– My Extreme Long Range Shooting Story –
Meet Eduardo Abril De Fontcuberta
The ELR Legend
Extreme long range shooting founder Eduardo is with us this time on rifletalks.com – Hola Eduardo!
Happy to have you on rifletalks.com! As a mastermind behind Extreme long range competitive shooting we are eager to have you on this series of MY ELR Shooting story. With such a wide experience in the shooting scene, you can help steer new shooters in the right direction while mentoring more experienced ones.
Tell us more about you, most guys on rifletalks.com know you for ko2m competition which took ELR shooting globally from where it started out in the US together with Paul Philips who has done alot to educate about it. You are European, Spanish with a base in the US as I understand. What’s your main link to the US besides the amazing sport shooting opportunities there?
Coming up, Extreme long range in Italy – Extreme Shot Italia II debuts 21st-25 September in Trapani, Sicily shooting out to 2000m in competition style!
#Throwback: Eduardo’s Extreme Long range shooting origins
My background is military sniping and aviation. Back then in 1981 while stationed in North Africa in the Spanish Foreign Legion I learned how little we knew about long range sniping. At the time 700m was very far. That sparked in me the will to shoot as far as I could, but while using military sniping standards. That means with very little rounds and non-selecting your conditions. Driving in bullets was not my game. After coming out of the military I worked for US companies in various conflicts in the late80s and early 90s and realized the situation was not much better.
This is the moment I decided to be a sniper instructor and do my part to change things. Trying to get top training myself I was honored to be trained by the best among them John Plaster, Jeff Cooper, Derrick Bartlett, or even Carlos Hathcock. From there on, my link with the US has been working there for years, and living part time in Spain.
With a successful .50 BMG World Champion career and KO2M/KO1M organizations in 5 continents and adding my sniper courses and demos, I won’t say I am working mainly in USA anymore, but that I am a global instructor, competitor and “King” organizer.
Man-portable ELR platforms
What was the initial objective when you set out to launch King of 2miles?
“Push the envelope of rifle shooting, see what we could really do with a man-portable rifle in the field.”
It departs from the typical YouTube “I hit 2 miles ….. after XX shots”. The military would not do it, as it was easier to call an airstrike than change sniper doctrine, so we needed to show them it could be done effectively and economically, not like the anecdotical sniper records of the time. My 100+ Sniper exercises book was a best seller at the time and I was very actively training snipers all over the World, so I knew that snipers could not do it alone. Snipers could not provide 2 miles hits on a regular basis with reasonable high count hits at over 2 km too.
After 7 years of Ko2M , we have proven it could be done, and showed them the way. Of course I did not do it alone, it was three of us: Alex Cordesman our IT genius and Walter Wilkinson our target guru, that have been the other two legs of the KO2M three legged stool. Both successful shooters and with huge know-how in the field. Then, add an awesome group of dedicated shooters and companies that believed in ELR and spent their own R&D money to create the equipment we needed. Us all, created the brick and mortar that really made this happen, we three just sparked the fire and helped it burn right.
How did you get invovled in ELR shooting to this level?
I had been shooting very far for decades with my 338LM, along with some friends from the Scandinavian Community like Jarno Lankila, from FinnAccuraccy the originator of the MSR reticle, and knew that the systems of the time where not up to the test of reliable 2 miles hits. I even replicated Harrison 2700 yards shots and wrote an article in 2011 for Tactical Weapons about it, stating that we were underpowered to be shooting over 2000 yards. After that it became clear that we needed more horse power and also more options of better bullets. The 408CT, that was the tip of the spear at the time did not cut it, for those same reasons, so we began to explore the 375CT and me personally with Barrett the 416B. Then with Steyr and with Randy Powell the 460 Steyr… always looking for more bullet and more speed.
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How has that ELR Shooting scene changed from a few years back till today?
I think the industry getting in full force behind this sector is probably the biggest change but you know better.
Shooters have to understand that without investment, without companies putting their money into R&D we could not shoot as far as we do. We should thank companies that have been with ELR since day 1 developing the equipment, weapons and ammo we needed to reach this far. At first, they did it out of passion and trust in us as a community, but now they are expanding on a market that is growing steadily and that I am proud to have been one of the originators.
Eduardo’s favourite ELR rifle?
Like most of our readers, you have a few rifles which are your favourite but which is your favourite 2 mile rifle combination? I bet it’s the Steyr hs50. Why is that?
Not really. The Steyr is maybe the best out of the box .50 sniper rifle but to win ELR you need dedicated ELR rifles with special barrel twists. With standard military twists, you can shoot well, and have fun, but not at my level.
In the US I shoot a 460 Steyr McMillan/McRee rifle that Randy Powell and Scott Mcree built for me to shoot Thunderammo bullets with 460 Steyr Gen2 chamber, along with a McRee/Stiller 375CT equipped with a Structured barrel from TACOM HQ to shoot the sleek C.E.B. Lazers.
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How did COVID steer Extreme Long range developments?
During COVID I got stuck in EU and discovered that we make awesome ELR rifles in this continent too, and partnered with Victrix and the passionate Giuseppe Valtorta to shoot in KO2M a VICTRIX Crown 375CT and for KO1M and ELR light class a fantastic VICTRIX Sceptre 338LM IMP40. A rifle that I helped design and that I really like. For ELR22 I relied in the Bergara B14T, the best 22LR I could find 2 years ago with a magazine, a feature that I need for fast shooting in the wind. Then heavily customized it to suit my needs.
Which is my preferred? None and all. For me rifles are tools not objects of desire. Specific tool for specific purposes so I love each one of them for my different ELR competitions.
How did the minute 22lr come into the ELR shooting scene?
Was this a European turning point or did it also originate in the US?
ELR22 was standardized target wise in the US and used the basic setup we devised for KO2M, but it originated in EU not in the US. More than a decade ago, it was born due to the lack of F-class and ELR ranges in many countries and it started with the Mini-Fclass. I have shot UIT smallbore most of my life and have pushed the use of 22LR for sniper training for decades, so I was already a 22LR proponent. After those early stages, some ELR leaders , me included, saw the potential for ELR with 22LR and super competitions like the Prince of 22 were born. EU is leader in ELR22 and even if the US is catching up fast, we still shoot farther out in EU competitions, with targets at 600 yards and more.
I think its a great discipline especially for those that have nearby spaces where to get easy practice time. In some places no ranges are required to shoot 22s which makes it more appealing.
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How has 22elr evolved from just plinking?
Match 22LR rifles are very precise but not up to spec when it comes to ELR22.
The 22LR game changing evolution has been that some companies heard our cries for a “big Rem700SA” action 22LR and started building them. That allowed us to start building rifles with parts designed for ELR on “big” rifles, that were not available for the typical match 22. Once we had really capable 22s with magazines for fast shooting and being able to apply on them all the thousands of accessories and parts available for 308 size rifles, it all happened fast. The bottleneck now is ammo but I think that my win with supersonic RWS100 will create a market niche there.
Can the same ballistic principles with kestrel be used for 22elr shooting as well?
This would be great low cost training compared to my cigar priced 33XC rounds!
Kestrel is an anemometer with a ballistic engine from Applied Ballistics. If you use that combination with your 33XC ,yes you can use the same for ELR22. And if you use any other ballistics app along with the kestrel you can use the same too. What you use for “big bore” ELR can be used just the same for ELR22 without the ammo, reloading and barrel life cost issues. This is why it is so good as ELR training, and the challenge and wind shooting learning techniques are similar.
Looks familiar? 22 ELR ballistics
ELR 22: What sort of setup are you running for this discipline ?
How did you climb to the top at this year’s Prince of 22LR?
Coming to the World´s Top ELR22 ranked shooter has not been easy and the class is very competitive and there are many top shooters that can win any competition. Anyway, the recipe is not black magic: get the best equipment you can, with “big bore ELR” standards and shoot as many rounds as you can in difficult wind conditions. I have shot around 3000 rounds with the Bergara and it shows.
My current winning setup is: an out of the box Bergara B14 22LR with 18” steel barrel in a super nice black R.O.M.E. ( Victrix) Lorica chassis modified by me to use an ABR adjustable bag rider. Now Victrix is adding adjustable rears to their ELR rifles so they might offer a new version soon. The trigger is a HUBER, simply the best there is. I have a Leupold Mark5HS 5-25 scope with ERATAC adjustable base for a total of 80 MOA between rail and base, and add a TACOM HQ Charlie set at 26Mrads. A big improvement has been the LRA SendIT electronic level, an accessory I will apply to all my rifles.
I have a BipodExT system with a R.O.M.E. or Steyr bipod depending on height needed in front and a DIMA Grymalyuk beautiful custom rear bag in rear. I measure V0 in all my shots since 2018 with a Magnetospeed V3 system on a MKmachining carbon mount from Accuraccy Solutions and now I am also using a Longseeker radar with which I am extremely happy. Regarding ammo I shoot RWS R100 ammo and sometimes R50 too but I never use two types of ammo in a competition.
Can you tell us what the ELR22 course of fire is like, how many shots and targets do you engage?
I heard you made 4/5 at 550m! How big a target is that?
The setup is like the KO2M. A timed stage with coldbore and 4 targets for qualification from around 200 to 350m and then the top 20% shooters go to the final for 3 or 4 targets from around 320 to 500 or 550m . The target is always 30x30cm following ELR22 USA guidelines, but the challenge here is wind deviation. Without wind I hit 1000m with the tiny 22LR , but with even light winds the challenge is hitting half that.
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22ELR rimfire reloading!
Enter the 22 rimfire reloading! This is relatively new development i believe. Is this necessary to compete in prince of 22lr, is it a seperate category or can anyone jump on this wagon?
Reloaded 22LR is not used in competition but can be used for records. I have been tying to start with it since Cutting Edge Bullets made the first years ago but the availability of primed cases has been complicated.
How technical is 22ELR compared to full bore big bore rifles?
You don’t reload and that reduces the technically but rifles and optics are similar and at the same time the ballistics and wind reading are more complex so I will call it a tie.
Did you win 22ELR using commercially loaded ammo or handloaded 22lr ammunition?
Yes, absolutely standard RWS R100. We cannot use reloaded 22 in competition.
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Eduardo, are you holding any ELR classes anywhere in Europe going into 2023?
Yes. Since COVID hit we were forced to close the Steyr Academy in the US so I will restart my training here in Europe with my Fontcuberta Academy.
- I plan on an ELR22 course before the end of the year in Southern Europe
- A couple more ELR22 in 2023,
- Two or maybe three ELR 1 mile and 2 mile courses in 2023 in EU too. Check my facebook page for the latest updates.
Where do you see the sport and the equipment going in 2023, what are the main developments that will take the sport to the next level?
ELR in general is very dependent on wind reading so the developments that can help wind reading and are available to the average Joe will mean a big difference. Calibers will keep going up to rifles like 460Steyr as we need those heavy and stable bullets flying fast and deep into subsonic, but these rifles will have to keep on a strict diet to be KO2M approved as we as ELR shooters should not fall on the trap that other organizations fell, and end up with huge machine rest rifles nobody would use in the field.
Do you think that 2 miles is still the main benchmark today and do you foresee this changing in the near future?
We are not reliable enough at 2 miles to start thinking about more. But many of the top shooters, me included, regularly shoot at crazy far distances to test new setups and get hits over 2 miles, so the potential for more distance is there.
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Do you follow any specific ELR rising star? We’re always looking to interview the next big thing!
I don’t believe in stars but in hard working shooters. There are many shooters that are doing an awesome job and can win any ELR competition, just check KO2M, KO1M or ELR22 ranking and you will see how competitive it is .
Some of the past Kings are not even in the top ten anymore. That’s what competitiveness means ….
Finally do you believe the military get any positive spillover out of all this ELR action that happens on a commercial/sporting level?
I hope so, we are here to help them. Tell them to call me !!
Thanks to all spotters that do a critical job and thanks to my own spotter Ramon AC Fito as without him I would not have won.
Thanks also to those that are working hard to improve rifle technology and ELR as a sport. With so many smart people having a common goal the only outcome is success
Thanks for being with us on rifletalks.com Eduardo!