Civilian Rifle Marksmanship and Hunting Essential to Freedom by Ed Hale

It was during the American Revolution that the first guns with rifling were put to the test. It was George Washington who enlisted the service of Daniel Morgan, a rough and tumble marksman, hunter and Indian fighter to create our first Military “Riflemen”.  Later to become General Daniel Morgan under General George Washington and famous for his Revolutionary war “Battle of the Cowpens”

Image result for daniel morgan in battle of saratoga


Many folks haven’t a clue who Morgan is and I neither did I till I did this research of this American Hero with a Rifle. Amazon sells a book on him you may find fascinating.

First and foremost he was a civilian marksman with a Pennsylvania Rifle who had intimate knowledge of the trails and mountains as a hunter and Indian fighter.  Morgan was among a long list of Civilian men with such skills.

Before America was born, families of the 13 colonies, for survival sake, needed to be skilled at hunting, reading sign, and shooting of wild game, predators and fend off native Indian attacks. It was the Pennsylvania Rifle that gave them an edge for  long distance, a tool to  maintain their Freedom. It was the Mountain men of the 13 colonies territories in the mid 1700’s that embraced the Pennsylvania Rifle many call the Kentucky Rifle. It was created for Mountain men headed to new land called Kentucky. The first rifle that had grooves or “rifling in the barrel.  It was the civilian marksmanship skills and the Pennsylvania rifle created by German and Dutch immigrants which led to such a long range rifle.

It was from the Civilian ranks from birth that Marksman that made the difference in Battle. Do you remember Alvin C. York who with his marksmanship hunting skills and courage given him by God, handily used his marksmanship to aid in defeating the German Army of WW I.

It was from civilian marksman hunter ranks that Rob Oneill of Seal Team 6 below was created. It was Rob Oneill that killed Osama bin Laden.


It was from civilian marksman hunter ranks that Marcus Luttrell of Seal Team 10 was created.


Marcus luttrell 2007.jpg

In time of war it was Civilian Marksmanship that brought a rapid end to battles in the Revolution, WW I, WW II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanisan and today to kill Osama Bin Laden.

Below American Sniper Chris Kyle

Chris Kyle January 2012.jpg


So Civilian Marksman and Hunters be proud and if you enlist or are called to the nations service you will add those civilian hunter and marksmen that have stood tall in behalf of the nation in times of war. In the meantime learn your marksman, woodsmanship, hunting and survival skills as they will serve you well in this ever changing world.

Leupold VX-3i Riflescope – World Class Performance!

Last week as you know, I shot at the Sig Sauer Academy using the Leupold VX-3i 6.5-20 50mm CDS Riflescope (Target). I was shooting 8 inch balloons at 1000 yards. The clarity and crispness of the balloons at that distance was unbelievable. It is easily one of the finest scopes on the Planet and it is made in the USA. More below on the VX-3i. The add is very cool. Check it out!

Reach for 1000 SIG SAUER Academy with Savage M12 LRP and Leupold Scope VX-3i 6.5-20x50mm by Ed Hale

July 19, 2016 I arrived at the Sig Academy and met up with son Jason. Below is the Pro Shop. A beautiful summer day shooting with son Jason is all I could ask for!


An inside look.


We headed to our classroom where Chris Cavellaro our Instructor known as “Cav” gave us an intro as what to expect from the day which started at 8:30 AM and lasted technically till 5 PM but we shot till 6 PM.


Cav went around the room with 5 students in attendance to see where they were from and their expectations of the course.

Five is a very manageable size for the type of shooting we are doing. I was performing Test and Evaluation of the Savage Model 12 Long Range Precision Rifle as well as the Test and Evaluation of Leupold’s newly introduced Scope VX-3i 6.5-20x50mm Custom Dial System. You must select a cartridge for using the Custom Dial System and have a CDS dial made. I chose not to test the CDS feature.

Below is all my gear for the Class “Reach for 1000”.


Our set-up to check zero at 100 yards.  Sig gave us shooting blankets to use. Below is top is Jason’s Rifle and my Savage Model 12 Long Range Precision rifle and Leupold VX-3i Scope with a shade attached.IMG_1023

Below is my 100 yard group shooting Hornady Precision Hunter 143 grain (Extremely Low Drag) ELD-X bullets with the first shot called a cold shot 1 1/2 inches high.

hornady ammo Precision Hunter


The rest of the shots grouped a bit less than 1 inch as the barrel begins to warm up. Initially, I was not really comfortable and relaxed because I set my bi-pod lower to see if it made a difference, it didn’t feel comfortable.  I reset the bi-pod higher and got my large rear sand bag and was comfortable again. the tight group of three to the left happens when this bull barrel warms a bit. Cold shots are important to understand when you need to make that Precision shot the first time.

Cav shared a shooting technique to look through your scope then close your eyes, relax your head and open them to see if the crosshair moves. If it does, you want to move your body left or right till that crosshair remains on center. Emphasis on relaxed muscles. Secondly, Cav emphasized the focus on the crosshair more than the target. In fact the target may even blur but the crosshair is your focal point in the aiming process. No mention about breathing during the shot sequence was done. I am happy with my breathing sequence.

Emphasis on trigger pull as a steady force rearward till the trigger sear breaks and the rifle fires.  All said and done the shooter should not be tense at all and the trigger finger does all the work. My Precision trigger is set at 2 pounds for target shooting, See photo below.


Below is the 200 yard shooting area center. Targets were again paper.


Below we are set up at 300 yards and about to shoot steel targets with white circles so we can see/hear the impact.



Below are my 300 yard shots, Top three inch circle has all five hits in the white while the bottom circle grouping was very tight indeed with all 5 shots three dead center and 2 at 6 o’clock in the white. Whoa! Nice! I said to Cal; “I have read that many precision bullets seem to stabilize at longer ranges.”  “Yes they can”, Cal added.


Below is Jason’s 300 yard group.


The three hundred range also is the 750 yard range to the right in the photo below. Look above the scope turret. It looks tiny doesn’t it. Sooo far away that even the targets are difficult to see without  a scope which was set to 14x. I should have dialed to 20x but still shot quite fine hitting a 10 inch white square after a few minor adjustments. Cav had a Kestrel wind meter with barometric pressure. Wind was coming from our backs most of the day making wind drift a small concern.


It was here that I discovered that I ran out of elevation adjustment but it was not due to the scope. The 20 MOA picatinny rail was on backwards. Cav had field tools so we unmounted the scope turned the rail 180 degrees, remounted the scope and in 15 minutes and I was back in business for 1000 yards. Hmm, the Leupold 20 MOA rail had no markings on it for direction.

Below shooters finishing the 750 yard targets



Below is 1000 yard targets with a large 4 foot steel plate with a 10 inch white square in the middle. The same target we shot at 750 yards but repainted. One at a time we made adjustments to hit the 10 inch white square. To the left and right are steel human silhouette tagets which we engaged once we could put rounds in the 10 inch square. But now for the balloon shoot at 1000 yards. There were strings of 8 and 6 inch multi-colored balloons to shoot. I was able to take out three of these balloons at 1000 yards.


Below, Jason and I are taking aim at a 8 inch balloon at 1000 yards. We added 1 minute in windage for bullet spin drift (book says 1.2) I took out three balloons to Jason’s one. Not bad for an old fart, eh with at test Savage Model 12 LRP and a Test Leupold VX-3i 6.5-20x50mm scope and store bought ammo. Not bad at all…and I teased him in good humor too.

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In a few days Sig will email a course evaluation. I was elated with the skill and laid back nature of our Instructor Cav. He had a very consistent demeanor all day. At the end of the course we had a debrief and there I gave my grade for Cal who I gave an A+ grade.

I could have used a two gallon thermos of cold water. My Camel bak Hydration back pack worked great but the water got warm faster than I wanted. Could have added more Ice to it. Need lots of cold water when I do this again.

There is a follow-up to this course which goes into detail on Wind doping and Mirage and Calculators for MOA or Mil adjustments.

We all received a Certificate of Completion of the “Reach for 1000 training”.

Ratings for the Model 12 LRP Rifle are easy I give the Rifle an A grade. It never let me down.

The Leupold VX-3i 6.5-20 x50mm was just fantastic and I could see and pop 8 inch balloons at 1000 yards using 20x. The balloons were clear and sharp with great color.

The 20 MOA rail was terrific once we had it pointed in the right direction and the 143 grain Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X bullets were excellent and Match Grade.

I had a great time learned a lot and recommend the rifle, scope and the training to all my friends.

Good Shooting!

© 2016

Nashua High Power Match Score Cards July 9th at Nashua F & G with new .308 Criterion Barrel

Nashua High Power Match Score Cards July 9th at Nashua F & G with new .308 Criterion Barrel was tested in Jason Hale’s previous article.

Jason article Pic 1

Below is Jason’s first 3×600 Prone shoot score cards. 20 shots for each  of the 3×600 matches that day. Each line represents 10 shots for score, Max score for each shot is 10 points with the X being the very center of the bullseye. In the first card you see s1 and s2 and are non scoring practice shots. The 95 means 95 out of 100 as a possible score and the 3 represents the number of X’s. Now you can read the rest of the score cards. His rear rest was a squeeze bag in this case and made it more difficult. Not bad for his first 3×600 shoot. We are awaiting how he placed in the shoot.



Savage Upgrade and Barrel Swap for NRA Long Range Target by Jason Hale


After some nagging from my dad and carving some time out away from work and family, I finally got around to writing this article…..

I’ve long since been bitten by the long range target and hunting bug and now own 2 savage 10/110 FCP rifles chambered in .308 Winchester and .300 Winchester Magnum cartridges.  Upon seeing the accuracy potential of the .308 at the Sig Sauer Academy “Reach for a thousand”  1000 yd course a while back, with bone stock, I decided to purchase some upgrades to convert it to a long range rig.

The initial upgrade was the JP rifles AMCS chassis system, and then mounted some new glass (Vortex Viper 6-24x FFP).  See photo below by author.

Jason article Pic 1

With the added weight it was not suitable for hunting, but if I wanted to lug it around the woods, I could always return it to the OEM HS Precision stock and head out into the woods.


Since the stock upgrade, I’ve been looking out for any precision rifle series matches in the northeast, and haven’t found one yet, so I’ve taken to NRA F class target shooting.  Following the stock upgrade I entered into my first F-TR match and didn’t do half bad.  So after that, I committed to myself to enter into every match I could.  I set out to research a bit more about barrel upgrades I could do to make it more suitable for F-TR.  I was drawn to the inherent versatility of the savage barrel nut system, and dreamed about match grade barrels, but never had the courage to pick up a new one until I skimmed through a favorite website (Northland Shooters Supplies (NSS) website:  I looked over their offerings with respect to target barrels and gave them a call, 15 minutes later I purchased my first 28″ button rifled match grade barrel made by Criterion Barrels .  Five days of ground shipping later, I had that handsome barrel in my itchy hands.  While I was waiting for its arrival, I decided to clean the original barrel, oil it and prepare for it’s removal.  I purchased all of the re-barreling tools some time ago anticipating this activity happening at some point.


Jason Article Pic 2


  1. Savage action wrench from NSS
  2. Savage barrel nut wrench from NSS
  3. Savage stainless barrel nut and recoil lug.
  4. Chamber GO/NO GO gauges from Pacific Tool and Gauge. (absolute must for setting headspace properly)
  5. 1/2″ Torque wrench (make sure you calculate torque correctly accounting for extensions from the torque wrench head that increase lever length.)
  6. Never-seize (not seen in picture)

With this kit, I can re-barrel my action with barrels chambered for  .243 Win, 308 Win, .358 Win, .260 Rem, 7mm-08, and the .338 Federal cartridges.  Not bad for versatility, I’d say!

After installing my action into the action wrench and putting the wrench into the vise, I slid on the barrel nut wrench and with deep breath and a breaker bar easily loosened the barrel nut.  I was surprised at the ease of barrel removal reading of all of the horror stories from the web forums.

Jason article Pic 3

The critical part of re-barreling is setting the headspace correctly.  As I learned while reading about this swap, and thankfully not by experience, it is imperative that you remove the ejector plunger before you insert the headspace gauge, unless you fancy large gouges in your pretty chamber; not me.  Step by step instructions recommending the same can be found throughout the net as well as the fine folks at NSS.  One point to note, you don’t want the barrel to rotate as you torque the barrel nut and jam the go gauge in the chamber, you may end up with something slightly shorter than SAAMI Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute specification, or at least a chamber that may not accept previously made loaded rounds due to headspace differences.  I had a rubber strap wrench hanging around and put it to good use to counter the twisting of the barrel.  One last torque and the rifle was re-assembled into the stock.

Overall the process was painless as well as exciting as long as you take it slow.  I took three shots below following zero and some break-in combined with some load work-ups.  Below is the 3 shot group of my current load.

Jason article Pic 4

The point of this article on swapping barrels on a Savage with a threaded barrel is that you don’t necessarily need a gunsmith to swap a barrel on Savage rifles. That makes Savage actions and rifles a versatile indeed!

Editor’s Note: This tight 0.28 inch 3 shot group that Jason shot is the result of experimentation with many variables such as the new barrel,  bullet, powder, cartridge case prep, primer, overall length and many other details. In addition we compute standard deviation and extreme spread to maximize long range potential.

© 2016 Jason Hale  for New Hampshire Rifleman Magazine

Prep for 1000 yards at Sig Sauer Academy with Savage M12 Long Range Precision Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor by Ed Hale

I am looking forward to the Reach for 1000 training at the Sig Sauer Academy this July 19th with my son Jason who has already taken the class but desired to attend with me as a father/son event. I have already competed at Nahsua’s  300, 500 and 600 match with my AR-15 and 77 grain Nosler Bullets and calculated bullet drop tables after measuring bullet speed with a chronograph. Now with the 6.5 Creedmoor we have lots of bullet weight for the caliber, store bought Hornady 143 grain Extremely Low Drag Hunting Bullets (see the article inside). They are not tack drivers but sub-moa never the less in my rifle so I should be able to easily reach the 1000 yard mark… and a lot more if it was available.  The velocity spread is wider as I measured with my Chronograph so I expect some vertical stringing at 800 and 1000 yards They do not allow hand loaded ammo. I will report back after the course.

I am taking the course because professionals are teaching it and want to see what new things I can learn from the Pro’s.  Cost $300 + 150 rounds of store bought ammunition. We shall see if the cost of training was worth it?

The training includes:

  • Zeroing and Grouping at various distances.
  • Precision Shooting drills
  • Improvised shooting positions
  • Field shooting 100,300,500,800 and 1000 yards.
  • Preventative Maintenance, inspection and safe storage.

Required Equipment

  • Hard Cased – Precision scoped rifle w/sling – I am bringing the test Savage Model 12 Long Range Precision Rifle with a test Leupold 20 MOA picatinny rail and test Leupold VX-3i 6.5-20x50mm scope with fine duplex crosshairs
  • Spotting Scope – A Leupold Sequoia 15x – 45x
  • Rangefinder – Leupold test RX-1200i TBR/W Good for the activity? We shall see?
  • Rifle cleaning equipment – bringing 2 full length cleaning rods w brushes and brass jag tips, Butches bore shine, and cleaning pads.
  • Field Note Book and Pencils
  • Clothing suitable for training in any weather. With Poncho if necessary
  • Hydration System – Test with 3 liter Camelpak Thermopak back pack from e-bay
  • Sunscreen and Bug Spray
  • Hat with brim
  • Wraparound eyewear, polycarbonate lens or no shatter prescription.
  • 150 round estimate of ammo.