Author Topic: Talkeetna, AK, Centerfire KD Sept. 18-19, 2021 AAR  (Read 222 times)

Offline ItsanSKS

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Talkeetna, AK, Centerfire KD Sept. 18-19, 2021 AAR
« on: September 22, 2021, 03:24:46 AM »
Known Distance Clinics are a ton of fun, but they are also a ton of work; both for the students, and the instructors.

This past weekend marked the final Known Distance Clinic for 2021 in Alaska; it was held at the Upper Susitna Shooters Association Range, located near Talkeetna, Alaska.  We had the whole 1,000 yard range to ourselves for the weekend, and made the best use of it we could.   Many thanks to USSA for the fine hospitality and use of their facilities. 

Friday evening, OldMikey and I pulled into USSA and found Jeff & Jameson L. from Fairbanks already getting settled in for the weekend; with a little coaxing, they were happy to join in to help set up the steel targets and measure the various firing/target lines.  Many hands make short work, so the saying goes, and within an hour, we had steel "D" silhouettes posted at 100, 200, 300, 400 & a "Morgan's Shingle" hung at 250.  The past few weeks have seen quite a lot of rain, and portions of the various firing lines were swampy.  All hands grabbed shovels and moved dirt to displace enough water to *hopefully* have enough room for everyone on the firing line. 

About the time range setup was completed, Instructor 509Gman showed up, along with AppleCore members Crosby223 and Bree1704.  Everyone agreed that they had impecable timing...

The evening was late, and the morning would be early, so all headed to bed, anxious to see what the weekend would bring- would there be any Riflemen? Would ItsanSKS FINALLY make Distinguished at KD?  Would anyone be able to make their mark upon Morgans Shingle?  Only time would tell...


Overnight, a brief, but powerful gale blew in from the north, bringing cold temperatures and *more* rain; it didn't last long, but was quite enough to ensure that our work drying out the firing lines was all for naught...

Saturday morning dawned briskly; temperatures at the range were in the low 30's, with high humidity.  There wasn't fog, so much as rain drops held in stasis, unsure if they were supposed to fall, or turn into snowflakes first.  After a hearty breakfast, the instructors made way to the classroom and began to prepare for the instructional portion of the event.

Attendance at a 25m Appleseed event is a pre-requisite for attending a Known Distance Clinic; as such, it is assumed that the students already know the Fundamentals of Rifle Marksmanship.  This course builds on the foundation set at an Appleseed Event, and covers the following topics:
  • Familiarity with Ballistics Tables
  • How the .223 trajectory compares to .308, and how they compare to .22LR
  • What difference, if any, Height Over Bore makes in establishing the trajectory of your round
  • How to gauge and compensate for Wind
  • How to estimate range without a laser rangefinder
  • What information is necessary & helpful to record in a rifle data book

While I am typically a solo instructor during the Known Distance Clinic, I had OldMikey on hand, and it would have been foolish of me not to allow him to express his knowledge; he held a wonderful clinic on Trajectory, Battle Sight Zero, and Standard Come-Ups.

For most of our students, this classroom portion was a refresher, having just attended a Rimfire Known Distance Clinic the weekend prior.  Still, a hearty Question and Answer session was held, and several other topics of interest were discussed.

After the classroom portion of the KDC had concluded, all students were advised to make their way to the 500 yard line, where their first challenge awaited - Morgan's Shingle.

In the aftermath of the Battle of April 19th, the Continental Congress ordered that 6 rifle companies be formed, consisting of four companies from Virginia, and two companies from Maryland.  Captain Daniel Morgan was placed in command of one company then being formed in Virginia.  As a means for testing the mettle of those who would join his company, Cpt. Morgan placed a mark upon a shingle, and allowed each man to fire only once- at a distance of 250 yards!  Those who made the mark, were welcomed into his company, known as Morgan's Rifles.

A piece of steel was hung at 250 yards, with a mark placed upon it.  Would any of our shooters have what it takes to join the ranks of Morgan's Rifles?  The fog had lifted, but dew covered everything.  The sun was rising over the mountains down range, causing every blade of grass to twinkle in the sunlight.  No birds chirped, no wind could be felt.  It was as if the whole of our existence was awaiting the answer...

First one shot rang out, then another, then another.  The echoes seemed to carry for hours, without that gratifying "PING" that comes when bullets strike steel at distance.  Finally, the steel target had been struck!  A dead-center hit!  Robert Y. was the first to make his mark upon Morgan's Shingle in Alaska, and the only to join the ranks of Morgan's Rifles on Saturday.

With the Morgan's Shingle still mocking those who missed it, ANOTHER challenge was brought to bear- the SteelCoat Challenge(tm).  Shooters were instructed to engage each D silhouette in order, from 100 to 400 yards, with three rounds apiece; if they missed a single shot, their challenge ended.  Only after making three hits on all four D silhouettes, would they then have an opportunity to try again on Morgan's Shingle..

Alas, our shooters had great difficulty in progressing beyond the 100 yard silhouette- seems they all had a 100 yard zero, and failed to apply the lessons OldMikey had tried to impart...  To prove it could be done, the Shoot Boss (hey, that's me!) popped down and promptly cleared the SteelCoat Challenge. 

We spent the rest of the day working on establishing zeroes at each distance, and completed two full-distance AQT's.

On the first AQT of the day, two Known Distance Riflemen revealed themselves- Jameson L. (14!) of Fairbanks, and Rifleman Gus achieved a 40/50 and 42/50, respectively.
On the second, and last AQT of the day, 509Gman earned his Known Distance patch with a solid 45/50; he was joined by Robert Y. of Palmer, who scored a 43/50, Rifleman Gus improved his earlier score to 43/50.

Alas, two dropped shots in Stage 1, and a blown wind call on stage 4 left ItsanSKS out of the running for Distinguished, with a lowly 47/50 :(

The final challenge of the day was another opportunity at the SteelCoat Challenge.  Jeff L., of Fairbanks, engaged those targets like he had something to prove- he was the first student of the weekend to clear the course.   O0

At the end of the day, we had four first-time Known Distance Riflemen, and a line full of "men who know very well what they are about". 

Fireside discussions, and an outstanding home-made beef stew prepared by 509Gman were the highlights of Saturday evening.  As everyone made their way to sleep, the temperatures were dropping.  Low 30's were predicted, and the thermometer agreed with the weather guessers. 

Hot coffee, eggs, sausage and orange juice- the breakfast of Riflemen. 

When our students had all arrived, the first order of business was to determine if & how their sights could be used for range finding.  It's one thing to know what the sights are "supposed" to be, another thing altogether to measure them against a "ruler" at distance.  A target was placed at 25m, which gave the students an opportunity to measure their sights against targets representing 4 through 13 minute-of-angle.  When everyone had completed drawing a literal sight picture with MOA subtensions, they then used this new-found information to estimate the range to three oddly-familiar targets down range.  Each student was able to successfully range their targets 'close enough' (meaning that their estimate would have resulted in a hit). 

Next, their first round of the day was their second, and final, opportunity to prove they had what it takes to join Morgan's Rifles.
Jeff L, Jameson L, and ItsanSKS all made their mark upon the target; Robert Y. proved that his acceptance into the Company wasn't a fluke, and left another mark upon the steel. 

After the Morgan's Shingle challenge, up next was the SteelCoat Challenge.
Most students were successfully engaging at 300 yards, but that 400 yard target was being elusive.  Only Jameson was able to successfully engage with three hits at 400, and he also whacked the shingle shot, clearing the challenge!  Great job young man!

Another attempt at a paper AQT revealed Alaska's first Distinguished Known Distance Rifleman ---  JEFF L. of Fairbanks, who missed but one shot out of 50, for a final score of 49/50.   >:D  Nicely done Jeff!  I'm only slightly jealous...

After the paper AQT, it was determined by an election of the students, that our last AQT of the day should be a Rapid-Fire AQT, using steel.  What sounded great just a few moments before, ramped up the challenge just a bit too far-  scores plumeted into the mid/low 30's.  More practice is required before an attempt at the daunting challenge of a RFAQT at known distance is tried again.

The final SteelCoat challenge proved what had been obvious from the RFAQT- the students were exhausted; still, dramatic improvement was seen across the board; where shooters began the weekend struggling to engage at 200, they were now consistently connecting at 300, and averaged 2/3 hits at 400...

As the day neared an end, all the students gathered 'round to discuss what they had learned, and what they discovered they needed to practice.  All greatly enjoyed the range estimation exercises, especially having to create a reticle subtension diagram for their optics.  The second most favored challenge was Morgan's Shingle.  As far as challenges go, it's one of the hardest; but the reward for completing it is thus so much the sweeter.   As far as practice goes, all of the students expressed that they wished they were more familiar (and thus comfortable) with adjusting their sights for distance; while a Bullet-Drop Compensating reticle works fairly decently, nothing beats dialing in the correct dope for your rifle and ammunition. 

I'd like to end by saying thank you.  Thank you to the students, without whom this weekend would have been far less exhilarating.   Thank you to the staff and volunteers of USSA; you made us all feel quite welcome at your facility, and a great time was had by all.
Thank you to OldMikey for helping run the first Centerfire Known Distance Clinic at USSA.

As the end of the year approaches, Project Appleseed - Alaska will be working closely with our partner ranges to schedule as many events as we can for 2022.

"Those who would trade an ounce of liberty for an ounce of safety deserve neither."

"To save us both time in the future... how about you give me the combo to your safe and I'll give you the pin number to my bank account..."

Offline 509gman

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Re: Talkeetna, AK, Centerfire KD Sept. 18-19, 2021 AAR
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2021, 02:43:36 PM »
I know all were told to take pics, get em up here!

First is the aforementioned difficult conditions on the (to us) 400 yd line

Second is what we awoke to on the second day. Summer is definitely over in the Greatland.
"What! what! men, dodging this way for single bullets! What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist-"
Last words of Union Gen. John Sedgwick, before he was killed by a Confederate sniper.

Offline 509gman

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Re: Talkeetna, AK, Centerfire KD Sept. 18-19, 2021 AAR
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2021, 03:47:58 PM »
My takeaways (may they help attendees to learn from my mistakes): Use the same rifle both days. Backup rifles are a fine thing in case your primary breaks, but the COF was sufficiently different (and my backup vastly different from primary also) that I ended up getting a bit lost with it on day 2. The zero development that we had gotten on day 1 wasn’t in place and was sorely needed for the second rifle. My “quick and dirty”  zero didn’t work.

ACOGs are still great. I was happy to find that with my 20” barrel and the weather of the day at least, m193 was dead on with the ostensibly metric regulated BDC at 100, 200, 300, and 400 YARDS. The sighter group at 100 was all the turret touching that was necessary.

If you’ve wondered about pencil barrels on ARs, the Faxon products live up to their claims about zero POI shift from heat. My 45/50 score came with much heat mirage from a 20 rd stage 4. The 5 misses were close enough to the black to leave me with no excuse for MY performance.
"What! what! men, dodging this way for single bullets! What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist-"
Last words of Union Gen. John Sedgwick, before he was killed by a Confederate sniper.

Offline 509gman

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Re: Talkeetna, AK, Centerfire KD Sept. 18-19, 2021 AAR
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2021, 04:45:15 PM »
Ah! How could I forget my best photo? The updated shooting jacket!

Y’all messed up my OD perfection with your red tab, so whenever I can get an April 19th rifleman patch I’ll make the G man black and gold as well.
"What! what! men, dodging this way for single bullets! What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist-"
Last words of Union Gen. John Sedgwick, before he was killed by a Confederate sniper.

Offline Gus

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Re: Talkeetna, AK, Centerfire KD Sept. 18-19, 2021 AAR
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2021, 08:58:08 PM »
Hello All,

So many takeaways from this past weekend. First was the feeling of kindred spirit.  Truly enjoyed everyone's company. 

Second, my thanks to Itsansks, Old Mikey, 509gman, Jeff and Jameson for setting up the range before Nathaniel and I got there.  We had hoped to be there for setup, but the motorhome threw a shoe and it took several hours to get the tire replaced.  At least we helped with tear down on Sunday.

Third, how fun is Known Distance?!  I had been saving my .308 ammo for just this weekend.  I wanted to attend last year's event and then wound up not being able to attend due to work.  This year I specifically took vacation to attend both the Rimfire KD on the 11th and 12th & the Centerfire KD this past weekend.  Totally worth it to burn through the stash!

Fourth, I came away from both KD events with a re-bluing of how important NPOA, The six steps and a stable shooting position is. To that mix I can now add keeping track of the wind, something you don't have to worry about too much during a 25 meter event.

Saturday was my day for sure.  I was running a bolt action and have a lot of confidence it it.  But, as per usual with me, the rapid fire stages are not my strong point. So, I wound up only getting off 8 in sitting and 9 in prone during the first AQT. But, the 17 shots fired were good ones and I had 16 hits.  Standing is my favorite, slow prone next favorite.  In the end I tallied up 42 to qualify and that made me pretty happy.  On the next AQT I kept it up and got a 43. 

Sunday I tried going through the AQTs with a battle site zero and it worked really well for me at 100, 200, and 300 yards.  Trying the holdover with my 4 MOA dot on the vertical reticle did not work well at all on the black D-Targets.  The black 4 MOA dot is so small it simply blended into the black of the D silhouette and I couldn't see where I was on the target. I think I scored a 36. 

When we did the rapid fire AQT on the Steel D Targets, that tiny 4 MOA dot contrasted very well and I could see it fine, but......

.....my slow pace in running the bolt action had me run out of time. Just the same, my takeaway from that is a positive: out of 31 shots fired I had 30 hits. Was pretty happy with that.  The lesson for me in this is: I know that for a rapid AQT I want the semi-auto.  I have a couple that I'll bring to the next KD and that'll be that.

Fifth: I loved the challenge all weekend of having to figure out the uneven terrain to achieve a solid, stable position! Whether standing, sitting or prone, each yardage (each day) revealed a new variable to overcome.  Truly enjoyed that.

I had no equipment issues (breakdowns) or ammo failures.  This let me concentrate on shooting and technique-always a positive.

Time spent in the classroom on Saturday and the range estimation exercises was time well spent.  Range estimation, target detections, ballistics, trajectory, effects of winds are all very important topics to understand and be aware of with each shot.  There usually isn't too much wind at Talkeetna, but, on this weekend we had some. On Saturday I needed to add 3 MOA of adjustment to stay centered in the black when the wind picked up. Keeping up with current events like that is critical when you shoot at 400 yards.

I too have a few pictures to post.  Hope they all come through with proper orientation.

Gus

"Mental notes aren't worth the paper they're written on" - Mark Twain

"Pick up a rifle and you change instantly from a subject to a citizen" - Jeff Cooper

Offline Gus

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Re: Talkeetna, AK, Centerfire KD Sept. 18-19, 2021 AAR
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2021, 08:59:06 PM »
Looks like I can't post too many pics at once, so here they are one at time.

Gus
"Mental notes aren't worth the paper they're written on" - Mark Twain

"Pick up a rifle and you change instantly from a subject to a citizen" - Jeff Cooper

Offline Gus

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Re: Talkeetna, AK, Centerfire KD Sept. 18-19, 2021 AAR
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2021, 08:59:51 PM »
Jeff, Itsansks and Jameson
"Mental notes aren't worth the paper they're written on" - Mark Twain

"Pick up a rifle and you change instantly from a subject to a citizen" - Jeff Cooper

Offline 509gman

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Re: Talkeetna, AK, Centerfire KD Sept. 18-19, 2021 AAR
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2021, 10:24:41 PM »
Who has the picture of me receiving the Known Distance tab?
"What! what! men, dodging this way for single bullets! What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist-"
Last words of Union Gen. John Sedgwick, before he was killed by a Confederate sniper.

Offline Oldmikey

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Re: Talkeetna, AK, Centerfire KD Sept. 18-19, 2021 AAR
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2021, 10:41:27 PM »
A few pics from the KD
“Great things have been affected by a few men well conducted”George Rogers Clark

" to old to run"

Offline Oldmikey

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Re: Talkeetna, AK, Centerfire KD Sept. 18-19, 2021 AAR
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2021, 10:44:51 PM »
A few more pics from the KD
“Great things have been affected by a few men well conducted”George Rogers Clark

" to old to run"

Offline OP 78

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Re: Talkeetna, AK, Centerfire KD Sept. 18-19, 2021 AAR
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2021, 10:56:22 PM »
I really need to go to alaska for an appleseed. We took our honeymoon there in 2018 and loved it. Its definetly on my bucket list
Rifleman 4/17/2021
Pistoleer 7/10/2021
KD qualified 9/11/2021

Offline 509gman

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Re: Talkeetna, AK, Centerfire KD Sept. 18-19, 2021 AAR
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2021, 01:40:58 AM »
A few more pics from the KD

Look at that true Rifleman in the second picture there. If you ain’t shooting, you should be reloading 😜
"What! what! men, dodging this way for single bullets! What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist-"
Last words of Union Gen. John Sedgwick, before he was killed by a Confederate sniper.

Offline Scout308

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Re: Talkeetna, AK, Centerfire KD Sept. 18-19, 2021 AAR
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2021, 02:51:44 AM »
What a beautiful weekend we had.  One of the big take aways from the weekend for me was that BDC reticles work when you use them correctly.  I shot two different rifles that weekend: an AR10 with an ACOG and an AR15 with a 1.5-4x Leupold.  I had a lot of problems at last year's KD with the ACOG because I had zeroed it at 100 yards on the 100 yard reticle line and then adjusted my holdovers as we went though the day.  This time (after a bit of internet sleuthing) I tried zeroing at 300 yards on the 300 line of the reticle.  Sure the impact was a bit off at 100 (a couple inches) but it was on target at 200 and 400 if I was running the rifle right. 

One other minor take away for me is that illuminated reticles are best if you can turn them completely off.  The ACOG reticle was hard use in certain lighting conditions for me--especially shooting towards the sun and I had most of the light gathering strip on top taped over.

What a great weekend.  Jameson is pretty darn stoked to have his KD patch!  It was good to meet some new friends. Thank you to all who worked so hard to put the event on.  I didn't take too many good photos but I do have a couple of videos that I will try to post soon.

Offline ItsanSKS

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Re: Talkeetna, AK, Centerfire KD Sept. 18-19, 2021 AAR
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2021, 02:56:48 AM »
Class is in session!


View from 300 yard line


Jameson @ 300 yard line


Jameson gets his Known Distance Tab!


509gman gets his Known Distance Tab!


Brent gets his Known Distance Tab!


Gus gets his Known Distance Tab!
"Those who would trade an ounce of liberty for an ounce of safety deserve neither."

"To save us both time in the future... how about you give me the combo to your safe and I'll give you the pin number to my bank account..."

Offline mayonayze

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Re: Talkeetna, AK, Centerfire KD Sept. 18-19, 2021 AAR
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2021, 11:10:17 AM »
Awesome! Congrats!