A couple months ago, I had a group of boy scouts come up to the shop to learn about what goes into a long range precision rifle build. After an hour or so of discribing what goes into it, I offered to take them out for a shoot if they wanted to do some hands on shooting.
Well, two weeks ago, I was contacted by their troop leader and asked if I was serious about the offer, I said you bet, give me a date. They wanted to do it today which was good because it gave me a couple weeks to get ready for the shoot.
Most of these kids either had no shooting experience at all or very little and none of them had any experience shooting over a couple hundred yards. As such, I wanted to make sure I started out slow with them and worked up. We agreed to meet at my long range shooting area at 8:00 in the morning and for them to bring hearing protection and binos so they could see what was going on down range.
In the mean time, I had to get a couple rifles made up I wanted to take and was able to do that in the evenings and weekends. THe last two days this week, Dad and I took all the rifles up and get them dialed in best we could dealing with 15 to 30 mph winds. The rifles I decided to take were as follows:
Ruger M77MkII Varminter in 22-250 AI
Rem 700 Varminter in 6.5mm WSM
My wifes 1K rifle in 6.5mm Allen Magnum
My lightweight 7mm Allen Magnum
My Raptor in 300 Allen Xpress
An Xtreme Heavy Sporter in 375 Allen Magnum
AR-50 in the standard 50 BMG(did not have time to rebarrel to 510 AM)
I figred that would give the kids plenty of options. THe 22-250 AI, 7mm AM and 300 AX were set up to use the reticle for hold over for ranges from 0 to 800 to 1100 yards as these are my big game rifles.
The 6.5mm WSM, 6.5mm AM and 50 BMG were dialed in at 1000 yards.
Dad and I headed up to the range at 6:30 this morning with a truck full of steel, rifles, benches and water filled milk jugs. We set my round gong up at 1K and set the milk jugs out at ranges from 390 to 820 yards. For a little extreme shooting, I set my 18"x36" gong up at an even 1760 yards. We then set the Varmint Master shooting benches up and before the kids got there I set the 375 AM up and took a few sight in shots at the mile range at a milk jug I had set up. Took three shots once set up, two landed right at the base of the jug and one just to the right, all were easily close enough to hit center steel and within 10" ctc easily. Figured she was ready.
The kids showed up and we went over the regular safety rules and then it was time to get started. It was a great morning, high clouds, no wind hardly at all and cool at around 40 degrees.
To start with, I let each one give the little 22-250 AI a try at the milk jugs at the 390 to 820 yard range. Now this is no ordinary 22-250 AI. I have it on a 1-6 twist Lilja shooting the old 107 gr ULD RBBT Wildcats at 3150 fps. This bullet has a BC in the .720 range so at that velocity, its pretty damn impressive. Each shot 5 shots and every one of them broke at least one milk jug at ranges of at least 500 yards.
Once we got through with that, we set up Becs 6.5mm Allen Magnum on the 1000 yard gong. The kids were noticably intimidated by the rifle and the range but that stopped with the first shot for each of them. A couple of them rang steel on their first shot but all of them hit steel on their second shots. Of the five kids, three of them went three for three at 1000 yards with that rifle and the other two went two for three. I was very impressed with their shooting.
By this time, the temps were warming up and the mirage was starting to boil up so I decided to let them give the 1 mile gong a try. I pulled out the big 375 AM and set it up on the bench and as I was doing that I could hear the boys talking behind me and they were very intimidated by the shear size of this rifle.
A bit of background on this rifle. Its one of the very first repeaters I have made on my Chey Tac based wildcats using the Lawton M8000 receiver, Chey Tac 7 round DM system, 34" Krieger SS barrel and McMillan A-5 Super Mag stock. Add a Jewell BR trigger, two sets of NF .885 rings and a NF NXS 5.5-22x 56mm riding on top.
She is a big rifle, around 22 lbs as you see it but its not built for a packing rifle. Pure and simple, sit and shoot A LONG WAY!!!!
I got the rifle set up and the first young man got in the hot seat. He said he ws having trouble seeing the gong so I looked through the spotter and sure enough, the mirage was terrible. Unfortunately, we had gotten alot of moisture a couple days eariler and the ground was quite damp. Plus, add to that the rising temps and lack of wind and the fact that over the mile, the line of sight came within 20 yards of the ground in four different points making several different mirage boil points to try to read through. IT was about the most intense mirage I have ever tried to shoot through.
I told the him to do his best and give it a go and gave him a bit of instruction about mirage shooting which was really of no help in these conditions. He throw a few shots at the gong and did come close but never hit it. None of them did, all had at least one shot come within inches of the gong but none hit it.
They all seems a bit discouraged as they really did not have a crasp on what they were doing, that being shooting at a mile. They had done so well at 1000 yard shooting over clear air that this seemed to discourage them. Seeing this I wanted to show them it was not them so I got on the rifle. I took three shots at the gong and did hit the very bottom edge of it on the last shot but I have never seen a target image dance around a reticle like I did this morning, it was truely amazing to see, even when I turned down to 15x on the NF.
I truely felt bad, After shooting the 375 AM early that morning, I knew what it could do and I Wanted to give these boys a chance to do something very had done, something they could really talk about but the conditions just did not allow it.
After that, I pulled out my 7mm AM and the 300 AX and let them rip apart the milk jugs some more. After that, we pulled out the 6.5mm WSM and they rang the 1K gong many more times each. They all shot very well. After that, I pulled the BMG out and let them make some gravel. The loads they were shooting were using mil surplus M33 projos that are not overly accurate but they had a good time busting some rocks and reducing them to gravel.
After that it was time for them to go and they thanked me greatly for the chance to shoot at long range. They seemed to have a hell of a time. My only regret was that I did not tell Dad to get the camera out and take some pics fo the boys shooting. I was focusing on coaching the boys and spotting for them as they shot so I did not take any pictures.
After the left, Dad and I started to pack up. I noticed that things had cooled off noticably as the clouds had thickened and the breeze had shifted from the north. It was noticably cooler. I looked though the spotter and the 1 mile gong looked pretty clear.......
I told dad I was going to smack that gong, not by chance like I had when shooting with the boys there.
Set the 375 AM up and took some wind estimates and made a windage correction. I took the first shot and it landed JUST off the left edge of the gong, roughly 10" low of point of aim. I made a scope adjustment for the windage and took another shot, many seconds later, the report drifted back to us, a hit!!! I could see a solid lead smear roughly a foot low of the aiming point on the gong. I racked in another round and sent it on the way. Before we heard anything I saw another lead smear roughly three inches to the left of the first shot and about an inch or two higher as well.
I told Dad to get on the rifle and send one up there. He did and through the spotter I saw a lead smear form a bit lower then my two but making a three shot triangle that measured roughly 6" ctc.
Here is a pic of the gong. You can see the first hit by chance on the bottom edge of the gong and then the great group made by Dad and me combining on the group. Very happy with that.
Always amazes me how dependant we are on shooting conditions. Good to ideal conditions, seems like we have very few limitations. Anything less then that, we get our legs taken out from under us no matter how good the equipment is or how good we are as shooters. I only wish the kids would have been able to shoot in these better conditions.
Right after Dad got done shooting, we got hit by a small hail storm which forced us to wrap things up and pack up the gear, jugs and benches. It was an honor to take these young men out and let them shoot. THey shot very well and hopefully had an eye opener of what they were capable of shooting at long range. Its very rewarding to see young shooters be successful shooting, can not think of many more rewarding things in our sport. It was a good day. Just wanted to share.