May 16, 2010

Recoil therapy

And I do mean recoil therapy in a serious way!

Aside from a bit of plinking, I haven't been doing much rifle shooting lately. Certainly nothing resembling medium-bore or precision work. Truth be told, I think the last centerfire I shot other than the AR was my shotgun during deer season last fall.

My club does a 200-yard F-class match twice a month. It was described to me (accurately) as "belly benchrest". I decided to check it out, so grabbed my .270 and a couple boxes of my loads and headed down this morning. I wasn't expecting to be competitive, just to try it out. Another shooter had already offered to loan me a bipod for the rifle, so that was covered.

Without getting into the sordid details too deeply, I found out (quickly) that my .270 is a fantastic minute-of-deer gun when shot with a proper hasty sling, and it can reliably ping steel (12x12") out to 250yd from unsupported prone. It does not, however, like a bipod, at all. As in "not on a two-by-four-foot sheet of paper" doesn't like.

After several sighters showed me that I wasn't going to be shooting this match with this rifle, I stood up - and another shooter promptly offered me the use of his spare rifle and ammo. I gladly accepted, and settled in behind his Remington 700 in .308, with some big fine-hair glass on top. Three sighters to warm the barrel and verify zero, and I was off to the races.

Forty rounds later, my shoulder was aching and the brass was collected. We all trundled out to collect targets, and I was pleasantly surprised. I'm certainly not competing at the level of some of these guys (197/200 is considered a bad day by some of them) but for my first time shooting this style, with an unfamiliar rifle, I was pretty happy with my 184/200-6V. I had a couple called fliers that were my own fault, and a couple that went a hair wide (-1's) due to some funky winds at our range.

However, putting better than thirty of my forty rounds into a 2" bull, and six of those into a 1" V-ring from 200yd ... that's actually pretty satisfying. Moreso than I expected it to be.

Now I'm wondering how I can best go about building my own setup. If I do, it will almost certainly be a .223 on a Savage action - the .308 is simply more recoil than I care to deal with for more than a few rounds at a stretch. Time to start putting away some pennies, I reckon. I have a sneaking suspicion that my AR would likely be moderately competitive in this style if I simply replaced the A2 upper receiver with an A3 upper... which would be significantly cheaper than building a whole new rifle.

And, emphasizing the "gunnies are the best people in the world" meme - the guy whose rifle and ammo I used didn't ask me for a dime for burning 50 of his handloaded .308 MatchKings. I slipped a $20 into the box with his brass when he wasn't looking; I know that will barely cover the cost of the bullets but it was an important gesture to me.

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