Rifle Shooting: Not What I thought It Would Be

Make no mistake, I am primarily focused on developing my pistol shooting skills and will share what I’ve learned to whoever is willing to listen. However, I also enjoy shooting sporting clays with my shotguns and going long range rifle shooting. I don’t get out to the clay target range or rifle range as often as I’d like, but when I do, I feel like it’s a new adventure each time. There is so much to learn about shooting and the different nuances that come with learning to shoot different types of firearms.

What I Have Learned So Far

Along with conducting my own research and asking tons of questions of my coworkers who are into long range shooting I have learned a lot. I have been able to avoid spending huge amounts of money making mistakes purchasing the latest and greatest new fangled gadgets while sticking to the basics of rifle shooting. I currently only own one rifle; Tikka T3 Stainless in a .308 Winchester. That rifle is my baseline. How I came about getting the Tikka was either by divine intervention or coincidence. Since I don’t believe in coincidences, I’m going with the former. But that’s another story, another time. Suffice it to say, the Tikka T3 Stainless is my baseline for future rifle purchases and I absolutely enjoy the fit, feel and trigger action. It came from the factory with 3.5lb pull that has a very sharp and crisp break. No trigger travel or take up whatsoever. I love it! I added a Burris Fullfield II 4.5-14x42mm scope with a ballistics reticle which does well for my needs.

My Tikka T3 and scope setup

My Tikka T3 and scope setup

Until recently, most of my rifle shooting had been at 100 yards, both indoor and outdoor and my scope set up works great at that range. But 100 yards isn’t considered long range at all. I was fortunate enough to be invited by some of my coworkers to visit their gun club’s outdoor range which has 100, 200, 300, 400 and 600 yard ranges. With my current scope setup (and one heck of a holdover) I’ve been able to hit a 2’x4’ steel plate from 600 yards with with no scope adjustment. It took me 4 rounds to get there, but I was stoked to hear that ‘clang’ feedback on the 4th shot.

Here's what a 2'x4' steel plate looks like through my scope at 600 yards.

Here’s what a 2’x4′ steel plate looks like through my scope at 600 yards.

 Complete Surprise

Probably the greatest thing that I’ve learned so far came as a complete surprise to me. I try to keep an open mind when learning to shoot a different type of firearm so that each experience can be related to the category of firearm I’m using. When it came to rifle shooting and whatever I thought it was going to be, I just wasn’t sure. But what I didn’t expect it to be was relaxing! Super relaxing…

Nothing like a little Group Therapy at the range to make your day better.

Nothing like a little Group Therapy at the range to make your day better.

I don’t mind telling you that this was a completely unexpected outcome. I never thought that I would enter into a Zen-like state while going through the steps to line up on my target. After reflecting upon the experience, I realized that the physical elements of rifle shooting attribute to the euphoric sense of being that I experience. Settling down behind the scope with my face firmly resting on the comb of the butt stock, lining up the cross-hairs on the target, slowing my breathing, progressively squeezing the trigger until the firing pin has set off the chain reaction that sends the bullet down range to its intended destination, is both exhilarating and calming. I have also determined that the level of concentration and focus that I am engaging with, removes everything else out of my mind that I may have been thinking about.

 Next Level

Some of the guys I go rifle shooting with are well beyond my current level of knowledge in determining cross-wind, making scope adjustments, and taking down data as they go along. Maybe one day I’ll get to that level but for right now, I’m doing most of my shooting from misses and adjusting with holdover. (Most likely because the rifle scope I’m using is entry level and doesn’t sport the host of features that my coworkers have on their scopes, which actually costs more than the rifle itself!)

Maybe someday I’ll have a more high powered, high dollar scope, but I’m in no hurry. Until then, I’ll keep looking forward to the opportunities to enter into those Zen-like moments behind the gun, slowing my breathing, focusing on my intended destination, relaxing and enjoy the journey.

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