The DIY Hunter


Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf

View of the parking lot, club house and sign out front of Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf.


Shooting from bench with Vortex Viper HS 4-16x44 scope

Shooting at the Driving Range with a Vortex Viper HS 4-16x44 and my Model 1885, 243 WSSM rifle.


Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf Driving Range Tagets

Targets in 100 yard increments from 300 out to 1200 yards at Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf Driving Range. The steel plates get a little larger with the next further plate.


Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf Shooting Station

One of the shooting stations on the rifle golf course.


Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope on the Driving Range

Using a Vortex Razor HD spotting scope to view where the hits were at.


Vortex Viper Model 1885 Talley One Piece Base 243 WSSM Rifle

Sighting in my Model 1885 in 243 WSSM with the new Talley one piece base and a Vortex Viper HS 4-16x44 scope.

I really like this new base from Talley. Not only does it look great on the 1885's but it provides a very solid platform to mount your scope. If I could change anything I think a 10 or 20 MOA version would be nice to really take advantage of the accuracy and range the Model 1885 is capable of shooting.

For a department retreat this summer I had the wonderful privilege to go shoot the Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf course. What a cool retreat we had! Wonder who planted that seed into management's ear. Hmm... ;)

Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf is located on the Northern Fringe of Utah about a 75 mile drive from home. After hearing about the course and reading about the awesome Vortex Extreme Shooting Event event that Vortex Optics put on at Spirit Ridge I knew I just had to try the course.

I found that the free Strelok ballistics app for my Galaxy S3 worked great at dialing in the shots on the range. Shooting the Masters course I was shooting targets in the 300 to 900 yard range while the Classic course's targets are in the 180 to 500 yards. What I didn't realize until I started the course was that not only were the targets at much greater distances than the Classic course but also that the metal plates were much smaller... It was a challenge. But very fun all the same.

For shooting the course I shot my varmint hunting favorite rifle, a Model 1885 chambered in 243 WSSM. This rifle has been my favorite rifle at hitting small targets at long range but my long range has been capped right about the 600 yard mark. Shooting at Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf course was going to be pushing me beyond that limit. To help with going the extra distance I borrowed a Vortex Viper HS rifle scope with capped turrets but turrets that are well suited for dialing in the MOA needed to make the shot. The scope worked very well however for this rifle I do have a Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50 on order. A scope that should make the long shot even better. I have really been liking the features and quality of Vortex optics and have been in the process of switching out many of my rifle scopes.

I had worked up a very accurate 95 Gr. Berger VLD load that I used cow elk hunting this past year and also prairie dog hunting this summer. I topped the rifle off with Winchester/Talley's new one piece base, Talley rings and a Vortex Viper HS 4-16x44 scope. The rifle shot well and aside from trying to figure out the wind it was pretty much dead on at all ranges thanks to the adjustable turrets and Strelok ballistic app.

I was hoping to shoot the range with a 270 WSM and a Vortex Viper HS LR 4-16x50 scope but the scope is on order and I need to work up a 150 Gr. VLD or 150 Gr. Accubond LR load once I get the scope. Before I go up again to shoot on their course/range I'll have my 270 WSM ready.

I was also able to spend a little time on the Driving range before I shot the Masters course. The Driving Range has steel target in 100 yard increments from 300 out to 1200 yards. I really wanted to hit the 1000 yard target. I had never shot that far before and I really wanting to give it a try. I started by shooting at the 400 yards target then made a windage adjustment and went out to 800 yards. After that I dialed in the Vortex Viper HS for 1000 yards and I hit it. Way cool! You can see this action in the video on the page.

Of the fifteen of us that shot the rifle golf only two of us shot the more difficult Master's course. The other guy who shot the Master's course was using a very tactical setup with a Leupold tactical scope and a FN SPR A1a rifle in 308 Win. Although I felt like I didn't do as well as I should my 243 WSSM with 95 GR. VLD Bergers shot a 32 while the other guy shooting the 308 Win. scored a 38. My small bore rifle shot 6 strokes under the 308 Win. so I didn't think I did too bad for my first time shooting the course.

Dallen is going to have to take a trip with me to shoot on the range next time. If my knees weren't is such a horrible state I would sign Dallen and myself up to shoot the Vortex Extreme shooting event that is on Spirit Ridge's range later this month. There range is just awesome for preparing us for hunting big game and getting more comfortable with taking long shots.

EGW Picatinny Rail, Weaver 4 Hole Skeleton Rings, Browning X-Bolt Stainless Stalker

My Browning X-Bolt Stainless Stalker with a EGW 20 MOA picatinny rail, a set of low Weaver 4 Hole Skeleton Rings, and a Vortex Viper HS LR 4-16x50 rifle scope.

As you can see even with the large 50mm objective lens the low Weaver 4 Hole Skeleton rings still provide me with a good quarter inch of scope clearance.

EGW Picatinny Rail Browning X-Bolt Stainless Stalker

My new favorite rifle, scope, base, ring combo. X-Bolt 270 WSM, EGW picatinny rail, low weaver rings and a Vortex Viper HS LR rifle scope.

See Through Vortex Scope Caps

This may sound silly but I was excited to see the see-through scope caps that come with Vortex rifle scopes. This it what I like. They protect my lenses from the elements while hunting and if I need to take a really quick shot I can see through them to make the shot. If I have time to setup for a shot I can remove them and stuff them in my pocket. Flip-up caps block my vision when I am trying to watch game animals and then locate them in my rifle scope.

EGW 20 MOA Picatinny Rail Browning A-Bolt Varmint Stainless

Here's my A-Bolt 243 WSSM Varmint Stainless Laminate waiting for a Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50 rifle scope that is currently on back-order.

The picatinny rail shown here is also a EGW with 20 MOA.

Vortex Viper PST with EGW 20 MOA Picatinny Rail on a Browning A-Bolt Varmint Stainless

I got my Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50 second focal plane MOA rifle scope for my A-Bolt 243 WSSM. Here is a full view of this 243 WSSM rifle with an adjustable comb: My 243 WSSM Rifles

Recently I have got the hankering to change out a lot of my rifle scopes. Some of the interest has been my excitement to be shooting at Spirit Ridge's rifle golf course later this month. I have been wanting scopes that offer target turrets yet are still primarily hunting scopes and not ultra tactical scopes. In my research I have found that Vortex offers many rifle scope options that meet my needs.

Vortex Optics are of good quality at less than astronomical prices that many tactical like rifle scopes cost. I have had a couple Vortex scopes back-ordered for a couple months now. With all the political gun crap going on this year practically everything I need is out of stock. Good luck getting reloading components...

Since I started writing this post I have now received a couple of the Vortex rifle scopes I had ordered (Viper HS LR 4-16x50). They are sweat rifle scopes. I like the Dead Hold BDC reticle and the target style elevation turret. With this setup I can sight the rifle to be dead on at 100 yards. Then I can figure out the ranges of the additional hold over hashes on the reticle and have them taped to the scope for quick reference. So if I need to take a fairly quick shot within 500 or so yards I can use the hold over BDC reticle. If I have the time to plug-in all the variables into my Strelok app on my phone I can dial in the shot to hold dead on. See: Strelok Pro Ballistics Calculator Using Galaxy S4 Internal Sensors

I also tracked down a 20 MOA picatinny rail for my X-Bolt. Evolution Gun Works Inc (EGW) makes an assortment of picatinny rails for Browning X-Bolts and A-Bolt rifles. I am relatively new to the more tactical side of shooting long range with a big game hunting rifle. After preparing and now shooting at Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf I am hooked on Vortex Optics and long range shooting. I have always had rifles that I felt comfortable hitting targets out to about 600 yards. With my new Vortex rifle scopes and 20 MOA picatinny rail I have greatly extended my effective range.

For those of you like myself a few months ago who didn't know what a 20 MOA picatinny rail was here's my quick description. A 20 MOA picatinny rail has a slight angle with the front of the rail slightly lower than the back of the rail. This slight angle gives the equivalent of 20 inches at 100 yards. So when I sight in the rifle I will have to dial the elevation 20 MOA down to be sighted in at 100 yards. So instead of the crosshair being centered in the middle of the dialable elevation range it is 20 MOA downward to start. With the crosshair in this position it now gives me an extra 20 MOA of adjustment for a long shot. This allows me to use 20 more minutes of angle out of the available adjustable range of the scope.

With this scope, the 20 MOA EGW picatinny rail, and the 75 MOA of vertical adjustment (top to bottom) of my Vortex scope I should now have right around 57 1/2 MOA of upward adjustment to take the long shots. I figure that with my 140 Gr. Accubond 270 WSM hand load that shoots 3320 in this rifle I should be able to dial in a shot out to the 1700 to 1800 yard range. Now I have no plans of shooting big game at yardages like this but if I had a wounded animal out there and had no other option, I now have an option. Hmm.. sure would be fun to at least scare a coyote out past a grand and it sure is fun flinging lead long ranges at a range like Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf course.

Now it's time to make a cheek piece to raise the comb height, as even with the low rings, the scope is mounted almost a half inch higher that it was with the one piece aluminum Browning rings.

This X-Bolt setup works great in the field.

Cheek Piece to raise comb height on X-Bolt Rifle

I cut a 6 x 1 x 1 1/4 inch piece of oak and using a router and sander I shaped it to fit the top of my X-Bolt. I then drilled two holes through it and epoxied in nails that protrude out the bottom.

Cheek Piece to raise comb height on X-Bolt Rifle

Cheek piece mounted on my X-Bolt stock. Wish I had some matte black paint... gloss will have to do for now. Shown also are my length of pull spacers between the recoil pad and stock extending the pull length an extra half and inch. See: Easily Adjust the Length of Pull on a Browning X-Bolt Rifle

Cheek Piece to raise comb height on X-Bolt Rifle

I  drilled two corresponding holes in the top of the X-Bolt stock allowing the cheek piece to slide on and off the stock.

On the range with my X-Bolt and Cheek Piece

Finally I use a buttstock cartridge shell holder strapped around the stock and cheek piece to securely hold it in place.

X-Bolt Stainless Stalker with two Maxus shotgun stock spacers.

Two quarter-inch Browning Maxus length of pull stock spacers for my X-Bolt.


Inflex recoil pad and length of pull spacers

Inflex recoil pad removed ready to replace the two screws with two longer ones and add the two spacers to the stock.


X-Bolt with length of pull spacers installed.

Length of pull adjustment all finished with the two spacers in place giving me an extra half-inch of length on my X-Bolt Stainless Stalker.

As a big guy, I have always found that the manufactures length of pull on rifles to be a little too short. I can't count the number of times I have been dinged in the forehead. If I add about a half-inch of extra length to the stock of the rifle I am usually just fine at keeping the scope off my forehead.

For years to adjust the length of pull I have always just removed the recoil pad from a rifle then traced the outline on some half-inch thick oak. I would cut this out sand it a little, maybe a little paint or stain and then drill two oversized holes through it so that the screws in the recoil pad could pass through this spacer and into the stock. Often my spacers haven't always looked the greatest so I usually place a neoprene stock cover or the like over the butt stock to hide the spacer.

Now that I have a composite stock X-Bolt Stainless Stalker I wanted a way to not have to build a spacer and hide it with a sleeve. Recently I found that the Browning Maxus autoloading shotgun has the same Inflex recoil pad as the X-Bolt. Well, the Maxus also comes with length of pull spacers that are a quarter-inch thick and can be stacked together.

After getting a couple of these Maxus stock spacers all I had to do was remove the two screws, slide in the two spacers and replace the screws with a couple longer screws. The stock doesn't look quite as cool with the spacers but it doesn't look all that bad and it was very easy to make the adjustment.

The next stock adjustment I did on my X-Bolt was a raising the comb with a cheekpiece I made that you can read about in this article: X-Bolt 20 MOA Picatinny Rail and Vortex Viper HS LR Rifle Scope