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Boomer Shoot Clinic

Boomer Shoot May 2003
Clinic After Action Report

All Boomer Shoot Clinic attendees:

I will admit that this fourth clinic had weather not unlike the other three clinics.  It was pretty tough to focus in the conditions we had for the clinic.  Cold, cloudy, and rain once again.  Although we had some wind, it was generally of a quarter value but being exposed as we were, the wind fatigued us more than they blew our bullets around. 

I can now note two distinct differences between this 2K3 clinic and shoot and the clinic and shoot I first worked some five years ago.   

First -- shooters and observers are communicating with each other on the firing line.  The fact remains that unless a shooter can spot his own shots – very unlikely – he needs someone with a decent spotting scope and who can communicate with the shooter.  I was impressed with the dialogue going on between shooters and their observers, and I encourage you to continue to practice this type of communication, as it only gets easier.  We have come a long way in a few short years. 

Second – and this relates to the first issue – most Boomer Shooters are bringing equipment to the shoot that is capable of handling the conditions and standards of the shoot.  I believe that most have learned that in order to get success, you need the equipment that is capable of success.  The Boomer Shoot is pretty technical if you think about it.  The targets are quite small compared to the actual accuracy capabilities of most rifles and ammunition – let alone the marksmanship ability of the shooter and the ability of the observer to see bullet trace and communicate clearly with the shooter.  

Here are a few comments. 

1.   The rifle and ammunition combination have to be able to hold the target size at the range you are shooting; and your bullet needs enough energy down range to detonate the targets.  My last few AARs from pervious Boomer Shoots discuss rifle and ammunition accuracy and power so I don’t have to preach anymore about this subject.  This being the forth Boomer Shoot I have participated in – my advice is to stay away from the .223 or 6mm unless you intend to handload the heavier bullets for these cartridges.  I don’t think you will find store bought bullets in these calibers that will hold the accuracy and have enough energy to detonate much past 300 yards.  

2.   The observers’ spotting scope needs to be of a pretty good quality, large, heavy, and mounted on a very solid stand.  Most of the rifles and their ammunition were fine for the task.  A-lot of the spotting scopes weren’t, as many well know from being unable to see bullet trace.  I can’t place the blame on cheap spotting scopes all together.  We had wind that blew the scopes around and I believe many found out that aluminum or plastic camera tripods didn’t hold the scope steady.   What is the solution in the conditions we were shooting in?  That depends on how much money you want to spend.   John and I decided to bring two big Team Scopes because we knew the conditions were such that we needed a heavy scope with a large objective lens that could be put on a big tripod to take the wind.  I would have had a hard time with my Kowa because my stand isn’t made for the rough terrain.  A heavy tripod stand would be a better choice for me.  Before you go out and drop money on a spotting scope – you need to do some serious thinking about what you want from it.  For shooting – just remember your problems at the Clinic or on Sunday’s shoot and go from there.  In the North West – Otto Weber ( stocks a number of types of spotting scopes for High Power. 

3.  The observer needs to be able to talk shooter on to a target, dope winds, then give corrections based on the shooters ‘call’ and what ever directions the observer gave to the shooter for the shot.  The equipment for this task is pretty easy – a very good, stable, spotting scope.  The ability to communicate isn’t as easy.  There are a whole bunch of little Boomers in the various impact areas – all these little Boomers look alike – many people are firing at Boomers in that specific impact area so there are is a-lot of dirt being kicked up from misses that may confuse an observer.  To top it off, the observer is usually looking at the targets with an optic that is of a higher magnification than the scope on the shooter’s rifle, and the observer is generally not on line with the axis of the rifle barrel that is being fired.  Dialogue between the shooter and observer pays off in a big way.  John Hubbard and I are used to putting a shooter onto a pretty large target.  It is far different trying to put a shooter onto a small target among other small targets that all look alike.  All I can say is to use logic – macro to micro. 

a.   Start out getting the shooter into the impact area you both want.   

b.   Find something in that impact area that you can both identify. 

c.   ‘Shift From a Known Point’.  This is one of three ways to call in artillery fire and is quite effective in communicating where a small boomer is located in relation to something both the shooter and observer can easily see.  Remember, observer, that your optic is probably much better in seeing things than the scope on the shooters’ rifle.  In the Army some units have spotting scopes with mil dots that correspond to the mil dots on the shooters’ optic, so bringing a shooter into a target is made easier as both have the same reference points in their optics.  We aren’t that lucky so we have to use our ability to communicate clearly and simply.  John and I shifted from known points in specific impact areas, in yards and sometimes feet, to get close to a target.  We shifted as such: “Shooter, go to the 330 yard impact area between the trees.”  Shooter gets into center of sector of said area and says, “Area 3 between the trees at 330 yards.”  I then say; “Shooter, go to the reflector center of sector.”  Shooter gets the reflector and says:  “Reflector, center of sector.”  To make sure he is looking at what I am looking at – I question him about what is around said reflector, to ensure we are looking at the same reflector.  Once I know he is looking at what I am looking at, I then shift him from that known point (the reflector in this case) in yards or feet in the following manner;  “Shooter, from the reflector shift – right fifteen feet, drop (come closer to us) ten feet -- Boomer target with orange label.”  Remember that I am looking through a 100mm Unertl Team Scope with a 25X magnification and he is using a 10X optic with a 50 or so mm objective – and he is in the prone and I am about three feet above him.  So – the point is clear (he, he, he).  In fact – with the Boomers it may be best for the shooter to find one he can easily see then he talks the observer onto that specific target.  He identifies the Boomer and I may or may not question him to ensure we are looking at the same Boomer.  Once I am convinced he is looking at what I am, I have him put an elevation on the scope and give him a wind call for his shot.  Bang and Boom – he, he, he.  Not that simple, but you all now know what ‘Shift From a Known Point’ is.  If you want to know what ‘Grid’ or ‘Polar’ shifts are, then contact me back channel but they are of no value for the Boomer Shoot unless you are bringing in fire from a battery of howitzers.  Bottom line is this – talk to each other but realize that you both are in different positions using different optics.  You are seeing things differently.  

4.   If you can’t pick up bullet trace, you can probably see ‘splash’ (dirt kicked up from the bullet’s impact into the ground).  Basing decisions off of bullet splash isn’t the best way to do things as spotting scopes give very poor depth perception and as you know – you may not be the only team shooting at the target you want -- but seeing bullet splash may be the only indicator of where the bullet went.  If you are to work off of bullet splash – my recommendation is to use ‘bold corrections’ and bracket the target as best as you can.  Creeping into a target will use more ammunition in the long run and may leave you confused when you get closer and closer but the next shot goes wide.  Use bold corrections when using splash as a indicator – bracket the target – then make a final correction and let the shooter fire.  Being a bit aggressive in the decision making process will pay dividends here. 

5.   Marksmanship ability of shooter – position – seeing – knowing zero – trigger control – calling shots.  I believe everyone across the board showed solid marksmanship ability.  Remember that a position – weather it is supported or unsupported – points the barrel where you want it pointed.  Don’t hesitate to get up and change things like your body direction, elevate or traverse a tripod or even an entire shooting bench – shift a sand bag – what ever you need to do to make a tool point the barrel for you.  Do your best to ensure your rifle and whatever support you are using fit your body – not you forcing your body to fit the rifle.  A natural position for the body means the eyes work better and one has more confidence in a good shot.  More confidence means a better trigger pull.  It all ties in.  

6.  Calling shots.  I separated this from the above paragraph because I can’t stress how important it is for you to be able to call your shots – particularly for such small targets as the Boomers.  It is really the only way you can make an honest correction to zero and your observer is depending on a accurate call from the shooter so he can give a correction.   

7.   Know when to ‘break it off’ and move to another target.  I think we are getting better at this one.  Sometimes – you go left, right, high, low and simply can’t seem to put a bullet into one of those milk cartons.  Break it off after five shots or so and move to another target.  Who knows why shots are just missing but if one persists on one target and continues to miss – his subconscious is realizing he is missing and he will probably miss more.  Sometimes it is just better to move on to another target. 


Already thinking about next year.  Next year I plan on bringing out about 15 individual target stands and arraying them either at Joe’s 200 yard line (other side of the stream) or at the 330 yard line (between the trees) – the location will depend on where Joe allows them to be put due to ricochet areas.  Each will have two ‘Shoot-N-C’ targets of sufficient size for the range and will be used by the shooters to confirm or get a zero from the firing line on the hill.   We will have a small class then zero as needed and go into field firing on steel prior to blowing up some Boomers.  

I intend on giving the shooters more time for coaching by my Assistant Instructor and myself and I believe this plan will give us another hour or so of field firing and coaching.   

We will see what Joe has in store for next year and go from there. 

My thanks for your continued support and I wish you the best until next year.  I am always open to your questions throughout the year so if you have a question please send me an e-mail or give me a call. 

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Gene Econ
Lacey Washington
Maj. SF (Ret)
(360) 459-3848

Last modified: December 14, 2003