Richland, WA – Rattlesnake Mountain Shooting Facility
I was a little nervous to shoot a match in Eastern Washington in late June. Normally it is scorching over there. Dry but hot. We were fortunate to have decent temps around 75-80 degrees. This match in the past has always been the F-Class/Open St Championship and they kindly have allowed us sling shooters to join in now. Thanks gang, I know the Palma and sling crowd has not always been very welcoming to you. That mentality does need to change. And I believe it is. Especially since you are outnumbering sling shooters 2 and sometimes 3-1 at matches now. It is your group that is keeping NRA long range alive. Ok, enough of that speech. I am sure I just started a war. Held at Rattlesnake Mountain Shooting Facility in Richland, WA this was a two day match all at 1000 yards. I have mentioned many times in the past that this range can be super difficult. The wind conditions are unforgiving and a winning score can be 30 points down from clean. This weekend was not one of the crazy windy ones but it still was frustrating. It would switch from 9 MOA right to 2 MOA left in one shot. Even when it looked calm out there the mirage was knocking people off of the target. There was not a huge turn out but the competition was great none the less.
I finally got Charles to make it to this event. He had to dust off his Palma rifle from last April when we shot in S. Africa. I meant last year 2013 April! What is nice though is our rifles have the exact same timing and barrels on them. So the load of ammo we made was for my gun but he can shoot it in his as well. I do have a few more rounds in mine obviously but that did not hurt him at all. We have been trying to keep all of the guns we compete with the same caliber at least so we are not loading 20 different types of ammo. Way too confusing and way too much stuff. As I had mentioned in the last article, the rattlesnake population in Washington is very high this year for some reason. Trust me, when ever I went back to the car I scoured the area around and under the tires for slithery rattles. I was nervous every time we let Kozmo run around too. But thankfully no snake sightings.
Beside the F-Class and F-Open shooters we had two categories of sling shooters, Any/Any and Palma. For those of you unfamiliar with ANY/ANY it means you can have any caliber and any sight. Of course most will have an optic as an advantage. Palma still needs to be 308 and with iron sights. I shot Palma along with 4 others. James Obermeyer got 1st place in front of me by 1 point. So close. I took second. It was not a pretty second place but a second place none the less. Gary Rasmussen was overall match winner of sling shooters and in the Any/Any category. He had an incredible score for any range let alone Rattlesnake. Nice shooting Gary. Mike Mauer placed 2nd. In the F-Class group Monte Milanuk was the match winner and F-Open was Steve Zock. Congrats to all.
This was the most difficult time I’ve had shooting here. It actually had nothing to do with the wind. That I expect. But the target frame paper is a murky tan color instead of the bright white that international targets have. Add the tan sand berm behind them and that the sun was behind them casting a shadow. You are left with a blurry blob down there 1000 yards away. I opened up my front sight almost to 5.5. I needed to frame the entire 6 foot frame inside my sight circle. Even then it was tough to tell the difference between target frame and background. Normally at 1000 on a clear day my front app is quite tight at around 4.5. (That is just how I like it, does not mean it is for everyone) Am I whining? Perhaps. But I have never had this much difficulty seeing the targets before. Camp Perry and even Ben Avery I can see. And Ben Avery is desert and sand background as well but I can see the target. They are not as murky tan. I am not sure if the targets at Rattlesnake are just that much older and stained or what. That made it a little less enjoyable for me this weekend. I normally love shooting there for the wind challenge. I will be practicing every Thursday at Cascade with the LR6 target until Camp Perry in August. I can’t believe US Nationals is almost here again. Gary is going to make a target background for the LR6 we practice on that mimics Rattlesnake’s bland color. Sounds strange to do that but it could really help before going back there again.