Firearms competitions are addicting. When I started shooting Steel Challenge about 12 years ago, I never thought I’d wind up where I am today in the firearms competition world. I’m not good by any means but I didn’t think I’d find myself trying almost any and every firearms-related competition that I could make it to. My latest venture found me attending InRangeTV’s Woodland Brutality 2022. What is Woodland Brutality? It is essentially a Two-Gun Action Challenge match that is located in a wooded area of the country, specifically the hills of West Virginia in the case of the 2022 and quite possibly the 2023 match. According to the original creators of the event, these Brutality matches are highly focused on providing a challenging and fun shooting event that is weighted heavily towards more moving and less spraying bullets at paper targets. Today I’ll give you guys a brief overview of each stage from Woodland Brutality 2022 as well as some of my thoughts about the event and what I think it offers those who might want to participate in a firearms competition but just haven’t bit the bullet yet.
InRangeTV @ TFB:
An Overview and Review of InRangeTV’s Woodland Brutality 2022
Firearms competitions are normally pretty intimidating and structured in such a way that you’re classified based on your selection of gear, and then your overall performance. In the case of USPSA, IDPA, and Three Gun competitions, this means that you’re further subdivided into classes based on your accuracy, and speed. Brutality matches like Woodland Brutality 2022 only divide competitors into different categories based on the equipment they plan to use.
As a brief example, equipment division rules are now quite simple and allow competitors to pick something they’re comfortable with including period-based divisions like the Cold War division which only allowed gear and firearms that were available during that time period. The much simpler Partizan division uses a points-based system that requires competitors to pick and choose the equipment they’ll be using on their firearms for a balanced loadout or perhaps even playing to the competitor’s strong suits. The particular division that I opted into was called “Armored +P” and this basically required that I carry all of my ammunition, spare parts, food, water, and firearms on me through each course of fire and also required that I have a knife, armor that met specific requirements, and a helmet.
Post-Woodland Brutality 2022 rules have been simplified for the sake of each stage’s range officer and now only include the following core divisions:
- Manual Division: Any manually operated rifle featuring an integral magazine paired with a handgun with iron sights and 10-round magazines or less.
- Battle Rifle Irons Divison: 7.62x51mm or .308 Win Rifle with 20-round magazines or less, paired with a handgun with iron sights and 10-round magazines or less
- Assault rifle Irons Division: Intermediate Cartridge rifles (5.56, 5.45, etc) with 30-round magazines or less paired with a pistol featuring 15-round magazines or less (iron sights only)
- Partizan: The previously mentioned division that uses a points system based on the amount and type of optics, magazines, and accessories you use – you’re limited to three points and you’re also required to keep a minimum number of magazines on your person throughout each stage.
- Armored +P: Essentially the “open” division for Brutality matches, you can carry basically any combo and configuration of firearms that you want but you must also be wearing rifle rated plates and carry items typically associated with a full “battle rattle” gear setup including a canteen, a knife, helmet, and all your support equipment – According to Russell Phagan this is the most popular division (pistol caliber carbines are allowed).
Woodland Brutality 2022 Stages
Each of the stages from Woodland Brutality 2022 offered a unique set of shooting challenges for shooters at all levels. Match descriptions, as well as each of my runs, are posted below. Woodland Brutality 2022 consisted of 7 standard stages with an optional bonus 8th stage which pitted you against a range officer in a battle to the death:
Stage 1: HMMWV Escape
HMMWV Escape was probably my favorite stage of them all. This stage was performed completely from the back of a moving HMMWV and required 5 hits on an IPSC-sized target before clearing your rifle and then switching to your pistol for the next 6 steel targets spread out over two separate shooting bays. To end the stage, you must shoot the same IPSC target, this time from the end of the course (about 200-yards downrange) to stop the shot timer.
Stage 2: Kasarda Inna Woods
This is quite an infamous stage featured at every Brutality match and requires you to advance past several checkpoints that earn you a time bonus. The catch is the only way to advance is to hit the single target at the end of the bay and then toss a kettlebell and advance till it’s within touching distance. From there you can engage the target again to earn another chance to throw the kettlebell till you either run out of time or cross the final 5th checkpoint – this was a rifle-only stage.
Stage 3: fields of Ukraine (1943?)
This stage required a mix of prone rifle shots out to distances of about 350-yards, and short-range pistol shots that each required hits to advance to the next shooting position. The added fun of this stage was the inclusion of a stage gun – a full-auto Degtyaryov machine gun (DPM or DP-27). The DP-27 is used to engage three popper targets at about 200-yards with 10-rounds in the pan magazine. Any missed targets are cleaned up with your own rifle and you proceed from there.
Stage 4: Marksmanship PAin
This stage requires you to engage two targets one small IPSC target and one spinner target that must be spun around once in order to proceed (shooters were given the option to proceed without spinning the rifle spinner after an honest effort was made to spin it but at the cost of a 60-second penalty). The rifle spinner is deceptively difficult and folks who opted to use AKs, or had 5.56 rifles with longer barrels definitely benefitted from their choice in weapon for this stage.
Stage 5: WHAT’S IN THE TRUNK?
In this stage, the shooter advances through several firing positions with their pistol before discharging the magazine and then advancing to the trunk of a car where their rifle is stored. From there the shooter uses their one remaining round in the pistol to engage an HVT (high-value target) which if missed, garnered a 60-second penalty. From there the shooter retrieves their rifle and engages three targets from all of the previous shooting positions till completion or time out. Spoiler alert: I missed the HVT!
Stage 6: 360 n0 sC0p3
A pistol-only stage. The shooter is required to knock down all targets and spin a final pistol spinner target to complete the course of fire. This one was deceptively simple but the addition of both a Texas Star and an additional 3-target falling steel spinner.
Stage 7: Tuggin’ It
In another stage featuring kettlebells, the shooter must engage two targets with their rifle and then haul two kettlebells uphill using the provided rope to each checkpoint. After each checkpoint is reached, this process is repeated until the final checkpoint after which the shooter clears their rifle, picks up the kettlebell, and then proceeds down range with the rifle and kettlebells to then engage the same two targets with their pistol – one hit on each steel to stop the clock.
(Bonus Stage) Stage 8: MILES Bonus
This was a neat stage and one where you’re actually pitted against another live human being. The MILES bonus stage was an addition headed up by the folks over at the One Shepherd Leadership Institute. Each shooter had to defend their position with 5 rounds while the aggressor (a range officer with an identical loadout) must make an attempt to either eliminate you or cross your wire. I managed to win this optional bonus stage which eliminated a single 60-second penalty from my time. The video is quite boring but I’ve included it for those who are curious. Using the MILES equipment was a great experience and is probably one of the very few opportunities you’ll get to point a gun at someone else without getting yelled at.
Thoughts and Observations
The event as a whole was a great success in my opinion. As someone who reviews guns and firearms-related gear, I felt like it was a great opportunity to test out a lot of optics, firearms, and tactical gear I had been using for a while. It’s also a great opportunity for those who have more obscure firearms to participate in a competition as other disciplines of firearms events often don’t allow or look down on manually operated firearms or machine guns. Karl Kasarda ran the entire course in the PCC division using a Sten submachine gun. If you’ve got the gear you wouldn’t normally be able to run in a competition, Brutality matches are the place to do it.
I felt that the pacing of the entire event was quite casual which made the shooting portions that much more enjoyable. I never felt like I was rushed to get to a stage or to hastily stuff magazines, cram my face full of food and water or even worry about testing targets. In large part, the range officers and folks from One Shepherd took care of most of that. Brutality matches are not easily canceled and despite the high chance of heavy rainstorms looming over us, the match went on and probably still would have gone on even if it had rained – it’s all part of the fun!
Finally, and most importantly, everyone I met, talked to, shot with, and saw at Woodland Brutality 2022 was having a good time. In stark contrast to other firearms competitions, actions like coaching (helping a shooter during their course of fire), heckling, and encouraging are strongly encouraged and welcomed at all Brutality matches. I’ve been competing with firearms for over a decade and I’ve often found that other types of competition aren’t quite as friendly. It wasn’t odd to hear loud cheering after a shooter completed a course of fire even if the time wasn’t all that great or they had racked up 4 penalties by missing 4 targets – everyone was there exercising their 2nd amendment rights with like-minded individuals and no one was there to put down, denigrate, discourage, or make fun of any other participant – in short, it was the pure embodiment of friendly competition and something I think other firearms competition disciplines could benefit from.
There really isn’t anything bad I can say about Woodland Brutality and other Brutality matches except for the fact that I think that they don’t happen often enough in enough locations. However, this is understandable considering that these matches require a lot of planning and organization as well as a boatload of cash to put on. Each brutality match is largely funded by InRangeTVs patrons who get first access to competition tickets. After that, there is open registration where others like me get a shot at joining in on the fun.
Overall I felt like Woodland Brutality 2022 gave me a newfound sense of pride in being a firearms owner purely because of the people who attended the event. One young fellow in my squad was there attending his first-ever firearms competition with his first pistol purchase ever, and on the opposing side, there were guys there who were approaching 60 years of age who participated. There were people there from nearly every walk of life, every type of profession, firearms interest, and skill level, and despite this, everyone there was friendly and working toward just having a fun, safe time. Karl, Ian, and Russell have done a great job in my opinion in fostering a great sense of community, and mutual enjoyment at these events and I have to tip my hat to them for their efforts and investment in this sport.
I guess to sum it up if you’re tired of shooting on the flat range, or just simply punching paper holes in targets at an indoor range, consider going to the next Brutality match if you can. Round counts are generally low (WB2022 featured a minimum of 75 rounds pistol and 125 rounds rifle), there is a division for just about everyone, and it quite honestly is a lot of fun no matter who you are (just don’t be an ass). I guarantee you’ll have a good time no matter where you place.
There is probably a lot more I could say about Woodland Brutality 2022 but this article is already approaching grocery store paperback novel size so I’ll let you guys ask any questions you have down in the comments. Let me know if this seems like a fun event to you and if you’d ever consider attending a brutality match. Thanks for reading!
I had a lot of gear on me and a lot of it is going to be reviewed here on TFB. For those curious about what I was using and what I was wearing I’ve included a full gear list below:
- 5.11 Tactical DU Rapid Assault Shirt
- IDOGEAR G3 Combat Pants
- 5.11 A/T 6 Non-Zip Boots
- Agilite Tactical Mechanix Gloves
- OpsCore Fast Bump High Cut Helmet
- Axil Ghost Strkye Extreme 2.0
- Bushnell Harrier Eye Protection
- Spiritus Systems LV119 Plate Carrier
- Hoplite Armor NIJ Certified Level IV Swimmer Plates
- Whiskey Two Four Overt Hydration Pouch (with Source Hydration 3L canteen)
- Blackhawk Omnivore with custom Multicam Cordura covering
- Blackhawk Double Mag Pouches
- Blue Force Gear IFAK
- Gerber Strong Arm Knife
- 5.11 Battle Belt
Firearms and Optics
- WWSD 2020 Rifle
- Trijicon TA11 Optic
- Mischief Machine Vertical Foregrip
- Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling
- SIG Sauer P320 XCarry Legion Pistol
- SIG Sauer Electro-Optics ROMEO2 RDS
Big thanks to Echo Valley Training Center for hosting the event, One Shepherd Leadership Institute for providing many services including range officer duty, and of course InRangeTV and their patrons for making the event possible. For more information on Brutality matches including how to attend, visit www.brutalitymatches.org.