Model 2020 Waypoint Takes on the NRL Hunter Match

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The bolt-action Model 2020 Waypoint from Springfield Armory has taken the hunting community by storm, with its combination of impressive features and .75 MOA accuracy guarantee. But how is it performing in the real world, in the hands of shooters and hunters?

Back in October, GunSpot had the chance to travel to Rulo, Nebraska and work with Brad Gannaway, the owner of Pro Outfitters to shoot a whitetail hunting video with the Springfield Model 2020 Waypoint. We took our Model 2020 Waypoint up to Nebraska equipped with the Bushnell Elite Tactical XRS II scope.

Using the Model 2020 Waypoint, the author competed in the first-ever NRL Hunter Match held in Nehawka, Nebraska.

After our coverage of the rifle and the Bushnell scope here on The Armory Life, Bushnell reached out to us and asked if we’d be interested in taking our Waypoint rifle and scope set-up to compete in a match that is the very first of its kind — the National Rifle League (NRL) Hunter Match.

First and Foremost

The first ever NRL Hunter Match was held in February 2021, and we were invited to shoot the match. So, Grant and I loaded up our gear and set out to Nehawka, Nebraska, to shoot the inaugural NRL Hunter Match.

If you have never heard of the NRL, it is an organization that puts on distance rifle shooting competitions to attract the best of the best. These matches are centered around distance shooting and test the skills of even the best shooters.

NRL Hunting Match 2021
The first NRL Hunter Match forced competitors to use all of their skills if they wanted to win.

NRL Hunter is a match designed to be different, though. NRL matches are easier to game than NRL Hunter, and that is by design. NRL Hunter is designed to attract hunters who want to become better shots, and for hunters who want a reason to use their hunting rifle during the off season.

The average hunter busts out their hunting rifle once a year for deer season, fires a couple of rounds to sight it in, and then, unless they shoot a deer, they are done until next year. This limits your ability as a shooter, and it limits your rifle.

Worth the Effort

GunSpot.com’s headquarters is in southwest Missouri, so for us to head to Nebraska was about a four-and-a-half-hour drive. The Midwest had just encountered a wintery blizzard vortex that left us with ice on the roads, 10″ of snow and temperatures as low as -18 degrees Fahrenheit. This isn’t exactly the most optimal shooting environment to be lying on the ground in the prone position. Nevertheless, we were committed to going and seeing exactly what the NRL Hunter match was all about.

NRL Hunter annual match
Stages were straightforward but challenging. Shooters had to deal with unknown ranges, winds, limited times and winter conditions.

NRL Hunter, from what I can tell, is unlike anything out there in the long distance competition world. The initial thought for the match came from the mind of well-known shooter Scott Saterlee. Scott has a military career that consists of service in special forces and is well known for his distance-shooting capabilities and knowledge. The designer of the Nehawka match is shooter Chaz Macrander.

Where It Counts

Every stage and every target is run blind. What I mean by that is you don’t know your distances,  and you are not allowed to glass the shooting area with your binocular before the timer starts. Every match has a holding area that is stationed 20 to 60 yards away from your shooting zone.

In the holding area, you must face the opposite direction of the shooting area, and the only information you are given is what targets you’re looking for and how many you are looking for.

NRL Hunting Match
Rebar posts at each stage helped the competitors locate and range targets.

The targets you are shooting are black steel targets that are shaped like popular Northern America wild game. The targets we shot were deer, antelope (pronghorn), coyote and bobcat. Here’s the kicker. Each of these targets are not the actual size of the animal, instead they are only roughly the size of the vitals for the animals they represent, which means our coyote and bobcat targets would be somewhere in the ballpark of about 4″ tall.

For NRL Hunter, targets can be anywhere from 100 to 1,000 yards and each stage can require as little as four shots to complete or as many as eight shots. In the NRL Hunter you are awarded more points for a first-round impact, because after all when you are hunting if you can take down the animal with a first-round shot, that’s quicker, cleaner and more ethical.

Hunter with binoculars
Time limits on each stage pressured the competitors to be methodical and expeditious in how they spotted, ranged and ultimately hit their targets.

In each stage you are only allowed to shoot two rounds on each target, then that target is considered a loss and you have to move onto the next one. You have to shoot the targets in sequential order, so in the stage you have to shoot targets one, two, three and then four. This might seem silly to you, but one of the range officers who is an outfitter told a story about a client who paid a pricey fee for an out of state tag, then on the hunt shot the wrong animal in the field. So instead of going home with a trophy animal, he ended up tagging for something just for eating.

The idea behind sequential order is to build your decision making and spotting skills. All of these rules are under the constraints of a four minute time limit that includes your run from the staging area. That way, the entire time you have this pressure that builds on you. Also, during the course of fire your RO is not allowed to give you any information on your misses.

In Practice

The competition in Nehawka consisted of 18 stages in total, and the day itself was a break from the cold. We were fortunate enough to have 25 degree temperatures and sunshine all day long. Battling the snow was still an issue, however. In bright conditions, like the sun reflecting off the snow, getting a reading from a laser rangefinder can prove to be quite difficult. Also, traipsing through 20″ of snow also kinda sucks, since your heart rate elevates and trying to calm it back down to get a range and an accurate shot is a real challenge.

Long range shooting competition
The Model 2020 Waypoint proved to be a worthy performer in this challenging match.

Conclusion

The NRL Hunter match is as much training as it is a game. It will truly challenge your hunting skills and your shooting skills. Chances are if you go try it you won’t place very high in the competition since there will be the regular competitors who shoot all year long.

But, the biggest value is just that. You get the chance to be put in situations that force you to learn and you get to talk with some of the best distance shooters in the nation. Plus, if that’s not enough for you, the prize table drawing is random so you could win a really nice prize! So, think about it and if you desire to be a better hunter, give the NRL Hunter series a look.

Special thanks go out to Springfield Armory and Bushnell for helping us have the opportunity to take on the NRL Hunter Match. We came away impressed with not only the gear, but also with the competition itself.

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