The Road to Greatness in Shooting

By Mark V. Lonsdale

While the purpose of sport and athletic activity is to make better people, not just champions, there have been many greats in shooting. As with any endeavor, there is a simple but difficult road to greatness in shooting sports. Simple because there are only a few things the athlete needs to know, but difficult because of the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to truly master these simple truths.

So here is the easy part:

  1. Find inspiration in the achievements of those who have gone before you
  2. Make the commitment to your chosen activity or sport
  3. Set goals that are a series of attainable steps
  4. Study the skill sets required for any given activity
  5. Become brilliant at the basics and work to master the fundamentals
  6. Enjoy your achievements but, more importantly, learn from your losses and mistakes
  7. Work every day to improve your performance, fitness, stamina, and strength

Now the difficult part: Follow the above plan four to six days a week for at least two to four years to enter the world of the elite athlete and the elite shooter.

Your level of performance is directly related to your commitment to training
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6.5 Creedmoor Ammo Part 3

Well worth reading and major thanks to Cal for all his work on this.

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A Rookie Guide to Competitive Shooting

By Mark V. Lonsdale, Training Director

“To compete or not to compete, that is the question…,” to paraphrase Will Shakespeare. But then he wasn’t a competitive shooter.

I can state categorically that competition shooting will make you an all-round better shooter, whether your skills are required for military, law enforcement, or just hunting. But in reality, it’s the preparation for competition where the real heavy lifting takes place.

Once you make the decision to try your hand (and eye) at competition shooting, you will be at the beginning of a long and very satisfying journey. Emerging from the humble beginnings of a recreational plinker, you will rise to the level of “competitor” beginning with quantifying your skills through a series of metrics.

ELR competition grade rifles. Top is a Hill Country .375 Chey Tac. Bottom is a .338 Lapua Magnum built on a Stillers Action. Both have McMillan stocks, Bartlein barrels and Accu Tac bipods.

To aid in this journey, the following is a road map to competition success:

  1. Decide which form of competition you want to shoot. This will often be driven by the types of rifles or pistols that you like shooting, or by the availability of local matches.
  2. Check your budget because competitive shooting is not cheap. First there is the cost of a $2,000 to $6,000 rifle and scope. Then there is the added cost of shooting more than you have ever done before. PRS shooters, for example, shoot 200-300 rounds in every major match. (As a competitive pistol shooter I shot 50,000 rounds of 45 ACP every year. As an ELR rifle competitor, my rounds could cost as much as $10 each.)
  3. Apart from equipment costs, there are also the time and costs involved in traveling to out-of-state matches. Driving 1,000 miles to a match, laying down a $200 entry fee, and spending 4-5 nights in a hotel gets expensive, plus the time away from work.  
  4. Do some research on what the top ranked competitors are using in the way of rifles, scopes, ammunition, and related accessories. Take the time to reach out to some of these folks for sage advice. My personal mantra is, “Buy the best and you will seldom be disappointed.”
  5. Study the match format and learn the rules. For example, if the match specifies a weight limit on rifles, you don’t want to turn up with one that’s 2 pounds over.
  6. Practice the match format, including positions, distances, and time limits on your local or home range. You need to become comfortable with the format to shoot well.
  7. If you have the opportunity, go and observe a match without actually shooting so as to become familiar with the format, range commands, and procedures. This will also be an opportunity to talk to top ranked competitors and collect info on their weapons platforms.
  8. Jump in, but don’t expect to do well in the first match or even first few matches. It usually takes about a year to become a seasoned competitor, so set your sights on doing well the second year.

Now, as Nike says, Just Do It!!


Team Global Precision winning the 2019 King of 2 Miles
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2019 King of 2 Miles – Ko2M

By Mark V. Lonsdale, STTU

As you all know, 2020 was a bust for Ko2M ELR shooting so a quick look back at 2019

Went into 2019 with a .416 Barrett with a BAT action, Bartlein barrel, in a McMillan Beast 2 stock
With Derek and Paul spotting, I was ranked 2nd at the end of Day 1. Keep in mind that 25% of shooters were eliminated on the first target so were not able to progress.
From the 2019-3 FCSA magazine.
Team Global Precision taking 1st, 3rd, and 4th places in the 2019 Ko2M
Honorable mention in the FCSA 2019-3 magazine


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Lessons from a Professional Shooter

Michael Seeklander - Home | Facebook
Michael Seeklander

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Precision & Group Size – Statistics for Shooters

Well worth reading from Cal at Precision Rifle Blog

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Reloading for .375 H&H Magnum – Part 1

By Mark V. Lonsdale

Can a big bore, belted magnum, dangerous game cartridge produce the same accuracy as a precision long range rifle? Absolutely, but the rifle must be built to the same demanding specs as a precision rifle. Where 2″ at 100 yards can be considered acceptable for an off-the-shelf factory hunting rifle, long range precision shooters are looking for not just sub-MOA but 0.5 MOA. In practical terms, 2″ at 100 is 4″ at 200 and 6″ at 300 yards, well within the heart and lung kill zone on a large animal. But once a shooter has been bitten by the precision shooting bug, only super accurate rifles are interesting.

For this project the rifle was built the same way I build my long range and ELR precision rifles. This begins with a Stiller’s Action, Bartlein barrel, McMillan stock, and Bix’N Andy trigger, topped with a Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x scope.

.375 H&H Magnum built on a Stiller’s Predator action, 24″ Bartlein #4 Bull Sporter barrel, McMillan adjustable Tactical Hunter stock, Bix’N Andy Dakota trigger, Leupold Mark 5HD scope, Accu-Tac bipod, and APA Micro brake

Initial break-in with 32 rounds was done with an assortment of ammunition that I had on the shelf from previous .375 H&H rifles and plans to head to Africa. Some loads were over 20 years old and mostly Hornady 270 RN and Speer 270 Spitzer bullets in Remington brass, with Federal magnum primers, and loaded with IMR 4064. None of the components were match grade, the brass was virgin factory RP, the primers were 215s, and the cartridge overall length (COAL) was kept at SAAMI specs or less (<3.600″).

Needless to say, I was not expecting anything great out of the first range session. Groups ran 1.5″ to 2″ which is adequate for hunting at close to medium range, but definitely not in the class for precision long range shooting. However the goal was just to break in the barrel.

After giving the bore a good clean it was time to get serious. I had measured the chamber and knew that loading to SAAMI specs of <3.600″ left a jump of almost 0.200″ to the rifling, depending on bullet ogive. That is two hundred thou as a opposed to the general starting point of twenty thou (0.020″) off the lands. This prompted me to begin with a COAL of 3.650″ and 3.700″ since my magazine box could handle a COAL up to 3.825″

As for bullets, I loaded up Hornady 250 GMXs, Barnes 250 TTSXs, and Hornady 270 RN. I also tried Varget and IMR 4350 in addition to IMR 4064. This was still with virgin factory RP brass and Federal magnum 215 primers – and still not match components.

.375 H&H Magnum with group from the Barnes 250 grain TTSXs. The 5-shot group went 0.7″ with the best 4 shots going 0.5″

The 250 GMXs with 65 grains of Varget, loaded to 3.700″, had an average muzzle velocity of 2,616 fps and produced a 5-shot group of 0.7″

The Barnes 250 TTSXs with 65 grains of Varget, loaded to a COAL of 3.650″, had an average MV of 2,586 fps and produced a 5-shot group of 0.7″ with best 4 going 0.5″

The Hornady 270 Round Nose with 70 grains of IMR 4350, loaded to 3.600″, turned in an MV of 2,366 fps and a 5-shot group of 0.8″ with best 4 going 0.4″

All three of these loads are definitely in the acceptable range for precision shooting, and still without any brass preparation, bullet sorting by weight, or match-grade magnum primers. So stay tuned for Part 2 when I begin doing more brass prep and utilizing match-grade primers.


Running the Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25X with Holland’s bubble float level.
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By Mark V. Lonsdale, STTU

One of the previous TRS blog posts discussed why cheap scopes simply don’t cut it when it comes to long range precision shooting, and especially extreme long range (ELR) shooting at multiple targets positioned at various distances. Similarly, cheap bipods can severely degrade accuracy and speed at longer ranges.

I’ve lost count of how many shooters have turned up to STTU precision rifle classes with cheap, wobbly bipods only to invest in a better unit before the end of the program. For decades, the Harris Bipod has been the standard for most recreational shooters, including military and law enforcement snipers, but unfortunately numerous companies produced cheap knock-offs, usually made in China, that were little more than junk. To this day, the Harris Bipod is still a good choice for hunting rifles and military snipers where weight and cost are an issue.

Multi-purpose .308 Win precision rifle with a McMillan A3-5 stock and Harris Bipod. The standard Harris Bipods are available in 6″-9″ and 9″-12″ versions.

However, in recent years, just as rifle scopes have made huge advancements in quality and precision with models such as the Leupold Mark 5HD and Nightforce ATACR, bipod manufacturers have risen to the demands of precision shooters. Atlas and Accu-Tac are two such manufacturers.

.338 Lapua Magnum with McMillan A5 stock and Accu-Tac WD-4 adjustable bipod

The features that are desirable in a bipod include:

  1. Quality construction and materials
  2. Adjustable legs with positive locking
  3. Quick adjustment of leg length that allow for a comfortable prone position
  4. A solid form of attachment to the rifle – either rail or sling stud
  5. A lockable tilt adjust that allow the rifle to be leveled on uneven terrain
  6. Manufacturer warrantee program an good customer service

Other features may include:

  1. A swivel head to allow tracking of moving targets or transition to other targets without moving the feet
  2. Extra wide footprint to better stabilize large caliber rifles such as 338 WinMag, 338 Lapua Mag, .375 H&H Mag, or 375 Chey Tac
  3. An option of rubber or spiked feet
  4. An option of skid or ski type feet
  5. Extra long legs for field use where scrub and tall grass can be an issue

The width of the bipod footprint is particularly important with calibers that generate considerable torque as the heavier bullets pass down the bore. Following the law of “equal and opposite reaction,” when the bullet slams into the rifling in a right-hand twist barrel, the rifling forces the bullet to spin to the right. Conversely, the bullet is trying to force the barrel and rifle to twist to the left. With a narrow bipod, this toque to the left can cause the rifle to rock onto one leg and the whole rifle to twist to the left. A wide bipod and an effective muzzle brake can go a long way to taming that torque. This is particularly important when engaging multiple targets with multiple shots at varying distances and angles, as found in PRS and ELR matches.

.375 H&H Magnum in a McMillan adjustable Tactical Hunter stock with Accu-Tac WD series bipod.
Accu-Tac bipod with the wide head to better handle heavier calibers

For calibers such as .308 Win and 6.5 Creedmoor, with 168-175 grain and 140-147 grain bullets respectively, do not generate much torque so a standard width bipod will do the job. But when a shooter begins running 250 to 350 grain bullets in .338 and .375 calibers, then the toque needs a little more taming. The Accu-Tac WD series of bipods are particularly effective at this.

PRS 6.5 Creedmoor in a McMillan A6 stock with an Atlas bipod mounted to a 4″ rail
Top – the Accu-Tac HD-50 bipod designed to handle .50 calibers, .416 Barrett, .375 Chey-Tac, and similar ELR calibers
ELR .375 Chey-Tac (top) with Accu-Tac HD-50 bipod with skid type feet
ELR .375 Chey-Tac with F-Class FTR style bipod with ski type feet. This was a popular bipod for ELR shooters until King of 2 Miles changed the rule to require folding bipods with feet no further than 8″ apart when folded. The Accu-Tac HD-50 and WD series bipods meet this requirement.

So is the added cost worth it? You bet. Once you’ve shot a quality, stable bipod, it is hard to go back to anything less.


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Project Rifle – .375 H&H Magnum

By Mark V. Lonsdale

The five month project rifle came to completion yesterday with the arrival of the UPS truck – a custom .375 H&H big game hunting rifle. This began back in June with the order of a Stiller’s Predator action, Bartlein #4 Bull Sporter barrel, a McMillan Tactical Hunter stock, and a Bix’N Andy Dakota trigger.

For anyone planning a custom build, it is recommend to order all the components at the same time since manufacture lead time and delivery can vary based on availability, demand, and time of year.

Custom .375 H&H Magnum built on a Stiller’s Predator action, running a 24″ Bartlein #4 Bull Sporter with APA brake, in a McMillan Adjustable Tactical Hunter stock with McMillan 4″ bipod rail. Trigger is the superb Bix’N Andy Dakota and bottom metal includes a Wyatt’s extended magazine box.
McMillan Tactical Hunter stock with adjustable cheek rest
Stiller’s Predator action which is similar to their TAC300 action but machined to accept the longer Wyatts magazine box. This allows for running longer, heavier bullets with longer cartridge overall lengths. The Leupold Mark 4 M5 will be used for initial testing until a more suitable hunting scope is added.
The Bix’N Andy Dakota trigger is ideal for tactical and hunting rifles with a set range from 1 to 4 pounds. One added feature is that the trigger can be easily adjusted with a single screw while still in the stock.

Break-in and testing will begin this week with an assortment of bullets, powders, and loads to include Hornady 270 grain Round Nose, Hornady 250 grain GMX, and Speer 270 grain BTSP, with Sierra and Barnes next week. Powders will include IMR 4064, Varget, IMR 4350, and H4350.

Most of the rounds are currently loaded to close to SAAMI COAL spec of 3.600″ but .375 H&H chamber throats are actually cut quite long, allowing for rounds to be loaded out to 3.750+” depending on the ogive of the bullet. Using a Hornady Lock N’ Load, some bullets were touching the lands at 3.787″-3.878″ and the Sierra 350 grain SMK was 4.000″. This will make for some interesting testing to see which bullets like a running start of 0.200″ and which perform better with less jump closer to 0.020″

Stay tuned for updates later this week….


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The Training Never Stops

Mark V. Lonsdale, STTU

Wednesday Wisdom

George Bernard Shaw - We don't stop playing because we...
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