The Largest Night Match in History: Range Project Group International

March 11, 2023  
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The shooters know what they want. That’s something Brendan Souder of Range Project Group International (RPGi) always mentions about competitors in the Virginia/West Virginia area. This truism is proven every year when RPGi hosts its annual Day n Nite Match at Shadow Hawk Defense Range in Hedgesville, WV.

It’s the largest competition night match in history. (That we’re aware of, anyway.) The event will accommodate 150 shooter slots, all of which quickly sell out. 

The shooters do know what they want, and in this case, it’s shooting at night under a good match director and team.

Directing a night match is no easy feat, let alone the largest in history. Many will not even entertain the thought due to liability worries, e.g., dudes shooting under nods or white light. Pair that with logistical struggles, such as hard time stops due to city ordnance. However, each year (this being the fourth), RPGi handles these issues with professionalism and knowledge. 

Not only does RPGi direct a multitude of matches around the country, but Brendan is changing the game when it comes to allowable firearm inclusivity in shooting sports and, another first, hosting international matches!

In this article we will talk about the night match, what it takes to shoot one, and an overview of how RPGi is a positive influence in growing the shooting sports.

Competitive shooting at night can be extremely difficult (and stressful). Safety is always a concern.

Range Project Group International (RPGi)

Founded by Brendan Souder and located in the panhandle of Florida, Range Project Group international runs a multitude of matches both domestically and internationally along with providing high-end professional training courses.

Souder retired from the Special Forces Community as a Chief Warrant Officer 2 after a 20-year career both within the Ranger and SF community. This very much influenced his knowledge and desire for international shooting matches. On the civilian shooting career side, Souder holds a GrandMaster Classification in USPSA and a multitude of certifications. In addition to Souder, RPGi  has a staff of prior military along with higher classified shooters.

Brendan Souder's Range Product Group International (RPGi) is headquartered in Gaskin, Florida, but they run matches all over the place.

Brendan Souder’s Range Product Group International (RPGi) is headquartered in Gaskin, Florida, but it runs matches all over the place.

The Day n Nite Match

Every year, RPGi travels to Shadow Hawk Defense Training Center in West Virginia to host the annual night match. This event always sells out quickly, pulling competition shooters from the Northern Virginia area, including all the way down to Marine Corps Base Quantico. The last match was in November 2023, and in that match, most of the trophies were taken by Marine Corps shooters working under night vision.

Engaging targets while using a night vision device is a whole different kind of shooting. A prospective low-light/no-light competitor is strongly urged to become familiar with it before entering a competition that features an NVG state.

Engaging targets while using a night vision device is a whole different kind of shooting. A prospective low-light/no-light competitor is strongly urged to become familiar with it before entering a competition that features an NVG state.

Night Clinic

Before match day, RPGi held a night clinic at Shadowhawk to address the needs and wants of shooters who had never shot a night match before. This was a three-hour format that involved a few drills and runs through a stage. Runs were critiqued and allowed to be shot again. Any division was welcomed, but the clinic was split up on the drills, depending on whether the competitor was running white light or had night vision.

Match Overview

The Day N Nite match was split into two portions: a day portion with 7 stages and a night portion with 7 stages. These stages are in a CQB style format with targets arrayed from 5 to 25 yards (all paper) and are kept under 30 rounds with time plus points scoring. In layman’s terms, two hits on paper allow you to move on to the next target. If impacting a no-shoot or failing to engage, time penalties are added. Physical exercises are added to the daytime stages but are removed during the night for safety reasons. 

Many of the stages were unloaded starts. Taurus provided two “stage” guns, a lever gun and a pistol, which added a fun aspect to the match.

Day ‘n’ Nite Match Divisions

  • White Light Pistol
  • White Light Rifle
  • White Light PCC
  • NVG Pistol
  • NVG Rifle
  • NVG PCC

Who Shoots It?

To put these matches in perspective, we will go over the last Day N Nite match scores.

Out of 150 shooters, there were…

32 military shooters, 8 of those being top ten overall in the match
96 civilians, 7 of those being top twenty overall in the match
6 lady competitors
4 Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs)
2 junior competitors
6 senior competitors 

NVG (PCC, Carbine, Pistol): 66 shooters
White Light (PCC, Carbine, Pistol): 84 shooters

The Physical Aspect

RPGRPGi likes to put a level of physical stress into their matches, such as in their Tough Gunner and SOF matches. Not only are there options to wear kit, but there will often be exercises such as deadlifts or tire flips that add to your time and get the heart pumping. In the Day N Nite match, there were tire flips, sled pulls, deadlifts, and sprints. If a shooter chose not to participate in the exercise, an alternate exercise was provided, and/or time was added to the overall stage time.

This is another excellent reason for dudes who run guns for a living to come shoot these matches. 

Shooting YOUR First Night Match

It can be intimidating.

While this last match allowed for a day portion before the night portion of the match, these night matches are not always day and night. Thus, if you are shooting your very first match, it should probably be a local club match during the day. Each of these matches has seen a small number of brand-new shooters, and while they got through it, the Day N Nite match has higher stakes when it comes to safety. Shooters with at least one match under their belt is an understandable, warranted ask. 

These are fast-paced matches with a time cut-off at night. The match needs to run smoothly, and all shooters and gear need to be ready when they get up to shoot.

Note: If you are running night vision, this also shouldn’t be the first time that you’ve run a gun with them.

Equipment will be division-dependent. The match is very inclusive, allowing most shooters to grab what they already have and shoot. Crazy competition belt setups aren’t needed.

For instance, have a pistol, outside the waistband (OWB)  holster, and weapon-mounted light? You can shoot. Only have an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster? Cool, you can shoot the match. In fact, there were shooters that shot this entire competition IWB. Have a .223 gun with a white light? Come out and shoot. Running full kit with white phosphorus dual tube night vision? Bring it out and show off your money.

This is a big reason why night matches like these—and the match directors who run them—are so appreciated and needed. Not only does it allow civilians to experience running and gunning in such environments, but it’s good for the military and LEO competitors, too. Let’s be real. Military dues aren’t often running their issued equipment in training settings like this. They’re usually on flat ranges with heavy left and right limits, and they’re only hitting a couple of courses a year. 

In a competitive environment like this, the pace is much faster, and targets are much tighter. These matches will make guys better with the equipment they use. Thank you to RPGi and Brendan Souder for allowing an environment to make that happen.

Personal Takeaway

As a female shooter with a small amount of USPSA-style matches under my belt and most of my background being in long-range precision matches, the RPGi Day N Nite match in West Virginia was a bit intimidating, especially because it was the first time I shot a night match. I chose to run carbine white light due to not having the opportunity to run carbine in CQB style very often. I ran a 16-inch .223 carbine with a 14.5-inch Ballistic Advantage barrel with a pin and welded Cobalt Kinetics RCB Key Mo muzzle devise. For white light, I ran a Modlite PLH in an Arisaka offset mount. On top was an Aimpoint RDS on a Unity Tactical FAST Mount. I wore a simple Blue Force Gear CHLK belt with one mag pouch and a med kit on my back.

RPGi’s night clinic before the match gave me the opportunity to gain some comfort and confidence before the actual match. The clinic proved that if you know safe gun handling and have shot matches before, you should be fine at night with white light. You may be slower, but a lot moves from the day into the night.

I’m a smaller-framed female. The physical portion was not too much for me. If it was, I had the option to choose an alternate event or even skip it for a time penalty. I was able to successfully complete each physical event, though, and it added a fun stressor. 

As far as the atmosphere of the match goes, it’s a really fun set-up. There was a food truck out there all day, and lunch was paid for within the match fee. Between the day and night portions, there was about a two-hour break waiting for it to get dark. Many hung out and tailgated while waiting and prepping their gear for the night shoot. Shooters were having a great time while still coming out and being competitive.

Overall, the match allowed me to get comfortable shooting at night and test my gear. As said previously, I don’t get to run my carbine build much, which taught me a few lessons. For instance, the unloaded starts caused me to adjust my mag catch to run a little tighter. It also caused me to add dielectric grease to the threads of my Modlite, as the battery cap was being really finicky about powering the light.

International Matches

Brendan Souder’s unique background has allowed him to travel all around the world and stay in these places for months at a time. This has influenced his passion for international travel and his desire to spread this culture to the shooting community. Just like the risk that Souder takes on holding low-light matches, he is now taking on the responsibility of hosting matches internationally and bringing Americans and their guns overseas to shoot these matches. 

Shooting International Films

What many Americans don’t realize, and what Souder saw firsthand during his travels, is that in many countries, gun laws are very different than in the U.S. They often involve geo-political friction points. To get more eyes on these issues and give Americans a more informed perspective on gun rights, Brendan started filming Shooting International. These films show first hand accounts from citizens that live and shoot within those countries about laws and experiences within the shooting sports. Brendan’s films also provide background on the country and allow his team to show us around. So far, Souder and his crew have traveled to Colombia and Brazil to film and shoot.

All-Inclusive Matches

Inclusive matches, meaning those that allow all different kinds of guns and gear to shoot, will often be smaller local club matches. To shoot larger matches, shooters will need to adhere to strict division rules like those within the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) and similar organization’s sanctioned matches. However, RPGi has shown inclusive matches can be large, even completely selling out. The 2023 Day N Nite match was the largest match of its kind in history. 

Souder’s crew will prove this again in a few months when RPGi comes back to West Virginia to host the Cinco de May Match with a new authorized division: shotgun. 

Yes, shotguns will be shooting right next to PCCs, .223 rifles, and open-type pistols. That’s a pretty unique thing. There just aren’t many opportunities to run shotguns in fast competitions that aren’t a 3-gun style match or sanctioned IPSC event. 

Mission Complete! Team RPGi just ran the biggest night match to date...I am extremely proud of my staff out there grinding during this marathon of a match 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻.Over 150 shooters competed in a Day into Night format with physical challenges, practical shooting courses and low light stages. Congratulations to our top shooters from each division and individual category winners. We will return to Shadow Hawk in November 2024 for the RPGi Blackout Nationals Match!

“Mission Complete! Team RPGi just ran the biggest night match to date…I am extremely proud of my staff out there grinding during this marathon of a match 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻. Over 150 shooters competed in a Day into Night format with physical challenges, practical shooting courses and low light stages. Congratulations to our top shooters from each division and individual category winners. We will return to Shadow Hawk in November 2024 for the RPGi Blackout Nationals Match!” Brendan Souder

More from RPGi

Upcoming Matches

These are just a few of RPGi’s upcoming events. Be sure to check their schedule regularly – new events are hitting the calendar regularly. 

Florida

RPGi SOF Match 2024 “Luck of the Irish” (PCSL): March 16, 2024

RPGi USPSA Low Light Match: March 23, 2024 ·

RPGi Tough Gunner 2024 RNG Match at the Farm (Gaskin, FL): April 13, 2024 ·

RPGi USPSA April 2024 Match at the Farm: April 20, 2024 ·

RPGi Florida State “9-Banger” Rifle Championship (PCSL) at the Farm: June 15, 2024 

RPGi's match schedule - be sure to check online, this list will likely expand.

RPGi’s match schedule – be sure to check online, this list will likely expand.

West Virginia

RPGi Cinco De Mayo CQB Match hosted at Shadow Hawk Defense: May 4, 2024 ·

RPGi Blackout Nationals hosted at Shadow Hawk Defense: November 14, 2024

International

RPGi PCSL Caribbean Championship hosted at MH Tactical: January 20, 2024. Now complete; read that story here.)

Training

Along with private sessions, RPGi offers specialty training such as competition and night shoot clinics. For our military, gov, and LE folk, RPGi has access to a live shoot house and offers weekend courses. 

This is one of the training courses conducted by Brendan Souder and Range Project Group International. It's a 20-hour course taught by Close Quarters Battle SMEs from the Special Operations and SWAT communities. It will feature purpose-driven marksmanship training, CQB foundational work, low light training, live fire iterations, and force-on-force exercises.

This is one of the training courses conducted by Brendan Souder and Range Project Group International. It’s a 20-hour course taught by Close Quarters Battle SMEs from the Special Operations and SWAT communities. It will feature purpose-driven marksmanship training, CQB foundational work, low-light training, live fire iterations, and force-on-force exercises. There will be similar classes held at Shadow Hawk Training in WV as well. 

Shooting International

Be on the lookout for more Shooting International episodes. For example, not too long ago, Brendan Souder and the RPGi team traveled to Trinidad and Tobago for the first International PSCL match (that’s Practical Competition Shooting League).

(You can read about that here.) 

Further reading:

 

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Saami Spec

Saami Spec

About the Author

Saami is a veteran of a full-time Army National Guard unit where she served as a Small Arms Repairer and worked to bolster their marksmanship team. Now a gunsmith and technical writer in the Federal LE world, she writes with a background of many armorer classes and numerous competitions under her belt: the former include KAC, Glock, every FN weapon in the book, and several others – including Small Arms Weapons Expert (SAWE). She makes no apologies for boring you with the knowledge of how guns actually work. An avid reloader who builds the bullets she competes with, she is currently heavily involved in the long-range world and competes in the National Rifle League Hunter, various Gas Gun Precision Series, PSCL, and assorted other kinds of competitive shooting. She’s a Minnesota Vikings fan who understands good whiskey. Well, stouts, ciders, and mulled wines, too, but especially whiskey…including Elijah Craig Toasted. Saami has a bachelor’s degree in Homeland Security and is one of those aggravating studious types who graduate with some of the highest grades in her class. From Minnesota to Virginia, from serving in the military to working for the U.S. Dept. of State and other entities beyond, Saami has been in the service of her country since the age of 17. We’re pretty chuffed that she writes for Breach-Bang-Clear. “Saami Spec” is a nom-de-plume as required by her current employer.

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