AAR: Zombie Run For Your Life Run-n-Gun 10k Team Match

The 2020 edition of the Zombie Run For Your Life Run-n-Gun 10k event was recently held at the Lucas Cattle Ranch (same people as Lucas Oil) outside Cross Timbers, MO. This event had previously been held as an individual match at Rockcastle Shooting Center in Kenucky, but with the location change came a format change to a team event.

Tiger Schultz (the Match Director) setup three divisions, a regular Open division, Jack and Jill for teams with one or both members being female, and a Lone Survivor to try everything as a single shooter. Originally I was going to make the trip as a Lone Survivor, but about a week before the event I ended up partnering with a new friend Haley B, who had only gotten into Run n Gun and other competition shooting this summer.

Since Tiger shared a little info on the stages for planning purposes, I had already started evaluating what might be needed to complete the stages in terms of gear and some strategy. With an adapted two-person plan and what we thought was the right gear, we converged on the Lucas Cattle Ranch. I set off for a Friday flight to Springfield, MO and a drive to the match site while Haley drove the 12+ hours to get there.

Upon arrival I was able to catch up with friends, make some new ones and finally meet a few people that I’ve only met via online discussions. We also got to see a few of the ROs that were running make their way across the finish line to close out the day. After hanging out around a fire for a bit, I made the drive to the hotel for final gear prep and mag loading.

Laying out what might be needed, then pare it back to the essentials

On match day, Tiger gave his match brief at 7:00am, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and a small prayer to start the day. We had an 8:00am start time, so there wasn’t much left before we had to take off.

Match Brief – Photo by Jimmy Nutt

For this match we decided it might be best to bring an extra rifle, my 6mm Creedmoor chambered Proof Research Conviction. We knew there would be a long-range stage and a rifle spinner, plus some other targets that we might gain an advantage on by bringing a precision rifle. The downside was the additional weight and how to run with it.

Proof Research Conviction in 6mm CM sending 108gr Hornady ELD-Ms, with Nightforce ATACR 7-35x and CkyePod bipod. Normally this has a SilencerCo Omega, but with unknown obstacles and stages I tried to save some length off the front.

Before I get into stages, I’ll mention that a few hours after we finished our team run, Tiger came through the staging area and asked if anyone wanted to go again. I had the crazy notion of asking about it earlier in the day, but had written it off. However when he asked I did a quick ammo check and said I’d go again as a Lone Survivor if there was time…which turned into me being the last one out after stuffing magazines and getting some more water.

Stages

For each stage, I’ll give my notes for our team run and my Lone Survivor run.

Stage 1 – Overwatch

Invade the orc encampment. Work as a team and slaughter them all. On the buzzer shooter one will move to shoot box 1, shooter 2 will move to wait box 1. Once they arrive in wait box 1, they will radio shooter 1. Shooter 1 will make 1 hit on two targets at 125 yards. Once they have made their hits, shooter 1 will radio back to shooter 2. Shooter 2 will enter bay 1 and clear the 3 targets there. Once they have cleared their targets, they will move to wait box 2 and radio shooter 1. Shooter 1 will then make 1 hit on each of two targets at 250. Radio shooter 2 to move. Shooter 2 enters bay 2 and clear the 3 targets there. Move to wait box 3 and radio. Shooter 1 will make one hit each on two targets at 350. Radio shooter 2. Shooter 2 will move into bay 3 and clear the 3 targets there. Lone Survivors will not shoot the rifle portion, they will have 2 extra targets per bay. This is the only deviation from the COF for Lone Survivor shooters.

Team Run: I worked my way into a tower that was past the pistol shooting areas. Once in position, I setup my precision rifle and oriented on the targets. The timing of when the stage started wasn’t clear, but I engaged my first two target at 125 yards and radio’d for Haley to shoot the pistol. Once she indicated ready I engaged the next two targets at 250 yards and radio’d to go. I heard her shooting pistol then nothing over the radio. We’re not sure what happened with comms, but we wasted about 20-30 seconds before we reestablished contact and moved on. Then I shot the 350 plates and she finished the pistol. Our time was 108.47, and while we had a hangup with the radios, the stability and precision of the bolt gun made short work of the overwatch targets and already glad I brought it.

Haley engaging pistol targets – Photo by Jimmy Nutt

Lone Survivor: Since the LS run was solo, the rifle was omitted in favor of extra pistol shots. At the first bay was a dueling rack that needed every plate spun, then the second bay had a series of plates and a small spinner, followed by the third bay with another series of plates. My time on this was 45.19.

After Stage 1, there was a nice run through the woods and then to an obstacle that required jumping/walking across tiles to navigate the floor of lava.

Getting across the “lava ground” – Photo by Jimmy Nutt

Stage 2 – Ancient Weapons

The ancients foretold this day. They knew what would be coming. Solve their puzzle, defeat their guardian, and see if you can gain an advantage. On the buzzer, one teammate will move to begin solving the puzzle. The other will move to shoot box 1 and begin clearing the plate rack. You must have a clean run to clear the plate rack. On a miss, you and your teammate will swap positions. Once the plate rack is clear, both teammates can work on the puzzle. Once the puzzle is complete, one shooter will draw from shoot box 2 and make a single pistol hit on another target. Lone Survivors will clear the plate rack, then do the puzzle, then make the final hit. If stage is completed, each partner can take a single shot with the provided bow for a bonus.

Paw Patrol On A Roll! – Photo by Todd Banus

Team Run: On the start signal I jumped into a hay ring/feeder to engage the plate rack while Haley started on the Paw Patrol kids puzzle. I shot deliberately, not requiring a switch of shooters. Once complete I hopped out and tried to help get the puzzle complete. After that was done I made the additional required pistol shot to stop the clock. Since we finished the stage, we both tried and miserably failed to hit the archery target for a bonus…which turned out to be advice to ignore all of the extra posted information throughout the course as it was worthless. Our time on the stage was 100.56 seconds (3rd overall).

Lone Survivor Stage 2 pistol shooting – Photo by Megan Dudley

Lone Survivor: At the start signal, I jumped into the hay ring again but whiffed my first shot. Since it was just me, I fired again and ran the rack clean. By the end of the day the poor puzzle was in rough shape, so I got it as close as it would go and finished with the pistol shot to stop the clock at 101.02 (4th overall). I still totally missed the bow and arrow shot with 2 attempts (still didn’t know what the bonus was at that point).

After Stage 2 it was a long run up and then across some hills before Stage 3.

Sucking wind uphill – Photo by Jimmy Nutt

Stage 3 – Graboids (Spinners)

Graboids have risen from the depths. They take multiple hits to take out, how many depends on your timing and accuracy. A pistol spinner will be setup at 12-15 yards. A rifle spinner will be set up at 125. On the buzzer, the teams may engage the spinners however they wish. Both spinners must make one complete rotation for the stage to be finished.

Team Run: At this stage the starting rifle shooter climbed into/setup on the roof of a Humvee, while the pistol shooter got into the drivers seat. Upon the start signal shooting could commence until the spinners made a rotation, and if one or the other shooter got their spinner first they could move to assist with the remaining spinner. Since we started in position, I setup the bipod on my 6mm Creedmoor and got steady on target. Once the buzzer went off, I made a quick first shot on the top plate, cycled the bolt and made a hit on the bottom as it started moving away to get it over. Haley meanwhile got out and started on the spinner. I quickly slid out of the Humvee gunner position and helped finish the spinner for a stage time of 16.76 seconds (2nd overall).

Lone Survivor: On this run I planned to replicate the first run, with the rifle getting cleared and then finishing with the pistol. My rifle procedure was the same, followed by sliding out of the truck and onto the pistol. Since I had to start it, I tried giving a double tap to the top and bottom for extra momentum, and was ultimately able to finish the stage a little faster than our team run in 16.15 seconds (1st overall).

Getting ready to roll from Stage 3 – Photo by Melanie Trumble

Stage 4 – Unstoppable Horde

The undead have risen from the grave. They don’t get tired. They don’t get thirsty. They don’t get hungry. And they won’t ever stop. So stop them. On the beep, each shooter will move to one of two shoot boxes. There will be 7 targets at pistol range, and 9 at rifle range. Each “target” will consist of either an 8 or 10 inch chest plate, then the pistol targets will have a 4 inch head plate, and the rifle targets will have a 6 or 8 inch pelvis plate. Shooter will perform standard failure to stop drills, two to the chest plate, and one to the secondary plate(pelvis for rifle, head for pistol). Targets must be completely neutralized before you can move on to the next target.

Team Run: Before the match we had decided that Haley would start on the pistol and I would work the rifle targets, and then help either one not complete with finishing. The shooting positions were designated as sections of metal fencing, so Haley went to work on pistol steel while I went to a reverse kneeling position on a lower rung with my carbine. Using about 6x magnification and from a stable position, it was very easy to work my way across the rifle targets about 100 yards away. I finished engaging my targets shortly after Haley for a stage time of 43.18 (1st overall).

Lone Survivor: As a lone shooter, I had to make some magic happen for both pistol and rifle shooting since all 21 pistol engagements and 27 rifle engagements were mine. I chose to start with the pistol, engaging all 21 hits before moving to the rifle position. My time to clear both sets of targets was 81.66, good enough for a 5th overall time. After some reflection, I think this stage was my favorite of the match…high round counts with a little bit of precision required.

Stage 5 – Can I Count on You?

Count Dracula is leading the invasion of the supernatural forces to wipe out the human race. Kill his captains before taking a shot at the Lord of Night himself. Before the stage begins, one teammate will use a staged shotgun and provided ammo to try and hit 4 clay ” bats” in flight. Each clay destroyed will eliminate one target and add 5 seconds to the par time for the stage. If you clean all 4, 30 seconds will be added to the par time. Targets are eliminated from nearest to farthest. On the buzzer, the other teammate will engage 6 targets, minus any eliminated by shotgun, from nearest to furthest. The closest target will be at 200, the furthest at 700. If you clear the stage, you can decide to remain on the shot clock and shoot at the bonus “Dracula” target at 850 for an advantage later in the course. You stage time is last shot fired, regardless of target being engaged. Failure to eliminate all but Dracula will result in a DNF. A spotting scope will be provided as well.

Team Run: Since I’ve got the long-gun experience I climbed up the tower to get setup while Haley shot at the clays. For having no experience doing it, she managed to hit 2 of 4 clays. With that done, I started on target 3 which I had guessed to be about 400ish yards. Because the targets were tall enough, my bullet trajectory with the 6mm Creedmoor (108gr Hornady ELD-Ms at 3055 fps) was quite flat and my 400 yard hold was good enough to hit what was 440 yards. Figuring the next shot was going to be about 500, I did the same for another hit. The last couple target Tiger had given approximate range data for (600, 700 and a bonus at 850). They were HUGE for anyone who has shot anything long-range before… so I just held the 600, 700 and 850 data for quick hits. In all, our time was 25.41 on the long range stage for a 1st overall placement. As we were leaving, I forgot to ask and the RO forgot to tell us that the bonus information was the number of plates per position at stage 6.

The tower position for Stage 5

Lone Survivor: My Lone Survivor run did not go as well, as I missed all 4 clays and had to engage all of the targets. The first 2 targets were easy, but target 3 took a couple shots to figure out the wind, as it was regularly building and letting off while I waited before the stage. My engagement sequence to figure it out was what I used to hit earlier, then I held high in case my range estimation was off, then I saw a clear miss to the left behind the target, and went back to the original elevation hold and held right edge for wind. That 3rd shot worked, and I ended up holding right edge for wind on the rest to finish the stage. My time here was 33.35 (3rd overall).

Target Distances and Sizes according to Tiger after the match. Dimensions in inches

Moving from Stage 5 to 6 involved a couple big hills that had a few inappropriate names…

Surviving the hills – Photo by Jimmy Nutt

Stage 6 – Bug Hunt

Wild explosions of magic have caused the bugs to grow to truly horrifying proportions. But they retain their ability to hide, sometimes in plain sight. Find them and exterminate with extreme prejudice. On the buzzer, you and your partner will enter two separate shooting boxes. Split between the two boxes are 13 targets. Each target must be hit twice to be considered eliminated. Once you both are convinced you have shot all the targets on your side, swap sides and repeat. Each target not eliminated will incur a 15 second penalty. Lone survivors will engage each target 4 times to account for the same number of targets.

Team Run: As we got to stage 6, we got our brief and went to our respective starting spots. I ended up on the right side that had 5 targets, clearing them quickly. The RO called me clear and as I was moving to the left side Haley finished her shooting. As I got closer I put in a fresh magazine before engaging the 8 remaining targets, finishing around the time Haley finished clearing the 5 right side targets. Our time to complete was 42.56 for a 5th place overall run.

Lone Survivor: For the lone survivor, the targets had to be engaged for 4 hits each. I started on the right side, shooting to a slide lock reload before moving to the left side. With the 8 targets needing 32 hits I ended up making another slide lock reload there as well. Overall my time was 46.72 for an 8th overall run.

Stage 7 – Ambush

Sometimes, when you’re out on patrol, you get ambushed. Werewolves and giant spiders want your guts for dinner! Fight your way clear and keep moving. On the beep, start down the path. You cover one side and your partner covers the other. Move through the course from shoot box to shoot box, neutralizing the targets from each.

Team Run: This stage was bounding overwatch type exercise. At each position were steel targets around 50 yards away that were either torsos requiring 2-hits, or diamonds requiring 3-hits. I started with a couple targets on the left side, while Haley advanced to her first shooting position. Once I finished, she was allowed to engage her targets while I moved to my next spot. We repeated this several times, ending about 100 yards from where we started. Throughout each I had some hesitation while I scanned to ensure there were no additional targets, but there ended up being just a pair of targets per position. Our time to complete this was 130.17, for 15th overall.

Lone Survivor: At this point on my LS run, I was pretty gassed. The first few firing positions went well enough, and shooting at about 2.5x magnification worked well for a balance of speed and precision on ensuring hits on target. However towards the last two firing positions I felt myself running out of gas, taking several extra shots to hit the targets. In the end, this run was 105.67 for a 3rd overall finish on the stage…albeit quite tired.

Stage 8 – Defend Your Helicopter

Take out the approaching hoard and snipe their undead commander! Knowing your partners limits in a firefight is important. After the brief, one shooter (the gunner) will choose a target for the other shooter(the marksman) to hit from a selection of sizes and distances. The marksman will select how many individual targets(a random array of 10 targets set up) the gunner can hit in the stage time. You can select more than 10, you will just cycle through them. Each target hit will be worth 5 points. On the beep, the marksman. Mount the helicopter and make a single hit on the given target, without any knowledge of distance or size of target. The gunner will simultaneously begin engaging targets from behind the barricade. If the gunner fails to hit the prescribed number of targets, he will receive zero points. Once the gunner has neutralized the number of targets stated, he will receive the cease fire command, but he will not know the number of targets until he receives the cease fire. If the marksman fails to hit his designated target, he will receive zero points. Lone survivors will make their selections, complete the gunner targets first, then mount the helicopter and complete the marksman target.

Team Run: This stage had a lot of moving pieces, including starting with a dummy drag that happened to have a Bushmaster BA-50 strapped to him for additional weight, then movement to a table that required you to write down either the number of shots for the gunner to engage or which target for the marksman to engage. Since I was the gunner, I selected the 4″ target at 200 yards for Haley, which had to be shot off of a swaying platform or “boat.” I didn’t know until the end, but Haley chose 60 targets for me as the gunner. After I got into position, I tried to go prone but tall grass prevented seeing all of the targets. With that I tried a kneeling position and while I fired and hit a lot, I only got to 48 hits before timing out. Unfortunately we got a 0 on the stage, but Haley was able to hit her target.

Lone Survivor: As a lone survivor I still had to drag the dummy and pick targets, but I didn’t know the LS gunner position was prone with a clear view of the targets. Because of this, I didn’t bring a lot of ammo to go bold again, instead playing it safe with the 4″ target at 100 yards from the boat and 20 targets as the gunner. After shooting it all with 90 seconds remaining, I wish I had my Magpul D60!

Shooting the Lone Survivor run off of the “boat” – Photo by Megan Dudley

Immediately after finishing stage 8, there were two large A-frame obstacles that needed to be scaled. From there it was a run to the end…except for the 8′ wall standing in the way.

Up and over the A-frames – Photo by Megan Dudley

On the team run I was able to get a boost from Haley and help pull her up to get over, even if it took a try or two. When I got to the wall on my second run I tried to run and jump up but my left calf cramped up pretty bad. After giving it a minute to relax I went to plan B…a grappling hook with a climbing strap to help me get up and over (thank you Jimmy Nutt!) This turned out to be a big aid as I was out of energy at this point, doing what I could to get over. Because I didn’t have anyone to hand stuff over to, my AR carbine took a flight through the air and over, but I made it over with the precision rifle strapped to my bag on my back.

Me getting up the wall – Photo by Jimmy Nutt
Getting Haley over the wall – Photo by Jimmy Nutt

Whether you make it across having issues along the way or if you had a great run, there is nothing like the sense of accomplishment for finishing. In total, the course was about 6 and a quarter miles long of central Missouri hills. Our team run took about 2 hours and 15 minutes to run and shoot everything, while my solo run was 2 hours and 9 minutes or so.

Not long after crossing the finish line!

Afterwards, I am really glad that we suffered through the extra effort to bring the precision rifle. We used it in 4 stages for the team run, and I brought it again for the Lone Survivor run for the spinner and long-range stages. Our planning going into each stage generally worked out on trying to play to our strengths, with our only real gamble lost was on the gunner shooting for the helicopter stage. In hind sight I should have tried something else for a position, but it is what it is at this point. While originally planning to go Lone Survivor, I’m glad I was able to run with a partner as it was a match setup for a team to complete. Since I got to have the Lone Survivor experience too, I can say shared misery up the hills really does lessen the burden!

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the RnGs is getting to spend time with great people. I enjoyed the bonfire time as the light and temperature dropped, getting to dissect stages and equipment choices, talking guns and many other topics. In all of my different competitive shooting adventures, it’s always the people that brings you back.

Once the results were announced, Haley and I finished in 1st place for the Jack and Jill division and ultimately placed 2nd overall team behind Jon Hutt and Michael Ford. My run as a Lone Survivor went well, but I didn’t run for score as I didn’t feel it was fair having already seen the courses…I just wanted to shoot the stages again!

Many thanks to the hardworking crew and Tiger Schultz to get this event to happen. Thank you to the sponsors and the Lucas Ranch for supporting the event. It looks like this will be my last RnG event of the year, and it was a high note to end on!

P.S. Accu-Shot Challenge

B&T Industries, is a sponsor of many matches, but they do things a little different. They have the Accu-Shot Challenge, which involves some sort of firing on a special target, and usually whoever gets closest to center wins the prize ($300 cert for items they make). At this match it was a Henry .22LR rifle shot at about 7-10 yards off-hand. Competitors could participate for $5 a shot. Between runs, Haley and I went to check it out. Since I forgot my wallet she spotted me the money to shoot a couple shots. One my first shot, I lined up the sights and made a good trigger press, but didn’t think it was anything other than a decent shot. Turns out I smacked the target absolute dead center, good enough to win the Accu-Shot Challenge!

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