Been a while since I posted one of these. Been busy and didn't have much to talk about until now.

Anyway, just got done with a trip to New Mexico. Now, those of you who have know me for a while know I go there at least once a year if I can. But this time, things were a little different. Instead of going to the mountains up north, my old man and I stopped at a place called Blue Steel Ranch just across the Texas boarder near a town called Tucumacri. And you remember that Vlog Burnie posted a few weeks ago about sending Ellie to sniper school? Well, I got to attend one of my own.

The whole class was excellent. It was the PR-1 (Precision Rifle 1) course and it was taught by two Army Special Forces vets and a former Marine Sharpshooter. And damn, did they know their stuff. Not only that, but they got the information across clearly and with a great sense of humor. The first morning they covered basic ballistics including calculating bullet drop, accounting for wind, and handling different atmospheric conditions. You wouldn't think it, but a bullet fired at sea level will drop a lot faster than one fired in the mountains. Same for a cold vs a warm day. But once we covered that, we went out to the hundred yard range to zero our rifles. This one is mine, by the way:


For those of you interested in the details, it's a Bergara BMP-14 with a Vortex Optics Razor HD 5-20x scope on a LaRue Tactical mount with a Precision Armaments M4-72 Severe-Duty Compensator, Harris S-BRM Bipod,  and TAB Sling. The rifle is chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor and has an average muzzle velocity of 2781 fps when using Hornady 140 gr ELD Match rounds.

What that means for the rest of you is it can reliably put 5 rounds into a 1" diameter or smaller circle at 100 yards. Like so:


Here's another picture of most of the class on the 100 yard line. My dad is first in line, and I'm second up:


Once we finished there, we went to the Known Distance range. That's Where they had steel targets set up from 400 to 1350 yards for us to practice on:


Click here to see the same image with all the targets marked with heir distances in yards. And here's our firing line:


At this point I hit an issue with my scope. When you see someone twisting the knob on top of a scope, they're changing how high over a target they aim. You have to because a bullet drops as it flies. And it drops a lot. To give an idea, when I was shooting at the 1350 yard target, I was actually aiming 50 feet above and 10 feet to the left of it to compensate for bullet drop and wind. Unfortunately, my scope stopped doing that reliably. But the good news is my reticle allowed me to shoot up to 1000 yards fairly easily by using the hash marks instead of the turrets in a method called holdover. This actually ended up helping on the final day. But more on that later.

It turns out that optics also work fairly well as telescopes and I got a nice picture of the full moon while I was there:


The whole class also ended up going to the local town for dinner most nights. It was small, but had a pretty decent bar and grill. Their Prime Rib was damn good, and they had pretty decent chicken fried steak. On top of that it was fun talking with people ranging from an 81 year old former US Army Ranger to a Professor of Chinese Studies to a New York Times Bestselling author. Here's a class photo (I'm 5th from the left):


On the last day, they took us to the steel safari. That's a canyon with small steel plates hidden from 400 to 700 yards away. You can see the whole thing here. Hidden out there were 18 plates, and unlike the KD range, they were hidden. The goal was to hit each of a group of 6 as fast as possible in as few shots as you could. My personal best was hitting all six with seven shots in about five minutes. I said before that I wasn't able to adjust my scope, but it turns out that takes time to do when switching targets, and you tend to lose your position when you do. I ended up using the hash marks in my reticle to do the same thing and had a lot easier time than some of the rest. Of course, the instructors were far and away the best ones out here. Here's Brian shooting with Aaron spotting when he nailed all size targets on a course of fire in under a minute:


But one of the best parts was actually spotting. It was fun guiding people onto targets, giving them windage information and corrections. My dad and I ended up being a pretty good team, and it was a fun experience. Great bonding, too. We had a hell of a time.


And if you've gotten this far, I might as well mention one thing: suppressors. About a quarter of the rifles there had one, and let me tell you, I wish we all had them. But the reason we don't is because the laws concerning them are the biggest kind of stupid. See, the silencers that Hollywood shows don't actually exist. You can't take a supersonic crack and turn it into a twig snapping. What you can do is take a hearing damaging gunshot and turn it into something that's just uncomfortably loud. I personally double up on hearing protection with earmuffs and plugs underneath. That way if one layer slips, I won't lose a range of hearing. And that's what happens if you ever shoot a gun without ear protection. With a suppressor, you still need to wear hearing protection, but if it comes off or someone shoots while you're not ready, you don't get permanently hurt.

Unfortunately, in order to get a suppressor, you have to send a bunch of paperwork and a $200 check to the ATF. And wait. And wait. And wait. Not because they're doing some advanced background check, but because the system is so outdated it takes 9-18 months for someone to manually enter the information into the system, cash the check, and give you a piece of paper telling you it's not a felony to own a tube that any machinist could make in their sleep. One every European nation regulates in the same way as firearms and is pretty much required on their ranges. Again, it doesn't make a gun silent and undetectable, just hearing safe. And instead of requiring a standard background check, it takes over a year of waiting with no additional safety added.


But enough on that. I had a great time, met a lot of interesting people, and had fun with my dad. In the end, I really couldn't ask for more. I'll go ahead and leave you all with one last picture of one of the little critters we had running around over the weekend.