Man, it’s nice to have reliable broadband service again! (And a solid night’s sleep!)
Let’s start off my (excessively long) 2009 Boomershoot report with a video: The Anvil Launch!
As noted previously, my shooting partner and I departed Tucson on Wednesday morning about 06:30 and didn’t stop until we got North of
Boise, ID Salt Lake City, UT. We left bright and early Thursday, and arrived in Orofino a little after 4:00PM – too late to join the other Gunbloggers up at the range, but we did manage to find the local Ponderosa restaurant (not the chain, an independent) for dinner at 18:00 that evening for an informal get-together. I met Ry Jones, Earl Dungey of Just the Library Keeper, Alan of Snarky Bytes, Matthew of Triggerfinger, the original South Park Pundit (now blogging at Ballistic-Deanimation. I got to see Derek of The Packing Rat, George of Rivrdog, David of Random Nuclear Strikes, and Bonnie of Squeaky Wheel Seeks Grease again, too, and (of course) Joe Huffman, our host. I know I met more bloggers than that, but my memory is faulty.
Friday we slept in, and at Joe’s invitation we moseyed on up to the range about lunch time. Gene Econ was running the first day of the long-range clinic, so we stopped over at the lunch wagon and got a burger & fries, and when everybody else broke for lunch, we headed up to the Taj Mahal where the Boomerite gets made. We met an interesting couple riding a Ural motorcycle with a sidecar (2WD!) that drew a lot of comments all weekend long.
When we first met I asked him what he did for a living. “I lie” was his reply, to which my response was “Oh! You’re a journalist!” I was right. Turns out that he’s Jack Lewis, freelance writer and frequent contributor to Motorcycle magazine, and his passenger is his wife and photographer. My shooting partner is a rider, and works for the University of Arizona doing esoteric technical stuff supporting the local observatories, so he had a lot to talk about with them about – bikes, riding and photography! Anyway, shooting partner and I spent the rest of the afternoon helping out a little, folding cardboard boxes and helping clean up, but where there was a break about three in the afternoon, we headed on down the hill.
We decided it would be a really good idea to get our rifles zeroed for the shoot on Sunday, so we went back Saturday morning, got signed in for “field fire” and set up our shooting position – #74:
That little blue half-tent was our windbreak and sunshade. Not quite big enough, but it sufficed. The temperature was in the low 40’s, and the wind was just a bit brisk, too, so we layered up and took a look at the range itself:
We were on the end of a little hillock. The treeline you see in the middle distance is the 375-yard berm. The bottom of the hill way out there in the distance?
Yes, 606 yards, by my rangefinder. The top of the hill measured 717 yards. On Saturday, steel targets were scattered all the way from the base up to the top. We sighted in on one at about 640 yards. I hit it with both the Remington 700 and the long-range pistol, so I figured I was ready for Sunday. There is something . . . rewarding about repeatedly smacking a 4″ steel target that far off in a stiff breeze.
Late in the afternoon the crew set up some Boomers at the 375 yard line for the precision rifle clinic people to shoot, and then those of us who were shooting “field fire” got a crack at them. My shooting partner got a couple, and then offered me his 7mm Magnum to take some shots. My response? “Oh hell yes!” That done, we packed up our rifles, left our shelter and bench set up, and headed back into Orofino to get ready for the evening’s banquet.
There was an excellent turnout for the dinner, lots of prizes raffled off, and Joe raised $1,085 for Soldier’s Angels plus an anonymous donor gave an additional $300 to be passed on. I didn’t win a thing, and neither did my shooting partner. Bummer. But Alan won the best prize there. (The 50% off a Nightforce scope was #2. I dropped the better part of $60 trying to win that, but wasn’t even close in that competition.)
Joe had all of the blogger/livejournalist attendees stand up and introduce themselves, and there were many. Hopefully he’ll post a complete list some time. I got in a couple of wisecracks, myself.
Sunday was the Big Day, and turnout was good. I’d estimate that there were 175 or so shooters and at least another 50-75 spectators. I saw four empty spots, which surprised me, but I guess given the economy some people just couldn’t make it. Bonnie actually had to head back home Sunday morning, so she didn’t get to shoot on the big day, plus somehow she broke her nose on Saturday (I’m still waiting to hear how that happened.)
Alan has a very good picture of what the side of the hillside looked like populated with Boomers. Firing commenced about 10:00, and there was much Sturm und Drang. With my partner spotting for me, it took me nine shots before I got my first Boomer at about 615 yards, but I rapidly got eight more – at one point three-in-a-row, which has major ego-boosting powers, let me tell you! The call of “TARGET DOWN!” is very cool, followed immediately by a distance-delayed “BOOOOM!” We switched and I spotted for him for a while. I think I was a lousy spotter, because he burned a lot of .30-06 ammo to not much effect for a while. He ended up dropping to the 375 yard berm and finally scored a hit. He concluded that the next time he comes (this was his second trip) he’ll have better equipment. At the least, better optics. I switched to the pistol and put about 40 rounds downrange, but only managed to score one 7″ boomer at about 640 yards. (Scared a few, but only just.) Still, that’s not bad for my first attempt at really looooong range handgunning.
We broke for lunch about noon, so I took my camera and walked the firing line to see what the others had brought.
There were a couple of “minimalists,” like this guy who brought a sniper
KAR-98 Swedish Mauser M41B:
and a scoped Mosin
I have a feeling that picking out tiny little 7″ squares at 600+ yards with WWII-era sniper optics was a challenge.
Of course, David brought his long-range pistols:
Lots of people had better sun and wind protection than we did:
These guys had HEAT!
But there was some serious high-dollar hardware on site:
Lots of high-dollar optics for the spotters were in evidence.
I definitely need to upgrade to a better spotting scope/tripod. What I’ve got is fine for seeing bullet holes in paper at 100 yards, but it’s not so much for trying to see bullet “trace” on its way out to 600 yards.
But THESE guys:
I was tempted to ask if those things were self-propelled, too.
Anyway, the weather weenies were wrong (again) and the winds were lighter on Sunday than they had been on Saturday, so it seemed warmer. It didn’t rain or snow, and the shooting was excellent. All in all, it was a great trip – but one I don’t think I’ll be doing next year. Over the week I put 2990 miles on my truck, the overwhelming majority in four long days behind the wheel. I need a shooting friend who’s a member of AOPA. There’s a nice airstrip right next to Orofino. It’s got to be better than 50 hours of windshield time.
But I was grinning the whole way home . . .