As we approach the ASSA Smallbore Championships some of our new shooters will experience something they have few opportunities to do during their normal shooting season. That would be shooting at a distance of 100 yards.
For those who normally shoot indoors or 3-P only there is no reason to shoot beyond 50 meters. But for American Prone shooting, 100 yards is part of the course of fire. Each day there will be 60 shots for record fired at 100 yards.
To shoot American prone, a smallbore shooter who competes at 50 feet indoors or 50 yards outdoors will very likely have everything they need in their gear bag. Jacket, sling, glove, ammunition, scope and scope stand for spotting shots, maybe a hat to shade their eyes, and clips to fasten the target to the target frame.
The image below is a typical target frame at the Wa-Ke-De Range in Bristol IN. The target paper wrapped around the top of the backer board is a good idea because it helps illuminate sighting shots at 100 yards. Because the backer target that is clipped to the backer board is only as long as the two scoring bulls, the sighting shots at the top of the target can be hard to spot through the scope. Especially if the mirage is heavy. And since we shoot the 100 yard targets last, the temperature will be high and very likely the mirage will be too.
The bull dog binder clip is probably the very best method for clipping the target to the frame, especially on the Bristol frames. It is not the least expensive method, but 4 clips will keep a target fastened to the frame when I have seen 8 binder clips allow a target to be blown loose.
Another critical item to have figured out before you arrive is the elevation change between 50 yards and 100 yards. If your rifle sights are zeroed for 50 yards, and you shoot at 100 yards the bullet impact will be approximately 7 inches low. This is cause your shot to hit below the sighting shot line by about a 1/2 inch. If you don't see this shot in the white, and take another sighting shot that goes close to the same place, now you have just lost 10 points with a miss into the white.
How to avoid this: Prior to even coming to the range it would be a good idea to check how much elevation you have on your rear sight. Most of the junior shooters are probably using a European rear sight where each click is either 1/6th or 1/12th of a minute of angle. What this means is you will need to move the elevation knob 6 or 12 clicks for every inch of elevation to move your bullet strike. If the change in distance is 7 MOA (minutes of angle) this is 42 or 84 clicks. 4 revolutions on the rear sight. If you don't have 4 revolutions of travel left in your rear sight you are going to be hitting below the center of the target. The solution to this is to add a rear sight riser block to your rifle. Depending on the sight radius on your particular rifle this can make the problem worse. A long sight extension tube will cause the bullet impact per click to be even less than what is published in a Anschutz or Walther sight set instruction. If you are shooting with a canted rifle the problem will be even worse.
Figure this out before you arrive at the range to prevent losing points at the 100 yard line.
What happens if your first shot is below the sighting line on the first target of a numbered match or a change of distance during the Dewar match? Answer: Immediately get the attention of the range officer and inform them your first shot is below the sighting line. This is your one and only freebie for that card. You have to make the corrections to your sights to get above the sighting line into the sighting bull. This applies at any distance. If you fail to notify the range officer, your shots below the sighting line will be counted for score.
Since 2017 the ASSA has conducted 3 Championship matches. The first was at the Blue Trail Range in Wallingford CT. Dave and Debbie Lyman offered us the best chance at success for our first match and their guidance and expertise was priceless.
In late 2017 there was a group of twenty two smallbore shooters in Ohio who were approached by a representative from the Cardinal Shooting Center. Cardinal was seeking information on what was needed to build a smallbore rifle range. The Cardinal Center had the stated goal of being the premier shooting destination for the eastern half of the USA. We took a leap of faith in 2018 and conducted our second championship on a brand new range. On the day arrived concrete was still being poured for a concrete firing line, concrete target lines for 25, 50 Yard, 50 Meters and 100 Yards. Brand new target frames were created and in spite of the temporary roof over the firing line, everyone could see the potential. We considered the 2018 Championship at the Cardinal Center to be a success.
In 2018 the CMP conducted their first 3-P and conventional Prone Championship at Camp Perry. The NRA also conducted their 5th consecutive Iron Man Championship at Bristol IN giving the smallbore shooting community 3 opportunities to shoot major championships.
In 2019 the CMP increased their prone championship to a 6400 and the NRA scheduled their 6th and final Championships at Bristol IN to overlap with the CMP. The ASSA conducted their 3rd Championship at the Cardinal Center. Since the 2018 match, the range was equipped with a permanent roof, a PA system, a pistol target turning system on the 25 yard line, and some improved parking and access. The structure for the Store/Club House/ and rest rooms was under construction. No landscaping or grass seed was planted, largely due to the extremely wet weather central Ohio suffered during planting season. Needless to say, the competitors could still see the potential but were disappointed with the progress.
For the year 2020 we were all getting ready to head back outdoors when a Global Pandemic cancelled all organized events regardless of the type. Human gatherings were highly discouraged and even made illegal all across the world. All major shooting related sporting events were cancelled including the NCAA's at Kentucky, Junior Olympics in Colorado, USA Shooting Rifle Championships at Ft Benning, the CMP Championships at Camp Perry, the NRA Championships Camp Atterbury and multitude of state and local matches. This was to be the first year that pistol and smallbore were to be held at Camp Atterbury and all 3 championships would be held at the same venue.
The ASSA chose to take a wait and see attitude to see if the country would return to a more normal environment and the pandemic would be under control. We paid particular attention to the Scholastic Clay Target Program and Scholastic Action Shooting Program plans for running their Championship at the Cardinal Center the week after ASSA concluded. June 1st was set as the deadline to decide to hold the Championships or cancel them. We decided to move our match dates to end of July in order to allow for more time to get the pandemic under control through out the country.
Prior to moving our dates we also reached out to the Cardinal Center to make sure we were still on the schedule for the dates we discussed. At that time we were given some disappointing news. In regards to the condition of the range, no further improvements were made since the 2019 matches with the exception of the opening of the Lapua Test Center, located immediately to the left side of the firing line. The Store/Club House facilities were dried in but would not be inhabitable for the ASSA matches. The modular building we used in 2018 and 2019 was no longer available and we were faced with operating out of a tent in the parking lot. With this information we decided to begin looking for alternative ranges that could host our championship.
Ultimately, the Chief Wa-Ke-De range in Bristol Indiana was chosen as our location. We still have 100 firing points. It is a known commodity, and the folks at St. Joseph Valley Rifle and Pistol Association were very open to the idea of us coming there. For all the reasons that shooters enjoy shooting at this range, they will enjoy them in 2020. Camping will be permitted on site during the championships. The X-Count Club in Ft. Wayne is working with the ASSA to conduct 3-P Junior Camps for the duration of our matches. They have also taken the initiative to manage the Camp Site reservations and to also reserve blocks of rooms in Middlebury at the Das Dutchman Essenhaus and also The Hampton Inn. Anyone interested in camping at the site or wishing to stay at the lodging in Middlebury can use this web site link to make reservations.