Mike's Reloading Bench
The Armory Clubhouse
Every day is a learning experience and our first trip to the only close-by 500 yard range was no exception. Both my buddy Ron and I took with us what we thought would be needed for our first crack at 500 yards with our new guns and as it turned out we were woefully under equipped! We had made an earlier trip up there without our guns just to get a look at the place, meet the owner and find out what the rules were etc. The owner, Terry is a really nice guy and is into cowboy action shooting big time. He had been competing at the national level for several years but was derailed for three years or so and during that time he decided to build his range on his ranch near the little town of Leonard Texas. If you live in the north-east Texas area and would like to check it out go to www.topgunshootingrange.com and take a look at what he has to offer. It's a fun place and Terry is constantly improving it. Ron and I have been fortunate to meet some really nice folks there who were more than willing to share their knowledge with us.
Now that we have been to the range a couple of times we are much more aware of what one should take with them if they are interested in getting the most out of their rifle and themselves. The first thing I discovered was that if I wanted to print a target with the most accuracy I could, it wasn't going to happen shooting with a bi-pod. Now, before you guys that use one all the time start rolling your eyes let me tell you what we discovered. The benches at this range are made of three inch thick concrete and are supported by 4" diameter pipe. They do not move, vibrate, wiggle or jiggle! They are super soilid. Bottom line was that neither Ron nor I could keep our guns from bouncing while shooting with our bi-pods as a front support no matter how we tried to preload the bi-pod. My guess is that it would be a different story if we were shooting from the prone position on the ground where some of the recoil would be absorbed by the softer surface. So, first thing on the list of stuff to go in the "Range Box" was a proper shooting rest.
After doing my usual research, I setteled on "The Rock" shooting rest made by Caldwell. It is well made, reasonably priced, was available from MidwayUSA and was on sale to boot so I placed my order and in a few days it arrived at my doorstep. This unit weighs in at 5-1/2 pounds which isn't that heavy considering that it is made of cast iron and steel. The base legs are hollow, so I poured them full of #7-1/2 lead shot and then drowned it all in melted parafin wax. That little trick brought the weight up to ten pounds. I also replaced the forarm bag with a leather one from Protektor as the only real complaint I read about this rest was that the supplied bag didn't hold up as well as some would have liked. In its current condition I am more than pleased with this rest and would recommend it to anyone.
The next item was a rear bag and that too came from Protektor via MidwayUSA. I bought the empty bag and filled it myself. I couldn't really see paying shipping charges on a filled bag when I had a coffee can full of sand laying around the shop. With the aid of a small funnel and about thirty minutes time I had the main bag and both ears filled right to where I wanted them. These Protektor bags are very well made and if given even the least amount of care should last me the rest of my shooting life at which time I will give them to my grandson for his enjoyment.
So, what else should we have in the "Range Box"? Well here is what I have come up with so far;
Hearing and eye protection
Various tools for scope and gun adjustments
Tape, push pins
Brass catcher for the AR-15 (range rules)
Log books, pencils and pens
Small first aid kit
Well, where am I going to put all this stuff? Good question. As luck would have it, during a trip to my local big box home store, I spied a portable tool box that looked like it might fill the bill. It had all the right compartments and best of all it was not only modular in design it was on wheels and had a retractable handle to boot! I took some quick measurements, went home and measured my shooting rest and discovered that it would fit in the lower part of the box with room to spare. That sealed the deal. Out the door it went for a mere $35 and as you can see in the photos below it worked out great. I was a little concerned as to its toughness but those thoughts were put to rest as soon as I got it loaded up and grabbed the top handle and picked it up off the floor. No problem, solid as a rock. I think this is going to be a great box, easy to move around and with plenty of room. Time will tell and I will keep you all posted on how it holds up.
Mike's Reloading Bench is not afilliated with Lee Precision.
Setting up a Range Box
That about wraps it up for this installment. I've been working on getting some match grade ammo put together and collecting whatever componets become available. So far I have been lucky and have found some good stuff to work with so I will get busy and get some rounds put together and let you all know how it works out.
Well now that we have had our range boxes a while we have discovered that they work well except for one thing. They don't have enough ground clearance. To remedy that we built some larger wheels out of 3/4" thick MDF and wrapped them with some serpentine belt material. You can't get the original wheels off so we just bolted the new ones to them and made some spacer blocks so everything sits nice and level. Problem solved! Works great.