Brownells 75th Anniversary - A Shooting Heritage

Team Sinclair - Paul Phillips Biography


Paul started shooting as a young boy, with his trusty Daisy BB gun by his side. By age 13, he was hunting small game and going afield with his father. At the age of 18, Paul joined the United Sates Marine Corps as an Infantryman. He learned the art of long range shooting as a member of 1/1 scout sniper platoon, and earned his Combat Action Ribbon with Task Force Papa Bear in 1991. After leaving the service, Paul earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University, and began competitive target shooting.

In 1996, he won the NRA Long Range Collegiate Championship. In 2002, he earned his Long Range High Master Classification and began shooting F-Class in 2004. He won gold medals as a member of both the 2009 and 2013 World Championship teams, three America Match teams and nine National Championship teams. Paul has set, tied or broken over 30 NRA National Shooting Records and was named Adjutant for the 2017 US Rifle Team. He looks forward to winning a third World Championship as an Officer. Currently, Paul works for Gemtech as the Director of Advanced Armament testing and evaluation.

Your favorite reloading product?
Redding Big Boss Reloading Press, Precision Mic Gauge, Redding Competition Dies and my Sartorius GD503, (Entris64-1S).

Optic you find most useful?
Nightforce Competition scope and Nightforce NXS scope.

Rest, bipod or shooting accessory you can’t live without?
Duplin Bipod.

How did you get started shooting?
Shooting BB guns with my brother and hunting with my dad.

Why did you get into FTR shooting?
In my opinion, FTR shooting most resembles real world shooting. Military and Police snipers use the same platform and cartridge, a bolt action 308 with a scope and bipod.

What do you find most challenging?
Reading the wind is the most challenging skill required to win matches.

What is the one piece of gear you cannot do without?
A high quality spotting scope to read the wind.

What is the one piece of shooting gear that people would not suspect that is a mainstay in your bag?
A small brass drop rod in case a bullet gets stuck in my barrel. You just remove the bolt and drop the brass rod from the muzzle end and it will clear your barrel very quickly so you can get back to your match.

What is in range bag for meet days?
Ammo, Edgewood Sand bag, Shooting Hat, Allen Wrenches, Lens pen to clean optics, Bolt grease, shooting log book with wind charts and plotting book, extra pens, towel, timer, extra ear plugs, small towel for sweat on my face and forehead.

Walk us through an average day at the range.
I try to do everything the same when I go to the range. Consistency is the name of the game. You develop habits and it will carry over into a big match. I always try to remember safety and watching others and making sure that they are being safe too.

Walk us through your load development.
I usually will shoot 5 shot groups at 500 yards in calm conditions to make sure I have an accurate load. I want to make sure everything is consistently shooting well before I travel to a big match. I leave my barrel fouled and do not clean it before a big match. I usually have no problem shooting 200 rounds before I clean my barrel.

Walk us through your pre-competition preparation.
I have a checklist that I go through to make sure I have packed all of my required gear. I double check the list by placing my hands on every item. I also make sure that I am well hydrated and eat high protein food and get lots of sleep. Sometimes I lay in bed and visualize shooting a match before I go to sleep. This mentally prepares me for the next day of shooting.

Who would you recommend for metal work on your rifle?
Clint Cooper, Alan Warner, Randy Gregory, Wayne Daniels, Dave Tooley, and Kelblys.

Who would you recommend for stock work on your rifle?
Alex Sitman with Masterclass Stocks

Who has been your biggest influence in shooting?
After learning the fundamentals of shooting long range in the Marine Corps, I went to my local gun club and met John Droelle and Ray Gross. These two friends taught me everything there was to learn about reloading precision ammunition tailored to my match rifle.

What rear bag do you use?
Edgewood mini-gator with a grab handle on it.

What do you do to mentally prepare before you shoot?
I try to find a cool place out of the sun and relax. I will visualize and think about what target I am on and watch the flags to see what the norm is for wind.

What is something you would not recommend before a shoot?
Staying up all night loading bullets while drinking redbull.

Did you come from another discipline?
High Power Long Range, Palma Rifle

When not shooting FTR what other things do you enjoy doing?
I actively Drag Race Motorcycles and snowmobiles. I also enjoy riding my mountain bike and hiking in the summer time. I have a 5 year old daughter and she has expressed interest in learning how to shoot.

What style of action are you using? (Right feed/Right eject)
Stolle Panda Right Bolt, Right port

What is your process when beginning to work up a load?
I look at a reloading manual first. I will start low and work my way up through the range of powder charges until I find the most accurate load. I only use Lapua Match Brass, Hogdon Powder and Match Primers.

What would you suggest for someone wanting to get into the sport?
Go to the Nationals of whatever discipline you are wanting to compete in. Watch who finishes in the top ten of the event and talk to them about what they recommend. If you’re serious about getting involved in this sport, you might as well spend your money wisely. You want to do it right the first time.

What your ingredients to the winning team Sinclair recipe? (What is your strength in team Sinclair?)
We all spend the time at the range to make sure we bring extremely accurate rifles to the competition. We all are very confident in our ability and in each other. We trust our wind coach and never second guess him. We operate like a well oil machine and have lots of fun together.

What training drills do you use?
I like to shoot simulated matches. Going thru the motions like I’m in a real match. They might be only 5 or 10 round matches but it forces me to practice like I will shoot on game day. Sometimes if a team mate is with me we shoot for ice creams or who gets to put the targets away. It forces you to try hard and focus.

How often do you practice?
Living in Michigan it’s seasonal for me. However, when the summer comes I usually practice up before the big matches.

How many rounds do you shoot in a year?
5000 pistol, 2000 rifle

What do you wish would be available to further the sport?
If long range rifle was an Olympic event.

Best advice you would give a beginner?
Listen to range commands and have fun.

What do you need to compete?
An FTR Rifle, Spotting scope, Shooting Mat, Shooting Hat, Range Bag, Bipod, Rear Bag and Ammo. Becoming involved with a shooting club or someone that competes that can help you out is highly recommended. Most people I know in the sport will be more the happy to help new shooters out. When I first started, John Droelle loaned me everything for my first few competitions until I was able to buy my own things.

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