Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sighting in Before the Opener

Brett reviewing his shot placement while using the Bullseye Camera System.

Waiting until the last minute is not something I am known for. In fact, I am more of a planner than anything else, but I was caught off guard this year due to finding time to hit the range and sight my rifle in. With the deer season opener in a couple weeks, Brett and I needed to go to the rifle range to be certain we were zeroed in.

A few months back, Brett and I spent time dialing in our rifles and figured we were pretty close before the bees took over. We couldn't be 100% sure we were ready, so we had to wait. I spent time with my friend Bill reloading my 300 WM ammo and prepping for range day. After doing my homework, I found a range that would work for Brett and I. We both got the day off and made our way to the Angeles Ranges.

After signing in, we set up at the far end. The range safety officers were really great and had no problem with me setting up my Bullseye Camera System at 100 yards. I saw so many guys with spotting scopes and watched their frustration of not being able to see which shot was which, and where there last shot went. I knew the BCS would be awesome for this.

I was the fortunate one to shoot first. As I tried to chamber on of my handloads, I noticed that the cartridge wasn't chambering properly. It would only go 80% of the way in and then stop. The first one stuck a bit, so I ejected the round and loaded a different one with the exact same result. I became increasingly concerned and wondered what I had done to my rifle! I had brought some factory rounds with me and decided to chamber one of them, and wouldn't you know it, it loaded perfectly! For some reason, my handloads wouldn't fit. Bill and I had taken a great deal of care in prepping the brass and loading them properly. I just couldn't figure out the problem. I brushed it off and shot the Federal cartridge, holding the rifle as I normally do. I was way off to my left. Before getting upset, I chambered another and fired. Then another and another. I disregarded the first shot due to the frustration of the rounds sticking in the chamber and making me upset. The next three were lower than I wanted and a bit scattered, but in the kill zone. I wasn't happy with the grouping, but I wasn't done shooting either. The Bullseye Camera System was fantastic in allowing us to see each shot with ease.

My target after shooting my Remington 700 chambered in 300 Win Mag at 100 yards.

For the past month, I have been reading The Long Range Shooting Handbook: A Beginner's Guide to Long range Shooting by Ryan Cleckner. Now, I am not a beginner shooter, but I am also no expert, so I read most of the book (still not done with it) as I would if I were a beginner. Ryan mentioned a few different ways of shooting and how he dislikes pistol grips on a rifle stock, but that if one were to use one to relax your hand and not torque the stock. There are also a few other tips he gave, so I applied them to my next three shots. I wanted to be 2" high at 100 yards to have my scope ready to shoot at longer distances. My next three rounds were exactly 2" high and two were touching, while the third was less than an inch away. Success! To be honest, I was ecstatic! I don't know if I have EVER had a rifle sight in that well. I was done, or so I thought. My next actions proved to be regretful. I took a different one of the reloads and chambered it to see if it would work. It was a tight fit, but chambered well. I shot and then attempted to eject the shell. The bolt was jammed! I pulled as hard as I could and had no luck. My heart sank and I got upset at first, but that quickly turned to questioning why this happened. I set the rifle down and helped Brett out while I considered my options.

Brett sighting in his hunting rifle at the Angeles Ranges.

We spent the next half hour on Brett's rifle and getting his shots tighter. After a half hour of shooting, he took a break. I tried ejecting the shell again and pulled with everything I had. When the shell gave and the bolt came back, it was so quick i didn't have time to react. My fingers became jammed between the scope and bolt handle. Not just stuck, but pinched tight enough to tear skin and not allow the use of my fingers. I had to use my other hand to push up on the bolt to release the tension. Yowza! That hurt, but it was totally worth it to know that the shell was ejected successfully. I checked the chamber for damage and saw none. The shell, on the other hand, showed exactly what had happened. The tolerance in my chamber is really tight and these shells were off by just a minute amount, but it was enough. Whew! To be sure my rifle was still shooting properly, I shot one of my lead rounds with success. 

Jammed my fingers in between the scope and bolt while extracting a stuck shell. Elbow is from the kick of the Win Mag.

Brett and I spent the rest of the afternoon dialing in his weapon. When we were finished, we were exhausted, but thrilled that we were ready for opening day of rifle season. With the opener less than than two weeks away, we are now packing and preparing for our hike into the backcountry. With any luck and hard work, we will be hauling one or two deer out of the woods next weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for mentioning The Long Range Shooting Handbook: A Beginner's Guide to Long range Shooting. I will add it to my reading list. I love that you got some good practical advice out of it.