The next morning, after breakfast and the lectures, the old man and Jesse grabbed coffees and headed to the truck. Knowing they’d drawn 6th place in the starting sequence, they would have an hour of prep time and a chance for the jitters to take hold. The old men turned to Jesse, “Well, are you ready for this? We’ve got an hour, so I’m thinking about a nap…
Jesse just looked at him, “What do you mean a nap?”
“Well, all that snoring last night”
“I DO NOT snore, thank you very much!”
The old man chuckled, and Jesse realized she’d been had yet again, and finally shook her head and started laughing.
The turned to their guns, rechecking to make sure they were ready to run, and loading small backpacks with bladders, ammunition for both pistols and rifles, energy bars, and compasses; in addition to little medical blow out kits, Jesse also loaded the binoculars into the old man’s pack and the laser range finder into hers after loading new batteries into it. They both checked their EDC lights and knives in the pants pockets, and the old man slipped five rounds into his shirt pocket. He patted the other shirt pocket to make sure he had his wheel book safely tucked in that pocket.
They picked up their rifles and packs and walked back to the line. Laying their rifles on the end of a bench, they stacked their packs underneath the table. As they walked back to the stands, Jesse looked at all the rifles lying on the benches and just shook her head. Matt and Aaron walked up and set their rifles down as Jesse and the old man walked by. Jesse stopped and asked Matt what his rifle was, he replied, “Well, this is an M-40A5 in .308, McMillan stock, Remington short action, Premier 3 by15 Tactical on top and a Surefire suppressor hanging off the front. It’s magazine fed, 10 round Badger magazine modification.”
Aaron jumped in, “Mine’s an M-4 with a TA-31 RCO AGOG on top, and I’m shooting 62 grain Gold Medal Match.”
Jesse smiled at Aaron, and asked Matt, “Why the wrap on the silen…er suppressor?”
“It keeps the heat from coming off the suppressor after multiple rounds.” Matt pointed to other rifles setting on the benches, “See, about half of the rifles here have suppressors, and most of them have the wraps.”
“So those with the muzzle brakes are going to be a lot louder, right,” Jesse asked?
“Oh yeah, and don’t ever stand to the side of one of them, always get as directly behind one as you can,” Aaron said laughingly, “I learned THAT the hard way downrange when we were doing some vehicle interdiction.”
Jesse grinned and walked over to the old man who was lounging on the bleachers with his hat pulled down over his face. She plopped down next to him saying, “Papa, there are way too many nice rifles sitting out here. I’m almost embarrassed by that old gun of mine.”
“Just remember, the gun you know is better than any pretty gun Jesse,” the old man said, “and it’s our turn next, so let’s go gear up.”
The old man got up, gave Jesse a hand, and walked to the bench. Picking up his pack, he took out his eyes and ears and set them on the bench; he shrugged the pack on, settled it and picked up his rifle. Jesse was doing the same and no words were needed. Methodically he pulled out the earbuds, wet them and seated them comfortably in his ears, then pulled on his shooting glasses; the last thing was to make sure his ball cap was where he wanted it. Looking over at Jesse he asked, “You ready hon?”
“Let’s do this Papa, we ain’t, aren’t getting any younger”
Picking up their rifles, they walked down to the end of the firing line, and met Kyle the RO there. He gave them a timecard, gave them the first scenario for the cold bore shot and had them load and make ready. The old man scanned the range, and noted blue tarps blocking the view of the right side of the range and a set of scaffolding set up. He and Jesse loaded their rifles; once they’d done so, he asked if they were ready, they nodded and the beep started them on the way.
Jogging to the line, they stepped into the shooter’s box, went to prone, and confirmed targets. “Papa, I’ve got the left target, ready any time.”
“I’m on the right, in three; one, two, three…”
The two shots sounded almost as one, and they safed the rifles, got up and jogged slowly off the range.
“Okay hon, steady slow jog here,” the old man said, looking down at his compass to get a good heading and looking at the trail. It was scuffed by military boots, so everything was matching up.
Eight minutes later, they got to the first stage, clocked out and got the scenario, which was four targets spread across the hillside. Clocking in, they dropped down in the shooters box and Jesse started calling ranges, “Far left—75 yards, left center—125 yards, right center—225 yards, far right—256 yards; do you want me to take the two left,” as she reached for her rifle.
“Yep, left two are yours, I have the right two, engaging now.” Boom…
Jesse shot the 75 yard target, the old man shot the far right target as Jesse jacked another shell into the Winchester, and shot the 125 yard target. Safing the rifles, they got up and took a heading to the next stage…
Stage after stage, either at a fast walk or slow jog, they proceeded around the course until they got to stage 7. Twice they were passed by teams that had started behind them, but the old man just kept to a steady pace. At stage 7, they were caught by a third team at the clock, so the old man let them go ahead. Jesse was a little miffed, “Why did you do that Papa, WE were here first!”
Dropping down onto a convenient boulder, and patting the space next to him, he responded, “Think about it Jesse, we get our breath back, get a break off the clock, and get our heart rates down. Let those boys get up there, shoot and move on; betcha we do better than they do!”
Listening, he heard 15 shots, before the team scrambled down from the shooting box. Jesse drew a card, and the RSO told them their color was blue, clock in and go.
The old man clocked them back in, and they scrambled up the bank the 15 feet to the shooting box. Going prone the old man called, “Range check! You take the blue dots, I’ll take the blue shapes.”
“111 yards Papa, looks like 15 knots of wind, dead crosswind from the right.”
“Aim point is center of the dot for elevation, right edge of dot for wind Jesse, there are five dots, you get em, I’m on the five shapes.” Boom…
Jesse alternated shots with the old man, and had to take one extra shot as the wind shifted and she dropped one shot just to the right of the dot, “Cleared mine Papa.”
“Confirmed, safe and lets’ go.”
“Jesse, something tells me it’s about to start getting harder, this has been too easy to this point,” the old man commented as they trudged further up the ridge line.
Getting to stage 8 proved his prophetic, as they had to shoot from under a barricade with about 6 inches of clearance. Jesse was grumbling as she had to get down in the dirt to get good ranges, and take one shot; getting dirt in her hair and dirt blowing back in her face after the shot. The old man just ticked along, not saying much, just shooting the calls.
At stage 10 they finally got some long range targets, and also got their first significant angle shots, “Papa far target is 778, looks like 15 degrees down, go down two MOA, wind is about 15 knots, and it’s about 135 degrees to us slightly helping so I’d say hold low and 4 MOA right.”
“Got it, glass and check my hit,” the old man responded.
Jesse pushed the laser out of the way, got on the binoculars and called, “On it”.
“Send it.” Boom.
“Adjust right, second target, 525, 10 degrees down, come down 12 MOA, wind is 120 degrees, hold is 5 MOA right.”
“Send it.” Boom.
“Adjust right, third target, 438, 10 degrees down, come down 4 MOA, wind is 100 degrees, hold is 6 MOA right.”
“Send it.” Boom.
“Okay, safe and let’s roll,” the old man said, getting slowly to his feet. Hunching and rolling his shoulders, he reslung his rifle and looked at Jesse, “How you holding up?”
“I’m okay Papa, but we’re about to get passed again; is your shoulder bothering you again?”
“A little hon, but I’ll survive; don’t worry about them passing us. Just concentrate on US getting through this.”
At stage 12, they had to shoot from the kneeling position to actually get clear shots at the target, and the old man noticed a couple of bullet tracks through the weeds, so he knew someone had tried to shoot that set prone. On stage 13 Jesse burst out laughing when they got to the stage, and there were a door and window standing there. The RSO told them the both had to shoot, one offhand through the door and one kneeling through the window. The old man had Jesse take the short target through the window using it as a rest, and he used the doorframe as a rest for his shot. Both hit and moved on to stage 14, which turned out to be a mover, the first one they’d seen in the competition. Three shots were required, through three ‘windows’ in the tar paper wall. The old man took the first shot through the first window, Jesse shot through the second window and the old man cleared the target in the second window also.
Trotting back into the range an hour and a half after they left, they were directed to the right side of the range, where a clock was sitting next to some scaffolding. Kyle was there and took the card from Jesse after she punched in, “Last stage, you have a school bus hostage situation, one shooter on the bus and moving around. He has a blue hat on and is surrounded by children and threatening to shoot them in the next five minutes. You have to climb the ladder to get a shot, and the powers that be want him taken out before the five minutes are up. Ready?”
The old man nodded and Kyle punched the time card in. “Go!”
Jesse immediately started scrambling up the ladder while the old man groaned. At the first landing Jesse stopped momentarily saying, “Can’t see everything from here, going up to the top.”
The old man continued climbing, shaking his head and thinking to himself that the heart rate was going to be through the roof by the time they both go to the top of the scaffolding, “Go, I’ll get there in a minute.”
Jesse got to the top of the scaffolding, flopped down, and pulled the range finder out of her backpack. As the old man got to the top, she yelled, “One hundred thirty-eight yards, wind is ten knots quartering left to right.” Reaching for the binoculars from the old man’s backpack to start looking for the target.
“Got it Jesse, get on your gun, cause we’ve only shot forty five targets, so there might be two on this one.”
Jesse stopped, and shook her head, then picked up her rifle and set up on the target rolling the scope back to a 2x, “Looks like random timing on pop-ups in the windows Papa, first three windows left haven’t seen a blue hat yet.”
“M’kay, keep watching and tell me if it’s the same figures that come up every time; I’ll take the two back windows.” Settling the scope on the bar between the last two windows gave the old man enough coverage to see both of them. A small head popped up in the last window, and he moved over to the next to the last window figuring that would probably be where the target showed. Suddenly it was there for about two seconds, but he wasn’t ready for the shot with a small child being held in front of the target. Wiggling down one more time he said, “Got the target fourth window back, hostage child in front, tight shot. I’ll take it if I get it again.”
Jesse didn’t answer, just kept watching the front windows. It seemed like it was taking forever for the targets to pop back up.
Boom! The old man had taken the shot and Jesse jumped a little bit, not expecting it.
Suddenly there was a swinger at the front of the bus, Jesse sighted in, saw the gun on the target and took the shot. Crack! “Swinger, at the front Papa, I think I got him.”
“Okay, unload and safe the guns and lets get down from here,” the old grumbled.
Jesse repacked her bag, threw it over her shoulder and followed the old man down the ladders back to the ground. Kyle was standing there when they stepped up, “Unload and show clear on the rifles please, y’all made it in the five minute window and y’all are completed.”
The old man and Jesse both showed clear and the old man grinned, “That was a tricky little set up there, with that swinger coming out. I can’t help but wonder how many have gotten it, and how many missed it.”
Kyle just smiled, “Well, lets’ just say you’re one of the few. Y’all can unload and either come back here and watch shooters come in, or go grab some lunch inside, or go back to the hotel and catch some down time. We’re not posting any scores here, those will be posted tonight at the restaurant after we award the various teams. Don’t forget, six pm for the feed.”
Walking back to the line, they stowed their rifles in the cases and carried them back to the truck. The old man opened the tailgate and they shoved the rifles into the back and covered them back up with the blanket. The old man sat down on the tailgate and reached over giving Jesse a hug, “You done good girl, I’m proud of ya for hanging in there today, and I hope you’ve at least had a little fun out here.”
Jesse hugged him back and laid her head on his shoulder, “Papa, I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. It’s been an education and then some thank you; and I stink, I’m dirty, and I’m hungry. So lets go eat and “I” want to go back and take a nice long hot bath!”
The old man just shook his head and chuckled, “Women…”
Getting up, they walked back to the clubhouse, grabbed some lunch and headed back to the hotel. Jesse got her long hot bath, and the old man got a nap in.
To be continued…