without further ado.
Purpose: Into to Long Range Shooting with Ed Shell
Location: Mineral Virginia
Dates : 6/25 - 6/26
Day 1 - 6/25/2016
Day one started in scenic Mineral Virginia at the Mineral Restaurant for breakfast and to meet Ed, his cadre, and the rest of the class. My friend Lex and met up before hand. This being my first shooting class i wasn't sure what to expect from the rest of the group. i was pleasantly surprised by the cross section of people taking the class. we had one college student, a former Marine, a teacher, a police officer, a computer programmer, and two program managers (myself and Lex). After breakfast and introductions, Ed surreptitiously paid the check for the whole class (sneaky guy) and we convoyed to Ed's shop at Central Virginia Tactical http://centralvirginiatactical.com/ to start class.
Class started with Ed introducing his Cadre. "Barefoot" Bill is a history teacher, Kerry was a Program Manager for Beretta, and Mark was former Mil.
Lecture started with Ed discussing the fundamentals of precision shooting. his three big points were
Rifle Fit (you'll see more on this later)
We then moved into the dynamic nature of the gun. Ed's point here was "conservation of energy" in that any force you put on the weapon will affect how it behaves during trigger pull and recoil, which affect how quickly you can get back on target. He stressed that we should not "force ourselves to fit the gun, fit the gun to ourselves" to reduce pressure on the weapon system. this fit was broken down to 3 main points of fit
1.) Length of Pull
2.) Comb height
3.) Natural point of aim
the natural point of aim was a big point for me. during my trip to Quantico with Lex a couple of weeks ago i had to roll my head over the comb to get a good sight picture. this caused a lot of my recoil issues during that outing.
Ed then moved on to body position behind the gun. His concept was VERY different to what i'd researched before this class. he recommended a "Cant" to the body in relation to the gun, rather than being straight behind it. this worked very well for me and fixed my point of aim issues and recoil management. you'll see more of that later.
the key goal in all of this was to reduce any outside force on the gun. Ed made the statement "Physical exertion causes anxiety, anxiety causes mistakes". that made sense to me, as i was very physically tired after my Quantico session with Lex because i was trying to make myself fit the gun and trying to muscle the gun around.
Ed then moved on to Trigger Pull. He recommended a staged trigger pull to allow for adjustment mid pull. I raised a couple of my issues with shot anticipation and Ed recommended Dry Fire exercises and more time behind the trigger (i agree with both)
after the first two hours of class we then moved on to actually fitting the rifles to the shooters. Out came the foam and duct tape!! Ed and his cadre spent the next 2.5 hours with each student adjusting the fit of their rifles and answering questions that had germinated during the morning lecture. Ed also leveled our scopes, adjusted eye relief, and help us find our proper position behind the gun.
My buddy Lex getting fitted to his new Sako TRG-22
Cadre helping the other students
Once all the students felt comfortable with their rigs Ed then moved on to discuss wind calculations, scope theory, and bullet trajectory modeling. Wind was discussed briefly, as cadre would be calling wind for the students, but it was important to note that Ed used "cosine" math rather than the military "half wind" measure.
With that we went for lunch. During lunch we continued the Q&A session with Ed and cadre. Some of us downloaded the "Shooter" app for our smartphones. Shooter is a great tool that you can load your gun and round info in and it will calculate bullet drop and MOA/Mils scope adjustments. it has an impressive library of bullet loads, including the Federal Sierra Match King 178gr rounds Lex and i were shooting.
After lunch we transitioned out to "The Farm" for 100yd zeroing.
Cadre Kerry and Mark locating Targets
My Rig (borrowed from Lex), Lex's rig, and some other guns
"barefoot" Bill was my group of 3 student's spotter for the whole class. Bill was awesome!!! he had a dry, razor sharp sense of humor that kept us laughing and on task at the same time. we zero'd at 100 yrds at 1" target squares. Bill tracked all 3 of his shooters at once. this was where i could see the combination of my trip to Quantico with Lex and the fitting and positioning that i'd learned that morning come to fruition. My zeros were all tighter than my best shots at Quantico.
100yd zero at 1" squares
My group got "Way" out in front of the others, either thru good spotting from Bill or because we were more experienced shooters. As we waited for the rest of the group to catch up Bill started calling ranges and identifying the targets on the course. i made a range map for our group, which turned out to be a boon for our group the following day.
The Targets ranged from 333yds to 1200yds
1 - 333yds
2 - 376yds
3 - 415yds
4 - 449yds
5 - 531yds
6 - 604yds
7 - 627yds
8 - 734yds
9 - 766yds
10 - 808yds
11 - 952yds
12 - 972yds
13 - 1037yds
14 - 1122yds
15 - 1200yds
after class cadre Mark sent us the range map from his "range card pro" app. While cool, my group used my map the whole class
The rest of the class got caught up with our group, but it was close enough to 5pm that Ed called the class for the day.
Day 2 - 6/26/2016
Day two started the same as day one with breakfast at The Mineral Restaurant before heading back out to The Farm.
Once back at the farm we set gear and got ready.
The back of my ugly head (photo courtesy of Lex)
Once we got set and after the range safety brief we got started on the targets. My group got into a steady process. I would use my range map to find the next target, ID the target to Bill and call MILS and wind valuesfrom Shooter to Bill and the other shooters. Bill would then spot, call wind adjustments, call hits, and call adjustments if needed. Again, my group got way out in front of the other shooters. while we worked thru the targets, Ed was walking around answering questions, assessing form, and making suggestions.
Me, calling targets and dope for our group
Some of our other shooters
Lex and I had good hits on all the targets up thru #7 (627yds) where i had my first miss of the day. Ed said i was starting to get tired and was muscling the gun, so he suggested a break for me which just happened to correspond to lunch.
Once we got back from Lunch we got back on the guns and continued to work thru the targets. I got back on target and had solid hits up thru target 11 (952 yds).
At this point i came off the rails a little. I was dialing in the elevation for target 12 (972yds) when my turret ran out of clicks. i couldn't dial any higher. At this point all the data left my head. I had NO idea where any of my dope was set. Ed calmly came over, bore sighted my scope back to 100yds, and got me reset. After some discussion with Lex (who was letting me borrow the Rem 700 i was shooting) we discovered the base was a 0 MOA, rather than the 20 MOA he thought was on it. Ed and I then worked out a MILS + holdover that would let me keep shooting. i ended up dialing 8 MILS, then holding anywhere from 3 to 4.8 MILS. Luckily Lex and i worked on Holdovers at Quantico. I continued to get hits up to target 14, even with the holdover and wind adjustments.
At target 14 (1122yds) my luck and holdovers ran out. I couldn't dial any further, and the holdover needed put the target out of the field of view of the scope. i was basically out of action. I was a little disappointed, but i'd shot well and was happy with where i was. I pulled back with Bill to call shots for my team on the final two targets.
After Lex made his 1200 yard shot on target 15 he looked at me and said "I know you want to make a 1200 yard shot, get down here" and he put me on his Sako. Have i ever mentioned what a good friend Lex is?
I nailed the target in the left chest area on the first shot. To quote Bill "You got him right in the Brachial artery, which is needed for brachiating!"
Again, my group finished well before the rest of the class. We packed up our gear, then started helping the other members of the class with dope, loading mags, and calling the next target on their course of fire.
when we all finished up we had an out brief, and invitation to the "basic" class, and handshakes all around
i've tried to make this AAR detailed enough to give you an idea of HOW MUCH information we were given in a short time, but be vague enough that you want to take a class from Ed.
it was a great class and a great weekend. i highly recommend taking a class with Ed if you're in the Virginia/Maryland area. My plan is to get my long range rig so i don't have to borrow Lex's, then head back to Ed's for fitting and then the basic class.
if anyone has any questions let me know. Again, much discussion and info was passed on that i can't contain in one post.