Global Skywatch

Ted’s essays

my first 1K

I thought of myself as a 600-yard rifleman. In DCM, CMP and NRA High Power competitions, the 600 yard target we shoot at is labeled “MR1”. That stands for “medium range”, standard target. Thus I don’t get an inflated ego from hitting that sucker on a known-distance course of fire.

Upon selling The Gentleman Farmer business I owned/operated for 22 years, my gold watch was a nice trombone and a nice rifle. Two tools I had long wished for but never afforded (best boss I ever had).

My AR-10 and I are awesome at a known distance of 200 yards and quite clearly effective at measured and marked 600 yards. Of course only paper targets are going to present themselves to us at nice, regular, round-numbered, clearly-defined distances. Real targets rudely present at unknown distances, shortening my effective range BY A LOT.

Combine that with age-related reduced mobility leaves me finding my utility to our community in other areas. My organizational abilities, communications, teaching skills and others have struck me as more age-appropriate.

BUT, communities need good riflemen. A young friend of mine is exactly right for that role, except for his lack of skill and training. While that seems a funny way to put it, he has the gear, intelligence, and physical capability necessary to be an effective rifleman.

An opportunity for a Sniper-Central Precision Marksman School – Basic came my way. I chatted with my friend, and WE signed up for the class. After all, I figured, at least I can help train riflemen and can’t help but learn something useful… and he wouldn’t go unless I did.

above left of tree under right spotter’s elbow, left of brown road through deep green field, up hill to left is the 1000-yard target berm

There were mini-competitions at the beginning of every shooting day. Of 20 shooters at the first of these, I had the worst position, laying on a significant downward slope that had my body screaming, “get me out of here”. I got it over with, but still managed to nick the 1-inch Shoot-N-See dot on an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper 100 yards away with my cold-bore first shot. First place center punched it. I was second.

Everything the class did from that moment forward was on the foundation of our 100-yard zeros. I came to the class attached to my 200-yard zero figuring it left me less room for error at 0-400 yards. Sniper-Central taught us to use mathematics, tables, tools and a 100-yard zero far more effectively than I could have hoped for my way.

I cannot give you a condensed four-day professionally-produced class in one, or several blog posts. Every step of the way, I felt I had reached my maximum potential. Amazing to me, they kept stretching, and WE continued to achieve.

foreground: 400 or 600 yard targets (I forget which); background are the 1,000 yard targets

One of the biggest revelations was that The Spotter is the more important talent of The Team. My partner and I were approximately equal as riflemen; as shooters. He was a much better spotter. He could see better than I, the bullet impacts, and the air disturbance called “bullet trace” as the bullet traveled in its arc to the target. He also was significantly quicker at comprehending and processing the equations necessary to turn observed information into useful sight adjustments.

I realized that our class was comprised of 20 competent rifle shooters, any of whom could send bullets wherever a good spotter told them to. On the other hand, likely less than half of them were really good spotters. I hope to cement the bits of knowledge I picked up into making me into a good spotter, and trainer thereof.

Ah, but my first 1K….

Developing a database, or logbook of what your rifle does with a certain lot of a specific manufacturer’s ammunition is crucial. Rebuilding that database when ANY of the above changes is equally important.

Sniper-Central passed out standard charts you can get from multiple sources of bullet trajectories and scope settings. Those are wonderful, essential aids, but do not fit your rifle and ammunition. Only YOU can build the latter. They taught us how to do that.

1,000 yard targets. I clanged the middle 18″ circle with three shots in a row.

Over four days of classroom and field work, they helped us build from 100, 200, 300, 400, and on to 1,000 yards. Not everybody made it all the way, but all of us learned A TON, and clanged steel 600-800 yards away.

At one point I thought I was maxxed out at 400 yards on those stupid little 18″-wide silhouette targets. Magically, my spotter and the instructors kept stretching my range. As you might imagine, those last increments don’t come easy.

880 yards is half a mile! Hitting life-sized silhouettes at that range seems the purview of experts. Yet we all did it.

That plate in the center of the 1,000-yard A-frame is an 18″ circle. On the last day of training, my spotter and I clanged three bullets in a row into it from 0.57 miles away! Pretty geeky – we were trying to hit it dead center!

There was a light breeze from the left, so we put 2.5 minutes of angle in – launching the bullet to the left so it would get blown into the target along its path. We also dialed in 35.25 minutes of angle up. From the maximum height of its trajectory, the bullet dropped about 3 feet to hit that plate!


Most certainly not me.

But I was there.
I saw it, felt it, heard it and did it.

Now he and I are both keen to keep working this new skill set.
We really want it to solidify and grow rather than go away.