The theme of our match this month is undoubtedly “What was old is new again”. I’m not just talking about the continued bloom of green that carpets the range, but the events of the day as well.We had new participants, new roles assumed by members, new target faces, new occupy procedures, and new shooters too. We had a great turn out with 21 participants total and 16 of them shooting for score. A number of people came out to observe and I can tell you from first hand experience they got a good show from the wind this day. The challenge laid at our muzzles by the unique geometry and orientation of Range 117A is daunting for sure. However, when I tell you that the 2nd place F T/R rifleman (3rd overall) used a 5.56mm bolt gun and beat thirteen 30 caliber competitors in doing so, you can certainly agree that with dedication and patience anything is possible!
This match began like any other with arrival at the Range 116 parking lot. Those of us early enough were treated to a glorious sunrise (Yes, I reclaimed my title of first to arrive for those who may have been concerned). Mike Jones our match director was there to take your money in exchange for the ‘E-Ticket’ – your score card – that scheduled you for what was a truly thrilling day. Equally important John Hermsen coached me on my first time through completing the ORM (Operational Risk Management) document and preparations of the Expenditure Report per the roster of shooters on hand.
My next task was to gain permission to occupy the range, and I joined John Hermsen at the gate of Range 117A to call LONGRIFLE and request the clearance to start our day. While I had just recently passed my RSO training, this match was the first time I would be on everyone’s books (The Base and the clubs) and actually available to perform such duties. We were quickly able to establish contact and took control of the range as OIC and RSO. We were granted our occupy status, and just like that I was the brand new OIC. Also new this morning was the adaptive method we adopted to safely ferry shooters and their gear to the range. First off, gear was strapped to the Toyota FJ locomotive bomb cart train for an unattended trip to the firing point. Being that riflemen are resourceful and prepared it was no problem to secure all the gear to the flat beds for safe delivery to the firing line.
Next, with timetable precision members were escorted to the firing point in the comfort of the larger crew carrying vehicles owned by some of the staff. This carefully managed procedure ensured that at no time we had more than two vehicles on the range but got everyone to the line while keeping their arms and legs inside the ride at all times! I can tell you right now that pit changes executed with Harry’s air conditioned Excursion were far more luxurious than pit changes of the past. Most of us agreed that the only thing that would make it better was ice cream – but Gary Atkinson wasn’t quite able to come through on that one. Our Corpsman Van Texas and his evacuation vehicle are seen dutifully on station. As always everyone’s safety is important. It’s reassuring to know we all have access to top notch medical care right on the firing line!
Another very welcomed change, we arrived to a well groomed firing point with much of the plant life landscaped into manageable form. If you have it, take a minute to look back to last months report here for a dramatic change in scenery!
With everyone to the line setup begins. Here we’re just about ready but are not moving rifles until the pits are sealed to ensure the safety of the target pullers.
Down in the pit area the new target repair centers Gary and Joe put together for the club did wonders for increasing speed and accuracy in scoring targets. You can see one of the repair centers below against the wall near the bomb cart. These were suitable for framing, and I know Gary’s was especially as he took first place in the F T/R class and second overall!
One of the many great things about shooting on Camp Pendleton is the scenery. This morning we got some very intriguing cloud cover rolling in. It resembled the tide coming in or perhaps the rings of Saturn. While it was beautiful to look at it was also bringing with it some challenging wind conditions to shoot in. While these winds humble many we all enjoy rising to the occasion and learning from the experience. It helps you understand your true grasp of the sport and certainly helps you appreciate those days when conditions are less ambitious! At least the impacts down here were finally becoming more visible again with the drying of the floor of the valley.
Enough with sightseeing and down to business now, The riflemen set about their task of closing in on the ever elusive 5 inch X-ring 1000 yards away. In relay one, the morning was still quiet and the scores reflected it. However after returning from pit duty around noon the conditions were giving everyone trouble and caused a dip in most everyone’s scores.
All of us struggled to keep up with the let offs and pick ups of the surging winds.
The flags below show a uniform pattern for the moment, but by no means did they keep this nice arrangement! Stay sharp, you’re on 117A!
Even on our ‘Big End’ of the range, shooters find difficulty in beating the wind with F-Open calibers of 300 Win Mag
Sometimes repairs are necessary too. Another ‘New’ event for the day, my coveted Stinger Missile case lends a hand as a sturdy workbench for a rail section that is misbehaving on this fully safed rifle (note the bolt is out).
Today we were also visited by Range Control to audit our occupation of Range 117A. I’m happy to report that we passed our inspection and that our inspector was quick and efficient in giving us the green light to continue with our training exercise. While we take a pause for that inspection, one can’t help but admire the quality and pride of workmanship seen in each and every station along the firing line. What a great place to come out and see how that next piece of gear you were thinking of buying is used under real world conditions. The cutting edge hardware seems to have felled the surround grass just by proximity alone!
After Inspection we go right back to it. As is typical of the day at 117A the magnitude of the wind grows and with luck it’s fickle directional vector starts to take a set.
Gary and Bill work the wind at the small end of the range
The club caters to the safe involvement of any shooter of any skill level and encourages anyone who is interested to come out and give it a try. Here we see our time honored shooting champion Harry Harrison coaching his son Zach on the finer points of long range shooting. Harry’s entire family participates and gives back to the club and our sport on a regular basis, thanks so much to all of guys on Team Harrison!
If I had only gotten to reading wind flags at Zach’s age, just think of all the experience I’d have under my belt by now. We’ve seen this before and it’s certainly where champions come from!
As the day comes to a close we pack up our gear and pick up our trash. In doing so John Hermsen demonstrates his unbounded versatility once again. This time as Tactical Barista. Meanwhile Mark Roth our match champion looks on knowing he could empty each of those cups individually with his rifle at 1000 yards. The rest of us will settle for drinking them dry.
It is my honor to especially thank the following people for their contributions and participation in our club’s event today:
- Our Military participants: MCPO Davis, SSgt Sadaghiani, Sgt Cubo, Cpl Suebing, CPO Texas, MGySgt HArrison
- Wounded Warrior: Sgt Jorge Toledo (Ret)
- First Class Limousine Service: Harry Harrison
- Medic: Van Texas
And without further delay here are the scores for the single day event.
|SMGC Long Range 4/9/17||Aggregate of 3 Matches|
|Range 117A 3x1000 LR||Class||Score||X|