Long Range Competition, Big Game Part 1

This was my second ever long range rifle competition.  My first was detailed hereand took place a few months earlier.  The format was similar.  14 targets from 467 to 1060 yards.  12 of the targets counted for normal score, which means a first round hit is good for 1 point, and a second round hit is a half point.  2 of them were bonus targets, meaning a 1st round hit was worth 2 points.  The big game bonus targets did allow for a second shot in the attempt of a missed 1st round shot, the 2nd round hit being worth 0.5 points.  
This course was different than the previous long range shoot in that the course was broken into 2 different stages, whereas the previous shoot was all in one stage.  This made for a more varied and interesting shoot.  There were also 2 bonus targets this time.  I can’t remember if the bonus target on the previous shoot was worth 2 points or not.
The plan was to shoot the “big game” portion of the shoot with the Sako TRG in .338 Lapua.  I had some last minute “technical difficulties” with that rifle.  I decided to only bring one rifle for both the small game and big game, the FN PBR-XP, which is a .308 Winchester.  The only ammo I brought was Federal Gold Medal Match 168 grain, which is said to get awfully erratic at around 800 yards.
On the last shoot I really had no expectations as to how well I would do.  I ended up with 9 points, which put me in a 3 way tie for second place.  On this shoot I had thought that I could do much better… until I realized that I would be shooting with a .308.  Folks shooting .308’s at the previous shoot had a lot of trouble.  I think the best I saw someone do was 7 points, and he seemed like he really knew what he was doing.  He was pushing a 155 Palma bullet at over 3000 fps.  I decided that if I got 7 points this time I would be happy, and if I got 9 that would be about the best I could expect.
A funny thing about rifle competitions is that you can watch someone else shoot it and realize that their performance has absolutely nothing to do with yours.  Each performance is almost like a fingerprint.  I watched a lot of people shoot, and I hope I learned a lot of good lessons from them.  One thing I realized is that one person may shoot it great, another may have trouble, but neither gives me any idea how I might expect to do.  The only way to figure out how you might do is to go and do it.
I shot my first big game course of the day at around noon.  Here’s what the course looked like:
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The bottom diagonal line is a road or trail upon which 5 targets were placed, from as the card says, 467 to 575 yards.  My drawing wasn’t good enough?  Ok here’s a photo:
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I’ll try to paint the picture for you.  This photo was taken from a gravel road parallels the side of the canyon shown in the photo.  The firing point for that stage was to the “left” of where the photo was taken from, which means that the targets at the firing station were a little farther than they appear in the photo.  You can see (if you really look hard) four of the closest targets, an antelope (I think) to the far left at 467 yards, another antelope at 491, a buck at 500 (the range card was incorrect as far as the labels), and a bear at 547.  Down and to the right, out of the photo is a moose at 575.  Here’s a closer look at the center two:
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The top line of the range card depicts the top of the hill.  To the right is an elk at 789 and a buck, which was the bonus target, at 771.
If the targets are the same size as they were last time, here’s the breakdown of the scoring areas: The antelope were 8″, deer 10″, bear 12″, elk 14″ and moose was 16″.  Here’s what a buck looks like up close:
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Here’s a photo of more targets that I lifted from Caleb’s photobucket page:
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The time limit on this course was 10 minutes.  I finished in 8:41.  Here’s how it went for me.
1.    Antelope, 467, first round hit.
2.    Antelope, 491, no hits
3.    Buck, 500, second round hit
4.    Bear, 547, first round hit.
5.    Moose 575, first round hit.
6.    Elk, 784, second round hit.
7.    Buck, 771, BONUS TARGET, first round hit.
That was 6 points, and only halfway done.  I don’t think I ever rushed it like I did on the first shoot I did.  One part of my shooting plan had been not to dial wind for this course, just to hold for it.  I think I dialed the first 2 or 3 shots until I remembered that.  It appears that the plate for target 2 was hanging only by 1 of its 2 sections of fire hose, which means it was dangling a bit to the side. 
I felt alright about that stage.  I shouldn’t have missed any of the shots on the first five.  What I was picking up along the way is that my ballistics program was giving me data that sent my shots a little high.  I noticed on the small game portion, but I noticed it more so on the big game.  I had to dial about 0.2 less pretty consistently once I figured it out.
I was almost to my goal of 7 points for the big game.  The next part would have longer shots, and my confidence of my system’s ability to make them was not great.  Stay tuned…

6 thoughts on “Long Range Competition, Big Game Part 1

  1. I have got to quit reading your blog, as I am starting to really get the itch to do some long range High power shooting. All my current long range shooting is of the varmint hunting type, Prairie dogs at up to 700 yards, where first round hits are not that important as we tend to walk the rounds onto target.PDogs are very dumb..

    What calibers were the other shooters using?

    • I wish I had actually gone around and taken note of the rifles and cartridges. Most rifles appeared to be custom hunting type rigs. I remember hearing that someone was using 6XC, but I think there were a lot of magnums. I talked to someone that was shooting .300 RUM. There was a .280 Ackley, and only one .338 from what I can remember. There were something like 42 or 43 shooters, so I was obviously derelict in my duty to report back the facts.

    • I am going to try to have a place on the score sheets where guys can enter their caliber and then when i post scores on the sportsman’s challenge website.

  2. So, now that you have been shooting the FN for a while, what are your thoughts? Do you see yourself sticking with the factory stock, or going to something else?

    • I’m enjoying the FN. The factory stock takes a lot of flak online. It doesn’t bother me. It weighs about 3 lbs, so I could conceivably get lighter, but not much. It could be stiffer, but I haven’t driven over it yet. I do suspect that a McMillan or Manners could make the groups a little tighter.

      If I had an unlimited budget, I’d put a Manners TA on the rifle. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but if so probably not for a while.

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