WORDS OF WISDOM
Long Range Clinic with Precision Rifle Enthusiast by Jessica R. Ewing
I was stoked to be invited to this class by Niki Jones, being an “honorary Sure Shot” displaced on the Gulf Coast. I had never taken a long range precision rifle course prior to this so, since I had something to prove to my husband and I wanted to add that to my list of badassery I was all over it!
Precision Rifle Enthusiast’s instructors offered a warm up class the day before for ladies who needed to zero their rifle and get some range time behind a platform that was new or unfamiliar. That was me. I drove to Austin late Friday night in order to be in a non zombie state for the 8am start time and found the Best of the West Shooting Sports range to be a wonderful sight.
I brought along an Accuracy International AX .308 with a 20” barrel, Schmidt & Bender MOA reticle, Lake City 175 grain SMK ammunition, and my trusty Moleskin notebook that I have been fortunate enough to remember for my last three classes. If you have never thought about jotting notes during classroom time I encourage you to do so.
With my learning style I find it a handy reference tool to reinforce my learning while I am still there and later to remind me of things I have forgotten.
There were only a few of us girls at the range on Saturday morning, but the instructors still had their hands full. I am always guilty of monopolizing an instructor’s time; constantly asking questions, taking notes and “just making sure”, but these guys took it in stride. I couldn’t have asked for any better laid back and hilarious instructors to learn from. Even on the first day I began to understand things about shooting position, alignment, breathing and making adjustments. And to that end, my rifle was zeroed at 100 yards.
Sunday was our official class day for Long Range Precision Rifle, the weather was fan-freaking-tastic and I got to spend it with an awesome bunch of Austin Sure Shots!
We sat a good amount of the morning inside the classroom of Best of the West and, in standard form, I took copious notes. . . .
Again we covered shooting positions from supported to unsupported, and in detail we learned MOA (minute of angle) vs. MIL (milliradian) and scopes, zeroing your rifle, focal plain, firing hands and trigger finger, natural POA (point of aim) and POI (point of impact) and convergence of the two, aiming, breathing, breaking the shot and factors affecting the shot, range estimation methods and calculations, and DOPE (data on previous engagements - for your rifle and your ammo), as well as helpful tools for long range precision shooters.
Then we went out to have some fun! We shared the range with other folks from 100 yards to 1,000 yards so we took turns and poor instructors began to be pulled in all directions in high demand. In the end this turned out to be a blessing because all of the girls began trading off spotting for each other and shooting, reinforcing our classroom time by applying the corrective techniques we had just learned. And yes, I took more notes. Each of us began at 100 yards and once we could stack some hits we moved up the range from 100 to 250 to 500 to 750 and 1,000 yards. I loved seeing the smiles and the lightbulbs, especially mine!
I feel so fortunate that Niki from Austin Sure Shots twisted the arms of the guys at Precision Rifle Enthusiast to get us a great price for this class, particularly since I was the only one driving an awful distance and staying in a hotel room. I appreciate the magnitude of knowledge that Wil and PRE have, and their desire to share what they know and make better shooters, and to put up with the ladies and me for two days. I walked away from this class saying: “I think I love rifles more than pistols” and meaning every word of it. The skill of precision rifle is calculated and takes a lot of thought before you break a single shot. It was right up my little OCD alley and I am thankful to have been a part of it.
Combat Shotgun with Hex Tactical by Leia Mutchler
Imagine it’s 2am, you’re asleep, the kids are asleep, significant other is out of town and the sound of glass breaking wakes you up. You reach for the shotgun; the one you were told is the best gun for defending your home. Is it loaded? How do you check? How do you load it? Thankfully, Sure Shots recently offered a Combat Shotgun Course, hosted by Hex Tactical Resources, which I was able to attend. The 8-hour course required a reliable semi-auto or pump action shotgun, chambered in 12 gauge, 125 birdshot, 15 slugs, 15 buckshot, as well as a pistol and 25 pistol rounds. This first-timer was excited, as were the other 13 Sure Shots taking the course with me!
First, the instructors gave us a general overview of shotguns, including pump vs. semi-auto. Then they went through loading/unloading techniques and stance, and we began to fire from the 7-yard line using buckshot. My first few shots I hit the target, yeah! However, I quickly realized my form was off—I had the butt of the shotgun too high on my collarbone (the way I shoot my carbine) instead of in the fleshy part of my shoulder. OUCH! With some help from my fellow Sure Shots and the Hex guys, my stance and grip improved greatly. In order to help with recoil we used a push/pull technique, with the strong hand pushing the gun toward the target and the weak hand pulling the gun back while in a forward-aggressive, squared-off stance.
Next, we patterned the guns, which was eye opening for me. The pattern from a distance of 7 yards was quite small, and as we moved back, the pattern got larger, which could mean stray pellets were now in the equation. The small patterning close-in still surprised me, because I’d always been told “you can’t miss with a shotgun!” Well, I found out that yes, you can, especially when shooting from a distance.