07/10/2005: THIS was a day to remember!
A couple years ago, a church friend of mine–a former Marine sniper–got me into competitive shooting. I found it fun, challenging, and useful for stress relief. He taught me how to shoot longer distances. In May, I shot in my first 1,000 yard match, and I was hooked on long-distance shooting. And so I decided to shoot in the Kentucky State Long-Distance Rifle Championships at Fort Knox.
I should have known things were going to be rough. Last Saturday, I was unable to get the Black Hills match-grade ammunition I needed for my rifle: the store at which I usually buy it was out of stock. That meant I was going to have to load my own ammunition (Standard hunting loads that you buy at Wal-Mart aren’t good enough for matches. The powder charges aren’t consistent enough.) Given that I had never tested my handloads at any distance beyond 100 yards–and this was a 1,000 yard tournament–this was going to be VERY interesting.
I had done everything right. Gave my rifle an extra cleaning the night before. Packed ice water and some snacks. Didn’t leae anything off my checklist. All I had to do was turn the scope about 200 clicks and adjust for windage and I was set for 1,000 yards.
Well…as I was preparing my rifle at the firing line, I noticed another important problem: MY SCOPE WAS BROKEN!!!! I could not provide elevation settings for my scope. It was basically useless. When your target is a half-mile downrange, a broken scope can ruin your whole day. (Especially when you don’t have iron sights.)
At that point, I started laughing. This was really shaping up to be one heck of a day.
In spite of this, and in spite of jamming a bullet in the barrel on my 10th shot, I managed to shoot a 158 (out of 200) in the first match. Disappointing for a state championship, but not shabby given the circumstances.
In the second match, I settled down a bit. Found a place in the treeline at which I could aim and get consistent shot placement. I shot 175, topping my previous best score of 173. The best part: I had three x-ring shots in the second match!
Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong, and I still drilled three x-rings while compensating by aiming at the treelines. (We call that “Kentucky Marksmanship”. Hooahh!)
My takeaways from this match:
(1) Murphy’s Law is as empirical as Newton’s Laws of Motion.
(2) Be ready to improvise when Murphy bites you in the posterior.
(3) I think I’m going to ditch my scope and just shoot iron sites from now on.
(4) I think I am going to just hand-load my own ammunition from now on. My handloads cost me a third as much as Black Hills ammo, and I didn’t suffer any noticeable performance penalties.
(5) I will remember to bring more Powerbars or military MREs. That July heat does a number on you out there.
It was a fun way to end the 1,000 yard shooting season. This winter, I’ll stick to shooting deer, with my camera!