Review: Precision rifle course from 1MOA Solutions

15Apr15

This was published yesterday on Breach Bang Clear. I don’t know that I’ve ever enjoyed a training class as much as this one.

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So there I was, finger on the trigger, stock in my shoulder, left hand on the monopod adjustment, staring through a scope at a thousand yard target. And our instructor, that bastard, didn’t just want me to hit the target. He wanted me to hit its head. Everyone knows thousand-yard head shots only happen in bad novels and action movies.

This was on day two of 1MOA Solutions’ (1moasolutions.com) Precision Rifle Course, held at Red Stag Tactical’s range in Eagle Lake, Texas. When I heard about the class I got all excited at the prospect of making long-distance shots like I had in Afghanistan. The problem was, I don’t own a good long-distance rifle. So my options were borrow whatever I could get, or take my WWII Enfield to the course.

I borrowed an AR-10 clone from an Army buddy. It had a badass new Trijicon scope on top; unfortunately, it was a badass Trijicon scope with a hunting reticle, no mil or MOA lines. And I only had 75 match rounds instead of the required 200, the rest was whatever craptastic ammo I could find at Academy. So while I expected to learn a lot at the course, my personal performance expectations were low. I figured I’d be able to hit out to 600 or so, and would watch other shooters hit at a thousand. I was just there to have a good time.

Day one, zeroing

Day one, zeroing

The other students were all civilians with no military background. I was the only one who had been downrange, been shot at, and shot at people. That DID NOT mean I was the most skilled or well-trained shooter. I went through Marine boot camp, picked up a secondary MOS of range coach (8531) and fired expert six times during my enlistment. In the Army I was lucky enough to attend the Squad Designated Marksman course and fire to 600 yards with M16A4s using optics and irons. In Afghanistan I was able to hit at 900 meters with my M14 and at 980 meters with a French .50 once. So yeah, I had some experience.

Firing a PGM .50 French sniper rifle in Afghanistan, with a French Marine sniper talking me on

Firing a PGM .50 French sniper rifle in Afghanistan, with a French Marine sniper talking me on

But I didn’t have a good grasp on the science behind long-distance accuracy. I had never used a Kestrel or other small arms ballistic computer (although I was familiar with the basics from my time as an Abrams tank gunner). As far as rifles went, I had pretty much been spoon fed whatever the Corps or Army wanted me to know, which wasn’t much more than the basics. In Afghanistan I was able to make long distance hits on static targets, always under ideal conditions, usually with French snipers talking me on.

But in this class I was going to have to get way in depth on accuracy. On that first day Adam sat at a table with us, passed Kestrels around and talked us through ballistic calculations. Two students were engineers, had really studied ballistics and had a level of knowledge way over my head. They and Adam had an intense, hard-to-follow discussion about mil versus MOA adjustments, G1 versus G7 scales and the ballistic coefficient of a laden swallow; my contribution to the discussion was something to the effect of “I like tacos.” If I had any illusions about my mastery of shooting, I lost them at that table.

So I went into the class with an open mind and tried to stay humble. And I learned a LOT. And shot far better than I expected. This two-day class consisted of a short period of classroom instruction on ballistic calculations, zeroing at 100 yards, a few accuracy drills at 100 yards, range estimation class, unknown distance engagements on steel targets, known distance engagements on steel to 1000 yards, unconventional position training, and a short discussion on useful accessories.

We had one slight problem: rain. No offense to the townsfolk, but Eagle Lake only has that name because “Buzzard Swamp” was taken. Heavy rain drenched the area for weeks before the class and the first day was a partial washout. Because we lost valuable range time we had to give up the planned range estimation class. The rain also flooded roads, prevented placement of some targets, got trucks stuck and created a pool deep enough to trap a tractor and nearly drown Adam Wilson (from the tower several hundred yards away we saw him standing on the tractor bumper singing “The heart will go on” while the driver yelled “I’ll never let go!”). That all sucked, but 1MOA and Red Stag are making up for the lost instruction time at a later date.

The instruction we did receive, however, was friggin’ fantastic. Here’s what I learned: The right gear makes a huge difference. Prior to this class I thought my Afghanistan M14EBR was the One True Rifle. I expected my borrowed AR-10 to be decent, nowhere near as good as a 14.

Then Adam Wilson looked through my AR-10 scope and said, “This isn’t going to work. Use one of my rifles.” And he handed me his Ashbury Precision Ordnance Tactical Competition Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor with a Surgeon action and Leupold Mk 8 3.5 – 25 x 56mm scope. It was kind of like telling a high school boy, “Your prom date is just so-so. Here’s Sasha Grey, take her instead.” I’ve never handled a rifle that accurate, and my eyes have been opened. A 7.62 anything just isn’t as accurate as a good 6.5; we had one 7.62 shooter, and as predicted he just couldn’t make the same shots a 6.5 shooter could (although he did hit at a thousand).

Shooting a precision rifle is a lot different than firing a carbine. Duh, right? Don’t get me wrong, the principles are the same. But little things make a huge difference. For example, during CQB-type carbine training we’re death-gripping our weapons. At SDM school I’m pretty sure I did the same thing. But in this course we learned to not strangle the pistol grip. In fact, Adam had us lightly hold the grip with just three fingers, without even wrapping our thumb around it. One student barely even touched the pistol grip; just about the only part of his strong hand touching the weapon was his trigger finger. And he was accurate to a thousand yards.

To be a good distance shooter, you might have to shotgun breach a tree. WTF do I mean by that? Well, when we were on the known distance range we fired at 300, 500, 700 and 1000 yards. Everyone hit at 300 and 500 with no problem. Then one student was nowhere near the target at 700. Adam couldn’t spot his trace or see a splash, so he had the next shooter try it. That shooter hit. Then I tried 700, and again, Adam couldn’t tell where the hell I was hitting. We went back to the first shooter. I was watching through my scope when he fired; I heard his rifle go boom, a small branch fluttered down and his round splashed into the mud far short and far right of the target.

I hadn’t paid much attention, but a few branches were hanging over the range. I thought they were too high to make a difference, and I had that tanker mentality about brush anyway: “Brush? Who cares? Just shoot through that shit!” Well, you can’t just shoot through that shit. Even light brush can totally jack your mojo. I wound up riding in a tractor bucket onto the range and blowing the branches down with a shotgun. Maybe someone thought that would remind me of my glory days on a tank. No, they didn’t make me do the gardening because my last name is Hernandez. I swear.

Read the rest at http://www.breachbangclear.com/1moa-solutions-precision/

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).

http://www.amazon.com/Line-Valley-Chris-Hernandez-ebook/dp/B00HW1MA2G/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=09XSSHABSWPC3FM8K6P4
http://www.amazon.com/Proof-Our-Resolve-Chris-Hernandez-ebook/dp/B0099XMR1E/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0S6AGHBTJZ6JH99D56X7

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7 Responses to “Review: Precision rifle course from 1MOA Solutions”

  1. 1 Stuart the Viking

    Taking a course like this is on the list of things I want to do some day.

    I (finally) got my expert badge on my last trip to the range when I was in the Marines. I remember how happy and proud I was that day.

  2. 2 SPEMack

    I shot expert in OSUT and have continually shot it since, but when I go to the 1,000 yard range with some of the guys in my gun club, whom are like real life Bob Lee’s (minus the sniper experience) I too feel like saying “I like tacos”

    Great write up, Chris

  3. 3 DJ

    I just built a 6.5 AR and bought 500 rnds of Hornday SST. I actually was a tanker… so… Definitely would be interested in a good precision rifle course.

  4. this is good, your instructor is strict. you will learn more quickly. you will soon hit long target.


  1. 1 1MOA rifle accuracy from the pros.

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