Another Hi-power practice.

I was out at Minneapolis Rifle Club again this week for a Hi-power practice, but instead of the usual routine we had a mini match.

*I had planned to get to the range early to shoot some small bore before the practice started, but the traffic a 3pm was as bad as the traffic at 4 that I usually drive through so I arrived later than planned. When I got to the range I realised I hadn’t brought any 50m targets with me, but then I found some old targets with clean diagrams which I put up. I continued to set up hoping to get in 20 minutes before I moved to the hi-power range, but then discovered I had left my sights at home. Thats what happens when you don’t do it regularly.*

Ordinarily we will shoot at either 200 or 300yds and shoot the full course of fire for that distance, this time however we reduced each detail to 10 shots from 20, and shot at both 200 & 300yds.

I started in the pits and pulled for the 200yd rapid sitting and offhand (standing) slow fire. Then we changed over and I shot the sitting and offhand then moved back to 300yds and shot the prone rapid and slow fire, before going back to the pits so the first group could shoot 300yds. Then we cooked some sausages.

My offhand was better than expected, I have been steadily improving. I mostly got 10s & 9s with only a few flyers (see below). The X came after I had been holding in the aim for a bit longer than I should have and decided to come out of position and start again (positive reinforcement experience there). The 7 (shot 8) was frustrating but I was pleased that I called the shot accurately.

200yds Offhand scorecard

200yds Offhand scorecard

 

My sitting rapid was less successful. My scope stand is good for prone shooting but is too short to allow me to use it to see my sighters when sitting. I adjusted my sights based upon what I could make out with the naked eye, but I ended up dropping my shots to the right. Although I have managed to develop a stable sitting position, in order to get my eye behind the sights I am canting the rifle to the right, which is probably the explanation for the position of my group (see below).

200yd sitting score card

200yd sitting score card

 

At 300yds we started with the rapid fire and again I didn’t do as I had hoped. The targets were in shade during the sighters and I had opened up my rear aperture a bit, but the sun came out again during the string and I think that may have contributed to my error (I know, excuses excuses!).

300yd rapid fire score card

300yd rapid fire score card

 

The day ended well with the 300yd slow fire. My sighters were in the 10 ring and it only got better from there. 100-6 was my final score on that detail. The guy marking my target complimented me on my shooting, then asked where the other four Xs went. To be honest I can’t explain why I pulled those shots to the right, but I will think about it.

300yd Slow fire score card

300yd Slow fire score card

 

It was a beautiful evening to spend at the range.

Evening light in the pits

Evening light in the pits

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1000yds on Stickledown

A friend posted a link to this video on Facebook and I enjoyed it enough that I thought I should share it here.

I did a little of this kind of team shooting before I left Scotland, once even on Stickledown with the Scottish rifle team (only for practice though).

It is a very pure shooting experience, almost like indoor smallbore where you just forget about the world and focus on the job of releasing shots exactly the same way each time. No distractiopns from the wind flags, just you, the rifle, and the target (and the hand that slides past your face to adjust your sights, and the voice telling you when you can shoot). There is a great satisfaction in the process of firing a shot then reloading and getting on target as quickly as possible so you are able to fire as soon as the coach gives you the word. The faster you can shoot after getting the go ahead the less time the wind has to change, and I got to a point during some shoots that I was releasing the shot within seconds of hearing “go on”.

I really enjoyed it and this video brought it back for me.

Low temps = Large groups

On New Year’s eve I ventured out to the ranges at Minneapolis Rifle Club to do some shooting (well I wasn’t going there to crochet was I).

I had hoped to get in some practice on the small bore range and then do some comparative load testing for the Swing, as well as test a hand load for my new handgun. In the end I realized that I should have just stuck to the small bore. Ideally I would have gone to the range the day after boxing day as it was the warmest day that week, but since we had people staying and had planned a couple of nights away over the weekend, New Year’s eve was the only day I had free.

I left my house just after 9am accompanied by my friend from school, Beth. I had preheated the truck so it was relatively comfortable for the journey, but unfortunately no one had preheated the roads and I nearly came a cropper on a slip road just minutes after setting off. Fortunately I managed to keep it on the road and away from other vehicles, and once I had rediscovered traction and a heart rate approaching normal I proceeded with a little bit more caution. The rest of the journey was pleasantly uneventful.

The small bore shooting house was already on the way to warming up when we arrived, and after a little while we were able to begin in relative comfort. I had remembered my full fingered glove and a blanket to put under my mat for extra padding and so the problems were limited to a little numbness in my right hand from the cold air coming through the shutter. This made effective trigger control increasingly difficult to achieve as the shoot went on, but regardless I came away with some half decent groups (see picture below).

50 meter small bore target. Dec 31st 2013

50 meter small bore target. Dec 31st 2013

Considering this is only the second time I have shot small bore since I came to the US, I am quite satisfied.

Shooting small bore. Dec 31st 2013

Shooting small bore. Dec 31st 2013

New Year's eve small bore shoot.

New Year’s eve small bore shoot.

I finally found a good reason to grow a beard.

After shooting small-bore I decided to go over to the general purpose range to test some .308win loads.

I intended to compare three loads: my standard long range load comprising 46gr N-140 behind a 155gr Sierra Match King seated to 2.850 inches. My new 300m Special load of 40gr N-140 behind the same 155gr SMK also seated to 2.850 inches. And the 300m Special load but with the bullet seated 15 thou from the lands (I recently invested in an OAL gauge). I have all sorts of questions in my mind about the performances of these loads that I can’t answer effectively in competition conditions.

Unfortunately these questions were not going to get answered that day. The temperature was down around zero Fahrenheit and although I was well bundled up it wasn’t long before I was feeling it. My first shot knocked the snow off the roof of the shelter, which was entertaining, but then I was unable to group better than about 2-3 inches. Considering I was shooting at 100yds it readily became apparent that no useful data was going to be accrued that day, so we moved on to load testing for the Glock. I won’t go into detail except to say that the load still needs a tweak.

Below is a photo of me shooting my Glock. Well bundled but I still managed to hit the paper.

Handgun load testing Dec 31st 2013

Handgun load testing Dec 31st 2013

I will return to the range on a warmer day to test those loads. Results will follow.

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.

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.

Minneapolis Rifle Club

(I had hoped to have something written before today but I have been super busy at school.)

The photographs were taken on the 16th February and the video above was filmed on Saturday (2nd March).

On Saturday I had my second trip to the Minneapolis Rifle Club 300 meter range. I also went two weeks ago on the 16th of February. Both events are part of a practice series that has been going on every two weeks over winter, but I was unable to attend before now.

The shooting starts at midday and because I have a talent for getting lost I allowed extra time to get there. We have an old GPS unit that for reasons of cold weather and blown fuses has been playing up recently and so I wasn’t sure I could count on it. As it turns out it works fine when it is charged and the fuse has been replaced and so I was an hour early for the shoot. This was fine as I got a chance to look around the range (or at least the heated part of it).

The range has a heated indoor firing point with electronic targets. You lie on a raised platform and fire through a small window. The platform can be pulled back to allow standing shooting or angled to suit your shooting position. There are heaters blowing down on you from above which is very pleasant but effects the sight picture when it switches on.

MRC firing point before setup

MRC firing point before setup

My equipment in position.

My equipment in position. Note the small door with the number 7 on it which opens to let you stick the barrel through.

View down the firing point.

View down the firing point.

There were a number of people shooting a variety of disciplines. One of note is (I believe) called “across the course” and involves shooting a military style rifle in three positions, standing, seated, and prone, and with different time limits. Most of the range orders were aimed at them and I was given the instruction to carry on and ignore everything but a repeated shout of cease fire.

On the 16th it was a very cold day and even with only a small window to shoot through and warm air blowing on me from above the fingers on my left hand went numb. On Saturday it wasn’t so cold but as on the 16th there was snow on the ground which made for a lot of glare and I had a hard time with my sight picture. My position can’t have been quite right as I was taking a lot of recoil on my left hand and I needed to put the rifle down several times to let it recover. This wasn’t so bad on Saturday and I had an all round better shoot.

The format of the shoot is usually three strings of 20 rounds with unlimited sighters on a 300 meter international target. I did this on the 16th with three sighters, but I have been so busy in between that I didn’t have time to do any more reloading so I went with the remnants of the 100 rounds I took the first time which was 37 rounds. I now think that it was a mistake to shoot the full 60 rounds and in future I will probably limit myself to 50 since it is only for practice.

Below are the scorecards from my shoot on the 16th. I found this design on the internet and they are fine but they don’t have anywhere for me to keep a plot, and it took me a while to realise that the target is compressed outside the ‘9’ ring to get it all in. I may do some modification to see if I can incorporate a plot graph.

Scorecard 1&2 - 16thFeb13

Scorecard 1&2 – 16thFeb13

Scorecard 3 - 16thFeb13

Scorecard 3 – 16thFeb13

As has happened to me before when the winds were light, I kept over estimating the strength of the wind and dialling myself out of the bull.  The ’10’ is only around a minute across which is about the same as the ‘V’ on the targets I am used to. A guy shooting next to me had sights with 1/16th minute adjustments. I sometimes felt like my 1/4 minute clicks were a bit coarse. Another problem I have with light winds is that I am not yet good enough to read the subtleties and so there were odd things happening that I couldn’t explain.

The view through the window

The view through the window

On Saturday I felt like I shot better. My hand didn’t hurt so much and my groups tightened up. There were still a few flyers into the ‘8’ ring but I was more consistently hitting the ’10’ and I even got a few into the ’10*’ ring which I equate with a V bull (it isn’t marked on the score card).

Scorecard 2nd March 2013

Scorecard 2nd March 2013

To top off the day on Saturday someone had brought a stew for people to eat after they had shot. The man who made the stew is called Jay and has offered to let me have a go on his M14 the next time I come.

A few things I have to be careful of are the effect on the sight picture when the heat turns on and off, also string shooting gets the barrel pretty hot and so when there is no draft to blow across the barrel the heat coming off it distorts the sight picture. I also need to remember to take my full fingered glove with me if it is cold next time to stop my fingers going numb.

I hope to become a member of MRC at some point but they are happy for me to keep coming as a visitor as long as I need to. It seems like a great range complex and it has a 50 meter/100 yard small bore range that I am looking forward to using soon.

I hope you enjoy the video, there is not a lot going on but I wanted to see what I was doing.