Report On Defensive Edge Long Range Shooting Class
By Len Backus, Publisher of Long Range Hunting
It was the last day of the long range shooting class given by Shawn Carlock of Defensive Edge. The three shots went into 3 inches at 835 yards. That’s pretty good long range shooting. But what if I told you this long range shooting group consisted of 3 first-round hits shot by 3 different shooters using 3 different long range rifles?
There was some side-wind, mirage and an occasional updraft. We three shooters were out to show our teacher what we could do as a result of 4 days of intensive instruction on long range shooting at one of the best long range shooting classes in the country. Located in the mountains of northern Idaho, the venue was ideal for learning or fine-tuning long range wind reading skills.
3 shots by 3 shooters into 3 inches at 835 yards
Shawn Carlock had called me early last summer and asked me if I’d like to attend his Long Range Shooting Class in late July. “I’d love to!” was my enthusiastic response. Then all I had to do was convince my wife that changing the dates of our already planned, annual late July vacation trip was actually a very good thing for her.
The prior year I had successfully morphed this same annual vacation trip into a mule deer scouting trip to the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. I simply characterized the trip destination as a mountain lodge where we would eat great resort food, hike the scenic trails and search for beautiful wildflowers. My craftiness had worked then and it ended up working this time, too!
The first afternoon of the Defensive Edge Long Range Shooting Class was spent inside a large wall tent watching Shawn give a presentation that included the use of a 50 inch flat screen TV. The seventeen page printed class syllabus included topics such as minute of angle (MOA), spin drift, wind calling, segmented winds, doping the wind, up/down hill shooting, wound cavities, deer and bear shot placement, drop chart, reading mirage, ballistics programs, shot log.
Updraft was talked about extensively. It was interesting to me that Shawn had not noticed any internet discussion of this factor until he actually wrote about it, on LongRangeHunting.com, in 2009. We spent much time later studying the effect of updraft on long range bullets out in the field.
Defensive Edge Long Range Shooting Class - 2Shawn handed out a blank notebook for each student, stressing the importance of this Shooter’s Book. In it we kept notes on how our rifle’s load was performing at various distances, things we learned about wind in certain valleys at certain times of the day, etc. I have continued to use mine for tracking adjustments I make to my scope’s settings as I go west for a hunt and then return to my home state of Wisconsin. Elevation and temperature changes need to be monitored.
Shawn Carlock after successful fight with bear
Much time was spent by each shooter being sure that his rifle’s trajectory had been “validated”. This meant shooting at 1,000 yards or so in good conditions in order to establish an accurate trajectory profile. For example, I determined that I needed to assume a little lower velocity in order for my “Shooter” ballistics program to accurately predict vertical MOA adjustments for first-round hits. I had always done that -- sort of -- but now came away with a more organized approach to the principle.
This class was the beginner/advanced combo class. Shawn had sold out his classes early in the year so fast he decided to add one more set of dates. Since it was added later in the year he ended up with just three of us this time. All were somewhat advanced in our experience so less time was spent for us on shooter technique and much more on ballistics, spotter/shooter team technique and the topic of most interest to me – “Doping The Wind”.
I have always thought that “the wind is not my friend” in long range hunting and shooting. It certainly is the main limiting factor in determining the longest possible distance for a successful and ethical big game shot. What I learned at Shawn’s Long Range Shooting Class has taken me to one more level of ability in wind calling.
Wind call and shooter/spotter team practice
We were “roughing” it with wonderful chef prepared meals utilizing a Dutch oven. Also included were wonderful from-scratch brownies, steak, pork and noon-time sandwiches. Clint Eastwood, shoot-em-up movies were watched in the evening on a 50 inch TV while sitting near the bonfire. After the meal we also had the opportunity to do a little more shooting, this time at ranges up to 2,500 yards. Bob had brought his custom designed shooting bench which enabled us to elevate the bench surface upward for these super long shots.
The 50 inch TV was also used with a high definition camera to watch in real time the bullets’ impact up the mountain right there in camp. The flight time of the bullets out to 2,500 yards was so long that at one point Shawn was able to pull the trigger, get off the bench and make it back behind the TV in time to see his bullet impact up on the mountain. Pretty darn cool!
Shawn spotting his own 1.5 mile hits on 50 inch TV
Defensive Edge Long Range Shooting Class - 3As to shooting tools, we also used super-accurate .22 caliber bolt action rifles on two occasions to study wind drift and practice our shooter/spotter team technique. Shots were taken at small-scaled but realistically shaped steel silhouette cutouts of deer and elk.
Over the 3 shooting days I fired nearly 100 shots out of my 6.5x284 rifle at distances from a few hundred out to about 1,200 yards. The others in the class had 338 EDGE cartridges and scopes with mounts set up for shooting out to 2,000 yards.
Numerous LongRangeHunting.com members have attended the Defensive Edge Long Range Shooting Class in the past. Here is a forum thread By “Broz” (Jeff) and his take on the class. Since he lives out west in God’s Country, he has had a lot of opportunity to shoot beyond 1,000 yards prior to taking the class. His shooter experience would be of the Advanced classification.
My Trip To Defensive Edge Long Range Shooting School
The following are comments made to me by my two classmates:
www.LongRangeHunting.com. He has been a long range hunter for over 10 years and is as likely to bag his game with a camera as with a rifle or a specialty handgun. His outdoor photography can be seen at LenBackus.com