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Assassin’s Way: Leveling Up Precision Rifle Competition

If a match called Assassin's Way intimidates you… well, it should. With the rapid growth of the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) and the National Rifle League (NRL), most of us are well-acquainted with the standard precision rifle match format, but this is not that. Jacob Bynum, owner and lead instructor at the renowned Rifles Only training center, is bringing a new match to town and it's like nothing you've ever seen. Tired of seeing what he loved whittled down to shooting and reliance on way too much gear, Bynum set out to create what just might be the most epic match in precision rifle history.

What's so different about Assassin's Way?

For starters, this match is more than three weeks long, 23 consecutive days to be exact, spanning from September 1-23, 2021. It covers seven different locations, in multiple states such as Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, and Oklahoma. Think of it like tackling your entire match season all in one month, but that's not all.

This is a high-risk, high-reward scenario. Entry fees for Assassin's Way total $25,000, and this doesn't include transportation, lodging, or food during the match. But the reward? A winner takes all top prize of $500,000. That's right…half a million dollars.

So, you're a pretty good shooter? That's great, but it's not enough. Assassin's Way was designed to be a test of shooting skills along with fieldcraft skills like land navigation, target detection, range estimation, and keep-in-memory (KIM) games. And here's the real kicker– you'll be doing it without a ballistic calculator, rangefinder, or GPS. This match was designed specifically to test all of these skills sans electronics and in a variety of scenarios and locations.

Last week, we caught up with Jacob Bynum and dove into the who, what, when, where, and why of Assassin's Way.

Q&A With Jacob Bynum

What inspired you to create Assassin's Way?

Jacob Bynum: I was inspired to design this match because I felt like fieldcraft skills were not truly being tested by the current competitive series that are out there. I mean, it's being tested, but not being tested in different parts of the nation or different parts of the world like deserts, mountains, flatlands, prairie lands, you know. I wanted to make sure that we could really test a person's abilities by essentially dropping them in the middle of nowhere with the skills that they have and seeing how well they could accomplish these tasks, no matter where they are.

Aside from shooting, what other skill sets will be necessary for Assassin's Way?

JB: First of all, it's marksmanship, obviously, and then we're going to have land navigation, range estimation, target detection, situational awareness, and KIMs games.

Can you explain what keep-in-memory (KIM) games are for someone that may not be familiar with that term?

JB: A KIMs game is basically a mind game to help you remember what you've seen or remember what you've heard. Whenever we used to just do KIMs games back in the late 90s and early 2000s, we would pick a table and we would put ten items on that table. It didn't matter what they were, it could be a spoon, a lighter, a pin from a hand grenade, or it could be a pack of gum. We would put six people on either side of the table and all of the items were covered. Then, we would uncover these items and leave them uncovered for 60 seconds and then cover them back up. And so you would have to go in and write down everything that you saw.

The more detail that you put into it, the better. So, you use all those little mind tricks, like you can start stacking that stuff in your brain, so that you'll be able to recall it later. The only difference is, the KIMs games for the match are going to be wildly, wildly more complex than that.

How are each of the skill sets weighted in the shooter's overall score at the match?

JB: They'll be weighted as evenly as we can possibly get them. So, the best shooter is not necessarily going to win this match.

What if someone wants to shoot Assassin's Way, but they're only experienced in shooting? Where can they learn the other skills?

JB: Ok, the first opportunity is going to be a fieldcraft course that we're doing in Colorado in the third week of June. Then, throughout the year, we'll be conducting clinics on other parts of it, you know, the KIMs games, the range estimation, and the land nav. We'll be doing those at Rifles Only. Additionally, Caylen Wojcik and Frank Galli will also be doing clinics to support Assassin's Way throughout the next year.

Why do you feel that the non-shooting skill sets are important?

JB: Because these are all skills that can apply to either a hunter that goes out on backpacking and hunting trips or to other scenarios in life. What if you go out there and your GPS fails, or you lose your batteries or whatever? Also, these skills are very familiar with any military-trained sniper around the world. The competitions that we have now are just shooting competitions, so, they're just cherry-picking the glamourous part of it.

There is a big focus on not using electronics for Assassin's Way. Why do you feel it is important to take electronics out of the equation?

JB: Because electronics are just a tool. If you get stuck somewhere and you're out long enough, pretty much any bit of electronics you have is going to run out of batteries. But the thing about it is, people have been doing land [navigation] without a GPS for centuries and the same goes for rangefinding. There is a way to mathematically range-find and it's simple. If you take the size of the target in inches times 27. 77, then divide it by the size of the target in mils, then you have the range to your target in yards. Don't get me wrong, modern technology is great, but these skills are absolutely doable without relying on the gadgets.

Why are events in the Assassin's Way match spread out around the country?

JB: I want to test these skills in different weather conditions, terrain conditions, and regional conditions. Because the reality is, if I wanted to, I could do all of these skill sets right here at Rifles Only, or I could go to Arena Training Facility and do all of the skill sets there. Doing it all at one facility would be easy. But by doing it that way, it would also be easy to familiarize yourself with the facility and gain that edge. By spreading it out, and not giving out the exact locations right away, this is just another way to level the playing field. I guarantee that none of the shooters will be familiar with every location that we use for this match.

You've been involved in precision rifle competition for a long time. How has it evolved from its roots?

JB: Technology or gear limitations really wouldn't allow [hits] in the past, so all of that is really good. What I don't like about it is the gamers. Those are shooters who try to cheat by manipulating stage design or using a lot of extra gear. We got away from field skills. We used to do range estimations, we would do target detection, and stalking, but we got away from it. That's why we are taking it back to the basics.

Tools for the Long-Range Game:

For more information or to register for the match, head over to Assassin's Way.

For ongoing coverage of Assassin's Way, keep an eye on RECOILweb.com.


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