Jake Woodcock, Nigel Downton and I recently made a long weekend trip down to the CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park. The CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park sits on 500 acres of land and boasts a 600 yard rifle range with electronic targets at 200, 300 and 600 yards; a 100 yard rifle range with electronic targets; a 50 foot pistol range with steel and paper targets; 15 action pistol bays with steel targets; a 15-station sporting clays loop, trap field and 5-stand field. A 13,000 square foot clubhouse features a reception area, CMP Pro Shop (firearms, accessories and ammunition sales), lounge areas, two multi-media classrooms and an expansive deck area that overlooks the 600 yard rifle range.
The electronic targets are provided by Kongsberg Target Systems of Norway. Four microphones at the corners of the target stand individually measure the arrival time of the bullet’s sonic signature when it strikes the target face; the differential between the arrival times at each microphone is then used to calculate the x-y position of the bullet impact. The result is then displayed on a monitor next to the shooter’s firing position giving instant feedback. The targeting system monitor displays information on the shot value, shot impact direction relative to the target center, cumulative shot value and displacement of the average group center from target center. This is one of the most advanced targeting systems available in the world.
We drove from Indianapolis to Talladega on Thursday evening. On Friday morning, we first visited the CMP South Store in Anniston, AL which houses CMP retail sales for rifles and accessories as well as a 80 position air rifle competition range. A JROTC air rifle match was underway at the time of our visit.
After perusing the M1 Garands and attempting to buy a GI Sling (you can’t unless you also buy a rifle), we made our way to the CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park. New shooters are required to watch a short safety video and then receive a “Range Safety Card” good for 1 year as well as a punch card which entitles the bearer to 1 free visit to the CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park after 10 visits. If you will be using any range besides the 600 yard rifle range, you will also receive a gate access card to allow vehicle access to the other ranges. The 600 yard range is immediately behind the clubhouse and can be accessed either by walking or using complimentary golf carts.
Jake, Nigel and I spent our first couple of hours on the 100 yard range making sure that we had good zeroes on our rifles as well as testing different ammunition for accuracy. The Kongsberg electronic targets make zeroing and ammunition testing much more efficient than using a paper target; no need to walk 100 yards downrange to check your group!
Next we moved over to the 600 yard range where you are required to fire on the 200 yard target line before being allowed to shoot further out. After the range personnel are satisfied you are sufficiently accurate at 200 yards, they will lower the 200 yard targets giving the shooter access to the 300 yard targets. In a similar fashion, once you are satisfied with your groups on the 300 yard targets, you can request to be allowed to shoot out to 600 yards.
I believe I was the only one of us to shoot out to 600 yards on Friday. This was my first time to shoot beyond 400 yards and I had no DOPE at all for 600 yards, so I used data from a ballistic calculator. I ended up only getting a couple of hits on the 600 yard target which was disappointing.
On Saturday we returned to the 100 yard range and shot .22LR rimfire for an hour or two. Each of us rotated between shooting from the bench and slung (prone, seated or standing). The best group that I managed from the bench as a 99-6X:
We then transitioned back to the 600 yard range to try our hand at long-range centerfire rifle marksmanship again. This time we were all more successful than on Friday with both Nigel and I getting good groups on our 600 yard targets. My best 5-shot group was a 47:
We planned to leave shortly after lunch on Sunday so shooting on the pistol range in the morning seemed like a natural fit. The 50 foot pistol range includes several steel targets (plate rack, dueling trees, IDPA style steel with hostage flippers, etc.) as well as target stands for paper targets (we didn’t bother putting up paper targets). We spent nearly 2 hours pinging steel with an assortment of centerfire and rimfire pistols.
There is also a 50 yard pistol range which is equipped with electronic targets identical to the 100 and 600 yard rifle ranges. However, that pistol range was closed and we were told it was going to be transitioned to “pop-up” targets similar to those on the pistol range we use at Camp Atterbury. That should be a very nice addition to the already state-of-the-art ranges at CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park.
We packed up our gear and headed home around 1pm CST (Alabama is on Central Time). The trip home took a little more than 9 hours including a stop for dinner and gas.