February 20, 2016: Banging Steel – Catching the Disease

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While I am married to waterfowling – and always will be – I have been recently wooed by a potential mistress. I’m not sure there’s room for two such loves in my life, but I fear we’re about to find out. My increasing exposure to long range shooting is starting to catch up with me…

After an amazing and memorable experience while in Vegas for the SHOT Show, I’ve been reading and following and exploring and just trying to immerse myself in the long range/extreme long range world. Just trying to learn. The opportunity to go deeper came in the form of a Long Range Shooting Class being given at a local rifle range – Mill Creek Rifle Club, just west of town here.

I was all over this. Excited to start learning more about all of this stuff I’d been following, reading about, and watching.

The class itself was good – some “technical” difficulties kept it from being great, but the information was fantastic for a beginner – plenty of basics, and enough detail and depth in the right areas to challenge me to go further.

And enough to get me excited about the little drive out to a friend’s land to shoot afterwards.

So I’ve not actually shot at anything past a couple hundred yards prior to this. I’ve hit steel out at 200 before with my AR 15, but not consistently, and not more than a couple times. Granted, I wasn’t actually trying, studying, thinking about it. Just goofing around shooting. So this was unique for me.

I understand more now that there are a number of steps – a process, a system, a lot of knowledge – that goes into successfully engaging a target out past a few hundred yards. And then a lot of practice to maintain and develop the skills and experience required to be consistent and proficient. I really have my work cut out for me if I am going to entertain this new mistress…

Today would be my start. My first engagement. While my role in the setup was extremely limited, I would test my skill as the trigger-man for the first time in a true technically “long range” situation.

But first, we played around at the 150-yard mark with something very unique and interesting… A Sharps 45-70. I can’t pretend to know much about this, other than, well… it was pretty darn cool. And when asked if I wanted to try it, I could not possibly have said “yes please!” any faster – or with any more child-like enthusiasm and anticipation – than what I did.

I was quite pleased when I lined up the unique Vernier sight and used the double-set triggers to send my second shot with the Quigley Down Under star straight into the steel plate.  Almost equally fun was watching others do the same. The flash, the smoke, and that unique smell of powder burning makes firing an historic firearm such as this a whole different kind of fun.

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After that, We set up the 7MM and the .300 Win Mag. I had no problems instantly making the longest shots I’d ever taken with a firearm with each of these rifles, hitting within my first couple shots with each of these rifles at 300 yards. I was very, very happy to convert what to this point I’d only read, heard, watched and studied, into proper breathing, posture, and trigger/finger control. Of course, I had an outstanding coach, as well. But I was doing it. I was pulling the trigger. Steel was ringing. And it was a rush.

I eagerly, and immediately, asked if we could engage the 600 yard steel. I think these guys were all chuckling inside; for they knew the fever was setting in. That this fellow was perhaps catching the sickness, the addiction.

Two shots in at 600 with my buddy’s .300WM and it was over. I proceeded to ring steel at 600 yards, one after another. I was 7 of 10 total from there, missing only once after the first couple shots. And I’m pretty sure one of those was off of a branch, as we were shooting through some cover (the targets furthest out, up and to the right, just over the pond and through the trees, below – those were the 600s)

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Again, I can’t take too much credit. I was basically coached all the way in, and only needed to control the few variables involved with the execution. I shot successfully dialing in and shooting holdovers, but with guidance. I could not set that up yet on my own if my life depended on it. There’s a lot of work to do in getting my own rifle, my own scope, and learning the trigonometry around MOA and/or MilRAD and the conversions surrounding all of that – not to mention everything else that goes into shooting at long – and extreme long – distances. I may not know how to get right to where I need to be on a Horus reticle yet… But I now know what to do – and that I can successfully execute – once I get there.

I am hooked. I told these guys… This must be what it’s like when I take someone out and they shoot their very first duck or goose, the joy, the feeling you get of doing something really cool for the first time, making that successful shot, seeing those birds finish; to feel that sense of accomplishment and success…

It’s pretty cool being on the other side of that for a change. So, this game, here… I’m in.

This new mistress, she can never be waterfowling. But she might, just maybe, steal a bit of time – and a lot of money – from that girlfriend of mine who goes simply by the name of Fishing.

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