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Mammoth Sniper Challenge AAR

Discussion in 'Competition Shooting' started by taliv, Jul 12, 2011.

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  1. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    Shot the 3-day Mammoth Sniper Challenge this past week and had a great time with a bunch of highly entertaining people. The match is held at the Rock Castle Shooting Center (roughly 2000 ac near Mammoth Cave in KY) which also hosts the Blue Ridge 3gun and many other major matches.

    Weather was rain on friday, and HOT and HUMID saturday and sunday, with a moderate wind... My favorite kind of weather to shoot in and a definite improvement over the 11* and snowing with 30 mph winds gusting to 150 mph we endured at winter mammoth. Quite a few more tics than winter mammoth too

    There were some GREAT shooters at this match including several teams from 5th Group and 3rd Group. There were more than 50 two-man teams divided into 4 squads shooting 6 stages over the 3 days. On each stage, one person would shoot the 'primary' gun and the other team member would shoot the 'secondary' gun. Each person had to shoot primary on 3 stages and secondary on 3 stages so it was even time. There was considerable misunderstanding over what guns you could use and share etc. but the secondary had to be either 223 or 308.

    My partner and I were sponsored by US Optics (thanks guys!) and took first place with 65 points. I ran a bighorn 260AI for my primary and he ran a GAP 308win. We shared an AR15 556 secondary rifle. Many other teams elected to bring 4 guns. I think some brought only 2 guns and shared both primary and secondary.

    Each stage ran basically like an IPSC match except with a par time of 7 or 8 minutes. Score was based on the number of targets you hit in the time limit and not the time itself. Round count was limited to 4 attempts per target for most targets and 1st round hits were usually worth a little more, but small targets and farther targets were not worth more than large or close targets.

    Targets were almost all steel except for 1 stage. Most were 'reasonable' such as 10" plates between 500-800. Some were 'challenging' such as 2" wide plates in the 500 yrd neighborhood. The lack of paint and placement in the shadows of tree-lines made many of them much more challenging to find and mil.

    I believe roughly 6 of the targets in the match were "no line of sight" which means you couldn't actually see them from the firing position. in defilade I guess that's why they call it a 'challenge'... I think we hit 3 of them.

    On 3 of the stages you had to determine the range passively using a mildot reticle or other methods. On the other 3 stages you were provided a bushnell laser rangefinder. Max distance for secondary targets was about 500 yrds and not sure what the max was for primary, but I'd guess the vast majority were between 500-800.

    Targets were engaged from a mix of barricades and platforms and standing/sitting/prone positions. I didn't see anyone use a shooting sling and don't think it would have been helpful. I did see one person use shooting sticks on a stage and my partner used a tripod at one point to support the rifle in a sitting position. bipods and bean bags were a must.

    Spotting scopes were also a really good idea as spotting hits and trace for your partner was critical. it was occasionally possible to use the optic on the secondary to spot, but that was usually suboptimal as the spotter often had to be standing to see over stuff and would thus be very difficult to hold their rifle steady enough to catch trace. The scope on a tall tripod works much better.

    Binos were ALSO a good idea during the stage briefing so you could see targets as the ROs were pointing them out. Way too many people showed up to the stage briefing without pen and paper. In fairness this might be because many of the stage descriptions read "You will be given a range finder and a range card with the targets placements listed on it." I never got a range card, just the RO yelling out the target sizes and pointing towards their general direction. (which is fine if you brought a pen and paper)

    By now you're thinking two primary optics, secondary optic, spotting scope AND binos sounds expensive... kinda. and it's a lot of crap (for a civilian) to hump around too... but hey, it's worth it.

    As far as the shooting was concerned, the team match format makes it interesting. Above and beyond the fundamentals of just knowing your dope and how to shoot from awkward positions, I'd say the keys were

    Effective comms: shooter/spotter and team to the RO/scorer to make sure everybody was looking at the same target.

    Time management: keeping track of time so you do or don't rush yourself, depending. and way too many teams kept poking at low-percentage targets and never made it to the gimmie secondary targets.

    Planning: having a good game plan and talking through each step over and over before the stage. deciding how much time you're going to give to each part of the stage beforehand

    And you had to know a lot of unusual stuff... like where to aim at a 200-400 yrd target with your gun canted at 45* or 90*, and what your holdover is at 10 feet, and how to shoot at targets you can't see, and how to hit targets from 10' to 270 yrds without touching your scope knobs, including magnification and focus, etc. Again, "challenge".

    I think I used exactly 50 rounds in the primary and a lot more in the secondary. I shot one close range stage on 7x and a couple targets on 17x but I think the vast majority of the stages i shot on 12x.

    One last point was the interesting gear failures I saw and heard about this weekend. By my count, a rem700, badger and two TRGs went TU, along with a S&B scope and (by most accounts) all of the bushnell range finders. Fortunately, the only gear failure I had was losing the spring in my butler creek flip up caps, so the lid kept closing on me while i was shooting. after the 2nd time, i just ripped it off during the stage and pressed on. fortunately, it had stopped raining by then.

    Thanks again to the ROs and sponsors!

    Some pics below, with a lot more here: http://smu.gs/p7FQkc

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    mammoth6.jpg
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  2. pdd614

    pdd614 Member

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    Looks like a great match! I love to see that these type of matches are popping up all over the country, and the fact that it's a team match is even better. When you have to effectively communicate with a team member under stress, things always get a lot harder.
     
  3. pdd614

    pdd614 Member

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    Also taliv, tell me more about the big horn action, and your match rifle in general. I already know its a remington footprint and a floating bolt head. But how is the fit and finish, feeding, reliablity so far, etc. Also is the loading port long enough to run a modified ai magazine (front plate removed) without catching the tip of the bullet on the feeding lip? I have seen these kind of issues with 700 type clones on several rifles.
     
  4. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    Just as a side note, the Bighorn action came in #1 and #2 at the Steel Safari this year.
     
  5. pdd614

    pdd614 Member

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    Damn good record for such a new action to take major matches like this one and steel safari.
     
  6. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    yep, they're my favorite type of match now. i'm even running one (see my sig). Interestingly, there are so few of them that folks travel quite a ways. I drove to NM for Zak's Steel Safari in May. Had people come from 10 different states to my Spring match, and already have folks signed up from California and Oregon for my Fall match (held in Tennessee)

    BigHorn is solid. Pretty smooth. pretty tight. Minimal material removed from ejection port and bottom for max stiffness. Has a built-up tang for long, heavy barrels with suppressors. Uses savage floating bolt head design. It does not have integral pic rail or lug. Mine is left bolt, left port. I had my smith pin the rail on top to keep it from moving. can't say much about the finish as i had it cerakoted with the bbl when i got it. the cerakote is flat black.

    I've got a good bit over 3000 rounds through it since I got it last July and have won several matches including a couple 1000 yrd prone matches with it (yeah, slung in). It's chambered in 260AI with a .296" neck and I replaced the first bartlein barrel after 1800 rnds with another one. I went from 26" finished to 28.5" on the second bbl. both are "medium palma" profile. So far the length hasn't hurt me in any practical matches, but it does make it impossible for me to shoot a traditional sitting position.

    Feeding from the 10 rnd AI mags using surgeon dbm is acceptable but not fantastic but that's due to the Improved shoulder and long pointed bullets I think. my mags aren't modified, but i think it is long enough to do that. I will say that for whatever reason, I've tried several alpha mags and they won't fit (won't latch). dunno why. and 10 rnd AI mags seem to only function with 9. I can BARELY fit 10 in there and can't seat the mag when I do. I run them with 8 rnds max now so i'm not fighting it during a match

    running an x-treme 2-stage trigger which is awesome. highly recommend it.

    only reliability problem i've had so far has been resolved now. I was running a pretty hot load initially and the ejector kept getting thrown back and crushing the roll pin that holds it in, causing it to stick and resulting in spent brass just laying in the action instead of ejecting. apparently the springs were marginal and he's using a new type now.

    AJ is a good dude and I wouldn't hesitate to buy another bighorn action.
     
  7. Hoser

    Hoser Moderator

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    Looks like a good time.

    See you next summer in Logan NM.
     
  8. chaser_2332

    chaser_2332 Member

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    Big up's to you and Ryan you guys shot great and I had a blast shooting with u guys, can't wait till pmg again!
     
  9. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

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    Tom,

    You're a madman. Congrats to you and Ryan. I'm bummed that I won't be able to represent Pennsylvania down there this Fall. But I committed to the event at my club long ago, and I have to be there.

    Next Spring though . . . Look forward to it again.
     
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