Sunday, 24 November 2019

Midnight Sun Rifle Challenge Pt4


The die is now well and truly cast, we’ve paid, flown to the the top of Europe, they know we’re here and are waiting for us. We change into the clothes we’ll wear for the next 24 hours and make for the carpark. 
On the hotel doorstep a tall blonde woman, who has stepped out of central casting’s Viking Maiden department, is heaving her pack out of the foyer. 
Are you competing in Midnight Sun? I ask her. 
“Well yes I’m going, not really sure if you could call it competing, I’m just a beginner, I don't expect to do very well.” 
There’s understatement, there’s false modesty, and then there’s this, clearly a mash up of the two. 
She has a very nice Vorn back pack, from its rifle slot pokes a SAKO TRG. 
Thats a £5,000 rifle before you screw a scope onto it.
“Nice rig, what’s it chambered in?” 
‘It was a bit of a bargain I bought it from a military contact for two grand, the bipod would have cost 600, it was in 308 with an unknown shot count, we have a lathe at home so I re barrelled it in 6mm SLR.” 
“Just a beginner huh?” 
She gives me a caught-with-hand-in-the-cookie-jar smile. 

The driver picks us and a team of Swedish lads up.  We set off into the countryside. 

“People ask me why I drive so slowly, its Moose country, I ask them if I strapped an oil drum to your kitchen table at what speed would you be happy to drive into it?”

The completion is held in a military outpost, there’s not much more than a barbecue pit and a shower block at our starting point, with small wooden buildings scattered up and down the valleys. Most of them just a briefing room with an outhouse attached. 

First stop is the practice range where the array of kit on display makes the hobby look more serious and more expensive than usual . I walk up and down the line, where prize for most kit lugged along goes to a team in Helikon-Tex camo most of whom are muttering Kurwa! Kurwa!! between shots. 

National stereotypes being what they are, my question “Kurwa! Polska dru┼╝yna?” gets a big laugh. 

By the time I start to practice my hundred yard zero is mysteriously completely absent. The Swedish boys from earlier seem to be having scope troubles of their own and borrow my torque wrench, when they return it I’m still shooting below the target. I seem to be below where I started [but never catch the clue in that description].

My ownership of the Tiktac rifle had started so well, I bought it second hand and then saved up for the scope and mounts. The first scope mounted a treat, I put it on, tightened the scope to 2nm and the mounts to 3nm, it pointed at the centre of the aiming mark. On its first trip to the range two of us shot gold with it. Then came that scope failure, the second scope had shown great reluctance to align.  From Bisley to Bardufoss every man and his dog have now chipped in their advice, and worse still, shared their stories of rifles that wouldn’t zero. There were; scopes that had been killed by baggage handlers, moderators that had rolled off a table top and interfered thereafter, and mounts that twisted scope tubes. Everyone who’d ever shot an air gun at a funfair had an opinion. All of which could be summarised, “This ain’t gonna be cheap mate”. 
Looking online was even more distressing. On a credible forum, there’s a lengthy discussion detailing the thread cutting issues some Tiktac’s are known to have. The Tika Tac A1 is shipped with a muzzle brake which is held in place both by the barrel being threaded, and by the brake being clamped to the barrel. The absence of a perfectly square to the bore shoulder for the moderator to mate to, and Tika’s shameful response to requests for redress are an annoying blemish on the otherwise astounding record of these rifles. It was only later after the penny had dropped did I hear ‘Oh yeah that happened to me’ everywhere I went. Thanks guys. 

The 20 MOA rail was costing me most of the first turret rotation, which I’d later make worse by not seating the locking ring all the way to the zero point. More than once, like a moron, I turn the up and down turret on the top of the scope all the way to the bottom. I was resetting to a zero almost nine Milliradians lower than my Zero.

Finally I have the scope dialled in, I’m the last to leave the range. Its all about to begin and I’m fucking frazzled. I’m not about to neg OMR out, he ain’t looking too happy either. Last time i’d seen him he’d had his rifle out of its wobbly stock. Never a good sign. 

Having cured their own ills the Swedish boys ask ‘Ish there anything we might have that might help you?” All I can muster from under the cloud of despair is ‘Not unless you’ve got a bottle of gin and a service revolver” 

Time to fight off the foreboding and put a step on. 

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