Lift Heavy, Shoot Straight: Desert Brutality 2019

This was the second year for this event, and since I won a plate carrier the first year, I decided to shoot in armored division this year. To allow more people to shoot the match, the match directors put out a request for volunteers to shoot it early and complete all 8 stages in one day. I jumped at it. In addition to giving someone else a chance to shoot on the weekend, it gave me the additional challenge of doing it in half the time and gave me the weekend to drive home.

A new rule was put in place this year, that you cannot leave any targets standing. Last year there were a few stages where I left a difficult target in order to get to the part of the stage I would enjoy more. Overall, I like the change, as it eliminated uncertainty of how much time to spend on each part of the stage, and it didn’t prevent me from getting to anything that I really wanted to do.

Note: As usual, pictures were taken whenever I had time, often when the stage was being reset, and sometimes show people downrange. Obviously everyone got off the course before shooting started.

Stage 1: Office Space51607290_10217141364233488_2720853582923431936_n.jpg

Start with pistol holstered, rifle empty and slung. Use your pistol to engage the evil Polish plate rack (targets start spinning as soon as you knock out the first one), clear pistol, then crawl under this table:


Run to the next door and engage two mini-mo targets (a hit to the center of the chest pops up a head target, which you then hit and knock back down) go over a desk to a barricade at the next door:


And shoot the Texas star through the ports, one shot per port, cycling through all of the top five holes.


Then find a way through and over this mess:


Engage one more mini mo target, clear the pistol, and run to the bleachers for the rifle portion.


Several shooting positions were marked behind the bleachers. One shot, move, one shot, move until you clear the plate racks.

My run: I had a lot of trouble with the Polish plates, and even more with the barricade, where I timed out.

Stage 2: Fighting holes.

Start way around the corner from the targets.

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You run around the berm, crawl over these water containers:


Shoot one steel target, then a lot of paper targets as you move towards three fighting holes.


Get in the first hole, hit three steel targets, go back to the first, hit them all again, then run to the next hole and repeat.

I started out with a dumb mistake, firing the first shot and realizing I had forgotten my hearing protection. The second run went reasonably well, balanced moving quickly with controlling breathing to make my hits. I was bringing my sights on target for the last shot when I timed out. One shot shy, I’ll take it.

Stage 3- Obstacles and Rabbits

This stage was a lot of fun. Pistol holstered, rifle slung, run and climb over these obstacles:


Load the rifle, shoot the bad guys hiding among all the no-shoots-


Clear rifle, run to the next bay, engage some paper, kick over an activator that launches a “rabbit,” a clay pigeon that is rolled along the ground. Shoot the rabbit without hitting the no-shoot that it rolls behind.


Clear rifle, run to next bay, draw pistol, shoot some small steel targets, run up and kick another activator for another rabbit.

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All of that in 3 minutes or less.

My run: I did well with the rifle, waited for the rabbit to clear the no-shoot then machine-gunned it. I was gassed and breathing hard when I got to the pistol. The coaching from the RO changed suddenly when I hit the last steel target. “Slow press, make your hits, good.” *Last hit.* “HURRY RUN GO GO GO JUST SHOOT AT IT!!”

I emptied my magazine at the rabbit, didn’t hit it. There is no penalty for missing the rabbits, 15 second bonus for hitting them, but a 1-minute penalty if you don’t at least get a shot of at them. This was the reason the RO told me to hurry. I finished with less than 2 seconds to spare.

Stage 4: Kasarda Drill


This one is as simple as it is brutal. Go prone, make one hit on the bottom of the spinner, throw the 62# kettlebell. Run to the kettle bell, go prone, one hit. Repeat until you reach the 50 yard marker, then engage/flip the spinner.

I did reasonably well at this stage, although a malfunction on the rifle used up enough time that I didn’t complete the spinner. Stuck case, collapsed the stock to mortar-clear it, stock then got stuck in the collapsed position. I ended up reaching the 50 yard mark with about 10 seconds left.

Stage 5- Lt Dan and the Mortar Tube

Start in the shoot house with 5 rounds in the rifle, all other ammo in the plate carrier in the next bay. engage 5 clay pigeons in cardboard backers from the doors/windows:


Then run, pick up your ammo, rescue Lt. Dan (the steel silhouette weight), and carry him back to the shoot house.


Drop Lt. Dan, run to the next bay, engage a steel target with the rifle, then pick up and carry the mortar tube.


Go back to the shoot house, drop the tube, draw your pistol, engage two steel targets, and clean up any of the clay pigeons that you didn’t get with the rifle.

Lt. Dan is heavy. I came in just a touch slow, again timing out one shot shy of completing it. Still had a lot of fun with this.

Stage 6- Wobbly Prone and Pistol Spinner.


Start at the back of the bay next to your targets, run to this suspended platform:


The platform moves from you getting onto it, keeps moving, and even recoil is enough to make it move more. Targets are clay pigeons in cardboard backers and one static steel target. Break one clay, one hit on steel, next clay, one hit on steel, repeat until all the clays are broken. Then run over to the rooftop prop and engage the pistol spinner.


The wobbly table was something I could work with once I got used to it. The clays with cardboard behind are a deceptively difficult target. They are just small enough for close-range holdoffs to be necessary, and the cardboard prevents you from seeing where the bullets are hitting, so when you are missing it is much more difficult to correct. My repeated missing low eventually tore a big enough hole for me to see where I was hitting, and then I could hold off and start making hits. I think I had four of the five clays broken when I timed out.

Stage 7: Screw It, I’ll Bomb Tokyo Myself!

Start seated in the back of a WWII bomber mockup:


Run to the window, pick up your rifle, and engage paper targets through the windows.51057068_10217141391034158_196810360873811968_n.jpg

Climb up the stairs and engage more targets from the cockpit.


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Drop the rifle into a sled at the front of the plane, run to the back and pick up the bomb.


Carry the bomb to the next bay, drop it on the bullseye (tire on the ground) then engage some steel pistol targets while moving across platforms.


I completed this stage with only one hiccup. I walked past a target, had to moonwalk backward to go back and get it, then forgot what targets I had already hit and just shot them all again. (Guys taping the targets referred to it as “You straight up murdered those people.”)

Stage 8- Math Class

Flip over a card that will give you the number 2, 3, or 5. You then must engage all numbered targets divisible by that number.

After you flip the card, pick up the machine gun and carry it through the tunnel.


Get yourself and the machine gun under the roof, and engage the numbered targets. If you hit the wrong number, it counts as a no-shoot.


Run to the next bay, put the machine gun and rifle in the trunk, climb into the car through the passenger window, and engage targets with your pistol.

My run: I skipped one target due to a simple brain-fart, other than that shot it clean. I was later to learn that there are more elegant ways of getting through a car window than the headlong dive that I used.

With that, we were done, and we managed to get the last shooter through about 20 minutes before we lost daylight. Great time and I learned a lot, both from experience and from advice from my fellow shooters.

A closing note for my readers who are intrigued by this type of shooting but worried that they are not yet skilled enough to go to a match: You will notice that I timed out of more stages than I completed. I still had fun, still learned things that will help me do better next time. As long as you can handle a gun safely, all that anyone asks is that you show up and do your best.