Welcome to Accuracy in Action series by Accuracy Solutions!
This week I chat with up-and-coming Extreme Long Range competitor, Mike Collins about the challenges of shooting ELR, his winning rifle setup and the importance of high-quality gear – especially when it comes to repeatable accuracy at distances out to two miles! Mike’s got some great info for us, so let’s dive right in!
Alright, hello, everyone. I’m Betsy with Accuracy Solutions and today I’m here with Mike Collins. Hi, Mike. How are you doing today?
Hey, Betsy – I’m doing really good. I appreciate you having me on. Not a problem. We’re excited to learn a little bit more about you here.
So Mike, you just got your first first place finish ever at an ELR match. Is that correct?
It is. It is.
That was at Raton Thunder a few weeks ago [July 2023]. Would you mind telling us a little bit about how your first WIN feels?
Yeah, so I mean, obviously it I’m super excited about it. You know, this whole season I’ve had a pretty good season I’m very happy with it for me in my first season in ELR competing and to get my first win is very special, especially at Raton.
That’s awesome. It’s a pretty neat place. Raton is a challenging venue as well, so you should be proud of that win.
It definitely can be for sure for sure.
You had said Raton Thunder is about your eight or ninth ELR match. What did you do to prepare for this match?
Well, funny enough, it has more to do with being physically there than anything on the gun, but two things. So I injured my back before, maybe like a month before. And spent the whole month before going through PT just to be there and so decided two days before I left for the match that I was like hey I’m good enough to give this a go and gave it a shot and I’m definitely happy I went but the other thing related to you are is that I switched from my 375 Chey Tac to my 416 Hellfire built by Alamo Precision. Awesome. I had it barreled a couple a couple months ago, but only had a few shots on it.
I wasn’t super happy with how it was tuned in and got out on the range, was able to get it tuned in, was really happy with how it was shooting. It is probably the best shooting gun I’ve competed with.
So, I was going in with a lot of confidence and felt really good about it…and before I left for the match, I actually told my wife, I was like, ‘hey, listen, this gun’s shooting good. I’m feeling really confident. I’m going to bring home a medal for you.’
Awh! That’s amazing. During the match, you know, on the line, it can be a little bit stressful. Obviously you go in with a little bit of a plan. Did everything go the way you expected?
You know actually no so I usually tend to shoot fast and I was on the line just feeling really comfortable the conditions were staying pretty steady so I actually shot much slower than I usually do so felt very different on the line but I just felt really comfortable and confident and shot much slower and just things seem to work out for me this time.
That’s awesome and it’s really great when you have that confidence in your gear, you know, you don’t have to worry about it. You know, it’s performing well. So that’s great.
Absolutely. Yeah, confidence is a big part of it.
So, what got you interested in shooting ELR?
Well, my dad bought me a Remington 700 SPS, maybe five years ago. And just like, was watching all these videos and like, how far will this gun shoot, you know, how far can I take it? And one day we went out together and put a target at 500 yards. And I was using, I think, a Nikon, one of their BDC drop reticles that was shooting so far with this gun that I was just holding at the very bottom of the view of the scope, like no holdover point or anything, and had my first 500 yard hit and it was like after I heard the still ring, I was like, oh man, I need to go farther.
I was gonna say that first ring of steel at distance is just addicting, isn’t it?
It is more addicting than smoking crack* for sure. (**Disclaimer** Don’t try this at home, kids.)
I remember when I got my first, my longest impact, we had pushed a little hunting rifle out to a little over 1,000 yards and it was this weird, kangaroo shaped piece of steel – I knew nothing – I had a buddy who knew everything. He set up the gun. He was like, hold this and pull the trigger. And when it ‘dinged’ and it was like, oh, man, I got to get more of this in my life.
Yeah, I agree. So once I heard that ‘ding,’ I was like, oh, I need to push to 800. And then a thousand. And then I was like, okay, now it’s time for a little bit better equipment. And I bought a 6.5 PRC and took that out to a mile. And a mile was my longest impact until competition. Things have kind of escalated since then.
Yeah. So, speaking of escalation, I think you’re running the 416 hellfire now. What led you to choose that particular cartridge?
So throughout the season, I’ve been finishing, you know, probably average around six place, something like that, you know, just outside the podium area and the middle 10, I was like, man, I’ve had so many shots, just be off plate. I was like, man, if I just had a little bit better BC, I think these would end up on the plate. Raton was actually my first time running the 416 Hellfire in competition. Okay, and t seemed like those few that I thought would get on the plate, did end up on the plate with a little bit better BC. I think I’ll be running this one for a while…
One of the pieces of gear that you’re running is a BipodeXt. What made you include that in your setup?
So, when I was building my first Heavy gun with Alamo Precision. When it was done,I thought I was done spending all my money and
Thats always the way.
Robert was like, hey…I know these are expensive, but I think you should get one of the these Accuracy Solutions BipodeXt. I was like ‘man…another thousand bucks? Really? I mean is it gonna be that good?’ And Robert was like, ‘I really recommend it!’ Robert is a great gunsmith and I really trust his opinion and so I was like, ‘okay…what’s another thousand dollars on top of everything else, you know.’ And let me tell you, after shooting it, just one shot, I was convinced. My very first shot on a big gun with the bipod extender and the stability and the tracking was awesome. I saw my impact at a hundred yards! It was just like “Wow! This thing is incredible!” I’m a firm believer that It would be hard to find a better investment for an ELR gun than a bipod extender from Accuracy Solutions.
Definitely! So great to hear that. I just got my first one and I’m really excited to take it out to the range. I think I’ve heard nothing but great things, so I’m excited to try it.
You’re not going to want to shoot a gun without it anymore.
That’s what I’ve heard.
So, I actually just got one on my light gun that I’ll be running for King of One Mile.
It sounds like you really enjoy running your BipodeXt. Can you tell me a little bit about working with the guys over at accuracy solutions?
Oh, man. I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome those guys start to work with you know, just to give you an example in return I don’t remember the day it was, but it was right before a heavy gun day, and I gorilla gripped one of the clamps on my BipodeXt and I broke it.
It’d probably help if I read the directions and try to do better, but I don’t do that type of stuff…so I was freaking out. I’m like, “man, I need to run this on my gun. I’m not comfortable running the gun without it.” So, I sent Daniel a note and was like, ‘hey, I cracked one of these clamp screws. Is there anything you can do for me?’ Within two minutes, I had an email and a phone call from Daniel. He was saying ‘hey, whatever you need! I will overnight all the parts so you can run the BipodeXt in the match.’
Long story short the ELR family came through for me and one of the guys at the match gave me the parts off his gun to make my BipodeXt work.
So he [Daniel] didn’t need to overnight the parts but he did send them to me quick and I just cannot speak highly enough about Daniel and the guys at Accuracy Solutions.
That’s awesome, we love hearing that! You don’t often find companies that are THAT invested in their customers…that’s just amazing. For him to just go ahead and call email and just be like, I’m going to send you the things.
He was all over it. It’s always nice to do business with Daniel and Accuracy Solutions. I can’t recommended them enough.
That’s awesome. All right. So, King of One Mile in what like two, three weeks?
Yeah, it’s coming up. I think that we can it’s something like that.
Okay. Awesome. What are you going to run at that match?
So I’ll be running my Alamo Precision 300 PRC. It’s a Masterpiece Arms chassis with a Defiant Deviant action and a Bartlein barrel.
Oh cool. That’s a winning combination right there.
It is and I just got my BipodeXt in for it this week, so I’ll be shooting that for the first time today. I’m looking forward to trying that out on this gun, I’m sure it’ll do great things for it.
Awesome. That sounds great. So, you know, we’ve already talked about it a little bit. You’re kind of an up-and-coming ELR shooter. And…Obviously, you’re doing some really great things this year. Are there any bucket list matches that you want to shoot that you haven’t done yet?
Yeah, so when I got into competing in ELR, my only goal was like, hey, in the first two years of shooting, of competing, I want to make it to a King event. Yeah, I have qualified for both King of One Mile and King of Two Mile events this year. So, I’m super excited about qualifying and being able to shoot those matches, I’m really looking forward to it.
That’s amazing. In your first year qualifying for both, that’s some pretty impressive work!
All right. One last question for you out. If there’s any one piece of advice that you would give to somebody getting into ELR, what would it be?
I would highly recommend to someone wanting getting into ELR to go to a match. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned at the matches. I mean not just from shooting on the line, but just from the people there. Not only is the ELR a family, everyone there is willing to help each other. You can learn from some of the best shooters in the world. Everyone’s willing to go out of their way to give you advice or let you check out their gear. And as I’m sure you know this stuff’s not cheap so it’s nice to be able to get some hands on time with some different stuff before you go out and make a big purchase and know that you like it and be happy with it.
Yeah absolutely. That’s one of the ways that I really kind of dove into this sport was just showing up to matches and learning everything that I could learn without being behind a gun because that’s probably that’s at least half of the battle is kind of understanding how things work. People are so willing to guide you through the process or even let you try out their gear. It’s a fantastic community and I can’t say enough good things about all the people that are involved.
Oh, yeah, I feel super blessed to be part of a sport that has such a community feel to it. I mean, it’s just just awesome. It’s not that cut throat feel, you know, out to get everyone. Everyone’s friendly and family and it’s just awesome to show up to an event and see friends and family and just it’s a very cool experience for me.
I know every time I go people are just like, oh my gosh, we’re so excited to see you. It’s more like a vacation or a family reunion than it is a match or work.
Yeah, for sure. It really is awesome.
Well, thanks for joining me today, Mike. This was short but sweet. And I think you provided some great info and insight into the world of ELR. Thank you so much for your time.
Thanks for having me on. I really enjoyed it.