Journey to 590

Wynne’s Journey to 590

                This past weekend at Reese Bottom, I accomplished a personal goal that I set out to achieve about four years ago.  That was to shoot the .223 Remington and the 80 grain bullets in an F-T-R Midrange Match to a score of 590.  The September Midrange Match at Reese Bottom, with its gentle winds from the east and little mirage, furnished the perfect opportunity and the final tally was a 595 score with 28 X’s.  So, where did this journey begin?

About six or seven years ago, while visiting Dan Campbell, a young man walked in and Dan introduced me to Britt Jones.  I was there to purchase a handgun and we were talking about guns, hunting, shooting, etc. and Dan asked Britt if he had his target with him.  Britt had just recently shot a match at Brock’s Gap and his target displayed a very impressive group shot at 520 yards.  Having hunted much of my life and shot deer out to 200 yards, I thought that shooting 5 shots into a group that small at that distance was next near to impossible.  That day is when the journey started.  I had played a lot of golf up to this point and had for one reason or another quit playing and was really looking for something new to do.  Maybe long range shooting was my answer.  After a short time, I had Dan order me a Savage Benchrest rifle chambered in 6mmBR.  When I went to pick it up, I about fainted when I saw how big the thing was compared to what I had been hunting with.

At that time, Larry Jones and Eddie Hill were shooting a match south of Linden.  I shot with them a few times and later shot a benefit match at Milton Jordan’s that he put on for the Thomasville High School baseball team.  Ps. Ask Britt about me not telling him about adjusting his scope to allow for the elevation change at Larry’s range.  Soon, Britt and I were making trips to Brock’s Gap to shoot with the guys in Hoover, Al.  All this time, what would end up as Reese Bottom, was in the back of my mind.  After having moderate success with the ‘out of the box’ Savage, we decided to start adding new parts.  As we added a trigger, barrel, stock, etc. the original rifle ended up with the original Savage action and a lot of other new stuff.  Some time later, we packed this rifle up and sold it to Dave Burkart in the great state of New York.

At the same time that Backwater Custom Rifles started to build a new custom bench rest rifle, I started talking with Britt about converting an old Remington .222 action into a .223 caliber rifle that I could shoot in an F-T-R match.  This old action was on the first rifle my dad bought me some 50 years ago.   Britt chambered me a Brux barrel with a Jewel trigger and bedded it in a Bell and Carlson F-Class stock.  Shortly after the rifle was built, Britt called and said that he had been reading about a midrange prone match to be held on a military base in Tullahoma, Tn.  Five of us piled up in a Tahoe pulling a Uhaul and off we went about 2 am. from Livingston, Al.  The match info stated that the shooters had to arrive between such and such a time or the gate would be locked.  We had left Livingston in plenty of time, but with the latest in technology[iphones] as we were traveling north on I59 we entered Georgia and the Eastern time zone and everyone’s phone changed time and we all thought that we would not get there before the gate was locked.  Thank goodness we headed west on I24 and the time changed back to central time and we made it fine.  Now that would have been a long ride home had the gate been locked.  Us five good shooters met Gunny there at the range and I got entered in my first F-Class match.   Best that I remember, me and the .223 shot a 574 score and not sure about the X’s.  What I was sure of was how interesting this discipline of shooting was and so the journey continued.  A year or so later Dan Gunter and I met Steve Gilley in Pascagoula, Ms. for a prone match.  That day, there was a strong wind blowing from 3 o’clock and we were having to hold on the 6 at 3 o’clock to hopefully hit in the 10 ring, forget an ‘X’.  This experience showed me how difficult it would be to shoot the 80 grain bullet to a score of 590 or higher.

Back at Reese Bottom, we had only been shooting from our five benches but Britt and I came up with the idea of turning an F-Class target backwards, putting an orange circle over the ‘X’ ring, using a camera to see the hits, and hosting what we called a modified F-Class match.  Not a complete, but somewhat of a disaster.  Anyway, F-Class at Reese Bottom became an idea.  Sometime later, we rented a dozier, moved a hill, pushed up a berm, built a wall, engineered some target backers, and we were in business.{for a little while] That winter, the rains came and our pits failed so the next spring Britt, Doug, Dan, and Wynne anchored everything with rebar and cable and the pits have worked well from then until now.

The .223 soon shot a 585 and not long after a 587 and I began to believe that 590 was a real possibility.  Then came a high 570 and even a high 560 and doubt began to creep in.  Then September 2016 came along and it happened[595; 28-X]  Do not know where we will go next, maybe a clean target or may a 596.  Either way, this journey is complete so I challenge everyone that reads this to set you a goal and make arrangements to one day achieve it.  Hey, spend all of your money on powder and bullets and always set your turrets to zero.  Wynne Echols [thanks, Britt, Bob, and David]


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