In Which I Lead By Example

Yesterday was the USPSA match in which I was the Match Director.  I designed all the stages and picked out the qualifier.  Overall I was looking forward to it.  Mainly because one of the stages was going to be the first stage I ever designed.

We got a bit of video of me shooting that stage.

I laugh because someone was glad that I was pissed for “forcing them to shoot this monstrosity” except everyone I talked to loved it and wanted to shoot it again. In hindsight I should have thought of a way to run it backwards.  If you’re wondering about the outburst at the end I looked at the target and saw I broke the perf on a no shoot at the end of the course.

However I’m saddened we didn’t get video of probably the most important thing that happened on that stage.  It happened while the RO was scoring my stage and I was standing right there.  I’m sad I didn’t even take a picture of it.

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You see that white guy in the middle.  Yeah I shot the little bastard because he wasn’t smart enough to get out-of-the-way.  I drilled two A’s into T2, 2 A’s in to T1, and barely nicked the perf on the No Shoot.  When the RO came through he called Alpha Charlie on the target.  He thought I was outside the perf.  I promptly stopped him and said, “Name redacted, That should be 2 Alpha, 1 No Shoot.”  He looked at the target again and said, “holy crap you’re right.”  The funniest thing is, I didn’t even think twice about it, it was immediate and without thought.

Now I know some of you will think that some how that was in my favor, it was not.  Here’s how the score for that breaks down, if it had been an Alpha-Charlie, I would have gotten 7 points.  With a 2-Alpha, No shoot I get 0 points.  The No Shoot is –10 points, each A is a 5.  If I was a little less ethically inclined I could have taken a 7 point boost on my score for that stage.

It’s not worth it at all.  I’m in this for fun and you know what, if I have to cheat to have fun I’m doing it all wrong.  If I want to stand up on the top of the hill and say I won, by god I want to be proud of how I got there.

I was really sad when I had to call a FTE for the RO I caught as a shooter ran through.  I had actually hoped he was the first guy to just skip the body and take the head shots at an earlier position.  He shot the steel and forgot to hit the other target.

Here’s the match stages, both the descriptions and the Google Sketch Up files.  If you want to use them at your local club feel free to do so.  Just give me credit and I’ll be happy.

That particular stage is 30 Minutes or Less.  It started off being just 30 shots but when I redesigned it to fit in our bays and equipment list I ended up adding a target.

Another interesting story was from the standard I created 4×3.  I designed it specifically so the shooter would have a choice between which hand to use at which distance.  I ended up walking up just after they finished reading the stage description and two of the main shooters shot it strong hand closest, then weak hand when further away.  I promptly recheck the stage description which says the following:

String 1.  Upon start signal from behind F1 engage targets T1-T4 freestyle with one shot each.  Perform a mandatory reload and reengage T1-T4 one hand only.

String 2.  Upon start signal from behind F2 engage targets T1-T4 freestyle with one shot each.  Perform a mandatory reload and reengage T1-T4 with one shot each with the opposite hand.

I thought about it for a minute and promptly talked to the two guys who read the briefing and had shot.  In the back of my head I kind of chuckled at the thought of shooting the course of fire weak hand forward, strong hand rear, but I knew it would immediately cause an uproar.  So I clarified it for everyone and we re-shot those shooters at the end.

I still kind of wanted to hear the collective groan after I shot the course and then read the description for everyone.  If you are into USPSA, learn this now, pick up the description yourself and read it before shooting.  Others may have misinterpreted the rules.

I will say I guess Jigsaw was right when she said I was an honest shooter.

Boomershoot 2010 PRC AAR

This is my short little after action report on the precision rifle clinic 2010. Friday was a great day for shooting. Winds around 4-8 MPH I discovered my zeros from last year were still good, no real surprise there though. Though I did get a solid reminder in the pre-shooting rifle check. I don’t know how, but the bases of my rings came loose and could have caused some serious issues. I discovered my BDC on my second rifle was quite accurate and was easily putting rounds on the steel at 700 yards.

Bill Waites carrying his gear through the cold and wind up to the line on Saturday. Note the canopies bowing from the wind.

On Saturday morning shooter spotter communication was made difficult by the 10-20 MPH gusting winds. Sucks for making sure you’re heard with your hearing protection on over the wind, however it was just like my first year out there, perfect conditions for learning and practice. We got our 380 zero, and moved out to 625 and had an interesting experience. At the time we moved out winds calmed down a little. My spotter called the wind estimate, checked my book, cranked in the elevation and windage. Got on target, broke the shot dead center. Spotter call center hit. I prepared a follow up shot, my spotter however missed that in the matter of literally seconds the wind shifts from about 5-6 MPH to 16-20MPH. He tells me to hold center again I squeeze it off, 3 Mils left. Crank in the new windage, now I’m 2 Mils low, crank in the elevation bang dead center again. The lesson from this was that the spotter needs to really be aware and willing to issue a hold. Also, viewing trace and splash in the high winds is extremely difficult. The scope is vibrating from the wind and it blows the trail and splash out. At this point we moved back down to 380 and spent time practicing holds, favors, and calling winds since they were changing again. I knew we were on our game when we shot our boomers for the day. Ryan cleared his 3 boomers in the wind in 4 shots, first shot was slightly left. I cleared my 3 in 4 shots, my first went slightly right. When open season was called, we took an additional 10 boomers. I think that count only got so high because Monty ran out of ammo, who was a total bad ass by hitting a 7 inch target turned on its end. He only had a 1 inch wide target to hit, it was gone second shot.

Getting in a natural position was also a major item. Odds are if you’re muscling a shot in, you’re going to miss. Adjust the rifle and your position till you get the target in a natural point of aim. Usually my spotter would leverage the natural point of aim by keeping me in that general area.

The other comment I have, those who saw me this weekend can testify, make sure to wear sunscreen. On Friday I arrived a little late and went straight to shooting, forgetting sunscreen. My nose is roasted, toasted, and blistered, along with my forehead and cheeks. I will be spending the rest of today doing video and pictures of Boomershoot 2010.

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Boomershoot 2010

The run up has officially begun. I’ve got Wednesday through next Tuesday off for pre-run up, PRC, and after event work and clean up. I will be in positions 54/55 this year. Any visiting bloggers are more than welcome to swing by. I’m more than happy to teach you how to snipe some boomers and help you put some rounds down range accurately. (Note: I’ll probably walk up and down the line for 45 minutes prior to lunch to look at other hardware and take video and pictures. After lunch I’ll be there the whole time.)

I’ve noticed from talking to some people they are extremely put off at the thought of shooting long distances. They somehow feel it is extremely different than shooting 100 yards. While yes it is different, and experience is a great help it’s not actually that different. Fundamentals never change, sight picture, breathing, squeezing the trigger, that’s all basic and standard. What is different is the amount of thinking ahead of the shot. Experienced shooters can easily do this mental preparation on their own; however what really makes it possible for any shooter connect to a target at long range is the spotter.

Whenever possible the more experienced shooter is actually the spotter, not the trigger man. Squeezing the trigger is simple and once mastered it becomes second nature. The spotter watches the trace, following the bullet to the point of impact. Here’s the basic order of operations and responsibilities of each during a shot.

Step Spotter Shooter
Target Acquisition Spotter locates a target and relays it to the shooter Shooter confirms the correct target with the spotter. The shooter also makes the correction to parallax for the new range.
Range Spotter estimates the range to target and proper elevation adjustment. Shooter confirms elevation change and dials the scope.
Wind Spotter estimates the wind and dope changes necessary Shooter confirms wind doping change and dials the scope.
Target Hold Spotter specifies the hold for the crosshairs on the target. Shooter hold in that position and waits for the fire when ready command.
Fire Spotter issues the fire command. As quickly as consistently possible the shooter puts the round down range.
Follow Trace Spotter follows the trace to impact. The shooter calls his shot. IE did it break where did the shot break on target? Was it on the hold or elsewhere?
Adjustment Spotter uses the shot call and actual impact to adjust the point of impact. Shooter confirms elevation and wind changes
Go to Target Hold

 

As you can see above, most of the work sits on the spotter not the shooter. If the shooter can shoot under a MOA at 100 yards, is confident in their ability, can count, and accurately call their shots. They can squeeze the trigger on a rifle and hit a target 700 yards away 7 inches in diameter. It all really rests on the spotter.

Calling shots for some is difficult; the key is maintaining concentration on the sight picture up to the break of the shot and remembering it.

I do it a little bit differently by concentrating on each aspect of a shot, breathing, trigger squeeze, sight picture, and thinking about what was not consistent about that last break. I know how a good shot feels to me, if it did not feel good I think about why it didn’t. I learned this technique while being taught competition rifle and pistol. My drills involved calling the shot without looking at the paper.

If for some reason you still feel uncomfortable, hit up the PRC with Gene. I have no qualms shooting at 700 yards now, but the first day on the line at a PRC I was nervous like the people I talk to now. Especially in that wind, I usually got calm winds when shooting, so I called it a baptism by fire. A lot of people feel the long range shot is magic. It isn’t, it is a spotter and the fundamentals of shooting. (Plus Modern Ballistics never hurt either.)

If you’re nervous about shooting at long distance, swing by my position and I’ll get you a boomer on the berm at minimum.

Boomershoot 2009

Last weekend was Boomershoot 2009. Best 5 day vacation I’ve had in a long time. I even grabbed a high def video camera just for it. The next couple days I’m going to slowly start posting stories and I’ll post video as I clean it up and edit it. Why must I edit it you ask, the full high-intensity video is a whopping 768 megs. The anvil and failed fire ball are 1.2 gigs. I do have a video of the successful fireball that we did on Thursday.

Pictures will also be posted slowly but surely as well. I have very limited internet currently. It’s on my laundry list of things to do, but at the top is finishing moving.

Here’s a pic from the anvil launch.

Anvil Shot

And here’s the fireball from Thursday.


It was 3 seconds of pure awesomeness followed by 20 minutes of firefighting. I wish I had my camera on a tripod and caught the whole episode. In hindsight it was fun I guess, at the time though it was a little scary. We had all forgotten about Joe’s post on Sunday.

Boomershoot 2008

For pre-finals stress relief I decided to pursue something that I have wanted to do for the longest time since I moved to Eastern Washington.

I went to Boomershoot and the precision rifle clinic. There’s some really nice pics inside!

Above is the opening to the shoot. Joe had to get close because he winged one of the jugs of gas and couldn’t get the boomer to detonate.

I learned a lot from the two days at the clinic, also got some reminders of things that I haven’t had to worry about shooting pistol lately. The only real comments I have to anyone interested in coming to Boomershoot is that you need a spotter. Shooting at targets 700 yards away, 4 or 7 inches across depending on the target is difficult if not impossible without one. For those who don’t know the math, that is 1 MOA at the largest. Without your spotter you will have no real consistent feedback of your impact. You’re not shooting at a paper target that will have a hole in it. If you’re lucky you might see a change in the dirt surrounding the target. I’m defiantly going back next year for both sections. I’m already working on what my goals are going to be. Friday was miserable for weather, but I look at it now like a baptism by fire. Shooting long distance in winds was never something I had really done. On Friday we had sleet and a win out of 3 O’clock between 7-12 MPH, with gusts to 20 MPH.

The anvil shoot after lunch was awesome. I had a nice sequence(site is down) of pics that shows the whole thing but I’m just going to post the most impressive ones here.

That thing flying up is a 75lbs anvil. And yes ACME is written across the side. Below on the is the anvil at its peak height. Estimates put the anvil at about 110 feet. Next is the impact with the nice spurt of dirt. At the very bottom is the hole left in the ground by the anvil. Yes it’s still in the hole.

I also got to have some other fun. There was a M1917 Browning water cooled machine gun. Not only was I able to take pictures of it…. They also let me shoot it.

After lunch they put up a low flow toilet, packed it with about 6 pounds of explosive, filled the bowl and tank with gas, put up some flares and the following videos were born! The second video can be found here.

The weather was quite nice after Friday. It was so nice in fact that I turned a bright red with a toughening of the skin on my nose. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, this weekend was totally worth it. Please note the circle on my forehead for my hat, along with the coon eyes from my glasses.

Anyone who met me that weekend feel free to drop me a line. Large thanks to Eugene and the other clinic instructors. Your advice was quite helpful. See you all next year!