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Boyd Takes Aim At World Record

FrancFFrancF Member Posts: 35,278 ******
On a good day, Ron Boyd could stand across from the McDonald's in Hillsboro and put a bullet through the key hole of the Historic Courthouse more than a half mile away. On a really good one, he'd put four more in that exact same spot.

In the world of long range shooting, where targets 100 to 200 yards away are considered "point blank," Boyd is one of the best.

Earlier this month, the Hillsboro native came within a 60th of an inch from setting an International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) world record, putting five shots within 1.473 inches of each other from 1,000 yards away at a match in Yukon, MO.

To put that in perspective, if you drew a circle around Boyd's group, it would be just a little bigger than a quarter. And that's shooting at a target ten football fields away.

"At 1,000 yards, you don't know where your bullets are at. You can't see the hit," Boyd explained. "At 100 yards, you see every shot. At 1,000, you don't have a clue. You just shoot and pray."

Three of his shots were within a tenth of an inch of each other, basically going in the same hole, while the other two were just slightly to the right of that trio.

And while his group is the smallest ever shot using 6mm bullets (the other record was shot using 30 caliber bullets), Boyd still shakes his head at the two outside that three shot cluster.

"This is the one that kills me," said Boyd, pointing to one of the outer rounds. "If that thing was in half a bullet hole, that would have been a record."

Still, not many people can pull off a group like that, a fact that drew Boyd into the sport.

"People think you just buy a bullet, put it in, and shoot it, but it's not that way," Boyd explained. "There is a lot of work that goes into it. You have to tune it. You have to know what the barrel wants. You just have to keep trying."

After retiring from drag racing, where he worked for NHRA driver Tim Wilkerson for 15 years, Boyd started shooting competitively in 2008, starting with some shorter distances (100 to 200 yards) before moving up the longer ranges of 600 and 1000 yards.

"I built a long range gun first to play around with, to see how it worked," Boyd said. "Long range shooting has always fascinated me, so I figured I'd better do it while I can."

With no long distance ranges in Illinois, Boyd started out shooting in Aurora, MO, about five hours away from his home in Hillsboro.

Four years later, Boyd is planning on competing in 15 to 20 matches this year, none of which are particularly close.

With matches in Wright City, MO (107 miles), Memphis, TN (350 miles) and Yukon (222 miles) on the schedule, Boyd tries to make the most of his gas money by shooting both 600 and 1000 yards when he can.

However, the cost of travel is just one of the challenges of the sport. Boyd builds his own guns, in part because gunsmiths who specialize in these kinds of guns are few and far away. Each piece can be expensive and take a long time to receive.

"If you had a gunsmith build you a gun, you'd be lucky if you got it in three months," Boyd explains. "Bartlein barrels, that's the one I'm using now that shot so well, there was a year turn around on them. For stocks, barrels, actions, you're looking at three or four months usually."

Boyd shoots both the light gun, which weighs 17 pounds and is what he nearly broke the record in, and the heavy gun, which tips the scales at 59 pounds.

The heavy gun is a fairly new addition for Boyd, who tried to talk himself out of the purchase before giving in to temptation.

"You write all the positives about it and all the negatives, and there were a lot more negatives," Boyd said. "But I thought, I don't have many more years to shoot and it's so much fun. It's just dragging it up to the line and setting it up that's the bad part."

Boyd explained that there are two types of shooters in the competitions: a picker, who picks his shot and takes his time; and a runner, who tries to get his shots off as fast as he can once he finds the right condition.

Boyd would fall in the latter group, saying that he can usually get five shots off with the light gun in between 10 and 15 seconds or ten shots with the heavy gun between 25 to 30 seconds.

The idea is to get your gun sighted in and get the bullets to the target before the conditions change.

"At 1,000 yards, the wind can blow that bullet around pretty good," Boyd said.

But despite the expense, the travel time and the fact that Mother Nature can really mess up your day, Boyd keeps coming back.

"There are a lot of valleys and not many peaks," he explained with a smile. "You have to enjoy it when you can."

Part of the reason he continues is the competitive nature of the sport and the fact that there are only a handful of people that could do what he does. But mostly, Boyd enjoys the camaraderie, which he likens to his days in drag racing.

"We traveled all over and everywhere you went, you had friends there," said Boyd. "Shooting is the same way. It's one big family, you might say."

And while he mentions that he doesn't have many years left to shoot, don't look for Boyd to slow down any time soon.

"Most of your shooters are older guys, especially the point blank shooters," he said. "As long as I can pick up a gun, I'll shoot."


  • jonkjonk Member Posts: 10,121
    edited November -1
    So the .30 cal still rules the roost... for now. Cool!

    That's some fine shooting! I can shoot a group that size at 300 yards with ONE of my guns- I shudder to even CONSIDER a thousand! I've shot at a thousand, and am happy to keep all my shots on paper!

    AND he did this with the lightweight gun! Fantastic!
  • Alan RushingAlan Rushing Member Posts: 9,002 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Posted: Thursday, May 3, 2012 12:01 am

    by Kyle Herschelman

    . . . for your further perusal . . .
  • nemesisenforcernemesisenforcer Member Posts: 10,513 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I'd be lucky to that at 100 yards with any of my guns.

    On a calm and windless day. which we don't have around here too often.
  • sandwarriorsandwarrior Member Posts: 5,453 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1

    The current IBS 1000 yd. record holder is Tom Sarver. Pretty good guy. I've talked to him on a few occasions. He set the record with a .300 Hulk. His own proprietary case. Basically a shortened .300 RUM with the shoulder bumped back considerably. This to give the longer neck so that he won't burn barrels out. Even though that happens often enough as the case capacity still readily exceeds that of the .300 Win Mag. He runs custom dies with it that allow him zero runout. At least on a runout dial measured in thousandths. He told me the needle goes up/down one or two when measuring ten thousandths. As with most long range shooters, cases are sorted by a grain or so and turned to be precise. All bullets are run through the Juenke machine to make them as precise as possible.

    As for Mr. Boyd, my hat is off to him. That is one very impressive group for 1k. Not many people have broken the 1.5" group size at 1k. I hope he keeps shooting and doing as well as he has. And I always hope he continues to enjoy it.

    One thing I'll disagree with. Tom doesn't consider it luck to get a group that small at that far. He does just like Boyd does and that is to dedicate himself to that task. He has numerous groups of under 2" at that range and another handful of groups of under 1.5" as well. I'm thinking if Mr. Boyd keeps doing what he is doing, he will see what he's doing as a skill, not luck.
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