Members Privilige

Although I have been attending 300m shoots at the Minneapolis Rifle Club for the last  6-8 months, I have not actually been a member of the club. The people in charge have been very kind to let me shoot and not take any money off me (beyond the immediate competition fees of course). At long last however I have been made an honest man.

The reason for the relaxed way I have been treated is because to become a member you have to attend a range orientation, which only happens twice a year. The Fall (Autumn) orientation is scheduled to happen on a work day to allow safe access to the ranges during the day without the need for ear defenders, and it just happened.

Minneapolis Rifle Club actually operates on land run by Minnetonka Game and Fish. Membership of one gives access to all ranges however, and I discovered there are significant advantages in being a target rifle shooter when it comes to getting a foot in the door. This is because Minnetonka Game and Fish have a limit on the number of members they can have, and as a result there is a long waiting list. Many of the people who attended the orientation with me won’t get a chance at membership for at least a year. Minneapolis Rifle Club however, with its target rifle focus has fewer applicants, and so I didn’t have to wait. To prevent people using Minneapolis Rifle Club to get around the waiting list, people applying have to prove that their interests lie primarily in target shooting. Luckily for me, arriving with a rare and exotic (for the USA) target rifle such as a Swing is all the proof a serious shooter needs to provide.

The orientation took most of the day and was quite thorough, covering each range in turn with it’s specific rules and limitations. A reassuring amount of time was given over to safety information for the complex as a whole and for each range in particular. The orientation was lead by members of both Minnetonka Game & Fish and Minneapolis Rifle Club, who appear to have a close and efficient relationship.

The range complex is quite complex. There are facilities for clay pigeons, handguns, silhouette rifle, archery, small-bore and full-bore target rifle, as well as several multi purpose ranges. I won’t describe them all in detail, you can visit the websites here & here.

So now I have a membership card and a swish gate access card to get in whenever I want to. I am officially a member of my fourth shooting club: hopefully it will bring as many good memories and new experiences as the last three.

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Small-bore Amore

I first shot a small-bore rifle with the Air Cadets when I was 13. It was a No. 8 rifle, designed to simulate a Lee Enfield. Not long after that I joined my first target shooting club, Henley Trinity Hall Rifle Club. It was while I was a member of that club that I bought my first firearm, an Anschutz 1907, which I have used ever since.

Since then I have become involved in several other shooting disciplines but small-bore has always formed the core of my shooting activities, and so it has been especially frustrating that this was the discipline I have had the most trouble getting back into since arriving in the USA.

I moved to the USA in May last year (2012). My guns were shipped from Glasgow at the end of April in 2012, and so I estimate that the last time I fired my Anschutz was about 1 year and 7 months ago.

This interregnum was finally brought to an end last weekend in the form of a 50m English Match.

In the end I almost didn’t go. My rifle needed some work to get it back into action, the butt-plate was folded down after shipment and my sights were set up for 25yds. However George Minerich promised me time before my detail to set the sights, and the night before I fiddled the butt-plate into an approximation of its proper position, and so I felt I could give it a go.

The range is an enclosed building with shutters that open during shooting, much like the 300m shooting house I have mentioned previously. The building has a heating system and in winter only very small doors need be opened to poke the barrel through and limit heat loss. The shooters lie on raised platforms that can be moved around for position or pulled out the way for standing shooting.

I had to borrow a shooting mat as the only one I own is designed for full-bore shooting on grass and so lack any real padding.

September 2013 English Match (firing point)

September 2013 English Match (firing point)

September 2013 English Match (shooting house from down range)

September 2013 English Match (shooting house from down range)

My detail was due to start at 1pm, however when I arrived at 12:15pm I discovered a prone detail already in progress and was informed that due to a higher than expected number of entrants an early detail was started after the morning 3p match. The detail progressed quickly however so I didn’t have to wait long for my turn.

I was particularly impressed with the high number of juniors present. This event was held as a test to gauge its potential for possible future fixtures and I think it proved a success.

September 2013 English Match (target frame)

September 2013 English Match (target frame)

The weather when I arrived was blowy with fairly heavy rain, however by the time my detail started the rain had stopped and the wind had calmed significantly. As you can see from the photos my targets are barely wet, whereas the targets of those shooting before me were soaking when they brought them back.

I think the easing of the weather for my detail was a contributory factor to my final result, which was better than I had initially hoped for, although it was lower than I would have hoped to perform in ideal conditions.

Below are photos of my targets.

September 2013 English Match (target 1/3)

September 2013 English Match (target 1/3)

September 2013 English Match (target 2/3)

September 2013 English Match (target 2/3)

September 2013 English Match (target 3/3)

September 2013 English Match (target 3/3)

I was slightly confused when I saw the results. The highest scorer is called “Match Winner” with the next placed referred to as “First Place”, which is where I came. So in my mind I came second, although first does sound better.

September 2013 English Match (scoreboard)

September 2013 English Match (scoreboard)

Click this link to read the match report: September 28th 2013 Match Report

I had a great day and it felt good to have my Anschutz back in action.