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What do you do when you don’t shoot as well as you think you should, or don’t place as well as you thought you should when shooting a match?

Do you go out and buy more gear?  Maybe a new rifle, a new scope, maybe a new bipod, or some different ammunition?

Do you go out and spend more time at the range?  Maybe spending time practicing your shooting, gathering better data, or finding better ways to get into a position for dealing with a particular stage?

Or, do you just chalk it up as one of those things…you know, like you don’t really care where you finish…after all, having a great time is the most important thing…

Through the years, I’ve done all those things and more…

I’ve spent quite a bit of money buying better equipment.  Some of those rifles, scopes, bipods, and ammunition worked out great…  Lots of it turned out to be OK, but not exactly what I wanted or needed.  Some of it turned out to be a complete waste of money…

I’ve also spent a lot of additional time at the range. You know the drill…practicing the fundamentals, gathering better data under different conditions, testing ammo, and timing myself on stages to see how fast I need to go to get my shots off in the allotted time.

Range time is never a bad thing, but practicing with bad habits rarely teaches you what you’re trying to learn.  The same is true for shooting in bad conditions.  An example would be trying to zero your new rimfire rifle on a windy day.  You may think you’ve got a solid zero until you show up at a match and there is no wind…so now your scope is off!

One of the things I’ve never done though, is to seek out someone who could teach me what I was doing wrong or someone who could help me with a better approach to a stage or even a match.

Enter Chris Simmons

A couple of months ago a friend of mine named Jeff, mentioned to me that Chris Simmons had talked about teaching a one-day class for anyone interested in getting better at NRL22 or PRS style matches. 

If you’re not familiar with Chris, most recently, he is the 2021 NRL22 National Championship winner and the 2021 NRL22 Series National Champion.

I’ve known of Chris for some time, mainly through the Rimfire Tactical Facebook group, and have seen him routinely atop the leaderboard in matches all across the country.  

I’d also shot a PRS Rimfire match a month ago, where I didn’t shoot as well as I should’ve.  I timed out on some stages, missed some targets I shouldn’t have, and it only got worse throughout the match as I got into my own head way too much.  

Chris happened to be shooting that match as well.  Chris dropped 3 shots all day and won the match.  I dropped…well, let’s just say I dropped a LOT more shots than Chris did!

I’m fortunate to live within a couple of hours of Chris and mentioned to Jeff that if he heard anything about Chris offering a class, to please let me know.

What would’ve been smarter, is if I’d just reached out to Chris myself since I’m now relying on Jeff to keep an eye out for me…that’s totally not fair to Jeff!

Thankfully, just a week or so later, Jeff tagged me in a post on Facebook where Chris was talking about his next Rimfire Class.

As soon as I saw the post, I replied that I wanted to attend if he still had room. I was ticked off because it had been several hours since Chris had posted and there were quite a few people who were interested in taking the class. 

Chris mentioned that he tries to limit the number of students in a class, so that everyone gets proper attention and learns what he is teaching.  This impressed me because there are a lot of instructors out there who are teaching classes with 20 or more students per instructor!

Chris reached out to let me know he did in fact still have room so I asked if there was room for one more shooter since I have a good friend who I knew would be interested in going.  Chris let my buddy Jeremy, into the class as well.

What to Expect

About a week before the class, Chris sent out an email, with info about the class.  The email detailed what would be covered in the match.  It also included a checklist of recommended items to bring.  

That checklist was helpful because Chris listed a couple of things that I hadn’t thought about, including a chronograph.

Gear Selection

I’m a certified shooting gear junkie, especially when we’re talking about rimfires.  My first decision was which rifle to take.  I’ve been fortunate to have a few nice rimfire rifles and I spent a lot of time agonizing over which Vudoo Gun Works rifle to take.  

The two I was debating on are similar but very different.  Both V-22’s have 20″ barrels and TriggerTech Diamond triggers, as well as Atlas PSR bipods with Really Right Stuff ARCA adaptors.

The first one is the lightweight Vudoo Apparition.  Lightweight is subjective as this rifle weighs a little over 11 pounds.  Vudoo calls it the Black Magic but I call it the Wraith…well actually I usually just call it the Black Gun. 

Whenever I call it the Wraith, people ask why, so I tell them the story of a movie about a blacked-out car from the future called The Wraith.  Watching that movie now, it doesn’t seem as impressive as it did when it came out in 1986…but I’ll still stop and watch it if I come across it on TV.

The Black Gun has a Proof Research Carbon Fiber Barrel and sits in a black All Composites Carbon Fiber stock.  With a Kahles 5-25 scope in a Spuhr mount, it is one wicked-looking little rimfire.

The second rifle is not so lightweight, tipping the scales at nearly 18 pounds!  This Vudoo is also an Apparition model, sitting in a red JAllen chassis.  When Vudoo first launched their website, a rifle identical to this was the first rifle you’d see on thensite. 

I don’t remember Vudoo giving this one a unique name other than being an Apparition model, but I just call it the Red Gun.  This Vudoo has a 20″ Bartlein barrel and wears a Nightforce 7-35 ATACR that sits in a Spuhr mount.  

Both rifles shoot exceptionally well and there is little to no difference in the groups when comparing one rifle to another.  Lapua Center-X has been my “go-to” ammo for quite some time and that’s what I shoot in both rifles.  

I went back and forth on which rifle to take and at one point even thought about taking both of them.  Ultimately, I decided to take the Black Gun mainly because of the weight difference. 

I’ve learned after shooting several of these matches that I’m a bit quicker and tend to bang it around less when maneuvering on barricades.  That lighter weight is also nice when shooting unsupported like you’re required to do in at least one NRL22 stage each month.

Jeremy chose to take his Bergara B14 with a carbon fiber barrel.  He’s changed the trigger to a TriggerTech Diamond and has a Zero Compromise scope sitting in a Spuhr mount.  Shooting Lapua Center-X, that rifle is a Hammer!

The other students shot rifles from Bergara, Vudoo, and Ruger, with scopes from Vortex and Athlon.  Several of the students were shooting Eley ammo while others shot Lapua.

Class Time

Google Maps and my GPS both said that it would be a 2-hour drive to get there and I’m a big believer in the adage that if you’re not 15 minutes early…you’re late.  I had Jeremy meet me at my house at 5:15 AM since the class would start at 8:00.

As always, Jeremy was on time and since I’d already loaded everything in my SUV, it only took a couple of minutes to get his gear in the vehicle and we were on our way.

The ride to Chris’s range was uneventful and we beat Google’s time by about 10 minutes.

It’s one thing to be early…it’s a totally different thing to be way early!

Shortly after we got there, Chris and the other students arrived. Chris gave an overview of the day and what to expect, and then we got started.

I won’t attempt to go through each step of the class because I’m sure I won’t do it justice, but what I will say, is that I took more notes during that one-day class than I did most of the classes I took in college. 

That most likely explains my performance in college…but that’s one that I refer back to as something I did for the “experience”…but I’ll save that for another article!

The Instructor

There’s no question that Chris is a talented shooter. A quick Google search will tell you about the numerous matches he’s won, including multiple state and national championships in several different shooting disciplines.

What I was really curious to learn, was how Chris would be in a teaching role. It’s one thing to do something…anything well. It’s another thing entirely though, to be able to do something well and to be able to teach others to do the same.

Thankfully, Chris has a very easy-to-follow process that just makes sense.  He asks lots of questions and then listens to the answers the students give.  The fact that he actually listens is rare…especially from someone in a teaching role. 

It’s clear from the very beginning that Chris is focused on teaching his students what he knows and what will make them better shooters and better competitors.  This isn’t a class where he’s trying to sell you custom guns, more gear, or more classes.

In fact, instead of structuring a class around getting started in a level 1 class but needing to take a level 2 class to get more of the “secret”… Chris lays it all out in this class.

The overriding theme throughout the day was simple…no really, it was just that…keep things simple!

My wife will tell you that I’m someone who loves complicated things because I like to figure them out…and this is true.

I have learned through trial and error though…mostly error, that simple wins every single time…in life and in business. Shouldn’t shooting be the same way?

Chris’s approach to teaching had me understanding my Kestrel 5700 Elite with Applied Ballistics better than anything I’ve read…and hours of watching YouTube videos…all within 30 minutes.

He had us working through barricade positions and learning how to use minimal gear to save both time and frustration. 

From stage checklists to ways to simplify your gear, Chris covered it better than I’ve ever heard before.

If you’ve never considered getting some professional instruction to help you with your shooting, I’d strongly recommend you give it some thought.

The Students

Although I’ve shot several NRL22 matches along with a few PRS Rimfire matches, silhouette matches, and a host of other rimfire matches, I learned way more than I thought I would. I also learned several things that explain why I have run into issues during matches in the past.

My buddy Jeremy is a seasoned shooter but only got seriously into rimfires about a year ago…and due to his work schedule, has never had an opportunity to shoot in any NRL22 or PRS style matches.

The other students in the class had a background from seasoned competitors to shooters who are newer to the sport. 

Some were local while others traveled over 5 hours to be there.

The Observations

Jeremy and I talked all the way home about the things we’d learned and how we could implement them into our shooting, both in matches, as well as when shooting at the range.

One of the things Jeremy and I both noticed, which was a huge benefit of taking the class, was that Chris had a large selection of gear that he allowed the students to try out. We were both able to figure out which bags we liked and now know what we want to order and how to use it effectively.  

Chris also talked in detail about the bags and other pieces of gear he uses, and explained why and how he uses each bag or plate, which was very helpful as well.

Trying out the multiple bags, ARCA plate and assorted bipods has simplified the process for Jeremy and I, since we have been looking at picking up some additional shooting bags and have also talked about trying some other bipods.

Living where we do, we don’t have local shops that carry any of that gear so when we buy anything, we’re ordering it and hoping that it lives up to the advertising. Buying blind like that can be scary when you’re talking hundreds or even thousands of dollars…

Both of us will end up buying new equipment, which thanks to Chris’s class, what we order will be exactly what we’re looking for…

The Consensus

Chris will make you a better shooter and give you a new way to approach your gear selection, match preparation, and the hardest part of shooting…the mental game.

Chris Simmons’ class is well worth both the time and the money.  If you take into consideration the gear you may buy that doesn’t work well, the ammo you may waste, and the time to spend trying to figure things out…taking Chris’s class can save you money!

I wholeheartedly recommend taking Chris Simmons’ Rimfire Class!