The Goal

The Goal

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Belmont Range Report - Watch for the Drop Offs!

As I have previously noted, all rifle ranges have their quirks, so it's always a good idea to go and have a bit of a pop before you go and do anything serious on a particular range. As it had been nearly six years since I'd last had a crack at Belmont during the 2011 World Long Range Championships, I decided that it would be worthwhile to pop over with the NZ Commonwealth Games squad and have a shoot there to get my eye in. It proved a worthwhile venture.

Belmont Range, Brisbane. The terminal on the right connects to the HEXTA electronic target system.
After a bit of a logistical cockup with the course of fire to be shot alongside the Aussies, I was going to be a Queen's I short of a full HMQPCOF. Fortunately I was able to enter the short range of the Natives' Rifle Club Championships on the Saturday. Shot on the superb HEXTA electronic targets* in fairly benign conditions, it was a nicely gentle reintroduction to the range. I was pleased to slot them all in, even if the conditions weren't massively challenging, mostly requiring only a bit of centering and the occasional change.

300x - Not a bad start. The HEXTA electronics worked well also.

500x - Keeping it together well, and still sheltered from the wind.

600x - Ignore shots 8, 9 & 10 as they were tacked on the end using CWG ammunition.
After my arrival, I'd found out that the Commonwealth Games ammunition was available in the Q Store; albeit at a rather steep AUD47 per 20 rounds. I picked up a box so I could see how it would go and was able to tack a few rounds on the end of my shoot at 600 yards. It seemed to group OK, although about 1/2 minute lower than my Optimus 155 handloads**.

With the third round of the Australia Cup not taking place until the Monday, I'd get to have a day off with the family; we had rented a place down in Broadbeach on the Gold Coast which backed on to the beautiful golden sandy beach. In addition to being a shooting holiday and a chance to refresh my memory of the conditions on the range, it was a treat for Katrina who would be celebrating her birthday on the Tuesday. We spent the Sunday morning on the beach, before heading over to one of the many amusement parks clustered around the area.

Heading up to the range on the Monday morning for an 08:30 start, it was clear that the conditions were going to be a bit tougher; I could see the flags standing proud from their poles as I drove along Old Cleveland Road, although they were mostly coming from between 1 and 2 o'clock. It was looking like angle could be more important than strength if it started to mix it up.

300x went well.

500x continued in much the same vein.

600x finished well, but no idea what happened to that second sighter.
In the event, we were tucked over on the right hand side of the range. Coupled with the dip in the range and some tree cover, this minimised the effect of changes at 300x and 500x; however back at 600x a careful eye was needed to avoid the occasional wind change which could have taken a shot out of the very tight bullseye. I was delighted to put them all in with solid vee counts at all three ranges to take the highest score on the range by a couple of vee bulls.

While the shorts had gone well, it was obvious that the long ranges in the afternoon were going to be a bit trickier. The wind didn't look like it was dying down and the bullet would be much more exposed to the wind with the additional elevation from both the range to target and the rising backslope in the back half of the range.

900x sensible group, just losing a couple out the sides to small wind errors.

1000x acceptable group, but one poor shot and a major wind error.
In the event, 900x went reasonably well and I lost only a couple of points to minor wind errors; it was nowhere near as difficult as I had feared might be the case; however 1000x would be much more taxing. Even though the angle of the wind kept the numbers relatively low, angle and strength changes produced a couple of big dropoffs during the shoot and several of us got caught for magpies and outers. Having dropped 6 points in aggregate by shot #5 I needed to go clean for my remaining ten shots to achieve an MCS. I successfully navigated a second big drop off but I let a slightly slack shot go, possibly as a result of my trying to get them away quickly to avoid another change in the aim and picked up a 4 for my 12th to count, taking an MCS with it. I stuck the final three shots in the bull to end up on 398.47, a single point short of the magical 399 score.

While I didn't quite achieve my goal, I did shoot well; particularly well at short range; and there is much for me to be pleased with. I've also now got some of the CWG ammunition back in NZ to make a few measurements, establish some zeroes and check that my rifle will group at 1000x when using it. Massive thanks must go to Malcolm Dodson, Brian Carter, John Snowden, Rob Johansen and Bevan Mehrtens from the NZ CWG Squad, but most particularly to Kim Ologhlen from the Natives Rifle Club for sorting me out secure storage for my rifle and gear, and allowing me to go slightly off-piste with my course of fire during the Natives RC short range.

Kim Ologhlen from the Natives Rifle Club. A top bloke.
Well, in conclusion I've left myself some work still to do; however I've got further opportunities to shoot minimum consideration scores between now and November, and my preparations for the 2017 Imperial Meeting are looking solid. If you're going to be around on Bisley Camp for the TR meeting, I'll see you then.

 * Yes, I was nice about electronic targets. I'll cover this off in a future article.
 ** RWS Cases, Fed 210 Match Primer, 155 grain HBC Optimus bullet loaded 40 thou off the lands, with 46.5grains ADI AR2008.

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