Mike Wilson has been shooting competitively since 2004. He’s held four International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) records, and he’s currently ranked third nationally among IBS Long Range Marksmen. But even he couldn’t believe his eyes last Saturday when he approached his 1000-yard target at the Hawks Ridge Gun Club in Ferguson, N.C.
“I was stunned. It was such a small group,” he said in an interview with GunsAmerica. “I was pretty emotional. I’ve been doing it so long, I have such a love for the sport. It’ll get to you, when you love it that much.”
Wilson’s world record-setting 5-shot group measured 1.068 inches or, in angular terms, a stunning 0.102 minutes of angle (MOA). He even managed to land all five rounds in the center X-ring for a perfect score. (The previous 5-shot, light gun IBS record, set in 2007, measured 1.397 inches.)
“It was very, very calm Saturday morning. The mirage was not bad. It was just a really good day to shoot,” he said. “All five shots went off real smooth. I didn’t have to alter my rest. I felt good about it, but I had no idea it would be anything close to that.”
Regardless of the conditions, Wilson joked, a one-inch group at 1000 yards likely requires some divine intervention.
“The shooting gods have to be with you when you post a group like that,” he said, laughing.
Wilson has been shooting from distance since 1996, and he’s been competing in IBS competitions for the past fourteen years. He got into the sport as most do: through hunting.
“Like anyone else, I started hunting,” he said. “You try to shoot further, and you kind of get into it if you do well, and just progress from there.”
These days Wilson shoots 25-30 matches per year, and he competes in both the heavy gun (>17 pounds) and light gun (<17 pounds) categories. IBS has 1000-yard ranges throughout the country, and each range hosts about 10 matches per year, he said.
Wilson used a custom benchrest rifle chambered in a custom version of the 6mmBR Ackley Improved he calls the 6mmBRAW (6mmBR Ackley Wilson). Wilson said he started shooting 30-caliber loads, but soon gravitated towards the lighter 6mm cartridges.
“We learned those little sixes will shoot almost as well if not better on a good day. They’re a lot less expensive to shoot and more fun to shoot, actually. The cases are getting smaller and the groups are getting smaller. It’s kind of odd,” Wilson said, laughing.
Here are the details on his setup (thanks to AccurateShooter.com‘s Sam Hall):
Bullet: 103g Vapor Trail
Powder: Hodgdon H4895
Primer: CCI 450 (small rifle magnum)
Action: BAT ‘B’ 1.550 Melonited Action with Jewell Trigger
Barrel: Brux HV 28″ Finished Length, 1:8″ Twist Rate
Chambering: 6BRAW (6mmBR Ackley Improved Wilson), Chambered by Darrell Jones
Chamber Specs: 0.272″ No-turn Neck with 0.135″ Freebore
Stock: Shehane ST 1000 Fiberglass Stock (with stock work by Larry “Bullet” Archer)
Optics: Nightforce 12-42x56mm Benchrest NP-2 DD
Weight: 16 pounds, 2 ounces.
For anyone hoping to get into the long-range shooting game, Mike’s advice is simple.
“Bring whatever you can get and come to a match,” he said. “There will be some of the greatest people you’ll ever meet. Everyone will be glad to help if you need help. Don’t come expecting to be the best right off the bat, but come enjoy it, see what it’s all about, let the people help you.”