The short Land Rover grumbles up the steep track and over the top of the hill. It’s covered in snow and so I keep my distance. Once it is well over the rise, and visible again, I give my own ancient 110 Land Rover a squirt of power and set of up the hill. The snow is compacted and in some places icy. The rover copes with the treacherous path and we arrive at the Shackleton hut.
It’s bitterly cold at minus 2’c but we are all wrapped up fairly well. I have finally given up on my lightweight waterproofs and bought a long green smock from Bradshaws www.johnbradshawguns.co.uk It’s waterproof, windproof, thick and the chest pocket is exactly the right length for an M16 30 round magazine. We are a motley crew of five today. Our ages range from 30-70, and our experience from “New Shooter” to NRA instructor.
Some readers may remember that I have been having some issues with my 303 no4 T (ahem). I was recently at Stickledown range at Bisley and the rifle was firing all over the target. I was scoring ones and fours without changing my point of aim. After the shoot, I thought that I should get a cheek piece fitted by Fultons of Bisley. There the gunsmith tapped the barrel and shook his head.
“Your barrel is not bedded properly” he said. He wiggled the barrel tip around to make his point. £145 later I had a re- bedded barrel, cheekpiece and a lot of minor repairs done to the old girl. So I was keen to see if I could get away from the “three group” group. In addition to the re bedding of the barrel It is -2″ so all of my previous sight and drop calculations are off.
As we all set up, the usual suspects choose to lie prone. I lay my mat on the snow , and lie down. The Lee Enfield has no bipod, and Orion have benchrests and sandbags, but this is shooting the old fashioned way. Freehand or find something natural to rest on.
Bob has a few moments free so I ask him to spot for me. Being a first class instructor he does more than that- he guides me from 100m, where I have the rifle key-holeing rounds out to 800 and then on to 1000yards. There is no room for error here- there is snow all around the targets and so recognition of misses is very difficult.
“Add 25 minutes from your hundred yard zero” says Bob” this I do and fire. Neither of us see anything.
“Add another minute” finally we see a round splash just shy of the target disk.
“Add two clicks-” I fire again,
“Add two more..”
And I am on target at 1000 yards with no trouble at all. It would have been nicer to know to add 27.5 minutes and be bang on first time, (and this will be my next personal challenge), but for today, my personal summit has been reached. The Lee Enfield .303 is consistently hitting the target at 1000 yards- the rounds close to each other.
I move on to some kneeling after hitting targets in prone
With me on the board, Bob goes off to help the others. One of the group is firing a Mosin Nagant with iron sights, and the other two have a Remington 700 .308. The Remington’s are phenomenally accurate and rarely miss. While Bob spots for the others – I plug away with the Lee Enfield at various distances, annotating my sight corrections on a chart. This way I am able to rewrite my drop tables.
The Mosin hitting long range steels
Bob stops us early as a pheasant shoot is going through our line. We break for tea and sandwiches, to wait for a convoy of four wheel drives to come up the valley. The black lion hotel makes a mean packed lunch and those who have ordered it find themselves sharing with their friends.
After lunch, we have four straight hours of shooting. Two of the team just want to keep shooting at long ranges. Bob spots for them and then runs a few CSR serials with Paul,Tom and myself. In order to make them more interesting, Bob clears out one of the container firing points and turns it into a “house to be defended”. We try standing, kneeling and resting our hands on the “window sills”
The metal plates start to ring at 50, 100 and then 200 yards. It’s not easy to constantly change position and hit a metal figure 11 target at 200 yards, but we manage not to disgrace ourselves, Tom is a new shooter, with some experience on range open days. He takes to the shooting well, but he is surprised by how successful he is at the CSR serials. Before moving, Bob produces a Desert Tactical Arms .338 lapua. This is a bull pup sniper rifle that is available in the UK. He zeroes it at 800 yards and invites anyone who wants to, to have a go. We all do, and all of us ring the gong at 800 with no trouble at all. But this is barely scratching the surface for this very capable rifle. No doubt, gunsnzen will be doing a review if this rifle at some stage in the near future,
338 DTA in action..
After this we move to the water recognition targets. To make life difficult, Bob has two of us shoot uphill and left, 700 yards onto targets in scree. This throws our calculations out again as there is little bullet drop. Bob chuckles as he advises us on how to adjust our sight marks.
Wet kit gets a thorough airing before the long journey home
The light goes early, and the day starts to die. We start to pack up. Bob finishes with a detailed debrief and prize giving for Tom. The three four by fours slide down the now icy slope and turn off onto the main road. By the time, I am back at Llangurig to head south, it is already dark. Another successful day has passed at Orion, and as I motor slowly down the frozen welsh lanes, I find myself thinking of when I can pass this way again.
Article and photos by Raf.
Many thanks to Orion firearms training again!!