Off Your Belly! On Your Feet!
Without a doubt the most difficult end of the shooting sports is doing anything at longer ranges than conversational distances. As the range increases things get massively more challenging to become what might be called “good” at it. As long range shooters most of the readers of this content will be familiar with the challenge that long range brings. Once you pass about 400m wind and drop aren’t something you can get away with not adjusting for just right anymore. Little things that didn’t make much difference start to and with every 100m you add there’s a new and dramatically more powerful effect stored up in each of the things we have to adjust for.
This makes it hard to get competitive and really hone the skills. There’s no intermediate range discipline to speak of that does the trick if you’re going to remain laying down on your tummy. There is however an easy to get into and inexpensive to equip for competitive circuit that benefits LR and ELR shooters like nothing else. It’s not ruled by guys with deep pockets and it’s so challenging that things tend to even out. Even beginners end up doing pretty well.
I undertook my first State Championship in High Power Metallic Silhouette shooting recently. This is a pretty straightforward sport. You shoot 5 shots in 2.5 minutes at targets at each of 200, 300, 385, 500m twice each. You end up with 10 shots at chicken shaped steel plates at 200m, 10 shots at pig shaped plates at 300m, turkeys at 385m and rams at 500m. All the targets are set up to subtend about 2MOA which would be considered very generous for bench/belly shooting. You stand up unsupported by anything, no sling, just a shooter and their rifle trying to put 1 round on 1 target at a time. The challenge of standing and doing off-hand shots at such long range and relatively small targets is substantial but it’s something anyone who’s able to take an ethical shot at game is probably able to do. They usually just don’t know it yet.
There are 2 classes of interest in High Power, standard gun and hunter gun. Hunter guns end up at 8.5lbs or less with scope so there are very few heavy barrels and not much in the way of fancy big dollar scopes. The serious shooters use high mag fixed power target scopes but many people, including me get away with fixed 10’s or 16’s or even 3-9x’s. You can compete and place with an off the rack sporting rifle in hunter gun. Standard gun limits weight to 10.2lbs and that’s where the heavy barrels come out but it’s still not a money game. The rifles are usually just heavier and that’s about it. You can compete in standard gun with a hunter gun but not the other way around.
I recently took an off the shelf Savage 10FPSR (in the factory tupperware stock) with my US Optics ST-10 on top and managed to do pretty well. Nothing stunning but I wasn’t last. I tied for last, with an experienced shooter that was having a bad day. Still, I did as well as anyone else in my class and had a great time.
The best part, beyond the challenging shooting, with Metallic Silhouette and particularly with High Power classes is the people. They’re not the usual terse, suspicious and secretive sorts you find at a lot of competitive shooting sports. They’re friendly and engaging as a lot and welcoming and supportive of new shooters. They’ll talk load data or wind doping with you as easily as Ford vs. Chevy or politics. There are some classes that are less social but High Power seems to be a very social class to play in.
Don’t go with the wrong expectations. Expect that you’ll try hard and not be as good as everyone else. Expect to have a good time and learn a lot. Expect to learn about trigger control and sight picture. Expectations set appropriately lead to an easier time achieving success beyond your expectations and less disappointment when you barely miss hitting them.
Here’s a quick shot of me missing my first 500m Ram. I ended up taking 2:5 rams that run and ended the match with an 8:40 average. That’s 20% hits holding 2MOA
Here’s a video of a girl beating me like the rented mule of a redheaded step-child at the 200m chicken line. This girl can shoot. She bested me by 12 hits overall. She’ll be moving up a classification level soon if she keeps this up.
Here’s a bunch of my shots in a playlist. I’ll choke my video guy for making a bunch of them instead of just 4 later. For now, enjoy the sweet smell of mediocrity.