Optimizing Your Rifle Setup for The Tactical Games: A Competitor’s Guide
The Tactical Games are the ultimate test of fitness, shooting proficiency, and tactical skill. Competitors navigate physically demanding courses while engaging in various shooting tasks, requiring not only physical endurance but also a finely tuned and reliable rifle setup. This guide provides comprehensive insights into optimizing your rifle for the unique challenges of The Tactical Games.
Understanding The Tactical Games
Before diving into rifle setups, it’s crucial to understand what The Tactical Games entail. They combine the physical challenges of high-intensity functional fitness with the precision and speed of competitive shooting. Each event is designed to simulate the demands of real-world tactical scenarios, such as those faced by military and law enforcement personnel.
Choosing the Right Rifle
The foundation of your setup is the rifle itself. The Tactical Games require a semi-automatic platform, with the AR-15 being a popular choice due to its reliability, accuracy, and modularity. The rifle must be versatile, capable of quick, close-range engagements, and precise enough for longer-distance shots.
Customization for Functionality
- Optics: Red dot sights inherently offer quick target acquisition for close-range targets, while variable magnification scopes provide flexibility for longer distances and precise shots on small targets. A decent Low Power Variable Optic (LPVO) is the proven choice, but with the 2024 ruleset now allowing an offset RDS, it is worth the consideration for more dynamic stages.
- Trigger: A quality trigger with a clean break can significantly improve accuracy. A trigger with a moderate pull weight is ideal—it’s light enough for precision shots but not so light that it becomes a liability during high-stress maneuvers. You don’t have to go crazy here, anything above mil-spec will work provided you have enough time behind it.
- Barrel: Barrel length will affect maneuverability and ballistic performance. A 16-inch barrel strikes a good balance between handling and velocity, making it suitable for the diverse shooting engagements in The Tactical Games. I recommend no shorter than 13.5″ for velocity’s sake.
- Muzzle Device: Flash Hiders in a birdcage or three/four prong design, suppressors, or blast forward devices are the only things allowed. This means no porting that deflects gas sideways.
- Stock: An adjustable stock is essential for a proper fit, allowing shooters of different body types and wearing gear to maintain a comfortable and stable shooting position. This is especially important with consideration for your plate carrier.
- Handguard: A free-floating handguard improves accuracy and provides ample space for mounting accessories. M-LOK or KeyMod systems are popular for their light weight and modularity.
- Grip: Ergonomic grips can reduce fatigue and help maintain control during precise fire and transitions between shooting positions.
- Sling: A sling is required. A good sling will provide comfort and versatility to get in and out of as needed, as well as stability for free-standing/unsupported shots.
- Rail Accessories: Avoid anything too cumbersome, less is more here. Skip the vertical foregrip, weapon-mounted lights, etc – they do nothing but get caught up on obstacles or v-tac barricades. Instead, favor lower-profile barricade stops or Picatinny rail sections that you can use for extra stability/bracing on barricades when needed.
- Magazines: 5 are required, I like to bring a few spares. Make sure they are in good working order and eject freely from your magwell when the mag release is hit. If they’re sticking, spend the $10 and replace it.
Rifle Weight Considerations
In The Tactical Games, you’ll be moving with your rifle a lot. Every ounce matters. Lightweight components can reduce overall fatigue and improve agility during physical challenges. However, too light a rifle can increase felt recoil and reduce stability, so balance is key. It is also worth noting that your rifle is now grounded at the firing line for most of the stages (sans the long movement, typically 1-3 miles where you carry it slung), so lightweight isn’t as critical as it used to be.
Reliability Above All
Your rifle must function flawlessly despite dust, mud, and sweat. Regular maintenance and the use of high-quality parts can increase reliability. Additionally, avoid overly complicated modifications that could become points of failure under harsh conditions – I recommend avoiding lightweight bolt carrier groups and suppressors for this very reason unless you are intimately familiar with such a setup and are diligent with maintenance.
Choose ammunition that performs consistently and is matched to your barrel’s twist rate. For The Tactical Games, you’ll be doing a lot of precise shooting. With every miss costing you 10 seconds, it’s worth considering heavier-grain ammo for both tight groups in medium range and better ballistic performance for the 150 to 400-yard engagements.
Practice with Your Gear
All the gear in the world won’t help if you’re not proficient with it. Spend as much time as possible training with your setup in conditions that mimic those you’ll face in competition. Practice shooting after physical exertion to simulate the stress on your body during the games. Most of your shooting sequences will be done with a 140+ bpm heartrate (highly dependant on your fitness level), so it is highly beneficial to try and push that in practice.
Training for The Tactical Games
- Physical Fitness: Your rifle setup is only as effective as your ability to carry and maneuver it. Focus on functional fitness to improve your strength, endurance, and agility.
- Shooting Drills: Incorporate drills that improve your speed, accuracy, and transitions between targets at various distances. Drills should also include shooting from different positions and under time constraints. Usually, 2/3rds or more of your stages will be precisely shooting small targets on paper (think Bullseye), with the other 1/3rd being steel at 150+ yards or a dynamic shooting course like you’d find in 3-gun.
- Scenario Training: Run through courses of fire that simulate Tactical Games events. Include physical challenges immediately before shooting to train your body and mind to handle the stress.
Always ensure that your rifle configuration complies with local, state, and federal laws, as well as the specific rules of the competition.
Optimizing your rifle setup for The Tactical Games requires a balance of functionality, reliability, and personal proficiency. Choose your components wisely, focusing on adaptability for the varying demands of the competition. Regular training and maintenance are just as crucial as the hardware you select. With a well-optimized rifle and a rigorous preparation regimen, you’ll be well-equipped to take on the challenges of The Tactical Games. Remember, the goal is to create a system that enhances your skills without becoming a burden, allowing you to focus on strategy, execution, and, ultimately, victory.