After about a year of trying to schedule a day at the 1,000 yard range with Shooterwolf, I rolled out of bed in Cleveland at 3 AM and headed down to southern Ohio to Rayner’s Range, about 3 hours away.
Up to this point, I had shot only to 200 yards. Today, we were going to work up to 1,000 yards. One of my personal shooting goals was to attempt to shoot 1,000 yards, and I even put together a bolt-action gun capable of doing it several years ago. Nothing special, it is just a Savage 308 with medium-contour barrel that I dropped into a Choate Ultimate Varmint stock (which allows adjustments but is less than $200). I already had an older Leopold 4.5-14 x 50 scope that I mounted on a 20 MOA rail. Nothing special, but it will shoot a consistent .75 MOA 3 shot groups. To get ready, I ran this combination through a ballistics program to find out my MOA come-ups. Earlier, Shooterwolf had advised me to switch from 168 grain 308 to 175 grain 308, as the lighter bullets go subsonic past 950 yards.
The first thing Shooterwolf did was upgrade my bipod, tightening a few things and I purchased a set of aluminum spike feet from the range store, to use on the bare ground. Then we were off to the short-range, which runs from 235 to 400 yards.
When you go on safari in Africa, the PH always has clients “check their zero”, which really means “check their gun handling and shooting skills”. We started at 235 yards, then 300, then 375 and 400. Each step I recorded my actual clicks vs ballistic program and Shooterwolf worked on my position behind the gun and spotted my shots. We’d start with the 2 or 3 MOA targets and work down to really dial in my gun.
The smallest target on the rack was a sledgehammer head, small end toward the shooter. Luckily, I was able to connect with it at 235 and 300 yards. Truth be told, the 300 yard one was twisted a little sideways. Shooterwolf didn’t have any trouble connecting with his Savage 6.5 Creedmore.
Being an Appleseed Rifleman, I have solid fundamentals. I can shoot consistent groups using the Appleseed technique. But using a heavy gun with bipod and a rear bag was new territory for me, It took me awhile to learn to set up the gun. bipod, rear bag and my body so that the gun was pretty much right on target and would recoil straight back. Shooterwolf also kept lowering my position toward the ground too.
We then moved over to the 500-550-600 range. As my technique improved, I was able to hit 1 MOA targets, but was more consistent with 1.5 MOA targets. Wind starts to play a factor here, and I was dialing in some windage corrections.
I decided to skip the 550-700 range (which duplicates most other ranges I already shot) due to fatigue. By the time we were cleared to run the 900 and 1,000 range just after noon, we had been at the range for almost 4 hours and I had been up for over 9 hours.
Targets across the valley on the 1,000 yard range (1K is near the top of the far crest):
I went right to the 1,000 yard steel, and connected with a first shot on the largest 24”x 24” rectangle target. I was able to connect consistently with the next smaller target, a rectangle of 16” x 17”. But then I ran out of skill and scope magnification to see and connect with the next smaller target, pushing shots a little left and right.
So, in summary, I’m a sub-2 MOA shooter but not nearly a 1 MOA shooter.
What is really cool about 1,000 yard shooting is that the gun recoils, drops back down and the bullet has not even gotten to the target yet. Flight time is almost 2 seconds. And a long time after you see the impact, you hear the steel gong.
We dropped to 900, and then back to 1,000. As I finished up my 4th box of 175 grain Federal GMM, I threw in the towel. I was cooked, the rain was rolling in and I had a 3 hour drive back to Cleveland.
Frankly, if the range was closer, I’d be there a lot more frequently now. I can see how long-range shooting can be addictive. I wish I could find a longer than 200 yard range locally, just to practice.
First, I’m writing this up as a hearty thanks to Shooterwolf for inviting me to shoot with him at Rayner’s range. I never would have been able to master the bipod rifle technique enough to hit at 1,000 yards without his coaching.
Second, I’m writing this up to encourage everyone to go out and work on your shooting goals. Time is ticking away. Start small and work up. But start today.
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