AAR: CCP Precision Long-Range Rifle

ColBatGuano

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I just attended Central Cascade Precision’s July 15-18, 2010 Precision Long Distance Rifle course after finding this school here on Sniper's Hide.


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I’ve done precision rifle courses with two other schools and those were excellent courses and I learned valuable things from each of them. But until now I had gaps in my understanding and experience at ranges over 600 yards, and lacked complete confidence that I was developing and practicing my skills in the most effective manner. No more. The CCP course covered everything I needed to take my skill set to the next level, and tied that together with what I had already learned at the other schools.

More importantly, I now have a solid enough understanding of the basic and intermediate principles and mechanics of long-range rifle that I can practice on my own without introducing or reinforcing bad habits. I think that’s a key point – I got my first precision bolt-action rifle about 10 months ago and have been to several classes since and have expended approx. 1,300 rounds of factory match .308 (no time yet to hand load). Looking back after the CCP course I can see that I had wasted a lot of money sending rounds downrange without a solid understanding of what I was doing, and without knowing the best way to record data. So to anyone new to it as I was, I would recommend spending the money on training (before) you spend too much on gear and ammo.

Thanks to previous training, I already had a solid base of marksmanship fundamentals coming to the course. Caylen (CCP owner, lead instructor) covered those fundamentals in the course (you can never cover them enough) but what made this course different for me was the amount of time spent learning to read and call wind, and operating in shooter/spotter teams. The CCP range is like a test lab for weird wind conditions: with wind coming from different directions at the same time, and constantly changing throughout the day. The presence of tall grass and different size trees across the range allowed a “real-world” learning experience that wind flags on a bare range can’t match.

The unknown distance portion was also very useful, having to Mil targets and doing the math under time pressure was a blast. As a math phobic this was something that seemed daunting until now. No more, now I find myself milling objects at work and in my home just for fun.

There were a lot of little things that were each worth the cost of the training, one was a simple way to quickly determine “ocular alignment” to make setting correct cheek rest height a fast and simple affair. I won’t describe it here since it was not presented in any previous training I’ve had, and I’d rather let Caylen teach you or write about it. There were many more, but since there are other reviews of his course online and a syllabus on the CCP site, I won’t go into a complete breakdown of the plan of instruction.

I should also mention that there were a few very experienced rifle shooters in the course and they were very happy with the pace and instruction.

The range (about 35 minute drive from Yakima, WA) was absolutely gorgeous -- situated in a valley with a grass floor and surrounded by rolling hills and forest. Steel targets were placed in the grass as well as in the tree line. We shot from different positions every day, which is a nice change from shooting from the same static firing line on a fixed range. Classroom sessions were conducted under a pop-up canopy, and the range allows firing positions in almost any direction to experience different wind, angle, and lighting conditions.

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Equipment: I was shooting Federal 175 grain Match from a Surgeon Scalpel in an AI 2.0 stock. Conditions where very dusty and I did not do a full clean on my rifle during the course. The rifle performed flawlessly under rough conditions, zero malfunctions or issues…I love my Surgeon. The whole course was a blast but the high point for me personally was getting on the 18”x24”1,000-yard target for the first time with one spotter and then putting three rounds into a 5” group with 8mph full value wind. I used a Tactical Intervention Specialists Quick-Cuff sling (recommended by Caylen), and a Nightforce 5.5-22 x 56mm 2nd Focal Plane scope with MLR reticle. The scope was excellent and the Zero-Stop feature saved my bacon at least three times. This scope needs to be at 22x to mill targets, which was not an issue as the max magnification allowed me (I believe) to take more accurate measurements at the distances where mistakes are easier to make and have a bigger affect. But all things considered I would prefer a 1st FF scope and matching spotting scope for this type of course. But like I said, the 2nd FF scope did the job. There were a mix of rifles in the class including CZ, Remington, and GA Precision.

Caylen is a top-notch instructor and did an excellent job of meeting the needs of 9 students with a wide range of ages, fitness, and experience. I was challenged throughout the course but not to the degree that it prevented me from learning something from every round fired. Caylen has substantial real-world experience gained in Iraq as a USMC Scout/Sniper and as an instructor with USMC SOTG Special Missions Branch and as a result his class is short on fluff and theory and big on practical solutions that lead to rounds on target. I highly recommend him as an individual and as an instructor. If you are looking for quality training on the West Coast then you should add Central Cascade Precision to your short list.
 

billf

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Re: AAR: CCP Precision Long-Range Rifle

Excellent write up and thanks for posting it. I was just looking at their classes a few days ago and saw I just missed the class last week.

bill
 

Sterling Shooter

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Re: AAR: CCP Precision Long-Range Rifle

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: C45P312</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Thanks for the AAR. Don't see many dealing with Precision Rifle classes compared to carbine or pistol. Good stuff!

_carlo</div></div>

Folks getting into LR have notions about what they need to get the job done. These notions usually include ideas about equipment, as well as just finding a place to shoot. The appeal of an LR course with these folks is mostly about having found a place to shoot at LR, followed by a perception that the LR instructor will show how to use the equipment bought. Here, in my area, the only long range is Scott Mountain located at Ft. Knox, and it's not available for most. This means LR training in my area is gonna be on something less than a long range, which does not appeal to anybody for a multitude of reasons, thus no offering of LR classes. Too bad as the reality is, even a 300 meter range can reveal all the esoteric there is to know about LR, since angular errors are evident at this distance, in addition to those errors unmasked by weather. What I'm saying is you don't need to travel west or have a long range to learn how to hit at long range. The market for LR training however does not see how it's possible to learn LR at any distance other than LR. It's all good though, they'll pay their money for a vacation like trip to have a good time doing what they like doing.
 

ColBatGuano

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Re: AAR: CCP Precision Long-Range Rifle

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Sterling Shooter</div><div class="ubbcode-body">
C45P312 said:
Folks getting into LR have notions about what they need to get the job done. These notions usually include ideas about equipment, as well as just finding a place to shoot. The appeal of an LR course with these folks is mostly about having found a place to shoot at LR, followed by a perception that the LR instructor will show how to use the equipment bought. Here, in my area, the only long range is Scott Mountain located at Ft. Knox, and it's not available for most. This means LR training in my area is gonna be on something less than a long range, which does not appeal to anybody for a multitude of reasons, thus no offering of LR classes. Too bad as the reality is, even a 300 meter range can reveal all the esoteric there is to know about LR, since angular errors are evident at this distance, in addition to those errors unmasked by weather. What I'm saying is you don't need to travel west or have a long range to learn how to hit at long range. The market for LR training however does not see how it's possible to learn LR at any distance other than LR. It's all good though, they'll pay their money for a vacation like trip to have a good time doing what they like doing. </div></div>

Sterling Shooter -- Sir: I'm not sure I understand your post. Are you saying that there is nothing to learn from shooting at 1,000 yards that can't be learned at 300 yards? If so, please explain. My experience is that all errors are magnified at range. Projectile (e.g. .308) speed and angle of trajectory change rapidly and exponentially past 600 yards. Targets are harder to accurately mil for range as distance increases, and mill ranging errors (and the likelihood of a miss) are magnified as distances increase and trajectories become steeper. Wind has more affect as projectile velocity decreases. All of this needs to be experienced to be practically understood.

Without a doubt marksmanship fundamentals can be learned, practiced, and even mastered at 300 yards (or 25 yards, for that matter). But from what I've experienced calling wind at 800 yards can only be learned by practicing calling wind at 800 yards. And 800 yard dope can only be obtained by shooting at 800 yards.

But perhaps I misunderstood?
 

lowlight

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    Re: AAR: CCP Precision Long-Range Rifle

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Sterling Shooter</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: C45P312</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Thanks for the AAR. Don't see many dealing with Precision Rifle classes compared to carbine or pistol. Good stuff!

    _carlo</div></div>

    Folks getting into LR have notions about what they need to get the job done. These notions usually include ideas about equipment, as well as just finding a place to shoot. The appeal of an LR course with these folks is mostly about having found a place to shoot at LR, followed by a perception that the LR instructor will show how to use the equipment bought. Here, in my area, the only long range is Scott Mountain located at Ft. Knox, and it's not available for most. This means LR training in my area is gonna be on something less than a long range, which does not appeal to anybody for a multitude of reasons, thus no offering of LR classes. <span style="font-weight: bold">Too bad as the reality is, even a 300 meter range can reveal all the esoteric there is to know about LR, since angular errors are evident at this distance, in addition to those errors unmasked by weather.</span> What I'm saying is you don't need to travel west or have a long range to learn how to hit at long range. The market for LR training however does not see how it's possible to learn LR at any distance other than LR. It's all good though, they'll pay their money for a vacation like trip to have a good time doing what they like doing. </div></div>

    I am going to have to also disagree with what you are proposing here...

    Sure a shooter's errors can be visualized at 300m, but they can also be visualized at 100m as well. However, there is no substitute for shooting at distance to learn how to shoot at distance.

    Let's take a 260 at 300m in a 10MPH wind, you would use maybe .5 Mils for the wind there, and 90% of a class can hit 5 for 5 at 300m even in wind, on a 6" target.

    At 1000 yards that wind drift would need 2 mils at least... you can't learn that 300m. A guy who can hit 5 for 5 at 300m is not going to hit 5 for 5 at 1000m especially on a 10" target, most can't do it on a 12" X 22" target.

    Weather -- is a fact of life and happens every minute. You learn shooting LR in the wind by shooting LR in the wind. Substituting drills at 300m helps, but only to point, for the more experienced shooter who understands the effects of weather, as well as what happens when you start to get on the backside of the ballistic curve of their chosen cartridge, they can certainly work effectively at 300m, but for the new shooter... they need to be more rounded early on.

    Not to mention the confidence it gives the student who may have never shot at distance before... to put it in context, think of the LE shooter who may never shoot someone beyond 200 yards, if they only ever trained at 200 yards each times it can be as equally daunting as the first time. yet if you practice to 600 yards or 800 yards, well then 200 yards is a chip shot. The confidence of having shot 4X further cannot be underestimated, especially when stress in induced.

    In thinking you can make the hit at 1000m just because you can make it at 300m, well we see that differently. Our 1000m cold bore shots during our competitions may only see 3 people hit the target, just because you are a .5MOA shooter at 300 doesn't mean you are a .5 MOA shooter at 1000, especially on command. Yet the more you shoot it, the better you get.

    Any formal training should be good training, but I would not want to think I could sell someone on the idea I can make them a better 1000 yard shooter by never leaving the 300m line. I can identify issues, work on the fundamentals, and try to instill in them best practices, but to say, now go out and conquer 1000, well that's not realistic. At that distance the shooter is not the only variable, I would agree he is a large one, but he's not the only one. Weather, ballistics, all play a role at distance more so than can be explained at 300m. It's why people look at danger space when they reach out that far, ballistic errors matter, let alone the wind.
     

    Sterling Shooter

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    Re: AAR: CCP Precision Long-Range Rifle

    Here's what I'm saying, LR and SR are not different, all shooting is the same, properly point the rifle at the target and pull the trigger using smooth trigget control; but, LR does unmask errors not contemplated at SR. With increasing distance, the angular errors from less than perfect control of the rifle and/or alignment/perspective of aim will cause shot misplacement sometimes attributed to wind by the novice shooter, when wind may actually have had nothing to do with the bad shot. This novice shooter who is having difficulty at long range will seek out LR training to learn about the wind effect, which he believes is his demise, as well as how to properly adjust sights, etc. when the reality is this guy does not know the first two things about good shooting and needs basic marksmanship training. Thing is, this shooter does not know he does not know how to shoot. For this shooter, everthing important to good shooting can be learned on most any outdoor range. It can in fact all be learned with a .22 Long Rifle chambered rifle.

    As far as what training on an LR range can do that is not possible at shorter distances is, as said earlier, reveal, or unmask the consequences of not being perfect. In this regard, there's no substitute for the LR experience.

    In my own experience I attribute earning my HM LR rating to 100 yard .22 practice. I indeed did not need an LR range to be successful at LR. What I needed is what anyone needs to be good at LR, basic prone marksmanship knowledge.
     

    lowlight

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    Re: AAR: CCP Precision Long-Range Rifle

    Not all shooters are created equal, even with proper instruction and practice, some people simply don't excel to the level of their peers, so what works for you with a .22 will not necessarily translate to all.

    As well, when you consider the mental aspect of the training, they do much better when they engage in the actual activity of long range shooting. Simply telling them it is angular and will translate to distance does not work. As stated many people can go sub moa at 300m and yet completely fall apart at 800 yards. Maybe it is their rifle, maybe the wind, maybe it's them, it mentally effects their ability, either way it happens everyday.

    Perceptions matter.

    if a group of students sign up for a LR course with me and while I have access to 1000 yards, I spend all week 300 yards and in. I focus on each and every student's position, execution down to the smallest detail and undoubtedly improve their performance. They will however have a negative perception of the class because they never got to actually shoot at 1000 yards.

    it would be the same if I took a class and never even fired a live round. Instead focused an entire week on dry practicing honing their form and execution without the interference of recoil. A valid technique but you will only do it once, even then I highly doubt you wouldn't find yourself issuing some refunds. Mean while personally would understand the dry practice line of thinking. Dry practice is never wasted, but someone who is paying a fee wants to shoot live rounds.

    It's better in my opinion to have a well rounded program, rather than simply doing what works for me. Part of that program is hitting as many yard lines as possible because it also serves another purpose, it not only gives them experience from which to build on, it instills confidence, which as stated cannot be underestimated.
     

    Sterling Shooter

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    Re: AAR: CCP Precision Long-Range Rifle

    I think it's good to give the long range student, who's expecting a long range experience, a long range experience. Thing is, as you clearly know, the long range experience usually includes basic prone marksmanship instruction too, it must for a multitude of reasons. Nevertheless,the student does not know its basic; after all, the student's likely not to have any formal training, and does not know basic from advanced, or whatever. And, after the long range experience, this "shooter" is satisified he's learned what he needed to know to get the job done at long range. He does not know what he got at long range could indeed have taken place on something other than a long range.

    Yet,once again, as I earlier said, perhaps, you missed it, the actual long range experience will reveal imperfections which are masked at lesser distances. This alone is reason to shoot at long range, as it hastens an understanding of shooter errors, as well as comprehension which you alluded to. Certainly, without an LR experience, to expose the shooter's problems, the shooter may remain delusional about his shooting ability. I don't know about you, but I see this all the time.
     

    Woj8541

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    Re: AAR: CCP Precision Long-Range Rifle

    I will have to agree with Lowlight's last post. A well-rounded program is a must. The philosophy of crawl, walk, then run truly must be adhered to in order to create a successful foundation on which to build.

    A good LR program will start with 100 yards, relentlessly focusing on body position and the core fundamentals. This also has to be conveyed to the student in a manner which enables them to understand that the SR stuff is going to pay big as the distances increase. Grouping drills should be executed and analyzed out to 300 yards.

    Distance should increase gradually, helping the student build good data and increasing confidence. There is no substitute for shooting LR. What can be accomplished at 300 yards cannot be accomplished at 1000, no matter how you look at it. The fundamentals remain the same; this is true in any shooting discipline. But the myriad of atmospheric effects and the wind can never be understood, much less mastered unless they are experienced at distance.
     

    Sumpter Steve

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    Re: AAR: CCP Precision Long-Range Rifle

    CBG. Thanks for the AAR. My buddy Mark and Myself are heading to this class next month and we can't wait.