Microsoft Gun Club Report on PPS Boomershoot
As some of you were aware, Joe Huffman put on the Palouse Practical Shooters "Boomer" shoot this Sunday.
Sam, Steve and I left Saturday evening in the pouring rain. We outraced the storm front that was heading east by the time we got to Ellensburg, and for the rest of the 250 miles (give or take a bit) it was a moonlit drive.
We crashed at about 1:30 AM in a hotel in Lewiston, and headed out at about 9:00 the next morning. After a false start down the wrong road (we got a real close look at Lewiston's paper pulping tanks), we eventually wound up at the entrance to Joe's farm.
After that point, we had to be ferried up to the site by truck, since the car we drove wasn't really built for 4 wheeling......
The actual site itself was very impressive. We were basically on one of the hilltops, and looking down into a valley. There was a river winding down on the left, and the entire mountaintop was basically a huge farm. The soil was really dark (I grew up on a farm, and dark soil is usually very fertile soil). The view was incredible, and the time that I didn't spend shooting or spotting I spend on gazing around the valley.
There were three areas that were cleared out for us to lay out our stuff on. We spread out a tarp and got our benchrests ready, then Joe called us in for the shooters meeting.
Targets were made out of pop cans, filled with a customized mixture that would result in a loud BOOM when hit by a high velocity slug. Some of them were painted orange to increase visibility. It was found (as Joe had predicted) that the .223 round, even though it had high velocity, wasn't always enough to cause the mixture to detonate. The 300 WinMag and .308 rounds had no problem with applying enough kinetic energy: very few of these rounds went through the can without setting it off.
First targets were about 280 yards away, mounted on IPSC targets. They were pretty easy to see. There was one target for each shooter (to ensure that each of us would have at least one shot that was OURS, and nobody elses).
Beyond that was a plowed field, with targets ranging from 350 to 500 yards. These targets were dropped randomly on the plowed ground, and you really couldn't see them with the naked eye.
Beyond that, there were some more targets in the 600 to 700 yard range out in a wheat field.
And finally, there was the ultimate: One can mounted on an IPSC target at 825 yards. Without a scope, you could pick out a white patch on the side of the hill.
The storm-front that we had left behind finally caught up with us, and twice we had to shut down the range and take cover. It didn't just rain, it DUMPED on us. Adding insult to injury was the appearance of hail in the middle of the downpour. We tried eating our lunch during this time, but the buns for the hamburgers and hot dogs just about disintegrated before we could eat them. By the end of the day, it had cleared up and we had blue sky.
One interesting thing happened because of the moisture in the air. The bullets began leaving "trailers". Joe explained, and I think it goes something like this: when the proper conditions occur, the combination of high pressure caused by the wake of the bullets passage and the low pressure area that trails immediately behind the bullet causes the moisture to condense. Right before and after the rainstorm, looking through the spotting scope was kinda like looking at a special effects movie: you could actually see these silver streamers streaking to the target. It reminded me of the T-2000 in Terminator II. It was really, really cool to watch.
So I innocently asked Joe: Does this mean that our shooting is actually seeding the atmosphere (creating miniature high/low fronts), and effectively causing the rain? I got a really funny look from him and I think he muttered something about "washington city boys", but I wasn't entirely sure ....
On the Job Ballistics Testing
Joe cleared the range for fire, and we began shooting. First lesson learned: You gotta have a spotter. Unless you get really lucky, the recoil is usually enough to prevent you from seeing the impact of your bullet, and if you can't see where you're shot went you don't know how to adjust.
Quick lesson in ballistics: If there is a wind blowing, as little as 5 miles an hour, at 300 yards it will move it several inches to the side. When shooting at pop cans, this is enough to spoil the shot. All three of us got pretty good at getting the elevations down, only to have the shot go left or right because of the wind.
The close range (280 yard) IPSC targets
I had my rifle already zeroed in at 300 yards, and I was able to punch quite a few holes in the paper of the individual IPSC targets before I punched the plastic tie that held my can in place on the IPSC, causing my can to drop. Joe directed me to another target and went down later to fix it so someone else could shoot it.
On my second shot on the new target, BINGO! There was a loud BOOM! that was extremely satisfying. The IPSC target was basically gone. I couldn't see any whole pieces of it from where I was looking.
Steve had a tough time finding his can. He teased and terrified it, poking holes all around the can. At one point we though he had punched a hole in the can, but on later examination (during one of Joe's cease-fire runs to check targets) it was found that he hadn't. He finally found it, but it was a bit disappointing: The can only partially detonated, resulting in the can kind of splitting apart and falling to the ground.
Sam took his time placing his shots, and I think had a bit of a time adjusting to the wind. We were also learning on how to use our Leopold scopes, and were playing a bit with the elevation adjustments. He finally nailed his IPSC, and had a big grin when he heard the echoing BOOM.
The 825 target
Joe had a reward of $25 to anyone who got the 825 target. This target is a half mile away. With my scope, I could see the can pretty well, but even with a bench rest it was hard to hold it center. I ended up emptying over a box of brass just on this one target. Steve was pretty sure I was coming close, but it was hard to see. On later examination, we found that there were 11 holes in the paper, and some more in the stick. Even though I didn't nail it, I was pretty pleased with my first try at some really long distance shooting.
At one point, Joe had us move over to another shelf on the hillside, and the four of us took turns shooting at one can at a time. This was a lot of fun, because we didn't have anyone not able to shoot. We just spotted for each other while looking out our scopes, and we were pretty even about getting cans. Steve caused one can to jump about 4 feet in the air.
Stalking the wild can
At 3:00, Joe called a cease fire, and we tracked down into the fields to stalk the cans.
We basically walked along until one of us spotted a can that appeared hittable, and that person got a couple of shots to try and hit it. This was a lot of fun because it was off-hand shooting (although sometimes we knelt down to stabilize a bit) and we had to learn to "hold" off the center of the receptacle because we were within 100 yards a lot of the time (so the shots actually would go lower than where the crosshairs were pointing). Also, being closer to the detonation lent a lot of flavor to the experience.
Sam did an excellent piece of shooting with his .45, but the velocity of about 1100 fps wasn't enough to trigger the detonation.
This was an incredibly fun shoot, even though we got soaked to the bone because of the storm. I nailed a couple of cans at about 450 yards that was very satisfying.
I highly recommend the experience for people interested in long range shooting.