Executive Summary – it was windy, I learned a LOT about wind today. So windy in fact many of the more experienced shooters had issues with the wind. There was “supposed” to be an option for 1250 yds, but that was nixed due to wind.
I have shot this gun 6ARC and ammo at 1k on a low wind day. There was a strong headwind of ~11 mph with gusts of 14mph at the bench throughout the day. The streamer flags at the bench were always pointed in your face, and the only real change I noticed was them tailing from left to right. I did NOT pay enough attention to the foliage and the tall flags that were put up down range. This may have been part of my downfall. In the past (when making groups on steel at a k), the wind has always been a steady 4-6mph from left to right or calm. I always thought this range was “easy” to shoot because of the tall trees surrounding most of the range on both sides. There are some fields between berms located at 600/750/1000 but it hasn’t ever been as difficult to judge/shoot as today. “Spoilt” comes to mind immediately. After today, some of the more experienced shooters said that this range is actually more difficult, because of all of the fields and wind variables as compared to say a large flat field where the wind may be stronger but more consistent. I’m still 50/50 on if this sentiment was actually true or just an excuse because of the performance degradation that most of us experienced today. I need to try other ranges for comparison – all in due time.
Learning point #1 – One shooter mentioned that when you saw the wind at the bench die and then pick back up again it was a good sign that the wind is changing direction down-range. I wasn’t able to confirm this because it was after match yip-yap, but it does make sense and I will definitely be paying more attention to this scenario in the future.
Learning point #2 – After getting “learnt” on the LR, I went back to basics on the short range and was “on” 6” steel swinger at 500, after dialing a bit for wind. It was much calmer wind and the 500 yd berm is sheltered by more trees as well. So in the middle of a string I noticed the mirage was calm, and then saw the wind “blow the boil” to the right a bit. I held to the left ~10” and scored a hit. This is the first time that I was able really able to “read the mirage” to my advantage to score a hit.
Another shooter said that the wind today caused a full MOA of elevation difference from what he is used to. He actually thought something was wrong with the barrel until he later confirmed it wasn’t the gun during lighter wind. One of the judges stated there were LOTS of “0”s or blank targets today and there was even a set of 5 targets in a row at one point without a single hit – mine being one of those. The general consensus was that this was one of the windiest days for a match in recent history.
So on to the actual match timeline.
Friday night prep: Packed the 45s and a new batch of ammo to test functionality & the ATN to be zeroed on top of the 6.5 CM along with the 6ARC
5:30AM: picked the match outfit, fairly normal today for most people. I skipped the Full Ricky and went long sleeve fishing shirt and shorts, with white socks and grey shoes and a Glock hat. Normally I sport the Adidas visor, but figured I could use the Glock hat to direct brass to the bench as opposed to the gravel. I WAS going to get a bowling outfit from the thrift store as recently watching the “Big Lebowski”, but the dude abided by support tickets and normal work hours enough to not make that happen the previous week so standard outfit was picked – perhaps this was my downfall after-all.
5:45AM: left the house, with the Miata moderately packed with guns/gear/ammo – ALL HANDLOADS BEBE!
6:07AM: Breakfast – Stopped at Jacks for a breakfast chicken biscuit combo, at it in the parking lot. The hashbrowns were perfect! Popeyes has better chicken, but they weren’t open for breakfast and their hash browns suck anyway. Hardees was an option, but I feel they have fell off the “good” breakfast in the past decade. Mainly because of their paper plate thin bacon and “add water to powder to make egg” mix. Will try for the Biscuit Express next time. They have REAL eggs, but sometimes the bacon is a bit fatty as opposed to crispy.
~7:30AM: arrived at Strategic Edge range to see no less than ~30 cars/trucks packed on the back end of the LR pavilion. Entered the gate code correctly the first time – a good sign..
Paid the $30 entry fee, skipped on the closest to the X pot ($5 buy in) – yes I’m cheap and play the percentages. Attended the match meeting and reviewed the qualifying process.
Qualifying to shoot the 1k match: to keep things safer and faster, there was a qualification process, where 1 hit was required at 600 then 750 then 1k. You had ~5 minutes for each shooter to make these hits and were limited to 9 rounds in this process. There was a Right Qualifying Bench/Spotter and a Left Qualifying Bench/Shooter. Since I was one of the last to register I was near the last of the pack for qualifying. Watching the other shooters qualify was a bit un-nearving, but my previous dope on this range held the nerves in check as I sat on the golf cart bench. Everyone did manage to qualify for 1k. The one that I remember the most was on at 600, had trouble at 750 and then had trouble at 1k also, but did score a 1k hit on the last round. I think he was shooting 6.5 CM. After watching that, the very real possibility of driving 2 hours to be sent to the short range or pistol bays did start to weigh in a bit. So when my time came, I put up my ammo box, then piled the two blue jean sand bags and the Crown Royal Squeeze bag up on the bench. Then put the looser of the sandbags on top of the box and gave it a few good Segall karate chops. The stiffer bag was used as a rear support and kept the stock elevated off the table enough for my elbow not to hit the table. The squeeze bag was double layers of CR purple velvet full of airsoft BBs. I then brought up the Poverty Pony and settled in with a mag of 9 rounds – I went to town. First shot at 600 was a slight miss, the spotter calling it, I made an adjustment for windage hold and second shot was a impact. 750 first shot impact! 1k was slightly off (I was holding a full target to the left), slight adjustment and impact! I qualified. Dropped the mag and gave the Hell Yeah rock on with the right hand as I flagged the rifle with the left hand and announced 6ARC to everyone that wondered what the hell just happened. It was quick, mostly due to the fact that I was the only one shooting a semi, coupled with using the holds on the scope for elevation as opposed to dialing. It was probably less than a minute of actual shooting from 1st shot the 5th. A calm and relief washed over me as I put away the equipment and then headed back to the golf-cart bench.
9:04AM: came back and got my relay/bench assignment. Met and spoke to a guy that was there to observe with s spotting scope on the right side. He was a new member of the range and I got him talking about pistols in addition to LR. The most interesting part of the conversation was that he helped function test a G19 once shooting 1k rounds as fast as possible. He said other classmates were helping load mags and they had to switch shooters a few times because the gun got so hot it was hard to handle. He said that the only malfunction was the guide rod blew out the front due to melting the frame enough to eject it. They kept going til 1k. I was trying to coordinate which target the shooters were on so he could watch for hits, but I don’t think he got to see many hits in live action due to zoom limits, but you could see the hits on steel even at 1k. Spotting paper was a joke though.
9:27AM: My first round I tried for the sighter plate but couldn’t see a splash or hit so I just held the same as qualifying. I got 3 hits on that target in the upper right quadrant. I was glad to just get on paper. This “Poverty Pony” was keeping with the pack of fancy bolt guns. I know there was 1 blank target at least and I suspect at least a few others as well.
10:05AM: Round #2 – Expecting the wind to hold the same, but not really checking it, I didn’t touch any dials and just held 1MOA lower and shot all 5 rounds. Big goose egg. I was crushed.
10:30AM while sipping a Mt. Dew and eating the days first Cliff bar, I noticed my left sock was inside out. Fixed that. As I was doing so, I wondered “could this be the superstitious thing that keeps me from shooting good today”.
10:55AM: Round#3 – I decided to use the sighter plate this time and didn’t see any splash or hit, so I tried the big 4’ x 4’ sighter plate. I spotted one splash in the dirt on the bottom left corner of the big plate and was like “WTH”. With the 5 minute time limit running out, I just held same as qualification and let the 5 fly. Big goose egg again. By this time I was pretty dejected. Most of the other shooters did have some groups or at least some hits on targets, but there was a fair share of zeros.
11:41AM: Round #4 – The last round was much of the same. not reading downrange wind correctly with a strong head wind. I did get a hit on the 1k large sighter plate, made a hold adjustment and shot my paper group. Still big goose egg.
12:15PM: About half of the shooters had left by the time they handed out the envelopes. I stuck around and golf clapped for them and the match directors. I was very impressed by the shooters there that day and will not forget the lessons I learned about the wind that day.
12:37PM: I still had range work to do. I wanted to make confirm dope on the short range to regain some composure/confidence and I still had the 6.5 CM to sight in and test group with new ammo/scope. In addition to that I had (3) 45s that still needed function testing with a recent ammo batch.
First up was the 6.5 CM/ATN 4k/Barnes 140 MBs over H4350 @2677fps(batch#06-08-2021-01). First off it was the first time firing the rifle since getting it back from ATN for screen jump. The rings used to mount it were way too high for my liking, but it did work well enough. I wasn’t expecting a lot, but it did prove itself with the 20 test rounds I had made up. I setup in the center of the short range pavilion to zero in on the center plate. I confirmed bore sight first, then was zeroed in with a few shots. I then put in all the ballistics info and used the BC calc to give an elevation for 200yds. At first I wasn’t able to see the green dot, but I put in 20mph of straight right wind and the dot appeared to the right of the vertical crosshair. I used that as an elevation marker and pinged some steel at 200. I then did the same at 300 and after some adjustment the 500yd steel also got some action. I got some video of shots as well so there is some footage coming. The BC was pretty accurate, but I did have to rezero at 500 with a tad bit more windage. This could be actual wind or me just not getting the 100 yd zero absolutely ON during initial setup. I did notice that after shutting the power off during painting targets that the green dot did not initially show up until I went in the menu and adjusted the target yardage. Also noticed that if you accidentally hit the range finder, it can mess up the yardage and cause the scope to show unreachable (and then default to ~1600yds) until you manually adjust the yardage back down using the dial or buttons. And when zeroing, the WHITE crosshair is the NEW zero, and the black/standard crosshairs are the OLD zero reference.
Next up was the 6ARC again to correct any windage that was dialed in the last round of the match. I switched to plinker ammo 105 Berger BTs over W748 – using up the OLD powder from the early 80s that I was gifted by my reloading mentor. I was on at 200 and 300 pretty easily and the 500 yd lg steel was pretty easy as well. The large round swinger was hit on the left edge so I adjusted windage to score center hits on it and then move down the line leaving only the last 2 targets untouched (the 2” and 4” ers). There were some misses on the 6” that I’m not sure were the wind changing or my ammo not being superb or it could have been me/tired as the day wore on. The most fun in this session however was on the 300yd popper as fast as possible. I didn’t time myself but feel that the splits were under 1 second (probably more around ~.7). There were more than a few shots that were loosed before/while I could hear the ping report/confirmation. I first tried this with double taps, then triple taps then just emptied the rest of the 10 rnd mag as fast as possible while staying on target.
After that I broke out the 45s. Being a bit lazy I didn’t want to pack up all my gear to move to the pistol pit for only ~70 rounds so I setup my box and bags centered with the 100yd steel sighter plate. CZ97 was first, aiming with about 1/3 of the front sight above the horizon of the rear sight, all shots were hits. I couldn’t tell where exactly on the big plate, but this was function testing so who cares. Next up was the SAR K2 45. It ran with only 1 feed hickup, the rest of the 30 rounds were no problem and all hits using similar hold. Lastly the 1911 finished the day with no stoppages and all hits. Packed it up and headed home after that.
Great day – lots of ups and downs – learned a LOT
One last tidbit that added greatly to the day. I was on the way to the clubhouse when, at distance, I saw a guy on the short range shooting a 1917, then on the way back I saw him shooting what I thought was the same rifle but noticed hw wasn’t working the action. Closer inspection looked like a Garand which really got me confused/excited. I yelled out to him “Garand?” and got a big yep, so I went to talk FuddRunner and take a closer look. He DID have a 1917Eddystone, A CMP Special Garand, and a Remington 1903A3! I was soooo proud to see the warsticks! I really like the sighting picture of the 1917s and need to get a full up non bubba-ed version for my collection. The rear aperture and elevation flip up sight looked like it would be fun to use and easier than any of the other fuddsticks I currently have.
I think I could have done better if I had a bit more magnification (32x or 50 x)…
Note from the Match Director:
Well, That was a fun match… I think we can agree this was the most difficult wind that most of us have competed in. I personally took it as a great learning experience, and have a much greater respect for the power of the wind.
I do plan on holding the other scheduled 1000/1250 match later this year. There will be a few tweaks to make it more efficient to qualify (I am very happy that all competitors qualified for the match. Thanks for coming prepared). The wind flag placement will be improved, and the underbrush will be removed allowing a more clear picture of our sighter. Plates.
Keep in mind that we will be using 600yd IBS targets at the 1000yd distance.
Special thanks to our match staff and helpers!!! The match would not work without you all.
Watch the calendar for upcoming matches and other information.