Table of Contents

My Extreme Long Range Shooting Story

– Meet Competitor & Gunsmith Gene Nowaczyk –

Extreme Long Range Shooting is always on our mind here at rifletalks.com. Every month we seek to strike conversations with industry people, competitors, match directors and estate owners where we can bring you more of what you love best, this thrilling world of ELR shooting!

Gene Nowaczyk ELR

We’re excited to be back with you for this series of My ELR Shooting Story. We’re kicking off this year with a string of experiences of some of the older and newer shooters in this Extreme long range shooting game so that you may be better informed before making your decisions for extreme long range shooting gear, reloading practices as well as venues to shoot ELR. It pays to get the info first hand from those in the game. The interviews follow a similar template to be able to compare one shooter’s replies with another.

Who is Gene Nowaczyk?

Today I’m happy to bring you none other than Gene Nowaczyk from Missouri, USA, one of the first shooters in this ELR game. He is also an ELR gunsmith, it helps us understand both a shooter’s mindset as well as an ELR rifle builder. Thanks for being here Gene Nowaczyk!

Gene Nowaczyk ELR shooter
Notice Gene has even removed the pistol grip on this rifle. His Spotter is Dan Smitchko from Cutting Edge bullets seen here during King of 2 Miles.

Rod: How did you get into ELR shooting?

Which line of the shooting sports did you come from before moving to ELR?
Gene: Starting back in the mid-90s I shot service rifle and Palma and somehow transitioned into F class for many years. Meanwhile, enjoying a little bit of long range or even one could say Ultra Long Range Hunting. I I had learned what it takes for a 1500 yd shot. From there, extreme long range became a fascination. I don’t exactly remember the events that took place but with the first king of two mile event Eduardo had reached out to me about the event, ever since the first event I’ve been a big promoter of the sport and as a gunsmith I have worked on several cartridges to improve their performance. Not necessarily creating improved cartridges such as the Ackley improved name with just modifications of the case to create a chamber that was well suited for extremely low ES and SD.

Where about in the US are you based?

Do you have access to ELR shooting grounds nearby?

Gene: I live in Missouri and have access to several shooting locations. Spearpoint Ranch, the Missouri mile, and several private locations on farmers property. Also, a friend, George Gardner from GA Precision has some property I get to shoot on as well. (Rod- Looks like somewhere we may want to move over to!)

Which are the most important Extreme Long Range Shooting matches in the USA today in your view? Oh man what a view!

ELR Rifle
In this format above, this rifle is shot like an FTR rifle albeit at twice the weight. It shows Gene’s formation as an Fclass shooter as well.

 

Gene: At one time the king of Two Mile event was the premiere. Nowadays it seems with other matches developing I would think the most important match is at Spear Point Ranch. Every year they have a seasonal event which has six preliminary matches with one final winner take all for the season. There is also the Conquer the castle match in Texas and other matches the elr group will hold.

Have you won any ELR matches Gene?

Gene Nowaczyk ELR

ELR at Clarks Knob Heavy Gun

Gene: Oh I’ve won my share of ELR matches but I don’t always win, I might not be totally correct here but I think 80% of the time I’m in the top five to the top 10 at minimum. Every now and then I find my place in the middle of the pack or even below. One cannot always win or be at the top, there are too many variables to consider, but consistency rewards itself for me. .
My spotter Jeff Parker always says he enjoys spotting more than shooting. Rightfully so, as a spotter and shooter I have more excitement spotting for Jeff when he’s shooting then when I’m shooting and Jeff is spotting for me. Having the ability to have your shooting partner actually win because of something you did is more important than winning as the shooter and getting credit for it that isn’t all deserved.

How often do you practice shooting beyond 1500m and what’s your favorite training round?

Extreme long range shooting rifle
Gene providing some feedback at the firing line.
Gene: Shooting to a couple thousand yards for practice doesn’t actually happen all that much because of the amount of matches that we will shoot normally.
“Normally shooting at 100 yards and perfecting your gun handling skills is probably more important than shooting at great distances. In order to hit the far targets you have to be spot on with your rifle, you can practice all day at 2,000 yards and not hit a single Target because you’re handling skills are lacking.” -Gene Nowaczyk
You can’t control the environment at those ranges the only thing that you can do is develop your skills at shorter ranges and have the confidence that when you’re out at 2,000 plus yards you missed the target because of the condition and not because of your lack of skill. With all that being said I normally shoot the rifle I’m going to shoot in competition so whatever caliber I’m shooting that year is what I will shoot for practice. Chase 2 rabbits, you’ll catch neither.

Which one of these describes you best?*

Gene:

  • Competition shooter

Can you share one ELR experience that really got you going in the sport?

I can’t really say that there’s a single experience, however being one of the original let’s say 30 competitive ELR shooters, what drove me the most was actually not hitting a target. Somehow I knew that the equipment I was using was a little bit lacking, the cartridge of choice needed refinement and my skills, Well they needed some help as well.

What do you look for when you set out to build an ELR rifle?

As a gunsmith, I have a few choices, I select products when it comes to stocks, actions, barrels and triggers. I’m extremely proud of the rifles I produce as they essentially are guaranteed to shoot lights out. Perhaps one of the reasons I don’t win a whole lot is because other people who have purchased a rifle from me have managed to beat me.

What rifle are you currently running for 2-mile shooting?

Can you share some info about the rifle build?

Gene Nowaczyk ELR shooter rifle build 416 barrett

(Picture source: Cuttingedgebullets website)

416 Barrett

Manners composite stocks gen2

Bullet: Cutting Edge 550gr Lazer

Pierce 20x action

K&P barrels

Bix n Andy trigger

HD 50 bipod

Accuracy Solutions bipod extension

Nightforce 7×35 atac-r

416 Barrett Gene ELR
416 Barrett built by Gene ready for the matches. Wow!

Bedding: Is the barrel bedded forward of the action or is it the action only?

Bedding forward of the action depends on the barrel diameter and weight. On barrels 1.4″ or larger at the shank, yes I prefer a little bit of barrel bedding as well to help support the weight. (good tip!)

Which scope for Extreme Long Range Shooting?

Nightforce 7-35×56 ATACR

How far out can you get with your setup before mounting a prism device?

<1500yds
Extreme Long Range Shooting ELR 416 Barrett
The Barrett 416B rifle is a capable contender out of the box for ELR competition. Check out Dan Smitchko’s performance with it.

How do you dial in the elevation required for 2 mile shots? 

  • Zero offset system + dialing in
  • Adding a prism device (eg. Nightforce Wedge or Charlie Tarac)
  • Adjustable mount plus dialing in (eg. Eratac or Ivey)
  • Adjustable base + dialing in (Coldshot
  • Offset, dial and holdover
  • Dialing in only (eg. Using a March Genesis scope with 400MOA)

Are you using an offset Zero system at 100m?

I have a 16 inch offset at 100 yards

What is a Zero offset?

For those of you who have not shot ELR, you may not be familiar with offset. For most ELR rifles, having a 100m zero may not make sense. These rifles do not see much shooting up close. In order to gain more range from their scope, ELR shooters will zero their rifles to be say 12-18″ high at 100m which would be a 600m zero or so, then take the gun out from there.

Most ELR scopes sit on an angled base such as a 30-70MOA rail plus some sort of adjustable mount such as an Eratac adjustable mount with 0-70MOA of selectable adjustment. This gives the shooter a significant amount of elevation travel. The tradeoff is that they may not be able to zero it up close.

Below Is an example from Ryan Cheney’s interview:

Ryan: I run Nightforce ATACR 7-35 mil-c scopes on everything and one of them has a mount for a Tacom HQ Charlie Tarac prism. I had it on my 33xc for the 2 mile plus shots last year at Spearpoint, but on my Cheytac with a 40 MOA action rail and a 44 MOA Spuhr mount and a 18″ offset, I only had to hold over by 4 mils on the 2 mile target at KO2M. (Editor: Gents did you know that you have a setting in your kestrel specifically to plugin this offset and it will deduct that offset from your come ups? Basically your rifle is zeroed at 1000yards or so) In the example below, I added 18″ of offset to my Kestrel so it deducted the elevation required by some 17.25MOA

Rod: Below is an example using an offset in my kestrel for the 300Norma Mag. With this offset, a 2000m shot would require 63.8 MOA instead of 79.8MOA as we have an 18″ offset at 100m. Kestrel will deduct that offset from the correction needed.

Extreme Long Range Shooting Kestrel Zero Offset   

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Sponsored Snippet:

What can you use if you want to dial from up close to very far out? The March Genesis scope 6-60×56 offers up to 400 MOA of vertical travel for extreme long range shooting without any additional devices.

Extreme Long Range Shooting

A March Genesis 6-60×56 is mounted on this 375 Cheytac built in Italy by Littleboy Rifles.

Featured

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Do you use an adjustable mount or base?

12-18 power on average.

What do you look for when picking a barrel for Extreme Long Range Shooting?

How important is velocity and barrel length for you? 
Since we normally shoot solid bullets the bore dimensions are critical. Bartlein barrels and K&P barrels are the ones of choice. There are too many factors that I have already spoken to these brands directly about this. Given the fact that they are barrel manufacturers and know what they’re doing helps tremendously. I prefer a particular tolerance between the bullet and bore relationship and both of these manufacturers come extremely close to my personal tolerances.
Length of the barrel depends on the caliber but typically for a 33 caliber I would want 34″ and anything larger would be 36 to 40″. I am never concerned about velocity, if it shoots good at 2950ft/s, perfect, if it shoots good at 3050ft/s well now we have a choice to make…

Do you anneal your brass and if so how often?

Do you find yourself trimming your brass regularly on these big calibers?

As my reloading process dictates I anneal the brass every time, I also trim every time.

What’s your bullet of choice and how do you test your loads? Short range tests, long range group test, (ladder testing, round robin, any other method?)

Cutting Edge bullets are currently favored. Most of my testing is done at short ranges and then I look for what group I can shoot at one mile. If short range testing proves good but one mile testing does not, I will refine the load at one mile.
cuttingedge bullet 550grain extreme long range bullet in .416
Cutting Edge Lazer bullet 550grain extreme long range bullet in .416 – Gene’s choice.
What’s your powder of choice?
Do you change the charge weight of your loads in winter/summer to maintain the same velocity/node for Extreme Long Range Shooting?
Reloader 50, I do track performance from cooler to warmer weather and make adjustments as necessary.
ELR rounds can be hard on barrels and wear out the throat pretty fast increasing free bore.

Do you chase the lands to maintain the same bullet seating depth as the round count increases?

  • Yes I chase lands
There are times where I will chase the lands but currently with my 416 I never moved the bullet during the entire life of the barrel
Furthest Distance shot to date and how many rounds to connect?
2 miles, within 5 rounds.

How many rounds do you get for competition before you dump that barrel?

400 to 600! 

Do you use a mandrel to keep your neck tension consistent or bushing style dies?

  • Mandrel
  • Bushing style dies
  • Both

Different sizes mandrels as these seen below help extreme long range shooting competitors achieve the right amount of neck tension on the bullet. A mandrel sits in a purposely made die. The necks are lubed before the mandrel slides into the neck typically after using a bushing die. It helps to uniform the inside of the necks besides setting the neck tension. You may get some excellent custom mandrels from ARC Ballistics in UK.

expander mandrel 338 accuracy reloading

ARC Ballistics mandrels
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100054519156739

Where do you see the ELR sport heading?

Do you feel we have more control over 2 miles shooting performance today from what you see at the matches?
Even though ELR has been taking place for 7 years or so it is still new. It does seem to be growing pretty fast and one thing I would like to see is an organization developed for the shooters by the shooters. There have been a lot of rule changes over the years that many people don’t agree with and I can’t say that I agree with all the rule changes myself. However, we need rules that actually Define the sport and not something that was made up because of one person’s preference or not.
Honestly it should be as simple as bring your rifle out and compete, but we all know better we need more direction than that guidelines that actually help the sport and not restricted. No one set of rules will satisfy everyone, I know we are working towards a unified rule set and it may take some time but one day it will happen.
Thank you for your time Gene in helping us bring this valuable information to other long range and ELR readers out there.

If you would like to be with us on MY ELR Story, drop me an email rod@rifletalks.com

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