Wow – what a location: the Skiritai shooting range in Livorno, in northern Italy, offers the possibility to shoot at distances from 100 meters to 2240 meters. But not only shooting was in demand at the Hot Shoot Event 2021 of the EXLRS One Mile Club, but also calculating, measuring and observing. I was able to take away two big "Aha!'s" about Extended Long Range Shooting from this exciting event. I am happy to report about it exclusively for all4shooters.com.
Arrival and briefing at the Long Range event in Livorno
Finally there! After my arrival in Livorno, there was a pleasant dinner followed by a detailed briefing on the safety regulations on the range, the schedule and a briefing on the shooting range. With distances up to 2240 meters, one moves in an incredibly spacious area, with different firing positions. For me it was the first time on a real long distance shooting range, because at home in Austria there is no such possibility. Accordingly, I was excited, of course.
It finally starts: the first day of the Hot Shoot – First comes the Zero Check
From the hotel we drove by car to the nearby parking lot of the Skiritai Legacy shooting range. There, guns and equipment were loaded onto a trailer and we continued by off-road vehicle to Stage 1: Firearms Zero Check. After registration, everyone performed their zero check on the 100 meter line. At this station, important parameters of the ammunition were also measured, using ballistic radar: velocity, for example, is important for later calculations. Therefore, the aim is to achieve the smallest possible deviation between the minimum and maximum velocity of the projectiles. A few percent deviation of the V0 (bullet velocity at the muzzle) can result in a significant deviation on the target at further distances.
First "aha!" for me: perfection in long range shooting starts with the ammunition.
Stage 2: shooting at distances up to 770 meters
Then it was on to Stage 2, which was just a minute's walk away. The shooters laid their shooting mats under the tents set up for shade and positioned their rifles. Spotters also made themselves comfortable on their camp chairs or ammunition boxes behind the scopes. After the command "Range is hot" the targets, at distances between 310 meters and 770 meters, were then allowed to be shot at in the clearing in front of us. For this purpose, ballistic calculations are usually carried out before the first shot is fired and then the appropriate settings are made on the scope.
During the shooting I therefore worked out together with my spotter the so-called D.O.P.E. (Data of Previous Engagements). This is the values of the elevation adjustment of my scope for the distance and the windage adjustment for the wind. This means: I communicated with the spotter before and after each shot – with my rifle and eye on the target – and tried to match the perfect moment to fire the shot with the given data and settings. Professionals place the first shot directly on the target, but apart from the D.O.P.E., this also requires a lot of experience. Together we worked our way up the distances until we had successfully shot the maximum achievable distance of this stage – despite strong winds.
This realization led to my second "Aha!": long range shooting is teamwork.
After completing Stage Two with my Winchester XPR Long Range rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor caliber with a Kite optic, I got to try another rifle from Ritter & Stark Model SX-1 MTR in .308 Winchester caliber with a Zero Compromise ZC 527 scope – a great combo.
At the end of the range day, I tried a little challenge with the organizer: we tried out the kneeling position style at 400 meters, for example. It was not easy, but I was able to score two hits on the 400 meter target. Day 1 ended successfully, with dust on our clothes and smiles on our faces we collectively drove back to the parking lot. My goal for Day 2: complete the One-Mile-Shot and earn the coveted "brown patch"!
Long-Range Shooting Day 2: does Danielle deserve the One-Mile-Patch?
On the second day, a few of us – myself included – drove an all-terrain vehicle directly to Stage 3 to shoot there at distances ranging from 660 meters to 945 meters. Together with my spotter and the Ritter & Stark rifle from the day before in .308 Winchester, we reached the maximum distance after one hour. Despite the strong wind. Since there was still time before the stage change, I had the opportunity to shoot my semi-auto: an Oberland Arms OA-15 in .223 Remington caliber with a 14.5-inch barrel. With a fourfold magnification, 660 meters seems quite far away, but I still managed to get a few hits.
Since my goal for the day was the one-mile shot, I switched to the last stage at noon. Here the maximum distance of the shooting range was to be reached – 2240 meters. I completed this stage again with a Ritter & Stark rifle, this time in .338 Lapua Magnum caliber. In general, the .338 Lapua Magnum caliber, just like the 6.5 Creedmoor, is very well suited for extended long range distances. The cartridges I used were particularly high-quality and special, solid bullets, without lead: I used loadings from Solid Solution Designs, which are also used by the military and law enforcement agencies. Using a Kestrel wind meter, I was able to make all the important adjustments to the scope and thus start directly at 1675 meters with this rifle, even without previously collected D.O.P.E. data.
It was a very windy day – accordingly it took a bit of time to warm up to the conditions. At this distance, the Coriolis force was also already playing a role. That makes one more parameter to consider before firing. After four or five tries, my shot finally made it to the target, thanks in part to my great spotter! The 1675 meters, and thus a little over a mile, was shot and confirmed twice. Meaning here, I had to fire and achieve two more hits into the same target to make sure the data really matched and the cartridge wasn't just randomly propelled into the target by a gust of wind. Of course, I was incredibly happy that I then actually reached my target.
Immediately, while looking through the telescopic sight, the next target pushed itself into my field of vision. The 2240 meters could also be reached from this stage. It was the farthest target of the shooting range. But the wind was too strong and the day was almost over, so I saved this shot for Day 3.
Day 3: Long-Range to 2240 meters and conclusion to the event of the One Mile Club in Livorno 2021
On Day 3, I was allowed to switch rifles again for my 2240 meter shot. I really wanted to make these shots with the custom-made Desert Tech in .375 Cheytac. I had already tried this multi-caliber gun on the first day on the 100-meter course. So, I shot the gun first in .416 Barrett caliber the day before and converted it to .375 Cheytac caliber for my 2240-m attempt. This is a very special caliber I could use here for the first time. Conclusion: impressive!
The day was perfect for an extended long range shot! It was almost windless, both at the stage and in front of the target – which is not always the same at these distances. With the help of the Kestrel Meter, I managed to get the third shot on target, so only two misses! I confirmed the shot and thus achieved the goal of shooting the target with the farthest distance to the shooter at this range.
All in all, it was a great experience to join the One Mile Club at the 2021 Livorno Hot Shoot. So great that I would like to repeat it in the future. Unfortunately, we hardly have any opportunities to shoot over 300 meters in Austria. But it is always worth a trip abroad to try Extended Long Range at a suitable shooting facility.
Footnote: Further impressions of the Long Range Experience at the Hot Shoot 2021 in Livorno by Franco Palamaro
I won’t lie, it is not my first time shooting long range. I even competed in 500m matches, years ago. And I sometimes shoot in a range that allows to squeeze even the very last bit of performance out of my .308 – that is, up to 900 m. Occasionally, I tried shooting in very controlled environments, when a manufacturer showcases a new sniper or competition rifle. But one mile? Or, a mind boggling 2240 m? Wow. So I jumped on this occasion, having Harry spot for me and a tuned, extreme long distance rifle in my hand, with top notch glass and ammo.
I went for the mile first – 1609 meters, but the range has the target placed a bit beyond that, 1675 m – using a rifle that one of the shooters kindly lent me. An Accuracy International AXMC in .338 LM, topped with a Vortex Razor HD GEN II 4.5-27X56 FFP scope, Spuhr mounts and precision hand loaded indexed ammunition. It took me two rounds of adjustment to hit the steel target one mile away at the third round. Wow, was that exciting! Harry did all the work, really, as it was his precise feedback and calculations using the Kestrel Elite Applied Ballistic package coupled with his hawkeye attention through the observation scope that allowed me to do the necessary adjustments to the scope, that was magnificently zeroed – but for the owner, obviously. In a sense, I just did the trigger pulling. But boy, the satisfaction of touching a steel plate one mile away is amazing. The bullet needs over three seconds to make it to the target, and watching thru the scope in trepidation before the bullet impacts is breathtaking.
The shout “Hit!” and everyone else shouting “Yes!” “Confirmed!” and “Welcome to the one mile club!” is exhilarating. Then to attempt the 2240 m shot. A change of rifle, now I’m using a bull-pup design Desert Tech tuned Bolt Action rifle in .375 CT, with a Kahles K525i scope. I’m aware of the bullet time now. I actually make it again in two adjustment shots, touching the target at the third; remember, these guns are zeroed, but different body build, hold on the rifle, cheek weld and pressure, even diopter adjustment of the shooter throws zeroing off by a significant margin.
I was worried of the possibility of wind changes, so after the second shot, I did not adjust the turrets and instead used the reticle’s subtensions to immediately correct the POA, hoping that the environment conditions did not change too much between shots. I think I made the third shot after 15 seconds, and it worked: I hit the 1x1m steel plate at 2240 m! I think I am hooked. Now, to look for a suitable rifle, glass and reloading ammo to work my way up to this almost unattainable height again….
Text/photos: Danielle Valkyrie; Franco Palamaro. Photos/Video: Franco Palamaro
For more on Danielle, follow her on Instagram: @daniellevalkyrie
For information on the event and EXLRS One Mile Club please visit their website.