Monday, January 2, 2017

Capping Off 2016 at the Range

Arriving at the desert shooting range was like a load had been lifted off my shoulders. I knew that I would be shooting some new weapons, shooting at longer ranges, and testing out some more gear. Plus, there is something about the smell of gunpowder on a 30 degree day that just makes you feel good inside. It was going to be a good day!

Piles of steel and brass littered the area. We left it much cleaner.

The first order of business was picking up spent cartridges all over the sand. It started off slow because the ground was frozen and we had to dig them out, but that didn’t deter me. I collected and deposited them on my tailgate. My three other companions were also collecting and they were also hauling in a heavy load. It’s truly sad to see so many people use these spots and not clean up after themselves. We pick up all of what we bring, our target debris and bras, but also the other brass, steel, and target remnants. Leave it cleaner than how you found it is how I was taught and hopefully we can teach a few others that same philosophy.

My co-worker Bill, his daughter Amanda, and co-worker Duane began unloading Bill’s truck while I unloaded mine. I grabbed my 9” gong target and my Bullseye Camera System and loaded them into my Badlands 2200. It was time for me to haul my gear up the hill to set up for some long range shooting. I was also reviewing the BCS AmmoCam and needed a final test before writing up my results. So I climbed, and sucked wind, climbed, coughed my head off, and climbed some more. Between all the Christmas cookies, my allergies, and the altitude, I was hurting. I finally reached my destination and set the target up, followed by the AmmoCam. 400 yards would make for a fun test of not only the AmmoCam Long Range Edition, but also my shooting skills.

The California desert bighorn ram playing peek-a-boo over the ridge while we set up.

This California desert bighorn ram was fearless as he fed down the hill.

Once I get back down the hill and continue unloading, I see Amanda walk over to her spotting scope and view something on the ridge. Now, I don’t remember her exact words, but it was something like, ‘There’s a sheep up there.’ Sure enough, there was a healthy California Desert Bighorn ram on the ridge looking at us. He was standing at 256 yards when I first ranged him, so we dropped everything and watched him. What a magnificent animal! I have been on multiple sheep surveys and sheep spring cleanings and have never seen a sheep. This was my first and he was a beauty! We got the optics out and my trusty MINOX 10x44 binoculars made the sight that much more enjoyable. He walked down the hill toward us, feeding the entire way. I snapped a few pictures through the handheld binoculars and stared in awe. It took him the better part of 45 minutes to make his way to the far side of the ridge and disappear. What a sight and experience!

We fired off round after round in the cold desert air. Between the AR-15s, the .270, and my .222 I was very happy to be out there. The big test was the AR as I had just completed building it in early December. There are some fine tune-ups to make, but overall I was happy with the results. What a fun weapon to get to know and to shoot.

The Bullseye Camera System software view on my iPad.

Three shots at 400 yards makes a guy feel pretty good.

When it came time to shoot some long range targets,out came the .300 WM. I had used it to take a whitetail at 200 yards in NY, but I wasn’t sure how well I would do at 400 yards. With my iPad out and everything loaded into the BCS, I fired off my first reload. Nothing. I viewed the shot on my iPad and saw what looked like a flier at the top of the target frame. Whoops! I needed to relax and focus. Four more shots and three hit the gong. There was a slight crosswind, so I took that into consideration and was very happy with the results! Three out of five hits on a 9” gong with 165 grain copper bullets, uphill, with about a 7-10 mph crosswind. I have a lot more to learn and will spend more time practicing, but this was a good day! The BCS AmmoCam worked really well for me. I’ll have a review up this week and for those of you who shoot out further than 300 yards, this will be a must have.

We finished off the day with some breakfast burritos with some homemade venison/feral pig chorizo. It took forever to cook, but they were delicious! After cleanup, we shot some more and started picking up. It took much less time to cleanup, until I remembered I needed to hike up the hill and retrieve my target and AmmoCam. This was after eating two breakfast burritos! Oh boy, that was a grueling hike and I thought for sure I’d be leaving the burritos on the ridge, but I held strong!

Back at the truck, we loaded everything up and began the drive home. It was a very long, tiring, traffic-heavy drive, but I made it home before dinner. The day had been a huge success all around and seeing some wildlife out there was icing on the cake. Now that deer hunting season is over, it’s time to focus on reviews, gear clean up, and hunting some pigs. I have a feeling that 2017 is going to be an epic year. Happy New Year everyone!

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