It all started with an off hand comment. A friend and I had been shooting to 1,000 yards and a little beyond for years and while talking to a 3rd friend one day and telling him about the D&L sports ITRC and a recent article in The Accurate Rifle magazine about it, I mentioned a section at the end about participants of the match having a choice to “join the One Mile Club”. The best I can recall, the idea was the shooter got as many rounds as he wanted at the target 1 mile away but, after having made the hit, had to zero back down and make a 100 yard shot. The person got only one chance at the 100 yard target after scoring the 1 mile hit or else they would not be counted as one of the OMC according to whatever rules they had decided on locally. This had stirred up some talk among the us local long range shooters and got the gears turning.
From there, the friend I was talking to about decided he would build a gun just for the attempt and at a local gun show, a Model 70 long action with trigger was purchased as a base to build the intended 1 mile rifle. Being a machinist, my friend had intended to barrel the action in some appropriate cartridge yet to be determined and build the action into a chassis system. The gun would be huge. heavy and not good for much else.
A few weeks of talk on this line among a few other friends really spread the fire and we started to get serious. We started to look at our options for ways to pull it off. My friend continued to cling to the idea of building a gun just for the shot, but this had very little appeal to me. Then as now, I only wanted to make the hit with something a man could carry by himself and was portable and practical. Another friend who owns the local gun shop got involved and we all determined to decide on appropriate cartridges for the undertaking, The idea was to use something standard. No wildcats and no full custom rifles. That was to be out starting attempt. To work with something factory made and if it was not adequate to the task we would move on from there. Without an unlimited budget we thought it best to use something within our means, and if we found it too lacking or impractical we would then have to decide how much money we were willing to spend to make it happen.
The rifle decided upon happened to be a windfall that came into the gun store. A Remington M700 in .300 Ultra Magnum. The gun came from the factory with the HS -Precision stock fully pillar bedded with a aluminum bedding block. The barrel was the heavy 28 inch stainless fluted .750 at the crown. With a little work on the remington trigger, it was a good start.
Since regular scope bases do not cut it for even most uses to 600 yards, a long range canted base was known to be needed. But since 1 mile if not 1,000 yards, more than the standard 20 would be needed to give extra adjustment. The base chosen was a Nightforce 1913 rail with 40 MOA. For rings the Badger Ord. 50 caliber 30mm rings went on with the Leupold optic with a variable power of 8x -25x with side parallax adjustment and focus. A level bubble was added to keep the gun from canting at the extreme range
Next came the search for the load and bullet to use. The owner of the gun store purchased the Sierra Ballistic software to compare and compute the trajectories and adjustments we may need for various loads and bullets. After seeing the Berger VLD 210 grain bullet at the velocity we settled on compared better than a 250 grain HPBT from a .338 Lapua magnum we chose it over a heavier bullet. Gambling the velocity would give us an edge. After load development and zeroing, a ballistic chart was printed out and taped to the buttstock.
I admit to not having much faith in the ballistic software being very accurate but I was very pleasantly surprised when the time came. At best we hoped it would at least get us close enough to see where the bullets hit in the ground and we could make a adjustment based on visually seeing the impact.
A zero was established at 500 and 800 yards. The 300 with the VLD hit with real authority even at those distances. The above picture of the steel gong was the target used for the “shorter” range zeroing and verifying. The holes are from the VLD bullets of the 300 Rem Ultra mag punching through when nothing else would.
Our long range shooting was done on a reclaimed strip mine on top of a mountain range. Obviously this was our 1 mile range. We set our spot on a GPS and drove back to 1 mile and marked the new spot. On top of a mountain is very windy all day except morning and late evening. Finally in the late August of 2005 we all got together around 600PM to start an attempt. We did not expect to make any hits that day and it was mainly to refine what we had or thought we knew. The target was set up and two of the boys went to the firing point. Expecting to spot the shots from the 1 mile line was an impossibility in my opinion at the time. My solution was walkie-talkies on the reverse side of a berm 800 yards from the steel gong that would serve as a target, with a spotting scope. The boys would shoot and I would radio the corrections since I have always been the default spotter/coach for most of the lesser experienced. I and the friend that joined me both expressed doubt of any major break through that day.
As soon as the ballistic software data from the chart was dialed in and the shots started to fall around the target, and we over came our surprise, we knew we were going to do it. It was a windless day and the mirage was almost negligible. After radioing back the correction of the hits, over the radio another friend with us to try to make a hit with his HS Precision H-2000 in 338 lapau told me, conditions allowed them to see their own shots from the spotting scope they had at the firing line.
We moved back with them and started to make the attempt in earnest. My friend who I originally discussed the project with was first to make the hit after I coached him onto it. Next was the owner of the rifle and the gun store. I went next and will never forget making the hit on my third shot. The target was placed in the middle of a huge powdery dirt area and a shooter could easily see the misses. The time of flight allowed recovery from recoil and muzzle blast enough to watch through the optic. I will never forget firing, my friend excitedly saying “hit” and as I was about to ask “you sure” I heard the distant, very faint “ding”. The particular steel gong I chose for the target was used for a variety of reason, one being it range very loudly though we doubted we would actually hear it. On that day of perfect conditions, we indeed could. We all got one hit on the target before running out of ammo. Between 3 of us we used up 50 rounds of the hand loaded ammo but got only 1 hit each. Certainly enough for us.
A very old picture of the target used hanging from its stand. The target was the shape of a man from arm to arm and head to belt buckle. Then as now, I feel a practical test of marksmanship at long to extreme long range is a man, head to crown. Notice the target is much smaller than black bullseye used in Highpower service rifle etc. Though long retired, we still keep the steel target as a memento of our 1 mile accomplishment and the sentimentality of it.
I am not willing to share publicly the loading data for the rifle. It was past the max load and would likely not be safe in any other rifle. The drop chart and adjustments can be seen in the picture taped to the rifle for those interested.
Above is full picture. Author is on left holding Colt AR15A2 Match rifle he used for his first 1,000 yard iron sight hit on same target. To the right is my Father and behind him picking up spent bullets to examine is owner of the Remington used for the 1 mile shot.
My original conspirator on the project never got around to building the special Frankenstein’s monster Long Range BR rifle for 1 mile shooting he thought we would need. And the rest of us rarely tell anyone not a serious rifle shooter about the 1 mile shot because the local FUDDS would not believe it anyway. A local newspaper reporter was set to write about what we did but I was not crazy about the idea and apparently the editors of the local bird cage liners was not either.
the 1 mile project propelled into other projects like a 1,233 yard hit on the same target with a stock surplus K31 with GP11 ammo using a special scope base made with cant by the machinist, my same friend with the idea of the custom made 1 mile gun. And a few other special shots were made over the years. One was the original iron sighted 1,000 yard shot you may have read about here.
Today the truth is our OMC rifle collects dust for the most part, having discharged its duty. Being too big for most game hunting and the life of a family man has put on hold the owners use of it for the time being. In my opinion it stands as and excellent example of my pet subject that a rifleman with standard equipment can do amazing things with skill and practice. The shots where taken from prone using a variety of sand bags and bipods. Nothing extraordinary really. An entire market and training industry has arisen since, The market and industry is dead set to convince you that a standard factory made rifle can not do this type of thing. And indeed they will teach you how to do it with any number of highly specialized rifles and equipment for a a modest fee…. Yes, custom guns and specialty tools are needed and great and have their place, Keep in mind the idea with most of this is to make the hit has soon as possible with as few shots as possible in a martial situation. Not being under fire or threat of life and death nor a time or scoring limit, this was not a concern for us, If you want the most in precision, you need better equipment. Though not always as much as you are always told. A competent, knowledgeable rifleman with some preparation and a few quality tools can overt come much to make some superb hits.
If you want to try long range or extreme long range shooting and don’t have an unlimited budget, take a hard look at some of the factory offerings. I always recommend new shooters start at the quality factory rifle level since it will be a while before you will be able to shoot better than the rifle anyway. Optics and mounts being the one thing not to cut cost on though. Ammo is another key point, Handloading is a must for this work so learn it, or know some one who will help you with this using their equipment. You will know when you are ready to move to better equipment. The best advice I can give on the subject is to make sure you set your goal to be something reasonable or practical. We approach everything from the point of view of practical field shooting, A man sized target and a hit in the chest/kill zone is about as good as it gets. Shooting at something the size of a skeet is going to be near impossible. I see the man sized target from belt line to head a great target that has practical value and is a great measure of skill for the rifleman who is also training.
Pike County, Ky One Mile Club
- Justin Lowe
- Shawn Thompson
- Billy Sipple
- G. Collins