Ward Brien Long Distance Shooting School
I recently had the privilege of attending a long distance shooting school taught by Ward Brien of Snipertools.com. When first approached by a friend of mine about attending the school, I was both excited and apprehensive. I have always been interested with the concept of long distance shooting, yet I was also apprehensive about the cost of the school and the knowledge I could attain in three days. Prior to attending the school, we had been shooting at distances out to 1,100 yards with limited success, and had attained some knowledge in the use of Mil holdovers, mil ranging, and interior and exterior ballistic effects. I have always had the ability to self teach myself in just about any area, and there are books full of information on the art of long distance shooting, so the big question was whether Ward Brien could teach me anything I couldn't learn in the books, and would that information be worth the money. The answer was definitely yes, Ward Brien not only taught me how little I actually knew, his knowledge was worth every penny and more.
The school itself was taught on private land in an incredible mountain setting in the heart of Utah. If we had gained nothing else from the class, the beautiful scenery and accommodations made it well worth the trip. Upon arriving the first evening, we were greeted by Ward and escorted to the mountain cabin where we would be staying along with Ward and one of his co-instructor, Gary Clayton. Upon arriving at the cabin, we were introduced to the owners of the cabin and surrounding private land that would be utilized for the school. One would think in today's day and age that any private land owner with a place that special would be apprehensive in allowing two individuals of whom they know nothing about, access their land in such a fashion, but not only were we welcomed, we were treated as friends from the moment we arrived until our departure. Along with this introduction to the land owners, we were introduced for the first time to Mr. Gary Clayton. Gary is a special individual, and it was a pleasure to make his acquaintance. Aside from an extensive career in law enforcement, Gary distinguished himself with a 24 year career in special forces to include 12 years functioning as an A team member in multiple areas of operation. Also assisting with the class was Eldon Tuttle. Aside from being part owner of the land, Eldon distinguished himself in the Army as a long distance shooter and followed his military service up with a career in law enforcement as well. Not only are these men a wealth of knowledge, we owe them our gratitude as a nation for their years of dedicated service both in the military and law enforcement communities. I still do not know much about the background of Ward Brien, but I do know he possesses a very unique set of skills when it comes to the art of long distance shooting. Before I continue on with a brief description of the class itself, my friend and I would like to offer our heart felt thanks for the way that Ward, Gary, and Eldon accepted us and treated us. From the moment we met them, they made us feel not only welcome, they made us feel like we belonged. Those three individuals left a positive impression on me that I will carry for the rest of my life.
As mentioned above, the school itself took place over a three day period, with day one being dedicated primarily to class room study. Following a day in the books, we spent the rest of the first evening zeroing and chronographing rifles. It was at the conclusion of this shooting session that I experienced for the first time the true skill set that Ward possesses, when he demonstrated those skills utilizing a .308 gas gun. Watching him center a target with three rounds fired in rapid succession on a target 800 meters away not only left me in awe, it solidified the idea that we had chosen the right person to instruct us in the art of long range marksmanship. As most everyone who has shot at extreme distances realizes, the true challenge in long distance shooting doesn't take place when the marksman squeezes the trigger, the true challenge takes place before the marksman ever sets himself behind the gun. This is where Ward separates himself from the rest of the pack, and this is why we sought him out for this school. On day two of the school we took to the field for a day shooting at multiple targets at various distances and slope angles, and through multiple layers of wind at distances out to 900 meters. This is when the true education really started. Being able to identify multiple layers of wind from a variety of directions, read the mirage and vegetation in order to gauge the velocities of these winds, understand how the terrain can effect these variables, compensate for the angle of the sun and shadow effects, and piece this puzzle into a shooting solution is an art form, and a skill Ward has perfected, and a skill he teaches well. Day two was spent studying, learning, and compensating for these effects while placing shots on 10” steel targets decorating the hillsides. Unlike day two, day three started without rifle in hand. Rising before the sun, the first hours of day three began with a study of how the rising sun, climbing temperatures and mountain terrain effect the wind. This study took place throughout the day as we transitioned into our final day of shooting. Shooting on day three began shortly after our sunrise study. Similar to day two, we spent the day shooting at multiple targets at various distances and slope angles, and through multiple layers of wind, with one little twist. That little twist was a stop watch. Unlike day two when we were able to take our time, read the surroundings, relax and shoot, on day three we were given a 5 minute period to range, read and gauge the winds, adjust for angle and sun, plot a solution, dial in the dope and send a shot down range with a follow up shot if necessary. That little bit of pressure added a “real world” effect to the scenario and made for an exciting and fun day of shooting on targets ranging from 500 meters out to a mile. To watch the impact of a bullet as it strikes a steal silhouette at a distance of a mile and know that you sent the round home is an exhilarating feeling, and one that we never would have imagined experiencing until we met Ward.
I won't go into anymore details of the class, if you want to know more, you are going to have to find out for yourselves. Whether you are just a casual shooter looking to improve your accuracy and distance, or you are a serious long distance marksman, Ward Brien has something to offer you, and you will be learning from one of the best. If you are a serious hunter and spend a great deal of time hunting mountainous terrain, the knowledge you can obtain from Ward Brien can be priceless.
Again, our heartfelt thanks and a great deal of respect go out to Ward Brien, Gary Clayton and Eldon Tuttle for a time we will never forget.