Once again the Guns and Zen crew teamed up with Transcontinental shooting for two glorious days of shooting in Wales…
Day 1. Clays.
I will be the first to admit that my clay shooting sucks really badly. I have only been a handful of times and received no proper instruction on any occassion. I became pretty despondant about the whole idea. However the very persuasive Raf encouraged Sam and I to join him under the tutelage of our favourite shooting instructor Tim Davies.
Unfortunately Sam was unable to participate on the day due to an arm injury which left myself and Raf. We drove down to the Mid Wales Shooting Centre. The views and the roads in Wales are simply spectacular. One of the main reasons I come to shoot is because the scenery is breathtaking. Babbling brooks, ominous peaks, rocky outcrops and wildlife are around every corner interspersed with quaint villages full of friendly people. If I had the money I would move here in a heartbeat.
Raf waiting for the clays to start flying..
The Mid Wales Shooting Centre is a fantastic venue. They have so many different layouts available within the most beautiful location. We collected an electronic tag from the lovely lady at the counter and began our clay session. This involved walking to a variety of different plots (excuse my total lack of any clays knowledge, I am sure all these things have special names!) which offered clays in a variety of directions at the press of a button. Raf had bought his Spanish Aya and Revo pump, Tim bought a Turkish Revo over and under and I had my Revo pump. As I said I am no clay shooter! Tim took us both through the basics of stance and shooting. I always try to listen carefully when I am given advice, however putting it into practice was not easy and we both fluffed the first 3-4 clays. I was instinctively stopping and shooting due to years of rifle at static targetry. Old habits die hard and all that. Tim adressed all our obvious issues and after about 10 more clays I was hitting considerably more than I ever have before. Raf was also upping his hit rate and excelled at the clays which came from behind (I found those the toughest of all). I have to say I was dubious as to the performance of my Revo pump. It is really a practical shotgun (which I love to do). The sights are not meant for clays (rear peep and front fibre optic). However we were all pleasantly suprised that it performed rather well considering. It certainly didnt let me down and any errors were mine and not the guns.
I used Tims Revo which was in the classic O/U configuration and was also impressed. Revo make Damn fine guns for the money. After about 260 clays we felt as if we had been punched repeatedly in the shoulder and called it a day. Back to the centre for coffee and a chat about the day..
We made our way back to the hotel and awaited the arrival of more shooting friends. They would be shooting rifles with us the following day. The guys arrived and we began to relax and enjoy a beer. Talk soon turned to what we would be doing the following day. The weather forecast looked ok at this point so many of the group were keen to push out to 1000+yds. My main aim was to test some 80 grain reloads I had made for my AR. I rather fancied they would be consistent at 1000.. Raf would be using his new Tika 30-06 along with some Matchkings he had made by HPS. He also had his obligatory .303 which he never shuts up about! Sam had his newly barreled Howa .223, a Sauer in 6.5×55 and his RPA .308 which we call the green monster due to it’s vivid colour.. The other guys had a real mixture.. A couple of .303s, a 9mm lever release AR carbine, a Parker Hale 7.62, a .223 AR, an AK and a couple of .308 rifles. I was keen to see them all in action! Raf gave out some copies of his Marksmans logbook and gave us all a present from his recent trip – vietnamese Pith helmets.. We all looked suitably ridiculous in them but they would make a nice decorative addition to our man rooms! After a few beers we called it a day and turned in for the evening.
We got up early and after a good breakfast we met again with Tim our RO for the day. We headed toward Orion Firearms Training on the now familiar roads.. However many times I make the journey I am still bewitched by the rugged beauty of the place. As we drive off road and further on into the hills the view just keeps getting better.
The views at Orion are something else!
The day starts with the usual safety brief and then we are out onto the range. I note that the wind has really started to howl, gusting to around 20mph. Some of the guys had wanted to run out to 1600yds and it begins to look unlikely. Tim suggests we get zeroed and then try for the 10″ plate at 1000yds before trying to reach out any further. We spend an hour shooting steel at mixed distances from 100yds-800yds. I use my AR and some 77 grain matchking handloads. I was not particuarly happy with them for target use but for steels they performed just fine. If I am running handloaded ammunition then I expect 1/2moa groups. I have only managed about 0.90moa with the Ramshot Tac powder and MKs I have been experimenting with. My rifle seems to hate them! I also ran some GGG milsurp Nato 5.56mm. GGG always give me decent results cheaply and this time was no exception. It rang steel out to 800yds with consistency.
Sam shooting clays at 800yds with his “green monster” RPA .308 from fox firearms.
Meanwhile Sam was using his .308 green monster and Raf a mix of Enfield, Tika and a Lantac AR. Once we were all happy we decamped and set up on the “Drim” – a wooden structure high up on the hillside designed to replicate the side of a boat. About 400yds away at a pretty steep angle is a water feature complete with boat and steel targets. By now the wind had become pretty extreme.. Gusts of 30mph +. This made the shooting really tough. For the first time in a long time I could not keep the rifle still due to buffeting.
Shooting down at a steep angle in high winds.
I ended up using the heavier Remington 700 braced against the woodwork while trying to minimise my own exposure to the wind. Not because I was cold but because I wanted to hold the rifle still! Meanwhile one of our team had a good run with his straight pull AK47. I could hear him ringing the steel followed by the infamous sound of the AK being racked.
One of the team shooting his AK at the boat target..
Another rifle which stood out was the good old Parker Hale in 7.62mm. The owner confessed he had snapped it up for the bargain price of £150. These rifles were used for many years as military and LE snipers in the UK so it goes without saying they should be pretty damn good. In fact it is the second time I have shot next to one on a range and both times I have marveled at their bang for the buck.. Sub MOA groups for under £500! That is not to be sniffed at..
The suprisingly accurate Parker Hale 7.62mm shooting down to the boat.
Sam with his .223 Howa bolt action rifle.
Raf with his 30-06 Tika.
The steels kept singing and soon after it was time for a much needed lunch break. I must admit I had stupidly packed clothing based on the weather forecast.. I should have packed some warmer stuff. The lunch and shelter were much appreciated. After lunch we journeyed up to the rear firing points for longer range targets. Tim had us each shoot the 10″ plate. I managed a hit after a handful of sighters as did Raf. By now the wind was ripping through and I had dialled in several windage revolutions to compensate. The guys were hitting all around the plate and it was pretty clear that the weather was not going to allow us to tackle the longer ranges. Not only was the shooting difficult but it was pretty uncomfortable in the wind up on the exposed hillside.
The sun made the odd appearance but the wind just kept blowing..
We all decided to drop back down into the valley which would give a little more shelter and still allow us to shoot out to 1000yds. Sam began the fun by breaking a clay with his .308 at 800yds. The others hammered away with a variety of kit including a lovely straight pull AR which caught my eye.
A rather nice AR bought up by one of the guys.
Raf and I began to take on the 1000yd plates. He used his .303 to good effect and was on the button after only a couple of ranging shots. I ran some 80g Matchkings as single shots through my AR (they are to long for mag feeding). The 80 grainers were a real success hitting the 1000yd 10″ plate 4 times consecutively after about 5 sighters. Considering the gusts were now 30+mph I was very happy indeed.
Notice the steep angle of the barrel..
One of the guys produced a lever release carbine and offered me a go. I have never used one before, it was huge fun. In England it is about as close as one can get to a semiauto in any calibre other than .22. It was a very well put together bit of kit and the only downside I could imagine would be the temptation to shoot loads of ammo every time you took it out..
The 9mm lever release carbine from SGC.
Before we knew it the day had all but drawn to an end. We thanked Tim once again for his sterling spotting skills and excellent advice and said goodbye to Orion and Wales for at least another couple of months..
Tim Davies – shooting instructor – http://www.premiershootingexperiences.co.uk/
Orion Firearms Training – http://www.orionfirearmstraining.co.uk/
Gear Suppliers/RFDs –
Fox Firearms – http://www.foxfirearmsuk.com/
CPG Design – http://m.cpgdesign.co.uk/
ACP shooting – http://www.acpshooting.co.uk/