Hathcock 2

By Russell E. Taylor

As some of you will recall, Sniper Country and Storm Mountain Training Center (SMTC) held the Carlos N. Hathcock Charity Sniper Competition. As I reported in the September issue of Tactical Shooter, the event was highly successful and, to date, has been directly responsible for raising over $6,000 for Carlos Norman Hathcock II. No sooner had the echo of the last gunshot of the first Hathcock charity shoot faded away than Dave Lauck (of D&L Sports) and another member of the Sniper Country Council were already well into planning a second charity event for Carlos Hathcock -- what we at Sniper Country came to simply call "Hathcock 2." Indeed, Dave had contacted us months prior to the SMTC event so, in effect, some of us at Sniper Country were attempting to put together two "Carlos charity shoots" at the same time. Logistical nightmares abounded but, less than four months after I had been at Storm Mountain helping to run the first charity, I was north of Gillette, Wyoming, at Dave Lauck's Tactical Marksman Match (TMM), to lend a hand at Hathcock 2. Because I am the Editor-in-Chief and the Tactics Editor for Sniper Country, I felt I was duty-bound to be on hand for the event, but in all fairness it was Mr. Bain, dual-hatted as Legal Editor and Technical Editor for Sniper Country, who did most of the coordination with Dave Lauck, due primarily to Bain's closer proximity to Dave.

Coming at the end of Dave's TMM, on August 23, 1998, Hathcock 2 was a "last man standing" affair that pitted shooter against shooter, in repeated double eliminations, until only three men were left. The fact that there were 24 participants who eagerly signed up for the charity match says a lot about the esprit de corps of these men. They had just completed several days of super high-intensity training ("S**T") at Dave's training facility, and they were hot, tired, and dirty. Having spent day after day of stalking, shooting, running, they had been humping their gear up and down the hills of Dave's facility, but when it came time to "shoot for Carlos," there wasn't a moment's hesitation among them.

The course was a test of each shooter's ability to read wind and mirage, calculate their shots, and successfully engage one target at each of four unknown distances. However, true to the "if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'" spirit, and given the fact that nearly everyone there had a laser rangefinder available to them, these "unknown" distances were quickly yet quietly determined to be at 180, 325, 350, and 525 yards! Ah, yes… God bless American shooters for their initiative and their ingenuity, eh? Laser rangefinders at Hathcock 2 -- unknown distances were quickly turned into KNOWN distances! Still, knowing the range was of little advantage due to the rather stout "breeze" that dominated the area. The facility at D&L Sports is nestled in somewhat of a valley, but it's a very wide valley, the bottom of which is very flat. There is virtually nothing in the way of terrain to break the wind, which tends to wreak havoc with every shot sent downrange. To say that it is challenging shooting would be an understatement. And besides the wind, the weather had been hot and dry during the days preceding Hathcock 2, which kept dust and mirage in abundant supply.

The conduct of Hathcock 2 was a sprint-and-shoot contest. There were four firing points from which to shoot. Dave allowed each shooter to approach his firing point, with the muzzle of each weapon pointed down at the ground at a 45-degree angle, bolts open, chambers empty. Each man was allowed to take up a good prone position with his rifle, sort of to line things up. Once satisfied, each man rose to his feet and returned to his staging area. These staging areas were nothing more than 55-gallon trash barrels, placed approximately 25 yards away from the firing line, positioned roughly at 4 O'Clock and 8 O'Clock. For example, shooters One and Two would stand to the left and right, respectively, of the 8 O'Clock barrel, and shooters Three and Four would stand in the same manner next to the 4 O'Clock barrel. Each shooter had to place a hand on the barrel. Bruce Naude and Mark Pfetzer hustling to the firing line to man their rifles!At Dave's signal, each shooter would sprint as quickly as possible to his firing point, hastily assume a prone firing position, and then commence firing. Shooters had two minutes and thirty seconds to engage their targets, but the first man to successfully clean his lane would instantly be the winner. Otherwise, the winners from each match were determined by the number of targets successfully engaged at the end of the allotted time.

A couple of observations must be made. First, it's a good thing the wind was so uncooperative. These shooting eliminations were repeated over, and over, and over. If the wind had been calm, well -- I likely wouldn't be writing this, I'd probably still be out there at the range, waiting to see who the ultimate winner was. My second observation is -- that these guys could really shoot! Due to the way the event was scored, some shooters, even having been eliminated once, had to return for repeated elimination heats. Though they were tired, as mentioned in the beginning of this article, these guys never slacked off in their marksmanship skill. It all would have been over much faster had these guys been lousy shooters, but such wasn't the case at all. Oh, yes… Dave Lauck did his part to keep things going, by "encouraging" shooters to "keep things moving." Dave would occasionally offer helpful, motivational comments, such as "All right! Let’s pick up the pace a little!" Or, "Let’s speed it up, gentlemen!" I suspect Mr. Lauck's two favorite movies are The D.I. with Jack Webb and Full Metal Jacket with R. Lee Ermey. Still, though you just knew the competitors were bone-tired, they never once let up! Regardless of their age, or whether they were perhaps sporting "a few extra pounds," the sprints to the line seemed to get faster and faster, and the shooting better and better. I mean to tell you, these guys wanted to win! My guess is that all the shooting took at least two hours or more to complete and, after it was all over, three men remained standing -- or, more accurately, remained prone -- and after a shootoff between the three finalists, Hathcock 2 came to a close.

First place went to 18-year-old Mark Pfetzer of Rhode Island, a pleasant young man who was shooting a custom rifle, chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum and built by Dave Lauck, which reportedly was purchased for somewhere in the vicinity of $5,000. For his success, Mark received a custom-camouflaged, CQB-accurized AR-15 built by Dave Lauck. The rifle, as presented to Mark, was wearing a Colt C-More sight system.

Second place went to John Porter, who was shooting a rifle chambered for the .22-243 wildcat, using 80-grain VLD bullets by JLK. As his prize, John received a ghillie suit built by The Ghillie Shop.

Mark Pfetzer and John Porter shooting the final match that will determine the winnerHowever, the real success story of Hathcock 2 was Ron Matheson, a strapping young lad who took third place using nothing more than a Ruger No. 1 chambered for .270 Winchester and a Pine Ridge scope as sold by Cabela's. Yes, you read correctly. In the midst of all the Marine scout-snipers, Nebraska Army National Guard snipers, and other shooters with equally substantial marksmanship capability, many of whom were competing with some high-dollar equipment… twenty-two shooters were beaten with an off-the-shelf Ruger No. 1 rifle! In light of this, several of us stood around looking at each other with our mouths open and our feet frozen to the ground in shock. It was a good lesson in humility for many of us, but Ron took his success in stride, demonstrating what some folks have known for years: It doesn't take fancy tackle to catch big fish. It just takes a good fisherman with a sharp hook. Ron received a trophy for taking third place.

In addition, each of the three winners received a very nice trophy from Tactical Shooter magazine, each one described by Jim Craig, from Frontier Adventures, as "a very impressive piece of work." Having a talent for making understatements such as he does, you have to understand that Jim would likely also describe Michaelangelo’s contribution to the Sistine Chapel in the same manner. Therefore, those must have been some doggone nice trophies! (Thanks, Dave.)

L to R:  John Porter, 2d, Mark Pfetzer, 1st, and Ron Matheson, 3rd
It all came down to this, three men who managed to outperform their peers. Left to Right: John Porter, Mark Pfetzer, and Ron Matheson (Second, First, and Third Places, respectively.)

For those of you who are interested in the equipment each competitor was using, here’s the list.
Shooter Caliber Action Barrel Scope Rings/Bases
Bray .308 Win Rem standard Leu. 4.5-14x 40mm Leupold/Leupold
Schneider .308 Win Rem standard B&L 4-16 40mm Millett/Millett
Elmore .308 Win Rem standard B&L 4-16 40mm Millett/Millett
Dustin .260 Rem Rem Schneider Sightron 4-16 40mm Burris/Leupold
Porter .22-243 Rem Bison Leu. 6.5-20 40mm Leupold/Leupold
Burns .22-243 Rem Bison Leu. 4.5-14 50mm Leupold/Leupold
Brewer .308 Win Sako Hart Leu. Mk4 16x Leupold/Leupold
McCauley .308 Win Rem Rock Leu. 4.5-14 50mm Leupold/Leupold
Harter .308 Win Rem Rock Leu. 4.5-14 50mm Leupold/Leupold
Bjorman .308 Win Rem Rock Leu. 4.5-14 50mm Leupold/Leupold
Strasburger .308 Win Rem Rock Leu. 4.5-14 50mm Leupold/Leupold
Jones .308 Win Rem Rock Leu. 4.5-14 50mm Leupold/Leupold
Pfetzer .300 Win Mag Rem 40X Hart Leu. 8.5-25 50mm Leu.Mk4/Integral
Naude 7mm STW Rem Harris Leu. 6.5-20 50mm Burris Zee (2 sets)/Integral
Walker .308 Win SR-25 standard Leu. 6.5-20 50mm Burris/Integral
Lakin .308 Win Rem standard -- Leupold/Leupold
Moro .308 Win Rem Hart Mk4 M1 10x 40mm Rampart/U.S. Optics
Undisclosed -- -- -- -- --
Huff .308 Win Rem standard Leu. 10x Rampart/Rampart
Pratt .308 Win Rem standard Leu. 10x Rampart/Rampart
Matheson .308 Win Rem standard Pine Ridge 4-12 40mm Ruger/Ruger
Murphy .308 Win Rem Hart Leupold 4.5-14 40mm Leupold/Leupold
Undisclosed -- -- -- -- --
Mitchell .308 Win Rem Clerke Leupold 8.5-25 50mm Leupold/Leupold

Note the range flag!  The wind put everyone's shooting skills to the test!Becky Bowen, a product representative from Bushnell (who helped sponsor the event), was on hand. Bushnell made several Bausch & Lomb spotting scopes and tripods available to everyone watching the event. Becky and members of her staff were on hand to answer everyone's questions and offer support for Hathcock 2. I was given personal, hands-on education in using the state-of-the-art Bushnell Holo-Sight as well as the new, compact Yardage-Pro 600. I also took the opportunity to ask Becky that she advise Bushnell that some of us would like to see a B&L Elite 4000 Tactical in 6-24 power, with mil-dots, with quarter-minute of angle clicks. Hint, hint, Bushnell! Are you reading this?

Carlos N. Hathcock II Just prior to Hathcock 2 commencing, I passed around a special greeting card that Mr. Bain and I selected for Carlos Hathcock. Rather than a "get well" card, we picked something that expressed the sentiment that "better days are ahead." Everyone who participated in Hathcock 2 signed the card, and Dave Lauck sent the card along with the proceeds from the event, which totaled $1650, to Carlos. (Several shooters, in the spirit of helping Carlos, contributed more than just the entrance fee.) Many law enforcement and military snipers -- in this country and around the world -- have benefited from the lessons learned and passed on by Carlos Norman Hathcock II. It was, then, our pleasure to do something in return for him.


Semper Fidelis, Gunny


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