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Practically Shooting

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My attention wanders like that of a coffee-guzzling squirrel. My latest interest is shooting in Long Range .22 Rifle matches.    I'm sure everyone has a different idea of what "long range" is with a .22, but at this club it's 75 to 240 yards.

 

Basically it's like silhouette shooting, but at extended ranges and shot from prone with bipods.    Targets are typical steel animal silhouettes plus a few rectangles and even some bolt heads thrown in.  

 

They have two classes, Standard and Master. The main difference is the distance shot.  You have to shoot in Standard until you clear 75% hits in two matches.  Usually, Standard shoots at 75, 110, and 165 yards.  Master shoots at 165, 200, and 240 yards, the max available there.

You can use a bipod, but no rear bag.  You can also rest your forend on a backpack to replicate hunting situations, but no front sandbags.  A friend took about two seconds to think of putting a sandbag rest in a backpack, the weasel.   If you claim decrepitness, you can shoot from a bench.  I should, but have resisted.

Shooters are paired up, so that whichever one is not shooting can spot and keep score for the shooter.

 

Because it would be too easy to shoot that far with a .22, they add to the difficulty with the shooting order.  They have three basic courses of fire, and they rotate through them from match to match.  At my first one, they shot the middle one as far as difficulty goes.  This may get confusing on paper, but here is how that went.

You draw a random scoresheet from a stack, and it has your shooting order.  Three 20-target stages.  Five minutes per stage.  My order?   Five at 110 yards, then five at 165, five at 75 yards, then back to 110 for the last five.   That's my first twenty targets.  110/165/75/110

Some back and forth there, you see?

Break to paint targets and switch places with your partner.  After his turn, here is what I had for my second stage of twenty:

Five targets at 75, five at 110, five at 165, then back to 75 again.  75/110/165/75

Break, switch shooters, they shoot that stage, then it's time for my last stage.

That was five at 165, five at 75, five at 110, and 165 again.  165/75/110/165

So you shoot each distance four times in those three stages.  Twenty shots total at each distance for 60 shots overall for the match.  Like in silhouette, targets are shot in order left to right, one shot each, a point for a hit and nothing for a miss.

 

With the jumping around in range, and need to adjust scope elevation AND parallax, there is plenty of opportunity to screw things up besides the usual shooting error.   A good spotter is important too, because they will remind you what distance is next, remind you to change your scope, etc.  I shot with a friend I've shot with a lot, so that helped.  The importance of that was pounded home next time.  

 

I got 11 out of the first two arrays of 20.   That's 11 for them combined.  Then I got 15 of the last 20.   That's what happens when you use the match to zero- 26 out of 60.  My buddy who had shot this once before (and unbeknownst to me spent an afternoon fine tuning his zeroes on this range) got 51/60 and one step toward Master.  The winner got something like 58.

 

Next month was the toughest course of fire they use.  You change distance a lot more.   No more than two targets were shot at any one distance, then you changed to another bank for one or two, then switched again.  Your score sheet had you all over the range.  Scope knobs were spinning,  parallax dials were cranking.  I was glad I had shot a match before this, because it would be a bad one to start on.  

 

This one really shows how important the spotter is.   That person needs to be on their toes just to tell the shooter what target is next.  My buddy couldn't make this one so I got someone else.  Someone less.    It was so he could do to keep up with where I was.  I had to wait for him to sort things out.  He missed shots.  He missed hits.  None of this helps, especially in a times event.  I don't remember my exact score for this one but it was in the 20s and close to the first one.  I'd like to blame the spotter, but I can't.   

 

The most recent match was the easiest of the three courses.   They don't allow scores from this one to count toward moving up in class to Master.  

You shoot a stage of 20 at one distance.  Next stage, all 20 are at another distance.   Last stage is at the remaining distance.  The only complication is you get assigned where to start and end.   

Oh, and this one is shot at the same distances for everyone, so it's 110, 165, and 200 yards.   I got to start at 200.

 

This time, I got over there to get good zeroes ahead of the match.   That made a difference.   I also switched rifles to one with a stock better suited to prone shooting.   My neck had been killing me.  Things went a lot better this time around.

 

My buddy and I are members of this club although it's an hour farther than our regular club.   We took another guy from our local club this time, and the three of us ended up in the top five.   He joined at their meeting the following night.  My buddy tied for first with 58.  

 

I've shot NRA Highpower (centerfire) to 600 yards, and F-Class to 1,000 yards.  I've played around at all ranges in between.  People say this Long Range .22 is like shooting .308 at around 700-1000 yards, but I don't think it's as hard as 700 and sure isn't as hard as 1,000.  But it IS hard, and it's a lot easier to setup and do.  It takes about three hours to do the match, and that's with a crowd of 25-30 that requires three relays.  Capable equipment is easier to come by, too.  Ammo isn't even close!

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Barry,

This sounds like an immense amount of fun.  I learned, like many, on a .22LR and probably shot a .22 exclusively for ten years, before 'graduating' to centerfire.  

What are the limitations on the firearm?  Shoot what you bring, which means someone could bring a tricked out Anshutz and have a great advantage.  Scope limitations?  

This intrigues me.

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Shoot what you brung.  No limits on rifle or scope that I can see.  The only equipment rules concern your rifle support, i.e. bipod or backpack front rest only, no rear bag. 

 

I’ve seen plain CZs and older Rem 541s, and I’ve seen a couple of gee-whiz chassis systems.    I’d say the two most common rifles are CZ 457s (mostly MTR models) and Ruger Precision Rimfires.  

 

The downside to a big Smallbore match rifle with lots of adjustments is they are single shots.  Each twenty round stage is timed.  It fairly generous at five to eight minutes, so a repeating action isn’t necessary, but it helps a LOT since you already have plenty to do.

 

It looks like a lot more money is spent on scopes than rifles.   I’ve seen some crazy optics, but the Hawke brand seems pretty popular among the regulars.  Hawkes are big among airgunners and are pretty reasonable.

 

My buddy has been using an Anschutz 64MPR (MultiPurpose Rifle).  He swiped a Vortex 6-24X PST off a rifle of his kid’s.   He tried his CZ457 Varmint and Bushnell 4-12X Saturday.  

I was using a CZ457 American standard taper barrel with an SWFA 16X scope.  A $450 rifle and $250 scope.  

 

My neck was killing me in prone since the stock isn’t high enough.  So I took my 1980-ish Walther KKM UIT*, put a fair to OK Weaver KT15 on that I had around, and used it.  Much more comfortable.   I didn’t think about it before, but I guess I took an opposite approach to many: put more money in the rifle and used a cheaper scope.   It is more accurate than my CZ, but the stock fit is by far more important and helpful.

 

The key to this seems to be ammo.  

You have to test a little.  What shoots well at 50 yards might not do well at 100, let alone farther.  And ammo we’ve given up on at 50 has been OK at 100 and beyond.  

What really hurts is the flyers.  No matter what ammo you use, or how much you put into the rifle or scope, ammo-caused flyers happen.  It must be unavoidable in rimfire.   Even Eley Tenex and Lapua Midas throws flyers, they just do it less.    You know the old hot rod saying?  Speed costs money; how fast do you want to go?   Well, how accurate do you want to be?   

 

Here’s my take on it:  You don't need super accuracy for this, not like you might think.  Holding 2 MOA should be enough.   But you need to hold 2 MOA all the way out ***including flyers***.

 

I’ve seen $2.50/box ammo and $18/box ammo.  We’ve been taking the middle ground and using SK Long Range ammo.  I don’t think either of us have missed a shot with it we can blame on an ammo flyer.  That’s not to say it doesn’t give flyers.  Some appear to have have strayed, but still hit if we expected it to and missed when we expected it to.  

 

It is great fun.  I’m afraid I’ve made it sound complicated and expensive, but it’s cheaper than most shooting sports and makes more sense when you see it.  If I were buying a rig for this, I’d buy a Ruger Precision Rimfire then go to SWFA’s “sample list” and get a demo SWFA 16X scope for $260.  That would be capable of clearing the course.  

 

This club runs this match twice each month.  Once on a Wednesday evening and then ten days later on a Saturday they run the same course again.  It’s that popular.    

Here’s a link, but it doesn’t tell you much about the courses of fire.  

http://www.rileycc.com/match-descriptions/match/index.php?ID=22 Long Range Rifle

 

Ya know...

It just occurred to me...

They are not all THAT far from Chicago.

 

 

*Walther KKM is a series they made for several years.  It’s more or less their competitor to the Anschutz 54.   The UIT model was made to meet rules that were only in place a couple of years, for a more basic class with almost no stock adjustments and a lower weight limit than the super duper match rifles of the time.   Luckily for me, the stock fits me well in prone.   When in position, the toe of the stock comes close enough to the ground that I can put my left fist under it for support.   

I delayed using the Walther because it’s a single shot.  I modified an ammo box to hold the rounds staggered so I can grab one at a time, taped it to a chunk of bullet casting lead for weight, and it worked alright.  I feel disaster lurking there, however.  

Edited by BarryinIN
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22 hours ago, BarryinIN said:

They are not all THAT far from Chicago

No it's not and the funny thing is I drove about 5 miles from there a couple weeks ago.

I really need to come down and give it a shot.  :-)

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  • 2 weeks later...
10 hours ago, BarryinIN said:

They had a match Wednesday evening.  I shot a personal best, but my buddy outdid me handily.  He shot the first  perfect score they’ve ever had.   

Congrats!  That's awesome.  Anything you did different that you can attribute to doing so well?

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Posted (edited)

 

15 hours ago, wwillson said:

Congrats!  That's awesome.  Anything you did different that you can attribute to doing so well?

Thanks!  

The wind was pretty much a non-factor this time.   That’s one reason.   I’m not sure, but I think scores were higher across the board.  

Also- They rotate through three courses of fire.  This was my first time seeing one twice.  That helped a lot to lower the match jitters.

Plus I had a good spotter this time.  There was a large number of attendees, so I got separated from my buddy in the shuffle to align squads, but this guy was good too.  A good spotter can gain you a few points sometimes.  

 

**********

My buddy John has a new goal.  He wants to clean each of the three CoFs.  The next one is tougher, but I think he can do it.   But he has now been moved up in class and has to shoot farther.  

**********

He didn’t get to use it in this last match, but John just bought a KRG chassis stock for his CZ.    I liked the looks, but wanted to look one over.  I like the CZs, but the stock just doesn’t work for me in prone.  

This is getting serious.   I ordered a green one.

https://kineticresearchgroup.com/product/bravo-chassis-rimfire/

Edited by BarryinIN
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  • 3 weeks later...

Just a little.  I looked at their steel barrels since weight wasn’t a factor here.  There was something I can’t recall that kept me from looking further, like maybe I didn’t like the length choices.  I wanted a fairly long barrel for this, to get more weight out front since it’s a prone gun.  

Honestly, once I found a good deal on the IBI barrel from an outside source, I quit looking.

 

A friend at the gun club who works with us in the Jr Program just built a lightweight Savage 6.5CM with a carbon fiber barrel.   I’m not sure, but he might’ve used a Proof Research barrel.   He’s in AK with it right now.  

 

I didn’t want a threaded muzzle, but since it came that way and without a thread protector, I had to find a way to protect the threads.   I had a couple from other barrels- aluminum and stainless- and some other 1/2-28 muzzle devices, so I gave them all a try.  Since they varied in weight, and some in function, I expected differing accuracy, and I got it.  

The best accuracy came with a muzzle brake of all things.  It seems funny to have a muzzle break on a hefty weight .22, but there it is.   It shot the worst groups by far with an A2 flash hider.  I filed that away in my mind for further experimenting.  

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