I figure if you’re going to write about something, you should also experience it to whatever degree is possible. Alas, I can’t go to other worlds, but I can take a precision rifle course to better understand shooting dynamics.
Over the weekend I took a Precision Rifle Course in Bend, OR. Initially, I was going to take it in August, before releasing Surveyor, but the class got cancelled due to fire hazard (Bureau of Land Management shut down the range). I had hoped to include the knowledge and skills I would learn in the novel, but couldn’t. Glad to see I wrote it up properly.
As to the course, it was AWESOME! Over two days I took my shooting skills from pretty damn good at 100 and 200 yards and extended them out to 1,200 yards. The furthest I had shot before had been 300 yards (M-16), so I was doubtful I would hit the mythical 1,000 yard mark that the course instructor said I would be able to. The first day was about three hours of instruction (learned about the effects of gravity, wind, and rifle twist deflection), followed by several hours of shooting from 100 to 500 yards. I was totally stoked when I hit the 400 yard target, as that was farther than I had ever shot before.
The second day we shot starting at 500 yards and eventually worked our way up to 1,200 yards. I think my spotter was more stoked than I when the first round I fired at that distance hit the metal silhouette target (on the left side) – the second round was dead center! The wind was blowing steady at 10 MPH with gusts up to 15, so between the twist drift and wind drift, I had to set my scope adjustments (windage and elevation) so that the rifle was pointing about 5 feet left of the target and 23 feet above the target while the scope was on the target.
For those who have never shot long distance, one of the amazing things is to watch the passage of the bullet downrange as it displaces air.
Of course, during the friendly competition among the three groups (there were six students, one shot while the other spotted, then we traded places), I blew it. Instead of moving my windage left, I moved it right, just before the first shot. Every shot after that was off 😦 Good learning experience.