Trials and Tribulations Of A Newbie Shooting 1,000 Yards

I will preface this article, I have only shot 980 yards before and that was a single mag in a SAKO rifle at Shot Show Range day last year. The gun was all ready set and dialed in so it was relatively easy to hit steel with that gun. My personal best with my own gun was 650 yard steel with my SCAR17S. Shooting 1,000 yards was completely new territory for me.

Tredd Barton of Washington County Machine Guns (WCMG) hosted his first 1,000 Yard rifle match just last Saturday. His range only goes out to a 140 yards and they are currently working on a 200+ yard range. So this match was held on private land.

Last month, In order to prepare for the match, my friend Joel and I went to Thunder Valley Precision. TVP is the nearest public open range to Pittsburgh that has steel targets out to a mile.

 

Below is the view of the range from the shooting tables.

Zoomed in on my iPhone, you can see the 1k yard white paper target holders. The dark dirt berm is 600 yards. In a perpendicular line down, you can see 3 groups of small bushes. They are the 300, 400, and 500 yard steel targets. If you continue down and to the right, is a 200 yard steel target right above a bush.  The steel targets are 12″ squares. At 400, 600 and 1000 yards they have torso sized steel as well.

 

Here is the 600 yard berm photographed through my Meopta MeoPro80HD. Above the berm, between 11 and 12, you can see the 900 yard 12″ steel target.

Joel was using his 6.5 Grendel AR. His home range he regularly shoots out to 700 yards but rarely gets to shoot 1,000.

Joel using the MagnetoSpeed V3 to compare his reloads to factory Hornady Match ammo

 

I used my Ruger America Predator (RAP) 6.5 Creedmoor and borrowed a Viper PST 6-24x scope from another friend.

Here are Joel’s 6.5 Grendel vs my 6.5 Creedmoor.

Joel and my friend Tom, who tagged along to watch and help spot, helped me to get DOPE for my RAP. I managed to hit this 1000 yard steel torso three consecutive times.

Here is a video of Joel hitting the same target with his 6.5 Grendel.

 

And here is a video documenting his hit at 1,200 yards, a first for Joel.

While I was at TVP, I sighted in a 4×32 Browe BCO that I am borrowing from another friend. I was very impressed with the quality of glass in this little optic. It has a 5.56 reticle but tried it on my .308 SCAR17S.

Here is a photo of the Browe BCO on my SCAR17S. It is tiny.

400 yard steel target

With the help of Joel and Tom spotting, I was able to make hits out to 600 yards with the the Browe BCO and SCAR17S.

Was I ready for the 1k yard match? Probably not, as I didnt have a complete mastery and understanding of long range shooting. However I did learn a lot with the help of Joel. Again, long range shooting and bolt guns is not something I am accustomed to. In the past I rarely have to deal with wind or temperature shifts affecting my shots and often I am pretty sure my misses are probably due to me more than outside influences. Here I discovered first hand how getting a barrel hot makes the POI shift. I could see how the wind was affecting my rounds when I was shooting further out than I am used to.

While my experience was great at TVP under Joel’s tutelage and help, none of it helped at the Washington County Machine Gun 1k yard match. Why? Because I left my RAP 6.5 Creedmoor rifle at my friend’s house in South Carolina when I was down there for the FN SCAR Owners Group Shoot.

So what should I do? There was no time to go back down to SC and get my gun. So I decided to use my SCAR17S. I had little to no dope for the ammo I have and only had two optics I could use on it in such short notice. My Primary Arms Platinum 1-8x and the Browe BCO. The match fee was only $25 so it wouldn’t be a huge loss to back out of the match just the day before. But how often do I get a chance to shoot out to 1k yards? Not that often even with TVP about 2 hours away.

So I decided to just wing it and have fun. Highly doubtful I would be able to hit anything and I was right. I managed just one hit at 600 yards.

The WCMG 1k yard match had targets at 560 yards, 600 – 1000 yards. The actual yardages were a couple more yards than originally planned. In the photo below, you can see the open hill of light colored grass. That is where the steel targets are. Down where the grass field ends, and you can see shadow, is where the 560 yard steel targets were.

800 yard steel through the 4×32 Browe BCO

 

We started by shooting at 560, 600, 700 and 800 yard steel. Every shooter shoots five rounds at each distance. No spotters other than to call the hits. The first shooter of each distance gets 4 minutes to shoot all five rounds. Everyone else gets 3 minutes. This is due to the fact that Tredd had the next couple of shooters on deck and ready to go. So they had time to setup while the previous shooter was shooting.

There were 17 shooters. Two of the shooters had to quit due to equipment failure. One shooter stopped shooting due to a trigger malfunction in his $9k .338 Lapua. At the match it was believed to have been the fault of a broken firing pin given the light primer strikes. But Tom Sarver, of TVP, cleared it up. Another shooter was using a 6.5 Creedmoor Ruger Precision Rifle and his Nikon scope died.

 

There were some impressive setups at the match.

This shooter was one of the best. He was hitting one for one until he got to 800 yards.

 

Joel practicing before the match started with his 6.5 Grendel.

Two of the shooters had these leather holsters for their bolts. Very handy for keeping your bolt clean and also keeping the gun safe as per match rules. Bolts out or chamber flags.

 

When Joel and I were at TVP, we met two other guys who were also shooting the same match as us. Terry and Ben. They were using a Celestron Ultima65 18-55×55 spotting scope. I was rather impressed with its ability given its size and price. It was bought for around $140.

In order to shoot 900 and 1,000 yards, we had to move back 200 yards up to the top of the hill.

1k yards through the Celestron Ultima65 Spotting scope.

900 yards through the Meopro 80HD

 

Aside from having zero dope at these distances, I was further handicapped by my optic. The Browe BCO has a 556 reticle that only goes out to 800 yards. The Primary Arms 1-8x has the same problem, it only goes to 800. Below is an approximation of my hold and sight picture for shooting out to 900 yards. Joel recommended I hold the 800 yard BDC 3 feet above the 900 yard target.

To my suprise, I got rather close to the 900 yard target. The problem was I could not really see my impacts to make any corrections I finally saw my third shot. Corrected, fired my 4th and corrected again. My fifth shot got rather close.

1k yard steel through the Meopro HD80

It was interesting seeing people struggle. Many of them have practiced similar distances but the wind, heat and possibly geography made it tough. Joel struggled with the 560 yard steel but managed to get hits at all the other distances.

The guy with the bandanna was really good. He was making every hit and in rapid succession. He was hitting the smaller 12″ plates not even waiting for them to stop swinging.

Yuriy B. won the match by making great hits and beat out the bandanna guy by hitting the 10″ plates at 1010 yards away with his last two shots.

Washington County Machine Gun will host the match again in September. I probably wont see my RAP 6.5 until October. Joel might be able to pick it up for me when he heads down to Myrtle Beach in August but that is not a lot of time to get practice on that gun. I might just borrow a better scope and try using the SCAR17S some more. Hopefully I can do better next time. If I double my efforts I can get two hits lol.

The match was indeed fun. I would have liked it if we could use spotters to help give corrections. Many of the shooters, even with good optics, had difficulty seeing their impacts. Some feed back would be much appreciated.



Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • Porty1119

    Good article! I just jumped into the precision rifle game myself (albeit in 5.56 for cost of ammunition, so my effective range is severely limited), so this was an enjoyable read.

    • Russ Kell

      You might be surprised how far out you can reach with .223 and still score 12″ targets. Wind is killer though. 500 meters will get easy, with 750 meters doable with practice.

      • Gary Kirk

        You can ring steel with 5.56 to pretty decent range with practice, Hell you can even get very good groups.. It’s only the terminal ballistics that really take a hit out there.. Punching holes in paper, or putting little marks on steel it’s fine for, even fun to have to learn it.. Albeit a bit frustrating at times, especially with a changing wind..

        • jcitizen

          I think I’d pick that M885, not just because it is cheap, but because the core tends to make the bullet a little more accurate – if you have the right twist, that is. Match ammo is just too expensive for my taste. Besides it is fun to see what you can to with what brung ya! Just like the article!

          I think I would have chucked it into a rifle vise and used iron sights and spotted with the spotter scope as I pulled the trigger. With what he had for a scope, I don’t see how he could even see the target – maybe they shoot flatter than I realize. I had to do it that way with my 1st 50 rifle, because the scope was useless. So I aimed it like a howitzer and watched the hits on a spotter scope and readjusted from there. It was a real lesson for a young man to discover back when.

  • Alex @Sea

    I really enjoyed your blog. Great photos. I’m gonna get my Grendel out to the range today!

  • Bierstadt54

    I like this. Good to see you don’t need to spend a fortune to have fun at these events.

  • Russ Kell

    It is very nice to have silhouette range at our club with targets out to 960 yards. And we can set up our own targets (steel or otherwise) as well. Wind can be dead calm, or coming from 3 different directions with stupidly random winds speeds.

    Really makes for getting in good time for gauging the wind. And we are in the desert SW, so from May to October it is hot as hell.

    Always folks out willing to give advice or a helping hand. Fun watching the sled gunners out now and then and seeing the different setups folks bring (vintage to high tech, cheap to lottery winners only, singles, bolts, SA, and the rare FA owner with his MG on a tripod).

  • Andy B

    Does that chrono attached to the barrel affect accuracy at all?

    • Nicholas C

      Nope.

    • nonobaddog

      Anything attached to the barrel has some effect on POI. You just have to sight it in with the attachment in place.

  • JoshuaK27

    Claps hands that you used a service rifle with the 1×8, shows the practicality of such a set up. Gets the work done.
    And I really did laugh when the 9k build broke, just goes to show that top dollar on everything doesn’t always mean better or reliable ( looking at you overly modified glock owners that carry them everyday )

  • Gary Kirk

    You weren’t pointing your rifle up or down were you? Cause apparently, that can change things..

    • jcitizen

      HA! Just read that article!

  • jcitizen

    I started out with a home made(assembled) single shot .50 BMG. Found out that the optics are everything, although I wasn’t trying for accuracy, because I was using an old machine gun barrel. No one was selling a single shot 50 in those days. Years later I finally bought a Safety Harbor upper, but I can’t remember the optic I bought. It was reasonably priced too; and made for 50 BMG rifles. The bullet drop on that big round is phenomenal – but the optic is everything, as I’m sure this article points out. Accuracy was good enough to consistently hit the plates. Wind had minimal effect on those 600 grain bullets. It was as fun as a barrel of monkeys, if you don’t mind the sore shoulder. I could take about 10 rounds before quitting; but the real fun was watching everyone else take a stab at it. I live where the wide open spaces makes it easy to step off 1000 yards, but to make sure we were correct, we used a range finder.