I’ve been fortunate enough to attend several world-class rifle training experiences, including all 3 levels of Gunwerks’ Long Range University, the Applied Ballistics seminar hosted by Bryan Litz, and a few other events. But when I heard that several of the shooters at the very pinnacle of the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) were teaming up to teach a class together, I started looking for dates that I could fit into my calendar. I was finally able to attend a JTAC Advanced Training back in September, and it was everything I hoped it would be and more!
If you haven’t heard about the JTAC class, let me first introduce you to the 5 instructors:
- Justin Watts: Justin is a long-time PRS competitor who comes from a military background. Justin has a few 1st place finishes at some of the biggest 2-day PRS competitions over the past 4 years. He places in the top 10 at virtually any match he shoots. Justin owns and operates Fouled Bore Precision, a long-range shooting complex about an hour southwest of Oklahoma City, where he is the match director for a few big PRS competitions each year.
- Tate Streater: One of the true OGs in this game, Tate has been a perennial top-20 shooter in the PRS since 2014 and is in the top 10 in lifetime PRS points! He was the 2019 National Rifle League (NRL) Season Champ and has won many national-level, two-day rifle matches. He also won the Steel Safari in 2016, 2017, and 2018, which is a unique match where it’s impossible to share wind calls, and you aren’t able to watch other competitors run a stage before you shoot. Every shooter must stand on their own strategy, and wind calls at the Steel Safari, and Tate clearly dominates in that scenario. Tate is also a veteran and well-respected PRS match director. He runs Impact Precision, which makes the rifle action that more pro shooters use than any other.
- Austin Orgain: Austin was the PRS Season Champion in 2020 and 2021 and the 2017 NRL Season Champion. He won the 2020 Armageddon Gear Cup (AG Cup), which is the annual rifle match with the biggest cash payout and consistently attracts the best talent. Austin has the highest total PRS points over the past 8 years. Over the past few months, Austin bought Hawk Hill Barrels, moved their barrel-making operation to Oklahoma, and renamed it Custom Rifle Barrels. He’s hoping to launch his new website this week.
- Clay Blackketter: Clay was the 2019 PRS Season Champion and has the 2nd most total PRS points over the past 5 years. He recently placed 2nd at the 2023 AG Cup, where he dominated day 1 & 2 but was edged out for the win on Day 3. Clay is a PRS pro-series match director and owns Clay’s Cartridge Company, which handloads the ammo most of these instructors use in matches (along with other top shooters and some military contracts). He clearly is a trusted expert in terms of loading some of the best precision rifle ammo.
- Austin Buschman: Buschman was the 2022 PRS Season Champion, and he also won the inaugural 2022 World Championship in France, hosted by the International Precision Rifle Federation (IPRF). In January 2023, Buschman became the first shooter in history to clean a two-day PRS match, which means out of 176 shots fired over two days, he didn’t miss a single target. Austin was a recent addition to the instructor lineup. In fact, the class I took in September was the first time he joined the group, but they do plan for him to be a mainstay through 2024.
There isn’t a group of instructors that come close to this strong of a resume! 4 of the past 5 golden bullet winners are teaching the class! They represent the overall PRS season champions from 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022! Plus, they said the 2023 PRS Champion, Kahl Harmon, was previously a student in a JTAC class!
In what other sport do you have the chance to learn from so many of the guys at the very top of the game? It’d be like taking passing lessons from Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, and Patrick Mahomes. Or getting private golf lessons where Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, and Rory McIlroy are all giving you personalized coaching and trying to help identify the weak spots in your game and help you improve.
1-on-1 lessons with any of these guys would be great, but all of them working together to help students was extremely unique and powerful. Each of these guys has very different personalities, which also makes the class engaging and fun – and provides a more balanced approach.
Austin Orgain sums it up well:
“What is nice is that you get to hear from a few different instructors on their approach. We may have the same views on some things, but our approach is also a little bit different on others. So, you can get four or five different opinions or options of what you might try – and they obviously all work. Then you can try them all out and decide what works best for you.”
“We don’t hold anything back and share anything we can. We don’t withhold any secrets. Students can ask us anything they can think of. I’m sure sometimes we probably get a little too deep into the weeds on certain topics and we have to rein ourselves in a little because you can start to see people’s eyes get glazed over. With all five of us and our combined knowledge and experience, we can get pretty in-depth but we try to make it make sense to the students and we try to use a pragmatic approach. We’ve seen a lot of people have success from the class. We’ve had several people come take the class and then won matches afterward.” – Austin Orgain
Where are these held?
Most classes are held in western Oklahoma, although they said they have occasionally traveled to train groups in other areas. The class I attended in September was held about 30 miles north of Elk City, OK. We used the same range where Clay’s Cartridge Classic PRS Pro-Series Match is held, which means there were dozens of different stage scenarios and props we could use – plus we could practice in the wind that was cutting through rolling hills as pro shooters helped us understand and visualize exactly what the wind was doing.
How big are the classes?
In September, our class only had 7 students, which was a smaller group than normal. Clay said that the ideal class size is probably around 20 students now that they have 5 instructors. They don’t like to have more than a 1 to 4 ratio for instructors to students, so they can provide a ton of personalized coaching at the range. Tate Streater was on a hunt in Alaska, which is part of why they asked Austin Buschman to join as an instructor for our class. He really added a lot and provided another perspective, so Buschman plans to continue as an instructor for upcoming classes.
Who are the students?
None of the students in our class were complete beginners to long-range shooting. I think most had shot at least one or two rifle matches. They’ve done some classes that were specifically geared towards new shooters, but these “JTAC Advanced Trainings” are geared towards intermediate to advanced shooters. They mentioned that they often have students who are more hunters than competitors, and while most of the content is geared towards competition, I’d say the majority is applicable to anywhere you need to make an accurate long-range shot in field conditions – which includes hunting.
How long are the classes and what do you do?
JTAC’s classes are typically two days (Saturday and Sunday) and run from 8 to around 5:30 on both days. I made a visual timeline so you guys can see at a glance how we invested our time:
What is covered in the classroom time?
We started in a literal classroom at a local school, although they’ve used a few different venues for other classes. They began by asking each student what they were hoping to get out of the class. The topics our particular class shared fell into these main categories: improving positional shooting, learning how to read the plate or spot impacts better, getting smoother and more efficient at transitioning between positions, and mental management. They’ve taught dozens of these classes over a few years, so they know what topics are most common and make those a part of each training, but they also tailor the content and their coaching at the range to whatever a student said they wanted help with most.
The classroom time was spent on a variety of topics, with each instructor taking the lead on presenting a specific topic, but the other instructors would add their thoughts. Students were also encouraged to stop and ask questions throughout the entire training. So, while it was thought-out and intentional content – it was also informal and conversational.
Here are some of the topics we hit on during the classroom time:
- Priorities when it comes to match gear and what they see as essential in terms of equipment
- How they zero their rifle, gather data, true their ballistics, and run a Kestrel (including a bunch of gotchas and hard-earned wisdom)
- Wind reading and how they calculate and write down their wind holds before a stage
- What most likely happened when someone says, “The wind screwed me on that stage” (Hint: It probably wasn’t the wind)
- Several things they watch for and process to know where their bullet impacted
- How they make shot corrections, including some VERY quick ways to center your next shot on the plate
- How they prepare for a match (getting their rifle ready, what they specifically practice leading up to it, etc.)
- What is going through their mind before, during, and immediately after a stage
Honestly, a lot of the content is similar to what I’ve been publishing recently in my “Top Shooter Spotlights” series – but they can go so much deeper in person. So if you have enjoyed that series, you’d love this class.
I took 12 full pages of notes during our classroom time alone! It was soooooo much practical and useful information. I’ve been shooting precision rifle matches since 2013. I’ve read a couple of shelves of books and attended a few trainings/conferences on long-range shooting – and they shared a lot of things that had never crossed my mind before. I feel like just in the classroom portion alone, I got my money’s worth out of the class. There were so many little nuggets that I wrote down that might help you earn 1 more hit during a match – and all of those little things add up!
Lunch Was Ridiculously Good
Before I get to the range time, I have to say that lunch was homemade by Clay Blackketter’s parents at their home – and it was ridiculously good. We had steaks one day at lunch and hamburgers the next day. It was not typical match lunches or even what you’d get at a nice restaurant – it was better than that. 5 stars!
Plus, lunch is an opportunity to sit around the table with the top pro shooters, get to know them, and have a conversation. I’ve learned that as you dive into any area, the deeper you go into it, the rarer it can become to have a really deep conversation with someone as excited about it as you are. So these kinds of conversations are always something I really enjoy.
What does the range time look like?
At the range, they divided us up into 2 groups based on experience and half of us went with Austin Orgain and Justin Watts to work on positional shooting, and the other half went with Clay Blackketter and Austin Buschman to work on prone shooting.
I honestly can’t capture everything they coached during the range sessions because the majority of it was personalized coaching to the individual. The instructors would begin by explaining how they would personally approach the example stage. Often, they might have a similar approach to some aspects, but often, one of the instructors might approach it a little differently than the other. Then, you’d have an opportunity to run the stage both ways and see what works best for you. They’d also carefully watch each student and give specific feedback on what they’re doing well or things they could improve. This was insanely valuable and something I hadn’t ever had to the same degree. You basically have an expert among experts watching you and giving you direct and personalized feedback on how to get more hits.
Here are just a few of the topics I know they hit on in different areas.
Positional Shooting Topics
- Planning out how you’re going to shoot a stage before the clock starts (picking which positions you will use, where you’ll put your bag/bipod, where you’ll rest your elbow, the order of positions, amount of time it’ll take to get in/out of each, etc.)
- Aspects of building a good position
- When and how they use “free recoil” (this was nuts and a huge epiphany moment for me)
- Executing a good trigger pull
- Spotting every impact
- Using a tripod as a rear support
Prone Shooting Topics
- How they approach a prone troop line stage
- Wind reading before a stage and during a stage (including mirage and up/down-drafts)
- Spotting every impact
- When and how they dial (including scenarios when they’d dial their wind)
- How to calculate your wind and shoot a stage with a really wide pan (meaning the targets are spread out very wide left-to-right, and your wind angle varies between them)
On Day 2, we spent the entire day at the range. We stayed in our smaller groups and would transition between the different instructors and run a variety of stages. I feel like they did a good job picking “mock stages” that tested or reinforced different skills and led to new coaching moments.
One of the things they did that really helped was after every shot, they asked the student, “Did you see where that bullet hit?” Making us say out loud where we think the bullet hit on every shot was a great exercise. It made us realize that sometimes we weren’t watching as closely as we should, and the immediate accountability really helped me focus. Occasionally, we thought we knew where it hit or where we spotted a missed, but we were completely wrong. The instructors were on glass watching every shot, so they knew exactly where it was, but they typically wouldn’t correct us if we called the wrong spot but would let us work through the rest of the stage so we could try to figure it out. But after the stage, we’d do a quick retro and talk through where the bullet actually hit compared to what we saw. For example, maybe we thought we saw the plate rock one way, but the bullet actually hit the other side, and the plate reacted so quickly that we completely missed that it rocked the other way first. They said in their experience, about 80% of shooters call that wrong 80% of the time. Or maybe the way the plate rocked looked funny, but it was because how the target wasn’t directly perpendicular to us but instead was bladed in one direction or another. Or if we missed, we might have thought we saw dust appear on the left side of the target, but in reality, our miss was just barely off the right edge, and the wind made the dust cloud appear to come from the left.
Live coaching in the moment for those kinds of nuances was incredibly helpful, and I’m not sure how else you would ever learn that stuff – except by doing it the hard way and sending tens of thousands of rounds downrange.
They even took videos of some of us as we executed a shot so that we could see exactly what we were doing. It turns out I would occasionally flinch because of the concussion from my muzzle brake. I wouldn’t do it every time, but maybe 1 out of 5 or 10 shots – and it was so subtle that I didn’t notice it. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even completely close my eyes, but it caused me to lose the target and then have to quickly refocus instead of staying locked on it through the entire shot process. That is part of why I didn’t seem to be able to see my impacts as well as other shooters. I bet I’ve fired several thousand rounds with that muzzle brake and never noticed that until at the range in the JTAC class. That was another one of those things that might help me pick up a handful of hits over the course of a two-day match. (And after swapping my muzzle brake to the ACE brake, that flinch went away.)
I took another pile of notes while we were at the range. If anything, I would say they share so many nuggets that if you don’t write them down and go back and re-read your notes later, you won’t get the full value of the class. In fact, lots of students take the class multiple times – and I plan to take it again, too. Today, I have a pile of things from the recent class that I’m trying to intentionally improve and practice, but at some point, I’ll have worked through all of those notes, and I’ll sign up for another class. The thing about the personalized coaching and instruction from several pro shooters is that you could do this a dozen times and still walk away with new insight and value each time. But, the hard part is to purposefully practice those things after the class so those things you learned become your new habit.
My last tip for anyone who is planning to attend is that you approach this class like you would a big match. You should come with your rifle zeroed and your ammo and dope all squared away so that you aren’t distracted or wasting time with any of that during the class. That will help you get the most value out of it.
How much does it cost?
The class I took was $1,000 per student, which includes lunch on both days. That might sound like a lot of money to some and not a lot to others. I can say that I got way more than $1,000 of value out of the class.
Think about this: Sometimes, we might upgrade our scope or chassis or cartridge for some marginal improvement. I’d say oftentimes, those things might only result in a few more hits over a two-day match. I personally believe the JTAC class will result in a bigger impact on my score than any of those things – maybe twice as much! If my goal is to hit more targets in competition, I can’t think of anything else I could have gotten the same return from for $1,000.
I also realize that most of this is my own personal opinion on the class – but, over the past few weeks, I’ve been surveying the top-ranked PRS shooters, and here is one question I asked: “If you had to name one thing that helped you the most in making the transition from finishing mid-pack to one of the top shooters in the country, what would that be?” Corey Voges has been a top 100 shooter since 2020 and has placed as high as 17th in overall season rankings, and here is his answer: “Taking a JTAC training class and applying it on purposeful practice sessions.”
2024 JTAC Training Class Dates
I asked the JTAC guys if they could share their 2024 dates because I knew some of my readers would find that helpful. So, they went ahead and lined out a few training dates throughout the year that you can register for now. They limit each class to a MAX of 20 students, so I’d encourage you to register sooner rather than later. I’d suspect that after this article, their 2024 classes might sell out.
Click on a date to view more information or to register:
Precision Rifle Blog on the JTAC Podcast
While I was at the JTAC training, they asked if I’d join them for an episode of their JTAC Precision Rifle Podcast. It was one of the most fun conversations I’ve had in a while! You can listen to that on pretty much any platform, but here’s a link to the episode on Apple Podcast:
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