Yippee! It is Nationals week and we already have two days under our belts! For the last couple of days, we have been shooting the Wellington and National 300 metres championships. This is an ammunition-heavy event covering two days with 60 counting shots plus unlimited sighters fired in just one and a half hours each day. I use around 5 sighters per day but Jared goes out to around 12 sighters to get properly warmed up.
We love this event as we get to fire 140 shots in two days which really gets you acquainted with your rifle and is a great (but expensive) warm up for the important impending events. I especially will find this beneficial this season as I have changed so much… stock, trigger, barrel and ammo, and have only had two weeks to get used to all of these but the stock!
Day 1 – Wellington 300m Champs
We went to sleep on Thursday night with every confidence that we were well prepared for the next day. We had more than enough ammunition loaded, we had fully checked over our rifles and all we needed to do in the morning was to pour some coffee down our throats, grab some breakfast, pack rifles and ammo into the car, arrive on the range and shoot.
Early Friday morning, it all seemed to be going to plan as we got ready. Relaxed wind flags and beautiful sunshine were promising a fun and stress-free shoot!
Here I am preparing the rifles for shooting – the double bike rack is absolutely amazing for cleaning and maintenance whilst on the range!
And here is Jared getting ready on the mound (in his awesome new HotloadeD t-shirt… a Christmas present from Mum and Dad – thanks guys! 🙂 )
Unfortunately, my shoot didn’t go quite as smoothly as I hoped it would. Jared’s shoot went well but he wasn’t happy with his grouping and felt like he was circling the bullseye.
My sighters and first string of ten went very well (although some of my shots were a little wobbly!). About halfway through the second string, I started to run into problems.
The first indication that anything was amiss was when I enthusiastically went to close the bolt and it wouldn’t close! Naturally, I went to open the bolt again… It wouldn’t open! After a few awkward minutes stuck in some sort of half-cocked limbo, I managed to attract the attention of a range officer and we levered the bolt open… Free at last!
Closer examination of the round showed that it was stuck around the shoulder of the case – Very interesting as I full-sized all my cases so they should all fit perfectly. They are second-hand cases, probably 6-7 timespreviously fired and this is the first time that I have used them.
From then on, the ammunition troubles continued. I kept my exuberance under control and tried the careful approach to bolt-closing. By the time I had 30 rounds down-range, I was completely fed up. Of the last 15 rounds, at least 9 of them wouldn’t chamber. This wouldn’t be such a huge problem but I can’t get them back out of the chamber without getting out of position, unplugging my sling, taking my cheekpiece off, and taking the bolt out of the rifle. After having to do this three times in a row without firing a shot, I let out a great big “harrrumph” and realised that I was fighting a losing battle.
So with about 20 minutes to go and 30 shots left to fire (getting pretty tight for time!), I put down my rifle and stumped off to find Jared who with a remarkable sense of timing, was having a quick break. Jared graciously lent me 30 bullets (after ensuring that I would reload them) and I rushed back to my own mound to finish the shoot.
So… It turns out that Jared’s bullets are magical centre-seeking bullets! From then on, the shoot went smoothly and I felt like I couldn’t miss the middle! Here are a couple of my better strings – both a 97.3 (out of a possible 100.10). Yes! we get to keep our target faces! The holes are patched up with sticky tape so the markers in the butts know which is the most recent shot. I am not sure which way round these are stuck onto the target but I suspect all those 9’s might be wind-shots.
After a pretty shaky start, it turns out that I ended up with 564.11 and I won the intermediate grade (top score cut-off 565)… Woohooo! Another trophy! Jared unfortunately didn’t place but he had a lot of fun and we both learnt a lot for the coming week! Full results are here.
Rockin’ my HotloadeD t-shirt.
Day 2 – National 300m Championships.
After scrubbing our rifles out and a good nights sleep, we were raring to go for the second day of the 300m Championships. The National Championships consists of the combined score of both days.
This time we were in the second squad of the day and by the time we got to the range, the wind was blustery and fresh! This should be fun!
I wasn’t going to risk the batch of ammo that I used in day one so I decided to break into the bullets that I had saved up for the focus of the week – the Ballinger Belt. These cases are from our fired Mexican-handloads so are almost brand new and should have no problems.
Well… to cut a long story short, the ammo and rifle performed alright but I didn’t! I think I was over-confident from some relatively good shooting from the first day and I also wasn’t dealing with the gusty conditions. I was struggling to break 90 on most strings.
I think that I look pretty good while shooting though! It was all very civilised shooting under a shelter. I could easily get used to it.
Jared had a much better shoot and thoroughly enjoyed himself. He managed to pick up over 20 points on me and ended up beating me despite my brilliant start yesterday! Well done!
Neither of us won anything but results are here.
The Ammunition Problem
So… what did I do with the 200 problem-rounds? I obviously can’t keep using them not knowing whether they are going to chamber or not!
First of all, we think the problem with them is that the brass is just so old that it has become very stiff. They were full length sized before we used them but it doesn’t seem to have worked on all of them.
First of all, I put them through the body sizer at the club just to see if it made a difference.
Then, at club day after the 300m, we spent a happy couple of hours in the sun on the mound with my rifle and loaded and unloaded every single round to weed out the ones that don’t work. We ended up with about 20 failures out of the 200 rounds despite being sized twice.
I will shoot the good ones at short range and put the deformed ones aside.
We think that after the nationals we might have a go at re-annealing the brass to soften it up again! Another adventure to look forward to! New brass is most likely on the books before I go to Aussie though.