I’ve spent range time this past summer challenging myself to extend the distance I could put a 1-oz rifle slug on target. I use my Benelli 12-guage Nova Tactical Pump with a smooth bore 18 ½” barrel; ammo was Remington 2 ¾” Slugger 1-oz rifled slugs. These slugs are rated at 1560 fps (muzzle), and with a trajectory of -4.8” at 100 yards. There were a couple of things which motivated me to try this.
First, I saw a 1/23/11 youtube video by Hickok45. On his range, he stood up a scrap kitchen countertop on end – size approximately 2’ wide by 5’ high (my guess). He shot, offhand, a Benelli 12ga smooth bore auto using 1-oz rifle slugs. The distance is what surprised me. He hit (I counted) 15 out of 20 shots at 230 yards. Here is the video link for anyone interested:
Hickok45 – “Shotgun slugs at 230 yards” – 1/23/11
That type of shooting – offhand and rifle slugs – is what I enjoy, and also how I deer hunt. I’ve read that a smooth bore is rated less accurate than a shotgun with good chokes, but that’s the shotgun I own. So the second motivation was to challenge myself to extend my range with the goal of hitting a target beyond Hickok’s 230 yards.
As I continued shooting over the summer, I moved from a starting point of 40 yards to 55 yards to 62 yards. I can fairly consistently, at 50-55 yards, place at least 9 out of 10 on a 12” by 12” steel target. Then one day at my son’s-in-law outdoor range we shot at 70-yard range (paper bulls-eye). I did fairly well for a rookie shotgunner, I thought. My 5-shot groups were all in target about 6 inches, while his were 4 inches and less. He is a former Marine sniper, and is an excellent, experienced marksman. We weren’t in competition, but he always challenges me to go further and do more than I think I can.
He had watched the Hickok video also. So he challenged us. He pulled out one of his 12” by 12” steel targets mounted on a 4X4 post, and set it downrange for us. When he got back to our firing line, he said it was placed at the 200-yard mark! I could barely see that black 12” steel target against the grass/dirt!! I was shooting with ghost-ring sights on my Benelli, as he was…..no optics. For a group of 5 rounds each, he said we should try it off his shooting table with a long gun rest, and trust to Kentucky windage. So he shot first, and we saw the slugs make pretty deep cuts in the ground very near the target, but no “clang” came back our way. I took my first two rounds and also missed them and furrowed the ground. Let the third round go, and when the “clang” sounded, we looked at each other with much surprise! After I finished my 5-round group, I ended with that one hit out of five --- almost hard to believe, and it was a lot of fun. Planning to be back at his range this fall before deer season starts. Some of that target practice is a must-do again!
As I continue to shoot and learn more, I read a lot, too. Recently read an article in Outdoor Life magazine titled “Shooting Off-Hand,” and the writer was Jim Carmichel. First time I’ve read of an achievement level or standard for testing oneself when shooting off-hand:
“The gold standard of unsupported, off-hand shooting with a hunting rifle is hitting a target the size of a dinner plate (roughly comparable to a whitetail's vitals) three times in a row in less than a minute from 100 yards.”
I wonder what the standard is for a 12-gauge smooth bore shotgun? Does anyone know that? Also, does anyone else shoot long-range slugs? I’d be interested in hearing what’s happening on your range.
Well, that’s my summer range story. I’m not at +230 yards yet, but close, and will surpass the 230-yard mark someday. BTW, did anyone notice that my target at 200 yards was much smaller than Hickok’s at 230 yards? Maybe I have the edge already!
Hope others have had as much fun on the range as I did this year.