Starting Over - MDT Field Report

Posted by Les Voth on 2023 Jul 20th

Starting Over - MDT Field Report

Editor's Note: In this article, veteran shooter Les Voth muses about the trials and tribulations of competition and explores what it takes to stay competitive in precision rifle competition. He also discusses the importance of practice, all while keeping sight of one of the main reasons we compete, fun.

2018 was my best year in PRS. I practiced. I changed equipment, cartridges, and accessories. Some of that mattered and helped. However, 2019 was my worst year shooting in PRS. On May 18th, I was the match director at the first NRL—National Rifle League—match in North Dakota. I didn't practice or compete that season until the regional finals in Iowa at the end of the year. I was there by invitation only because I was a regional match director. Jim See allowed me to enter the match at the last minute. I took two rifles to my "practice" area the day before the match and shot about 250 rounds. One was a .223; the other was my 6mm Creedmoor match rifle. Both rifles were set up the same—a Burris 4-20X50 XTR II, an MDT ORYX Chassis, and the same trigger. I pulled the trigger at least 500 times the day before the Iowa match, between live rounds and dryfiring. The match was 80-100 rounds, so I went home and loaded 120 more. Then, I sat down to decide whether I was going.

Did I think I was ready—NO!

If you're going to train for war, you don't run with a pack on the day before deployment. You train for months for the duty you're assigned to. I wasn't even close. So, I had to decide whether I should even go.

MDT Oryx Chassis System

Just after supper, my wife convinced me I needed to go for a drive, so I might as well go to the match. Driving 565 miles overnight to get to the regional finals isn't the smartest thing to do… But I did it. I was on the range 10 minutes before the flood of smarter and better-prepared shooters arrived.

My goal that day was to not come in dead last. One unfortunate soul broke his rifle halfway through the match and couldn't finish—so I was second from last. But I had a blast. I got to go for a drive and learned something I should've known—it's always a great time hanging out with PRS shooters. They're some of the coolest people on the planet. That was 2019. Because of work and health, I couldn't shoot/compete again until 2022. My 2022 competition cycle started like 2019 did: No practice. As the year progressed, even as difficult as it was, I started shaking off the rust. I built a new comp gun and changed cartridges. I swapped parts and accessories and even practiced a bit in the end.


We all get caught up in the gear race, but I learned an important lesson at the PRS Finale in Tennessee in November 2022. The lesson? It is not the gear as much as it is the practice. It is not the cartridge as much as it is the practice. It's mostly about proper practice. Anybody involved with the sport has heard, "Give the winner a different rifle, and the winner will still win." Even with a different rifle, the winner has a winning mindset—you take that wherever you go.

A huge thing I learned by ROing at the Finale: The guys who were the pinnacle of performers weren't "geared up." It was surprising how simple their equipment was. Don't get me wrong, they had quality gear, but there was only a little gadgetry. So, I signed up/registered for a one-day match in April of this year in Missouri sponsored by GA Precision and ended 2022 practicing with a great shooting partner, LA, a two-day PRS match winner.

LA bought the steel. I found a new place to practice. We could set everything up in about 10 minutes and shoot past 1100 yards. We had the props—some wiggly, some mostly stable. We ran through dope gathering and positional practice, and sometimes the North Dakota wind taught us some hold-offs that aren't so necessary in the trees.

MDT ACC Premier Chassis System

Author’s latest competition rifle.


On our way back from Dallas a year ago, our family stopped at GA Precision in North Kansas City. A conversation with our "guide" turned to practice. He said there are three basic positions to practice, prone, kneeling, and standing. If you can do those, you're halfway there. I have my stepladder and sawhorse; gravity can always take me prone. Those I've got. Those I'll practice. Joe Walls told a friend that most matches are won or lost from 650 yards and in. I'll set my steel somewhere around there.


As I embark on my journey in PRS once again, I reflect on the past year's ups and downs. From the highs of 2018 to the struggles of 2019 and the challenges that followed, I've realized that success in this sport is not solely determined by gear or cartridges but rather by the dedication and discipline of practice. The PRS Finale in 2022 was pivotal, enlightening me about the importance of a winning mindset and the simplicity of equipment top performers use. Encouraged by my shooting partner and armed with newfound wisdom, I eagerly registered for a match in Missouri, ready to put in the hours of diligent practice. With my stepladder, sawhorse, and a commitment to mastering the basic positions, I am determined to make the most of this opportunity. At 63, I may not have grand illusions of victory, but the sheer joy of participating in the game is a triumph.



Les Voth was born in Canada and spent his youth hunting on his father's farm. In 1991 he settled in North Dakota and started a family. Les Started his long-range shooting journey in 2016 and has been active in the shooting scene as both an RO and a competitor.


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