I wake up on the third day of training with a sense of pride and accomplishment. The previous day went by so fast and the memory of seeing the steel swing at hundreds of yards away energizes me now. Tyler and his staff are ready to test us. Their mischievous grins resemble the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. Priceless!
The focus today is estimating our range, practicing hold overs and testing our skills under timed pressure. Today’s technology cheats the estimation with range finders, but it is beneficial to have a backup plan in the event the range finder fails. Tyler provides a simple formula using the target’s height and/or width. To test us, Tyler’s team shuffles the steel plates at varying distances on the 1000 meter range. Guessing the the distance without using the scope reticles as a guide for the formula isn’t going to work. The exercise took roughly 90 minutes to complete, and I anticipate applying it while hunting whether I need to or not. It’s the challenge that draws me, an entirely new layer to my hunting experience.
With the ranging exercise under our belts we begin working on holdovers. Until now, we used the scope dials to adjust for distance and windage. As you would imagine, taking your eye off the rifle to dial adjustments when engaging a target is not always an option, so memorizing your holdovers can pay you back when timing matters. I find this very practical and easy to learn on the LR-17 Mil reticle scope. I will never look at my MOA based scopes the same again.
Tyler and the team run several other courses throughout the afternoon and I’m happy with my performance. Of course there is plenty of improvement, but I given the short three days of learning I’m surprised at what I’m now able to do. For fun, Tyler sets up a controlled fire exercise with five shooters, including me. A mix of 300WM, .308, 6.5 Creedmoor, 260 Remington crush a steel target at 300 yards! It was a testament to three intense, but great days of precision rifle training. In a way, we went out with a BANG!
Prior to taking the U.S. Optics Long Range Precision Rifle 1 Course I would have never imagined being able to shoot steel at 1000 meters within 24 hours of starting a weekend class. Especially with little to no experience on the weapon system, optic or ammo. My success over the three days was facilitated through clear instruction by Tyler “Gremlin” Hughes and his staff. The Desert Tech SRS Rifle, US Optics LR-17 Scope and DRT ammo literally performed flawlessly throughout the course with no malfunctions. The combination of solid instruction and high quality gear provided me a memory I will never forget. I will always be an “AR Guy” and most of my shooting and hunting will continue to be short range. Nevertheless, the “Precision Rifle Guy” who now walking out of this course has learned a few things which can be implemented immediately, regardless of the distance. That’s huge! In the end, as many of you know, it’s the small things we do that define success in the field. Well, thanks to Tyler and the U.S. Optics Academy, I’ve got plenty of new small things to consider the next time I’m on the hunt. If you ever have the opportunity to attend a long range class from Tyler Hughes or US Optics Academy, beg, buy or borrow whatever you need to get there. You’ll be glad you did.
Editor’s note: Tyler Hughes now leads the Max Ordinate Academy while Jim Gilliland heads up the US Optics Academy.