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InRangeTV Woodland & Midnight Brutality 2024: 30-Hours In Green, Wet, and Wild West Virginia



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There are a lot of shooting competitions in this nation and around the world. Many of them are okay, some of them are great, but there are a rare few that stand above the rest and are truly exemplary. InRangeTV Woodland and Midnight Brutality are two such events.

If you want to push yourself and your gear as hard as you can, see what it is like to shoot difficult courses of fire with the odds not really in your favor, and see what the weakest link of your gear is — Brutality is a must-shoot event.

My day started at 4:30 AM PST Thursday. A 5-hour flight to West Virginia and an argument with Hertz rental cars later and I was shooting Midnight Brutality Staff Night at 9 PM EST. We didn’t stop until 2 AM EST Friday.

3 hours of sleep, hotel breakfast, and the first shots of Woodland Brutality Staff Day rang out at about 10 AM EST Friday.

7 stages later, my last shot was at 6:10 EST that evening. Fast drive into town for some chicken, and it was back at it for the first shots of my second round of Midnight Brutality at 9:03 PM EST. 1.5-inches of rain and 4 stages later, by 2 AM Saturday morning, I have never been more thoroughly exhausted in my life.

It was the highlight of my year.

BIG PICTURE

While I’m not much of a quotes guy, there are two that have stuck with me when it comes to formulating my views on training. Roughly put, “Train in bloody practice, fight bloodless battles”. I heard it from a Marine, but lore tells us this was a Roman Legenary phrase. 

The second, most commonly ascribed to Massad Ayoob, is “A shooting competition isn't a gunfight. But every gunfight IS a shooting competition.”

Keep these two truths in mind and you will quickly see the incredible value in events like InRangeTV’s Woodland and Midnight Brutality. 

Woodland Brutality is a physically demanding day match ranging from 10 yards to 400 yards and using a mix of pistol and rifle. Held in the rolling hills of West Virginia, the landscape is green, beautiful, moist, and immersive. 

Midnight Brutality is held at the same range, but in the dark, and with very different courses of fire. First shots at about 9 PM and last shots at 2 AM, it’s dark dark the entire time. While we had a half moon, when the moon was out, the reality for the second night was effectively zero moon/starlight due to thunderclouds.

Held back-to-back it’s entirely possible for shooters to shoot the day match and then the night match right after. In fact, I would say this is the recommended way to experience Brutality. 

Divisions for both matches are radically different from other matches but mostly consistent within the Brutality family. Woodland had American Standard, Armored +P, Dead Eye, Iron Sights, Kalashnikov, Partizan, Roaring 20s, and Outlaw.

Iron Sights and Kalashnikov are pretty self-explanatory, American Standard was red dot or 1.5x optic only 5.56 rifle, iron sight pistol. No bipods, mags over 17 rounds for pistol or 30 rounds for rifle.

Dead Eye and Roaring 20s are historical divisions with Dead Eye being pre-1897 and Roaring 20s being pre-1929. Both are awesome and I highly recommend trying. I shot Dead Eye at CQB Brutality 2024 in St. George, Utah.

Armored +P requires rifle-rated plates, bump or ballistic helmet, and has additional minimum requirements like 4 loaded rifle mags, 2 loaded pistol mags, IFAK, knife, water, and repair tools carried on your body during every course of fire. Upside, there is basically no restriction on equipment like optics, mag size, bipod, etc.

Partizan is similar to Armored +P with additional equipment requirements like IFAK, mags, etc, but forgoes the armor and uses a point system to limit what equipment you can use on the rifle and pistol. This gives the shooter the ability to choose what matters most to them and plan their gear accordingly.

Midnight is more simplified with just Infantry, Light Fighter, and Night Fighter. Infantry is night vision + active aiming systems like IR or vis lasers, Night Fighter is purely passive aiming with night vision, and Lighter Fighter is white light and vis lasers. No restrictions on mag size, bipods, armor, equipment, or anything else. 

Outlaw for both matches is simply any set of gear that doesn’t fall into any of the above divisions. A truly “open” division or a purgatory for people who failed to meet requirements.

GEAR AND WEAPONS

Brutality is already a much harder-than-average style of match, but with the fact that the plan was to shoot 3 matches inside about 30 hours and there was a lot of gear overlap between each division, it was dialed up to 11.

Because this match took place far from home and normal avenues for equipment weren’t an option (no 3-Gun style cart with a cooler and chair), this became part Brutality match and part endurance test. 

Limited sleep, limited equipment, limited gear, and lots of physical activity between them all. My goal was to have everything I needed and absolutely nothing I didn’t.

Weapons

The rifle was a self-built AR using a Leapers UTG Pro ambi lower, Radian Weapons BCG and charging handle, Lead & Steel Monobloc barrel and handguard, Strike Industries stacked grip and cable system, Cloud Defensive REIN 3.0 WML, DBAL-A2, AAC Ranger 5 suppressor, KE Arms SLT Gen 2 trigger and SIG Sauer Romeo 4T with a Juliet 4 magnifier. 

The Juliet was on a random Amazon riser, but the Romeo 4T used the Strike Industries adjustable riser.

And my favorite sling, the 5.11 VTAC.

Pistol was a Shadow Systems XR920P with a Bushnell RXM-300 red dot and SureFire X300 weapon light.

On Body

Up top was the Team Wendy bump helmet w/ Agilite cover and Stream Light Sidewinder Stalk. During Midnight I had the Sionyx OPSIN as my digital night vision or a GoPro Hero 9 for the white light run. Woodland also had the GoPro.

In the middle was the Agilite K-Zero plate carrier with RMA IV plates, an Agilite magazine placard, and Real Avid multitool.

On my back hooked into the carrier was a 5.11 Convertible Hydration Carrier without the hydro pack. This carried items that were required to be on my body during Woodland Brutality but that I didn’t really need to access unless shit went sidewise. The required 1L water, and extra parts like a spare BCG. This water was to check a box and have it on my body. Water for actual hydration was carried in my backpack that didn’t need to be carried during the COF.

My belt was a G-Code outer with a Blue Alpha inner velcro. I also used a G-Code single pistol holster plus a High Speed Gear rifle+pistol holster, Blackhawk Omnivore holster, Palmetto State Armory Kronos knife, IFAK, and 5.11 dump pouch.

Magazines were TORKMAG 20-round mags for the Shadow Systems and Mission First Tactical AR mags.

Moving between stages I used a 5.11 RUSH 12 2.0 backpack to carry ammo, food, water I actually drank, etc.

Everything worked perfectly. I had zero failures or breakages on anything and I’m pretty impressed by that. Agilite K-Zero was very comfy and is my favorite carrier so far. 

The 5.11 pack was the perfect size for holding what I needed for ~10 hours at a time worth of shooting and surviving. Not too big, not too small, and didn't wear me down when worn over my carrier. I generally had 4 snacks, ~300 rounds of 5.56, ~100 rounds of 9mm, 4L of water, at least 4 hydration packets, plus some supplies like a rain poncho, extra batteries for the GoPro/all my lights and optics, etc. Perfect bag for this.

Under it all were the 5.11 Stryke pants that I practically live in these days and the new V-XI XTU Rapid Long Sleeve Shirt. I’ve been using this shirt for matches for the past couple of months and from the heat of the Arizona desert to the jungle wet of raining West Virginia, this shirt is amazing. Full credit to the shirt for keeping me cooler and dryer than I thought was possible. 

Ammo

TrueShot was kind enough to sponsor rifle ammo and sent me a pile of GGG 55gr 5.56 NATO. Before this, I had never heard of GGG, but my guy at TrueShot swore it was good stuff so I took a leap.

Highly impressed. GGG is Giraites Ginkluotes Gamykla, a Lithuania state-owned company, and the ammo was awesome. Very consistent, good pressure, and perfect function. 

Pistol ammo was mostly Sellier & Bellot 124gr 9mm, but I also used a couple of boxes of Igman 124gr 9mm that a fellow shooter and VP at Lead & Steel traded me when I ran black on the S&B. Thanks bro!

WOODLAND BRUTALITY

7 stages with 1 stage being force-on-force using blanks and MILES suits, plus 6 stages of real shooting.

Stage 1 was the force-on-force using the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES) and was run under supervision by staff at One Shepherd. If you’ve never used MILES, it’s basically laser tag with blanks. Real AR-15, real-ish ammo that goes bang but with no bullet so no one dies. 

My GoPro didn't capture for this stage, image courtesy of Russell Phagan

Laser sensing vest on your body, laser emitter on the end of the rifle. “Shoot” someone and the lasers talk to each other to tell you that you’ve died and turn off your weapon.

While all of Brutality dances a line between training and competition, this stage was pure training. Interesting, eye-opening, and just really cool because you don’t often get a chance to use MILES. 

The next six stages were a mix of close range and long range out to 400 yards, a lot of running, some mid-tier obstacles, spinners, and pop culture. From Helldivers to Brecourt Manor the stages felt different, interesting, and challenging on every level.

Highlights for me were Stage 3: War Never Changes, Stage 5: Brecourt Manor, and Stage 7: Tunnel Rats.

Stage 3: War Never Changes

Like the stage description said, 1815, 1915, or 2024 — war never changes. Run the trench. 

Running an L-shaped trench and engaging targets in the woods and carrying your ammo in an ammo can was a fairly straightforward but highly enjoyable stage. Finding the targets wasn’t easy in the dense West Virginia woods, and navigating port holes is never simple.

Fast, immersive, and a nice blaster stage without feeling like you’re dumping rounds for no reason. 

Stage 5: Brecourt Manor

If you’ve ever seen Band Of Bothers, the Brecourt Manor assault was Easy Company’s fight with the German artillery right after their jump on D-Day.

This stage was in that same spirit with a lot of running in an open field followed by shots at 100, 200, 300, and 400 yards.

While nothing crazy happened at this stage, getting to shoot 400 yards with an AR is always a good time and a nice test of what you can do with your rifle. For me, the Romeo-4T Pro and a magnifier worked really well in part because of the hold-over dots in the Romeo. Getting my hits at different ranges was fairly easy and quick because of it.

Stage 7: Tunnel Rats

A pistol primary stage, this was all short range but fun. “Tripwires” and “tunnels” were made from 1×2” sticks. Knocking over sticks would earn you a painful penalty of 60 seconds per stick, max 7. 

Fitting in tight spaces when you have armor and a helmet on is never easy and I actually expected this to be one of my worst stages.

Instead, being careful around the sticks and managing pretty solid pistol shooting on a Texas Star and spinner target, I got a divisional stage win for Staff Day and 7th in Armored +P overall.

MIDNIGHT BRUTALITY

I loved this match because it was at night and night shooting is something that’s fairly hard to find. For me, this was entirely about the learning experience and not about trying to beat other shooters.

The stages were pretty awesome, the best visually being Stage 3: If It Bleeds. Glowing Preditor blood was a cherry on top prop.

Shooting in the trench was similar to the Woodland version during the day, but different enough to make it feel new. Plus, doing it in the dark made it a lot harder.

While technically a competition, my piece of advice for you would be to view Midnight Brutality more like a timed training event than a true competition. While I don’t entirely believe in fairness when it comes to competition shooting in that being “fair” shouldn’t trump everything, the environmental conditions and complexity of shooting at night make it extremely hard for it to be even moderately fair. 

Example: my first night was shooting in Light Fighter meaning I used white light. Stage 3 was the pistol stage where I had the Shadow Systems XR920P and a handheld SIG Foxtrot EDC compact plus Surefire X300 WML.

I killed that stage pulling 5th overall and 1st in Light Fighter for the staff day and 3rd overall/3rd Light Fighter if you combine the public scores as well (while the other 3 stages got major redesigns between staff night and public, this stage didn’t change).

Stage 4 I did pretty solid on as well, 2nd Light Fighter and 4th overall.

Stage 1 was my last stage of the night, so about 1:40 AM. I also shot late in the squad. From the first shooter to me there was a pretty sharp drop in temp and I would estimate at least a 15-degree drop from when I shot the previous stage a little over an hour beforehand to this one.

Result? Oh, it was bad. 3rd to last overall, dead last Light Fighter. Why? Smoke. Before, the smoke was there but manageable. With the temp drop, the smoke was consuming, thick, and impenetrable. I couldn’t see a damn thing. 

So. Much. Smoke.

For a training experience, that is very valuable. For competition, I just have to accept that life isn’t fair and sometimes an angel pisses in the flintlock of your musket.

History would repeat itself, but in reverse and for different reasons, the next night for me. Again, mostly due to environmental conditions like moonlight and temperature. 

Midnight Brutality was a huge learning experience and a massive lesson in a lot of things. Shooting at night isn’t easy. It’s a lot of fun, harder, and complex. 

A complete breakdown of Whitelight Vs. NODs and a deeper look at what can go wrong is going to come soon, so stay on the lookout for that article.

Bottom line: There is no teacher like experience. I learned more about night shooting in these two nights than I did in the last 6 months of research and preparing for the match. 

The fact that this was some of the most fun I’ve ever had shooting was a bonus. 

LOOSE ROUNDS

InRangeTV Woodland Brutality was without a doubt one of the best matches I’ve ever shot. Stages were great, people were awesome, and West Virginia was a treat to experience. I would absolutely shoot this again and again.

Midnight Brutality for me was in the top three best training experiences. I learned a ton of invaluable lessons that I really couldn’t have gotten elsewhere. Nothing drives home information like getting out there and doing it. 

As a competition, I didn’t perform nearly as well as I would have liked for the most part, but a not insignificant element to that is that environmental factors sometimes aren’t on your side and at night they are magnified. 

If you’re good enough at shooting at night that you can treat Midnight Brutality like a true competition, then I commend your skill — and to be clear, there were shooters like that at Midnight. But for the rest of us, I think viewing at least your first year of Midnight as a training event helps keep things in perspective. 

Even with the rain, the mud, and the exhaustion, Midnight was absolutely magnificent.  

If you're interested in shooting a Brutality match, take a look at the website for the dates of upcoming matches. They recently added Moonshine Brutality, a CQB match held at Echo Valley Training Center in WV where I shot Woodland and Midnight.

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