More than a Match

For Bryan Sikes, ‘Lessons Learned’ at Precision Rifle Series competitions have had applications for Special Ops Sniper Training Program.

Story by Bryan Sikes

“It was the PRS that helped us push the limits of not only our weapon systems, but also our focus and mental tenacity under stress,” says Sikes. “Few things induce more trainable stress scenarios than being on the clock for a stage and competing against some of the best precision rifle shooters in the world.”
Bryan Sikes has been heavily involved in the Precision Rifle Series since 2012, when his Army unit, 7th Special Forces Group, relocated to Florida. Sikes, a special operations sniper with multiple combat deployments to Afghanistan and a Purple Heart recipient, was finishing up his team time and transitioning into a sniper school instructor position.
“At that time, we were looking to improve, advance and modernize our sniper program,” explains Sikes. “A couple of us sought out ways in which to do that and laid the groundwork for what would be a total revamp of our program, due largely in part to the Precision Rifle Series. It was the PRS that helped us push the limits of not only our weapon systems, but also our focus and mental tenacity under stress. A difficult trait to train, but anyone who has been to these PRS matches knows the level of difficulty that is now common and how important it is to be able to maintain a high level of focus for every shot. Few things induce more trainable stress scenarios than being on the clock for a stage and competing against some of the best precision rifle shooters in the world.”

He continues, “We took a lot of our ‘lessons learned’ from shooting and competing in these matches and applied them to our sniper program. Since then, I can unquestionably say that the PRS has greatly improved the capabilities of our special operations snipers across the board. On the selfish side, it was always fun attending these matches, getting to know the community, and not having to come up with a training plan; we just showed up to these matches and drank from a fire hose.”
Now retired from special operations, Sikes is an avid PRS competitor, shooting in around 10 to 12 matches a year. He shoots in the open division, running rifles from GA Precision (where he also now works, building rifles and “training hungry shooters across the country,” he says). See sidebar for a full list of Sikes’ equipment.
“I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the shooting community. It’s the collective of people that really make competitive shooting what it is,” says Sikes. He adds, “I’m proud to say that I’ve made friends that have since become brothers while attending PRS events. Like brothers, the competitive spirit is always there. We still want to beat one another on our best days and there is no shortage of grief handed back when we don’t. Nothing like doing something at a match that your best friends can give you a hard time about for all of eternity.

“At this level of competition, it seems like the most visceral memories are the mistakes I’ve made at this match or that. Mistakes that sear into your brain in the hopes that you learn from them and come back better the next time around. Like I said, shooting matches is the best training there is; if you want to get good at shooting matches, then shoot matches.”
Editor’s note: For more on the Precision Rifle Series, visit precisionrifleseries.com

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Snipers on their Job

Three Former Marine Corps Scout Snipers Talk About Their Profession

A while back American Sniper movie was a big hit on the silver screen, we checked in with three former Marine Corps snipers for their thoughts on the profession, how it changed them, America’s deadliest marksman Chris Kyle, and advice for aspiring snipers.

Caylen Wojcik Former 1st Marine Division Scout Sniper School instructor; deployed as a chief sniper during Operation Iraqi Freedom II; over 100 combat missions; severely wounded by enemy rocket fire during Operation Phantom Fury; founded Central Cascade Precision; now with Magpul Dynamics.

Jason Mann Twenty years in the USMC, 11 in a sniper platoon; retired after 20 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; president of U.S. Marine Corps Scout Sniper Association.

Trey Dominick Joined USMC in 2006; deployed to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq as an infantry assaultman and scout sniper; following honorable discharge, worked for U.S. Embassy in Iraq as a designated defense marksman; currently works for Iron Protection Group in Colorado.

D BRETEAU (former AmSJ Editor) What is your overall insight into the sniper profession, and how did it change you, if at all?

JASON MANN Other than being a proud father to four children, nothing makes me prouder than being able to say I am a Marine and a Marine scout sniper.
jasonmann
CAYLEN WOJCIK My definition of a Marine scout sniper is a Marine highly skilled in fieldcraft and marksmanship who delivers long-range precision fire on selected targets from concealed positions in support of combat operations. Shooting is 10 percent of your purpose, but when you’re called upon to utilize that skill, it becomes 100 percent of your focus. Snipers are a part of a brotherhood, and that brotherhood is a level of selflessness that most will never truly understand. Discipline, self-reliance, teamwork, perseverance and fortitude are just a few things I believe I took with me that have been a great benefit.

TREY DOMINICK It helped me become stronger in stressful situations. I have
learned to take a step back in order to make logical decisions. This process can be used in any aspect of your life.
tdominick
DB Did you ever meet Chris Kyle?

JM I met Chris at SHOT Show several years ago. I just shook his hand and said hello.

CW I did not know Chris Kyle; however, we operated in generally the same area of operations during the same time period. Chris was a SEAL, and he operated primarily in the vicinity of Ramadi, whereas I operated within the vicinity of Fallujah, which was about 45 minutes away.

DB Have you seen American Sniper or read the book, and if so, what were your thoughts on the topic and authenticity?

TD I have read the book twice. I thought it portrayed Chris Kyle’s story very well. I can’t really touch on the authenticity of his story, but from everything I have read about his story and my personal experience as a sniper, I cannot find anything I feel is widely exaggerated. The thing that troubles me most is how there are many people saying his stories are false now that he has passed away.



JM I have not seen the movie. I am apprehensive because another movie
representing Marine scout snipers was horribly done and reflected poorly on us. I have read the book. For many years the roles of snipers were rarely spoken of and there weren’t many books on the subject. But since 9/11 there has been a litany, and most, in my opinion, attempt to glamorize and elevate, which I do not appreciate. The focus should not be on taking a life, but on the makeup of the man, selection,
training, mission preparation and all that goes along with that. The killing of a human being is a very small part, actually. I believe today we are seeing too many seeking their 15 minutes of fame and will do or say just about anything to make that happen. We are seeing a number of persons who misrepresent themselves and their roles, and that lends itself to misinformation and glamorization.

DB What would you say to the general public about the sniper profession? To
those aspiring to the position?

JM The skill sets that scout snipers possess represent the very best in the
American serviceman. These skills deliver disproportionate results on the
battlefield and are a true force multiplier. The enemy truly fears the sniper.

CW I would first ask yourself if you’re ready and willing to do whatever it
takes to get there. Being physically fit isn’t enough, and there’s a huge difference between being physically tough and mentally tough. You’ll endure incredible physical and mental hardships. You’ll be hot, cold, wet, dirty and hungry when no one else
is. You’ll be held to a higher standard, and be expected to do more with less. You’ll be expected to go farther, with heavier weight on your back. You’ll be expected to immerse yourself into dangerous situations with only a very small team to rely on. If you make it, the first time you lay hands on that rifle after you graduate will be a
moment you’ll never forget.

TD Snipers are the calm professionals of the infantry. We are the ones out there making quiet, calculated decisions on the battlefield. To the aspiring I would
say, this isn’t going to be an easy or quick process, so if you really want to be a sniper, just keep with it and know that you will be tested.

DB Anything else to say to our readers?

JM There have been many controversial incidents relating to Marine scout
snipers of late, but the vast majority of activities have been in support of combat operations in a far away country to defend this great nation.

CW Snipers are not mindless, murderous killers. Snipers are selected and trained based upon not only physical strength and aptitude, but on their ability to make sound decisions while immersed in highly stressful scenarios.

by Danielle Breteau AmSJ

Bridging the Gap between a Sniper and Olympic Shooter

The following story is from SOFREP.com

“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-range 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.

nick-irving-special-operations-sniper-helo-training_optMidway 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.
Photos from SOFREP.com and Amanda Furrer Pinterest

Accuracy By The Numbers

Four Steps To Increase Rifle Marksmanship

Story and photographs by Tom Claycomb III

Who wouldn’t like to own a nice custom-made $3,000 rifle? Unfortunately, most people have a budget, but if you can’t afford one, don’t slit your wrist quite yet. If you already own a decent rifle, there are four things you can do that will improve its accuracy, and these are not going to be earth-shattering concepts or new revelations. I’m constantly surprised at how many people don’t do these simple steps. Just remember an old proverb: The simple things confound the wise.

IMGP6630-min
Many people like using a Caldwell Lead Sled coupled with double-ear protection to sight in their rifles. This helps reduce flinching. I wear Walker’s Power Muff Quads and foam ear plugs.

Check your optic

Are your mounts tight? Is your scope mounted properly? Is your scope tight? If not, you’ll hit all over the board.



The next thing to think about in this category is whether or not the scope is actually functional. You tend to get what you pay for in optics; however, regardless of scope quality ensure that it is at least functioning within the parameters of the value. I’m careful with my scopes. I don’t throw them in the back of my pickup truck or strap them onto my four wheeler. This type of activity can be detrimental to the internal components of a scope. Any scope.

DEAD FOOT ARMS


These are all basic things you should check just on the optic, but before you take a sledge hammer to a seemingly dysfunctional scope, let’s check three more items.

Shooter Stability

Chris Reed with McRees Precision giving me some pointers on long-range shooting while using their McRees Precision BR10.300WIN. Among his many accomplishments, Reed won season two of History Channel’s Top Shot TV show.

You may not always have a good rifle rest while hunting, but it’s imperative that you are stable when sighting in your rifle. I sight in on a steady table while using a Caldwell Lead Sled, a shooting rest used to brace the rifle, and it assists in recoil reduction. You don’t want 20 different factors affecting your shot, so you need to weed out the variables. At this point, we are just trying to determine what your rifle is capable of, not the shooter. If you don’t have a CLS, then sand bags can work great as well, or if you’re on a really tight budget, use pillows or blankets.

Out in the field I prefer a Harris bipod. I like the bigger one with the three-adjustment extendable legs, which go from 13½ to 29 inches. Hunting out on the prairie laying down is difficult because the sagebrush and grasses will block your field of vision. In a pinch you can carry two dowel rods taped together 6 inches from the end to use as a bipod to see over these obstacles.

The Rifle’s Trigger

To prove the importance of a good trigger I want you to try this: Make sure your rifle is unloaded and lay it on some pads. Make sure the safety is on, and go through the motions of
actually taking a shot. You will often notice that you start pulling off to one side. That’s what happens if you have a subpar trigger. An example would be an 8-pound trigger with a lot of PHOTO 2 IMGP6670-mincreep and rough spots.

If you can really concentrate, you can overcome these pitfalls, but it takes total concentration on every shot. Why put yourself through that? If you’re so focused on pulling evenly, by the time it actually fires
you’ll need to gasp for air. It just takes too much concentration, and even then you won’t be able to totally overcome it.

PHOTO 3 IMGP5642-min
(Top) In real-life situations a Harris bipod is the ticket. I use them a lot when varmint hunting so I can shoot over the sagebrush, bitterroot and other vegetation. (Bottom) Chris Barger from Rise Armaments installed one of their RA-535 Advanced Performance triggers into my DPMS, making my accuracy considerable tighter.

The other day I went out to shoot my DPMS Bull 20. The trigger was horrible, and it was really windy outside. I focused really hard and got a 1½-inch group at 100 yards, and figured that was about all it was capable of. Then I ran down to Rise Armament in Broken Arrow, Okla., toured their factory and headed out on a coyote hunt. While there, Chris Barger, president of Rise Armament, threw one of their RA-535 Advanced Performance triggers in my DPMS. The RA is a 3.5-pound trigger with no creep. As I alluded to before, my original trigger rated somewhere between horrible and the worst trigger ever. I have buddies who like light triggers, but a 3½-pound pull is about right for me in
hunting conditions.

When I shot my DPMS again, from the same rest using the same Hornady match ammunition, I was able to obtain a three-shot, one-hole group. I was amazed! I can’t overstress the importance of a good trigger.

Ammunition Choice

My hardcore reloading buddies will start wailing and gnashing their teeth, not to mention calling me a heretic, but reloading is not as critical as it was 50 years ago. Granted, you might have to test out four or five different manufacturers and different grains of bullets to find which one shoots best in your rifle, but you should be able to find something that will help maximize your accuracy. To shorten the learning process and save yourself from overshopping, call the manufacturer of your gun to see which bullet they say works best in your rifle. Usually, I just talk to my friends at Hornady and tell them what rifle, caliber, and twist rate I have. They are the professionals!

After determining what shoots best in your specific rifle, sight it in using your chosen ammuntion. Sure, you may switch around if you’re varmint hunting one day and big-game hunting the next, but sight it in every time you switch bullets.

Don’t assume that a 40-grain bullet will probably shoot 2 inches higher than a 55-grainer. That would make sense though, wouldn’t it? I thought so too. I not only shot 2 to 3 inches inches lower, but also 3 inches to the left. So don’t shoot multiple brands and grains of bullets and expect to have any degree of consistency.

I promise that if you employ these suggestions, you should start getting tighter groups. AmSJ

PHOTO 4 IMGP5709-min
After installing a Rise Armament RA-535 Advanced Performance Trigger, I was able to shoot a one-hole, three-shot group at 100 yards with my AR.

Precision Long Range Shooting and the Coriolis Effect

You may not be taking this into Account in Precision Long Range Shooting

If you’re into long range shooting, its important to understand how the “Coriolis effect” affects your shot at 1000 yards or greater.

The Coriolis effect is the rotation of the earth and the movement of a target downrange from the shooter. This is another element that a long distance shooter has to consider for along with wind, rain, snow, distance, elevation and a many other factors. Accounting for all these factors signifies the skill sets needed for precision long range shooting.

Below highlighted is the simple layman’s term and explanation from Jeremy Winters of Gunwerks, he also demonstrates taking a shot from 1000 yards out to the west and easterly direction.

“if you’re shooting West, your target’s gonna rotate up and towards us, which is gonna cause the bullets to hit lower.”

“if you’re facing east, the target’s going to be dropping and slightly moving away, which is gonna cause the hits to be higher.”

Jeremy points out these small errors can cause huge misses at greater distances than 1000 yards if you don’t pay attention to.

It is one more element that a long distance shooter has to account for along with wind, rain, snow, distance, elevation and a myriad of other factors.

Video Transcription

Hi I’m Jeremy Winters, Product specialist here at GunWerks. Today we’re going to go over one of the common issues guys have when collecting data to either build a drop chart, or build a ballistic compensator like we use on our systems.

We field hundreds of calls a month where guys cannot re-verify their data once they’ve shot one day and go out and try to return the same data -let’s say- a week later. And one of the common issues is -that we see- is the Coriolis effect, and what guys are not doing is taking into account the effect that this can have on your shooting at longer ranges.

Now real quick, let’s explain the Coriolis effect in laymen’s terms: The Coriolis effect that when the bullet leaves from the gun, it is actually leaving the surface of the earth, so as the bullet leaves the barrel of the gun, the Earth is still rotating, and the bullet is not rotating with the Earth, so the Earth will actually rotate from out the underneath of the bullet while it is in flight.
So as the Earth rotates, it actually rotates from the West to the East. So what that’s gonna do to our targets is, is if you’re shooting west, your target’s gonna rotate up and towards us, which is gonna cause the bullets to hit lower. And if you’re facing east, the target’s going to be dropping and slightly moving away, which is gonna cause the hits to be higher. Now why this is important is, out to a thousand yards, you could have almost a full minute of correction due to Coriolis effect, depending on which direction you sighted in your zero. Now to show you guys just how much effect there’s going to be, we’re going to put on a little shooting demonstration here, I’ve got targets West and East of us, exactly 1000 yards in each direction.

So what we’re going to do to prove this Coriolis effect on our rifle here, is we’re going to shoot it out to a thousand to the west, and we’re gonna shoot it out to a thousand on the east, and we’re gonna measure the difference in those group centers. And hopefully it’s gonna show you guys that this kind of error can lead to bigger errors in your drop data.

[Shooting]

Alright, got three hits on the steel down there, we’re gonna switch directions, switch the bench over, and we’re gonna shoot East now.

[Shooting]

Alright, we got three more hits on this steel down here, now we’re gonna rack up all our gear and we’re gonna check these out, measure ’em up, show you the results.

west_shot
Alright, we made it down to our target that we shot at the west, this is our west target here. As you can see, they’ve all dropped down quite low. We’ve got eight inches from center to the center of the group, which is a little lower than we expected, but we were dealing with some pretty stiff mirage, so we’ve got a nice little group here, we’re gonna pack up this target and head down to our target that we shot to the east, and we’ll compare the two groups, and show you the difference of just switching directions. That’s all we did. We switched from West to East.

east_shot
Alright, we’ve made it down to our target on the East target, now, and as you can see, they’re not quite too high, we’ve got about three inches, maybe three-and-a-half to the center of the group above bulls-eye, so if we compare this to our other target, we’re three inches high here, we’re eight inches low there, that’s eleven inches, just over a minute of difference between just shooting from the west to the east.

Now how does this affect you and your data? One minute with this seven LRM that we’re shooting, at a thousand yards, is worth 70 feet per second if you were trying to develop drop data, and that could make huge differences in your drop data and your custom turret if you were actually to figure the data shooting east and west. So the tip today is, always do the data either North and South, that will eliminate Coriolis up and down, or know how much effect that has on it, and take that into account on your ballistic data.

Source: Jeremy Winters of Gunwerks, Andy Van Loan

Precision Rifle Series Competition

Precision Rifle Series Explodes

Story by Robin Taylor

Looking down from atop a three-story shooting tower, 12 steel targets stand out along a green hillside, each one further away than the last. They’re all challenging, and the furthest sits at 936 yards.

When the buzzer sounds, you’ll have three minutes to shoot all 12. The problem is, you can’t actually see the targets yet. You’re starting at the bottom of the tower’s stairwell, carrying 200 rounds of ammunition, a coat, a gear bag, a sling, sunscreen, elbow pads, bipod, and a heavy sniper rifle. By the time you get to the top of those stairs and see the targets for the first time, a minute will have disappeared. You’ll be breathing hard, and shooting fast.

“It started out as a way to test the practical use of a precision rifle in a military or law enforcement environment”

This is a Precision Rifle Series match, where extreme accuracy, speed, and physical toughness come together. Sniper matches have been around for a long time, but the PRS is gluing them together into a cohesive, Winston Cup-like string. There’s a $5,000 check at the end for the season points winner, and if you’re the top gun at the PRS National Finale, you could take home a $20,000 purse and prize package, just like last year’s winner, Ryan Kerr of California.

PHOTO 2
Jim See at the CORE training center in Florida. Note the big pillow-like pad under the foreend, along with the fully adjustable stock and heavy barrel. Items like that pillow pad offer great stability on uneven surfaces like this rockpile. (MICHAEL CAGE PHOTOGRAPHY)

Unlike classic long-range events, PRS has a hard edge – like maybe a 3-Gun competition for sniper rifles. The organizers (notably Rich Emmons) drew ideas from 3-Gun Nation, USPSA/IPSC, and the Bianchi Cup. The result appeals to practical riflemen everywhere.

BB5It started out as a way to test the practical use of a precision rifle in a military or law enforcement environment,” says Chris Reid at Benchmark Barrels. “From there it’s morphed into a kind of timed field shooting.”

At every match the courses change. The distances aren’t marked, and some of the targets move. Virtually everyone uses a detachable box magazine or DBM in a bolt-action rifle. Mounted to a fiberglass stock or a chassis system, the DBM allows for fast reloading of 10-round magazines. Although shooting a semi auto sounds tempting, experts say the bolt-action rifles with DBMs are more stable in recoil. This platform helps the shooter watch bullet trace and impacts. Seeing the hit or miss guides the shooter to the proper aim for the next shot. Most of the top shooters use 6mm to 6.5mm cartridges, which aid in viewing impacts. The 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5×47 Lapua, and the 6.5 Creedmoor are popular choices, but cartridges up to the .300 Winchester Magnum can be used. Most guns are heavy, but remember, you’ve got to carry it all day – up to 12 hours at a pop. You also carry everything else you’ll need to complete the event, just like you would if you were going afield. There is no going back to the car to resupply – it’s just you and your kit, dealing with changing weather, wind, and lighting conditions.

aiming rifle
Jim See firing one of Surgeon Rifles’ guns at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Range in Arizona. Jim campaigned with a rifle in 6XC in his first season, a caliber that has been gaining support in PRS ever since. (COURTESY OF CHRIS REID)

Jim See shooting a Surgeon Scalpel rifle in 6.5×47 Lapua..

Reid helps run matches in the state of Washington. The hikes from position to position are arduous enough that out-of-shape shooters won’t finish.

“I’ve seen guys hang it up halfway thro6ugh,” says Reid.
Short sprints are common in PRS, forcing you to balance the speed advantage of running against how out-of-breath you’ll be when you get there.

More than the sum of its parts

10485963_700047636782404_8089469778077936045_oLike the original 3-Gun Nation series, PRS grouped together existing freelance events to make a larger contest. Each event has its own history and traditions, and a different local crew gives each its own special flavor; for example, some require pistol shooting. Scoring varies slightly, but course design varies a lot.

Pay close attention to the course descriptions, because sometimes you can make up a miss for partial credit, and other times, missing wipes out your entire score. If you’ve shot a little long-range, or you’re into long-range hunting, you’ve already got most of the gear.

Jim See, who currently shoots for Team Surgeon Rifles, was building custom rifles in his own shop, Center Shot Rifles, when he first heard about the PRS series. He was “a rifle guy” but didn’t have much experience with practical long-range rifle. The PRS series had just started the year before. “In 2012 I was busy raising kids and stuff, but I managed to place fourth at my first match,” he says. “That’s not the norm, but it shows you that it’s actually pretty easy to get oriented once you get started … I was hooked!”

“I’ve seen guys hang it up halfway through”

Thanks to his day job, See rolled up to the line with an unusually good kit – a Surgeon Rifles action on a McMillan A3-5 stock, in 6mmXC.

“That was a gun I had in the shop,” he says.

See’s friends pushed him to try to make the national PRS Finale, so he went for it, eventually placing 13th in the 2012 series. See won the 2015 Bushnell Brawl this year, making him one of the top guns in the sport. “I was 41 when I started, but I had a lot of experience in various kinds of shooting. If you’ve got some experience in long range, you’ll transition pretty easy.”

Practical Application

Unlike the classic long-range events, PRS is 100 percent field based. Common firing positions include uneven rock piles, mock rooftops, kneeling in tall grass – nothing is easy.

“If you take a guy who’s a hunter and have him shoot PRS matches all year, he’ll be able to kill game out to 1,000 yards the following year,” says Reid. “The knowledge and the practicality of it is huge.” If you’re thinking “this isn’t for me,” you might be surprised. Hunters and 3-Gunners deal with unusual firing positions all the time. NRA Bullseye guys have the long-range part down, but often lack the flexibility that practical shooters take for granted.

Observing from awkward terrain
Awkward terrain forms a big challenge in PRS shooting. Chris Reid tried more-conventional-looking postures, but just couldn’t get settled on this rock pile/shooting position — until he tried laying back. Thank goodness he had a relatively low-recoiling rifle! “I shot that way on the mover too,” says Reid. The rifle is a Benchmark Barrels-built 6.5 Creedmore. Reid runs a suppressor, which helps dampen both blast and felt recoil. (COURTESY OF CHRIS REID)

“An F-class high-master will do great until they have to get into an unusual, nonstandard position,” says Reid. “Without the ability to go prone, they struggle.” People like Shawn Carlock, owner of Defensive Edge, teach long-range hunting classes all over the country, passing on techniques that PRS’ers use. You’ll face the same challenges and more at each and every PRS regional. For someone interested in practical-rifle work, I can’t think of a better training lab than what John Gangl at JP Rifles calls “the anvil of competition.”

“You’re shooting strong-side, weak-side, doing dot drills, moving into and out of positions, and every shot counts,” says Reid.

Growing Participation

In four years PRS has shot up from nothing to approximately 700 shooters nationwide. That’s a lot of new blood for this relatively close-knit world – enough to attract major sponsors. JC Targets, Bushnell, JP Rifles, Surgeon Rifles, GA Precision, Vortex Optics, and Euro Optics LTD (among many) are throwing support behind each new series event.

PHOTO 4 k&M 2014 #4
PRS-style shooting draws ever-larger crowds to what is normally a small, close-knit community. Here’s a typical get-together at the CORE training center in Florida. (MICHAEL CAGE PHOTOGRAPHY)

“This year we have 400-plus guys actively participating in the Precision Rifle Series as competitors,” says See. “These matches cannot be run effectively without dedicated range officers.” ROs set the pace of the match and ensure all participants are safe and receive the points they earned with hits. “It’s nice to travel the country and have fellow competitors volunteer to be range officers on their home ranges. Quality ROs are critical for a successful match,” added See.

A slick member website lays out everything you’ll really need to know, including the dates and locations of all the regional shoots. You can visit them at precisionrifleseries.com. AmSJ

PHOTO 5 CHRISREID
Long distances help make PRS matches distinct. Here a shooter reaches out over the plains at Vantage, Wash. (COURTESY OF CHRIS REID)

Solving the Sighting-In Puzzle

A Top-flight Shooter And Hunter Details How To Get Great Groups

KaBOOM…“$*@@!%&, $^&*@@!*^%#” came the expletive from the bench two down from mine. As the sound of his shot reverberated from the steel roof at the rifle range, I looked over at the shooter and saw him turn away from the spotting scope and jump up to start turning the adjustment turrets on his 3×9 Leupold scope. He had taken on what seems to be a daunting task to many shooters: zeroing, or “sighting in,” their hunting rifle.

It had started some 45 minutes prior when the gentleman arrived at the range and asked me to hold up shooting for a few minutes while he put up some targets at 100 yards. I opened the action of my Winchester Model 70 Long Range Hunter in .300 Winchester Magnum and waited while he went downrange. He placed four Redfield sight-in targets in a square on one of the backstops on the 100-yard line and returned to the benches where we agreed to commence shooting.

I fired the last shot of a three-shot group into one of my targets set at the 300-yard line. I was developing long-range loads and starting each group from a cold, clean barrel, which allowed ample time to observe the goings on next door. The shooting to my left continued as the wind started picking up, a common occurrence on ranges that are long (600 yards) and the morning sun starts heating things up. Fairly quickly my wind flags set at 100, 200, and 300 yards were all flying at different angles, making the process of load development even more difficult.

While waiting for all of the wind flags to be the same for each shot it began to occur to me how over my 35 years of shooting on this Alaskan target range, it has been much more common than not for people to have difficulty in zeroing their hunting rifles. Time after time I have watched folks burn up a box of ammunition and load their gear up in disgust only to see them back at it a few days later. It seems that the vast majority of hunters are not really “gun guys.” They utilize the gun as a means to an end – the taking of whatever game species they are after. Being a diehard hunter myself I can appreciate that. But being a die hard shooter as well, sometimes it is painful to witness the difficulties folks have over a very simple task.

burrisIT ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE, if you know the particulars, but it is a bit of a science. There are a multitude of factors that must line up, sort of like the wind, the moon, and the sun thing. Fortunately in modern firearms virtually all of the issues of less-than-stalwart barrels, scopes that move after every shot, triggers that were much like dragging a concrete block across pavement, and factory ammunition that was sometimes a crapshoot are memories from the past. The average modern hunting rifle with a decent (read, moderately priced) scope is capable of shooting three-shot, 100-yard groups of 1½ inches, which is all you need for 95 percent of big game hunting. A 1½-inch group at 100 yards equates to a 3-inch group at 200 yards, and a 4½-inch group at 300 yards — plenty of accuracy to hit the heart-lung area of North American big game animals, with a little margin for error at 300 yards.

Experienced hunters know that taking shots beyond that is rare and ill-advised without a lot of wind-reading knowledge or perfect conditions. With that, if you do not have a correct zero for the ammunition you have chosen, it is still the proverbial shot in the dark. For the sake of argument, let’s assume you have a brand-new Winchester M70 Featherweight chambered for .30-06 with a Burris Full field 2×7 scope that was bore sighted by the dealer upon purchase.

Before hitting the range there are a couple of details that will save you time and expended ammunition. Check all of the screws on the entire assembly. Loose action or scope mount/ring screws are a common culprit of the rifle that “just won’t shoot straight.” Clean the bore with a brass brush and some Hoppe’s No. 9 (being an old-timer, I still love the smell of the stuff) or any other good gun-cleaning solvent.
Run dry patches down the bore until they come out clean. The reason for cleaning a brand-new rifle is some manufacturers swab the bore with a heavy grease to prevent rust during transit, and even in today’s environment of hot gun sales, who knows how long the weapon has been sitting on the dealer’s shelf. One patch with a very light oil finishes the job for a hunting rifle (if your rifle has a chrome-lined bore, the oil patch is not required). This heavy grease, if left in when the rifle is first fired, can create accuracy issues that can never be resolved.

THIS REMINDS ME OF a time some 30 years ago when a buddy wanted to go black bear hunting. I agreed to take him to a favorite spot as he had never taken a bruin. So confident was I that I didn’t take my rifle, only a .44 as I was going to be the packer. We arrived at a meadow that always greened up early in the spring and where I had seen and taken black bears in the past. In the predawn light a really nice one came out about 200 yards away. It was a chip shot for my friend’s brand-new .300 Weatherby with a Redfield 4×12 scope. “Take him,” I mouthed to him. He whispered back in my ear, “I think he is too far; you shoot.” I took the Weatherby and silently chambered a round. “What is it zeroed at?” I asked. He looked at me with a blank stare and I slowly opened the bolt. We watched as the bear fed and then disappeared back in the brush. Later we took his rifle to the range and found it to shoot a bit over a foot high and 8 inches to the left at 100 yards. Well, at least it would have been a clean miss at 200. Unbeknown to me, he had bought the Weatherby, had the scope mounted and had never fired it. He had no idea how to zero it.

TO THE RANGE, WE go, with the ammunition of your choice. A way to save a few bucks is to use less expensive ammo of the same weight bullet for getting the rifle close, and then using the premium stuff for the final zero. You will also need some sort of front and rear rest for steadying the rifle on the bench. The commercially available rests — Caldwell seems to be the most prolific, and available at the moment — all work well and provide a bit better control than sandbags or a jacket thrown over a backpack. Ideally, your rest set-up allows you to adjust so the rifle sits in the bags, cross hairs on the target with very little movement to center it perfectly. Whatever you use, be sure there is some sort of cushion for the forend. Laying the forend on a solid surface will cause a “bounce” effect that changes the impact.

Some targets, stapler or thumb tacks, and eye and ear protection round out the rest of the required items to get this job done. There is a huge array of targets available; pick what looks good to you. I am partial to Redfields. They are easy on the eye and fairly easy to see bullet holes with. A spotting scope is nice, and good binoculars can also be helpful and will save some walking, but are not absolutely necessary. Save yourself some frustration and set up the first target at 25 yards on a 2-foot-by-2-foot or larger piece of cardboard, preferably at a level about even with the top of the bench or rest you are using. The reason for this is that bore sighting is a less-than perfect science, and as often as not, won’t put you on paper at 100 yards.

Starting at 25 yards with the large cardboard virtually guarantees you will have a bullet hole somewhere on paper with the first shot. A word on range etiquette where there are others shooting. Set up your rests and the rest of your equipment first. Come to the firing line with your action open, muzzle up and lay the rifle in the rests, muzzle pointed down range. If there are shooters downrange checking/changing targets, wait until they are all back and behind the firing line before you bring your gun up. While you are on the range, anytime there are shooters downrange doing anything, open your action and do not touch the gun until everyone is back behind the firing line. These are good rules to remember if there isn’t a range master on hand to bark back at you.

Now with the rifle on the rests, sit down behind it and get comfortable. Looking through the scope, find the target and adjust your rests so the rifle is basically sitting by itself, cross hairs on the target. Shooting from a bench rest is a bit different in that you do not hold the for end with your support hand at all. You grip the rifle with your shooting hand and place your support hand around the base of the rear bag. Pull the butt stock to your shoulder; how tight you pull it depends on the recoil intensity of the cartridge: the more the recoil, the tighter the hold. With your support hand, squeeze the rear bag to adjust the elevation of the cross hairs on the target.

AND SO THE SHOOTING begins. Load a cartridge in the firing chamber and center the cross hairs as previously described, then slowly press the trigger until the rifle fires. Now, there are all sorts of ways to describe how a trigger is pressed; some are right, some are not. The best way I have found to describe this is to “let the gun go off, don’t make it go off.” When you make it go off, that implies a jerk of the trigger, which results in errant shots that are not representative of where the rifle is actually shooting. Even in high velocity cartridges where the bullet exits the barrel in excess of 3,000 feet per second, the movement of a jerk from the trigger will show up on a target. The longer the “barrel time” – that is, from the time of ignition until the bullet exits the bore – the greater impact this has.

Jerking the trigger is most often caused by recoil or more aptly, the fear of recoil. If you think about it, who wouldn’t be a bit apprehensive about having something blow up in their face and hit them hard in the shoulder? For folks who didn’t grow up with it, it is a difficult thing to overcome. Over the years I became a national-caliber benchrest shooter and silhouette shooter, and I developed a lust for shooting heavy-caliber rifles. Anything from a .375 Holland & Holland on up I loved to shoot. These heavy rifles had an intrinsic accuracy, not bench rest-winning quality, mind you, but their hunting accuracy was virtually unfailing. And, as the late great Warren Page said, “only accurate rifles are interesting” they intrigued me. The only heavy rifle I ever shot that wasn’t at least hunting-accurate was the Wesley Richards .450×3-inch Nitro Express double rifle once carried by John “Pondoro” Taylor, of African elephant hunting fame.

This gun, marvelous as it was in its glorious history, would not hit the proverbial bull in the ass reliably at 50 yards. For their size, it’s pretty tough not to hit a pachyderm at that range. On the other hand, the most accurate out-of-the-box heavy rifle I ever fired was a .460 Weatherby. The owner was set to go to Africa and hunt Cape buffalo but had a shoulder injury. He wanted me to make sure the rifle was zeroed without him further injuring his shoulder before his trip. I set this beautiful rifle up on the bags and on the fifth shot, two things happened. The first — and to me, the most important — was the completion of a ragged five-shot group at 100 yards that could be covered with a quarter. The second — and most important to the owner — was that the stock split down the center, from the forend to the pistol grip.

targetONCE THE FIRST SHOT is fired and you have located the bullet hole, you can start the scope adjustment process. Most scopes have ¼ minute-of-angle (MOA) graduations, or “clicks.” For argument’s sake we’ll say your initial bullet impacted 5 inches high and 2 inches to the left. At 25 yards, those ¼ minute (read, ¼ inch) adjustments move the point of impact a sixteenth of an inch. That means moving the elevation adjustment 80 graduations or clicks down and the windage adjustment 32 clicks to the right.

Translated to 100 yards, that first bullet would have impacted 20 inches high and 8 inches to the left, easily missing the typical sight-in target. Make your adjustments and fire another shot, which should be reasonably close to the center of the 25-yard bullseye. Now focus on the 100-yard target. Shoot one shot, which should be reasonably close to the bullseye. Now think about where you really want the bullet to impact at 100 yards to take advantage of the .30-06 trajectory. Assuming a 180-grain bullet, a 200-yard zero is reasonable and thus a bullet impact of 2 inches high at 100 yards is going to generally be correct.

For the hotter big-game cartridges such as the 7mm Remington Magnum and the .300 Winchester Magnum, using 160-grain and 180-grain spitzer shaped bullets, a 3-inch-high, 100-yard zero puts you dead on at 300 yards. Whatever zero you decide, make your scope adjustments accordingly. If the bullet impacted 5 inches high and 3 inches to the left, assuming ¼-minute adjustments, move the elevation adjustment down 12 clicks or graduations (3 inches) and the windage adjustment 12 clicks (3 inches) to the right.

Before your next shot, let the barrel cool down. Oftentimes, even with the superbly accurate rifles, the cold barrel shot impacts differently than subsequent shots. For a hunting rifle the first shot is always going to be a cold-barrel shot, and however that works out, you want your zero to be spot on with that one. Fire the cold barrel shot, mark it no matter where it hits and let the barrel cool again. Fire the second and repeat. Opening the bolt to allow air to circulate quickens this process. Fire the third shot, and taking the three shots as a group, make your final adjustments based on the center of that group. What so often happens with sighting in rifles is that hunters will try to get that perfect center-bull shot, and in doing so, make a scope adjustment after every shot. One must accept that if the rifle shoots 1½-inch groups, the bullet may impact ¾ inches high or ¾ inches to the right of that “perfect” zero.

RIFLE ACCURACY IS A product of uniformity and consistency. The ammunition used must be put together with enough uniformity to shoot accurately. Bullets must weigh the same and be seated the same, powder charges be uniform and the brass used must be consistent on the inside and well as the outside. Back in the day when I shot bench rest matches, the brass case was one of the most consistent culprits of poor accuracy. The concentric of the neck, which aligns the cartridge in the chamber, was routinely out of round. Out of 20 cases, one would be lucky to find five that were bench rest quality. Shooting the rifle must also be consistently the same. When you sit and wrap yourself around the rifle, do it exactly the same each time.

The pressure you are applying to the butt stock/shoulder junction needs to always be the same. If you hold it tight on one shot and loose the next, the impact on the target is going to be different. A hunting rifle doesn’t need to shoot sub-¼-inch groups, but when establishing the zero, you still want to take out as many variables as possible. Virtually all modern scopes of reasonable quality are set to be parallax free at 100 to 150 yards. Parallax is a condition where one looks through the scope at an object and by moving the eye position the cross hairs appear to move across the object. The lower the magnification, the less of a problem this is. High power scopes that are used at long range will have adjustable objective lenses or they may have a parallax adjustment on the left side of the scope opposite the windage adjustment. This enables the shooter to adjust for long ranges where even a slight misalignment of the eye with the scope could result in a miss. So long as the eye is centered precisely in the scope, parallax is not a factor. For the sake of normal hunting rifles with moderate-powered scopes, it is not of great concern, but nevertheless, one should still try to center the eye on the scope to minimize any affect it may have in zeroing the rifle.

AFTER MORE CURSING, THE shooter two benches over came over to me and struck up a conversation, explaining that he was having a real problem with getting his .300 sighted in. We looked at the target he had been shooting and determined that he had in fact been “chasing” the bullet holes around the bullseye. There was no discernible parallax in his scope, and the screws holding the package together were tight. An adjustment followed by one shot, then another minor adjustment followed by three shots into a nice 1¼-inch group 3 inches high ended the swearing, and my new found friend was on his way, a happy hunter.

It really is a fairly easy science to understand once you know the particulars, and as in so many things regarding the hunting/shooting world, folks are not born with any of this knowledge. There is nothing to be ashamed of in simply asking for a bit of advice to further one’s endeavors in the hunting arena.

AmSJ – Editor’s note: Steve Meyer in addition to having been a top-flight shooter, the author is a retired SWAT team leader who lives on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.

King of 2 Miles Long Range Shooting – Part 2

After winning last year’s King of 2 Miles competition – a three-day Extreme Long Range match featuring some of the best shooters from around the world – returning to compete this year was very exciting and highly anticipated. Knowing that no previous winning team has ever made the finale the next year definitely added an extra level of pressure. My team at Manners Composite Stocks decided to take a similar approach as we did last year. Running raw horsepower, simple strategy and minimal gear is easy to manage on the clock and makes for easy transitions between targets.

I had two goals for this match. One was to make the finale. Just making it into the top 10 qualifiers would have been a win to me, just to break history. The second was to clean the qualifying run. Last year we only missed one shot and I know that the course of fire is cleanable under good conditions. This year they changed the match up a bit; they made some target sizes smaller and they changed how many people they put in the finale. This year, the top 20 percent of competitors were awarded finale slots, which meant that up to 16 competitors would duke it out for the finale run! A lot can change in those rounds when the point value of targets is so high. With ranges starting at 2,614 yards and heavy multipliers, you’d better be on your game for the finale run!

I WAS RANDOMLY picked to run on day one. My conditions weren’t great but they weren’t too bad either. Just enough condition changes to keep you on your toes. We had a decent run but not what I wanted.

They put many of us team shooters real close together and that put a major rush when our slot was up to shoot. So my run started with me running the wrong profile on my solver. My teammate Tom Manners was just up before me and I had his profile still on my phone, so the cold bore shot was way off! I saw it hit really low in my scope and quickly milled the difference to determine how much I was off. I saw about 2 mils and knew there was a major issue. Instead of making a correction on the fly for the first target, I decided to take the time to go through my phone to see what I could find. I went to my other profiles and saw one that told me to add an additional 1.9 MRAD. I knew this would get me on target.

I used the excellent Hornady 4-DOF app, which is incredibly accurate and super easy to use. In fact it’s so easy to use, I got complacent and made a mistake. When I duplicated my profile to build Tom Manners’ profile, I didn’t rename it so I pulled his up on accident. That may explain his first wild shot. This is what the time constraints of competition can make you do.

After putting my faith in this profile, I went to target one and achieved a first-round hit after my SWAG of a wind call since I got a risky call from my cold bore. We got a few

hits there and were able to progress to all of the other targets and get hits on them all along the way. That run ended up as the best run that day and put me in first place. That gave me a boost of confidence that I would make the finale.

THE CONDITIONS FOR day two would be what decided my fate. When day two came around, there were definitely some great runs. Paul Phillips, Derek Rodgers, Bryan Litz, Walt Wilkinson, Mitch Fitzpatrick and the other known contenders made good runs and all placed within the top 10. They had some great conditions and didn’t waste any time making the best out of it. I knew I would have to perform on the finale to be able to keep up.

On the final run, we still did pretty good; we achieved a first-round impact on target one with some following impacts. We hit target one more than any other shooters. Unfortunately, I didn’t get on target two within my allotted rounds; I had to go into my 2 mile rounds to buy in to proceed. We moved up from fifth to a real close second place finish. Less than the value of one target separated us from the win. I couldn’t let myself get too down and we at least crushed our goal of making the finale.

Overall we were very happy with our performance and finish. Not only making the finale but bringing in a podium finish was icing on the cake. Another thing that made me proud was that most all of the top ELR competitors were in the finale, making it a run against the titans. Many of them I look up to and respect, so it was special to me to be able to shoot alongside those guys. I was also happy to give a respectable finish to my sponsors. I run gear not as popular in that discipline, so it means a lot to show that the gear is competitive in that field as well. Along with our company, Manners Stocks, we represented Bushnell, Badger Ordnance, RCBS, Hornady, Bartlein Barrels, Cutting Edge, and Armageddon Gear. It is all gear I know I can trust across shooting styles.

We are looking to make another run in 2020 and we’re hoping to sustain our royalty status. This bug has bitten me and I’m ready to do some more. Anytime you can pull the bang switch, watch the bullet fly, and see an impact over five seconds later is always a thrill. I’ll keep with the PRS circuit that I normally compete in, but will be putting a few ELR events on my calendar and hopefully get tuned up for next year.

Until next time, I hope to see y’all on the range!



Editor’s note: For more on the King of 2 Miles competition, see the July issue of American Shooting Journal.

Story by Robert Brantley
Photos by Bill Griffis

All Hail the King of 2 Miles

Three-day long-range shooting match in New Mexico tests those who would target the throne of the King of 2 Miles.

Everyone who has gotten into long-range shooting knows what it’s like to keep going farther in distance. We all remember that magical moment when you pull the trigger, wait, watch the bullet impact the target, wait again, and the sound returns back to you.
There is nothing like pushing the envelope once you’ve got your basics down. Playing at extreme ranges is nothing new, but now competitions
are really taking notice and popping up across the nation and the world!
You will see them in various forms, but the one that is thought of as the “Super Bowl” of Extreme Long Range (ELR) is the King of 2 Miles competition held at the renowned NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico.

Brantley (right) and teammates Andrew Shaver (left) and Tom Manners of the Manners Composite Stocks squad took first place in 2018’s KO2M. Only one person shoots, while the others judge the wind and spot shots.

KO2M is a three-day match featuring some of the world’s best ELR
shooters, who specialize in disciplines such as precision rifle, high power, “across the course” and .50-caliber benchrest shooting. This year’s match, to be held June 29 through July 1, will include around 80 participants.
The match setup is as follows: Five targets on two courses of fire. Shooters get three rounds per target, except for the first target where they get five.
The match starts off with a cold-bore round. It’s just you and your rifle laying down looking across a canyon and you’re 1,550 yards away from your first target! It’s now go time with no alibis! If you make an impact on the first target within the allotted round count and time, it will unlock the chance to engage the next target that spans another 1,300 yards farther at various angles. Target distances on the qualifying run go from 1,550 to 2,700 yards.

It’s a hit-to-advance elimination-type match. If you don’t impact the target within your allotted rounds, you are done with the match. The scores are to reward first-round hits and getting on target as quickly as possible. If you get three attempts, the yardage has always been the point total by attempt. So if the target is 1,500 yards away, the first shot is worth 1,500 x 3 for 4,500 points. The second shot is worth 1,500 x 2 for 3,000 points, and the final shot is worth 1,500 x 1.

On top of that, all of this has to happen within a seven-minute par time as well. That seven minutes is for all 16 rounds, including a bonus sub-MOA cold-bore target attempt that is used to start your time.
This is a very unforgiving format, but one that encourages you to have your ducks in a row rather than the “walk them in” method.

AFTER THE FIRST two days of qualifying, organizers take the top 10 shooters and put them in their own mini-match under the same format, except the ranges span from 2,700 to 3,520 yards (2 miles). This is the final round used to determine the winner and the placement for the competitors. The only difference here is you are allowed to use rounds allotted for future targets to “buy in” to impact a target.

For example, you have a total of 15 rounds to attempt going five-for-five at the three ELR targets. If you miss all five shots, you can keep pulling from the 15 rounds until you get a hit on that target. If you impact on the sixth shot, you won’t get points for that because it wasn’t in the allotted round count, but you are able to proceed to the next target with five attempts given to you, granted that you have enough rounds to complete the course of fire.

You can’t hold an event like this just anywhere. It takes a few resources to host these competitors and certain features make it more manageable and entertaining. First off, you’re shooting off an elevated firing line so that mirage can be kept to a minimum. Second, you’re shooting at a target just off a cliff face or some sort of terrain feature that shows you a lot of your misses. Third, you are at an elevation suitable for ELR shooting. The firing line is roughly 6,600 feet above sea level, if I remember correctly.

Combined, these make for a great time to stretch out your rifle under a competition format. Calling hits and misses at extreme long range can be difficult under good conditions and the KO2M crew has that covered as well. A high-tech camera system that wirelessly gives live video feedback to many monitors with multiple viewers makes calling hits and misses a breeze. If you hear the bell ring, then you know someone just hit the target.

AT LAST YEAR’S event, my team at Manners Composite Stocks took first place out of more than 60 shooters. Each competitor gets to assemble a three-man team, including a wind coach and spotter. One reads wind changes and the other assists with where the shots went. Together with my teammates Tom Manners and Andrew Shaver, we hit more targets
than any previous winner and had a phenomenal run. We only missed one
shot on the qualifying run. Everything else was first-round impacts with all the follow-up.

As my team’s shooter, the challenge for me was doing something out of
my level of experience. I have played with ELR by cartridge, meaning
stretching smaller rounds past their normal capabilities, but never had
the means to do it with these types of rifles and cartridges. I took the same mindset and applied it to this: Don’t overthink anything, just look at it the same, and let the larger, more efficient rounds do the work.
This is an event that attracts riflemen spanning multiple disciplines
and that’s what makes it so attractive to me. Every time I have attended, I have learned something new because I was interacting with people outside my normal circle.

You will find teams from various countries competing at the highest levels, from F-Class, Benchrest and ELR, among many others, and some from my discipline, which is practical precision rifle. It’s very cool
to see guys who do well within their realm change up their style and gear to compete under a standardized set of rules with cartridges and weapons that allow for repeated impacts at extended distances. The list of gear used is enormous, as everyone does something a bit different and has their own strategy.
The King of 2 Mile match is a fun learning experience and I intend to do
it again. We are working on new rifles to have ready before the match. It is exciting to blend your normal match gear with much larger components and go dent some primers with the best ELR shooters on the planet. Drawing shooters from different backgrounds and strategies and with industry support backing them to drive the sport makes for an interesting climate for long-range precision.

I have been very fortunate to get support from many of my favorite companies in the industry, including GA Precision, Bartlein Barrels, RCBS Reloading, Hornady, and Bushnell Optics, to name a few. I really enjoy going out to represent all of the companies and see what we can do. This year we are going to use the same gear with a slightly different cartridge we designed. I’m taking the same scope on the same mount and going to a BAT ES action screwed to a Bartlein Barrel by GA Precision. We plan on launching Cutting Edge Bullets under predictions based off the Hornady 4DOF solver. Trigger Tech sent me an awesome trigger with a crown engraved on it, so I suppose that would be a great bang switch for the platform.

I can’t wait to see next year’s competitors and see how the format will go. I think we will see a few more PRS shooters enter the game and I think they will do well. The style will align well with an easy transition – just a bit more recoil and longer time of flights. If you want some excitement, there are ELR matches popping up across the country and it’s getting much more popular. No, you don’t have to go crazy, as many think.

Start stretching out your gear to find your limitations and learn things that will let you go farther. It’s such a blast to fire your rifle and wait a while for a bullet to impact a target. It doesn’t get much better than that for me. Getting out with shooters and conditions will show you your errors and how to improve. After all, that’s the golden rule in precision rifle – knocking out any variables you may have and trying to achieve perfect consistency.
Be sure to check out American Shooting Journal’s August issue to find out the results of this year’s King of 2 Miles competition.

STORY BY ROBERT BRANTLEY • PHOTOS © SNIPER’S HIDE

How to Understand Minute of Angle

Full guide on how to understand MOA (Minute of Angle) and to compensate for the bullet drop.
Learn how to calculate MOA and adjusting on the elevation turrets.

In the course of perfecting your shooting accuracy, you will hear the word MOA. If you don’t know what it is, then shooting on target will be the hardest thing to achieve. For those who know it, they realize that some calculations are crucial if you want to improve on accuracy.

Now, what are those calculations? Will they make shooting a rocket science subject? If you are asking such questions, the information below is for you. You will see how easy it is to understand Minute of Angle when we break it down into digestible chunks that will aid you in hitting the bull’s eye every time you aim.

MOA Meaning
So you are asking, what is MOA? It stands for Minute of Angle as explained in the title. Here, a minute refers to 1/60th of a degree. Think about the minutes in an hour. One minute is a 1/60th of an hour. When it comes to shooting, it refers to a tiny fraction of one angle.

Look at the circle. It has 360 degrees. Now, take out only one degree then divide it 60 times. That’s the portion we are talking about here. Despite being so small, the difference it can make in hitting the target is more than enormous.

Why Do We Need To Measure Shooting In Minutes?
I guessed right. That’s your next question. If you look at how a bullet moves, it does so in an arc which is not a perfect one. As it travels further, the force of gravity becomes larger hence the decrease in velocity. That makes the arc’s slope steeper.
You may notice that you are shooting dead on at closer targets like about 200 yards away. However, as you aim further than let’s say 600 yards, you note that you are hitting lower than the target point. The distance between where your bullet hits and the target is known as the bullet drop. It’s measured in inches.
We call the path followed by a bullet as the bullet’s trajectory. It happens in an arc, and that is why we need to measure it in degrees if we want to cover for the bullet drop successfully. That is where MOA comes in as a useful measurement.

The Relationship between MOA and Distance
MOA is not dependent on distance. If you thought there was a relation, well it’s a bit complicated here. We use MOA as an angular measurement as opposed to linear. That’s what we adjust a long range target scope on a rifle using the elevation turret. So, how do we translate MOA to a linear measurement?

Apply this rule: 1 minute (or 1 MOA) is one inch at 100 yards. One inch here is an approximation since it’s actually 1.047 inches. For shooting, we disregard the 0.047 inches and round it off to one. However, in long-distance shooting, it becomes applicable.

What does the above mean? It implies that if you make a minute adjustment on the scope, you are using, there is a 1-inch change in the bullet’s point of impact at 100 yards. On the other hand, the size in inches increases as you go further than 100 yards, but it’s still one minute.

Distance in Yards 1 MOA Change in Size (Rounded Off)
100 1 inch
200 2 inch
300 3 inch
400 4 inch
500 5 inch
600 6 inch
700 7 inch
800 8 inch
900 9 inch
1000 10 inch
Understanding MOA
If you want an accurate shot after precise aiming, you need to know how to use MOA to solve the bullet drop. That means utilizing the elevation turret at the top of the scope.

Determine the Bullet Drop
Go to the range and shoot a group. Make sure you know the distance you are shooting from and the bullet drop. After that, memorize what 1MOA is at that distance. You can refer to the chart above.

If you are 300 yards away and you are three inches low from the target, that means making the necessary adjustments to go dead on in the next shoot out. 1 MOA is three inches at 300 yards. To recover for the drop, you will need to go up 1 MOA.
Having figured out that, we can now deduce a formula to help us calculate faster.

Formula to Calculate 1MOA size at any distance:
Distance to the target (yards) /100 = inches per MOA for the distance.
If you are 400 yards away, then that will be 400/100 = 4 inches.
1 MOA is 4 inches at 400 yards. That implies that you need 1 MOA for every 4 inches off the target.
If you want to use the exact measurements, then know that 1 MOA = 1.047 inches
Using the exact measurements, we can use the following formula:
(Distance to the target in yards x 1.047) / 100 = inches per MOA for the distance.
So, using the example above:
(400 x 1.047) / 100 = 4.188 which translates to 4.2 inches.

Calculating the Bullet Drop
Now that we can calculate the MOA at a given distance, how do you go about calculating the bullet drop?

Suppose the bullet drop is 40 inches from the target as you shoot 400 yards away. We know that we need 1 MOA for every four-inch drop at that distance.
Here is how to calculate the MOA adjustments we need for the 40-inch bullet drop:
Number of the bullet drop inches / MOA inches at the given distance = MOA needed
Therefore, 40 inches low / 4 inches (1 MOA is 4 inches at 100 yards) = 10 MOA adjustments on the scope
Now that you know the MOA needed to adjust to hit dead on, you can translate that to the scope by making the MOA adjustment via the top turret.

Translating the MOA on Turrets
Riflescopes come with the following specifications:
1/8 MOA turrets
1/4 MOA turrets
1/2 MOA turrets
1 MOA turrets

Depending on the featured MOA adjustment, it means that the turret will turn in such increments. Therefore, ¼ MOA turret will have ¼ increments, and the same applies to the rest.


Each time you move the turret, it clicks, and the lines below the numbers guide you. So, if your scope says it has the ¼ MOA adjustments, it means you need four quarters or four clicks to make 1 MOA. If it says ½ MOA adjustment, then you need two clicks to make 1 MOA.

For our case above, if you have ¼ MOA adjustments on your scope, to get to 10 MOA will require 40 clicks.
If 1 MOA needs four clicks, then 10 MOA x 4 clicks per MOA = 40 clicks.
If you have a ½ MOA scope, you will need 20 clicks if you apply the analogy in the last statement above.

Wrapping up
Was it that hard? I hope not since everything can now be understood. As you can see, the calculations help you aim better as opposed to complicating the aiming setup. If it has not yet sunk in, here is a video that explains more about MOA and how to calculate it. If you have read the information above up to this point, then this video will help you see what we are talking about and apply the knowledge in the field.
If you are all set, then it’s time not to miss the target!


Article by Steve Coffman