Kevin Baker's recent
kind comment on my state of health, which came as something of a surprise (I knew I read him, but was unaware he returned the interest), prompts me to inquire as to how his experience building long-range
precision rifles might apply to a bit more restricted setting.
A bit of history to inform what follows might be in order. I sold my own Remington 700 (in 25.06) because there isn't a long enough distance firing range in the Tyler area at which to fire it. Unlike in many other states, Texas - at least this portion of it - doesn't have any large tracts of publicly held land (by the BLM or the like), and most people are understandably hesitant to let people shoot on their property without their direct supervision. Whether in the 25. or 30.06 caliber, such a rifle is designed for 300 to 500 yard range shots and Kevin's desired metric of 700 yards for his current project isn't all that much of a stretch for the gun itself. Remington 700's appear at the National Match at Camp Perry every year, after all, and have for decades now held their own on the 1000 yard range - in the hands of master shooters of course, which qualification gives rise to the title of this particular post.
Given the quantity of sharp sticks and cohearent light that's gone into my eyes in recent years, I can actually see surprisingly well: 20/25 corrected to 20/20 with glasses, with only some loss of peripheral vision. Even so, I can no longer make out the target well enough to attempt anything more than a desperation shot at a distance much over 200 yards. My thought here is to discover what options I might pursue, with a gun I already own, to turn it into a reliable shooter at it's ballistic practical extreme, that I can also fire at a local known-distance outdoor range.
I own a Marlin 983S that I intend to use as the basic platform, with which I can shoot 3/8 inch groups (from a rest) at 25 yards indoors without a scope (ie: the gun's basic accuracy exceeds my ability to shoot it).
I had thought to dress it up with a Simmons 22 Mag scope, but those are limited to 60 yards definition adjustment at most. Granted, you can see further then that through them, and they are priced quite attractively too (Lock and Load have three in a display case priced at $45 and change (EDIT: $47.95 as of 12/01/07) + tax), but the object here is a rifle I can shoot to the limit of my ability at 100 yards, so consultation regarding optics seems to be in order.
As well, my preference in ammo tends toward CCI (who have a really cute home page graphic - that dial-up users might find annoying, a rotating series of color graphics might cause ya'll some problems) because of their uniformity of quality and their breadth and depth of market penetration. Errr, so to speak ... ;-)
All of which prompts me to wonder if some other brand has a comparable reputation for performance. I don't expect to be participating in match shooting (although the occasional friendly wager might arise, cough Kim du Toit cough), so I wouldn't be buying much of anything expensively exotic, but I'd probably try a box or two of something highly recommended if only for the uniqueness of the experience.
Returning to CCI's ammo, I'm wondering if anyone has a recommendation as to which of these magnum cartridges might be best for this purpose?
Suggestions regarding slings, rests or other outdoor range equipment would also be useful. It's been many years since I shot on an outdoor KD range (and the standard of the era was an unlined canvas "pad" and a couple sandbags, if that), so I'll have to acquire most of that as well once I have a better idea of what's out there.
You're right Kevin, this stuff can get expensive fast. I'm going to have to go to the range tomorrow just to vent the anticipation a little (you've all heard the lyric; "That's my story and I'm ...").