March 3rd, 2015

Texas Triumph: 3600-Yard Shot with .375 CheyTac

3600 yard shot .375 cheytac texas

3600 yard shot .375 cheytac texas

They say “things are bigger in Texas”. Well shots are longer too. In this video, a shooter successfully hits a 1-MOA target at 3600 yards with a .375 CheyTac rifle. That required plenty of elevation to compensate for the bullet’s drop over its 2.045 mile trajectory. The shooter, Jim Spinella of New Jersey, needed a whopping 60.2 Mils of elevation (26.8 in rail, 22.6 in turret, 10.8 hold-over). Jim had to wait a long time to confirm the hit — with the metal gong situated more than than 2 miles from the firing line, it took the bullet 7.2 seconds to hit the target.

Big 350gr Bullets with a Wicked BC
The 3600-yard hit was made with CheyTac factory ammo using 350gr CNC-turned bullets. Spinella was impressed: “The ammo chronographed out at 3080 fps with velocity differences at no more the 7 fps, which was outstanding. We found the true BC over 3600 yards to average 0.810 (G1)”.

NOTE: You see three shots in the video, but Spinella took many more before a hit was achieved: “We peppered the 2 MOA area around the target with a couple of dozen rounds. We hit the rack the target is hanging on twice. This was a fun experience, and we took a lot of data away from it. We put a lot of work and planning into this in order to be in position to be lucky. So many things are ridiculously magnified at that distance. Every 1 mph change in wind [moves the bullet] about 6 feet. As the barrel heats up the velocity changes with it [and] 10 fps velocity differences, shot to shot, are almost 5 feet.”

This ultra-long-range adventure took place last September at the FTW Ranch in Texas. Spinella worked with a team of experts from Hill Country Rifles, builders of the custom .375 CheyTac rifle, to achieve a 3600-yard shot on a 36” round steel target. Hitting a target at 2.045 miles is no mean feat. That 36″ gong represents slightly less than 1 MOA at that range. A lot can happen to send a bullet off target during a 7.2 second flight.

Rifle: Hill Country Rifles custom .375 Cheytac,
Stiller Precision action, 29″ Krieger barrel
Optics: Schmidt & Bender 5-25X56mm PM-2 scope
Actual Measured Distance: 3606.41 Yards
Target: 36″ circular steel plate

Altitude: 2000 feet
Temp: 70 degrees
Elevation: 60.2 mil
Windage: 3.5 mil left

3600 yard shot .375 cheytac texas

CheyTac Caliber Comparison — .375 vs. .408
The shooter, Jim Spendell, prefers the .375 CheyTac to its .408-caliber Big Brother: “I shoot both the .408 & .375. Both are great ELR rounds and will get you out there a long way. In my experience, the .375 will get you out there a little bit further. My preference is the .375 Cheytac over the 408. This has nothing really to do with external ballistics. It has to do with fouling. My .408 will go from stellar accuracy to terrible between 40 and 45 rounds. It happens that quickly and accuracy returns after cleaning the barrel. I have never experienced this with the .375. After 100 rounds there is minimal copper fouling with the .375, but I clean around this round count. I don’t know why there is heavy cooper fouling in the .408, but it is common to this round and other shooters who shoot it regularly. That said, I lightly clean the.408 using Wipeout and go back to having fun with it after about 30 minutes.”>

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February 28th, 2015

Brian “Gunny” Zins Explains Bullseye Pistol Fundamentals

Brian Gunny ZinsBrian “Gunny” Zins, 12-Time NRA National Pistol Champion, has authored an excellent guide to bullseye pistol shooting. Brian’s Clinic on the Fundamentals recently appeared in The Official Journal of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association. The CMP scanned the story so you can read it online. CLICK HERE to read full article.

Top Tips from Brian Zins:

Trigger Movement: If trigger control is ever interrupted in slow fire the shot needs to be abored and the shot started over.

Relationship between Sight Alignment and Trigger Control: Often when the fundamentals are explained these two are explained as two different acts. Well, truth be told it’s really kind of hard to accomplish one without the other. They have a symbiotic relationship. In order to truly settle the movement in the dot or sights you need a smooth, steady trigger squeeze.

Trigger Finger Placement: Where should the trigger make contact on the finger? The trigger should be centered in the first crease of the trigger finger. Remember this is an article on Bullseye shooting. If this were an article on free pistol or air pistol it would be different.

Proper Grip: A proper grip is a grip that will NATURALLY align the gun’s sights to the eye of the shooter without having to tilt your head or move your or move your wrists around to do that. Also a proper grip, and most importantly, is a grip that allows the gun to return to the same position [with sights aligned] after each and every shot. The best and easiest way to get the proper grip, at least a good starting postion… is with a holster. Put your 1911 in a holster on the side of your body[.] Allow your shooting hand to come down naturally to the gun.

In recent years, Brian “Gunny” Zins has been shooting 1911s crafted by Cabot Guns.

Brian “Gunny” Zins currently holds 25 National Records.

Brian “Gunny” Zins

NRA Nat’l Pistol Champion: 1996, 1998, 2001, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013

NRA .22 LR Nat’l Champion: 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010

NRA Centerfire Nat’l Champion: 1992, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006

NRA .45 Nat’l Champion: 1996, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2009

NRA Regular Service Nat’l Champion: 1996, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008

NRA Civilian Nat’l Champion: 2008, 2009, 2010

NRA Nat’l Trophy Individual: 1998, 2003

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February 20th, 2015

Win a Training Day with Olympic Shooting Coaches

eley national team rimfire smallbore training

Getting tutored by Olympic-class experts — now that’s a rare opportunity in the shooting world. ELEY Ltd., makers of precision rimfire ammo, has announced a special contest. Two lucky marksmen (one pistol shooter and one rifle shooter) will win the chance to train with the U.S. National Team at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. All ammunition for the one-day training session (in June, 2015) will be supplied by ELEY. (The winners must supply their own firearm.) The lucky winners will even be able to use the elite Olympic Training Center strength/conditioning facilities.

Training day sessions will be conducted by top coaches/atheletes from the U.S. National squad. Rifle coaches may include: Bryant Wallizer, Thomas Csenge, Michael Liuzza, Justin Tracy (2013 Prone National Champion), Dempster Christenson, Sarah Beard, Sarah Scherer, Emily Holsopple, Amy Sowash, Reya Kempley, and former National Rifle Coach Dave Johnson.

Pistol coaches may include: Keith Sanderson, Nick Mowrer, Jason Turner, Teresa Chambers, Morgan Wallizer (2004 rifle Olympian now training pistol), National Pistol Coach Sergey Luzov.

eley national team rimfire smallbore training

How to Enter Contest
For more information, or to enter the Training Day Contest, visit ELEY’s Training Contest Page on Facebook. NOTE — the deadline for contest entries is March 16, 2015.

eley national team rimfire smallbore training

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February 18th, 2015

Click No Bang — Dry-Fire Training with Kirsten

kirsten weiss dry fire anschutz smallbore

Kirsten Joy Weiss has just released a new video on Dry-Fire practice. Dry-Fire is a method of training without a live round in the chamber. Dry-Firing is effective, Kirsten explains, because “it eliminates all the extra noise and messages that you get when you fire a live round. Without recoil, without the sound of a shot going off etc., all you hear is the click of the trigger. This allows you to focus on your sight picture and your trigger press.” This the lastest installment in Kirsten’s ‘How to Shoot Awesomely’ series. Kisten says: “I hope it helps you, and keep on aiming true!”

kirsten weiss dry fire anschutz smallbore

Dennis DeMille High PowerThe Benefits of Dry-Fire Training
If you are not doing Dry-Fire practice yet, then it’s time to start. Dry-Fire training is essential to the sling disciplines, and very useful for F-Class. Dennis DeMille, a national Service Rifle Champion, told us that, for every minute he spent in actual competition, he would spend hours practicing without ammunition. While in the USMC, Dennis would practice in the barracks, working on his hold and dry-firing:

“The most important thing is to spend time off the range practicing. Most of what I learned as a High Power shooter I learned without ammunition — just spending time dry firing and doing holding exercises. Holding exercises will really identify the weak parts of your position. The primary purpose of dry firing is to get you used to shooting an empty rifle. If you can shoot a loaded rifle the same way you shoot an empty rifle then eventually you will become a High Master.”

Dry-Fire Training Can Benefit Benchrest Shooters
What about benchrest? Well, we’ve found that Dry-Fire sessions can even benefit benchresters — it can help reveal flaws in your trigger technique, or inconsistencies in the way you address the rifle from shot to shot. With the gun set up with your front rest and rear bag, if you see the scope’s cross-hairs wiggle a lot when you pull the trigger, you need to work on your technique. Also, dry-fire practice can help you learn to work the bolt more smoothly so you don’t disturb the gun on the bags.

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February 17th, 2015

Brain Teaser: Do You Know the Rule of the Square?

wind drift wind reading 6mmbr rule of the squareHorizontal Wind-Drift vs. Distance
OK, here’s a challenge question for you.
Let’s see if you get it right.

Q: If the wind is blowing 10 mph from 9 o’clock and if my horizontal wind deflection is 0.7 inches at 100 yards, what is the horizontal drift at 1000 yards?

You may be thinking, “Well, since the target is ten times more distant, the wind-drift should be around 7 inches, maybe a little more since the bullet will be slowing down.” That sounds reasonable, right?

WRONG.

As you move from near to far, the increase in lateral deflection (from a 90° crosswind) is (roughly speaking) a function of the square of the multiple of distance. If your target is two times farther away, you use the square of two, namely four. If your target is five times farther away, you use the square of five, or twenty-five. In this example, the increased wind drift (from 100 to 1000 yards) is at least 0.7″ times (10 X 10) — over 70 inches (give or take a few inches depending on bullet type). We call that the Rule of the Square. This Rule lets you make a quick approximation of the windage correction needed at any yardage.

Precision Shooting and the Rule of the Square
I was going through some back issues of Precision Shooting Magazine and found many references to the Rule of the Square. This made me curious — I wondered how well the Rule really stacked up against modern ballistics programs. Accordingly, I ran some examples through the JBM Ballistics Trajectory Calculator, one of the best web-based ballistics programs. To my surprise, the Rule of the Square does a pretty good job of describing things.

EXAMPLE ONE — .308 Win (100 to 400 Yards)
For a 168gr Sierra MK (.308), leaving the muzzle at 2700 fps, the JBM-predicted values* are as follows, with a 10 mph, 9 o’clock crosswind (at sea level, 65° F, Litz G7 BC):

Drift at 100: 0.8 MOA (0.8″)
Drift at 200: 1.6 MOA (3.3″)
Drift at 400: 3.4 MOA (14.4″)

Here you can see how the Rule of the Square works. The rule says our drift at 200 yards should be about FOUR times the drift at 100. It the example above, 0.8″ times 4 is 3.2″, pretty darn close to the JBM prediction of 3.3″. Quoting Precision Shooting: “Note that the deflections at 100 yards are typically a quarter of those at 200; lateral deflections increase as the square of the range”. Precision Shooting, June 2000, p. 16.

EXAMPLE TWO — .284 Win (100 to 1000 Yards)
For a .284 Win load, with the slippery Berger 180gr Target Hybrids, the Rule of the Square still works. Here we’ll input a 2750 fps velocity, Litz G7 BC, 10 mph, 9 o’clock crosswind, (same 65° temp at sea level). With these variables, JBM predicts:

Drift at 100: 0.5 MOA (0.5″)
Drift at 500: 2.5 MOA (13.3″)
Drift at 1000: 5.9 MOA (61.3″)

Again, even with a higher BC bullet, at 1000 yards we end up with something reasonably close to the 100-yard deflection (i.e. 0.5″) multiplied by (10×10), i.e. 50 inches. The Rule of the Square alerts you to the fact that the effects of crosswinds are MUCH greater at very long range. In this example, our JBM-calculated drift at 1000 is 61.3″ — that’s over 100 times the 100-yard lateral drift, even though the distance has only increased 10 times.

Note that, even with a 5 mph 90° sidewind, the “Rule of the Square” still applies. The 1000-yard lateral deflection in inches is still over 100 times the lateral deflection at 100 yards.


Why This All Matters (Even in the Age of Smartphones)
wind drift wind reading 6mmbr rule of the squareNow, some would say, “Why Should I Care About the Rule of the Square? My iPhone has a Ballistics App that does all my thinking for me”. Fair enough, but knowledge of this basic Rule of the Square enables a shooter to make an informed guess about necessary windage even without a come-up sheet, as long as he knows the distance AND can fire a sighter at 100 or 200 yards as a baseline.

For example, if I see empirically that I need 1″ windage correction at 100 yards, then I know that at 600 yards I need at least roughly (6 x 6 x 1″) or 36 total inches of drift correction, or 6 MOA. (To be precise, 1 MOA = 1.047″ at 100 yards). I can figure that out instantly, even without a ballistics chart, and even if my Smartphone’s battery is dead.

*Values shown are as displayed on the JBM-figured trajectory tables. The numbers can be slightly imprecise because JBM rounds off to one decimal place for both inches and MOA.

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February 13th, 2015

Very Scary Movie (With an Important Safety Message)

Do you like scary movies? This video will send chills up and down your spine. But it’s not about Space Aliens, or slime monsters — it’s about two-legged creatures that appear out of nowhere… while you’re shooting. Watch this video carefully. Something happens at 0.38″ that will make your heart race. Warning: Adult language — Not suitable for playback at work.

Why You Must Always, Always Be Careful When Shooting on Public Lands…

LESSON Learned: Always be aware of your backstop and beyond. If there is any possibility of someone venturing into the “danger zone”, mark off the target area, and designate a person to watch the area around the target. That designated spotter should instantly call a halt to shooting if any person or vehicle appears. It is also a good idea to place warning signs, but don’t count on these to be headed.

BLM SinCityPrecision.com Las Vegas Long Range Safety

This video was filmed on BLM land out in the Nevada desert. In such public areas, one must be very careful about shooting. There may be hikers, bikers, explorers, and horse-riders nearby. An offroad motorcyclist might be moving at 65 miles an hour. At that speed he’ll cover 32 yards in just one second! With that possibility, you really have to be ultra-careful. To be forewarned of potential risks, you need to watch way out to the left and right, not just focus on the backstop and the bullet’s flight path.

BLM SinCityPrecision.com Las Vegas Long Range Safety

The shooting area shown above is located on BLM land. All BLM rules and regulations apply. Remember it is everyone’s desert so always think “safety first”. The video-maker, JFComfort (aka “Joe”), explains: “We do the majority of our shooting on BLM land surrounding the Las Vegas Valley. We have found shooting in small groups in the desert works well for us. We have spent a lot of time out there in the past. I advise you not to shoot alone and be very mindful of off-road enthusiasts. Guys on quads, dirt bikes, and Rhinos seem to pop out of nowhere. Also keep a close eye out for other shooters, not everyone is safe, respectful and courteous.”

BLM SinCityPrecision.com Las Vegas Long Range Safety

Story idea by EdLongrange. Photos and video courtesy SinCityPrecision.com.
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February 11th, 2015

Berger SW Nationals — Tuesday Instructional Clinic

2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

The Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN) kicked off Tuesday, February 10th, with an instructional clinic at the Ben Avery 1000-yard Range. This combined a lecture/Q&A session with live-fire training. Ballistics “Professor” Bryan Litz reports: “The clinic was a big hit as usual, with lots of competitor participation. There was a big crowd this year, as you can see.”

2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

The clinic started with a class on Exterior Ballistics hosted by Bryan. This focused on why ballistics is important to competitive shooters, and how to balance ballistic performance objectives against real world constraints. Topics included bullet weight options for F-TR (155 to 215 grains), barrel/chamber considerations, plus the real-world trade-offs involved with heavy bullets (yes the BC may be better but recoil becomes an issue). Many of the questions related to content from Bryan’s recent books, and discussions in AccurateShooter.com’s Ballistics sub-Forum and Daily Bulletin.

Following the ballistics class, shooters made their way to the firing line for one-on-one instruction with experienced shooters in each discipline (sling, F-TR and F-Open). During this segment of the clinic, champion shooters worked directly with novice and intermediate shooters. Bryan said: “It was great to see the ‘top guns’ sharing their knowledge.”

Last but not least, Mid Tompkins directed a wind clinic with live fire demonstrations. Bryan reports: “Mid has a way of getting your attention. Personally, I thought his 2 MOA wind call that put the very first shot in the 5 inch X-ring at 1000 yards got everyone’s attention!” After the demonstrations, clinic “students” went to the firing line to put wind-clinic lessons into practice, and to verify their zeroes.

Mid Tompkins at the SWN Shooters’ Clinic
2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

Here are some more images from the instructional clinic held last year at the 2014 SW Nationals.

2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

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February 9th, 2015

“Aim Small, Miss Small” — Decreasing Dot-Size Training Targets

In the hit Hollywood movie “The Patriot”, the hero Benjamin Martin (played by Mel Gibson), tells his sons: “Aim small, miss small”. That advice was given to help his sons survive encounters with the British redcoats, but the “aim small, miss small” mantra can benefit target shooters as well.

We have found that novice and intermediate shooters can often improve their accuracy simply by using targets with smaller, more precise aiming points. Inexperienced shooters can benefit by starting with a large-size aiming circle, and then progressing to smaller and smaller target dots. This lets the shooter increase the challenge as his gun-handling becomes more steady and his aim improves.

Here are two rimfire training targets with “big to small” target circles. Start with the largest circles, then move to the smaller ones in sequence. This systematic drill provides increasing challenge shot-by-shot. Novices often are quite surprised to see their accuracy improve as they move from bigger to smaller aiming points. That provides positive feedback — always a good thing.

Right Click and “Save as” to download printable PDF versions of these targets.

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February 7th, 2015

Williamsport Taking Applications for Long-Range BR School

Benchrest School WilliamsportThe Original Pennsylvania 1000-Yard Club (Williamsport) is now accepting applications for its 2015 Long-Range Benchrest School. If you want to learn how to shoot accurately at very long range, one of the very best places to learn is the Williamsport 1000-Yard Benchrest School. The 8th Annual Benchrest School will be held Friday, June 5 through Sunday, June 7, 2015. Classes, taught by top 1K shooters, are held at the Williamsport Range, one of the best 1K ranges in the country.

From June 5-7 2015, the club will host a multi-day, long-range Benchrest Academy for novice to intermediate shooters. For $350 students will enjoy 1 night and 2 days of intensive training under the guidance of top 1000-yard shooters. Prospective students will be taught all aspects of long-range benchrest shooting by highly skilled instructors. All areas are covered: load development, precision reloading, bench skills, and target analysis. Much time is spent at the loading bench and on the firing line. And you don’t even need guns and ammo — all equipment and ammunition will be provided. The sign-up deadline is June 1st. To reserve a spot, email School Director/President Ryan Miller: ryanmiller @ htva.net.

Williamsport 1000 yard Benchrest School

School Schedule, Friday Through Sunday
On Friday night (June 5th), students will meet their mentors. Saturday (June 6th), the class moves to the range for a full day of hands-on technical training. Topics will include precision reloading, load development, gun handling, use of chronograph, analysis of shooting results, gun cleaning, and target analysis. The club will provide the rifles and all reloading components. Saturday’s training sessions are followed by a steak dinner which is included in the $350 seminar price.

On Sunday (June 7th), after an early training session covering bench set-up and match strategies, students will participate in a 1000-yard match, spending time both behind the trigger and in the pits. Instructors will explain how to read conditions, and will demonstrate target measuring and analysis after the relays. The program wraps up by 4:00 pm on Sunday.

To see what the 1K Benchrest school is like, watch the slide show/video below, produced by Sebastian Reist, an alumnus of the 2009 Williamsport 1000-yard BR school.

Please enable Javascript and Flash to view this VideoPress video.
Story Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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February 3rd, 2015

Can Cross-Training in Other Disciplines Help You Shoot Better?

Guest Article By Michelle Gallagher, Berger Bullets
Let’s face it. In the world of firearms, there is something for everyone. Do you like to compete? Are you a hunter? Are you more of a shotgun shooter or rifle shooter? Do you enjoy running around between stages of a timed course, or does the thought of shooting one-hole groups appeal to you more? Even though many of us shoot several different firearms and disciplines, chances are very good that we all have a favorite. Are we spreading ourselves too thin by shooting different disciplines, or is it actually beneficial? I have found that participating in multiple disciplines can actually improve your performance. Every style of shooting is different; therefore, they each develop different skills that benefit each other.

Michelle Gallagher Cross Training

How can cross-training in other disciplines help you? For example, I am most familiar with long-range prone shooting, so let’s start there. To be a successful long-range shooter, you must have a stable position, accurate ammunition, and good wind-reading skills. You can improve all of these areas through time and effort, but there are other ways to improve more efficiently. Spend some time practicing smallbore. Smallbore rifles and targets are much less forgiving when it comes to position and shot execution. Long-range targets are very large, so you can get away with accepting less than perfect shots. Shooting smallbore will make you focus more on shooting perfectly center shots every time. Another way to do this with your High Power rifle is to shoot on reduced targets at long ranges. This will also force you to accept nothing less than perfect. Shoot at an F-Class target with your iron sights. At 1000 yards, the X-Ring on a long range target is 10 inches; it is 5 inches on an F-Class target. Because of this, you will have to focus harder on sight alignment to hit a center shot. When you go back to the conventional target, you will be amazed at how large the ten ring looks.

Michelle Gallagher Cross Training

Also, most prone rifles can be fitted with a bipod. Put a bipod and scope on your rifle, and shoot F-TR. Shooting with a scope and bipod eliminates position and eyesight factors, and will allow you to concentrate on learning how to more accurately read the wind. The smaller target will force you to be more aggressive on your wind calls. It will also help encourage you to use better loading techniques. Nothing is more frustrating than making a correct wind call on that tiny target, only to lose the point out the top or bottom due to inferior ammunition. If you put in the effort to shoot good scores on the F-Class target, you will be amazed how much easier the long-range target looks when you return to your sling and iron sights. By the same token, F-Class shooters sometimes prefer to shoot fast and chase the spotter. Shooting prone can help teach patience in choosing a wind condition to shoot in, and waiting for that condition to return if it changes.

Benchrest shooters are arguably among the most knowledgeable about reloading. If you want to learn better techniques about loading ammunition, you might want to spend some time at benchrest matches. You might not be in contention to win, but you will certainly learn a lot about reloading and gun handling. Shooting F-Open can also teach you these skills, as it is closely related to benchrest. Benchrest shooters may learn new wind-reading techniques by shooting mid- or long-range F-Class matches.

Michelle Gallagher Cross TrainingPosition shooters can also improve their skills by shooting different disciplines. High Power Across-the-Course shooters benefit from shooting smallbore and air rifle. Again, these targets are very small, which will encourage competitors to be more critical of their shot placement. Hunters may benefit from shooting silhouette matches, which will give them practice when shooting standing with a scoped rifle. Tactical matches may also be good, as tactical matches involve improvising shots from various positions and distances. [Editor: Many tactical matches also involve hiking or moving from position to position — this can motivate a shooter to maintain a good level of general fitness.]

These are just a few ways that you can benefit from branching out into other shooting disciplines. Talk to the other shooters. There is a wealth of knowledge in every discipline, and the other shooters will be more than happy to share what they have learned. Try something new. You may be surprised what you get out of it. You will certainly learn new skills and improve the ones you already have. You might develop a deeper appreciation for the discipline you started off with, or you may just discover a new passion.

This article originally appeared in the Berger Bulletin. The Berger Bulletin blog contains the latest info on Berger products, along with informative articles on target shooting and hunting.

Article Find by EdLongrange.

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February 1st, 2015

Over-Shooting the Berm — When a Mere 5 Degrees Can Be Deadly

In our Shooters’ Forum, there was an discussion about a range that was threatened with closure because rifle over-shoots were hitting a farm building over two miles from the firing line. One reader was skeptical of this, asking “how’s that possible — were these guys aiming at the stars?” Actually, you may be surprised. It doesn’t take much up-angle on a rifle to have a bullet land miles down-range. That’s why it’s so important that hunters and target shooters always orient their barrels in a safe direction (and angle). Shooters may not realize how much a small tilt of the barrel (above horizontal) can alter a bullet’s trajectory.

How many degrees of muzzle elevation do you think it would take to hit a barn at 3000 yards? Ten Degrees? Twenty Degrees? Actually the answer is much less — for a typical hunting cartridge, five to seven degrees of up-angle on the rifle is enough to create a trajectory that will have your bullet impacting at 3000 yards — that’s 1.7 miles away!

Five degrees isn’t much at all. Look at the diagram below. The angle actually displayed for the up-tilted rifle is a true 5.07 degrees (above horizontal). Using JBM Ballistics, we calculated 5.07° as the angle that would produce a 3000-yard impact with a 185gr .30-caliber bullet launched at 2850 fps MV. That would be a moderate “book load” for a .300 Win Mag deer rifle.

Gun Angle long range

Here’s how we derived the angle value. Using Litz-derived BCs for a 185gr Berger Hunting VLD launched at 2850 fps, the drop at 3000 yards is 304.1 MOA (Minutes of Angle), assuming a 100-yard zero. This was calculated using a G7 BC with the JBM Ballistics Program. There are 60 MOA for each 1 degree of Angle. Thus, 304.1 MOA equals 5.068 degrees. So, that means that if you tilt up your muzzle just slightly over five degrees, your 185gr bullet (2850 fps MV) will impact 3000 yards down-range.

Gun Angle long range

Figuring Trajectories with Different Bullets and MVs
If the bullet travels slower, or if you shoot a bullet with a lower BC, the angle elevation required for a 3000-yard impact goes up, but the principle is the same. Let’s say you have a 168gr HPBT MatchKing launched at 2750 fps MV from a .308 Winchester. (That’s a typical tactical load.) With a 100-yard zero, the total drop is 440.1 MOA, or 7.335 degrees. That’s more up-tilt than our example above, but seven degrees is still not that much, when you consider how a rifle might be handled during a negligent discharge. Think about a hunter getting into position for a prone shot. If careless, he could easily touch off the trigger with a muzzle up-angle of 10 degrees or more. Even when shooting from the bench, there is the possibility of discharging a rifle before the gun is leveled, sending the shot over the berm and, potentially, thousands of yards down-range.

Hopefully this article has shown folks that a very small amount of barrel elevation can make a huge difference in your bullet’s trajectory, and where it eventually lands. Nobody wants to put holes in a distant neighbor’s house, or worse yet, have the shot cause injury. Let’s go back to our original example of a 185gr bullet with a MV of 2850 fps. According to JBM, this projectile will still be traveling 687 fps at 3000 yards, with 193.7 ft/lbs of retained energy at that distance. That’s more than enough energy to be deadly.

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January 27th, 2015

Making the Mile Shot — The Stottlemyer Family Quest

Many of us dream about taking (and making) a one-mile shot someday. To accomplish this feat, you need a very accurate rifle, ultra-consistent ammo, good logistics, and, of course, the proper location. In their quest to make the mile shot, Kerry Stottlemyer and his uncle Ron headed to the California desert. There they would attempt to “reach out and touch” a target 1760 yards distant. Here is their story….

Shooting at a Mile with a .300 Win Mag (from Sierra Bullets Blog)
My uncle, Ron Stottlemyer, was serious about this trip and this mile shot. He was sparing no expense and assured me that everything would be ready in December to make this shot, the only thing left to risk was the weather. The area we were planning on has some unpredictable winds, but in December it’s pretty calm so we hoped for the best.

After a year of planing, my uncle arrived at the airport with his Remington Sendero in tow, a .300 Win Mag with a Leupold Mk4 LR scope on it. We went to my place to tear down the rifle, thread the barrel and install the muzzle brake I made for him. We worked hard to bed the scope base and remount and bore sight the scope before the weekend.

Remington Sendero
The rifle: a Remington Sendero in .300 Win Mag with a Leupold Mk4 8.5-24X LR TRM scope, on Talley rings and a badger base. I threaded the barrel and installed the brake that we designed and I made, bedded the action, and bedded the scope base. Bore sighted it, reassembled it and tested everything for function and safety. The powder, primers, brass and bullets (220 gr HPBT Sierra MatchKings #2240) were all purchased online.

With everything packed, we headed out to the California desert to some Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land that would give us enough room to safely stretch the Sendero’s legs (see the photo below). Friday was spent reloading a few rounds at a time to get his scope zeroed, then on to working up loads for the next day’s attempt at 1760 yards (1 mile) (See Photo below).

mile shot sierra bullets
Photo shows the camp from the target, GPS-located 1.00 miles away. That’s 1760 yards.

Saturday morning arrived and it was time to make breakfast and coffee. Mountain man breakfast in a dutch oven cooked over a camp fire. Bacon, sausage, potatoes, green peepers, onions, eggs, and cheese. Better then any breakfast made at home.

I set up my spotting scope get it dialed in and could immediately see that the wind was going to be an issue. My uncle got the rifle up on the bench, got the bags positioned, dialed the magnification all the way up to 25X on the scope and asked me for the come-ups. I told him to come up 150 clicks and give me two mils right windage.

Walking in the Shots at One Mile
He got set while I watched the wind see it settle into a rhythm and say “send it.” He let one fly and it landed about ten feet left and about 100 yards short. I scratched my head, the wind was doing something funny. I said, “Give me two more mil elevation and another mil right windage.” He let another one fly and this time the bullet struck within feet of the target. Ok, we were getting there – a little more windage and 1/4 mil more elevation. He let another one fly but said he pulled that one.

We battled the wind for the next seventeen shots, getting within a few feet of the target each time. Turned out where the bullet was at its highest point of its path is where the worst of the wind was. He let go of the 19th shot and put that one right at the base of the target! Then he said, “I got this one.” (Meaning he needed no more corrections from me.)

The 20th shot (at a range that the .300 Win Mag has one hell of a time hitting) nailed the target just low and left of center! He did it! He nailed it at one mile with loads I built that day!

To say he jumped for joy is an understatement. He pushed that round further then anyone would have any good excuse to do so. Most would not attempt a shot like that without stepping up to the .338 Lapua, but no, he had it in his head he was going to do it, and he did.

Kerry Stottlemyer Reloading
Kerry Stottlemyer loading up the 220 gr boat tail Sierra MatchKings.

Sierra Bullets Blog Mile Shot Stottlemyer

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