Tech Tuesday- Hog Saddle

Rifle season has arrived and while afield, terrain features and vegetation can make taking shots from the prone impossible. There are many options that are available today that help us as hunters and marksmen get off the ground and over top of vegetation in order to take shots in any condition.

Shooting sticks or a tripod rest equate to additional gear that one has to carry, so when making the basis of selection it is best to first make that consideration with the application in mind. 

If you are afield doing some glassing and spotting with your spotting scope, you can now make use of your tripod to also create a shooting rest. Coupling a high quality tripod and HOG Saddle offers any rifle and shooter unparalleled, steady support in any condition.

The HOG Saddle is a universal rifle rest that literally locks your rifle into position, offering a stable shooting platform. When taking inexperienced or young hunters afield, I really appreciate the stability that the HOG Saddle affords. The Marine Corps actually considers the HOG Saddle to be a safety device because it maintains control of the loaded firearm.

The HOG Saddle is also designed to absorb and dampen the recoil from your hunting rifle. This will allow you as the shooter to stay on target and place a follow up shot if needed. Turkey hunters take note, simply set your rifle into position over your decoys and you are hands free to run your box calls minimizing movement while maintaining your shooting position. 

Simply mount the HOG or PIG saddle to your tripod head or directly to the base of the tripod without using a head. You can attach your tripod's quick release plate to the bottom of the HOG Saddle for easy on and off. 

The HOG Saddle was designed by a Marine Scout Sniper and OIF Veteran with the special operations and law enforcement community in mind, however, I have found the HOG Saddle to be extremely valuable afield. The design is based around four basic principals:

Ruggedness- Impact and corrosion resistant

Portability- Less than 16 ounces

Versitility- Universal compatibility to any tripod platform using 1/4-20 or 3/8-16 thread attachments

American Made- Made in the USA. Period.  

There are two versions to select from, the MOD7 HOG Saddle which retails at $309.00 and the PIG Saddle retailing at $135.00. Go to www.hogsaddle.com to learn more. 

 

The Craig Family Camp- Ladies Instructional Shoot

She was beaming, her face lit up like a summer sunrise. “I did it,” she exclaimed while looking at her target with pride. It was the first time in her life that she had ever fired a rifle and much to her surprise, she hit the target exactly where she had lined up her crosshairs and pressed off the trigger, all ten rounds worth. Her apprehension at the bench was easy to see. Before she pressed off her first shot, I gave her a light touch to the shoulder and I told her that I knew she could do it, and she did.

That feeling of accomplishment that comes from hitting your mark, that feeling of empowerment that if you can learn to do this, you can learn to do anything. Having the ability and freedom to accomplish all of our hopes and dreams is exactly what this great country and the Craig Family Camp is about. The firearms gave these women a glimpse of more possibility on the horizon and a newly found confidence to work towards that possibility.

85 women attended the Craig Family Camp 1st Annual Women’s Instructional Shooting Day and 85 women went home with their lives being forever changed.  Some women had never shot or even touched a firearm in their life, while others had shot a rifle or shotgun but not a pistol. The camp provided the opportunity for women to shoot rifles, shotguns and pistols, all in a safe controlled environment with knowledgeable mentors and instructors.

 

 

The Craig Family Camp is a place where the outdoors and families come together. Many of the women that attended the camp arrived with the anticipation of a first hunting season, or they are taking a child on a hunt and wanted to be better prepared, while others came with the need to learn how to shoot in order to take greater responsibility of personal protection while in the home. The small town of Bloomington Indiana is filled with women that have a desire to become more involved with hunting, shooting sports and a desire to learn more about firearms.

The Craig Family is generous in heart, creating the camp that is free to attendees a place where friends and families have the opportunity to learn, grow and create memories. A place where traffic jams and email is replaced by campfires and hiking trails. A place to curl up next to the fire in the 5000 sq. ft. lodge with enveloped in conversation with a new friend.

The Craig Family wants all who walk upon this 100 acre wooded sanctuary to escape, grow, remember and pass on the lessons learned while here. An opportunity to encourage and empower others is what the camp is truly about.

A prayer was spoken before lunch was served, one that spoke of faith, family and friends, and the important things in life, the gift of time and knowledge. Glory to God for these gifts and as servants of the Lord, it is our responsibility to pass along the gifts that are given to us throughout life, to others creating a ripple effect that is felt by the world.

It is with many thanks that I give praise to the Craig Family for hosting such a tremendous community outreach and to the people within the community that generously donated their time, resources and knowledge. Beyond that, many left a lasting impression on our hearts from afar; Becky Layne from the Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) traveled from Wyoming to show us all the support of the WSF. Her presence alone was a great gift, but the WSF gave more than that, they donated to the event, helping to make the entire day possible. The Buck Knives family owned company generously donated hats and knives with a famous forever warranty in support of the educational event.

Montana Silversmiths made women feel especially beautiful with their unique western designed and inspired jewelry and buckles that they generously donated in support of the event.

It is only with the support of families like the Craig’s, volunteers and generous donors that events like this are possible. This is truly a grass roots effort to ensure the continuation of our time honored hunting, outdoors and shooting sports traditions.

I am already looking forward to the 2016 event. If you or your company would like to become involved with supporting the Craig Family Camp, please contact Greg Stube, Executive Director of the Craig Family Camp at greg@craigfamilycamp.org

Cabela's Industry Insider- Shoot Like A Girl at NRA

Shoot Like A Girl (SLG², Inc) is a company dedicated to growing the number of women who participate in shooting sports by empowering them to particpate with confidence! Look for Shoot Like A Girl at six Cabela's Grand Opening Celebrations in 2015 and RMEF's Hunter Christmas.


North American Hunter- Frame Your Sight Picture

Managing your sight picture for terminal downrange performance is not a tool you can buy.

Terminally connecting on that trophy of a lifetime with a single, well-placed bullet or arrow is critical on every hunt. Learning to manage your sight picture with your bow and rifle will help you to become a more accurate marksman, and ensure that the bullet or arrow is delivered where it needs to go for quick and terminal placement on big game animals.

CLICK HERE to read Kristy's latest article in North American Hunter online. 

 

 

Magpul Dynamics- Precision Rifle 2

FUN●DA●MEN●TAL:

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.

Day 2-

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.

 

 

 

 

 

2014 USA Shooting Team/WWO Sporting Clay Shoot

Every year he Wild Sheep Foundation organizes a sporting clays tournament during the national convention, this year’s event was in Carson City NV hosted by the Capitol City Gun Club.

 

 

Members of the USA Shooting Team Frank Thompson, Brian Meyer on the gun.Amber English, Kayle Browning, Caitlin Connor and Jake Wallace joined Wounded Warrior Outdoors GySGT, USMC Brian Meyer, GySGT, USMC TJ Tejada, USMC, SGT Matt Amos, US Army, SGT Jim Sursely, (retired), with the events funds to be used to benefit the USA Shooting Team and WSF.

 

 

Each of the warriors was paired up with a member of Me, Matt Amos & Kayle Browningthe USA Shooting team; this year I was on the same team as SGT Matt Amos and USA Shooting Team member Kayle Browning, also known as our “sweeper”. Immediately, Matt and I began the traditional smack talk of who was going to out shoot who, both knowing that we were destined to ultimately lose to Kayle.

 

I was pretty good at demonstrating techniques that should not be implemented while Kayle was great at helping us visualize at what point in flight we should be leading the clay for a successful shot. Smack talk and instruction from one of the best shooters in the world makes for a fun entertaining day to say the least.

 

I was full on “revenge of the nerds” with scotch tape over my left eye to correct for eye dominance issues. My nerdiness was all part of the day’s fun because after all you should be able to at least laugh at yourself. With great effort, my attempt at outshooting Matt was without success but next year I hope to redeem myself.

 

Even having Kayle as our “sweeper” my team did not receive an award, I will take credit for being theMatt & Kayle watching Ryder on the gun. anchor that slowed our team down from a successful finish, as I do get credit for worst shooter on our team. Fun was had nonetheless.

 

After shooting, awards were handed out to top shots as we feasted on a fabulous BBQ lunch. It was very fun to see so many men in the kitchen for a change. Everyone took delight in the camaraderie that was shared and memories that will surely last a lifetime.

 

 

Dynamic Carbine 1 MAGPUL Dynamics

Caylen Wojcik on the range in 2012Lessons to be learned…

It was an honor to be invited by Karen Butler, Founder of Shoot Like A Girl to the 2014 SHOT Show to demonstrate the AR-15 platform .223 to the outdoor writers of the world showcasing an example of what their new test shots program was offering women around the country.

Wanting to demonstrate the rifle platform and the basics of shooting fundamentals in the best capacity possible, I contacted Caylen Wojcik, lead firearms instructor at Magpul Dynamics who has many years of extensive real world experience. Experience that is priceless and I am thankful to have had him share with me.  

Magpul Dynamics offers skill building courses for its Caylen Wojcik and Duane Liptak 2012students ranging in experience from novice to advanced and being novice carbine shooter I had a lot to learn. Magpul focuses on developing the skill sets required for peak performance under stress and real-world considerations.

My real world consideration is to be the best instructor that I can be teaching the most basic fundamentals to shooters within a short 5 minute timeframe. Caylen was excellent in designing a course outline that was best suited for my practical instruction application and fundamental building.

Duane Liptak instructing me in 2012.The basic outline of the course was:

  • Proper choice and placement of gear
  • Different optics and accessories
  • Effective shooting stance
  • Proper firearm grip
  • Recoil control
  • Sight alignment
  • Sight picture using iron sights and electronic optics
  • Trigger control
  • Speed reloads
  • Tactical reloads
  • Possible malfunctions of the rifle
  • Strong and weak hand shooting while both stationary and on the move
  • Different shooting positions
  • Choosing the proper position for the task

What I took away from the day was priceless.  

I learned how to efficiently and safely demonstrate a 3 point safety check prior to loading the rifle:

Chamber- The chamber should be clear of all cartridges.

Bolt Face- The bolt face should be visible and clear of all cartridges.

Magazine Feed Well – Should be removed from the rifle.

Caylen taught me how to properly inspect a magazine to ensure cartridges for correct alignment and how to do a press check to inspect the cartridge placement within the magazine for night time loading when your vision is diminished or non-existent using feel alone.

I learned how to teach proper un-loading techniques:

Safe: Rifle safety on.

Source: Remove the magazine.

 Feed: Check the chamber bolt face and magazine feed well to ensure that no cartridges are present.

Having Caylen, give me proper instruction on effective shooting stance, proper firearm grip, how proper grip helps manage recoil, proper sight alignment techniques, sight picture variances for iron sights as well as scoped optics, and trigger press, all helped me in turn be my best.

Rat holed this one up.Efficiency in Speed

My background with Magpul Dynamics is with Precision Rifle and Precision Hunter; both a very different animal than Dynamic Carbine. For the first time in my life, the really nice tight group I shot, which in essence made a golf ball sized hole in my paper target was actually kind of a bad thing. Luckily for me, I am told that an accurate shooter can always be trained to shoot faster.

With each discipline speed and accuracy vary. In Precision Rifle, my “rat hole” target would have made me proud, however in Dynamic Carbine, this was only evidence that I was shooting too slow and therefore being un-necessarily precise.

For carbine application, I needed to learn to speed it up and focus less on shooting with precision and more on getting effective rounds down range. Shooting the target and then reengage it again as quickly as possible; quicker re-engagement with the focus on a larger acceptable targeted area.

Of course the speed and accuracy that you can engage that target varies on a plethora of considerations for instance target distance, target size and if the target is stationary or moving.

Walking forward engaging a target verses me walking backwards engaging a target. Really walking Moving and shooting. So fun!!!backwards? Yes, I learned how to shoot accurately while walking backwards without even falling down.  In fact, I was more accurate moving backwards than I was moving forward. Who would have imagined that!?!

Then to top off the day, Caylen threw multiple target engagements at me: left, right, center. This was my greatest struggle of the day as I am left eye dominate and right handed. Look first, get your target in sight, then move your rifle into position for engagement of the new target.  I would not know which target I would be engaging until he called out the specific target.

With as much speed as possible, it was my job to then locate and engage the target with two –three rounds depending on his call out.

Looking left was very inhibiting with a closed left eye. My peripheral vision sucked and I could not accurately, reliably and repetitively locate and engage the left target with the desired speed that I had hoped for.

 Multiple targets included shooting paper & steel combinations.I would be a sitting duck as a right handed combat shooter with tape on my glasses like I do when shooting sporting clays to compensate for my eye dominance issues. This certainly would not be a suitable solution in a combat situation. This particular application lent me to the rather firm belief that had I been a professional operator, I would have been required to learn to either shoot left handed or look into different optics that are designed for either eye accuracy.

After burning it down, I left Magpul Dynamics with the urge to begin my training regiment under stress simulations and as always looking forward to my next course.


2014 SHOT Show LIVE with Outdoor Channel MAGPUL Industries

Magpul Industries- UNFAIR ADVANTAGE

Magpul builds for the real world, so every item is built to fill a particular mission, and it is predator season, so I wanted to highlight some of the innovative Magpul accessories for your rifle that will help you put more fur on the ground this season.

I was fortunate enough to meet up with Caylen Wojcik at the 2014 SHOT show and talk with him about a few Magpul products. After you watch the video head on over to the Cabela's website and order some new gear.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO

 

2014 SHOT Show LIVE with Outdoor Channel MAGPUL Dynamics

Kristy burning it down in Dynamic Carbine 1“We do not rise to the occasion, but rather fall back to our level of training.”

 When the animal of your dreams is in your cross hairs, the pressure is on, this is your moment; the moment that you have dreamt about for years or possibly for your entire life. Do you have the training and the skill set to make that one shot count?

Training is critical to success and I believe in training from the best to be the best.

Check out the Outdoor Channel interview that I did with Caylen Wojcik from MagPul Dynamics.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO.


2014 SHOT Show LIVE with Outdoor Channel HOG Saddle

HOG Saddle. HOG WHAT?

 

SHOT show is know for bringing the latest and greatest products to the market every year and this year I was fortunate enough to meet up with HOG Saddle inventor Josh Stabler for a short on camera interview for the Outdoor Channel.

Check out the video and learn why I believe that the HOG saddle is the best shooting rest on the market and standard issue for all US snipers. The HOG Saddle should be standard issue for all US hunters as well...

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO

 

Cabela's Club Family Outdoor Days

The Cabela's Club Family Outdoor Days  is a great opportunity for the entire family to get outside and either participates in shooting sports and fishing for the first time or for the first time in years. This is an action packed fun day for the entire family.

This year's event was a huge success with over 400 attendees. Activities included trap, skeet, 5 stand and sporting clays, .22 rile shoot and airsoft, archery , fly fishing, fishing pond, camping and lunch.

The qualified firearms instructors and range safety officers helped shooters by providing education and training in the safe and proper use of firearms while engaging the various stations with one on one instruction.

At the archery station the Tacoma Sportsmen Archery group coached new shooters along side Pro Staffers from BowTech Archery. Shooters learned basic use of archery equipment and were able to engage targets out to 80 yards if desired. Those who brought along their own archery equipment were welcome to shoot the 35 target 3D course set up in as realistic hunting situations.

The certified or expert fly fishing experts taught the basics of casting techniques and the proper use of fly fishing gear.

The fishing pond is always one of my favorite places. The way a kid's face lights up when they get a fish on is priceless. Kids learned how to bait and cast their lines, remove the fish from the hook and even clean their own fish.

 

 

 

I took joy in demonstrating the sound of elk bugles and cow calf talk. Many of the adults and kids did not know that elk had a language or that they made noise at all. It was fun to watch the kids faces when they heard the sound of their first bugle. One little boy had a naturally good scream that we were able to develop into a great sounding elk bugle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was even a black powder demonstration and a handgun basics demonstration with open questions and answers.

When the day's events drew to a close, many families stayed and camped, enjoying the campfire with new friends and family.

 

Central Oregon Youth Safari Experience

The annual Youth Safari Experience is a day of shooting and fun for the entire family. The event includes a 22 Rimfire Varmint Shoot, 3-Gun Airsoft, Cowboy Action Rimfire, Cowboy Lever Action Rifle and Shotgun, Archery, Wingshooting and the NWTF brought the Jakes Take Aim inflatable air gun range. The kids had a great time on the range while learning gun safety and shooting fundamental skills.

 

 

 

 

 

This free event creates excitement in kids that will translate into a thriving dedicated community of new hunters that are well-equipped with outdoor skills, shooting skills, hunting ethics and conservation principals.  This year, we gave door prizes and offered a bucket drawing. Lunch was provided. This year hosted over 100 kids and 300 total people.


Brought to Central Oregon by High Desert Friends of NRA/NRA Foundation, Fred Meyer, Central Oregon Shooting Sports Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, High Desert SCI, Oregon Hunters Association, Horse Ridge Pistoleros, Pine Mountain Posse, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, Alpen Optics, Crosman, Nosler, Competitive Edge Archery, Gary Lewis Outdoors, Kristy Titus, Steve Jarvis Hunting Guide, Cabela's, Bugling Bull Game Calls, Outdoorsmans, Buck Knives.


 

Precision Hunter- MAGPUL Dynamics

“We do not rise to the occasion, but rather fall back to our level of training.”

 

When the animal of your dreams is in your cross hairs, the pressure is on, this is your moment; the moment that you have dreamt about for years or possibly for your entire life. Do you have the training and the skill set to make that one shot count?

Mother Nature is unpredictable and that moment can come and go with the blink of an eye. That is the reason that I attended the Precision Hunter course with MagPul Dynamics. When that moment of truth arrives, I want to know that I have trained myself and have done everything possible so that I am ready to take that shot, making my dreams come true rather than haunt me for the rest of my life.

The Precision Hunter course is a two day course specifically designed with the hunter in mind. For me and many hunters that I know, there is an old school train of thought and set of fundamentals being passed down for generations, some good and some bad.  I personally learned to shoot a rifle with my father and he learned from his father.

Old school, meet new school…

No matter how many years you have been hunting and shooting, there are new skills that you can learn and develop while in this class. Understanding and developing proper fundamentals will help all of us to extend our comfort zone in the field creating responsible, ethical shots.

Discussing the basic components of our firearm from the scope, the ammunition and finally the shooter achieving a more comprehensive understand to the limitations of each component and where and how to isolate each variable when things seem to be going wrong at the practice range. Giving us the tools to evaluate and isolate and trouble shoot equipment problems or fundamental errors.

Rifle fit has been my personal biggest issue in both competence and confidence in the field. As a hunter, in years past, I have been handed ill fitting rifles and expected to have down range accuracy without a solid understanding of the fundamentals of marksmanship and without the understanding of how to even take a proper rest.

In the course, proper rifle fit is discussed and everyone’s rifle is evaluated for each shooter. Having the understanding of the importance of correct length of pull, the inclusion of an adjustable cheek weld, correct grip and how that influences correct trigger pull was a huge eye opener for many of the lifetime hunters in the class.

The most seemingly basic components are broken down to expose their true complexity and their importance for down range accuracy. Everything from proper scope mounting, use of a scope level, how helpful a bi-pods are for hunters and no I am not talking about for prone shooting, the importance of having a functional rifle sling that is not just a tool to hang your rifle from your shoulder. We learned how multiple sling attachment points and ways to use the sling to aid a hunter in developing a steadier rest.

We learned how to use our off season time to develop a training plan, even if it is only 30 rounds a month. Maximizing your time on the range and making every shot count is key to success in the field.

We were taught the basics of angular units of measure, both milliradian and minutes of angle and which unit our own personal optics were in and how to understand them from the turrets to the reticle.

Environmental conditions that affect bullet trajectory and performance were discussed.  Going into detail on how environmental conditions such as elevation, temperature, humidity and density altitude will affect your bullet trajectory.

As a hunter, it is critical to know where your rifle zero is and where your max point blank range is. Max point blank is a formula that is used to determine where to hold center mass on a target and still successfully engage the target down rage (high side and low side) without making a turret elevation adjustment or “Holding Over”.

I found this information especially helpful when it comes to hunting. I can take my target’s estimated terminal kill zone size and create and estimate of “how big” that is and then use the taught data to find out exactly where I want my rifle zero set to deliver that terminal shot at a known distance without making turret adjustments. What a time saver this is!!!

Shooting positions was the main focus on the range on day two. In the field, the type of shooting position that we will be able to acquire to engage our target will vary constantly. Learning numerous resting positions that you can practice at home is key to success in the field. If you can think it up, practice it. No two hunting situations are the same and we must learn to be adaptable, making the most of each opportunity.

Precision hunter is designed to aid the hunter in expanding their current skill set, improve upon it and attain more confidence in the field allowing you to be your best when it counts.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Precision Rifle 1- MagPul Dynamics

PRE•CI•SION (noun): The quality of being precise: exactness or accuracy: the quality of being reproducible in amount or performance.

CON•SIS•TEN•CY (noun): A harmonious uniformity or agreement among things or parts.

AC•CU•RA•CY (noun): Freedom from mistake or error: the quality of state of being accurate: the ability to work or perform without making mistakes.

 

Precision, consistency, accuracy, those are the three founding values of the MAGPUL Dynamics training curriculum, for all shooting disciplines. Having taken the Precision Rifle 1 course for the first time in 2012, I was eager to complete the course again in 2013.

I have been shooting guns since I was a young girl with my dad, with good and bad experiences associated with that; scoped in the face more than once, had a lot of successful hunts and some unsuccessful hunts. I have picked up some good habits along the way and a few bad ones.

For me, training with experts is helping me to develop correct fundamentals and techniques while eliminating some old bad habits not to mention the “gear shakedown” and lessons learned from that.

DAY 1- The Shakedown….

The first morning, class gathers and we discuss the basics of shooting fundamentals. Caylen does a tremendous job of breaking down each component from the weapon, optic, ammunition and finally the shooter and how all of those components must work together in order to achieve those down range, first round hits.

Having the basic understanding and ability to identifying those components and the limitations within each component can help trouble shoot what we see on paper at range.

FUN•DA•MEN•TAL: A basic principal, rule, law or the like, that serves as the groundwork of a system; essential part.

I have had successful hits without training out to 400 yards, beyond that, not a chance. In 2011, I was Caylen discussing the fundamentals of shooting while Tim demonstrates on the gun.on an elk hunt and after 10 days of hard hunting, I was presented with a shot at a cow at just over 400 yards, unfortunately, I was not confident enough with my own ability or my weapon system to take the shot. Let me tell you, it was a huge disappointment for me.

I truly believe that in the field, one does not rise up to the occasion but instead fall back on training. In that moment, I had no formal training and I was not competent enough to ethically take that shot.

Everything goes back to your foundation and that foundation is built on mastering the fundamentals of marksmanship, regardless of your situation. Let’s face it in the field Mother Nature is anything but predictable. Learning what the basic fundamentals of marksmanship and the basic application of those fundamentals behind the gun translated for me into successful first round hits.

Tim building a cheek weld.Gear Shakedown…

Classroom time over, now it was time to get behind the gun on the 100 yard line to put those newly learned fundamentals to the test but first an equipment evaluation was necessary.

Bad past experience: I’m on a hunt and am handed a rifle, “Ok sweetie, this thing is a tack driver…” blah blah blah. Sure that rifle may be a tack driver for a guy 6’2” but it is not going to drive a tack for me at 5’2” and chances are, I will scope myself and miss my target. Look/feel stupid much?

Don’t do this; DO NOT borrow a rifle, especially one that you have never shot.

On the line, I learned a lot about my own personal weapon system. Thankfully, I have my length of pull  correct for me on all my rifles and I have my triggers adjusted or replaced to the poundage that I prefer and my optic eye relief is perfect for me. All set right? Nope…

There are bi-pods, bi-pod stakes, bi-pod cord, weapon load, slings, grip positioning, trigger finger placement and cheek piece height. All these items must all be taken into consideration for each individual shooter. Is your scope mounted level? How about those scope rings are they hand lapped? Then there are all of the components to your rifle to consider.

Bottom line, as a hunter, it is our job to understand our own individual weapon system, how it works, what we can do to improve upon it and know its limitations as well as our own. Thanks to my day 1 shakedown, I have complete understanding of my weapon system, where improvements can or should be made and where limitations are therein.

Day 2- The Long Range….

On the line evaluating my data charts before engaging targets.In the classroom, we learned about external ballistics and how to create individual drop charts for various ranges based on our individual weapon system caliber, bullet type, muzzle velocity, density altitude and temperature.

Caylen is great about teaching us to use this super technology as a guide but not a crutch. We were all taught how to create our “dope charts” with our personal ballistics program and then to transfer that information onto data cards for infield use. Technology has an aptitude for failing so relying on it is a mistake, especially while hunting. If your batteries die or you drop your phone that contains your dope chart, you are out of luck. Use the technology as a tool and learn how to make it work for you fundamentally in the field.

I personally create two charts for a low and average temperature for my specific elevation, taking only those into the field. Nothing else is then needed.

Proving Data

On the line, numbered steel targets are placed from 400-1066 yards. As I stated earlier, without training, 400 yards was my farthest shot taken and this was our starting point; time to put those new fundamentals to work using the data charts we had just completed in class.

The sound of ringing steel filled the air. Nearly every data chart was perfect. There is of course, some proving that needs done to account for muzzle velocity variance at long range but for the most part, the original charts that we learned to make in the classroom proved to be accurate out to 1066 yards!

Day 3- Max Point Blank, Wind and Shooting Positions

Back into the classroom to discuss our data that we had proven the day before and discuss how your trajectory max point blank or danger space works. This formula is used to determine where to hold center mass on a target and still successfully engage the target down rage (high side and low side) without making a turret elevation adjustment or “Holding Over”.

I found this information especially helpful when it comes to hunting. I can take my target’s estimated terminal kill zone size and create and estimate of “how big” that is and then use the taught data to find out exactly where I want my rifle zero set to deliver that terminal shot at a known distance without making turret adjustments. What a time saver this is!!!

The other topic that Caylen elaborated on was ballistic coefficient. After hitting steel out to 1066 and missing some as well, Caylen discussed why a high BC is better at longer ranges. With drop charts, your elevation adjustment is the easy part. The hard part is the wind and your bullets ability to overcome wind resistance.

This leads me into how Caylen taught us the ability to “read” the wind. For me, this is what separates amateur shooters (like me) from expert marksmen. Expert marksmen have the ability to make quick adjustments and target reengagement before those conditions change.

Caylen taught us how to read mirage and vegetation. There is great wind meters out there. I have a Kestrel but that is not going in the field with me. Where that comes in handy is for proving what I believe I am seeing. Teaching myself to read wind speed and direction visually and confirming what I am seeing with my Kestrel and finally with my downrange trajectory. What is my bullet doing downrange and is my wind call good, do I need to make adjustments? If so, what is my actual wind speed down range based off the adjustment that I just made?

Sound complicated? Well it is and the only way to get better is to practice. Oh boy, do I need a LOT of practice!!!

Here is a demonstration of three calibers and their individual ability to overcome wind resistance.

Example: Inches of wind drift from a 1 MPH wind from the 9 O’clock Position (This is an example and figures will vary based on each individual rifle, bullet type and muzzle velocity.)

Target Range in Yards

.308

300 Win Mag

6.5 Creedmoor

300

.7

.4

.5

500

2.2

1.3

1.5

800

6.5

3.5

4.2

1000

11

5.8

7.1

 

Miss steel much? The answer to that could be wind calls that are off by simply 1 MPH, especially if you are shooting a .308 or similar. On a 10 inch target, if your wind call is off by 1 MPH, chances are, you are going to miss where as if you are shooting a 300 Win Mag or 6.5 Creedmoor you are still most likely ringing steel.

As a hunter and shooter, it feels great to have the tools to be able to create these comparative charts and understand and be able to apply the data in the field.

Once we had learned how to conceptually “read the wind” in class and had good comprehension of our individual calibers limitations in the wind at range, we went back into the field to practice our new tools.

This time on the line, Caylen threw out a curve ball. No more prone shooting. Instead, we were to apply our new concepts for multiple shooting positions from barricades, tripods, anything that you could think of, we shot. This was our first opportunity to apply real hunting/in field positional shooting and a great opportunity to test our fundamentals.

From the prone, we have a dead steady rest, from the standing in a tripod; you have to learn to maneuver your rifle in a way that sets you up with a sight picture that is “steady enough” to engage the target while practicing fundamentals. If one tiny error is made, the steel is missed.

This was my first time shooting off of a tripod rest called “The Hog Saddle” which is like a gun vise that mounts to the top of a standard tripod and gives you a nearly dead solid resting position. I was banging steel out to the 1000 yard line while having the ability to watch my own trace and see my own impacts. With this system, I was able to make my own wind adjustments without a spotter and practice my new techniques of “reading the wind” independently.

Day 4-

Scope reticles…these can be confusing. What does each one of these lines translate to down range? Is your reticle in mils or minutes, if so, how many? Do you have a front focal plane scope or a rear focal plane scope? Do you really know what those tiny lines in your rifle scope mean?

Each scope and reticle system is different. Caylen was able to walk us through how to create a drop chart or reticle cards for our own reticle style.

We also learned that if we had a known target size and an unknown target range, we could use our mil reticle system to measure the target and establish a range estimation. Fundamentally for me, I was more interested in using this system to be able to measure antler or horn size in the field as it will work for that too.

Back out on the line of fire, we used our reticle to range estimate targets and engage those targets to determine our individual level of accuracy with the range estimation theory. Let me just tell you that I will be packing around my laser range finder as it is very difficult to measure and range estimate accurately.

Conclusion-

The 2013 Precision Rifle 1 course was very different from the 2012 course that I attended. The curriculum is a constant progression of information and Caylen is great about teaching on the level of the class. We ran numerous drills in addition to what was discussed in this blog. Some of those include drills were to demonstrate how accurate dialing windage and elevation is, we shot numerous targets getting off and on the gun to learn how to quickly achieve natural point of aim, and we even ran drills where we literally ran for each round to see how we would shoot under running and timed stress.

Precision Rifle 1 is a comprehensive entry level course in precision marksmanship, fundamental development, gear comprehension and the logistics in how to make it all work together. I am looking forward to attending Precision Rifle 2 in 2014. Stay tuned...


Len Backus' Long Range Hunting Magazine

No-Off-Season Long Range Shooting School

Len Backus' Long Range Hunting Magazine is the best site to discuss Long Range Hunting & shooting equipment, gear and techniques. I was honored when Len publised one of my blogs for the February 2013 online issue.

Socrates pretty much sums it up with “The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know.”

Most nights, I fall asleep imagining how my upcoming fall hunts are going to transpire. Some nights, I imagine bugling bulls rutted out charging and screaming in to my fervent cow calls and other nights I imagine lying prone on a heavy blanket of snow taking rest on a swollen necked mule deer buck.

These are the moments that I live for, that I love, from hunting success, to haunting memories of a close call or should have been. Good or bad, these moments are what drive me to become a better outdoorsman each passing year.

 

Click Here to Read the Full Article

 

 

LOL (Ladies of Lead) Group Therapy Range Day

A day at the range is always a great day. This particular day at the range was one that I had been looking forward to; a time to put into play the fundamentals that I learned while attending the LOL Group Therapy, LLC Course for the NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course.

Over the previous weeks, I had spent 8 hours in the classroom learning the NRA’s rules for safe gun handling, pistol parts and operation, shooting fundamentals, ammunition, range rules, pistol cleaning and the basics of the bench rest shooting position and the two handed shooting position.

It was so fun to get to learn with a great group of ladies that were as excited about guns as me!!!

Time to put it all together at the range for 4 hours of hands on instruction while shooting 50 rounds of .22LR, 10 rounds .38, 10 rounds of 9mm, and 5 rounds of 45ACP. Oh what fun it was to “drive” each caliber of pistol and see which ones felt and shot the best for me.  Many of the ladies were surprised how easy the recoil management was and a couple overcame their “fears” of shooting.

During the range day, I received my official title as “NRA Basic Practical” and am looking forward to taking my written exam for the certificate of course completion of the NRA Basic Pistol.

My next day at the range, I will qualify with LOL Group Therapy, LLC for my Promarksman and Marksman certifications. I can’t wait!!!