Getting back into the habit

Since the end of the 2016 hunting season I have been making an effort to shoot more regularly. Fortunately there is a winter high-power league, and a regular small bore practice events happening on alternate weekends, so I have been taking advantage. When I first moved to the USA I bought a “brick” of 500 rounds of .22LR match ammunition, and to my shame it took me until the end of last year to use up. When I was regularly shooting in Scotland I would probably go through at least that much in a couple of months, so I have some catching up to do. Last year however I bought two new bricks of SK match, and with all the shooting I have been doing I have already got though one: things are looking up. My scores have also been improving, and although I am shooting on the NRA 50m target, not the international (which is somewhat more challenging), I have been pleased with my groups and scores.

Here are a few examples of recent targets. They are not my best targets, but they are representative.

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On the high-power side of things, I have also seen some improvements. My offhand (standing) scores have steadily improved, and the last few weekends I have managed to get all my 10 shots onto the scoring area (5 ring or better), and occasionally even into the 10. My best score was an 88/100 a few weeks ago.

My sitting rapid is going well, mostly because I can now get into position without feeling like I will break, and this last weekend I shot a decent group. It would also have been a decent score if it was centered on the bull. It wasn’t though, but I take what victories I can.

Prone rapid is going okay, and although I haven’t managed to recreate my early successes (several 100/100) I came pretty close this weekend with a 99/100. Here is a picture of the group.

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There were actually 12 shots recorded rather than 10, since I forgot to switch the system into match mode after my two sighters. The high 9 was one of the sighters (honest).

In an effort to get better at offhand, easily my worst position, I have built a small 10 meter air rifle range in my basement. In truth is it probably only 9 meters, because that’s the furthest I can go between the foundations, but for practicing my technique it works great. I am borrowing a junior CO2 powered air rifle for that, and I built a target box with a steel back plate to keep the ricochets down.

Here’s me in action:

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The air rifle weighs considerably less than my high-power rifle, which I will try to correct at some point, but I hope the practice will be worthwhile anyway. The state championship is happening at the end of the month, and since I plan to enter the 3P event I will try to spend as much time in the basement as I can before then.

 

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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.