Interview (in 3 parts) with a high precision reloader – Part One of Three
Category : Reloading
Ernie Interview (Part 1 of 3)
Insights from a precision rifle reloader
My reloading classes include basic knowledge training for pistol and rifle cartridge reloading in the same day. One of the highlights of the class (RL01) is the portion dedicated to advanced rifle cartridge reloading. The Load Development section, as I refer to it. I have had students come from great distances (recent students from Shreveport, LA, – a 14 hour drive each way, and from Puerto Rico – A plane flight and hotel distance away) to get that portion of the class. Those students were all seeking the advanced knowledge which requires a more highly skilled and precision process for the reloading. Typically, that type of student is not happy with a 2” group at 100 yards. I’m able to teach them that advanced process for even achieving ¼” groups at 300 yards, by using the right tools, the right powders, and a unique system of accurately dispensing the powder, and processing the brass, and seating the bullets.
Over the years, I have had the fortune to meet some amazing people. Actually, most gun people that I know are all amazing people. But, among those are some reloaders who, on their own, have learned those skills required to achieve an extremely high level of rifle shooting precision. They tend to be very fussy people in virtually everything that they do. Every hobby. Every career job. Good enough is never good enough. If their name is on it, it has to be as perfect as they can make it. Such a person is a friend who is in the New Orleans area.
His name is Ernie. From the first time I met him, I was impressed with his dedication to excellence in everything he does. He has a highly successful automotive body business. He’s built several homes, virtually by himself, including rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina wiped everything in his life out. I’d love to have 1/10th of Ernie’s energy. He’s more amazing than the Energizer Bunny. With precision skill sets as a machinist, and home building contractor. And, recently with building a new farm, and managing a business at the same time he’s populating his farm with animals he’s never worked with previously.
He does most of the things outside of his main business, as he says, “Just for the FUN.” But, it’s all done with high precision. I did a recent interview with Ernie. I wanted to share his passion for reloading, and precision rifle shooting. I’m hoping that the reader gets a sense for what makes my friend, Ernie, so exacting in everything that he does. So that, as an example, we can all strive for a higher level of precision in our ammunition reloading. He’s not all that unique. The reloaders who take my classes sometimes also seem to be seeking the knowledge to also fulfil their own passion for preciseness. So, whether you are a person like Ernie. Or, just happy with saving some money making plinking ammunition, here’s my friend, Ernie.
Part One of Three
O: So, Ernie, tell us a little bit about who you are, you know, and what you do. I’m obviously most interested in knowing about your reloading, and how you got to the level of proficiency with reloading.
E: I actually got into reloading when I first got into guns. It wasn’t like some people who say, “Hey, now I gotta get into reloading because the cost is too expensive for ammo.” I didn’t do that. When I really started getting into guns, that’s when I started getting into reloading, right off the bat. I bought a Dillon 550B, I was mainly into handguns. I was not into long guns at the time. Did a lot of shooting with handguns. Spent a lot of time loading, making loads that worked better in the gun, just like you do with rifles, I did the same thing with handguns.
O: How long ago was that that you started reloading?
E: Guesstimation…that would have to be 30-35 years ago, when I started getting into that. I always had an interest in guns, since I was a little kid. Started off with BB guns, went up to .22s, but never stuck with it real long. When my father passed away. He had a couple of guns that were his daddy’s. And then he had a new one that he used to carry with him. And that’s kind of when I started getting into shooting. He had a Smith & Wesson .38 special snub nose and I got to shoot that gun every once and a while, but never really got into it serious.
I bought a Ruger competition .22 handgun. With the slab sides, stainless steel, and I was shooting that. Actually, I had another Ruger that I also bought. So, I had two Ruger pistols, and I showed them to a friend of mine, John, who’s been shooting a lot longer than I was. He was into reloading a lot, so he basically got me started in hand gun loading. So, I showed him the guns (Ruger 22’s), and one day he said, “Why do you keep buying those .22 guns?” And, I said, “Well, these are good little guns, and fun to shoot.” To which, he replied, “Well, yeah they are, but let me bring some of my guns for you to try.” And, that’s when he introduced me to .45 ACP, .44 Magnums, and stuff like that. I shot his 1911 and that’s when I fell in love with 1911 handguns and today I’ve got like 13 or 14 of them.
So anyway, he got me interested in those, the larger caliber guns, and that was it. I just went on with it. I got into really concentrating on making ammo for my larger guns, to make ‘em accurate. What I found was, different loads, even on the hand guns, were giving me different sized groups. So I started playing with that a little bit. And, I got the handgun loads down to where they were very accurate.
So, there came a time when we were getting ready to sell our house, I kind of packed everything up, and while they were building the new house, I had all my guns packed away. T new house was finished, but I somehow never unpacked all the reloading stuff. I had been making custom R/C boats, in addition to running my auto body repair business. Hurricane Katrina hit me and I had to rebuild my house, my business, and some other stuff. That took me a while. I was exhausted from it all. One day I said, “I just gotta get away from it.” I gotta go out and do some shooting. Needless to say, when I went out there to do some shooting, you know, time had passed, and my eyes were getting old. And, that’s when I got into rifles, cuz I figured, well… I can put enough glass (scope) on top of this rifle to make it so that I can see the targets. So that’s what I did. And, then I got into reloading the rifles. My friend John had told me that it’s (reloading for rifles) a different kind of animal. So I got into that and I was reloading for my rifles and doing the same thing, tuning my ammo for my guns. I’d go out to the range and shoot, and was doing very well with it. With handguns and rifles. I’ve been asked to go be on the shooting team with some of the guys out there that shoot regularly at the range. But, I declined. I said, “This isn’t, it’s not what I’m after.” I’m just out here to enjoy myself, I don’t, you know, want to compete. I just enjoy myself. Have a good day. If I have a good day, great. If I have a bad day, it’s a bad day, but I was still havin’ fun.. I wanted do it for my own enjoyment.
A couple of years later, actually about six years ago, I bought a piece of property and made my own shooting range. That’s when I really started getting into a lot of rifle shooting. Because I was out there by myself, and really started to get into even more precision loading. I taught myself all of that, and that is where I’m at today.