This is a follow-on to the original post on training with the 22 in marksmanship fundamentals. Historian, the author of the original and this piece, has laid out not just a simple training program to produce better marksmen, but is actively putting it into practice. Training doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does need to satisfy objective goals- push yourself and your equipment. -NCS
So yesterday I spent about 5 hours competing in the local range’s .22 rimfire long range challenge match. It was advertised as being 50 to 300+ yards, same format as the regular centerfire LR match; 5 stages, 5 targets per stage, up to three shots at each target, in order, but .22 rimfire only. Prone only, bipods, bags or other supports all ok, any rifle, any sights. No sighters and shotgun start- you begin at the stage that you are squadded in.
This was the first such match that they have run, so I had no idea what to expect.
My equipment was very basic- I shot a Ruger 10-22 with a stock barrel, a $90 Tapco stock, the Ruger target trigger, stock 10 round mags, and a Burris MTAC 3.5 to 10x 30 MM scope with adjustable objective and Burris’ Mil-dot reticle, the same scope I use on my centerfire LR stick. Mount was a 20 MOA sloped Picatinny rail and rings were Burris 30 MM heavy duty tactical rings with 6 screws each. The scope, mount, and rings are easily twice the price of the rifle, stock, and trigger, and looked a little absurd on my 10-22, until I saw the course of fire! I used a cheap grip-pod and some Caldwell bags as supports. Ammunition was CCI Target, subsonic 40 grain bullet at 1065 fps from this rifle, which will group into 5/8″ for 10 shots at 50 yards, my sight-in distance. It is a 1 1/4 MOA rifle/ammo combination, nothing special.
This was a significantly challenging match for both shooter and equipment, as the targets started just over 100 yards out and went all the way out to 480 yards, forget “300+”! Unlike the regular centerfire long range match, the targets at each stage were significantly different in both angle (from 30 degrees to the left to 45 degrees to the right on the same stage,) and distance, presenting a highly variable targeting problem, and requiring MAJOR successive elevation and wind hold changes. Targets varied; for the most part 3″ at 100 to 150 yards, to 4″ at 150-200 yards, to 6″ at 250 to 300, to 12″ at 350, to 24 x24 at 480, but I recall one 3 or 4″ at around 300 yards, (which I hit) and one 6″ at 400. The range is sited at the top of a rise, so there is almost always wind after about 9 or 10 am, and this match was no exception.
The wind was a significant factor, varying significantly in strength during the match, and also varying significantly in direction over the course of the match. It was not unusual to see wind from 3 to 8 mph changing within 15 seconds, and the direction was variable from minute to minute and sometimes faster. Top speed I saw was about 10 mph at about a 30 degree angle to my line of fire. Turnout was light, and I actually needed to use my Bushnell spotting scope, my rangefinder, and my wind meter, as my squadmates did not have a wind meter, and the ranges initially given were not always correct.
With .22s at these distances, you need to get within just a few yards of the right distance to have any chance at a first round hit, and with wind drifts for a 5 mph wind at 150 yards running at 4″, a bad wind call means a miss. The farther out you go, the more the wind pushes that slow bullet. At 480 yards, the midrange is about 15 feet above LOS, and the full value wind-drift is 8 feet, or about 5.7 mils.
For the most part, I was able to give good spots for my squadmates who wanted my wind call, and generally got them either on or close, excepting the frequent gusts or drops in wind. These caused me at least 3 or 4 of my 7 missed targets (bad ranging on one and trying to hold over for my first target at 480 yards, as my scope would not dial to the needed elevation. Mirage was also a factor later in the day.) I could tell it was wind when I never missed by much distance (typically, less than an inch to perhaps 3 inches) and my elevations were good, but missed to the left or right, often in alternation! BTW, I dialed for elevation and held for wind, as the wind shifted quickly; here the advantage of the self-loader really stood out, as I could adjust and deliver a followup within a couple of seconds while I still had the same condition. When I missed, I could spot my impact and deliver the correction pronto. My other squadmates all had match grade bolts with match ammo, much more precise, but slower- they’d get caught by a shift in wind. On the 480 yard target that I hit, I was holding a fat 2 mils of windage and about 32 mils of elevation; I figured with that high trajectory I’d pick up a bit more drift, and so it was.
Anyhow, I managed to hit 18 of the 25 targets, with 9 first round hits, including the second 480 yard target, a couple at 200+, one at 340, and five of the closer targets. I also had a blast! I used just under a box of ammo for the match, and stayed a bit to do some longer range practice; overall round count was about 75 rounds, at a cost of less than 5 bucks for ammo. And NO time at the loading bench!
If you really want to learn how to shoot in the wind, an essential skill for shooting centerfire rifles past a couple hundred yards, a .22 is a very good way to do it. You don’t need to spend a lot of money for either rifle or ammo, but a good scope with target turrets is a must have. I’m going to see how I can get more slope on my base before the next match, and I’m also going to check how accurate my milling adjustment is too. I may fire up the sewing machine and make a couple more bags, too; I have some old pants legs that will work for bags.
With regard to all who seek the Light,