Well, that was humbling… many reasons to underperform and so I did that quite well.
The biggest weakness that could have been avoided was practice on barricades and moving positions, so I will be working on that for sure. This pic sums it up basically.
The guys at AP were top notch and the facility is amazing LR gem of the state. It’s located in Carbon Hill Alabama.
I grew up in the woods not far away so it was great to travel the country roads from my childhood once again. New phone and funky google maps got me lost only to come across the very spot we used to stop and get boiled peanuts on the way to Grandma’s house. I still remember the rickety old “Nut Shak” on the side of the highway and how they cooked up the good stuff (peanuts and pork rinds) in giant feeding buckets over open coals and dipping your “hot” bag of peanuts right in front of you for a couple of actual greenbacks. I used to trick my dad driving when he asked for more peanuts I’d just give him the hulls of mine in a new bag and pass them to the front seat and he’d get mad and swerve and say “No, I paid for them peanuts I want some more”.
I met some great folks and had a great time, despite my poor performance. I think my squad members were more concerned with my score than I was. After a spring break full of computer ticket work, I was just glad to get out in the sun and run some.
Just like the layers, and Pharmaceutical companies… Disclaimers First:
- Overweight buffer – Gun was ejecting brass, but not picking up the rounds in the mag, so I had to run my AR like a bolt gun on top of everything else. I believe this was mainly due to me changing the buffer spring and buffer recently. When confirming zero earlier in the week during a very quick range trip, I tried adjusting the SA gas block, but still no dice. So I think it is a buffer thing.
- Under Bagged – I watched people stream to the store to buy $$$ bags before the shoot. They do work well, but I’m weird and like to run my own, so I just took the old Jean bag with sand, and a Crown Royal bag with plastic BBs. I am looking into making my own waxed cotton bags in the near future, thus the snub of the high dollar bags (I’m pretty sure they sold out anyway). I felt the most comfortable shooting on the Prone stage where I used my backpack as a support bag and the sandbag as a tailbag.
- No Bipod – one shooter just plainly said he couldn’t believe I was running with no bi-pod. I told him I usually just shoot of bags (on the bench) so that’s mostly why.
- Skills – I really need to practice barricade positions and changes under the clock. There were many times I thought to myself (duh, why didn’t I just do it like that, it is much more stable). I have a spot to practice that stuff but its so far away I normally spend my time on the long range bench targets working on load development or groups.
- MOA not Mils – This was a constant topic of humor. As a beginner focused match, the other guys were very helpful and willing to help the turd pull up the back of the pack with wind calls and holds, but they were all in MILS not MOA! I see targets in inches, and that’s how my brain works, so most of that data was ignored while shooting, but after the stage I would figure if I was about right or not. Besides, with everyone running different calibers how much do you want to depend on them anyway. I still see this as a plus, or at least a double edged topic. For if you rely on others wind holds how good can you really become. There was a stage where I didn’t figure ANY wind at 700 yards and yeah that was a big miss. After that I just generally guesstimated wind holds based on my previous experience with that rifle and round.
- Rucking too much stuff – I took Full backpack with typical range repair toolbag, ammo, clothes, cliffbars. A small tripod stool, shot up and repaired (mostly functioning) BOG deathgrip tripod, Thrift Store Special Sandbag, water, and rain jacket, and rifle. It was a lot of stuff to huck around. I should have left the deathgrip in the car, as it was never used and there were PLENTY of nice tripod/spotting setups to take a quick look at the targets between stages. I felt like Charlie Sheen in Platoon when he was going on his first mission – “your packing too much stuff, I’ll carry it for you… this time,”. I blame the boy-scouts for that one.
With all of the above disclaimers, it is now time to report what DID work out well, or well enough to try using it again. To sum it up would be (scope, dope, stool):
- Valdada 16X Fixed scope: 100-1000 ALL HOLDS, NO DIALING and 600yd zero. I freaking love this scope. If I had to dial like the other guys on top of my gun nit running like a semi-I would have been much worse off. I shot the first three stages with the parallax set at 100yds (from zero range). After that I just set it at the first target of each stage and went with it. The glass is very clear, I could see boils roll around at 1100 yards and read the weeds at 1k. Before each stage I would just remember my holds for the target and adjust as needed on the second shot. I ran out of time on every stage, but I count that mostly to having to come off scope to rack a round. I held on to my Dope card like it was Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. When this gun runs, target transitions are fast. There was one time I had to laugh out loud because one guy said “zoom out, you’ll see it”… I also got to peek through a variety of spotting setups, which was great. One shooter told me that he just uses 15x binoculars to preview/spot and then leaves his scope at 15x “99 % of the time”. That way your are previewing the targets with the same “mental picture” as you will be using when you are actually running the gun. That piece of info alone was worth the trip and the match and it’s tricks like that make the match worth it. It also confirmed that I made the right decision to spend the $$$ on a fixed power with great glass. Actually
- The bullet and hand loads did work well enough that I don’t think it limited me. I spent a lot of time in load development and dope on the long range and brass prep and such and the consistency and accuracy did show up when the other elements were at bay. The last stage was 600 and 650 targets so I got to just hold “mostly zero” on those targets and was able to score a few hits to end the day. I was running my KANG MATCH rounds: 105 Berger VLDs at 2650 over LL with Starline converted brass. There was one other guy in my group running a Grendel and he did pretty well. We discussed the rounds and agreed that 800 and in, it is a very capable round. Past that you really have to do your part to make hits. I think the better rifle to actually compete in this match would be the 6.5CM bolt gun, but hey I wanted a personal challenge and I certainly got it.
- The small tripod stool was excellent last minute “ohh I’ll grab that too” addition. With it I was able to setup under and among the spotters and save my legs while eating cliff bars and hot dogs. Assuming I can use other shooters gear to spot, I’ll happily take the small stool tripod over the big old BOG deathgrip.
- Drive a freaking truck! Not a low slung tiny sports car! I had that little red Miata PACKED to the gills with crap. My BOG legs are shot up and wont compress properly, and won’t even fit in the trunk so it had to ride along side in the passenger seat where I brushed it every time I went into 5th or Reverse. When I got to the match, I found out that we had to drive even farther into the boonies to get to the course. I smartly hitched a ride with another shooter to the actual range and yeah after the first hill and mudhole I realized there is NO way the Miata would have ever made it. I longed for my ’78 Bronco, but thanks to Former Vice President Joe Biden’s energy policy, that is not happening. Plus the sidepipes get annoying after an hour or so.
- Pizza make a great dinner on the cheap, but make sure you bring paper plates unless you prefer cold pizza for breakfast.
- Get there for open range day (the Friday before the match) – I didn’t and that would have certainly helped. I packet the Pokemon rifle (300PRC with IveyTron setup) and made up 27 198 PVA solids to maybe try to shoot, but all that was for not because I worked Friday.
- Was talking with some shooters before the match and was ecstatic to learn he was shooting a Garand at 1200 on the open range day – FUDDRUNNER! I told him how I modified my IHC for more accurate bench shooting and he told me how he uses his flat front sight to hold for wind. His friend was shooting a bold 30-06 in the match too! I happily supported his fuddery….. and they loved my Patton Hoodie.
- There was some discussion about how some powders may not be the fastest, but being off about a grain made no difference in the groups, where as the more finicky powders would throw your group if you are off .2 gr.