F-TR: Scoping It Out
by Germán A. Salazar
My four match scores to date, on the NRA MR65F target are: 594-22, 594-27, 589-28, 596-26. All were fired with the same rifle, a Gilkes-Ross action in a Robertson/Sitman Highpower Prone stock with an Anschütz 5020 trigger set at 2.5 lb., a 30" Krieger 1:11" twist barrel chambered by Clark Fay of Raton New Mexico, with a Leupold BR 24 scope and a Rempel bipod. This is simply my old Palma rifle with a scope and bipod attached. I'm also using an old Smallbore kneeling roll under my chest for support as my right arm is not yet strong enough to rest on while shooting.
Carpet Under the Bipod
The two ranges at which we shoot during the Summer have very different firing lines: one is relatively soft red dirt, the other is concrete. I quickly learned that a piece of carpet was an essential component under the bipod. Without the carpet, the bipod tends to dig into the dirt with every shot, resulting in odd elevation shots. On the concrete it isn't quite as essential, but it smooths the recoil movement appreciably and is worthwhile. John Lowther gave me a short-nap carpet remnant to use for this, but my car floor mat also worked well.
I shot the first three matches with a Leupold BR24 with a 1/4 moa dot. Tha dot size is a bit bigger than ideal as it tends to obscure the entire X ring, especially in heavy mirage. For the most recent match, I switched to a Leupold BR24 with a 1/8 moa dot; this one is a bit too small, but it allowed for greater precision in aiming. Somewhere out there is a "Goldilocks" just-right dot size, but for now I'll stick to the 1/8 moa dot.
|Gilkes-Ross rifle with Leupold BR24 scope.|
John Lowther again jumped in to give me a hand with scopes by lending me his Nightforce NSX 12-42 scope. I tried it during a recent practice session, but unfortunately, the slots in my rifle's scope rail seem to be on the low end of the width tolerance and the crossbar in his Farrell rings wouldn't quite go in properly. Although I couldn't shoot with it for score, I was able to evaluate the effect of the additional magnification. In short, I can certainly appreciate the enhanced ability to hold-off with precision that the additional magnification provides; but... for now, I remain a clicker not a shader, so this is of less importance to me than it might be to someone who prefers to hold off. Another factor against the Nightforce in my case, is that it would take my rifle/bipod combination over the F-TR weight limit. Although I could reduce weight with a buttplate assembly replacement, there's really no urgency to do so because I'll stick to the Leupold for now.
A small item to note is that my shooting glasses were just as useful with the scope as they are with irons. Having the lens centered in front of the eye was just as useful with the scope as it is with irons.
Clicking or Shading
That brings us to the question of clicking the scope versus holding off. I've been shooting iron sights and clicking sight knobs for most of my life; trying to hold off made me very uncomfortable and the reflex pull of the trigger just wasn't there. Once I returned to holding center and clicking, I was more comfortable and was able to execute my shots more quickly and cleanly. By zeroing the windage knob I was also able to easily return to a previous setting when conditions warranted.
The most serious limitation of the Leupold BR24 scope isn't the magnification, it is the 1/4 moa clicks. My method of shooting, with iron sights and the standard NRA target with its 2 moa 10 ring, is to use 1/8 moa clicks and to click constantly - always working to center the shot and adjusting for the slightest shift in the wind. Unfortunately, when that style of shooting is applied to the F-Class 1 moa 10 ring and a scope with 1/4 moa clicks, overcorrection and lost points happen quickly. In the most recent match (596-26) I dramatically reduced the amount of clicking and it paid off with a nice 200-7 in the first string and a good overall score. The X count was down a bit, but for the first time, I didn't lose any points to overcorrection.
Reading the Wind
|Viewing through the spotting scope.|
|Aiming through the rifle scope.|