SSRC: Steyr Scout Rifle Course - Fan Review

I can't recommend this class in strong enough terms.  Get the rifle and get the training.  The benefit far exceeds the cost.
SSRC: Steyr Scout Rifle Course - Fan Review

The SSRC: Steyr Scout Rifle Course has been enjoyed by many. But few have taken the time to really put into writing the full extent of that joy. This review from The Scout Rifle Forum discusses this course in great detail with helpful insight for anyone who is thinking about taking this course or who is interested in understanding the full value of our courses from an honest, unbiased gunman's perspective.

"When Steyr announced that they were starting a new program through the Steyr Academy to offer scout rifle specific training, I was very excited.  When I saw the list of instructors, I was really fired up.  I have wanted to take the Scout Rifle class from Gunsite for the past 25 years but the logistics and cost of getting to Arizona for a 5 day class was always beyond my ability.  The opportunity to get a shortened version of that training from the same instructors at a facility that I could drive to in a day brought things in reach.

I guess the best way to cover this is to break it down by topic:

Facility:

The class was held at the CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park.  http://thecmp.org/competitions/talladega-marksmanship-park/  I was stunned at the size and scope of this place.  I had no idea something like this could exist.  The clubhouse must have cost several million by itself.  It includes a pro-shop, classrooms, multi-media, concessions and a massive porch with tables overlooking Range 1.  There was a fleet of golf carts to use to shuttle equipment from the parking lot to the range.  Range 1 was 54 shooting positions with targets at 200, 300 and 600 yards.  All targets were big white boards with black bulls-eye targets.  There were electronic viewers at each station so you could review your shots and collect data.  It showed you group size, mil adjustments and a host of other data without ever moving from the shooting bench.  You can also monitor specific shooting positions on an app on your phone.

Think about that... 54 shooting positions and each position has 3 electronic target boards.  The cost per lane is staggering.  They had another 100 yard range with the same targets and I don't remember how many lanes on that one.

They also had multiple pistol ranges and bays with ranges between 10 to 50 yards.  They also run trap, skeet, 5 stand, sporting clays and they are building an unknown distance steel range out to 600 yards.  They can accommodate multiple events and competitions at once.  Truly stunning.

The staff was very helpful and seemed happy to have us there.  We moved from a 50 yard bay to the 100 yard sight-in range to the main range where we shot 200 and 300 yard targets.  They also set up several steel targets between the 200 and 300 yard berms which I will describe later.  All together, the facility was beyond first class and into the status of unimaginable.

Instructors:

Richard Mann is an outdoor writer and you can find plenty about him on the internet or on his web site at http://empty-cases.com/blog/ or on his Youtube channel.  Mario Marchman has been a Gunsite instructor for many years and has an excellent reputation for top quality instruction.  Il Ling New is also an instructor and I have heard great things about her but they apparently are switching up who will be at Steyr Academy and she was not part of my training.

Richard and Mario work well together.  It is clear that while Richard is not a Gunsite instructor, he is VERY familiar with the program.  The two of them made an effective team, trading off duties of talking and demonstrating.  The chemistry was good.

Both of them did an excellent job of reading the students.  We ended up shooting a lot more ammo than the course description because..well, we had all brought enough and we all were up for it.  The way they presented information was clear and I never felt spoken down to.  On the contrary, Mario and Richard both asked us a lot of questions and seemed to enjoy learning about our individual experiences with the Scout Rifle.  It was a very effective give and take style of instruction.

Students:

In previous reviews, I felt like it helped to describe who else was in the class.  The level of the students can dictate the pace of instruction.  In the case of this class, I was VERY fortunate in that all four of us had a pretty good grip on the fundamentals.  Beyond that, all four of us were pretty decent shots.

Chip:  Local guy who had clearly shot a lot with a rifle.  He was new to the Scout Rifle and had recently found a good deal on a used on.  His was equipped with a conventional 4.5-16X scope that was not a good fit for the course.  By mid-morning, I offered to let him use my spare scope which was a 1.5-5X Leupold.  He declined at first because he is more of a stand hunter and wanted to use what he was more likely to use in the field.  By the next drill, he changed his mind and he was glad he did.  He shot VERY well with that scope, winning one of the shoot-offs on the second day.

Tom:  He flew in from Northern MN and had purchased a new stainless Scout at his local store as a result of the training offer from Steyr Academy.  He had the Burris 2-7 Scout scope because of the recommendation of Richard Mann on the Scout Rifle forum.  This was his first real experience with the Scout and he took to it quickly.  I think his background was more with shotgunning but he clearly knew what he was doing with a rifle as well.  He was also fast.  He could work a bolt better than just about anybody I've seen.

Hank:  He is a cop and a friend of mine.  He is also a training junkie and has taken countless classes over the years.  His training resume includes Gunsite, Thunder Ranch and other well known names.  He is also pretty solid in long range shooting and has more trigger time at 600 yards than most shooters.  He has trained with me at my range a number of times with a RECON but never was happy with the performance.  He bought his Steyr as a result of the training offer from the Academy.  His rifle was equipped with the Leupold VX-R Scout 1.5-5X.

Me:  I've been reading about Scouts since 1990 and have owned scoutty type rifles since 1993.  I got my first Steyr in 2000 and have hunted with them ever since.  I've spent hours and hours walking with one and have taken dozens of deer.  I've taken a Randy Cain Practical Rifle class and have a "woods walk" range on the farm I live on.  I've also shot a few tactical carbine matches with a scout rifle.  I read, practice, train and experiment with scout rifles and consider myself a perpetual student of them.  I'm a decent shooter but NOT an expert.  I'm good enough to keep the experts on their toes but that's about it.  My rifle is modified quite a bit - shortened and threaded barrel, Silencerco Harvester suppressor, bipod has been removed and all the gaps filled in with epoxy, painted an ugly FDE/OD green, flashlight mount, pic rail for a bipod and the soft recoil pad installed.

I should probably also mention the recoil pad.  At the beginning of the class, Michelle from Steyr Arms came in with a box full of goodies available for purchase.  I mentioned that I thought the soft recoil pad was a worthwhile addition and at least two of the guys bought them.  I already had one on mine.  Shooting from unsupported positions doesn't hurt with the Steyr Scout, but more than a couple of shots off the bench or from prone and that hard pad can really start to leave a mark.  The guys who added the soft pad were VERY happy to have them by the end of the class.

Training:

Day 1 started in a classroom but we didn't stay there long.  We moved to a 50 yard bay and started out with exactly what one would expect.  The instructors were trying to see what they had to work with.  They seemed satisfied that all of us could hit a target and were safe with our rifles.  The morning progressed with drills on shooting positions, sling use and a little bit on the snap shot.  Directions were clear and there was never any ambiguity as to the expectations.  Mario never forgot to have us top-off and was cognizant of how many rounds we had fired.  Richard patrolled the line and offered coaching where it was needed.  With a 2 to 1 instructor ratio, it was easy for them to catch small things and correct them before they became big things.

After lunch, we headed to the 100 yard sight-in range to verify zero.  This is where I saw the electronic target boards and I still can't get over how cool they are.  We didn't spend a huge amount of time here - just enough to make sure we would be close when we moved to the big range the next day.

We then went back to the bay and continued various drills.  This is where I had my first epiphany.  I've used the snap shot at various times over the years.  I have even taken two deer in what I would call a genuine snap shot.  I know what it is and how to do it, but I had missed one critical element about mounting the rifle.  Richard helped me correct that and the gun now hits my cheek before it hits my shoulder and that allows me to see the reticle quicker.  I can't tell you how happy I was to figure this out.  It will take some practice to make this instinctive but I love having those "light bulb moments" in a class.

Day 2 started in the bay again with more progress on what we learned in day one.  We added in discussion of sling carry positions and I again picked up something that will help my long term about how to get the rifle over my shoulder with better control.  Richard know a lot about slings and did a great job of demonstrating field practical uses.  What it funny to me is that my Ching sling just seems to fit me and I struggle a lot less than others do with using it as a carry strap.  For instance, he often made the point that the third swivel position gets in the way of utilizing the Ching as a carry strap.  In watching others on the range, I could see the truth of this, but it is not an issue that has ever affected me.  Mine stays on my shoulder pretty well, especially in African carry.  Nonetheless, it was a good discussion and I did learn a cool trick about using the sling from off-hand by using my strong side arm.

In the afternoon, we moved to the big range and spent a fair amount of time there.  It was eye opening.  We were fighting a 30 MPH crosswind but all the rifles were able to shoot a respectable group off the bench.  We then went to prone and my rifle without the bipod was not shooting as accurately as the others.  I had a bipod in my bag and attached it to my forend mount.  Two shots were touching at 200 but on the second shot, the mount broke.  I had only glued that mount in place because I didn't want to drill holes until I was sure it was worth it and I will be making that a permanent addition soon.

We then started shooting steel targets at 200-300 yards and we were hitting them with great satisfaction.  Hitting them from prone and sitting in that high wind was cool.  I also discovered that when my suppressor began to unscrew itself, the POI dropped by at least a foot so that is a lesson to remember.  

Before we went back to the training bay, I let the other guys shoot my rifle with the suppressor.  Four different shooters, using 4 different loads shot in high winds and the resulting group was about 4" center to center at 200 yards.  The barrel was hot  and the suppressor was smoking.  That was a real testament to the almost boring levels of consistency of the Steyr Scout rifle.

The last sessions were at the training bay and things sped up.  We went over hold-offs and bolt manipulations.  We had a few shoot-offs and I think there were three different winners.  I did manage to win the final shoot off which was very satisfying.  It was very close though and all four of us were pretty evenly matched.

Notes and Impressions:

This class was exactly what I hoped it would be and exactly what the promotional page at Steyr academy said it would be.  https://www.steyracademy.com/ssrc  "You will be familiarized with every aspect of the Steyr Scout rifle and instructed on how to employ it in the general -purpose manner as envisioned by Jeff Cooper."  I confirmed a lot of things I already knew and picked up a few mew tricks that will make me better in the field.

If I have any criticism, it is only that it really could benefit from an extra day.  The material would be the same but repetition of the lessons might help to solidify them.  An extra day might increase costs and perhaps some people could not devote that extra time so this isn't a hard criticism, but 8 more hours to drill with Mario and Richard would have been cool.

I also want to talk about Steyr.  I am VERY grateful to them for coming up with this program.  I think it is brilliant and I hope they have success with it.  Apparently, they have said they will run a class even if only one person signs up.  The level of instruction and personal attention was worth WAY more than the $650 tuition I paid and to include it free with the purchase of a Scout rifle makes the rifle an absolute bargain.  Steyr has made one hell of a commitment to American shooters with this offer I only hope they are rewarded for it by way of increased sales.

Jeff Cooper envisioned a rifle that could use used for just about anything.  It isn't ideally suited for any one particular job, but rather, is good at almost everything.  It is easy to specialize and hard to generalize.  I think it is even harder to sell a generalized tool like this because there are better choices for a dedicated fighting rifle, sniper rifle, woods gun, plains gun, CQB or varminter.  There is no better choice for one gun that can function in all of these and this class really highlights how to make the most of this platform.

Bottom line is, I can't recommend this class in strong enough terms.  Get the rifle and get the training.  The benefit far exceeds the cost."

Click here to view the original post on The Scout Rifle Forum: http://www.scoutrifle.org/index.php?topic=8441.0