Some tips on range-shooting, if you visit county's new facility


November 24, 1996|By Lonny Weaver | Lonny Weaver,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The new Carroll County Firearms Facility is one of the finest ranges I have ever used.

The range has 10 fully covered firing points, each with its own professional-style bench-rest and targeting spots at 25-yard intervals, out to 200 yards. A local sportsman's club donated target stands, so unlike many public and private shooting ranges, there's noneed to craft or carry your own.

You will need a few compulsory items. First is hearing protection, and I cannot over emphasize its importance. Quality ear plugs, such as Sonic Ear Valves I usually use in waterfowl blinds, are good. But for range use, spring for the extra cost and protection of ear-muff designs.

Another range rule is that eye protection must be worn at all times while shooting. If you wear shatter-proof eye glasses, you fulfill the requirement. Standard shooting glasses are available at most places selling outdoors equipment and are not expensive.

Both times I visited this super shooting facility, it was easy to spot the folks who have limited or no experience shooting from a bench-rest. The most common mistake is resting the rifle's barrel on a hard or firm object.

When a bullet travels up a barrel, it causes vibrations. If the barrel is on a solid rest, those vibrations are magnified thousands of times, and the chances of you putting two bullets in approximately the same place on a target are remote. Instead, always rest the rifle's forearm across your sandbag, shot bag or rolled jacket.

A pedestal rest is essential for accurate shooting from a bench-rest. This is a three-legged metal rest that allows for leveling adjustments and height adjustments. You can spend a couple of hundred dollars here, but I have used a popular rest made by Hoppe's that most local sporting shops and just about all catalogs carry. This rest costs less than $30, and will be satisfactory.

Across the top of the pedestal rest is secured a flat-bottomed sandbag. You place the rifle's forearm across this sandbag.

Next, you need a "rabbit-ear" sandbag to support the buttstock of your rifle. This rear sandbag also is used to align your scope or iron sights on the target by gently squeezed the bottom portion. I fill my sandbags with aquarium sand, which is available at any pet shop. Leather sandbags are not expensive and are widely available.

Later, if you do a lot of bench-rest shooting, you may want to spring for a spotting scope, which will save lots of walking down-range to check on how small your groups are or exactly where the bullet is impacting. For casual bench shooting, this scope isn't vital, though.

A variety of targets are sold at the range if you do not bring your own. I prefer a target with a black square that has a 1- or 2-inch white square inside the black rather than the conventional black circle target. I use the black circle target only for pistol shooting.

With a less-than 10x scope, put a blaze-orange Target Dot over the white inner square, especially on overcast or low-light days, or for 200-yard shooting.

You will need a stapler or roll of tape to secure your targets to the target board.

To shoot from a bench, begin by laying your rifle across the front and rear sandbag rests. Sit erect, relaxed, and align the rifle's sights with the part of the target you wish to hit.

Aim by using your left hand (if right-handed) to gently squeeze the rear bag. When the sight is properly aligned, take a full breath, let half out and pinch or very gently squeeze the trigger.

If you are shooting a light recoiling rifle, such as a .22 rimfire, .223 or similar varmint rifle, have as little shoulder contact as possible with the butt if you are trying to shoot the smallest possible strings of shots.

With harder recoiling rifles, such as deer and big-game choices, put something between your shoulder and the end of the stock to absorb recoil. Another trick to offset an when especially hard-kicking rifle from a bench is to tape a 25-pound bag of shot to the fore-end.

If you have more than one rifle, take two or three to the range with you and alternate their use. When the barrel of one becomes too hot to comfortable touch with your bare hand, set it aside to cool and shoot the second. Shooting an excessively hot barrel will literally burn out the rifling. Also, you may find that your shot-group size will double and/or vary its placement on the target. A good habit to get into is to space your shots to no less than one per minute.

Pub Date: 11/24/96

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