Review: Helikon Backblast Shooting Mat & Bisley: 600 Yards On Century.

With the weather scheduled to be warming up the [even] older boys at the club were levering themselves out of their armchairs and waddling down to Bisley to put a few down range. It's that time of year, my offspring are hitting their school books. So I found myself at something of a loose end, and as Bisley is the last place I was described as 'young and keen' I thought I'd join them. Club shooting is both fantastic value, you're splitting the range fees amongst a few of you and if not many turn up the club is subsidising the day, and best of all some of the chaps have been teaching other members longer than I've been alive, so the standard of tuition is high. Did I mention the lunch? The club matriarch lays on a really great lunch. Churlish not to attend.
Century 600 yards. Century is the first range where I shot out to 600 yards, but its been a while so I was keen to get back into it. Talking over my plans I mentioned that we were going to be lying-on-the-floor shooting, and my pals at Helikon stuck their latest shooting mat, the BackBlast, in the post for me to test. The world and his brother make a shooting mat. So the guys at Helikon have their work cut out trying to design something that stands out.
I think its fair to say things started tolerably. With the first sighter landing on the edge of the 14.4 inch V Bull. Once the beginners luck was safely out of the way I started reciting the usual litany of excuses: Wind, Variable Wind, Non-Existent Cheek-Weld, Inconstant Ammo, Dehydration, Sore Neck, Existential Angst, Not my Lucky Hat, the Gods Displeased, Etc
Club Rifle: Remington 700 Police in 5.56 Nato

The package that had landed on the doormat was smaller and lighter than I expected, all the club mats are bulky affairs. The Helikon boys include a pouch for ten rounds, and a windowed pouch, both of which velcro on to the mat.

The mat's got grippy sections for your knees and elbows and a moveable velcro backed grippy bit for the hand that supports the rifle's butt.

There are pockets for your tent pegs; so you can keep the matt flat. Obviously I could have used any old tent pegs from the gear pile, but I've ordered some poncey titanium ones to keep in with the lightweight theme.

Automation hasn't made it to Century range yet and behind and below the butts there's a manual raising and lowering mechanism for the targets. We took turns providing the muscle power to lift the targets into place and mark the scores.
There are two parts to scoring. A spotting disc, which is actually square, which is pinned to the face of the target marking the bullet hole and the scoring panel that runs along the bottom edge of the board. Your best potential score is five points for a Bull, but to serve as a tie-breacker the Bull has an inner 'VBull' ring which scores separately. So a ten-shot competition has a highest possible score of 50.10. Ten 5's and 10 VBullsThe scoring panel is at the bottom of the target board. There are four holes which the markers are pushed into. They are black on one side and orange on the other.

Orange in the hole on the far left would be a score of - One Point
Black on the far left a score of Two Points
Black left a 'magpie' - Three Points
Black right - Four Points
Black far right - Five Points
Orange on the far right a VBull.On the upside: scoring is 'inward', touch the line to get the higher score.On the downside: you'd better hope the person doing your scoring is taller than five feet, if they're not you could end up having one of your shots marked as a miss.
Handy if you need just one more excuse.
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