Shooting Smallbore & Bigbore Rifle At Sippo, Finland
Flying in with SAS & Blue Airlines I landed in Helsinki Airport at 22:30 on a mild Friday night and was greeted and collected by Hanna Lempola one of our Metallic Shooting friends. Hanna had kindly arranged to collect me and drop me off at the Scandic Hotel in Jarvenpa and give me a lift out to the Sippo Shooting Range where I was scheduled to compete as a guest in the Finnish National Smallbore and Bigbore Rifle Championships that weekend.
Sippo Range A New Adventure
The Sippo Range is located approximately 30 minutes drive from Jarvenpaa. I had never visited or shot on this range before so it was exciting to look forward to a new shooting experience. I have shot on the Heinola Range in Finland in 2008 at the IMSSU World Championships. Both ranges have 500 Metres for the Bigbore shoot which is kinda cool to be honest.
Rams at 500 Metres shot from a standing position, what could be cooler than that!
A Cold Morning & A Warm Barrel
It was an early start Saturday morning and there was a chill in the air that was promised to burn out by the mid afternoon. The Range Officers and Target Setters were preparing the range for the shooting elite. I met with Esko Lempola who was already at the range after a 2hr drive from his home. Esko and I would be sharing the same rifles as I decided not to travel with mine.
After the raised eye brows and laughs of light triggers in gun control we made our way to the start line as Esko would be starting shortly and I would be acting as his Eagle Eyed Spotter.
As the command to begin shooting sounded, Esko rifled a few sighter shots at the smallbore chickens from his Sako. I could tell from the off this was going to be interesting as the backstop for the targets was a white canvas type sheet and gave very little indication of where a missed shot passed through.
It wasn’t just the warming midday sun that got the temperature up but the competition was hotting up too as the Master Class shooters began filtering into the relay. Marko was his usual self as target after target stumbled from its feet.
Now I Get To Shoot
I was scheduled for the afternoon details with Esko as my spotter. As I got myself familiar with his rifle and scope on the sighters I was good to go. I had a good start as I dropped the majority of chickens. With the addition of a baseball cap to filter out the onlooking suns gaze as it had now perched itself at eye level down range, I worked my way through to the Rams tallying up a score of 31/40. It’s always nice to break the 30 mark.
The 2nd relay was just as satisfactory as the first as I mimicked my score, giving me a brace of 31’s/40. I was happy with the results considering I was using a borrowed rifle and ammo, kiitos to Esko.
Smallbore Rifle Presentation
The days shooting didn’t finish up until just after 5PM where the results were formalised and medals presented. I wasn’t sure of my standings until I was told that my brace of 31’s gave me 2nd overall in both Smallbore events. No one needed to ask who was 1st. We are all to familiar with this scenario. Yes it was Marko Nikko a top European and World Champion shooter. Marko had shot a crushing 38/40 and 36/40 that secured the National Title for another year.
Out Come The Big Guns
Day 2 brought a different game to the fore. It was time for the 6.5×55’s & 308’s ‘familiar calibres in the Bigbore scene’ to make their presence known.
Looking out over the half kilometre of swamp carved from a forest of 40 foot pines those targets looked pretty damn small to the naked eye. As Hanna got setup with the mobile PA system that would be used to announce the commands. We shooters began to settle in and chit chat.
I was also having a good look around at what everyone was shooting. There were a few nice Sako 75’s on show with beautiful wood stocks and stainless steel barrels, topped of with variable Leupold glass, nice, real nice #jealousmuch.
The morning was brought alive with the sound of a fully charged VhitavVouri round pushing a 139 grain bullet down range. Some 200 Metres away the sighter Chicken called out as the bullet strike reported a thud back up range. That shooting stick was on target. The noises grew, boom, boom, boom as more and more shooters filtered into the shooting lanes. Even though I wouldn’t get to quench my thirst until the afternoon session. It was exciting to be part of the action.
It was forecast that it would be another scorcher of a day. Great if you where going to be sitting out in the sun having a cold beer and BBQ, not so when shooting distance with the larger calibres. The hot air wouldn’t give the barrel much of a breather to cool down between relays. While the sun would once again perch itself on the distant treetops watching the proceedings. The Sippo ranges location and elevation made the shooting conditions that little more difficult as the animals get swallowed up by the over exposure to sunlight.
Spotting At Speed
Spotting a high velocity bullet is an art. Not only are you watching the target but you must keep your peripheral vision on the surrounding swamp and foliage for any sudden movement.
The majority of my calls where fine but there were a few that just didn’t register in my retina. I could only guess that they where skyward bound.
In My Sights I Find A Ringer
As the afternoon arrived it was now time for me to drive my shots down range. With Esko’s 6.5×55 Tikka I got to do a little dry firing to see how the trigger felt before I dropped in his silhouette load and place the cross-hairs on the Chicken.
As shooting the larger calibre goes I did well. I dropped something from every distance. My big point scorer being 9 Pigs in one of the relays. I was however a little disappointed at my Ram performance as I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. To make that feeling more stomach twisting was the fact that my 5th Ram in the relay was a ringer. I had a great hit totally visible on the rear end of the Ram but he didn’t fall from the plinth. Just a few millimeters to spare he held on for dear life. Rules are rules and if he doesn’t fall he doesn’t score.
Still happy to have been given the opportunity to shoot in Finland I wore my shooting grin all day.
Calling A Close
As the final Ram collapsed to the bark of Marko Nikko’s Sako 75 the National Championships drew to a close.
Honour & Glory
As I was preparing my camera phone to take a few snaps of the medal proceedings for this very post I heard my name being called by the organisers. Hanna and Nina translated that I was being presented with a prize for my shooting in the championships. Receiving a hug from both Hanna and Nina they presented me with a trophy and a stuffed toy of a moose. It was a nice surprise to be recognised for my shooting.
Now back to the main business of the day and that was to look-on as the competitors and National Champion received their honours. Working from the lower classes of B to Master it was once again Marko Nikko who would take top honours in both Big Bore Rifle events and become the National Champion of 2013.
Well done Marko and to all who competed, organised and assisted during the two day event and not forgetting Hanna & Esko Lempola for collecting and dropping me off at the airport, the hotel, an enjoyable dinner and for really making me feel very welcome during my short stay.
Back In Jarvenpaa
After my weekend of shooting I got to take a sunset stroll down through Jarvenpaa’s shopping and pedestrian district towards the lake to unwind and have some food. It’s a really nice little relaxed area down by the lake especially at sunset.