I have a hobby.

Writing about shooting is probably not going to broaden my audience (as this isn’t a shooting blog, I’m not an expert by any means so there’s no reason to consider what I write) and runs the risk of driving away a few readers.

OTOH, it’s my blog, and this is what interests me.  Also, there’s no HIPAA for shooting, so I can talk about it.

I’ve recently become interested in long-range shooting, have taken a long class, gotten myself a very nice setup, and done a little practice.  I do it for a lot of reasons: I like the precision and self-control required, there’s plenty of technology (more than I thought), feedback is immediate on the target, and I finally found a sport I can do lying down.

(I’m not a hunter.  Mostly because it doesn’t interest me, and I’m not hungry.  Should I miss a few meals, I’ll have no trouble becoming a hunter, and this training would come in handy.)

Speaking of training, I am fortunate to live fairly close to a high-end training center that specializes in just that.  I took one of their courses, bought a very much better rifle after the class, and did some training afterward, though not enough (dang job).  One of the best ways to see if you’re learning something is to compete, so off to a long range shootout yesterday.

The competition was quite well organized, well (and safely) run.  The competition was to shoot sporting clays, which were 120mm (4.7”), 90mm (3.5”) and 60mm (2.4”) orange targets.  From 400 yards.  Clays are fun to shoot as they usually break very nicely, visible through the rifle scope, so hit/miss is easily discernible.  Big=10 pts, medium=20, little=30, so relay max =150 points, with 5 relays in the competition.  Oh, and you get 8 minutes to fire a maximum of 10 shots per relay.

There was a sighting-in period, then the competition.  I had to move my firing position after sight-in, as my rifle has a muzzle brake (it reduces my felt recoil substantially: my rifle goes boom but doesn’t kick) but it blows air backwards.  This was showering the shooter next to me with dirt.  So moved, built a little barrier with a soft rifle case, and he’s good.

First frame I had the first-competition jitters: all these guys are better than me, and I haven’t actually practiced at this distance; there were a bunch of shooters who brought massive shooting benches from home, with clamps to hold their amazingly detailed rifles and their 40 power scopes in place, I’m shooting prone.

Before my first shot, my goal: be in the middle.  At the end of my 10 rounds, new goal: don’t be last.  Terrible shooting, just awful, and it’s all me.

Second frame: better, but left the two little ones; cleaned the third frame, and left one little one on 4&5.  I might make the middle!  As with most things, being comfortable makes all the difference.

There were 6 perfect scores, all bench shooters, and they had a one-shot shootoff; 48 shooters, I scored 550, for 16th place.  Upper third!  That’s encouraging, but the gunner in me now has to do better.  I enjoyed it, and exceeded my expectations quite a bit (especially with quite the inauspicious start).

Next: handloading!  Time to get the variation out of the ammo…

Many thanks to the Tarleton State High Power Rifle Team for pulling and resetting targets.  They did a quick and terrific job, helping the competition go as smoothly as I can imagine.


  1. Very cool! Not a shooter myself, but I can appreciate it.

  2. Excellent! Anyone who knows me knows I have a fascination with anything sniper+long-range shooting and, yes, there is quite a bit of science and a smidge of just gut/guesswork with experience to get it right at such long distances. I’ve never done it (just standard rifle/deer hunting a couple of times–no luck) but of all the shooting activities, this is the one I’d do first out of interest. I’ll be following along, so don’t hesitate to post more!

  3. Congrats on top third — that’s quite impressive! What caliber were you shooting?

  4. Sounds like fun–moreso without the bench & whatnot, even if all that gear does improve the results.

  5. My husband is a farmer’s son, so of course, shoots as well. He has 2 guns but his favourite is a semi-automatic Baretta. Early on in our relationship, I asked him to show me how to use it, so I could join in the rabbit and fox hunting they go do once the fields have been harvested. We went practising in a field against various targets he’d set up. (He’s pretty damn good but don’t tell him I said so!) We took both his guns and I did the ‘tuck it into your shoulder, plant feet, take aim, fire’. And then picked myself up off the ground. It had the most unbelievable kick. I had a bruise on both sides of my shoulder for about a week. Thenceforth I decided if I wanted rabbit, I’d go to the butchers …
    When it comes to pheasant shooting, I wear the cartridge bag and carry the downed birds. I know which end of a gun I belong!

    Good luck with your new hobby; I look forward to reading more about it.

  6. Glen in West Texas says:

    A purpose built outbuilding (air conditioned) for loading would be an excellent fall project.

    There are an astonishingly large number of 30 cal bullets on the market. You will have a great deal of data collection and experimenting to do. Do you have a chronograph? or does your range have one available?

    A good hobby with lots of science. Nice to have computers to both predict results, and keep track of real results. I recall there being some iphone apps for shooters now.

    If you can manage to post charts/graphs of your results, I am sure many would find it interesting-I certainly would.

  7. Have a look at the Serbu BFG-50.

    VERY nice rifle, and great bang for the buck.

    Only problem is you need an eight foot thick packed earth backstop.

  8. Suburban ER Doc says:

    Sounds like fun. I’ve shot at 300 yrds so I know how hard it can be. A few hours of long distance paper punching is a great way to relax isn’t it?

  9. Awesome, I do a lot of shooting. Long range on my annual Colorado Elk hunt. Medium range with .223 and lots of short range handgun. Im lucky I can do up to 100 yards in the back yard. I have land available to do whatever range you would want. I love it. I am glad all the gun buying panic is over so I can find ammo again. Keep me posted on your new hobby.

  10. Outstanding. I’m a .308 guy myself, but there’s nothing wrong with the 300 mag.

    Shooting as a sport is as American as mom and apple pie. Anybody who’s going to be sickened and horrified that you own a bullet-launching device needs their head examined. I don’t think you’ll drive off too many readers with a smattering of “gun” posts… and if you do… well… who needed those pantywaists anyway?

  11. I have some .308’s and am not knocking them, I just like this one a little better.

    Given HIPAA and my desire to stay employed in EM, I might just transition to a gun blog. With a smattering of medical posts. Heh. (Kidding).

  12. I like the idea of a shooters blog. You can always throw in a few GSW stories from work to make it interesting.

  13. Heh… how about a blog on ballistics?

    The longer I’ve worked in EM, the less and less impressed I’ve become with the terminal ballistic performance of most handguns. Now rifles, on the other hand…

  14. Cool!!

    Reminder to self: Do not get on GruntDoc’s bad side.

  15. Flight-ER-Doc says:

    Very cool. I started with a .30-06 bolt, and 1000 meters….now I use a .338 Lapua Magnum (bolt) at around 1600 meters.

  16. Congrats Doc! Welcome to the public world of shooting. Never be ashamed of who you are or what you do.

  17. Welcome to the wonderful world of long range shooting! You will be amazed at how many medical providers are part of it! (General Practice, myself.)

    If you enjoyed shooting clays at 400, you’ll really enjoy shooting reactive targets, especially ones that literally explode! Check out Boomershoot. There were several shooters there from Texas last April.


    Once again, welcome.

  18. I would say that you did quite well for a first outing. I would also say that once you start reloading, everything I have heard is that you will really get your groups down.

  19. Bench shooting is not real shooting. It takes a man to shoot prone.

  20. Worried About A 5 year old says:

    I have a fairly serious question for you as a shooter and an ER doc.

    When should a child get his (her) BB gun? What kind of supervision is appropriate?

    I’m the great-granddaughter of a gunsmith. I grew up in a hunting family (I can still remember my first dove hunt at age almost-5. The little kids were the dove retrievers & dispatchers & field dressers). We were allowed to plink at cans on the fence fairly early (don’t have a clear memory of how old I was), under adult supervision. I was both dove & duck hunting from about the age of 11. I didn’t have a gun of my own until I was in my late teens.

    The reason I’m asking is that a family I know purchased a BB gun (Daisy, I believe) for their 5 year old son as a birthday present. The parent and the child have been observed shooting the gun at random (in other words, not at a target). They live in a somewhat rural area, but they have been observed shooting within 25 feet of somebody else’s house. The parent has also been heard to say, “It’s just a BB gun, not a rifle.” It is not known how the BB gun is secured in the home.


  1. […] He e-mailed me a few days ago, indicating apprehension that his regular audience might not enjoy his blogging about his hobby.  Judging from the comments, I would say he’s got not much to worry about. Look at this […]