Applying Your Ballistics
By Farhat Jah
Andy is always equipped for all situations, and that includes his bench.
Gravity and the shooter
Imagine a belly flopper, or what we call ”the TR boys” shooting at 1000 yards. These chaps and ladies lie down on the green grasses of Bisley Camp (or other ranges around the globe) , tie themselves up in tight jackets, strap spaceship looking rifles to their arms and shoot, quite accurately, at black circles on white paper. They have no telescopic sights, no optics, only their eyes. They have their peep sights with twiddle knobs that can be wound up to allow for accurate shooting at 100 to 1000 yards. They are happy to chat away on the range, have tea and medals, but woe betide anyone caught talking on the firing point next door to them. He or she seems alien to all who are not in the TR tribe.
Contrast this with a Lee Enfield Marksman. An Australian who drinks beer, has a barbeque, and then, the next morning lays down on the ant infested mount. Using a 100 year old rifle at 300/700/1000 yards he sends 50 year old bullet after bullet, into the black at 1000 yards. Using only a sling and a large hat for the sun, this person seems to be the antithesis of the TR tribe.
What do these people have in common with the CSR shooter? The F-Class expert, the hunter, or the long range gong ringer? The simple reality is that these two groups, tribes if you like, of the shooting community, are doing what we do, using technology. Their technology is the raising of the rear sight to compensate for the effect gravity exerts on the bullet as it flies through the air. The TR chaps have their drop tables and only use 7.62 bullets. The Enfield marksmen have their scaled sights which clearly state settings to 2000 yards using Mk7 ball ammunition. The ballistic curve has been duly worked out by scientists and then notched onto the metal in 1916. This gets the marksman close enough with his two sighters, to shoot a 10 rounds string and win a competition.
So assuming that a shooter has the basic principles of marksmanship mastered, (and this cannot be underestimated) then the shooter can hit the target using his metal sights. When we add a telescopic sight to our rifles, matters become more difficult. We zero our rifles at 100 yards, but then have to rely upon a ballistic table or calculator to know what adjustments to make to the scope to hit the target at distance. This is often combined with actual databased upon previous shooting experience. In my experience, very few ballistic calculators actually worked consistently at all distances. You might have been on at 1000 and 300 yards but at 1000 the difference was up to 10 MOA. I would make my own drop tables based upon experience, but what worked in Wales in the wet would be different at Bisley when the sun came out. So “first shot first hit” was impossible. You always needed the sighters- and this was before taking into account the wind. Indeed my fastest long range shots were using a 7.62 Lee Enfield, and popping a tracer out to 1100 yards, seeing where the shot fell, rapid reloading and deviating and hitting the target on the second shot. This is all fine and dandy if you happen to have box of 300 FN sniper tracer rounds, but for long range hunters and precision target shooters this is not good enough.
Until recently I had given up on first round first hit on a small target, except for 7.62 at a maximum of 300 yards. All of this changed when Andy, our scientific member of the politburo, suggested a visit to Sharp-Shooting UK, the domain of Richard Utting.
Cue Richard Utting
It is spring, it should be sunny and it is most definitely not. The wind is coming in sideways and it is drizzling. A Japanese 4x4 car appears and out jumps a man of middle height, who has a large felt hat. Hailing from Norfolk, he is a quiet and polite.
“Right chaps, its going to be cold and wet so put on everything you own”.I am already cold, and so this does not bode well. We drive up through to the range, and find that it is even more windy and cold now, and the rain really starts in earnest. I put on two fleeces, a ridgeline smock and an arktis waterproof jacket on top. This just about keeps the wind out… Just. Richards classroom is the back of my discovery. He is a charismatic teacher, and as we sit on the bumper he expounds on the subject of ballistics. Firstly he asks that we have Strelok Pro on our iPad or iPhone. Then he sets up the app on your phone with certain settings.
Entering the right data into your ballistic application
“A ballistic ap is like an electronic accounting spreadsheet. It is only as good as the information you put into it. But the bullet does not lie. Synchronising the bullet’s drop with the application is the key. “ Richard explains. The first step we take is to chronograph the speed of the cartridge we used. As Andy is often telling me :
“This means, choosing an ammunition (or making one) and sticking to it.”
For my 7.62 rifles, I have chosen Sierra Match King 7.62 175grain GGG. It is widely available and very accurate while also being cheap. For me this means lying in a muddy puddle to get out of the wind, and shooting at 300 yards. It is hard to explain how utterly horrid the weather is.
Richard then adds more data to my iPad. He synchronises Andy’s Kestrel weather station with the iPad, which then provides wind data as well as drop. Then various factors are added to the equation, powder temperature, humidity, barrel twist rate, weight of the bullet and the ballistic co-efficient/ G7.
“right now we shoot at 375 yards” he pronounces, while giving me an exact sight adjustment. The splash of the shot confirms the data is almost perfect. We adjust and note the exact correction.
“Now lets shoot out to 423 yards” Again Richard gives me the setting from Strelok and it is very close. At that point, he shows us how to true the data between the actual fall of shot and the application.
Putting the data into practice.
The wind and weather are taking their toll on us. We are shooting into the wind and rain. I clean my Kahles 6-25 again and again with a roll of kitchen towel. Richard decides that we have achieved enough and moves us to a more sheltered valley within his range complex. We drive across somewhat wet fields and up hills to get to our next firing point. The ground is so sodden that we elect to shoot from a lower position to minimise the damage done to the moorland. Here Richard tests us. He chooses random, hidden targets at various distances, and we shoot based purely on the data given by Strelok. The results are incredible, with the exception of the wind, we are on at every distance, within inches even at 600 yards. The only difficulty is the wind, it swirls around the valley, and while the Kestrel will read wind at the muzzle, it cannot take into account the wind 500 metres away.
We spend the rest of the afternoon shooting across the valley at random targets. Thankfully the sun finally comes out and the light changes dramatically. The views over the hills are spectacular. I use Richards Swarovski Binoculars and find that I can see the east coast of Britain. Andy is banging away with his DTA at a 6 inch target at 600 yards. I can barely see it, but with his data he is on with every shot.
The essentials – was it all worth it?
Richard winds the day up. “The key to all this, is to allow the gamekeeper or long range hunter to make his shot first time. I have shown you how to accurise your rifles permanently. You can take this information away with you and apply it to any rifle and any cartridge. You must remember to add the correct information to the app every time. Your curve on the app must match the actual curve of the fall of your bullet. You now know how to make the curves match. You have the ballistic zero. The relationship between speed and accuracy have to be perfect. ” And with that, we pile our sodden kit back into the cars and start the drive home. I have plenty of time to mull the day’s experiences over and come to a conclusion.
As an experienced shooter, and ones who does use science and drop charts, my knowledge is just like a jigsaw. I know what I am looking at, I am 80% of the way there, but I cannot complete the picture. Richard has given me the tools to finish the jigsaw and start and finish another. I have been to a few private training facilities, and all of them are excellent and all, have their specialities. None of them however, offer the scientific hands on training that Richard Utting does. His training days are unique in the UK.
He is capable of taking any shooter with any experience and building on it, but here finally, there is a training facility that challenges experienced shooters, and adds to their knowledge. The TR Tribe, the Enfield marksmen, the F-class experts and the hunters could all learn something from his unique training sessions.
KNOW AND GO
Richard Utting offers training days that start at £210 a day in the winter. His RV point is in the village of Bowes. The Marksman can find accommodation at the Ancient Unicorn Pub, (£60) in Bowes. which is very friendly. Andy the owner welcomes competent marksmen as well as hill walkers. The food is excellent and the rooms spotlessly clean. https://ancientunicorn.com/
You will need a tablet (£150-800) and Strelok pro (£12). You should arrive with the ammunition you always use. You can chronograph it before you arrive or do so with Richard. Ranges vary from 200 yards to 1600 yards, with a lot of shooting between 300-700.
After your first visit, a repeat clients’ rate is applicable and this is very reasonable.
Contact Richard through: https://www.sharpshootinguk.com/