekend, but I did. I think I put 4 hits on a paper or two and didn’t have enough time to hit the steel. I took a calculated risk and it didn’t pan out. Story of my life, right?
Office Space (stage 2)
At the buzzer, engage the Polish Plate Rack. When done, show clear and crawl through the tunnel. After the tunnel, engage two “Mini-Mo” targets, put pistol in safe box, and traverse the desk. Retrieve pistol and shoot Texas Star through the barricade, changing ports between shots (whether a hit was made or not). When done, show clear, holster and go through the ‘palette valley’, going over the obstacle at the end. Engage the final “Mini-Mo” and show clear. Run to the bleacher and engage rifle plate rack, changing positions after hitting each plate (no matter how many shots it took).
This was my first stage of Day 2. To be honest, it just seemed unnecessarily hard. I mean it is Desert Brutality, so how much can I really complain? My squad had about 85% of shooters par out on this stage, and from what I heard the other squads were no different. We actually had one guy get DQ’ed on this stage while holstering a cleared pistol. I think it went against the spirit of the event. Cleared rifles can break the 180 in all 8 stages, but not cleared pistols? In case you’re wondering, it was shown to be clear to the RO who called it clear and then DQ-ed the guy for breaking the 180 with it. I’m calling shenanigans.
As you can tell, I barely made it halfway through this stage. The Polish Plate Rack ate up a ton of time. That thing is hard! I also screwed up the Texas Star, but that was my own fault. The “Mini-Mo” targets were interesting. They really force you to make good hits, almost doesn’t work on them. I have no comment on the plate rack (because I didn’t make it that far) besides that dodging the mud was a major concern. Falling and your rifle breaking the 180 is a DQ. Don’t do that. Did I mention that this match was brutal?
Unconventional Engagement (stage 3)
At the beep, move from the start box to the boat simulator. Engage clays, hitting the steel target after each clay. After the 5th time hitting steel, clear the rifle. Move to the roof prop and engage the spinner with your pistol.
I liked this stage. Running, shooting, props, and even a spinner! This was a simple, yet fun stage. This is was also one of the stages where my scope came in handy. The magnification made hitting the clays pretty easy and the steel almost an afterthought. The wobble platform you shot your rifle from wasn’t as unstable as I was afraid of, although a fast target transition would make it swing. I think my brake helped out as well, making the recoil not as detrimental to my sight picture. I was really happy that I got the spinner to spin! I’ve never shot a spinner before this match, so actually spinning one the first time I got the chance was great!
Asset Management (stage 4)
Start in the start box with a magazine downloaded to five rounds. At the beep, engage clays. When your 5 rounds are gone and the rifle is cleared, go across the road to the bay with your ammo staged next to an 80 lb steel torso target. After grabbing your ammo and Lt. Dan, drop the steel across the line and continue to look for Bubba in the next bay. After hitting each steel twice in two sweeps (no double taps), grab the mortar tube and bring it back to the safe house. Engage the final two steel targets with your pistol and any remaining clays with either your rifle or pistol as you see fit.
This was another good stage. It seems a little complex, but it was rather straight forward. Just go 1-for-1 on clays as the beginning and run fast. Hitting the rifle steel wasn’t too bad, and the pistol steel wasn’t either. Staging the ammo wasn’t that difficult, either. I had to make four rifle hits and two pistol hits, so one mag for each was a no-brainer. If there was more than like twelve or thirteen rifle hits then it might need some more thought, but we were nowhere close to that. Overall a good stage.
Math Class (stage 5)
At the beep, pick a card and flip it over. It will either read 2, 3, or 5. Grab the machine gun prop and bring it with you through the tunnel. Get under the roof and engage the targets that are marked by numbers divisible by your card’s number from earlier. After engaging all 5 of your numbered targets, and clearing your rifle, bring the machine gun to the next bay. Drop the machine gun and your empty rifle in the trunk of the car. Climb through the passenger window and engage the 5 targets that are divisible by your card’s number.
*My Stage 5 run did not recorded. Another competitor in my squad (‘Daddy’ in the comments) did get recorded and let me use his video*
I wasn’t a real big fan of this stage, and the rest of my squad seemed to agree. It almost seemed like something was missing, something to make it ‘pop’. I didn’t do real hot (I missed one of my designated targets and hit the one next to it 4 times), but the mental confusion aspect just didn’t do it for me. I’ve seen Karl mention before that it is something he likes to see in matches specifically because it’s a thing you’d have to do in real life. Not do math, per se, but have to discriminate between targets and no-shoots based on criteria given to you once it’s started. I don’t think that this stage needs to serious revising like Stage 2, just that it isn’t my favorite.
I’ll Bomb Tokyo Myself! (stage 6)
At the beep, grab your rifle and engage the targets through the plane’s windows, moving forward as you do, ending in the turret and engaging the final two paper targets. Ground your rifle in the safe box, exit the fuselage, and grab the ‘bomb’. Run the bomb to the next bay and drop it on the target (tire), missing is a +60 sec penalty. Engage the steel targets while standing on the boards.
This was the first stage on the first day. This was a good stage to start on! It had some close up paper, a goofy prop, pistol steel, heavy stuff, running, and weird shooting requirements. All-in-all, a great stage. This one is tied for my favorite.
Something for Everyone (stage 7)
Start in the start box with both guns cruiser-ready. At the beep climb over both obstacles and run to the second bay. In the second bay, engage the three arrays of three reduced-size paper targets, nine in total. Clear the rifle and move to the third bay. In the third bay, engage the four paper targets and kick (do not shoot!) the activator to expose a clay target. Clear the rifle and move to the fourth bay. From the first shooting position of the final bay, draw your pistol and engage the six steel targets. Once the steel has been knocked down, move to the final position and kick the activator to expose another clay target. Clays are -15 sec bonuses, no penalties for leaving them unbroken.
This stage was okay. Less fun than #6, but way better than #2! I think that I would have enjoyed it better if I hadn’t been wearing my phone’s hat mount. It interfered with my rifle shooting and didn’t really record anything that my trailing camera guy didn’t already pick up. I elected to not wear it after this stage.
I also missed one of the small paper targets in bay two. I tried to game that bit by shooting all nine targets from two positions instead of the obvious three positions and ended up missing one. I’d like to blame some of it on my hat-mounted phone, but I don’t think it really hurt me in that regard. Whatever time I should have gained I more than lost in the resulting +60 sec penalty. I rolled the dice and came up short. There seems to be a pattern…
Kasarda Drill – Hard Mode (stage 8)
This one is simple. At the beep, go prone and shoot the spinner. After shooting the spinner, safe and ground the rifle. Grab the kettlebell and toss it forwards. Re-engage the spinner from where the kettlebell comes to rest. Repeat the process until the kettlebell passes the last marker, at which point you move to the berm and flip the spinner. Each marker you pass is a -15 second bonus to your raw time.
This was more fun than I thought it would be. I knew this stage (or something like it) was going to be in this match and was dreading it, but it ended up not being so bad. The worst part was that I could not get the kettlebell to roll! The darn thing just hit the ground and stuck there! I honestly could have kept going. I had plenty of stamina left and my scope allowed me to make my shots easily the entire time, but that darn kettlebell would not cooperate! I should have tried to add more twist to my throws, a few guys after me did something similar and it worked out well for them. Oh well, live and learn I guess.
I finished 50 of 66 in Scout division, 120 of 171 overall. Not real great placing, but I didn’t get hurt or DQ’ed. That’s what really matters.
Getting disqualified that weekend isn’t something that you could ignore. Two of the shooters in my squad got DQ’ed on day 2. One of our shooters also got hurt on the second stage of day 1 and had to go to the hospital! He came back before we finished that day with a dislocated shoulder and watched the rest of us struggle through Math Class. He also showed up on day 2 ready to compete again and was a force to be reckoned with! The kid can shoot very well and went back to do the stages he missed the day before. He ended up doing 10 of 23 in Classic division, and 84 of 171 overall. He was inspiring to watch. He was also given a plate carrier by the match directors and highly encouraged to return for DB 2020. That guy doesn’t know the definition of the word quit.
My thoughts on placing in this match are different than other matches. Walking the prize table (and picking something to keep) isn’t awarded to the best placing shooters, but awarded by random drawing of the people who finished. I was drawn relatively early on and got to take home a sweet 18″ Faxon barrel in .223 Wylde! If you’ll remember back to my post about my AR and where I’d like to see it, you’ll know that this is something I’ve wanted for a long while. This barrel was worth more than the match fee, so I couldn’t be much happier!
The main thing, after watching and editing videos of my performance (or lack there of) is my speed. It seemed like I was shooting fast while it happened, but the video tells a different story. Considering any target I shot had all center A-zone hits, I think that I was going slower than necessary.
I think this lack of speed is partly due to me running magnification as opposed to a red dot, but mainly to my personal training style. Right now I’m focusing on accuracy. I figure that I can always let the wheels fall off if speed is really necessary, but I can’t all of a sudden become more accurate on command. The problem is that I’ve never really put much time into going fast. While it sounds dumb, I’m starting to believe that there is an art to letting the wheels fall off.
I think I’m done with competing for a little bit. I’ve already missed the signup for the next Twilight Run n Gun. I’ve got family stuff coming up fast and I need to focus on that for a little bit. I also need to get my rifle sorted out! I’ve got a full working rifle, an 18″ match barrel, and an SBA3 brace. I’ve got some work to do there and not paying match fees for a bit will help that go by faster. Between that, working on my speed, and my silencer that I haven’t even got to shoot yet (!!!), I’ve got plenty to keep my occupied for a bit before I need to go out and prove myself against others. Keep checking my Instagram for periodic updates and poorly made memes.
As always, see you next Friday. -S_S