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Ryan Cheney ELR Competition Shooter

Ryan Cheney ELR Shooter

In today’s My Extreme Long Range Shooting story, we meet the top brass in ELR – Ryan Cheney. You’re probably heard of his exploits in competition touching the target at 4134yds at Spearpoint match. Well lads, that’s exactly the guy we have onboard today.

One of my college tutors use to say, if you want to find out how corporations work, go to the executives and so today, we catchup with one of the very best in in Extreme Long Range Shooting to learn more.

Hey Ryan, we know how passionate you are about extreme long-range shooting so we wanted to take the opportunity to get to know you better and share it with our global readers. Although this sport is super popular in the US, it is gaining traction worldwide with various events sprouting at different corners of the globe from the plains in the US, to the rolling Italian hills, the military ranges in France or the flat lands in South Africa. Poland, Sicily, Romania, Norway, Germany, Australia and a few others have come our way as well. Wow what a take up!

Ryan, I’ve been following your ELR shooting performance and it goes without saying, our curiosity grows. Our readers are yearning to learn more and we believe you can help fuel more interest in this sport. The scope of this series of MY ELR shooting story is precisely that.

Here’s Ryan Cheney in ELR action below.

How did you get into ELR shooting, which line of the shooting sports did you come from before moving to ELR?

Ryan Cheney #1: It all started when I was a kid, at age 14 or 15 my dad put me behind a Ruger M77 300 Win Mag for deer season and although it beat the hell out of my shoulder, I got good at shooting deer at 250-350 yards. Getting beaten up by the 300WM lead me into taking more precision shots with smaller calibers, shooting a Kimber 84M .243 for a while.
A few years later I ended up buying a DPMS LR308 and that lead me into shooting PRS style matches at Spearpoint Ranch. Around 2013 I had a .338 Lapua built and Steve Wirth at Spearpoint put out a 2000 yard target for us to shoot at after the matches and that was the slippery slope into ELR madness.

Where about in the US are you based? Do you have access to ELR shooting grounds nearby? I’ve often told other European counterparts that even our American counterparts often travel far and wide to get to their favorite spots. We did 3500kms round trip to get to a 2200m spot in Italy this month! (write up shortly.. 🙂 )

Ryan: I am located in South Central Kansas, I am a member of a private range about 30 minutes from home where I can shoot out to 2150 yards, and Spearpoint is only about 3 hours away. (editor: WoW!)

Extreme Long Range Cold Shoot ITaly
Extreme Long Range Cold Shoot Italy last week in Tuscany with the guys from www.EXLRS.nl. Learn more about ELR in Europe in this facebook Group

Which are the most important ELR matches in the US today?

2200yd target at spearpoint ranch
2200yd target at spearpoint ranch

Ryan #1: In my opinion the most important matches are the monthly matches at Spearpoint Ranch. The season starts in March and ends in September, so you get to shoot in a huge variety of weather conditions and wind directions.
You’ll gain more experience shooting here than anywhere else in the world in my opinion. This venue ends up fabricating the finest ELR shooters in the world.

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

Ryan: I try to get out to the range at least once a month, but I typically take a break over the winter when its super cold out. During the season from March-September I’ll get out nearly every week. Even if it’s only to test 5 shots or to take a client out for training.

Which one of these describes you best as a shooter?

o Competition shooter
o ELR shooter
o Hunter
o PRS Shooter
o F-Class Shooter
o Benchrest shooter

Can you share one or two ELR experiences that really got you going in the sport? 

Ryan: So my first .338 Lapua died at the end of 2017, there was a couple prototype matches at Spearpoint in the fall of 17, and they were hinting at starting a series in 2018. So I needed to get my rifle rebarrelled and ready for March. I decided that if I was going through everything necessary for a new barrel I may as well upgrade the caliber a little, so after doing some digging I discovered the 338 Lapua Rogue, which is a 37 degree shoulder improved Lapua. I bought a hydroforming die from Whidden, formed some brass, worked up a simple load that shot accurate and went and fire formed the first match and ended up winning. That was my first ever Win, so that one definitely sticks with me.
That season I ended up winning more events than anyone in the country, including one at Valdina Ranch and a cold bore challenge at Spearpoint. That was the year that definitely shoved me down the rabbit hole of ELR.

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Ryan Cheney’s 375 Cheytac

Ryan Cheney elr shooter 2
Ryan Cheney 375 Cheytac rifle – left bolt left port.

I know you were running a 33XC, that’s how I learned about you when you impacted the 4134yd target at Spearpoint match. What rifle are you currently running for 2-mile-shooting and can you share some info about the rifle build?

Ryan: My current build is a 9.5×77 built by Gene Nowaczyk.

  • I run a Pierce Engineering 10x titanium left handed action,
  • Bartlein 8 twist barrel,
  • Manners LRT carbon fiber stock,
  • Triggertech Diamond 2 Stage trigger,
  • Terminator T5 brake.

What do you look for when you set out to build an Extreme long range shooting rifle?

Ryan Cheney elr shooter 2
A 375 Cheytac built for competition

Ryan: Well at this point my only requirement is a left handed action. Ever since my car wreck in 2019, my right arm and hand is pretty weak and uncoordinated, so Jeff Johnson from Bartlein Barrels had a wild idea to build me a left handed rifle, so I could still run the trigger with my right, but do everything else left. It worked out fantastic, it’s extremely ergonomic, and I’ll never go back to a right handed rifle.

What bedding technique was used on it and is the barrel bedded forward of the action or is it the action only?
Ryan: I just run Pro-Bed 2000 under the action with a short barrel pad out front.

Lindsay Paul on her 375 Cheytac
Lindsay Paul on her 375 Cheytac. Which setup do you prefer? Sound off in the comments section at the end of the article!

Extreme Long Range Shooting Optics

Cheney ELR nightforce
Spotters Prying over the shots ahead

Can you tell us more about your optics setup. I noticed on one of your pictures that you are not running a prism device. How do you dial in the elevation required for 2 mile shots? (I watched the video entitled ‘4 in a row at 2727 yards and there was no prism device or canted base) What magnification do you typically use when engaging 2 mile targets?

Extreme Long range shooting scope
Up close and personal with Ryan Cheney as he looks down his scope at the Extreme Range target.

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.

Kestrel Zero Offset

March Genesis 6-60x56 Extreme Range Scope on Desert Tech rifle
If you do not wish to get into the complex calculations of finding out how much elevation you have on your setup, then checkout the March Genesis 6-60×56 Extreme Range Scope seen here on Desert Tech rifle. This scope provides 400MOA of Elevation and 150MOA of windage. Running review coming next. Learn more about this 400MOA scope, join this group.

March Genesis turret

Other ELR options seen above: March Genesis turret with 50 MOA per turn and 400 MOA of vertical. How far will it take you with your existing rifle/load? Comment below.

Ryan Cheney’s Barrels

375 Cheytac Ryan Cheney

Probably the lung of every Extreme long range shooting rifle. What do you look for when picking a barrel for this sport, how important is velocity and barrel length for you?
Ryan: I only run Bartlein Barrels, they are phenomenal, the people are great and I always get top quality service. Any more I just get the twist I need for the projectile I’m running, and size the rest based on what weight I have to make and call it a day.

“Velocity and length isn’t that important to me, consistency is what’s important.” – Ryan Cheney

Just need enough length to get a full burn on the powder for the most efficiency, the size I need to fit the action and make it a little fatter if I need some extra weight. After that, it will shoot!

Brass annealing 

AMP Annealer II
AMP Annealer II with a few of our favourite ELR shooting cartridges.

Do you anneal your brass and if so how often?
Yes I have an AMP and I anneal after each firing. (editor: This is trend that most top competitors interviewed have shared in common)

Extreme Long Range Bullets choice 

It goes without saying, probably the most important component in the sport, it’s the one that actually does the job and often also the ones hard to come by. What’s your bullet of choice and how do you test your loads? (ladder testing, round robin, any other method?)

Ryan: I exclusively run Cutting Edge Lazers. I run the 400 grain Gen2 in my 9.5×77 and that projectile is a work of art. I typically do OCW’s, and ladders, shoot groups, shoot some at distance, find something that gets me low SD’s and let them rip!

375 Cutting edge 400grain lazers375 Cutting edge 400grain lazers

400 MOA ELR Scope Setup – no additional appendices

March Genesis 6-60×56 with over 50MOA per turn on elevation and 25 MOA per Half turn on Windage. We took the March Genesis out for a date in the Tuscan hill side. Read more about it.

Editor: Coincidentally, we’re building a 37XC to shoot this same bullet from a compact Desert tech switch barrel setup (6.5creedmoore, 33XC, 37XC) shown below. More info on that shortly…

March Genesis 6-60x56
Desert Tech SRS A2 with March Genesis 6-60×56 next in review on the Desert Tech 33/37XC with 35″ barrel which should replicate 375 Chey performance on a shorter setup.

Powders for Extreme Long Range ShootingWhat’s your powder of choice? Do you change the charge weight of your loads in winter/summer to maintain the same velocity at which you did the load testing?
I run H50BMG and have found that it doesn’t vary much in extreme weather. I don’t shoot when its crazy cold outside, but I’m sure that it would still be in the ballpark. I don’t change my loads for differences in weather.

Editor’s note: Weigh each charge carefully. Above we weigh the charges across 3 different scales to ensure consistency.

Load Testing for ELR

Can you tell us a bit more about your load testing technique for extreme long range shooting? At what distance do you test your loads?

Ryan Cheney ELR 100m zero offset
Ryan Shares his 100m zero offset, reassuringly stacking them up More on his page here.

Ryan – Most of my testing is done at 100 yards, just simple Optimum Charge Weight groups. I’ll shoot groups at 700 yards sometimes just to see what it’ll do. I  believe, even Record FTR Champion Russell Simmonds from the UK did most of his Fclass 308win testing at 100m

Bipods for Extreme Long range shooting 

There’s a lot of talk about bipods online. We seem to have moved away from Fclass type bipods for ELR competition. What do you look for in your bipod setup?
Ryan – Once they changed the rules for KO2M, I picked up an Accu-Tac WB4 and it has been amazing. I converted to it from the Phoenix and haven’t looked back. Accu-Tac decided to sponsor me for the 2022 season, and I’m stoked to represent them because their products absolutely rock!

Furthest Distance shot to date and how many rounds to connect?

Ryan Cheney 4000yards plus shot

“I just made the longest confirmed impact in an ELR match, of all time. 4134 yards. Totally surreal!”

Ryan: 4134 yards at Spearpoint last year, impact was on the 4th shot. (That’s 3780m for our European readers or 37 football fields away and some 😮 )

ELR records shown
Check out these ELR Records as shown on Ryan’s Page 

Who is your spotter and do you always shoot with him/her?

Ryan: I shoot with Steve Ream and Derek Love most of the time, and we all practice together on the 2150 yard range. Steve was my spotter at KO2M last year, but the teams may shift up a little bit for 2022. We will spot for each other at Spearpoint, but I’m not sure at this point what the teams will be like for KO2M since Derek will be with us this year and not off in Greece doing crazy things like getting married 😉

How important is neck tension to maintain low ES over your string?

Ryan: Every step of the reloading process is necessary to consistency. It’s like tolerance stacking, neck tension is as important as the powder charge in my opinion. 

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?

Ryan: I hope it’s heading toward a standard set of rules, more rookie classes and matches to draw in new participants, and ultimately someday maybe become an Olympic event since this has become a global level sport. I’d love to compete for my country!

We appreciate the time Ryan gave to share his Extreme Long Range Shooting Story and experiences. If like Ryan, you would like to share yours, please get in touch on rod@rifletalks.com .
Rifletalks.com

Learn More about Ryan on his Youtube Account
Ryan’s Facebook Page

Enjoyed the article? Leave Your Comment Below

One thought on “My Extreme Long Range Shooting Story – Meet Ryan Cheney

  1. Tom Hutcheson says:

    I love it. I’m waiting on my rifle now a 416 barrett Paul is helping me with. I’m looking forward to shooting in some matches and testing my ability at ELR

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