“I didn’t know what to expect going into my weekend with Nick and the rest of the guys. My sport is different from the type of shooting he does and I wasn’t sure how my skills would translate into his world.”
“It was funny, because Nick and the others seemed impressed by what I’ve done, but I felt like he was the one that accomplished so much. In my eyes, what he has done has impacted things in the real world and has changed lives.”
“There was a mutual respect and appreciation for each other’s craft. I learned a lot about the differences in techniques between the types of shooting we do, and was happy to learn from one of the best.” – Amanda Furrer
Precision long-rang shooting is an absolute art. Everything has to be perfect in order for the round to impact its intended target. Factors including humidity, barometric pressure, density, altitude, wind, temperature, flight time, etc., are all considerations that the shooter must overcome to place a small projectile onto a target generally the size of human torso.
This is the world with which most military snipers and precision shooters are far too familiar.
Now take a look at the average Olympic shooter, an athlete who typically shoots in ideal conditions and at distances that don’t exceed 50 meters. Comparing the two very different styles of shooting, one may assume from the job description alone that the two have absolutely no comparison, or that military snipers are the best at their craft. This may hold true… to some extent.
Over the course of four days, I had the chance to work with Amanda Furrer, an Olympic Precision Shooter, and wanted to somehow compare the two styles of shooting and shed some light on the art of precision shooting, if it was possible. Amanda’s style of shooting does indeed differ from that of my job and what most military snipers are used to, but the difference was not as drastic as I thought before meeting up.
The first day of the project, we briefly went over the types of rifles that the modern military sniper would use throughout his career, including a bolt action rifle equipped with a Templar Tactical Suppressor. She seemed really impressed with all of the weaponry and could run through the rifle’s function with no problem.
Furrer then introduced us to her Olympic shooting rifle, something that looked like it would come out of a science fiction film. What seemed like a ton of screws, bolts, nuts, metal bars, etc., strapped onto a precision barrel was her pride, something that I wasn’t used to. I asked her how accurate the rifle was, to try and get some type of comparison to my sniper rifle. She simply stated, “I can put 40+ out of 50 rounds in a target the size of a pinky nail at 50 meters.” I thought to myself, “I can do that too, can’t be that hard, it’s only a .22 caliber rifle.” I had forgotten the fact that they do it standing, kneeling and in prone.
Our first day on the range, Amanda brought out her Olympic rifle for us to shoot and play around with. We were all wanting to get our hands on it and give this Olympic-style shooting a try. We placed a small water bottle as the target, just under 100 yards from our position. Easy shot for any rifle shooter.
Our next few events, Amanda would get a chance to step into the world I am more accustomed to: long-range precision shooting. We headed out to the desert of El Paso, Texas, where we had an almost endless amount of land to take the shots that would fit the type of work a military sniper might see deployed.
We brought out a few targets that would simulate engaging a human torso (20? x 40?) and a partially obscured human head (3? x 8?). I wanted her to see what a military sniper is capable of under a situation where his equipment fails and he doesn’t know the distance to a target and has to make the shot.
Typically, when introducing someone to these skills and techniques, it takes a while for them to grasp. The technique is known as the MIL-relation formula. The MIL-relation formula is something that I used on 98% of my shots overseas.
I placed a target at a distance that only I would know, and verified it using a laser range finder: 498 yards. Not very far until you factor in the fact that the target is only 3 inches wide and 8 inches tall, with wind gusts in excess of 13 mph, and a mirage boiling to the point that it made the target extremely hard to see as is appeared to jump .2 MILs through the scope.
Giving her the formula and talking her through how to apply it, Amanda gave me approximate distance to the target. I didn’t want to tell her if she was right or wrong, I just wanted to see how confident she would be with her read. She cracked off the first round and I observed the round impact a few inches low and to the left of the target. “Too easy. Adjust your reticle to where the round needs to go.” As she cracked off the next round, I watched the trace slice through the target.
I was impressed by how well she was understanding all of my wind and elevation calls, and how fast she understood how to read the scope reticle. With most of the students I teach, it can take an entire day for them to grasp the idea.
Midway through the course of the day, Amanda stated that she wanted to break a record. I wasn’t sure what she meant by it, but she was solid on the idea. She wanted to break the world record shot by any female shooter. Without the right equipment and planning, that wasn’t an option, but she had no problem wanting to break her personal record (498 yards). She didn’t just want to break it, she wanted to shatter it.
We set out a target 1,100 yards (1005.84 meters, 0.625 miles). A shot at this distance is definitely something to be proud of. To put it into perspective, it would take the average adult male 12-15 minutes to walk 1100 yards, and approximately one minute to drive that distance.
The target we used measured 20 inches in width by 40 inches in height, the size of a man’s torso. I was extremely skeptical of how she would perform, to say the least. We were using a round that Curtis Proske of Templar Tactical Firearms and I designed, called the 6.5R33.
Her first round snapped through the suppressor and I caught the trace of the bullet. Before the round got to its target, I knew that it wasn’t going to hit, but she was extremely close, close enough to make someone really re-evaluate a life decision. I called out the holds that she needed to connect with the wind in our favor. She immediately fired again, just as my shooter would if we were deployed overseas… connection. The round would have impacted the right portion of the upper chest on a human target.
The Suppressors we shot with were impressive. I noticed no variation in accuracy, no matter the distance we shot at. The guns were incredible. Dying to get an R33 in my safe! I was so excited to beat my personal record for longest distance shot. I would have liked to go further, but I had to start somewhere! Nick was a great coach and made it really easy to adapt to his style of shooting. I can’t wait to work with him in the future.
Overall, the weekend was one of the best I’ve ever had. It was a good group of people and we got to shoot guns all day. What’s better than that? Oh, besides the fact that I got to fly a helicopter! So cool. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be part of this community and I’m excited about growing in it.” –Amanda Furrer
Written by Nic Irving – a former US Army Ranger who served his entire military career within the ranks of 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. Nick’s career took off when he became a sniper. During his time as a sniper, he earned the titles Sniper Team Leader, Master Sniper, and The Reaper.