Regina Milkovich – reigning top female in tactical precision rifle shooting. #1 Female in the PRS for 5+ years. Based in AZ. Spartan Precision Rifle Team/AZ LRPRS member.
I will load up some more details soon. In the meantime, for you early viewers, enjoy!
Find out more / connect with Regina
- Her website – https://aparallaxfreelife.net/
- Her Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/LHGina
- Profile page on the PRS Site – http://www.precisionrifleseries.com/shooters/profiles/view/id/211
Spartan Precision Rifles, Vortex Optics, Defiance Machine, Rifles Only, Voodoo Tactical, McMillian Group International, Hawk Hill Custom, Timney Triggers, Patriot Cases, Original SWAT Boots, Butch’s Reloading, and Sierra Bullets
00:02 Regina Milkovich: Don’t tell anybody this stuff.
00:10 RM: I’ve been shooting for seven years I guess now, almost seven years, since before the PRS was the PRS. I’ve been the top lady every year, even the two years that I didn’t qualify for the finale I was still the top female in the sport. I’m currently 15th overall, depending on how the GAP Grind goes this weekend, I may stay in 15th place. I might go down a little bit, I’m not sure. I’m hoping to stay in the top 20 though going into the finale, so that’s my best ranking so far. There’s almost 700 shooters in open and tactical divisions, or in open division, which is what I’m in.
00:47 RM: The sport’s sort of picked up speed the last five years or so since we got organized. Before that they had matches around the country, maybe five or six, it was usually the same 30 or 40 people, and that constituted a big match, having 40 people there. There were a couple in Texas, we had ours in Arizona since 2009, NorCal’s had theirs since 2008, I think. So we’ve had a few matches scattered around the country. This year I think there are about 30 matches, including one in Canada and one in South Africa, so every year there seem to be five or six more matches, new clubs popping up all over the place, a lot more interest in it. I get a lot more messages from people on my athlete page on Facebook, asking me questions about how to get started, what kind of gear they need, what caliber I think they should choose.[chuckle]
01:38 RM: “I can’t make that decision for you, bro.”[background conversation] [pause]
02:18 RM: I would say majority of the points are between 200 and 800 yards. The PRS skill stages are all predominately 400 yards or so. So I think there’s one that goes out to 600, or no, two… Whatever. Mostly that’s where the points are, 200 to 800. Some of the matches would go out to a mile. The club I shoot with in Arizona, we put on a match every year, a tactical precision rifle challenge that’s coming up in December. Our furthest target is 1,375 yards. So a lot of people shooting out that far, but nothing further than that, at our match anyway. Our match will probably give the squad a couple of minutes to check out the props, or whatever, make sure everybody knows where the targets are, get their DOPE written down and their game plan. And then when they’re up, the buzzer goes and they gotta build their position and do everything from there, under those time constraints.
03:13 RM: And then it becomes, “Do you try to beat the clock?” which we’ve seen people do, or, “Do you try to get your hits?” So, if you’re a newer shooter, those guys, for some reason, and I’m just as guilty, I did it too when I first started, you see somebody more experienced come through, and they’re just blazing away, hitting everything, and they finish well before the time’s up, they have 30 seconds to spare, they’re stopping and signing autographs, whatever. And then it’s your turn to go up, and you barely get through three targets and you’re like, “Man, how did they do that?” Practice, lots and lots of practice.
03:47 RM: So then your next match you’re like, “Oh, I’m gonna beat that clock.” And you beat the clock, you don’t get any hits. So yeah, slow down, get your hits, worry about the time later. There’s a couple at the Sniper’s Hide Cup, they had a few basically UKD stages. So you have to set up your gear, range everything, do everything on the clock, and I ran out of time on every one of those ones. Even the ones that I had seriously gamed, I looked at them and went, “Okay, well I know what that one, I can find that one, and that one looks to be about midway.” And I could hear the Mario Brothers music playing in the background, it was so bad.[pause]
04:38 RM: It’s like, “Man somebody’s gonna… They just need video and a sound track, it would be awesome.” But I think everybody has those stages, really, where it takes them a little bit too long messing with their stuff. And the more gear, I swear, after watching shooters running people through matches and stuff, the more gear somebody has, the higher the likelihood is that they will still be messing with their gear, rather than shooting. I think it depends on the Match Director. The Oklahoma guys, they can read wind like Rain Man, I don’t know how they do it. They shoot these itty-bitty teeny-tiny targets at great distances, but they’re much more comfortable shooting prone. Clubs like mine started off on a range that had a max distance of 700 yards. So everything we did to make it more challenging had to be up off your belly, so we’d shoot a little bit prone, but the majority of the stuff that we did was off of props, or positional, or whatever. So it kind of depends on the mindset of the club that’s running it, or the organization running it.
05:47 RM: In some cases, like CATM and CORE, the target sizes are plenty big, so if you miss it’s really a bad trigger pull. The positions aren’t that ridiculous, they have a lot of things that are based off of… This is true for pretty much all of the matches, that are based off of hunting scenarios, or something for military or law enforcement. So somebody read something somewhere, we started doing boat drills because of the Somali boat pirate thing. So we put an actual boat out there. Next year, we’ll make it motorized, and then after that we got a floating platform, and then everybody got floating platforms to simulate being on water. So a lot of that stuff comes from that.
06:28 RM: A few of the clubs have a real good foundation, their core members came from 3-Gun or something. So they incorporate a lot of those types of stages with fast-paced, quick target acquisition, in crazy positions that you have to give something up where you give up, “Which fundamental are you gonna slack off on in order to make a hit within the time constraints?” So I think that’s where a lot of it comes from. I know that we do have quite a few hunters. I think if the guys aren’t posting on Facebook about a match that they’re going to, they’re posting about a hunt that they’re going on. So I think it helps in that respect ’cause it helps them get quick shots at long distances. I would say that it’s probably 50/50 between square range matches and field matches. Because of where I come from, I’m a little bit more comfortable on the square range stuff, but I noticed this year, kind of breaking out of my little comfort zone and shooting a few more field matches, there’s not really any difference. A barricade’s a barricade’s a barricade, whether it’s a rock or an actual wooden structure, or a chair. A barricade’s a barricade. They’re all fun anyway.
07:44 RM: True lefties, I’m not sure; 30% of the people are cross-eye dominant, so a majority of those guys with rifle shooting shoot left-handed ’cause they’re left eye dominant and that’s really the only reason that they shoot left-handed guns. They fool me too ’cause I’m a true 100% lefty, everything, the eye, trigger finger, everything is left-handed, or backwards, as my husband says. So then I meet these fakers that are just left-eye dominant, and they go to write something right-handed and I’m like, “Oh! No! No, no, no! Take that back. Write with your left hand!” So more lefties than I would imagine, than I actually would see out in public, or on ranger shooting. Some of the first left-handed guns I got to play with belonged to right-handed people who shoot left-handed.
08:37 RM: Yeah, it was enough to convince me that all the people on the internet that told me I need to shoot a right-handed gun, because it would be so much faster being left-handed, yet they’re right-handed and shoot right-handed guns. Weird. So I didn’t put much stock in that after that, especially shoot a right-handed gun, left-handed on a positional stage, and that whole idea just goes right out of your head. Nope. Nope. I wanna be able to see where my impact is, not have to rebuild the position after each standing shot. So I’ll stick with my lefties.
09:13 RM: My brass ejects left then I know where my brass is, and that stuff’s like a dollar a piece. Nobody’s piles go over there. Or any stuff, it’s like one big mound. I don’t have to look through their stuff for mine, I know where mine went.
09:25 RM: No, they totally don’t. Everything’s normally righty-friendly. So the nice part about helping put on a match is that I get to design stages, so that areas that I do I tend to make a little bit more lefty-friendly. Or I actually look at them that way going, “Nah, that’s too easy for righty. Let’s change it up and give the lefties an advantage.” The Idaho match, they had a couple of stages that appeared to be extremely right-handed friendly, all the targets were just set up in a line that were perfect for them. And one of those, the lefties did way better than the right-handed shooters, I have no idea why, because everything about that stage looked like it would be great for a right-handed shooter, but all the lefties did good on it. So maybe we slid down and focused more, I don’t know. So I’ve seen that for sure.
10:20 RM: The Match Directors do tend to make things more for them. If they’re right-handed, then it’s gonna be easier for them to do than for a lefty. We actually have a guy out of Northern California, Joe Dukos, he builds out the palm swell on my stocks. I’ve tried chassis, I have a couple of PDC custom chassis also, and the pistol grip, I can’t quite get comfortable with it, my hand is too far back. So when I’m back, then I can’t get a 90 degree. And with the palm swell built up, I don’t think about it anymore. Before I did that, I would press really hard on my fingers to try to build it up, and my shots weren’t consistent. So we built it up about an inch and now my shots all go right where they’re supposed to.
11:10 RM: Started shooting with a 223 that had a one and 12 twist. It can only shoot 55 grain bullets, nobody could see my impacts and it pissed me off. So I switched to a 243. I burnt that barrel up relatively quickly, a little over 1,300 rounds, and a guy that used to work with my husband said, “Have you ever heard of 6XC? Now he’s a Palma and F-Class shooter so he knew David Tubb and knew about the cartridge, so they started talking about shoulder angle. And I said, “Well, I can shoot more, like a thousand rounds more through a barrel, that’ll save us money I’ll switch to that.” So switched over to that with the 115 DTACs. And then I didn’t think anybody was seeing my impacts anymore, it turns out I was probably missing so I switched to 6.5 Creedmoor for a year, and never could quite get as comfortable with it as I was with the 6XC.
12:01 RM: So I went back, shot Berger 105s for a while, and sat down and tried to figure out after the 2014 season, I think, sat down and tried to figure out what it was that had changed from 2012, when I was 20th in the nation, to 2014 when I was somewhere mid-pack. And one of those things was that I was shooting the DTACs before. So I switched back to them, and my score started going back up. So I find them to be very easy to load for. I just start with the same load data every single time, and it shoots in a nice little bug hole in load development. So I went back. I like it. I think it’s just because it’s intuitive now, so I know what my come ups are at distance, I know where I need to hold for wind, I don’t have to rely as much on a data program. I can kind of glance at it and go, “Oh, okay. That sounds right.” Rather than going, “Oh no, what was my wind call on that,” for every single shot.
13:05 RM: I think, it’s kind of gone back and forth a couple of times. It’s like a Kool-Aid conversation, really. I mean, somebody does really well with one caliber, everybody wants to go shoot it. Then they see somebody else does really well, so they all switch over to that caliber. So it’s gone from 6XC was big, and then it went to 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 X 47, 6 X 47, 6 Creedmoor, 6 Dasher. I mean, it just depends on who’s winning a match and with what caliber, then everybody runs off and goes and buys all the dyes and stuff without really thinking it. The guy that won with a 6 Dasher, or a 6 X 47, or a 6.5 X 47, probably put in a lot of time with a 223 or with a 308 or something, put a lot of time dry firing in. So it’s not necessarily that the caliber’s not the magic behind the match win, or behind doing well in the standings or anything, it’s the practice and the dry fire time.
14:12 RM: I think people get intimidated looking at the cost of the top guys in the PRS, looking at our rifles. Mine are somewhere in the range of $6,000 to $800 US. So they’re pricey. The production class, which is the one that, I love that division, I love the whole idea behind it, to take a stock factory rifle with a stock caliber, basically, 6.5, 243, 308, or maybe a 223 out of the box scope, and go shoot. So that’s most of our trainers are like that anyway, the top guys are shooting factory guns, it’s the trainer guns anyway. I love that division.
14:58 RM: And then the tactical division is another one that’s new this year, and that one is really more catering towards law enforcement and military, so they wanted those guys to be able to use their duty gear, so 308 and 223 only. And that one’s got… I think they’ve got about 50 people that have stats in that division so far this year.
15:17 RM: It’s an instant gratification society, time and effort have to be set aside to dry fire and to practice, and I’m 100% guilty of not doing it all the time. I’ve got a nice little list of what I need to do everyday, and yeah, I don’t do it everyday ’cause life happens, you get busy. But looking for some magic thing that’s gonna make people shoot better, there just isn’t really any substitute for it. You might get lucky, and luck sometimes is better than skill, but I wouldn’t depend on luck all the time. I use my actual competition rifle for dry fire practice, so I get used to the weight and the feel, that I know where I need to put my face on the cheek piece, I know what the trigger pull is like, everything stays the same and consistent. I take my 223 out if I’m working on positional stuff because I still kind of suck at a couple of the… Standing and kneeling are my nemesis, so those ones I practice a lot. I dry fire a bunch, and then live fire a little bit and see if I can hit an ever shrinking target size, at about 325 yards.
16:22 RM: And right before a match… Well, I don’t have a 308 right now, I’m waiting on a barrel, but I would switch to a 308 and shoot a 308 for about a month beforehand. So I’m used to the recoil from the 308, and go back to my 6XC and there’s no recoil then, it feels like shooting my 223. So it’s real easy to stay on target then. If work gets in the way, then it’s dry fire in the backyard on a quarter inch dot. I live in a subdivision so the houses are real close together. Try not to freak out the neighbors, but work off of a patio chair shooting across the yard at a dot on the wall.
16:57 RM: My husband worked at Dylan Precision for 13 years or so, so he already had all of the reloading equipment, and he was reloading. So when I said, “This is what I wanna do, I wanna shoot this stuff.” He said, “Yeah, I don’t have time to reload your ammo, and we can’t afford to buy you factory stuff. So here’s how you do it and off you go.” So he taught me. He still has to remind me sometimes on how to do some stuff; every time I have to change something on one of my dyes. I don’t know if it’s being left-handed or being slightly spacey sometimes, I tend to turn things the wrong way. It’s a self-correcting behavior, but I turn it the wrong way and I’m like, “Crap! Tim, I broke something again.” Okay, well I have a reputation for reloading the last minute, the night before a match. Apparently, a lot of people know about that, so I get teased about it quite a bit.[chuckle]
17:56 RM: So because of all these issues I’ve been having with my reloading equipment this year and my breaking it, I’ve started reloading a little bit earlier. So this weekend, that’s what I’m doing, is reloading for the Lone Survivor match next weekend. Just in case I break something, I have time to fix it. I used to really like it. I used to think it was almost meditation, brass-prep. So much fun running everything through, it was all new. It’s kind of lost some of that sheen now. I’m looking at 400 pieces of brass, “Aw, man.”
18:34 RM: It’s a Progressive that we run as a single-stage. So a 550, just run it through one stage at a time. I don’t do everything all at once, so I don’t prime everything and then load everything. I do it together so I’ll size and de-prime and then throw it back in the tumbler, and clean out the primer pockets. We sometimes trim it. We’ve got a drawer of trimmer, so I’ll do that a bit every third firing and then seed the primer, get the charge on the RCBS ChargeMaster, dump it in there, seed the bullet and off I go. So I run it like that, just one at a time but not as a traditional Progressive, I guess.
19:15 RM: I used to use a Progressive for 223, but it wasn’t the stick powder. And the stick powder is why we use the RCBS instead of running a powder dump on a Progressive. Some of the guys, we’ve got a couple of guys in our club here that will get their initial charge on a ChargeMaster, or use the dump and then trickle. They’ve got these crazy scales that remind me of drug dealers that they trickle that last a little bit on there so they’re down to a super-small error percentage, I guess, on the reloading. I have not tried that, I can’t talk Tim into spending the money on one of those scales so I said, “No, we shoot good enough without it. We don’t need it.”
20:03 RM: I know a lot of the top guys in the sport so I’ve talked to a lot of them, and they just go into it with a completely different mindset. If you hear them on a stage, for example, a stage that is challenging and they miss a couple, they’re not usually beating themselves up over the one or two shots that they missed, they’re thinking about their successes. So, “Oh man, I made a great wind call on that shot.” Or, “I had a good trigger press on that one.” “Hey, when you go shoot this, you might wanna use this position on the barricade ’cause it worked well for me.” That kind of stuff. Where the guys that aren’t doing so well focus on the negative, so they’re talking about how they blew that shot, their trigger-press sucked, or they don’t know why they missed. But they focus on that and then they take that attitude into the next stage, and screw something else up, and then go to the next stage with now two things that they can’t get out of their little loop in their head. So they’re still replaying that, making it much more likely that they’re gonna repeat all those negative behaviors, rather than the positive.
21:11 RM: I started just paying attention. I was horribly guilty of focusing on those one or two bad shots rather than thinking about the good ones. My friend Marcus, Marcus Blanchard, at the beginning of the year, actually I think the finale last year, we talked about how we wanted to do well this season. Both of us did. And he said, “You know, I really wanna win a match.” And I said, “I do too. That’d be awesome. We should push each other to try to do that.” So we both sort of egged each other on and helped each other mindset-wise. So, “Well, what did you do good on that match? What did you do good at that match?” When we caught each other saying something negative, stop. Say, “No, no, no, no, no. But what did you do good?” I think that helped and we actually won our matches two weeks apart. So then we’re like, “Man, it’s April. What are you gonna do for the rest of the season?” Or, “I think we have to come up with another goal.”
21:58 RM: Melissa Gilliland and I have been friends for a while, since pretty much… So I think since she started really getting into the sport. And she and I started trading notes about Lanny Bassham. And I’d heard of him before and had bought ‘With Winning In Mind’ a long time ago, and kind of looked at it but didn’t really read it. And then my friend, Lindy Sisk, had given me a few other books to read that also had to do with mental mindset. And I knew from doing other things that almost everything that you do is 90% to 95% mental. So sports are no different. So I finally picked up ‘With Winning In Mind’ and read it. I read the book and then I read it again, and then I read it again and I started writing and doing the exercises that he says to do in the book. And that’s it, that’s really all I did.
22:50 RM: Yep, coming up with an action statement, writing out goals and not have goal as in a wish but a goal with an end in mind, figuring out what I wanted to do, what I needed to do to get there and then how to get there. I credit a lot of that with the second place at the Brawl in February and with winning the match at NorCal.
23:10 RM: When you have downtime or something, you start thinking about the things that you suck at. So, nobody likes to practice those. We all like the feel-good, pat on the back, practice stuff that you’re great at. For me, that just solidifies how much is between your ears. So if I can sit there and think about, “If you’re on this one type of barricade, I have a hard time setting up quickly, so let’s think of ways to do that where it’s quick, where I know exactly where I’m gonna place whatever size bag I’m gonna use and I know which way I need to approach the obstacle. Do I use a sling? Do I not use a sling? Which way feels better? What am I seeing through the scope? Am I gonna dial? Am I gonna hold over? Thinking through all those things and visualising them before I do them helps when I actually go to the range and have a chance to practice it.
24:00 RM: There’s a lot that people miss on that mental side and really thinking through what they’re doing prior to doing it. You go into something blind, something you didn’t prepare for and if I know I’m going to a field match, then I know I need to start thinking about, “What am I gonna look for, for wind calls? Am I looking at brush? Am I looking at trees? Am I gonna be able to see mirage? What if it’s overcast?” So what if’ing stuff to come up with a game plan ahead of time. I think people miss out on that and just go into you know, “Oh, look at that. Look at that prop. I’m not prepared.”
24:36 RM: There’ve been plenty of times, so even recently, that I’m like, “Oh, crap! What am I supposed to do next? What’s my DOPE?” And I’m thinking that instead and then trying not to show panic. But there have been a few that it just felt really smooth, like I knew exactly what I was gonna do, how I was gonna do it, everything felt right, I didn’t run out of time. Half the time lately I’m kind of surprised when I hit stuff ’cause I’m thinking, “What if I’m gonna… No, no, no don’t think ‘what if’. Don’t think what if you miss, think what if you hit,” and then I’ll hit it and I’m like, “Oh! Did you guys see that? I made that, that was an awesome wind call.” And then I just stop congratulating myself and keep shooting.
25:18 RM: Especially if I’m on deck then it’s, “The deck can wait, the socialising part can wait.” And I’ve told people as an RO, “Hey, man, they’re next up, give ’em a break. Quit asking ’em questions, let ’em focus.” I think you put yourself at a big disadvantage if you… It’s still a competition. It’s great that it’s a social event, as it should be, and that people should be talking and comparing notes and say, “What did you use for wind on that?” But talk after and don’t talk to somebody when they’re on deck or in the hole. Give them a chance to get their DOPE written down, get their mags loaded, whatever. And then ask ’em questions when they’re done shooting.”
25:58 RM: With the sport gaining so much interest, people have been reaching out a lot more and we get these guys that show up to the club matches who maybe aren’t as prepared as they could be for a competition. “Nope, I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m in over my head. Help me.” So I’ve been trying to do that a little bit, and there’s just nothing like seeing somebody who has never shot past say 200 or 300 yards hit something at 800 and then at 900 and then 1000 and then 1300 yards. Their smile just gets bigger and bigger and they start looking like the Cheshire cat. So I live for that. I love that so much, seeing people be so happy about making the right wind call and having the right trigger press, working on getting their fundamentals down prior to, ’cause that’s the big area that I see people have issues with like, “Well, I know why you’re not hitting anything. You can’t see where you’re impacting at ’cause you’re sideways to your gun.” All the things that people took time to teach me, so it kind of feels like my way of giving back.