In Which Lessons Are Learned

So as I previously mentioned I spent my Saturday with Paul Barrett and his wife Julie.

Yes, that Paul Barrett

Friday night Ry was trying to figure out who to put with Paul to ensure he had an awesome time.  I volunteered my self.  I mean, when else would I get an opportunity like that?  I also forgot what NAVY stands for.

I was bummed I didn’t have a video camera because I would have just tossed it on the tripod in front to record the whole thing.  Instead I must rely on memory.  I must get a new camera for next year.

I started off by unloading a bunch of equipment for my rig.  Initially I thought Paul was staying through Sunday and was quickly informed they’d be leaving after the dinner.  This meant I could use my equipment, which I’m more familiar with which is always a good thing.  If they were staying through Sunday I wanted to make sure they were familiar with the equipment they would be using.  Ry gave me his Evil Black Rifle to use.

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There were many reasons for this.  High capacity magazines, suppressor, and semi-auto.  Overall it was to illustrate the utility of such a rifle. 

How well did it illustrate that fact? I’m going to be buying another full length AR soon.  It will have a quick detach mount and I will be buying a suppressor to go on it.  For inexperienced shooters it seriously helps take the edge off shooting.  The loud bang is often what contributes to the flinch factor.  Not to mention it was much easier for me to communicate with Paul since I wasn’t partially deaf after each shot.

I pulled out my shooting mat, Joe gave me his to use but mine was a bit longer and thus would require less mud on clothing.  As for spotting scope, I grabbed mine because it had a Mil-Dot reticle in it like Ry’s scope.  This made it even easier for holds and other shooter spotter communication.  I set up that equipment as well and had a general discussion with Paul and his wife on long distance shooting answering questions while I set up.

I talked with Gene Econ and his crew and made sure we would have an extra instructor handy for help.  I also had them sit in on Gene’s class that morning.  Overall they appreciated Gene’s class, a bit of the material was way over their head because they weren’t familiar with the topic.  Over the morning those questions would be answered.

I did a quick review of the manual of arms on the AR-15 with Paul once the line went hot.  We then spend the next bit finding a comfortable position and getting him on target down range.  I eventually had to swap out Ry’s bipod.  It was too high for the berm and was better geared for the hill, or indirect fire beyond the hill.

He put in the magazine, dropped the bolt and we were off to the races.  Ry had informed me that the zero should be for the berm at 400 yards.  We had about a 6mph right to left wind.  I looked at the spare mag, wasn’t sure exactly what weight it was but I figured it was probably 50 or 55 grain V-max.  There would be a difference for compensation but not entirely sure of the BC I decided to push about 1 minute right from the no wind zero to start with.

I have him hold dead center of the target and start pacing the wind.  I tell him, “Spotter Ready, Hold Center, Send it.”  He squeezes off the round and I watch the trace, low and to the right.  I ask him, “Where was your cross hair as you broke?”  His reply, “In the middle of the cross”.  I come around, explain where the bullet hit and what that means.  I do the math in my head since I knew the correction in Mils.  I add another 1/2 minute of right windage and about 2 minutes of elevation. 

I tell him to hold center again and tell me when he’s ready.  He says, “Ready”.  To which I reply as the wind picks up, “Spotter ready, favor right.”  Shortly after I hear him say he’s sure exactly where to hold.  He know it’s not all the way to the right but he’s not sure what to use as a visual indicator.  I grab my pen and paper and draw the steel target he’s shooting at, a classic IPSC.   I visually explain center, favor and hold, their use and how you can combine favor up and hold right for example.

I go back behind the spotting scope and say, “Favor right, spotter ready, send it.”  He squeezes off the round and I watch the trace and it misses to the left again.  This time elevation looked better.  I tell him, “Hold right, spotter ready, send it.”

Fumpt….

*Clang*

Hit in the upper left, I ask him to call the shot.  He says it broke on the right edge.  I tell him, “You smacked it in the upper left, definitely a solid hit.”  At this point he makes a comment.  At this point he also indicates he’d rather stop just because he’s happy with the 1 in 3 record.  I tell him we need to get to the center of the steel.

I ask Julie, “Would you like to see bullet trace?”  She says yes so I put her on the spotting scope to call shots and I just kneel next to Paul to do the mental math and adjustments.  Every shot for the next bit is a hit and eventually he’s ringing the middle of the steel.  Next comes a conversation about the details of what’s happening and some of the physics involved.  I then ask if Julie wants to try.

Not nearly as excited as her husband she was still plenty interested.  Paul did it and he didn’t think he could so there was no reason she couldn’t.

I spend the next bit behind the spotting scope, the winds shift a bit and I have to do some windage adjustments but I notice something, she’s pushing a lot further left than she should be.  I ask Paul to watch through the spotting scope so I can sit and watch her shoot.  As she squeezes the trigger the next time I see it.  She isn’t using the pad of her finger for the pull but more of the crook.  It explains the push to the left.  I help her correct that problem and a couple more shots with her husband spotting and we here the magical sound.

*Clang*

She was ecstatic.   She never thought she would do something like that, and I will say she had the worse winds to shoot through during that.  She shoots a bunch more times and then starts to feel sore.

She climbs back up and we all begin talking about different questions they have.  From minutes of angle, to Mils, to ballistics, what is happening as a bullet goes down range.  The had a lot of very good questions. 

After a while of talking I ask Paul, “Want to go further?”

He replies, “If you really think I can do it.”

I then reply, “I have no doubt you’re capable of hitting out at 650.”

He says OK and I go grab my .308.  It’s a Kimber 8400 AT it’s heavy, I don’t find the recoil anything overwhelming.  I lay down prone behind it with my notebook, estimate the wind and range, dial everything in and squeeze off a shot.  Self spotting even on a 308 is difficult.  I see it low and left, I fire 4 more shots and get pretty close to the target and say to Paul, “You’re up, you should be very close.”

He lays down behind the rifle and I spend some time getting him in a comfortable position and adjust the stock.  I get his eye relief correct and his position looks good.  He sees the target I was shooting at and I get behind the spotting scope.  I tell him to hold center and away he goes.  It was to the left and a bit low.  I come up correct it and verify his position.  I didn’t pay attention to one thing though.  His eye relief was good, he was well supported, I felt he was good to go.  He felt good to go.

I get back behind the scope and tell him to favor right and send it.

*Bang*

Damn, missed it by about 2 inches low and left.  Then I heard, “Uh-oh”.

The phrase uh-oh and firearms should never be used together in the same sentence.  Well  while focusing on his eye, I overlooked his shoulder.  His polar fleece made it looked tucked tightly into his shoulder.  In fact it had been a bit loose and slipped during recoil.

Initially the cut didn’t look bad, but I grabbed Bill, one of the instructors and he grabbed his med bag.  Luckily it didn’t need stiches, but he got a good gash on his forehead.  His wife was joking about how she had something for her next speech.  About the time we finished cleaning it all up it was lunch time.  I talked to the guys at RNS and they were more than happy to feed Paul and Julie. 

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At this point I felt horrible.  I felt like Joe and Ry trusted me with a pot of gold and a bunch of underpants gnomes came and stole it under my watch.  I was so worried about just the eye relief I overlooked the shoulder.  Everyone eventually gets scoped in one way or another.  Anyone who says they haven’t has never shot anything bigger than a .22.  He did have a good sense of humor about it but I still felt really bad for missing it.

We told Paul he was by no means the first and definitely wouldn’t be the last.  We told him the story of Squeaky and David’s pistol. 

After lunch they decided to head back in to town.  He insisted it was not due to his injury.  I’m not entirely sure because I’m sure he probably had a headache from it too.  I hung out with the guys from RNS for the rest of the afternoon till the boomers were brought out and high intensity.

How awesome was it, Dave the photographer let me shoot his .45-70 Sharps and I hit steel at 650 yards.  I actually thought I missed and was pissed, then came the *clang*.  Yes I was that unnamed individual.

When I arrived at the dinner that night Paul came up to me and had a copy of his book in his hand.  He cracked it open and wrote this inside and handed to me.

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How awesome is that?

He spoke during the dinner and had a long QA with the people who were there participating.  There were a few comments made politically.  One question was made that I didn’t like how it was phrased, “Where do you feel safer?”  That’s a question with no real answer.  They were trying to illustrate that there was no need to be afraid of everyone carrying weapons.  The thing is, one always feels safer where they are familiar.  Which is exactly what Paul said.  The better question would have been, “Do you have any reason to feel uncomfortable in this room given the number of people openly armed?”  I know that answer would have been no.  Alas I didn’t get a chance to make the comment so on the blog it goes.

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I made sure to grab a picture with Paul before he left, and I know he and his wife were both happy as they were actually able to shoot something at distance.  Paul said he will be writing an article on his experiences and I’m looking forward to seeing it.  He said he’s going to have an entertaining time at work when he gets back.  How many people who work for Bloomberg Business Magazine, yes that Bloomberg, show up to work with a case of scope eye?  I guess we both learned something very important from this experience.

Learn from my mistake, don’t get target fixated on the distance between the scope and the eye, remember the shoulder matters too.  You have to balance each of them.

Barron is the owner, editor, and principal author at The Minuteman, a competitive shooter, and staff member for Boomershoot. Even in his free time he’s merging his love and knowledge of computers and technology with his love of firearms.

He has a BS in electrical engineering from Washington State University. Immediately after college he went into work on embedded software and hardware for use in critical infrastructure. This included cryptographic communications equipment as well as command and control devices that were using that communications equipment. Since then he’s worked on just about everything ranging from toys, phones, other critical infrastructure, and even desktop applications. Doing everything from hardware system design, to software architecture, to actually writing software that makes your athletic band do its thing.

About Barron

Barron is the owner, editor, and principal author at The Minuteman, a competitive shooter, and staff member for Boomershoot. Even in his free time he’s merging his love and knowledge of computers and technology with his love of firearms.

He has a BS in electrical engineering from Washington State University. Immediately after college he went into work on embedded software and hardware for use in critical infrastructure. This included cryptographic communications equipment as well as command and control devices that were using that communications equipment. Since then he’s worked on just about everything ranging from toys, phones, other critical infrastructure, and even desktop applications. Doing everything from hardware system design, to software architecture, to actually writing software that makes your athletic band do its thing.

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2 Responses to In Which Lessons Are Learned

  1. Bill says:

    Barron,

    You did a great job with the Barretts. They had nothing but positive things to say about Boomershoot and your help. Getting not one, but two complete novices on steel at 400 yards is admirable, and getting Paul to then move up the hill was a great move.

    I should have thought about giving Paul some Tylenol or Ibuprofen right away, which would have cut any headache he might have had. That said, his injury and the location were more likely because the rifle actually came up a bit, instead of straight back. Most scope injuries actually are closer to the bridge of the nose, vs. where his occurred. (I run a clinic in rural Washington, and during every hunting season I see more than a few of these!) Think about how big the eyepiece would have to be for him to have the exit pupil in the correct place to see through it, and where the injury was.

    I learned something too, I need to through a bottle of SurClens in my bag. I’m always worrying about the big injuries; someone shooting themselves or someone else, so I have plenty of Celox and gauze rolls, but I will be moving to a bigger kit, with more small stuff for next year.

    Good job and thanks for your work on everything at Boomershoot!