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Old August 16, 2014, 02:57 PM   #1
MrBorland
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First High Power Rifle Match

So, I took most this year off from handgun (runNgun) competition and started shooting rifle. Partly for the mental R&R, partly because Clays powder is nowhere to be found (and I'm nearly out), and partly because my rifle skills lag my handgun skills. I broke out my .22, but ammo is about as easy to find as Clays. I had a Geissele-equipped A2 lower laying around I traded a j-frame snubbie for, so I had a service rifle upper built up, getting it in mid-March. My competitive side started kicking in, so I started looking for local matches. Lucky me, there are 2 reduced-course matches locally, and Camp Butner is just 20 minutes away. Today was a 200 yard 80-round match.

The Good: There were a lot of goods. First, I had a great time, the match was well-run, and the people were terrific and very helpful. I had the Spidey-sense to set up next to the eventual match winner, who also happened to be especially helpful and patient with the noob next to him. Second, the weather was perfect. Sunny, low 70s and no wind. A noob couldn't ask for better conditions. And finally, my standing and sitting were about what they are in practice, so I was happy I was able to keep my head. I had the jitters at first, and that being standing, it cost me a point or 2 (or 3) below my norm. No biggie, though.

The Bad: The wheels fell off during Prone Slow Fire. My range isn't set up for prone shooting. I practiced some prone during my dry fire practice, and that was enough to get me through prone rapid, but Slow Prone is entirely another matter apparently. My spotting scope was set up on a cheap tripod, and I couldn't get comfy looking through it, and when I did, I couldn't see the holes. Screw it, I told myself. The black's the same diameter, and I've been "on" all match, so I just shot without it. Second, I learned there's a big difference between doing a single reload and doing 20. Every shot felt different between shots - sling tension, cheek weld, position of the rifle butt, so I kept fidgeting. I was the 2nd guy finished, with plenty of time left, and I saw that as a bad omen. Turns out the grouping was ok (but not great), but 3" high. The scoring rings are relatively small, so 3" is a big deal, and I dropped a bunch of points.

Lessons learned: 1) Practice PSF at home (dry fire) with the spotting scope properly set up, 2) find a way to practice PSF at the range, and 3) know ahead of time what sight adjustment will get me close, so I'd only need to fine-tune while I'm shooting. Anything I missed?

Anyhow, my scores were:

Standing Slow: 184-2x
Sitting Rapid: 192-6x
Prone Rapid: 194-5x
Prone Slow: 162-0x

Aggregate: 732-13x

There's another local reduced-course next weekend.
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Old August 16, 2014, 03:57 PM   #2
Bart B.
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Your prone rapid fire score of 194-5x tells me you know how to shoot prone pretty good. Your position was repeatable from shot to shot which makes a huge difference. And you went back into position very well after reloading. That's a 97 average for 10 shots; a master class score so hooray for you!!!!

So, as you mentioned, you gotta learn how to shoot from the same postion for every shot in prone slow fire. Here's some hints, helpers and honorable mentions....

1. Position the scope so you can look through it for each shot with minimal body movement. A bipod helps position the scope closer to your head. They are sometimes available on Ebay or from people at matches; post a "wanted" list for what you want. Those with 45 degree eyepieces are usually easier for people to use in prone.

2. Once in a prone position, never move your front elbow; keep it at the same place for every shot else you'll have a zero change.

3. Put your ammo within easy reach so there's minimal body movement to grab a new round.

4. Once loaded and in position, hyperventilating and holding your breath, if you don't get the shot off in less than 15 seconds, relax, breathe deep a few times, then cut it of and go back on target. Human eyes start to loose precise vision without oxygenated blood after about 15 to 20 seconds. Nobody holds and shoots well if their vision's impaired. You probably took a quick breath every 2 or 3 shots shooting rapid fire and a couple deep ones while reloading; that helps a lot.
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Old August 16, 2014, 04:38 PM   #3
MrBorland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart B.
2. Once in a prone position, never move your front elbow; keep it at the same place for every shot else you'll have a zero change.
Thanks, Bart. Yeah, this seems like it was a biggie. I was surprised my zero changed so much. Moving my elbow was part of the fidgeting I mentioned. When re-positioning my rifle after reloading, everything seemed "off", and I'd move around (including that elbow). My left elbow and hand were also getting very sore, and I knew I was moving them just for a little relief. I suspect that's a comfort issue that'll resolve itself with more quality practice time.

I'm going to look into a proper scope stand, too. I underestimated their value until today. I've been getting by fine with a standard camera tripod, but I haven't tried using it prone, either, so I got bit by it today.
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Old August 16, 2014, 04:39 PM   #4
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Mr. Borland,
Outstanding performance, particularly for a first time. Your handgun trigger time proved to be worthwhile. As is obvious you'll need to figure a method to use the scope effectively. Check what equipment other shooters are using to help decide what you would want to have. Get their opinion. Rifle shooters will always give the straight scoop on whether something is a good value or not. Bart B's post covered what I would have said so I can add little more except, Nice shooting!
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Old August 16, 2014, 06:11 PM   #5
MrBorland
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Thanks, David. Yes, I think my handgun background helped greatly. To a degree, shootin's shootin', IME: One needs to see what they need to see, when they need to see it. The rest are details (though that's where the Devil is, and can take a while to figure out ).
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Old August 17, 2014, 05:16 AM   #6
Rottweiler
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Good scores.

Given a little time and a lot of practice you will learn how to set your spotting scope so a little turn of the head puts your eye in front of the scope.

You will also learn how to single load your rifle without moving anything but your right hand, i.e. left arm never moves, rifle never leaves your shoulder, head only moves enough to look through spotting scope and read the wind. At times I wish I could move my eyes independently of each other like a lizard, that way one could look through the scope and the other at the sights.
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Old August 17, 2014, 08:31 AM   #7
kraigwy
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Quote:
Standing Slow: 184-2x
Sitting Rapid: 192-6x
Prone Rapid: 194-5x
Prone Slow: 162-0x

Aggregate: 732-13x
Mr. Borland, in reality those are impressive scores for your first match.

92% off hand starting out is exceptional (you win and loose matches standing on your hind legs. Rapid fire is good also.

What you need to do, is forget about the 20 shot prone slow fire match.
Think of it as 20 one shot matches. Each shot is its own match.

In reduced matches where you have 1 minute per shot, use all the time to make sure your position & sight alignment is perfect as well as you're follow through. If you released the shot while in a total relaxed position or condition, and have the correct position, your follow through will take care of itself.

Having said that, 91.5% on your first match (even being a reduced match), tells me your rifle shooting isn't near as bad as you indicated in your post.

Relaxation is the most underrated and less understood aspect of marksmanship fundamentals. I don't know of anyone who showed up at their first match as was able to relax.

So keep shooting, the more matches, the more comfortable you'll be, then you'll be able to concentrate on your fundamentals without jitters.

If possible shoot full range courses. Reduced ranges are nice for practice but there is a lot of difference in wind and other environmental conditions between 200 and 600 yards.
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Old August 17, 2014, 09:07 AM   #8
Dave P
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"I couldn't see the holes" At the full range matches, you don't need to during slow prone - the pit man will mark all holes making them easy to find.

Agree with the others: never move the left elbow during SP -all 22 rounds. Sore wrist?? Man Up, and remember that pain is just weakness leaving the body!

Fantastic scores - I see a new Master, or even High Master card in your future!
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Old August 17, 2014, 09:34 AM   #9
MrBorland
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Thanks for the good words and advice, folks!

Rottweiler -

Yeah, I'm going to work scope set-up as well as on reloading with moving my position at all, including dropping the slide. I'm off to the range right after this post, matter of fact.


kraigwy -

I was kind of jittery when we started, so I dropped a couple of points I shouldn't have while standing. But overall, pretty happy I was able to relax.

I've been practicing standing almost exclusively, with some sitting lately. My typical standing score in practice is a pretty consistent 186-187, though I do break 190 occasionally. My PB is a 193.

I'm fortunate Camp Butner is about 20 minutes up I-85. They hold full XTC matches there, and I think the next one is next month, with a practice session the day before.


Dave P -

Sore wrist, lol? I was doing my best to put it away mentally, but I have to admit it was becoming a distraction near the end. Again, I think working on the position more will help greatly.

Master card? Well, a classification wasn't primary in my mind, but I knew I could shoot master-level scores, with slow prone being the big unknown. I'm looking forward to improving from here.
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Old August 17, 2014, 03:34 PM   #10
MrBorland
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Update: I made it out to the range today with the ammo I had left from the match and implemented the suggestions I received; namely getting my scope set up properly and keeping my left elbow planted by loading without dismounting the rifle and dropping the bolt by reaching through. I'm happy to say it made quite a difference.

Since I was doing some remedial work, I only shot SR-1 targets at 100 yards. Also, I mentioned our range isn't set up for prone shooting, but I discovered I'm able to lay on a table (with my feet hanging off the back). It's not ideal, but far better than nothing. Anyhow, I finished up with a 199-5x. The lone 9 was a called oopsie (somehow managed to break the shot while I was still settling ). I'm still hitting a bit high, and not sure why, even though I lowered the sight 4 clicks (2MOA), which is why I only got 5x. I know it wouldn't be the same score on a proper slow prone target, but it's definitely progress.
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Old August 17, 2014, 08:30 PM   #11
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If I could make a psychological suggestion. Rate your performance critically. Use the score as just a reference. There are times when the position is good, trigger control, followthrough, sighting and breathing feel great but some other factor causes a sub par score. Celebrate the good performance. Reinforce the things done correctly.
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Old August 23, 2014, 01:30 PM   #12
MrBorland
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Just shot my 2nd match; a 50-round reduced (100y) course, 10 rounds per course, except for slow prone, which was 20 rounds. Your advice and the practice I put into slow prone really payed off. Thanks for all the help, folks!

Slow Standing: 94-3x
Rapid Sitting: 97-3x
Rapid Prone: 99-5x
Slow Prone: 198-6x

Aggregate = 488-17x
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Old August 23, 2014, 05:37 PM   #13
4EVERM-14
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YES! Another outstanding score. Congrads.
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