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Gunwerks Long Range University

Gunwerks Long Range University

I’ve learned I simply can’t watch most TV shows involving rifles. Ignorant commentary and reckless misinformation grinds my soul, and usually culminates in someone yelling at the TV. My wife can attest. It can get ugly.

Long Range Pursuit TV Show Aaron DavidsonLong Range Pursuit, a TV show on the Sportsman Channel, is one of the few outdoor shows that make it to my DVR. It’s hosted by Aaron Davidson and the crew from his company, Gunwerks, which specializes in custom long-range rifles and gear for hunters. Those guys seem to know what they’re talking about. They’re able to take ethical long range shots on trophy animals on demand. Yes, with education and practice … you can pair “ethical” and “long range” in the same sentence! 😉 (Trivia Bonus: The only other outdoor show on my DVR is MeatEater with Steven Rinella, which you should check out if you’re a hunter.)

Some episodes of Long Range Pursuit feature short, educational segments they call Long Range University Shooting Tips. They caught my attention, because the tips were sound and the guy presenting them seemed like a pro. During one episode I whipped out my phone and googled “Long Range University” … and it turns out Gunwerks offers a comprehensive shooting school at a world-class facility. Gunwerks has offered in-person long range training for a few years. Aaron’s passion is helping guys and gals put rounds on target at distance. He knows selling someone a very capable rifle is only part of that equation. That’s why he extended his offerings to include quality, handloaded ammo, capable scopes with easy-to-use, custom ballistic turrets, and one of the first rangefinders featuring built-in environmental sensors and a trustworthy ballistic solver. But Aaron didn’t stop there, because he didn’t want to overlook the biggest variable: the shooter. So he started offering in-person long range training, and over a few years they’ve refined their curriculum into a very comprehensive format, which they call Long Range University (LRU). LRU is comprised of 3 levels of two-day courses, which systematically build on one another.

As I’ve mentioned, my goal in 2016 was to invest in training, and Gunwerk’s Long Range University seemed like one of the best places in the world to do that. So I found a time when my buddy, Bob Bellows, and I could go up to Wyoming for several days and attend LRU. They chuckled when I told them I wanted to take all of their courses in one trip. Most of the time shooters will take Level 1 and possibly Level 2 together, but then they go home, practice and get some experience. They might return the following year ready for their Level 3 course, which is more of a graduate level course in real-world scenarios. But we assured them we were committed to take all 3, and booked our plane tickets.

Meet Instructor James Eagleman

James Eagleman Gunwerks Long Range Rifle InstructorI mentioned earlier the guy presenting the “Shooting Tips” on the TV show seemed like a pro. It turns out his name is James Eagleman, and he is Gunwerk’s Director of Shooting Instructions. He recently retired First Sergeant, Army Recon Scout Sniper with 26 years of exceptional service worldwide. James has real-world experience as an operator, but also has a ridiculously impressive training resume which includes writing curriculum for US Army Sniper School and instruction for SOTIC (Special Operations Target Interdiction Course). James has valuable first-hand knowledge and experience relating to weapons, ammunition, ballistics, shooting techniques, training exercises and operations. But after hanging around James for several days, what I was most impressed with was his passion for mentoring students at every level. He is extremely patient, and can tailor his instruction based on a student’s experience level. That means he won’t talk over the head of a beginner who’s shooting past 100 yards for the first time, but he can also change gears and go into “advanced mode” when coaching more experienced shooters. I guarantee even the best shooters in the world could learn something from James Eagleman! It seems rare for a civilian to have a chance to be coached by a guy this caliber.

When you pair up a really sharp engineer and natural teacher like Aaron Davidson with a guy with the credentials and experience of James Eagleman, you can rest assured the curriculum is well thought out and valuable. Not to mention, Gunwerks has several others on staff that are more than qualified to teach these courses, and already have experience teaching hundreds of students. The program Gunwerks has developed over the past few years is nothing short of world-class.

Wyoming Training Facility

Level 1 and 2 courses are taught at a brand new, training facility in Burlington, Wyoming, which is about an hour east of Yellowstone National Park. The facility has the most convenient and comfortable setup I could imagine. They have an indoor classroom with all the luxuries of home (i.e. indoor bathrooms, air conditioning, media projector, whiteboard, catered lunches). Take one step out the door of the classroom, and you’re on a live range with targets out to 1400 yards! You literally can move from your chair in the classroom to behind a rifle on the range in 30 seconds.

Gunwerks Training Facility Layout

Gunwerks Long Range Classroom & Range

This unique facility allows the Gunwerks classes to follow this basic format:

  1. Discuss a topic in the classroom with the help of good visuals and multimedia
  2. Go try it on the range
  3. Repeat …

This tight loop from theory to application really helps students make the connection.

Level 1 (L1): The Fundamentals

L1 is focused on the fundamentals, but goes beyond the basics. It covers equipment, cartridges, and other tools you may want to be familiar with to engage long range targets. I was pleasantly surprised that the equipment part of this wasn’t just Gunwerks propaganda. They had a balanced approach. After you complete this course you should have a strong foundation on which you can build and progress.

James Eagleman Teaching About Ammo at Gunwerks School

L1 Topics:

  • Equipment Selection & Setup
  • Rifle Cleaning & Maintenance
  • Intro to External Ballistics
  • Using A Ballistics Engine & Trajectory Validation
  • Benchrest Shooting Gear & Technique
  • Rangefinder Basics

Level 2 (L2): The Wind Class

L2 topics are more advanced. You’ll spend 50% of the time in the classroom, and 50% on the range, and should leave with a high degree of technical competency. I heard a few guys refer to this as “the wind class,” because one primary focus is learning to read the wind. That’s something you simply can’t learn from a DVD, online videos, or even a really good blog! 😉 I’ve met a few shooters who could glance downrange through a spotting scope and quickly observe the angle of the mirage, movement of the vegetation, and other visual cues and instantly tell you the wind speed and direction with the same ease as reciting their home address. While I’m NOT one of those guys, luckily Instructor James Eagleman is.

The biggest value from the whole experience may have been sitting behind a spotting scope for a couple days beside a guy who not only could read the wind, but could explain exactly how he was doing that. James shared ton of practical tips, including things like what magnification setting your spotting scope should be on to make it easiest to read, where you should set the focus relative to your target, what you should look at to see mirage the best, how to rotate your view to find the exact wind direction, among other things. Most of these tips were subtle improvements, but when you put them together … it makes a huge difference.

James Teaching How To Read The Wind

Wind Powder ExperimentThey also helped us understand the wind by doing little experiments. For example, one of the teachers drove 600 yards downrange, and we all got behind spotting scopes and tried to guess the wind speed and direction at his location. He then pulled out a Kestrel Weather Station to measure what the wind was actually doing, and radioed the results back to us. This helped students calibrate what they were seeing with what the wind was actually doing. He also went to a few different places downrange with unique terrain features, and threw up some fine, white powder, so we could watch how the wind pushed it. At one open area, the wind carried the powder almost perpendicular to our position, but when he repeated the same steps at the base of a hill further out we saw the powder take a slightly different direction and also had a significant vertical component because of the terrain. These little experiments along with diagrams shown on slides in the classroom combined to help me visualize what the wind was doing as it rolled over the terrain, and understand how to apply that to other terrain features.

But, the most valuable thing was just the interactive conversation with James while we all sat behind spotting scopes looking down range. A student might say, “Hey, I’m seeing ____, does that mean …?” James might answer “Yeah, you see how it is …” or “No, if you’re seeing that you’re focus may be set beyond the target and you’re seeing an optical illusion. You should …” We were fortunate to have some strong, switching winds during our few days in Wyoming. Often the wind would pick up or change direction, and students would eventually say “See that?! It looks like the wind just picked up closer to 12 mph” or “It looks like the wind switched from 4 o’clock around to 7 o’clock.”

During all this we were in an enclosed shooting area with big garage doors flipped up, which forced us to make calls based on what we were seeing downrange and not what you felt at your location. Studies have shown when people lose one of their senses (e.g. sight, hearing) other senses often become heightened. For example, if you’re blind, you might hear things others may not notice. Because the facility setup didn’t allow us to fall back on feeling the wind change, it forced us to sharpen and calibrate our ability to sense what the wind was doing purely based on what we were seeing downrange. In the past, I was always quick to pull out my handy Kestrel and get a wind measurement at my location, and my wind call was primarily based off that reading. We all know the wind may be MUCH different downrange than it is at your location, but my wind meter had become a crutch I used to avoid honing my ability to visually estimate the wind downrange. This class forced me to isolate and develop a muscle I’d previously neglected. Now when I add back in the ability to measure a baseline wind measurement with my Kestrel and combine that with what I’m seeing downrange, I can make much more informed wind calls.

Gunwerks Wind ClassTowards the end of L2, we paired up and had one student behind a rifle and the other behind a spotting scope. The shooter dialed the elevation adjustment for a 1000 yard steel plate, and was instructed to simply hold whatever wind adjustment the spotter called for. Bob was my partner, and he’s an outstanding marksman. So I knew any left to right spread on the target would solely be a result of my wind calls. No pressure! 😉 While I was on the spotting scope, Bob fired a string of 10 shots and during that time I remember calling for corrections ranging from 3 MOA left to 1 MOA right (that’s about 0.8 mils left to 0.3 mils right for metric guys). The winds were shifty! At the end of 10 shots, ALL of our impacts were stacked within 2” of the bullseye on that 1000 yard target! After repainting the targets, we swapped positions, and Bob was able to replicate the results with me behind the rifle.

I told James my experience in L2 felt similar to The Matrix when Neo (played by Keanu Reeves) was finally able to look at all the 1’s and 0’s and make sense out of it! It was like my eyes had been opened to a whole new world of information! Am I now a wind expert? Nope. But, I’ve come a long way, and feel like I now have a foundation on which I can build on with experience. I’m not sure there is a more effective way to learn to read the wind than what we experienced at the Gunwerks training center.

But, L2 covers more topics than just wind. It also covers practical shooting positions you might encounter in the field (prone, seated, kneeling), and how to effectively use packs, tripods, and other supports to extend your range. They also cover more advanced aspects of external and terminal ballistics.

James Teaching Field Positions

L2 Topics:

  • Advanced Wind Reading
  • Advanced External Ballistics & Drag Models
  • Terminal Performance
  • Field Shooting Positions

Level 3 (L3): Putting It All Together In The Field

L3 is the capstone of Long Range University, and it ditches the classroom all-together. L3 is designed to test your knowledge and equipment in real-world field conditions. The L3 class we attended was hosted at the Ensign Ranch in northeast Utah, which is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in the U.S. The ranch is massive, spanning over 80,000 acres and features 3,000+ feet of elevation change. L3 is built around several situational training scenarios that force you to apply what you learned in L1 and L2. You’ll shoot across canyons, take steep angle shots, and shoot in crosswinds, headwinds, tailwinds, and vertical winds … maybe all of them on the same shot! They have a ton of targets setup, with shots out to 1 mile and beyond!

Cal Prone Receiving Instruction From Aaron DavidsonGunwerks arranges the class in small groups of 2-3 students. Instructors are right by your side, but what I appreciated was in L3 they allow you to make mistakes and learn from them. After you’ve engaged the targets the staff provides personalized coaching tips. Aaron is a natural teacher, and even though L3 is all done in the field, he and his team are still teaching and reinforcing concepts at each position. They’ll do in-field debriefings at each position to reinforce what you did well. If you didn’t have first round hits on all the targets, they’ll ask questions to help you uncover what you may have overlooked.

Here’s examples of just a few of the stages they had setup for us to run through:

Coriolis Stage

To help students understand the Coriolis Effect and how it affects bullet flight, they set up a stage with two identical targets at exactly 1100, but one was due south and the other was due east. You start by engaging the southern target, and spotters help you find the perfect elevation adjustment to center your shot on the bullseye. Then you’ll immediately turn and shoot a group on an identical target at the same distance due east. Your impact will likely be high on the east target (4-5” high with the cartridges we were using). This variance in trajectory is due to the fact that you’re shooting from one point to another on a rotating sphere (the Earth). While 4-5 inches at 1100 yards is relatively minor, you can see the difference. So this exercise helps students understand that Coriolis Effect is a real thing and can be predicted and accounted for, but it also teaches them the relative magnitude so if they hear a buddy tell a story about a bullet sailing over a trophy elk at 700 yards because he forgot to think about Coriolis … you likely shouldn’t take advice from that person. This stage drove the point home that when trying to make first shot hits on small targets at extended ranges, you may want to consider the Coriolis Effect. I’m not sure how many places on earth have a setup that allow you to see this phenomenon so clearly.

Gunwerks Long Range University Coriolis Effect Stage 1100 Yard Targets

For L3, Bob and I borrowed some Gunwerks rifles chambered in 6.5×284, and also used the Gunwerks ammo. Both of our rifles were lightweight hunting rifles, weighing 9.9 pounds with scope. On this stage I printed a 3” group at 1100 yards with that Gunwerks rifle and ammo! I have to admit, I was shocked. My friend Bob achieved similar precision with his rifle. The targets were large orange rectangles, with a little white dot in the center the size of the bottom of a can of spray paint (2.5” diameter). Bob dropped a shot right on top of the white dot, and Aaron told us he’d never seen someone hit dead center on the bullseye on that target. He told Bob, “I bet you can’t do it again” … and within about 10 seconds Bob stacked a second shot right on top of it!

Gunwerks Long Range Rifles

I have to say: this challenged my view of precision rifles. I don’t say that lightly. All of the custom rifles I own weigh 14-18 pounds with optics, because they all have heavy contour barrels. Even my 7mm Rem Mag hunting rifle weighs almost 50% more than the Gunwerks rifles we used. I never thought a rifle with what I had always referred to as a “pencil thin” lightweight barrel could shoot like that. These rifles shot as well as I am able to hold, and we didn’t notice any significant impact shift over 10+ shot strings. Now, I haven’t converted my rifles over to sporter contours, but I will say this challenged my long-held assumptions on barrel contours and what you need for real precision. I wish I could go back and include a few of these lighter contours in my barrel test!

High Angle Shot … Up & Down

The Ensign Ranch in Utah included some extreme terrain, with rare high angle long-range shots. There aren’t a lot of places in the world you can find those, because at most places by the time you finally get a target set out to 400+ yards … you end up so far from the base of the cliff that the angle of the shot is less than 10°, which is fairly inconsequential. Often times it feels much more dramatic, but if you actually measure it you’ll find it isn’t. Utah is one of the rare places in the U.S. where you can find real high-angle, long range shots. Many elite military snipers are also trained in Utah so they can learn how to take high angle shots like they might find in the steep mountains of Afghanistan.

Gunwerks had one stage setup where you took a shot at a 30° decline from the top of a huge cliff at a small target in the valley below. This not only required us to correct for the angle, but also forced us to account for a big updraft the bullet would experience as it cleared the cliff. Because those vertical winds deflect the bullet early in the flight, the bullet will spend the rest of the flight on a deviated path that you’ll need to correct for if you want a first shot hit. If you didn’t account for the angle of the shot or the vertical wind, your bullet would sail over the target.

Bob Taking High Angle Shot with Cal Spotting

After we shot off the cliff, we immediately drove our UTV’s down into the valley to take the same shot in the opposite direction, from the valley up onto the cliff. This scenario forced us to account for the angle, and get creative in finding a stable shooting position. It was hard to feel the wind at our location, so we had to visualize how it might be flowing over the terrain and estimate the net effect it would have on bullet flight. I’m proud to say we both had first round hits in both scenarios.

Cal Shooting Up At Steep Angle

1 Mile Shot … In The Rain

Another stage required us to shoot across a valley with multiple winds, with targets out to 1 mile! We got out the spotting scopes and first tried to observe the mirage, but there wasn’t much to be seen. You could make out some if you looked at the horizon, but it was faint. So we looked at how the vegetation was moving on the terrain, and that’s when we noticed at some places the wind was left to right, and others places it was right to left! Not only were there winds in different directions, but some of the winds were a full crosswind, and some were tailing at various angles. So this setup really required us to do a little math before we fired the first shot.

Clouds rolled in as the first shooter in our group was firing, and it started to sprinkle as I laid down to take my turn. The mist gave us another visual cue for wind direction. But as I engaged targets at further distances, the rain started to pick up. I remember in L2, James had taught us the rain actually doesn’t affect your bullet flight like you might think. Often times when it starts raining, the temperature will drop several degrees, and that temperature change is what affects your trajectory … not the bullet colliding with rain drops. I thought this was a perfect time to put that theory to test! I updated my firing solution with the current temperature, and dialed the adjustment on the scope … and was able to connect with the 1 mile target in the rain! What a great way to test a theory and apply all the stuff we’d learned!

Conclusion

We live in a fun time, where there seems to be new rifle training courses popping up everywhere. I’m sure there are a lot of great ones, and I bet we could learn something at any of them. This type of training can be a great investment.

Most of us spend a lot of money on rifles and gear, but if we’re honest … the weakest link in the chain is probably the nut behind the gun. However, we rarely think about investing in that part of the equation. You can have all the right gear, but without knowledge and training you will struggle to use it effectively.

Jaguar F-Type Coupe R Race TrackOne of my closest friends recently got a Jaguar F-Type R Coupe. With the purchase, Jaguar included a course at the Jaguar Performance Driving Academy where professional racecar drivers take you on a private track and show you what the F-Type R is really capable of. But these pro drivers, many of which had won major international races, were also instructors. So my friend spent a couple days in the driver’s seat with them right by his side teaching him how to get the most out of the car. He learned A TON! Do you think he’ll enjoy the car more or less after that experience? Could that same lesson apply to your long-range rifle? Would you enjoy it more and be more effective if you had a chance to spend a few days side-by-side with a pro who wanted to teach you how to get the most out of it?

I have to believe the Gunwerks Long Range University has to be one of the best schools out there. It has:

  • Experienced & passionate instructors
  • Comprehensive curriculum
  • World-class training facility & real-world test environment

As an engineer at heart, my natural bent is to be critical and focus on problems and what needs to be improved. But, as I wrote this I asked myself “If I were in charge of LRU, what would I change about it?” I’m not sure. Maybe put bubble levels on all the class rifles! 😉 There may be something, but nothing is immediately obvious. It’s very well thought-out and executed. I’d have no reservation recommending it to any of my shooting buddies. We learned a ton, and it was one of the most fun shooting experiences I’ve ever had.

Gunwerks recently published the 2017 dates for their Long Range University courses. We attended in Wyoming and Utah, but they also offer courses in Texas and New Mexico. If you’re interested, you can check out the dates and learn more here: Gunwerks LRU 2017 Dates & Training Details

Long Range University Graduates

About Cal

Cal Zant is the shooter/author behind PrecisionRifleBlog.com. Cal is a life-long learner, and loves to help others get into this sport he's so passionate about. Cal has an engineering background, unique data-driven approach, and the ability to present technical information in an unbiased and straight-forward fashion. For more info, check out PrecisionRifleBlog.com/About.

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36 comments

  1. I hope gunwerks’ servers are ready for traffic…

  2. Wonderful review of the Long Range Pursuit LRU courses.
    Christi and I took the Gunwerks L1 & L2 courses in Burlington Aug 2015. James Eagleman was fantastic and Jim See ( PRS shooter ) also spent a most valuable hour with Christi one afternoon when he was visiting the facility.

    My LR1000 6.5×284 & Christi’s 6.5CM were phenomenal but the G7 BR2 was perhaps the most significant proprietary equipment we experienced…can’t wait till it is in a bino ala my Leica 10×42 Geovids. Hope you take the time to critique it vs the other environmental rangefinders you have access to.

    Your comment about “bubble levels” made me think of Thomas Haugland’s Long Range Blog #56…you can see what I am talking about at : Scope Levels=BS Episode 56:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzX6DsJ5IrY
    The total length is < 6 mins but the bubble level eval starts about 3:20 in.

    • Thanks for the input, CR! It was a really good class.

      And I agree about their rangefinder. I’m VERY particular about the ballistic engines I use, because after writing my own ballistic engine (I have a degree in Computer Science) I know how hard it can be to get right. I was VERY skeptical that the firing solution their rangefinder provides would be accurate enough for my standards … but was pleasantly surprised. It seemed to align with my hits in the field out to 1000 yards or more. It turns out Aaron wrote the Gunwerks ballistic engine, and he’s a sharp guy. Since then they’ve been contracted by other companies to integrate their engine in other high-end products. I’ll put it this way: I’d prefer a printed ballistic card over the ballistic engine in my Leica HD-B’s. It might be good for a ballpark estimate, but it doesn’t align with my hits in the field. But I’m going on a hunt in a couple weeks, and the Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder will be attached to me. If I get a shot on a trophy deer, I’ll be reaching for it to not just range the animal but to tell me what my elevation and windage adjustments should be. I own a high-end Vectronix PLRF rangefinder, and the new Kestrel with Applied Ballistics … and those are very precise tools. But the BR2 is so quick, easy to use, and the ballistic engine has earned my trust. So that’s what I’ll be using.

      Thanks for the link to Haugland’s video. I think I’ve heard Todd Hodnett say a bubble level is the best money you’ll ever spend. Rifle cant is one of the biggest reason a guy will miss a target at long range, and you can totally address that issue for just $40! There aren’t many things in the long range world that are that easy to fix! 😉

      Thanks, CR!
      Cal

  3. WOW factor is high here ….. very good article. Been following the evolution of Gunwerks over a few years and have to say your article makes me want to attend the courses they provide even more.

    Thank Cal

    • Yeah, I never knew those guys before this, but had watched the company from a distance. My impression of them was that they were good executors and had a high bar for excellence, but I wasn’t sure how technical this would be. I was afraid it might be geared towards hunters, and the content might be watered down. But it was really good. These guys absolutely know their stuff. They can nerd out with the best of us, but have a very practical way to present information for the non-engineers as well. I was impressed. I bet you’d love it!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  4. Cal:

    Interesting observation about non-effect of barrel contour on accuracy. But it raised several questions for me. Accuracy in this setting I presume is keeping 100% of shots within a disk of a given diameter.

    When you said as well as you could hold, I presume you meant with some type of mechanical support. Perhaps you could have achieved greater accuracy with heavier barrels but greater accuracy not important for this type of shooting. That is if need 0.5 MOA accuracy to achieve accuracy goals and lightweight barrel provides that who cares if heavy barrel is capable of 0.3 MOA accuracy?

    Were the factors favorable for the barrel to cool to ambient temperature between each shot? Or at least to the same temperature?

    As always have to do a good experiment to be certain.

    Best, Rick

    • I can appreciate your attention to detail, Rick. I can always count on you to ask some good follow-up questions. You raise a few good points. We weren’t shooting sub-MOA targets in L3, but they weren’t all oversized targets either. I’d bet most were 1-2 MOA, like most competition targets are. That would represent a deer/elk size vital zone out to about 700-1000 yards, depending on the setup. But I did put 3 shots in a 3″ group at 1100 yards with one of their loaner rifles and their boxed ammo. And Aaron’s son brought out a rifle they’d built with a prototype stock on it, and we all got to lay behind it and shoot out to 1 mile with it. We shot it so much you could smell the fiberglass burning! We typically would only fire about 15-20 rounds at a single stage before moving on, but we didn’t baby the rifles or let them cool after every shot.

      Like I said, I wish I wouldn’t have included them on my big barrel test! It would have been interesting to see how they stack up. My guess is thinner contour barrels are more likely on average to string shots as the barrel heats up, but that doesn’t mean all barrels show that tendency. There are probably good ones and not so good ones. It might have a lot to do with how they are stress relieved. It definitely left me wondering! I’ve decided to replace my long range hunting rifle after this season, and I’m not sure what I’ll end up with at this point. Those guys really screwed me up! It sounds like it got you thinking too!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  5. I am extremely envious, and hope to be able to attend this or a similar class in the future. One question, all of the scopes on the rifles shown appeared to be identical, what optic did they have? They obviously worked and must have been reasonably light for the rifles to stay under 10 lbs.

  6. Cal, I love your blog and follow it religiously. Thank you for providing more information on training and I myself am excited to jump into more training this year. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions regarding the classes you took with Gunwerks.

    (1) What rifle did you use for L1 & L2? Does Gunwerks require you to use their rifles?

    (2) It sounds like you had a wonderful experience shooting their rifles. Would you recommend buying their rifles as a one stop shop solution or piecemealing a rifle together as you learn what you like and do not like?

    (3) Would you recommend taking the courses with a partner? What benefits did you see taking the course with a partner?

    Thanks so much!
    T Lively

    • Hey, T. Glad you’ve found this stuff helpful.

      1) In L1 & L2 all the students were required to use rifles that were provided. They were Gunwerks rifles chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. They were about to offer some courses where students were allowed to bring their own rifles, and I’d be interested to hear how that went. Using the school rifles just makes it a lot simpler. I’d imagine students would bring rifles with issues, and they might spend 1/2 the time trying to troubleshoot why they were getting zero shift or why it wouldn’t track or return to zero. The class rifles take all that stuff away, and put everyone on a common platform. It just makes it easier for you to focus on the concept you’re trying to learn, and not be distracted by the equipment. I’m fortunate to have some really, really sweet rifles. They’re the best of the best. But I didn’t feel handicapped in any significant way by the class rifles. Sure, I prefer the optics and stock adjustments on my setups … but their rifles had all the must-haves (except bubble levels … but I bet they get that fixed soon, if they haven’t already).

      2) It depends on your situation. I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to recommend their rifles after this experience. In fact, I’m thinking about buying one myself instead of doing a full custom on my next hunting rifle. I got the nickel tour of their manufacturing facility while I was there, and those guys are running a tight ship and doing some advanced stuff. I’d bet most guys would be better served by buying a turn-key solution like this, if they can afford the upfront cost.

      Their whole “system” approach (i.e. their rifle, with their scope, rangefinder, and ammo) can also VASTLY simplify this and make long-range shooting approachable by just about anyone. I really mean that. 10 years ago you’d have to know all kinds of stuff, but with the system Aaron and his team have refined over the years … you range a target, dial what it says in the viewfinder, and pull the trigger. You still need good fundamentals, but you don’t have to have a bunch of range cards adjusted by DA or do math out in the field or need a degree in physics to figure out the right dope. It’s like an Apple computer vs. Windows computer. First, I’m a PC … not a Mac hippy. 😉 But, I try not be overly dogmatic about anything. If my grandmother had never used a computer, and was wanting one … I’d DEFINITELY buy her a Mac. Because Apple designs the hardware and software, it all just works seamlessly together. Now you pay a premium for that. You could get a Windows computer for less, but it wouldn’t be as seamless of an experience. I’m typing this on a Windows computer, so obviously I’m not saying you’re wrong if you buy a Windows computer … or a Mac. I’d just bet that a Mac would drastically lower the learning curve, reduce the frustration, and increase the satisfaction of someone who was just starting out. You just wouldn’t get lost in the windows updates, virus protection, 3rd party software, nah, nah, nah…

      The Gunwerks rifles are VERY capable. I’d bet the rifle I was using could achieve the same precision as my full custom builds. I almost put this in the article, but decided to cut it since it was getting so lengthy … but you might appreciate it. During our L2 course, one of the students had ordered a Gunwerks rifle a few months earlier and it was delivered to him while he was in the L2 course. He pulled the brand new rifle out of the case (which is an AWESOME case with custom foam cutouts), and it was all setup and ready to shoot. He even got some Gunwerks ammo with it. He was going to check the zero at 100 yards, but they said they won’t let students do that. They said their tagline of “1000 yards out of the box” wasn’t just marketing hype. So they told him to load it up, dial in the 1000 yard adjustment on his custom ballistic turret and fire the first shot at that target. And he range steel at 1000 yards with the first shot out of the box! I may not have believed if I wouldn’t have seen it myself! It was pretty cool.

      They can do that because someone tunes up every single one of their rifles. They take them out and fire them in an underground tunnel, which is at the same location as the class. Then they zero it, record the ballistics for that barrel and load, and laser-cut a custom ballistic turret for that rifle. It’s a pretty thorough operation. I think those Gunwerks guys are just pretty maniacal about the details and trying to reduce the complexity of this stuff, and it shows when you can literally take a rifle out of the box and ring steel at 1000 yards on the first shot!

      3) I enjoy doing this with friends. Most matches I attend, I go to with a friend or two. I think that’s a big part of what makes this fun. But for a minute, I wasn’t sure if my friend was going to get to go with me. I was still going to go, and I’m sure I still would have got a ton out of it. I’m close friends with Bob, the guy I went with. We were roommates in college together, we hunt together, and compete in precision rifle matches together. It was good for us both to attend, because now we have a common language and approach to a lot of things. For example, when he is calling wind for me there isn’t any miscommunication. When he calls the wind for me as “0.8 mils left” … does that mean a left to right wind or right to left wind? Which side of the target am I holding on? Because we did this together and have subsequently shot so much together, we can communicate really effectively. We both competed in a PRS match near DFW a month ago, and it rained on the 2nd day. We had both experienced shooting in the rain out to 1 mile, so we both knew that we didn’t need to make any adjustment for that (outside of standard environmentals). We heard other guys guessing at what it did, but we both had a shared experience that we knew we could trust. We also have an insider language and can say things like “updraft” or “don’t miss that terrain on the right” or something as we walk off the line, and we not only know what each other means … but I also know I can trust that Bob knows what he’s talking about. I see so many guys just eating up whatever they hear other shooters say, and often times it ends up hurting them more than helping. The person giving the advice isn’t always doing that maliciously, but their wind call might have been skewed because they forgot to dial off their wind from the mover stage earlier in the day or they haven’t been taking spin drift into account or a million other reasons. I rarely adjust what I’m doing based on what another shooter says. But I will with Bob, because we’ve both had the same training and we can trust each other. So that’s the only advantage to doing this with a friend. I bet I’d have the same knowledge at the end of the course, but I’d miss out on some intangibles. I will say I got to meet some great guys during our time there. We shared a lot of laughs. I think we ate dinner with guys from the class just about every night, so it wouldn’t be like you’d be on your own even if you didn’t know anyone going into it. Honestly, I just prefer to do this with others when I can, but I wouldn’t hesitate to take the class either way.

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Cal, it was great having you and Bob.
        I had considered puting Levels on all of the guns, but I still like to see the students deal with “cant” it forces them to pay attention to it. Once they see the outcome they get a appreciation for it..

  7. Dang it, Cal, you’ve really whetted my appetite! this near broke old Aussie has been thinking about trying to get to one of Berger’s long range classes, run by Bryan Litz. This course maybe taken in conjunction with the Berger class, would be near the ultimate.

    As my (limited) shooting is moving away from range to a realistic scenario, this IS the one to aim for.

    Maybe I should sell some stuff, and try to get on over there.

    Thanks, very much, and all the best for your hunting, and Christmas.

    • Ha! Geoff I attended Bryan Litz’s Applied Ballistics Seminar earlier this year, and it was outstanding. I went to the first one they did up in Michigan, because I was so excited about it. We just nerded out for a couple days, and I loved every minute of it. I remember walking around during breaks and you’d overhear conversations where people were talking about drag models or aerodynamic jump or other really advanced technical topics, and it just made me happy inside. Honestly, what I’ve learned is that after you get so deep into this stuff, you learn to really appreciate when you can have a good conversation with someone and they know what you’re even talking about! So I really enjoyed that time. I haven’t taken one of his classes through Berger (and honestly didn’t even know about them), but I’m sure a class that incorporated some live fire would be amazing as well. The seminar I went too was just a lecture series, but it involved a lot of the top minds in the industry.

      I actually thought the Gunwerks LRU would really balance out that Applied Ballistics Seminar. That’s part of why I picked those two things to attend as part of my strategic goal for training in 2016. I don’t regret either of them. Maybe you should just move across the pond! 😉 Honestly, you guys have a lot of amazing hunts there that I’m jealous of, so I bet it’s not a bad place to call home. The Gunwerks guys seem to travel to New Zealand at least once a year, so you might be able to talk them into doing someone locally there if you could gather up several guys that were interested. Just a thought!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  8. Hey Cal,

    Have you had a chance to check out the Vortex AMG? I’m about to purchase my first $2,000+ scope and I’m leaning between that and the Kahles 624i with the SKMR3 reticle. Any thoughts?

    • Great question, Scott. Like just about everyone on planet Earth, I haven’t had a chance to check out the new Vortex AMG. I’m friends with the guys at EuroOptic.com, and I think they are one of the largest Vortex dealers in the world … and they told me recently Vortex only sent them a total 3 of these so far! I read the article in this month’s RECOIL magazine about it. It sounds sweet, but I still don’t know if the things actually exist! 😉

      I think the Kahles scopes are one of the top 5 scopes you can buy. And while reticle choice mostly comes down to personal preference, the SKMR3 is my favorite reticle … period. I’m still running a Schmidt and Bender 5-25×56, and wish I could get that reticle in my scope. I’d probably pay another $1000 to get it in there if it were an option. I designed a custom reticle about 2 years ago, and it looks virtually identical to the SKMR3. (Not saying they stole it because I never published my design. I did laugh out loud the first time I looked through a scope and saw it though, because it is so similar. We just seem to have shared a lot of the same wishlist for reticle features, and those guys are way smarter than me and actually got into a product!)

      My buddy, Bob, that I mentioned went to this Gunwerks LRU training with me loves the Kahles 624i scope, and he just bought his 2nd one which features the SKMR3 reticle. I think he ordered it right when it came out. He loves it. He won’t stop talking about! 😉 He ribs me about it all the time. I wish it had more than a 4x zoom ratio, but honestly in competitions I find myself running 9x on most positional shooting stages, and 12x on prone stages where you engage multiple targets. So it’s not like I’m even close to 6x or 24x. But for hunting, I wish it provided more on the lower end. Like I said, I run a 5-25 right now, so I’m probably just being nit-picky at this point. It is the one downside to that scope in my opinion. Honestly, I bet you’d love it and wouldn’t have any regrets if you went with it. I’m starting to believe the reticle in the scope is one of the most important features on a rifle, and that SKMR3 is a compelling case for anyone to make the switch. I know I’ve thought about it many, many times … it might eventually get me over to the Kahles camp!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  9. Cal:

    Intrigued by your comments on the Gunwerk’s rifles I visited their website and was surprised that most of their rifles do not have an adjustable comb/cheek rest. How important is it to be perfectly centered when sighting using a scope?

    Rick

    • Great question! It’s very important. I even said at one point I wouldn’t own a rifle that didn’t have an adjustable cheek. I’ve learned you probably shouldn’t say “I’ll never,” because you may end up eating those words! 😉 But, it was a deal-breaker to me, because proper sight alignment is critical. I saw a few buddies try to save money on a stock buy not getting an adjustable one, and all of them really regretted that decision later. But metal parts required for adjustability add weight. I think it’s about a pound. When you’re hiking rugged mountains hunting tar in New Zealand for a few days, I bet you start thinking in ounces more than pounds.

      But honestly, I’ve noticed I adjust my cheek height to the same place on all my rifles. That isn’t shocking, but that just means I know where it needs to be and I don’t find myself needing adjustability as much as the right fit. I went and pulled up some photos of a few of my custom rifles, just to make sure this was true and made the image below to show you what I’m talking about. The top one is a McMillan stock, the middle is an AICS chassis, and the bottom is a Manners folding stock, so this is a pretty wide variety of configurations.

      Cals Ideal Rifle Cheek Rest Height

      You can see I like the top of my cheek rest to be even with the center of the barrel. I didn’t adjust any of these for the photo … they’re random photos taken over the years, but that is where I like it. Now this is my personal preference, and not a universal rule. That just seems to fit the shape of my face, and work well with the low Spuhr mounts that I like using. But that doesn’t mean an adjustable cheek piece is the only way to get the correct fit/height. Here’s a look at a few other stocks to show you what I’m talking about:

      Non Adjustable Stocks with Correct Cheek Rest Height

      The Remington 700 example on top isn’t a knock on Big Green … that is just one example of the design 99% of the non-adjustable stocks out there have. They’re terrible. But, we shouldn’t throw out all of the non-adjustable stocks … it just might mean we need to be careful to find the 1% that aren’t terrible. You can see the Manners MCS-T1 stock example is pretty much perfect, although it isn’t adjustable. While that isn’t one of their best-selling models, I have looked at that stock SEVERAL times over the years, and I bet I eventually try one out. I think it would give me the ideal cheek height and allow me to drop almost 1 pound on the overall rifle weight.

      You can see the Gunwerks stock is a good design. Aaron has spent a lot of time thinking about stock design. We had some great conversation on that topic. You can see the cheek height is very close to my ideal height. One difference on their rifles is that they use a scope with a 50mm objective lens, and my Schmidt and Benders have a 56mm objective lens. That means they might be able to mount their scopes a little lower on their rifles because of the smaller bell on the scope, so their cheek height might be ideal for me when using a 50mm scope. By the way, my rifle on top with the McMillan scope has the same Nightforce 5.5-22x50mm scope Gunwerks is using. I built that rifle waaay before I ever heard of Gunwerks, so obviously I believe the scope they are using is a great one, and a 50mm objective has merit. I’ve looked at identical scopes side-by-side, but one had a 56mm and the other had a 50mm. Even at dusk, it was virtually impossible to tell any difference in brightness or resolution.

      You can see the Gunwerks stock has a negative comb, meaning the top of the cheek is not level … the butt of the rifle is taller than the cheek near the action. Think about how the rifle recoils when your face is down on the stock. With a negative comb, the rifle is going to pull away from your face. Some shotguns have this kind of design, and they say it helps reduce the perceived recoil because you aren’t taking a blow to the face. A few rifle stock designs are really poor, and they have a huge gap with a positive comb (slopes the other way). I won’t name any names, but that is a terrible design. That means the rifle is literally hitting you in the face every time under recoil.

      You can also notice that the butt of the Gunwerks rifle is much taller and even with the bore line. Recoil forces are going to be applied along the boreline of the rifle. If the point of shoulder contact is lower than the boreline, the rifle will be more apt to rotate … meaning you’ll get more muzzle flip. If the rifle is rotating upward, it isn’t just the muzzle that flips up … the cheek is also going to kick up slightly … which is going to hit you in the face, and that also plays into perceived recoil. All of these things are hard to put your finger on when shooting a rifle. We usually just know we either didn’t enjoy shooting it or we did. Often times we blame it on the cartridge being too big or the rifle being too lightweight for the cartridge or something … but stock design can play a huge role in it. If you go back up and look at my rifles, you’ll notice the middle one has an adjustable butt plate that is even higher than the boreline. That is the rifle that I like shooting behind the most. I think that’s one of the things that plays into how comfortable that rifle is too shoot, because I can get that buttpad on my shoulder and not just the highest point of the butt digging into my shoulder pocket.

      I made this diagram for a magazine article I wrote recently, and it illustrates what I’m talking about. The higher butt pad is addressing #2.

      What causes rifle muzzle flip

      What was cool is that in the L1 course, they talk about stock design when they’re going over equipment. Then you go out on the range, and they have several different stock designs from various manufacturers lined up on all the benches. Most of them are using the same cartridge and load, and they ask students to go shoot each one of them. When you get a chance to experience them side-by-side like that, and make an apples-to-applies comparison … the difference is obvious, and honestly pretty staggering. Just another example of how the Gunwerks guys help you connect theory to concrete application!

      This is probably WAAAAYYYYY more than you wanted to know, but it was something I’ve thought about a lot since that class. I guess I just wanted to get out some of the stuff that I’d been processing in my head!

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • G’day Cal,
        Pardon my temerity; I greatly lack your (and others) experience, but these comments of yours fl right in line with my thinking.
        Some examples of bad: Ruger’s # 1;a beautiful elegant design, but not for bench/prone work with a heavy recoiling rifle.
        Good: Nosler’s M78 Patriot, and Sauer’s 101.
        These are all factory rifles; aftermarket stocks ar a different ball game. My own problem is a physique somewhat similar to a gorilla’s; an armspan about 7-8″ more than my height. I hate short stocks!! This is why my next (and last) build will be with a HS Precision adjustable (613) stock.
        Your thoughts, perhaps?
        Cheers (and congratulations on the administration change),
        Geoff Rath

      • Hey, Geoff! I suffer from long monkey arms myself. The sleeves on most of my shirts are too short. So I feel you!

        In fact, when I bought a Manners stock a year or two ago for my 6XC, I tried to just get it made for my length of pull. That would save a little weight over having an adjustable length of pull. However, the only way they could accommodate my long length of pull was if I got a stock with their spacer system … so that’s what I did. Having the right length of pull, and a rifle that fits you in general, is very important. A stock that fits will help you hold the rifle very similarly each time. That helps with shot-to-shot consistency, which is the foundation of precision. So you’re on the right track!

        The HS Precision stock seems to have features shooters like to see in a stock: adjustable cheek, adjustable length of pull, full-length aluminum bedding block, etc. I haven’t personally owned a HS Precision stock, so I can’t tell you much about it specifically … but I know they’re capable. Some snipers for the FBI carry HS Precision rifles, and their testing protocol is VERY thorough. It makes my testing look like amateur hour! I guess when hostages might be involved surgical precision is required, not just nice to have.

        So wish I could help more, but that’s probably all I can tell you. I think HS Precision is a good option. There are other adjustable options out there. I’m not saying they’re better, but here’s a list of the most popular stocks and chassis used for long range work:
        Rifle Chassis & Stocks – What The Pros Use. Hope this helps!

        Thanks,
        Cal

      • Many thanks, Cal; I;ll follow up on that resource. Just to give you a laugh, I had a rifle built, very much as a whim for my personal “things”, which surprised a lot of folks, despite its unsuitable ergonomics:
        Ruger No. 1 in 300 WSM. Recoil is discouraging from prone/bench. First serious long range group went 12.2′ @ the 1 k yards, including the callled flyer. best four under 8.4″.
        Still have it, in fact took it to Africa for plains game; more that capable, despite my shooting… 🙁
        Thanks again, thoroughly enjoying your instruction/guidance.

      • Geoff/Cal,
        As an old Int’l Skeet shotgun shooter…stock fit was imperative. I have used canvass ammo carrier / cheek or comb risers with great success…especially when using my buddy Thomas Haugland’s technique of different thicknesses of pipe foam inserted under them i.e. on the rifle’s comb. With a razor blade, you can even give negative slope for ( perceived ) recoil attenuation. I sand a little indentation / “sweet spot” so my cheek bone falls right into place at proper eye relief. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Tactical-Military-Rifle-Butt-Stock-Cheek-Rest-Shell-Ammo-Pouch-Right-Hand-RH-NEW-/252045590046
        Tactical-Military-Rifle-Butt-Stock-Cheek-Rest-Shell-Ammo-Pouch-Right-Hand-RH-NEW
        Darrell Holland also has a nice add on @ Holland Signature Series™ Adjustable Comb Elevator stocks!

  10. Cal:

    Many thanks as always. Never more than I want to know. Given that a good cheek weld is essential no matter what king of shooting then I would argue that every rifle should have an adjustable comb unless very extenuating circumstances. For a given person and given rifle if you are using different types of sighting devices at different times such as a red dot and one or more scopes. With one person and one type of sighting device only theoretically could have a custom built stock that was optimum for your facial anatomy/sighting device. However for different people with differing facial anatomies even if only one sighting device the economical solution is an adjustable comb. For that reason I do not think the L1000 can be optimal for all people although certainly a clever geometry.

    How was the geometry of the M1 stock determined? Only one of sighting device but a whole lot of people. Presumably measured a lot of people.

    Muzzle flip an interesting phenomenon. Imagine rifle to be held by a frictionless hinge located at center of mass. Firing would create a torque just as you have nicely illustrated and rifle would experience angular acceleration as long as torque acts. Then would continue rotating forever at constant angular velocity if in a vacuum. Under usual conditions gravity provides the counter torque.

    • Agreed. Good points all around. I do hear you on people having different measurements or preferences. My best friend has a setup that is IDENTICAL to the AICS rifle I showed in that photo. In fact, I copied him on that build, because he loved it so much. But it has the same EXACT scope and mount, but he prefers his cheek piece much higher than mine. I mean a lot. I actually can’t get a good sight picture with it. It bruises my cheek to get down on it. We had several guys from our office shoot our rifles one day, and a few of them thought it was too high … and a few thought it fit good. When I complained about it one day, my buddy reminded me that the rifle was setup for him … not me. 😉 That’s exactly what an adjustable stock allows you to do!

      I’m not sure what factors they considered in coming up with the design.

      … and the last point is an interesting exercise for the brain! You might find this new rifle design interesting. It’s a Kriss Vector. Here’s what the manufacturer says about it “Experience one of the most innovative developments in modern firearms technology with the patented KRISS Vector Platform. At the heart of each Vector is the Super V Recoil Mitigation System. This unique operating system redirects energy down, and away from the shooter, which eliminates felt recoil and muzzle climb.” See how they shifted the barrel down, and left the butt pad up? They addressed #1 and #2. Now the recoil force is acting more inline with the center of mass … greatly reducing muzzle climb and perceived recoil! Almost like magic.

      Kriss Vector

      Interesting stuff! It’s almost an obvious design when you think about the science behind it!

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Cal:

        My simple situation with a frictionless hinge pin at the center of mass was just to illustrate the concept of torque.

        In any situation, the magnitude of the torque created by a given force is the product of the magnitude of the force and the magnitude of the level arm. Level arm is the perpendicular distance between line of force and axis of rotation. Classical Physics.

        To minimize muzzle flip for a given recoil force minimize the level arm. For Kriss Vector Gen II, as you pointed out, lower the barrel.

        There is another solution but it requires an assumption. The assumption is that when a rifles fires the relevant point for torques is not the center of mass but the center of contact area between the buttpad and the shooter’s shoulder. The horizontal axis of rotation passes through that point so it is the relevant point for lever arms.

        In the photo of the Kriss Vector Gen II the line of the recoil force not only presumably goes close to center of mass but also to center of contact area.

        I think another solution is used in some target rifles. The buttpad can be displaced vertically to minimize or eliminate the lever arm.

        Minimizing the lever arm does not alter the recoil force itself, only the recoil torque. Perhaps, somehow, minimizing the recoil torque reduces the perceived recoil force but it does not reduce the recoil force. Hype?

        Thanks, Rick

      • Exactly! Perceived recoil and actual measured recoil force are only loosely related. I spent a ton of time reading research papers about that when I did my muzzle brake test. For example, a recoil pad reduces perceived recoil … but simply spreads the recoil force over more time. It does nothing to alter the total amount of force applied to the shoulder. When you start researching perceived recoil you find yourself in this strange mix of psychology and physics. It’s a world that is virtually impossible to quantify. Just a fun thing to think about.

        Thanks,
        Cal

  11. Cal

    As someone who lives in the wrong state (NJ) but has acquired a passion for firearms, yet has neither the space (NJ) nor the time for long range shooting (15m year old twins), let me commend you on the quality of your website. The passion you bring to your blog in combination to the quantitative rigor (I work in a quantitative field) is truly something I admire, and makes my long commutes a pleasure. I have an AR I have stretched out to 525 yards with some help from a local seal sniper instructor. But someday I am going to get a long range worthy rifle and go do one of these classes. Keep up the good work. Your blog is my guilty pleasure.

    • Thank you very much for the thoughtful comments, Kent. That means a lot. And hey, if you’re shooting a 223 AR out to 525 yards … you could likely double that distance pretty easily with a capable bolt action rig in one of the popular 6mm or 6.5mm cartridges. The 223 is ballistically handicapped compared to something like a 6×47 Lapua or 6.5 Creedmoor. I ran the ballistics for my standard 223/AR load, and it goes from supersonic to transonic speeds (i.e. drops to 1.2 mach) right at 525 yards. Bullets and trajectories are fairly predictable out to their supersonic range. In comparison, my 6XC and my 6.5 Creedmoor loads go transonic at 1100 yards. I’m not going to say the skill you need to make those shots is the same, but they aren’t as different as you might think!

      My first sub-MOA rifle was an Rock River Varmint AR in 223, and I shot it A TON for well over a year as I saved up and was waiting for my first custom bolt action build. That’s when I helped build the long range course at the private range I help with, and I would shoot that gun regularly out to 800+ yards. I remember any little wind would just blow you all over the place! I once hit a target at 1123 yards with it! That was obviously not what that rifle was intended to do, but if it’s the only thing you’ve got … use it! I was SHOCKED at how much easier it was to hit targets at distance when I finally got my precision bolt action! In fact, that first rifle was a 7mm Rem Mag launching extremely low drag 168gr bullets at 3100 fps … so it really was just as easy to hit a target with it at 1000 yards as it was to hit a target at 600 yards with my 223. It is supersonic to 1450 yards! A 10 mph crosswind will push my 223 bullet off the target more at 525 yards than my 7mm Rem Mag at 1500 yards! The recoil is way different, but the ballistics are just worlds apart and a serious advantage for distance.

      I say all that to encourage you to keep at it, even it’s with a “lowly” AR! When I started this blog, that’s the only sub-MOA rifle I owned! I didn’t have a precision bolt rifle at the time. I learned a lot with my Rock River! It was a great way to start off.

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Thanks for the encouragement and advice, Cal. I intend to step into a proper longer distance caliber and rifle like 6.5 creedmore at some future juncture. I will have to locate a place to shoot it at its intended distance somewhere in the northeast, or perhaps I can convince my wife to move to the southwest. 🙂

        As you note, the 223 bullet has pretty limited range capabilities, though there is some variability in ballistic coefficients and transonic ranges. The higher ballistic coefficient (g1 0.415) black hills 77 grain sierra tipped match kings seem to go through the sound barrier at about 850 yards vs. 550 for cheap 55 grain range rounds, bass on my ballistic calculator. But there is only so much you can do with the platform and ballistics of the AR and 223 round. And I don’t hand load, so limited to factory stuff. All that said plinging steel at 525 with my little gun was the thrill and excitement that sent me to the education course that is your blog. So thanks again for the education.

        Kent

  12. Cal,
    I noticed one of the pictures from the class has a overhead that list range limitations for different positions, prone to standing (sling assisted). Was the limit based on a target of a certain size?

    • Scott, that’s a great question. I’m not sure. I’d bet those were just rough estimates to give students an estimate of what was possible, but I don’t remember them mentioning what those were for. Looking back at the slide, I’d guess those might be for 2 MOA targets, just based on my own abilities. Elite shooters might certainly be able to shrink that. I’d just use them as a rough guide of what is possible if you train and have ideal conditions.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  13. I’ve made it through level 2 with James. I found the wind reading portion of his training to be very insightful and interesting.

    Since the training from Gunwerks is focused on hunting scenarios, as opposed to recreational shooting, it highlights the significance of being confident in making first round hits at these distances, rather than just pulling the trigger again.

    • Thanks for sharing, Drew. That’s a good point about the priority of first round hits. Since I hunt and shoot in tactical/practical style matches, which both place a high priority on first round hits … I honestly never think about how that isn’t a priority in some shooting disciplines. Honestly, if you get “sighters” or have the luxury of spotting impacts and “walking the bullet on target,” this game gets a whole lot easier! It’s that elusive first round hit that constantly pushes us to learn and improve! I appreciate you pointing that out, because like I said … I rarely think about that, but it’s an important point for guys coming from different backgrounds.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!

      Thanks,
      Cal

    • I teach wind quite different than most. My techniques are tested in the filed and in combat. I am glad to hear you all got something out of it. I believe if a person practices what I teach for wind you will become a excellent wind caller over time. “Read the wall” learn the angles and the cosine. Mirage is your friend and wind is the great equalizer.

      • You bet, James! Got a ton out of it! In related news, I just got in a new spotting scope to help with reading wind, and I can’t wait to take it on my annual hunt next week and test my skills! Thanks for all your help, my friend.

        Thanks,
        Cal