Just wanted to share my experiences with the 406 Precision shooting course that was just conducted in Montana this past weekend. First I should back up and say that my trip was planned several months ago and both Jason and Jordan (J&J) have kept excellent communication with me as well as all the other attendees. They made sure to reply back to every one of my emails questions and even called several times to make sure I had all the information I needed. Since I was flying in to Missoula, MT from my home in Augusta, GA. Because of this I was limited in the amount of gear I could pack for the air travel, however J&J were able to help me out with some items I needed for my trip. Another great bonus was they were able to arrange for someone to pick me up at the Missoula airport hotel and bring me all the way down to the camp at Royal Tine where the course was being conducted. Friday morning Greg from Snowy Mountain Rifles met me in the lobby of the hotel and helped me load my gear in his truck. He was another GA native , now a MT resident and we talked during the drive down about fly fishing rivers and of course the rifles Snowy Mountain produces. Once we got to the Royal Tine property both J&J came out to the parking area to greet us both, and then I gathered my stuff to bring to the wall tent I would be staying in for the next few nights. As the day wore on the rest of the other attendees arrived and then we were given a brief of the course for the next 3 days. Then we were given a safety brief, which was good because during this Jason introduced himself as a trained EMT as well. I know this doesn't mean much but coming from the military , I am used to always having a medic on standby for any training evolution so this was just a good fit. We started off by laying behind our rifles, and practicing trigger squeeze and breathing while looking through the scope. This was particular good for me because I was borrowing one of the 406 Precision rifles built by Snowy Mountain Rifles, chambered in 308. After looking at the rest of the rifles down the line several of which were custom rifles built by Snowy Mountain for customers who were here now part of the course I thought wow what a great way to connect the two businesses but most of all letting their customers get a chance to meet staff from Snowy Mountain. One by one J&J would call one of us to the firing bench which had a chronograph set up so we could get info which we would later use in creating our drop charts. After that we were introduced to the Royal Tine Guide School couple of Cody and Lee ree. Lee Ree was our camp cook and all I can say is wow, she can make the best camp food you will ever eat. She had great stories of mountain lion chasing and tagging adventures and other guided hunts she participated in. Later on we had a class on inputting information into Shooter or applied ballistic apps everyone had downloaded on their phones. We were shown how to make measurements from scope height and how to level our reticles. We then went through setting up a table for each of our rifles, and then transferring that info onto a simple 3x5 card, because redundancy is key, and knowing batteries do fail sometimes its good to have a hard copy of your DOPE. The morning had us all getting up for another wonderful treat of camp breakfast and then heading up to the the first shooting area. When I say area we were in the hills. We got a chance to create a new Dope chart given the days Barometric pressure and weather conditions, as well as make another card. We then got a chance to fire our rifles at targets ranging from 200 to 800 yards. I was particularly pleased that my shots on the steel plates at the 200,400, and 600 all hit in the painted orange bulleyes. Wow that .308 can shoot! However the 800 yard target proved to be my white whale because it was just far enough out that the wind caused issues for my bullet. I still hit the steel plate, just not in the Orange Bullseye! After lunch we came back and everyone had a chance to shoot at a new target set in the bottom of a draw. This was a small round steel plate. We were not given the distance but had to figure that out ourselves and most of all had to shoot from a tripod with a yoke on top. It proved quite difficult to get a rock solid position on this and it was a good challenge because in real hunting situations you never get the benefit of a perfect shooting position at times.
The last day was a very welcome treat because our class room setting was exactly what I imagined elk and mule deer country would like. Infact Cody told me that during the winter he has almost 1000 head of elk in his valley! As we drove up to the firing area we could spot targets down below and way off in the distance on the distant hill sides. It was easy to imagine trophy bulls standing where those steel plates were set up! After a quick safety brief and explanation of what we would be doing we were broken up into our teams and got to shoot in some challenges. My partner was Greg from Snowy Mountain Rifles and he had his personal .260 and I had the .308. During one of the challenges we had to shoot at targets starting from 200 and working our way out to five other targets at greater distance. Greg and I seemed to have great communication because we would call wind readings and dope adjustments and make hits on the five required targets which seemed very easy. Then after we were allowed to pick a target any distance and shoot at it. If we made it then the other teams would have to follow suit or shoot at a further target to win. Greg asked me what I wanted to shoot at and I chose my White Whale distance , a target set a 747. I settled in made the correct scope adjustments and squeezed the trigger, Bulleye!!! Greg followed with his shot and hit Bullseye right next to mine! This was our posted high distant number so each team after us would have to both make a hit on a target greater than this. Luckily for Greg and I we were able to hold on ! The next thing we got to do was fire at will at any of the targets set out on the range, as well as try and take out any gophers down in the area. I can say one thing , those critters are very brave but I did score a great hit on one standing tall at 577, the .308 rolled him like a bowling pin. I then got brave and went after the steel plate out at 1120. My first shot was 3 mils left as I saw the impact through the Vortex scope. I put another round in quick and held over 3 mils and fired again, this time I could see the impact and could hear the slight ding in the far distance. After that I just kept firing at that target in varying winds. It was great to see the capability of the .308 out to that distance and see how the wind can really mess up a shot. This is important because it proved that you have to pay close attention to the wind. We wrapped up that afternoon and headed back to camp and packed our gear from the wall tents and enjoyed one last camp meal! We all exchanged info and goodbyes, then Greg drove me back to Missoula to a hotel I had booked so I can catch a flight home the next day.
As I sit back now and think about the course I want to share with everyone that my desire to attend this course was because first off I am hunter. I was fortunate to take advantage of Idaho's Disable Veterans hunting program and went to Idaho last year on a elk and deer hunt. That trip some nice mule deer were passed on at 600yds because I did not have confidence in making that shot. I was hoping the 406 Precision course was going to be more than just some tacticool shooting school shooting at man targets on flat ground or some urban warfare setup. I was medically retired as an Infantry Officer in 2011 after being wounded in Iraq so I wasn't looking for one of those course. I'm a firm believer if you are then enlist in the military, they have some great schools and instructors for that, however the selection process is alot harder than just going out an purchasing the latest and greatest rifles and gear. I know I had a sniper section under my command, those kids were some of the smartest and most fearless Soldiers I had the honor of leading in combat. This course was held in Gods country, by this I mean the same ground that Cody guides hunters on come hunting season. This could not be duplicated back east where I live in GA. Those steel targets could have easily have been elk or deer come fall! The level of instruction was excellent, J&J didn't use any terminology that was over our heads they explained everything and took the time to ask questions to make sure we all understood and got the information. They took the time to sit with everyone and ask them on how they felt they were doing and offered advice when we asked. I know for some of the readers on this Forum Montana is a long way to go for a shooting course, but again the 406 and Royal Tine folks who teamed up to create this course did something right. I could only think back to my military days in where we would be sent to training or exercise areas that closely resembled the areas we would be deployed to. Well in this case if you attend you are going to elk territory, proven on our first day as we glassed some cows and calfs on a far ridgetop across the valley! We slept in wall tents with wood heaters (yea we used them) ate in a cook tent, and used an out house! Can't get any closer to simulating a hunt than that. If anyone would like to hear more about the 406 Precision course or the Royal Tine camp or even the Snowy Mountain Rifle I shot you can contact me. I'd be glad to give you my opinion and feedback.
Thank Jordan and Jason for inviting me out, I know one thing, when I see some trophy game this fall in Idaho I will be more than prepared to make long range ethical shots.