Last weekend I returned to an area near Madras Oregon to take part in the second long range precision shooting class offered by On Target Solutions, the intermediate class. We got started at 07:30 and adjusted our 100 yard zeros to compensate for the altitude, about .75 MOA, and setup on the line overlooking the endless expanse of sage brush and juniper and our steel targets every 100 yards starting at 400 yards and extending out to 1200 yards. We we paired up with another student and we alternated shooting and spotting, calling wind, making corrections, getting the shooter on the plate. Shooting this series of known range targets allowed me to build a true range card with my rifle and load at the new location which was off a bit from my Bullet Flight iPhone app. Once we had our data logged the targets were moved about the area at random unknown ranges and we had to figure out the distance to each plate with our reticles which is a lot more challenging than you may imagine. The first couple of targets took some assistance to get dead on but once I got the hang of it I was able to get first round hits on the next few which is quite an amazing feeling. We then moved from 16 – 18 inch plates to a man sized target and worked on ranging off of the head to feet value, waist to shoulder, width of shoulders, etc. Again very challenging to do correctly and I was hit and miss with my solutions. Optically ranging a target is going to take a good deal of practice to do well, but is very satisfying when done correctly.
We broke for dinner and I took the opportunity to see if I could hit the 400 yard tombstone with my .22LR Savage that I had recently setup as a training analog to my 308. I quickly ran out of elevation with my scope and 20 MOA base and started holding over with my Mildot reticle until the target was literally at the bottom of the tube of my scope. Not the most reliable means to hit a target but it was good enough to ring the 400 yard plate with SK Plus subsonic ammo. To be honest I couldn’t believe I hit it and had to stop shooting because I was laughing so hard. I’d pull the trigger and move the scope back to see the hit a couple of seconds later. It’s a big confidence boost to be able to do such a thing so I spent the next little bit alternating from shooting to giggling, working my way through a box of ammo.
After dinner it was time to work on night shooing until we just couldn’t see the targets anymore, close to 22:00. Again it was great to see what we were capable of doing, hitting targets in light that I didn’t think was possible to get a long distant hit on with much certainty, but we did and were ringing them with ease for a while.
Day two we started with dot drills and working on unconventional shooting positions with our spotters to quickly get hits on target when going prone isn’t an option. Teamwork being the key here, we could reliably get shots off in seconds while using our spotters as support. A little tricky to get the hang of but a great tool for the tool kit when needed.
Next was positional shooting, reminiscent of NRA/NM shooting, where we learned how to effectively use a sling to precisely take targets from standing, kneeling, sitting and the prone position. This has been on my checklist of things to learn for a long time but I’ve never tried it and actually I don’t own a sling. I see a lot of practice with my .22 trainer for a while to get this down to a science. I was pretty bad at it and it didn’t help that my cold was really kicking into high gear making it much more difficult than it needed to be.
Having finished all of the course material we had some time to work with our partners and I choose to reconfirm my freshly minted data card and try for a cool bore 1000 round first hit. Unfortunately the wind got the better of me and my first round was off target, but after an adjustment my next round found it’s way to the plate yielding a satisfying ring from the steel. I moved to the 1100 which I took fairly easily and then it was on to the 1200 which proved to be much more difficult than it should have been. But I did ring it a couple of times before running out of ammo, and coincidentally time.
Reflecting back over the weekend I can’t believe the amount of material we covered, the amount of data to record in my log book, and just how much fun it was. The class wasn’t intended to teach you to master a certain skill, but rather set you off on a path to becoming a much better shooter/spotter, showing you all of the things you need to be proficient at to accomplish that goal with your newly honed fundamentals.