Well, my first grand slam for the Varmint Hunters Down Range club is finally over. It started three years ago with the 500 yard club. Interestingly enough I scored on two 702 yard one shot kills with a 6-284 that I had built by Dennis Olsen of Plains Montana before I got into building my own pee shooters. That was in the spring of 2003.
Just after that I lobbed a big 750 gr A-Max into a chuck at 902 yards so I decided to use that one for my 500 yard club qualifying shot.
The actual summer of 2003 was a crazy building the shop and getting all the machinery moved in and set up took up pretty much all of my summer but we did get out a couple times and I was fortunate enough to score on my first 1000 yard kill using the above mentioned 6-284 using a 107 gr SMK loaded to 3450 fps.
I had taken several chucks at ranges from 1/2 mile to around 1000 yards and the performance of the 107 gr SMK left me wanting more as far as terminal performance. I had hit and lost several chucks to their dens using this combo but with the above 1055 yard hit I was lucky enough to get a head shot which ended things instantly.
Still, as I was just starting to get my shop up and running I did not want to submit another Down Range qualifying shot with another smiths rifle. May be kind of silly but I wanted to get into these clubs with qualifying shots with rifles I built and with wildcats I designed as I was just beginning to play with the design of my first Allen Magnum wildcats.
2004 and 2005 was a blurr in the shop getting started and trying to get rifles out the door. That on top of some crazy ideas with some new Allen Magnum wildcats and getting them tested and promoted really did not leave any time for long range shooting. In fact over the two summers we only went out twice.
In the fall of 2005 we decided 2006 would be the year to really hit the down range clubs hard and try to get into at least the 1000 yard club and go from there. Realistically we knew that getting into the 1000 yard club would not be easy but we hoped we could do it and then move onto other ranges and see what happened from there.
This is where things got kind of strange, first outing we set up and I had little Black Sunshine with me on her first long range outing. Logical progression would figure we would shoot for the 1000 yard club first but we found chucks at what would prove to be measured at +2300 yards.
The thoughts of "Lets see what she will do" popped into my head and after four shots, I was in the farthest of the down range clubs with a chuck kill at a measured 2370 yards!!
After that I pretty much stopped trying for any more down range clubs and my dad and brother started going for the 1000 yard club hot and heavy. Well, it really did not take that long. In one outing my brother scored on a chuck at 1070 yards and on the very next shot my dad scored on a chuck at just a bit farther range at 1080 yards.
They both used my brothers 338 Kahn which I built for him on my Heavy V-Block rifle design.
Now it was my turn to start over and go for the 1000 yard club. On the next outing I had Black Sunshine and had a bit of trouble with my zero and sent more bullets down range then I was expecting to. Still, I did score a kill at 1095 yards with her qualifying me for the 1K club.
Now all three of us were in the 500 yard club and also in the 1K club. Now it was onto the 1.5K club. It was getting a bit late in the season up here in Montana and VERY hot for up here and the chuck activity had dropped off significantly. In fact on two early morning outings we only saw two chucks total over the two trips and only allowed two bullets to be put in the air at a range of 1770 yards with no hits.
This brings us to Saturday morning. Well, actually Friday night, I called my dad and brother and asked if they wanted to give it a whirl early Saturday morning. My brother had to work but dad said he would be up early so the next morning we headed out and got set up at 1770 yards from our favorite chuck rock piles. Only problem is no chucks showed.
We decided to just do some practice shooting and started picking out rocks to bust. After some slight tweaking of Black Sunshine, both Dad and I were making gravel wirh nearly every shot.
Then for some reason I started glassing the upper rims looking for muler deer to be honest. At the lower portion of one rim I saw a row of rock piles with two small black dots sitting up on one specific pile. They looked out of place.
I knew these rock piles were there but I had never seen any chucks on them so seldom did I give them any notice. I watched these two black dots for a while and just when I had decided they were just rocks, ONE MOVED!!! They were chucks!!
I flew off the spotter and got the Wild range finder lined up on them. Lined everything up and came up with 1920 meters. Ran the conversion and came up with 2100 yards on the money.
I plugged everything into Exbal and gave the big IOR the cranks up. Unfortunately we topped out right where I needed to be which I really do not like so I cranked the elevation down to give the scope some clearance and told dad to just use the first large line down for a dead on hold and we would see where the bullet landed from there.
His first shot was perfect windage wise but about 5 feet down. I asked him if he saw where the shot hit and he said yes. I then told him to hold the reticle the same place he had for the shot and then compare where the bullet actually landed and make a reference to that spot on the vertical stadia of the reticle and that that was his new aiming point.
He lined Black Sunshine up again but this time I heard a click, BOOM at the break of the trigger. Hang fire. The shot landed several feet load from the flinch the hangfire cause dad at the shot.
I had had several of these shooting this load as I needed to up the powder charge a couple grains to eliminate this problem, just to low a pressure for US869. Its hard to believe a 300 gr bullet at 3380 fps is at such low pressure that hangfired are a problem!!!
I told him to line up again but this time really concentrate through the hang fire if it happened. I was asking alot as there is very little in shooting more distracting then a hang fire.
At the second trigger break there was a good instant BOOM and the shot landed 6" under the chuck!! I told him to take the same hold but just raise it up to the top of the chucks head and squeeze.
At the shot, another click, BOOM but he had held through the hang fire well and the shot landed about a foot to the right of the chuck.
Suprisingly the chuck stayed put for another two rounds. One was a severe hangfire which dad pulled about 4 feet low and the other was another fine shot which was so close to the chuck he dove off the rock from the chips flying in his face. Well under 6" away from the chuck.
We set there letting Black Sunshine cool back down. I was a bit discusted with myself and the hangfires as they were giving dad heck trying to shoot consistantly. He felt bad for getting that close but still missing. I kept telling him that he is inches from a hit at 2100 yards at least three different times, there was no reason to be sorry as he was doing some world class shooting.
While the barrel was cooling we make it a point to not even glass the chucks, if we see one we will shoot and the barrel will never get cooled off!!
After 15 minutes or so we lined back up on the chucks and there was a big mature chuck up the row of rocks a ways. I told dad to hold another 1/4 mil over the chucks from the last volley and at the first shot the bullet landed just behind the chuck. The dust cloud erupted directly behind the profiling chuck on the rock pile.
I reported the hit and dad dropped his hold slightly and sent another shot down range. The bullet again impacted behind the chuck but this time the dust cloud originated even lower behind the chuck. Had to be getting close.
On the third shot, another click, BOOM and I looked for the shot to land low. Mad at myself for this Dad was putting it on him for the pulled shots.
I told him it was not his fault and to throw another at the chuck.
At the break of the trigger on the fourth shot all was normal and the big bullet landed right at the left bottom edge of the chuck which sent him flying up in the air. I was hopeful for a hit but the chuck landed on the rocks and took off running several yards up the piles. Then stopped and looked around. Dad took one more shot at the chuck and this shot landed about 1 foot low but close enough to make the chuck decide he had had enough of these spontaneous exploding rocks for the day and hit the den.
Dad felt terrible for missing, I was very happy with his shooting even without considering the damn hangfires he was shooting extremely well!!
He told me he wanted me to shoot and he would spot. IT was getting pretty hot and I figured no more chucks would come out so I agreed to shoulder the rifle. We let her cool for about 15 minuted more and then looked up toward the rock piles again. The mirage was getting pretty heavy now but I saw a single dark shadow at the top of one of the piles that I did not remember seeing there before.
This is often the case finding chucks at this range. Study the area and them watch for something that was not there before. Seeing fine detail at +2000 yards is not easy to do on a chuck size target.
I pointed dad to the area I was looking at and after watching it for a couple minutes we both saw it move, lifted its head.
I asked him if he wanted to shoot at it and he told me to shoot the damn thing!! Being a good boy I do what my father tells me to do. I figured the hold and lined the reticle up on the dark shadow and let a round rip up to the rock piles.
I did not see the bullet hit and dad was not saying anything for several seconds and then he said, "You either hit it or made it move!"
I did not see it move at all, in fact I could still see what I had been shooting at in the same spot it was in. I told him I thought it was a miss but I would take another shot at it. I lined up for shot two which dropped about 10" below my point of aim. Shot number three landed right on the bottom line of the dark shadow. If it was a chuck it would have moved for sure with that impact.
I decided it was a miss and what I was shooting at was not a chuck but Dad insisted we drive around and check things out to be sure. It was getting hot so we packed up and headed around to see what we could find.
When we got to the rock piles with the truck we were about 200 yards from them and started walking up the hill to them. As we did, a HUGE chuck jumped up on the rock piles. One of the biggest I had seen in this area probably weighing around 16 lbs. Just a monster chuck for this area that we hunt in. He was not overly concerned as he waddled up along the rock piles. We do not shoot chucks at under 800 yards so he was plenty safe from us and was fun to watch this close. He allowed us to get within 50 yards or so of him before he barked at us and hit his den.
We then continued up to the pile where I had shot at. Dad was the first one there and he said, "well, your done!!"
I did not believe him to be honest but as I climbed up the pile I saw the chuck laying there where he had been at the first shot. The chuck was positioned facing us and the bullet had impacted right behind the head of the chuck and traveled down the length of the chuck ending things instantly. That was why I saw nothing fly or flip or wiggle or anything.
I was pretty amazed to be honest and still am.
So my 1500 yard club qualifying shot was 2100 yards
For the Grand Slam I had a total of 6467 yards for the four shots: 902 yards, 1095 yards, 2100 yards and 2370 yards.
I could not be happier with the performance of Black Sunshine. Now I just need to give her a bit more powder to settle those hangfires down some!!!
I am done for the summer, just a driver and spotter now, thats it. Now its time to get my Dad and brother into the 1500 yard clubs. We will see. We will try when we can until late August and then we will switch over to setting the rifles up for big game hunting season and practice in the 600 to 1000 yard range to get ready for big game season. Not that we will look to shoot that far but to be ready just in case.
SO my quest for my first Varmint Hunters Down Range Club Grand Slam is over.
My next one will have a total of 8000 yards for the four shots!!! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
For now though, just shy of 1620 yard per shot average is more then enough for me. Next spring and summer I will be after the ellusive 2500 yard and then play with 3000 yards possibly. We will see.
Although it started three years ago, the last three stages of the the game went pretty fast Almost 2 months exactly is all for a 1095, 2100 and 2370 yard kills on rockchucks. I am very happy with Black Sunshine [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]!!!