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Education / Training Ton Jones beats Billy Dixon – a world record!

Ton Jones beats Billy Dixon – a world record!

Tom rifle
Ton Jones’ .30 caliber AirForce Texan that he used to set a world record by hitting a steel target at 2058 yards (1.169 miles).

Tons rifle
Ton Jones’ AirForce Texan .30 caliber, set up for long range shooting. Specs are given in photo above.

This report covers:

  • The record shot
  • Fresh paint
  • Doubters
  • Triumph
  • European one mile air rifle shot
  • Summary

This report documents a world record air rifle shot made by Ton Jones at the NRA Whittington Center. On September 9, 2023, Ton shot a .30 caliber AirForce Texan 2058 yards and hit a 3-foot by 3-foot (91.44 cm by 91.44cm) steel target. That’s 520 yards, (475.49m) farther than buffalo hunter Billy Dixon shot his Sharps at the Second Battle of Adobe Walls, Texas, in June of 1874. Dixon fired his 50/90 Sharps rifle eleven times to hit and kill his target, medicine man/chief Esa-Tai. That shot has been celebrated for more than a century. Ton Jones hit his target 520 yards farther away on the fourth shot! 

This air rifle shot was 1.169 miles! It was officially witnessed by five people and watched by about another 20-25.

You will note that Ton’s rifle is tethered (permanently connected) to his air tank. But he opens and shuts the tank valve before each shot. That’s to keep the air pressure in the reservoir at the same level for every shot. Ton is acting as his own regulator.

Two days before the record shot Jones sighted-in at an 18″ by 18″ steel target at 400 yards. The next day he battled crosswinds and hit a life-sized steel buffalo silhouette target at 1123 yards. That one also took 4 shots to connect and five official witnesses saw it, along with 15-20 other people who were mostly high-power rifle shooters. They were curious what a “poof” gun (what they called Ton’s air rifle) could do on their long-range targets.

Buffalo
This is a photo of the buffalo silhouette taken through Ton’s Lucid scope.

The record shot

The next day, September 9, Ton had planned to shoot at a target 1,450 yards away, but when he set up at the range that morning he noticed there was no wind. No wind in New Mexico is as rare as a steak that’s still bleeding, so he decided to go for the 2,000 yard shot that was verified as 2058 yards from his shooting bench. That target was on a different part of the mountain, so everything — bench, spotting scope, cameras etc., had to be shifted to the right.

Here is a 13+ minute video of this world record airgun shot. It includes the 1123-yard buffalo shot the day before and all four shots at the 2058-yard target.

Fresh paint

The day before his record shot, all targets on the mountain were freshly painted white. That was helpful because his bullet that hit was dropping from over 700 feet elevation. It didn’t leave a round mark in the paint. It left a blotch that ended in a downward line. In all, about 6 inches of lead were on the paint.

Ton target
The 2000-yard target seen through extreme magnification. All targets on this mountain were freshly painted the day before the record shot.

Doubters

The 15-25 watchers (separate from the official witnesses) on record day were mostly centerfire rifle shooters who were at Whittington Center to shoot targets of their own. One, a writer from the NRA, witnessed the 2000-yard shot in disbelief. He’s the guy standing left of the witness at the spotting scope in the video.

After Ton connected with the 400-yard sight-in steel target on the first day the watchers who had been doubting became quiet. After watching the 1123-yard buffalo shot on day two, a shot many of them also hoped to make, they started understanding what was happening and shifted over to Ton’s cheering section.

On the record shot there were still a lot of doubts in the crowd. Ton himself wondered what he had gotten himself into. His first three shots determined the amount of holdoff he had to make to hit the target. To hit the target he held the rifle up so the tip of a tree on top of the backstop mountain was in the bottom of his scope. That was many hundreds of feet above the target.

Triumph

In the video you hear the spotter say, “New mark on steel.” Because the targets were freshly painted it was easier to see any marks made by the bullet, and, at one mile plus, that’s important! Ton explodes from his chair on hearing the good news.

Ton triumph
After he hit the 2,000-yard target he rose from the bench in triumph.

Stock up on Air Gun Ammo

European one mile air rifle shot

There is a European video I show below of a man shooting an air rifle at a balloon one mile away. His rifle is sandbagged in place and, from what I see in the video, it is never intentionally moved. A different version of this video shows the shooter adjusting the velocity of the rifle with air pressure, so the rifle never has to be moved.

Since the shooter never actually holds the rifle it isn’t a true rifleman shot; it’s more of a science experiment that shows the probability of hitting a small target with an air rifle bullet at one mile.

I’m not saying he didn’t hit the balloon. He certainly did. I am saying that he was not controlling the rifle when he shot. He was pulling the trigger and he was looking through the scope when the rifle fired. But the rifle was set up like an artillery piece and the shots were landing by chance in an area he selected before bedding the bipod down and “locking” the rifle in position. In the military that circular area is called a cone of fire.

He does hit the target at around 4 minutes 50 seconds into the video. Then go to 8 minutes and he shows several of the hundreds of small craters made by the impacts of the bullets.

Summary

An air rifle shot like Ton’s has never been attempted before. It is a true world record.

This report shows what is possible, not what is practical. Nobody is claiming Ton’s shot would ever be taken on game. But for all of us who want to know the limits, now we do — so far!

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

77 thoughts on “Ton Jones beats Billy Dixon – a world record!”

  1. B.B.

    See a 100 yard test really is not that far….
    I believe that long distance airgun shooting will be/if it is not already, the next big thing!
    Surprised he only used a 18X max scope.
    What is a Shaw barrel and what makes them special? Is it an easy mod?

    -Y

    • Yogi,

      I think the higher magnification will exaggerate any and all vibrations when you take a shot decreasing the shooter’s confidence. And I believe the shooter will need all the confidence he can get when attempting a difficult shot.

      Siraniko

    • Yogi,

      A Shaw barrel is a very good barrel, much desired by shooters pursuing accuracy. As I recall Ton told me that to see his aim point he had to dial the scope’s power down to 6 for the long shot. That may not be correct, so I didn’t mention it in the report.

      BB

      • FawltyManuel,

        Maybe. Think of the TOF (Time Of Flight) as a hugh downside to an airgun sniper rifle for most true sniper operations. Best i can tell from the Ton Record Shot video is about a 2-2.5 second TOF. That TOF would be reduced to .5-1.0 seconds for a powder powered projectile; the shorter interval is still enough time to cause snipers to go grey early.

        shootski

  2. Billy Dixon referred to it as “the luckiest shot I ever made” in his memoirs.
    Yogi, E.R. Shaw is a custom rifle and barrel maker in Pennsylvania. They make “drop-in” barrels for Savage 110, Remington 700, and Ruger 10/22 rifles. Also do AR-15 uppers. Like most custom replacement parts, they tighten up the tolerances.
    As for Ukraine, I would lean towards a suppressed Texan….

  3. Ton, if you read this, congratulations, outstanding shooting!

    Over 700 feet of elevation drop!

    At that distance and velocities, (starting off at about 900ish fps according to Tyler in the video) you would have to give a little thought to the earth’s rotation under the projectile.

    If we knew the ballistic coefficient of the projectile, we could figure the fps of the projectile at the target.

    Well, someone could, I am not that good at math.

    Ian.

    • BB
      I suppose that today’s blog shows that you have more work coming; that is longer distance than 50 yards for high powered guns. You, and maybe Yogi, decide about the power level for the 100 yards shots.

  4. Holy moly! I have to share this blog to my firends which still are thinking that airgun is somekind of a toy for a bigger boys… and watch them look for their artificial bark.

  5. Ton,

    That is an awesome feat! I have pulled off head shots on groundhogs at over 500 yards with a powder burner. That is a lot of drop to compensate for with a “poofer”.

    BB,

    Thanks for this glimpse at what is possible with an airgun. It looks like I will have to get my Texan LSS out to the range some.

    P.S. For all you folks out there in La La Land who are dreaming about building a similar air rifle, you had better bring a very thick wallet.

  6. BB, OK I never expected this!
    I have read the book, One Star, and I am very well familiar with the Second Battle of Adobe Walls.
    This is amazing! Thank you.
    Blessings to you,
    dave

  7. Ton,

    CONGRATULATIONS!

    That was one incredible feat. I am impressed with how you kept your cool. Yes, we could see many emotions on your face, but given the circumstances and the goal you had set for yourself, you were relatively calm. Just amazing.

    “Walk away” with a new world record!

    Michael

  8. I’m impressed! That’s quite a distance for an airgun projectile to travel let alone getting it to land where you want. Congrats (I guess).

    Curious why a 3×3 foot target? Why not larger or maybe man-sized/shaped as you see on many of the shooting ranges.

    Not wanting to rain on Ton’s parade or for that matter anyone’s who is into long range shooting because it is a challenging discipline. But I have to wonder that in the skill to luck ratio, how much is luck. Once he has got the range and windage sorted out, could he make 5 consecutive hits on the target?

    Like in the second video…
    *** and he shows several of the hundreds of small craters made by the impacts of the bullets ***
    If you shoot enough, eventually, (if you are pointing in the right direction) you have hit the target.

    Feel free to ignore me – I tend to be too practical in my approach to things. I’m just getting into long range shooting and my goal is to see what’s the maximum distance that I can consistently hit a 1 inch spinner …the squirrels around here are in for a rude surprise this fall 😉

    Happy Friday all!
    Hank

    • Hank,

      I think you’re overlooking a few things. The European guy did indeed use luck to hit his target. Hundreds of shots for one hit. Ton hit his in four shots — all of which he controlled.

      The question isn’t whether anyone can hit that target five consecutive times. It’s whether they can hit it even once.

      Why a 3-foot by three-foot steel target? Why anything else? Why not a barber pole or a washing machine? That target is shot at that distance by riflemen from around the world. The next rifleman to do it will be able to say, “I did what Ton Jones did. Maybe not with an airgun. Maybe with a .50 BMG rifle. But I did it!”

      Now that it’s been done I’m sure people around the world will stand on Ton’s shoulders and do that and even more. But before now it had never been done.

      BB

      • B.B. you didn’t mention that he needed to actually SEE the target at that distance at 6x.

        At the risk of violating the rule, “don’t do math in public,” a 3 foot tall target at 2000 yards would be 100/2000 = 5% of the size of the same target at 100 yards. So it would look like you put a 36 inch x 5% = 1.8 inch target at 100 yards instead of the 36 inch one. So you might say, OK he shot within about 2 moa, but then think about the dispersion and ballistics at 2000 yards and to dope out that shot in 4 shots, is really an amazing feat for the equipment and the shooter.

        Now shootski will shred my math and my terminology (and I actually invite him to), and I’ll learn something today. But the point is it is still an amazing shot.

        Like B.B. at the Pyramyd Air Cup, once you make a great shot like that, you don’t tempt fate, but It would be cool if he could have repeated the feat.

        • Roamin Greco,

          Nope! You are in the Ballpark.
          I shoot 10 meter airgun targets out beyond 100 but Ton even with a rail that you can see the DEGREES of scope depresion with a casual look still had him depending on his Spotter and shooting to a POA well above the POI.
          I think every air gunner should try at least once to shoot out to 100 with a good Spotter, on a 100% cloudy, NO WIND day. Even a 10 meter Olympic airgun has enough Umpf to give you an idea of what Ton was up against.

          Think of it…

          shootski

            • I think that the Kirsten shooting the egg at 300-yards video in a little over 10-shots would be in the same ballpark as far as the relative size of the target to distance goes. But she was using an actual firearm bullet versus an air gun projectile. And she could see (barely) the egg in the sight picture when she was firing because the trajectory of her bullet was much flatter than the trajectory of Ton’s air gun projectile. Ton did seem to have a good feel for where he expected his projectile to hit. And it took the teamwork of he and his spotter. It is a phenomenal feat any way one chooses to look at it.

            • Since you have your diploma, let’s try a little post graduate work.

              .308 diameter, 155 gr., leaving the muzzle at 900fps.

              And take your best guess of a BC.
              Knowing 700ft of drop.
              What’s the possible velocity at the target?

              An.

              • 45Bravo,

                Ian I’ll give it a back of the napkin try!

                X and Y Terminal Velocity: 590 ft/sec
                MV: 1050 ft/sec
                Elevation: -5,500” / 265 MOA / 80 MIL
                TOF: 8 Sec.
                Terminal Energy: 120 ft.lbs

                I had to do some extreme guessing on atmospherics…. 7,000′ altitude, 70°F, Barometer 29.92, 20% Relative Humidity, and NULL Wind.

                Any MV much slower than 1050 fps results in a near vertical arrival (due to the X component of the Terminal Velocity quickly approaching ZERO) on the target; that makes hitting it nearly impossible. [ No B.B. this isn’t Mortar Fire! ]

                shootski

                PS: BC guess is .50 (adjusted BC maybe mid .60)

      • BB
        I think that the only thing that “hurts” is mentioning/comparing Ton’s feat with Billy’s. Shooting a custom made air rifle within a peaceful yet competitive but controlled 2023 situations should NEVER be compared to a battle, live or die, environment 150 years before with a special but no way custom made rifle with iron sights and ammo of the era. And the actual target being a man’s torso, less than 1-foot by 2-feet area.

      • BB,

        If a 3×3 foot steel target is standard and one hit qualifies as “success” for this maximum range challenge then I’m (totally) good with that.

        Their game, their rules, each to their own. I suspect that there soon will be rules limiting the shots/attempts and different divisions for calibers, airguns and firearms.

        Amazing that people will turn everything into a competition for bragging rights or cash $$$. Fun stuff eh?

        My personal equivalent is a 3×4 inch steel target at 128 yards used only for off hand shooting. Won’t guess at the skill to luck ratio but there marks on the steel and I seem to be getting luckier 😉

        Cheers!
        Hank

        • Vana 2,

          Those “rules” have been around for a long time. Long Range Shooters are a Different Breed from Bench Rest competitors. The term PB (Personal Best) is used far more often than in FT or BR.

          Hank you will lern that the more you shoot LR it MINDFULLY the more the ratio shifts away from LUCK. Experience IS the greatest teacher IF we only will LISTEN.

          shootski

  9. Absolutely amazing. I have trouble hitting a decent group at 300 yards with my powder burner at my gun range where I am a member. The lower powered scope was a question I had but one of the comments above answered my question. I am curious as to why 30 caliber? Is it because it is less affected by wind? Is it related to the .308 caliber Shaw precision barrel which may be made only for powder burner calibers and not smaller caliber airgun pellets? BTW, I used to really enjoy watching Ton in his earlier TV series.

  10. That’s an amazing feat and a great video showing how it was done. Congratulations! I noticed the downward angle of the scope in relation to the barrel. That shows that it is set up for long distance shooting. If I understood the conversation describing the sight picture correctly, even with that much downward angle of the scope, the target was below the bottom of what he could see in the scope. Did I understand that correctly?

  11. And I thought I was hot stuff when I hit a target 120 yards away with my Airforce Talon SS. Great shooting and my respect for all the hard work Ton, you put into making this happen!

    Fred formerly of the Demokratik Peeples Republik of NJ now happily in GA

  12. B.B.,

    Thank you for the Ton Record Blog.

    For Ton, a hearty BZ.
    Well Done, as Siraniko said above, this shooting certainly deserves a BRAVO ZULU flag hoist!

    For the Readership unfamiliar with flag hoists:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bravo_Zulu

    Like your choice of rounds and the barrel twist make infinite sense to me.

    Wishing you good reads on the WIND always.

    Would love to know the D.O.P.E. for the attempt and even the bearing to the target.

    BZ,

    shootski

  13. WOW, You were right! I quickly read it while taking a break from cleaning out a flooded cellar. Will reread when not so bushed. FYI, my SnapSafe evdently is not water tight. However, my airguns are OK! NOT so lucky with powder burning rifles. Have WD40 them and hope for the best. Kind a shows that Air guns are not just toys.

    • sw1917,

      Balistol for the metal and wood.

      Put wood in bags of rice to dry in a controlled fashion to avoid cheking and worse.
      DO NOT use heat or Sunlight.
      Then more Balistol.

      shootski

      • Thank you, could not get Ballistol local. Went on line to amazon and now have some. It was a short time that they were in water. I had gun socks on them that had silicone in the fibers. think that helped. It looks like the finish is damage on a couple.

  14. Congratulations to Ton and AirForce. You can’t find a nicer and more helpful guy than Ton.

    I have a question on a separate issue:
    I have a Hyscore side lever with a tap loader and I am trying to identify it. It doesn’t have a model number. It says made in Germany. I am not having any luck with online searches or with the Airgun Blue Book.

    David Enoch

  15. Exactly like Ton Jones, I too achieved a record with my latest shooting of an airgun. And, just like him, I enjoyed the experience. 🙂

    There are, of course, some differences, but instead of listing them, why not see for yourself: here I am at the range…

  16. Hi3-

    Congrats on the fine shooting. That’s a great prize and memento of the day. Seeing the gentlemen in the fourth picture reminds me of friend, Gary Staup. He is missed.

      • BB-

        Yes, I knew Gary through being a fellow table holder at the Tri-State Gun Collector’s shows in Lima, Ohio. He was a gem- knowledgeable, always willing to share and possessed of a fabulous sense of humor.

  17. BB-

    Thank you for sharing Ton’s (and the team’s) efforts. A couple of observations- Ton did a good job of working with his spotter. While he had a rear monopod, it appears he only used it as a handle for his left/rear support hand. No one has mentioned this one- Ton is only using a chin weld due to the high scope mounting.

    And now, to pick a nit. No safety glasses. Shooting is shooting and no one has tough eyeballs. All of us, especially the superstars, need to model proper safety protocols.

    • pacoinohio,

      As you can see hihihi (he provided photographic evidence!) is guilty as well. Probably most everyone else in München at the Oktoberfest that shot at that Schiesbude in Deutschland the country of RULES and being CORRECT about everything even in hobbies!

      What is this shooting world coming to? I blame it on all the shooting video/online games.

      I bet Hank (Vana 2) doesn’t strap in when he flies his flight simulator too!

      Having had parts of an EXPLODING Powder Burner fly into my Lane and hitting my face while i was shooting my Poofer made me glad i had ears on as well as wraparound shooting glasses…wishing i had a cranial helmet to boot.

      shootski

  18. I am wondering if anyone has any stories of amazing (even if only to them) shots they made.

    I already told you mine a while back about shooting the snake out of a tree to save a nest of blue jay chicks. Another would be shooting a rabbit right in the eye from about 12 or 15 yards offhand as he was munching on my Mom’s flowers. I was about 12. So that was amazing to me.

  19. Roamin

    Amazing only for me. At age eight I shot my first dove with dad’s 20 ga Parker. The hunt was about over when one dove flew over a bit out of range. I led it a bunch holding high. Probably died from shock but I ran and picked it up. I can still smell that just fired shotgun hull. Dad gave me the Parker!

    Deck

  20. I was curious about the set up for confirming the hit on the metal target. Is this range still set up from the 1950s with a high powered scope that a spotter uses to determine if the target is hit or missed? Do they use some sort of more modern set up with a camera that sends a picture of the target back to a screen or computer where the actual point of impact of the projectile can be more accurately determined? Obviously, the camera can be protected by a the metal plate from the projectile and the image can be sent back to the shooter by either an old-fashioned cable or possibly a satellite dish or other form of transmission. Just wondering how modern this range set up is.

    • B-I-L,

      https://www.nrawc.org/ranges/

      LINK above will answer the where and what equipment (if any) the ranges provide. Spotting Scopes are mighty good and even some binoculars can see targets clearly at that range and beyond. There are target camera systems (LabRadar sells some) they typically use Bluetooth, radio, or cell service to transmit the target image. But a good Spotter is all you need as shown in the video.

      Whittington is worth a visit as is an NRA Membership.
      If i lived in that area i would get a Whittington Range Membership as well. I do use the NRA HQ 50 range in Fairfax, Virginia now that the Elite Shooting Range is closed to the Public; i miss their indoor 100.

      shootski

  21. Well, after much contemplation after reading this and the previous blog entry, while remodeling my kitchen, I have come to the conclusion that I have become a curmudgeon. I have a Texan LSS in .457. As I will likely never shoot a deer with it, I am thinking it will need to find a new home. I have a .22 Talon SS. As I will likely not be going small game hunting, it too will need a new home. There will likely be a few others that will be in need of new homes.

    To explain the curmudgeon reference, I find I am more inclined to shoot the sub 12FPE airguns I have anymore. I have no use for the power of the others and prefer to pull out the “old gals”. A little plinking, a little target shooting, I’m good.

    I find a Giffard or a Zimmerstutzen far more appealing than a long range poofer. I guess I am getting old.

    • RidgeRunner,

      Not So Fast!

      Give it at least SIX months before you commit some HASTY action you will come to rue. Pretty Please!

      Sincerest Enabler and Ownership Retention Advocate,

      shootski

    • Curmudgeon? Yeah, remodeling a kitchen could do the to a person RR. It’s wallpapering that makes me very curmudgeonly.

      I don’t like to sell (anything) unless I really have to. Too many times I’ve regretted doing so. Thing is that after so many years of hoarding I’m getting cramped for space LOL!

      No big-bores here but a variety of other airguns. I used to go through phases where I’d only shoot one type of airgun. Now, on the lottery system, all of them get a regular day on the range.

      Sub 12 fpe, .177 airguns are nice to shoot, I do quite a bit of that at sub 25 yards.

      Find that my preference is plinking out to 50 yards with traditional .22 caliber PCPs around 30 fpe. Between purchases, trades and gifts it seems I’ve become a “collector” as I now have 4 of them.

      Fun stuff.

      Hank

    • RR, if the local population of prey animals ever grows out of control, you may have wished you kept those tools around, especially one as useful as the .22. As soon as you get rid of an airgun, you find lots of reasons why you wished you never did. Your garden will be overrun with woodchucks, deer will start jumping right in front of your car. And what will become of your 100 yard range? At some point you will want to rip off 10 shots at a few small pumpkins at 100 yards with the .457. Try it and then let us know if you still feel like a curmudgeon.

      • RG,

        LOL! Do you not think this old curmudgeon does not know what you are saying? There are many airguns that I have gotten rid of that I wish I had not. As for the increase in the local vermin population, the only ones that Mrs. RR will let me kill are the mice, spiders and carpenter bees. The bear, deer, squirrels, etcetera are safe from me, whether I like it or not.

        Besides, I will still have my crossbow and small game is vulnerable to sub 12FPE. 😉

  22. BB, all of a sudden, I don’t care about ‘perfect’ springers anymore. Manufacturers can produce them cheaply, overpowered, and with fiber-optics all over if they wish – not my concern any longer. Nope, there is no going back from this; I am a new person now. Let’s talk about PCPs. Let’s talk about 250 meters or more for a while. By the way, the video was boring, but your writing is moving as usual.

    shootski, the memo has been revised; from now on, there is no need to own a springer to be a real airgunner. 😉

    • Fish,

      That only applies if you have the room to shoot that far and the discipline to do so. Otherwise for the general public Backyard Shooters that are quiet, easy to use and requiring minimal equipment will be the norm. I live in a highly urbanized environment with not much time to spare in travelling to somewhere I can shoot long distances so why should I invest in a PCP capable of shooting farther than 25 meters? Oh and the boring video speaks a volume of the discipline required to make the shot consistently.

      Siraniko

      • Srnko, I don’t have a suitable backyard, which I am about to quit the hobby altogether just because of that. I outgrew Diana 27 long, long time ago anyhow; even an HW30 or 50 won’t change that. Where I live, there are lots of ranges in the country only 30 – 45 mins away. I think there is a 400 yard one as well. Not as good as Arizona or New Mexico, but still, there are decent ranges that charge very small fees. More importantly, today’s report excited me. I don’t see another springer in my future.

      • Siraniko, adjust the power on your PCP down. Frankly, something like the Notos carbine is what people would shoot the most of if they own several PCPs.
        That said, the suppressed breakbarrels are still plenty good for most backyard shooters.

  23. I had to think about it during the weekend. I remember my long range shooting once conducted at a top condition zero wind, end of the summer day… 200 yards away I put a board approx. 20inch x 30inch size as a target. POA I could found quickly, was like 10 yards higher and… I hit all 10 shots. It was amazing feeling – my custom HW50 did that, with only 10FTE with FTT pellet (H&N). I admire a shot like this record one – it is amazing feeling to hit that one.
    What I would like to do next time summer is again long range, this time with 35FPE PCP and slug. I think I need to shot 500yards to be comparable to this 200yards / 10FPE event. I have already a spotting scope with 60x magnitude – this may really help 🙂

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