A basic principal, rule, law, or the like that serves as the groundwork of a system; essential part.
The attendees of PR2 have all attended Magpul Dynamics Precision Rifle 1 and are very familiar with the fundamentals of marksmanship. Mastering the fundamentals of marksmanship is the key that separates novice from expert shooters. Precision Rifle 2 from Magpul Dynamics is a course that will put those fundamentals to the test.
Summertime in Yakima WA is sweltering HOT and typically there is no wind causing shooters to boil on the line of fire. This week we lucked out, high temperatures coupled with 20+ MPH winds were the perfect conditions for us to train with our precision rifles putting our fundamentals to the test.
Caylen always takes a gear or equipment issue and turns it into a classroom learning session so when we had a scope malfunction, Caylen demonstrated to the entire class how to properly mount a rifle scope using a scope level kit and how to properly torque your scope rings.
Time to hit the 100 yard line, get behind the gun, confirm zeroes, attain muzzle velocities, and run some fundamental practice drills. This is where the gear shake down begins. Having attended Precision Rifle 1 not once but twice, my gear was pretty set up and I was ready to shoot.
The 100 yard line is a great place to verify that your optic is tracking and adjusting correctly, verify that it is mounted level, ensuring that your ammunition is feeding correctly through your detachable box magazine and anything and everything else. I was thankful that for the first time in the three years I have been training with Magpul, my gear did not need shaken down.
After inputting our individual firearm caliber, average muzzle velocities, bullet information and density altitude in to our ballistics computer program we were ready to confirm our data charts on the long range. The sound of ringing steel is music to my ears. This was my first opportunity to really drive my new Proof rifle and I was beyond thrilled to stretch her legs out to 902 meters with sub ¼” MOA accuracy.
After confirming zeroes on the 100 yard line, we set up the barricades for some hasty rest shooting position drills from the 100 yard line. We had 16 rounds total, 8 rounds were to be engaged off the barricade from the standing and then the next 8 rounds were off the barricade from the kneeling. It was up to us as shooters to attain natural point of aim and when Caylen called out a color dot, to engage that color for time and consistency. We only had one shot at each color and shape.
This is a great drill that will help you as a shooter determine if you are driving your rifle and how well you perform under added stress. This is a FUN drill and I could not have been more pleased with my perfect score. All 16 rounds were perfectly placed indicating natural point of aim and solid fundamentals, even under stress. Happy girl!!!
Next, Caylen gave us a class on angled shooting. Angled shooting seems daunting and I have personally watched many hunters miss fine game animals by shooting over the tops of animals backs on steep declines or inclines.
Shooting angles is really pretty simple. On an incline or decline, the bullet performs the same, so the math is the same. The trick is attaining the correct angle and inputting that angle and the time of flight distance into a mathematical equation to derive the actual distance that you should dial your elevation turret to.
Of course, there are some general rules of thumb and tricks to make it really simple. One interesting point that Caylen did make out was that as your angle to the animal or target increases, your perception of the target decreases. That makes for an interesting hunting scenario.
The most valuable tool that I learned was that I should make a 10⁰, 20⁰ and 30⁰ drop chart with varying yardages to take into the field with me. Additionally, creating some data charts for varying calibers of rifles clearly demonstrated the advantages in angled shooting scenarios for having efficient calibers.
Now that everyone had a more thorough understanding of angled shooting, it was time to burn it down on the range. The top of the mountain is the perfect place to shoot targets at a decline and Caylen had two courses of fire lined up for us to shoot in shooter/spotter pairs out to over 800 meters.
Surprisingly enough, once we determined our angle cosign and did the math to attain our gravity distance on each target, the shooting part was easy. Well….kind of. In 25 mph winds, nothing is easy, especially at long range targets. This was a great opportunity for us to not only practice shooting angles from hasty resting positions but as spotters to read wind cues and direct the shooters holds for accurate shot placement based on the spotters observations.
As a shooter, I find this especially fun as I watch my own bullet trajectory in flight, based on spotter calls, I am learning to self-spot. After all, we don’t always have the luxury of having a trained spotter behind us calling our shots, not to mention the value of being able to self-spot in the field and know where your bullet impacts on a big game animal. Staying on the scope and watching your bullet impact will also translate in the field to being able to cycle a round and stay on an animal for a follow up shot if needed without ever coming off the rifle. That is training time well spent!
The last and final day of PR 2 Caylen put us up to some extreme shooting challenges. Target acquisition, hasty rest building, range, angle compensate if needed and engage, all for time and with a limited round count. Oh goody now we are talking some fun. We had four targets in the bottom of a gorge to engage. Time to burn it down.
The next course of fire, same story, different scenario, we were shooting across a gorge. The distances varied out to 900 meters. After attaining all my necessary data for engagement, the wind was calm, I press off a center hold on the target and miss by 3 mils. WHAT??? This is where as a relatively new precision shooter, without a spotter you begin to seriously doubt yourself.
Knowing my fundamentals were good, I tried another round with the same impact. Something was going on that I was unaware of but trajectory is trajectory, so I adjusted my wind hold to 3 mils and reengaged with a hit. That particular hold for me was equating to a 25 mph wind and there were no visible wind indicators, so as baffled as I was, I engaged the entire course with this dramatic wind hold awaiting a debrief from Caylen.
Caylen is a great instructor, he lets us make mistakes, figure things out on our own and then ask questions offering support where needed. This is PR2, the advanced long range precision course, this is big boy/girl stuff so no hand holding here. After the course, Caylen briefed us all and pointed out some topographical factors that were causing such dramatic impact shifts due to wind that we could not visibly indicate.
The wind was calm where I was and where the target was located, however, during flight, the bullet trajectory was flying directly across a gorge that had strong winds funneling down that were driving my bullet off target. This was a factor that I had not previously taken into consideration. Kudos to you Caylen, you set us up for a tricky scenario that had tremendous learning opportunities for all of us. The best part of this lesson was the solidification that I should be trusting in myself and my skill set. I had in fact made the right call and practiced correct fundamentals. Hooray for me.
Next Caylen took us to another hill top. There were three targets below us, Caylen gave us the target size in inches and we had to use our reticle to mil the range to each target, estimate our wind and angle, set up our resting position of choice and engage the target, once again all for time. Okay, I had not practiced milling targets since PR1. Time to test myself in a big way. Time was up and I was pleased with my target measuring skills.
I was however displeased with my resting position of choice. Caylen had not pointed out what type of rest we had to take and for some reason I chose to engage the targets off of a tripod in 25 MPH winds. Bad decision. I could have easily taken a prone rest and been much more successful in engaging targets, instead, I struggled to steady my rifle with wind gusts blowing me and my gun off target more than I would have liked. Another great lesson served, whenever possible, especially in the wind, you want to get as close to the ground as possible.
Not practicing and thinking through how to take the best rest possible in a given situation could cost you the trophy animal of a lifetime. Had that course of fire been a buck or bull of my dreams, my rest could have caused me to go home empty handed. Always use everything that you have on you to help stabilize your resting position.
The final course was four targets, we were not allowed to attain ranges, we had to guess based off our previous shooting scenarios as they were close by. This is a great chance to really test out your ability to range estimate visually, engage a target and make necessary and correct elevation and windage adjustments for successful hits. This one was pretty fun and I even ended the course with a first round hit.
Precision Rifle 2 was very different from Precision Rifle 1, building upon skills and putting those skills and our basic fundamentals to the test. As a hunter, I honestly believe it is our ethical responsibility to understand our own individual firearm, its components, how they function in varying conditions, the weapons limitations as well as our own. I left the course looking forward to returning in 2015.