Last Post Before Nationals! A Two Week Summary

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Club Day 27th December – 300 Yards

Yippee!!! My barrel has finally been run-in and with a gorgeous yet windy day eventuating on Saturday, I was looking forward to a good club-day shoot with a cheeky bit of load-development and properly experiencing my new buttplate to top it off.

Sometimes life doesn’t always go to plan…

A Tight Barrel

The first little hiccough was that I noticed that my new barrel is Touching. The. Stock… Rats.

The reason is that the new barrel is much meatier than the old one. It doesn’t look like it is touching in the photo but it is jammed in so tight that it has squished the paint!

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Although not an insurmountable obstacle, it is one that needs to be dealt to before I shoot or my rifle might do weird things – like transforming into a giraffe or maybe start singing christmas carols (please! NO!). Out came our cheap imitation of a Dremel and I got to work. I am not going to show a picture of my handiwork here as it is a little embarrassing but the end result was that I have clear space between the stock and barrel all the way up to the action.

Once this was sorted, I glued some rubber on my new buttplate, got my rifle ready and headed down the range.

For various reasons on this Saturday, I didn’t squad as early as I hoped. I managed to do a quick bore-sight and get myself together by about 2pm.

I had 24 Mexican handloads to use up and I was planning to do my club shoot with these but I also had 25 specially loaded rounds to do some load development with afterwards. The wind was fairly strong but also consistent. I was ready to have some fun and also find myself a zero for 300 yards!

Some Tight Bullets

I bullied a friend into scoring for me, lay down, put a round in the chamber and closed the bo… closed the… closed… ah! There we go! that was a little stiff – might need some lube there or maybe that was a slightly squashed case (we have had a few of those with these brand new ADI cases!)…

4-On!

Ok, not a bad start – a 4 directly above the bull. I expected that my elevation would be out slightly so just click down a minute or so and I will be in the money!

Another round in and close the… huh?

Oh.

For the first time ever, I experienced the stomach-clenching, expletive-inducing dread of having gunpowder skittering around my chamber and attempting to nestle its way into every nook and cranny of the action, trigger, barrel and, as I found later, the weave of my shooting mat, my hair, and for some bizarre reason, my undies.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to do (crying was pretty high on the list but I didn’t). I tried to tip it out onto the ground but everything for some reason was a little sticky. I needed to take my bolt out to leave the mound but that would mean dragging the whole goopy granular mess into the trigger area and there was still a projectile in the chamber to deal with.

We finally got off the mound and I had a lesson from some very experienced shooters on how to get all the powder out of the action and trigger. HINT: It involves things like dental picks and patience (thanks Adrian!). I discovered that my awesome new trigger is very difficult to get powder into.

Thirty minutes of precision-cleaning later, I snagged our good friend Ewan to give me a hand and we headed back to the clubhouse to squash down my rounds a little. We took a few measurements and we quickly discovered the mistake – One of Team HotloadeD is severely dyslexic and the other failed to check up the recording of their measurements… whoops! We had an entertaining hour or so re-measuring up the length of my chamber and re-pressing all the rounds. Thanks Ewan!

By this time, we were getting on for 3 o’clock and I had a lot of shooting to do!

I followed the original plan, slithered into position, and shot my Mexican handloads… BAD idea! These loads work so incredibly well in Jared’s rifle but in mine they are very slow (1600fps at the target at 300 yards),  variable-speed (and therefore elevation) and just weren’t behaving themselves! It took both my sighters plus an extra shot or two to dial down my elevation enough to get close to the vicinity of the 5 ring and after that, I may have lost a couple to wind and maybe one or two elevation-wise. I think I got a 44… nothing very impressive…

Tight Groups

It was starting to get a little late by this time so I made the decision to use my load-development ammo for my second shoot and just continue shooting them after my official shoot finished. I had five rounds of 5 different loads to shoot. They ranged from 44.6 to 45.4 grains. My cunning plan was to start with the lowest and work up so I didn’t lose too many points for my club shoot.

After considerable time winding UP my elevation again after my sighters, I was suddenly shooting tight wee groups. My first five shots (including some adjustment for sighters) were all within 0.2 minutes of each other and the target-face velocities were very consistent! My next 5 shots (which had 0.2 grains more powder in) grouped above the first but a little bit looser. I must admit I had a couple of wobbly shots in there and dropped a random one low in the 4 ring. The bullet speeds were pretty inconsistent on these loads. To finish off my shoot, I dialed down the elevation a little bit and shot two from the next sample. This was another very consistent group in both velocity and group size. Overall in my club shoot, I lost two shots to wind and one thrown shot down at 7 o clock. I think I shot a 47 in all.

I kept shooting and we fastidiously recorded the elevations and target speeds for each shot. Here is the plot.  I am quite pleased with my shooting here – out of the 23 shots (I had another separation towards the end – I think we might have missed re-pressing one round… bugger!) two of the low fours were sighters (we will discount these because of change in ammo), one shot thrown low, two blown away by the gentle hurricane and then just one wobbly shot above the bull! It should be a much tighter group but I gave up adjusting elevation to compensate for the hotter loads after my actual shoot was over. You can sort of see the group getting higher and higher if you carefully apply your imagination.

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Jared didn’t have much luck in his shoot – A critical part of his trigger failed (fixed now) so he only shot ten shots.

3/1/2015, Southern Hawkes Bay Champs

I will start by saying that there isn’t huge amounts to say about this competition… we didn’t win anything and although it was a very pleasant and fun shoot, nothing particularly amazing happened so I will talk about the shooting very briefly and about a lot of other stuff in a lot of depth.

Friday was a beautiful night so we slept out under the stars which meant that we were woken up at bird-o-clock by the small flock of tuis, bellbirds, kereru, waxeyes, fantails and various imports. One tui has mastered the 5-tone car alarm and another, the Nokia ringtone. Yay for the sounds of nature! By the time the cacophony had died down at about 5.45am, we were up and loading rifles in the car to the accompaniment of strong black coffee.

After the quietest SH1 drive I have ever experienced, the most disgusting pie I have ever eaten and possibly the most disappointing rendition of Beethovens 9th through our terrible car stereo system I have ever heard, we rocked onto the range to the melodious sounds of me singing the choral movement… badly.

300 Yards

Jared had a very good shoot at 300 yards. He scored a 49.something which he was very disappointed in as everyone else was smashing out the 50s. I scored a 46 which needless to say I was not happy with at all. It went from a beautiful sunny day and all was going well (except for my wind reading… grrr) but with three shots to go the weather gods lobbed some water balloons at me. I really don’t mind shooting in the rain and was very prepared so I whipped out my rain shields and a towel to cover my ammo and happily continued shooting. Unfortunately, I didn’t compensate for an elevation shift and once again, forgot that the flags wouldn’t be quite so responsive. The two fours at 5-o-clock at the end were due to my super-dooper inexperience in this area. (the high shot was a sighter!)

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 500 Yards

Jared got a 48.something which, once again, he wasn’t unhappy with. I didn’t have a very good shoot at all. The wind occasionally switched to the left without warning and although I was mostly releasing good shots,  I got caught wrong-winded TWICE and had a couple of threes which meant I ended up with a 45. (once again, the high shot is a sighter – still figuring out  my elevations!). Not a super tight group but that is ok. I am still figuring some stuff out with my new set up, including the effect of mirage and heat on my shots.

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600 Yards

By the time we had lunch and started shooting 600 yards, it was baking hot. I was last shooter in our squad and some of the comments from shooters coming off the mound didn’t comfort me at all. “Confusing” was the most heard word. Jared didn’t have the best shoot as he was having troubles with elevation. He ended up with a 43.

When I got down to shoot, I could see why. At times, the flags were strong in one direction and the mirage was boiling or even flowing in the other direction.  I wanted to pick one wind and shoot on that but it was impossible in these conditions. I noticed that every time I put left wind on, I over-cooked it and my shots were going high… tricksy!  I got wrong winded twice again… All in all, I struggled with these conditions and didn’t shoot well. (looking at the plot, I probably could have brought my elevation down a little as well). I also ended up with a 43 – not good!

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Results

In the end, I ended up 2nd in C grade and Jared was 5th in B grade. Full results here.

After some great socialising, and the obligatory help out with a jump-start that this range seems to require, we headed off home. The empty  roads of the morning had disappeared. Instead, we encountered sweltering, writhing, listless holiday traffic.

After around 20 minutes stuck in a blistering queue, both the car and myself were on the point of overheating. I spotted an alluring sign “Waikawa Beach”. In the hope of finding icecream and water, we turned off the main drag and within about five minutes I was finding certain similarities between our situation and certain cult movies – Rocky Horror I am looking at you….

Luckily we didn’t stumble upon a house filled with rapacious alien drag-queens but instead, a lovely coastal community which surprisingly had neither a petrol station nor an icecream shop.  Instead, there was the most lovely beach where we had a brief ramble whilst waiting for the car to regain normal temperature and I even had a swim (if you can call ducking under knee deep water swimming!). It was a wet, salty and almost naked four hour drive home since I went in the sea in my only clothes. The cop at the breath testing station gave me a funny look.

This Week

This week we have been flat-out preparing for nationals. Equipment to check, ammo to load and some mental preparation. We are kicking off the Nationals week with the 300m shoot first thing tomorrow. We will try to do updates every day as the week goes on.

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And just for giggles, Jared got a time-lapse control for the camera for xmas so here is a wee time-lapse of him loading some bullets

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