August 30th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Collins Earns Distinguished Badge No. 2500

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Badge 2500 william Tom Collins Michigan Ohio
William “Tom” Collins earned the CMP’s Distinguished Rifleman Badge #2500 this July. Collins earned his final EIC points at the Washtenaw Sportsman’s Club in Michigan.

One of the highest honors in competitive shooting is earning the Distinguished Rifleman Badge. This Badge was created by the War Department in 1884 to recognize members of the U.S. Army for Excellence-in-Competition (EIC) with the Army’s service rifle. Other U.S. Armed Forces soon adopted a similar program and in 1926 civilians were authorized to participate. This story is about William “Tom” Collins, 50, of Maumee, Ohio, who earned his badge in July 2020. His achievement was a landmark — Civilian Distinguished Rifleman Badge number 2500.

Collins Earns Distinguished Rifleman Badge Number 2500

Story based on Report by Ashley Brugnone, CMP Staff Writer
For over 20 years, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) has issued Distinguished Badges to competitors who collect at least 30 Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) “leg” points — earned by placing in the top 10% of an EIC match. This story is about Ohio shooter William “Tom” Collins, who recently earned Distinguished Rifleman Badge number 2500. [Editor: To learn more about the history of the Distinguished Rifleman Badge and what is takes to earn it, read Distinguished Rifleman — the Chase for Excellence by Jonathan Ocab.]

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Badge 2500 william Tom Collins Michigan Ohio

For Collins, this fulfilled a dream to join generations of elite marksmen before him. “The Distinguished Rifleman Badge has been a goal of mine since I learned about it,” Collins said. “I like to think back on the history of the badge … It makes me proud to be a part of that.”

Collins earned Distinguished Rifleman Badge #2500 in July. “Shooting is almost like meditation to me”, Collins said. “You really can’t think about anything other than the current shot. It’s very relaxing.”

He gives simple advice to other competitors hoping to one day earn a Distinguished Badge of their own: “Anyone working on it – quit thinking about it. Just shoot.”

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Badge 2500 william Tom Collins Michigan Ohio
Collins is congratulated by his friend Jamie Root after “going Distinguished”.

Collins has been shooting most of his life. Growing up in rural Ohio, he received his first BB gun around seven years old and his first .22 at age 11. It wasn’t until he joined the Army Reserves in 1987 that he received any formal marksmanship training. After he left the Reserves nine years later, he started looking toward organized shooting sports.

One day, back in 2014, he picked up his rifle and took the 45-minute drive to Fremont, Ohio, to fire in his first GSM (Garand-Springfield-Modern/Vintage Military) Match at the Sandusky County Sportsmen’s Club. It was there that he met Jesse Bragg, who was running the event.

Jesse Bragg, a retired staff sergeant from the Marine Corps Reserve Rifle Team, took Collins under his wing and showed him the ropes. Collins says Bragg seemed to want to teach more than run the match. In fact, Bragg was the one who introduced Collins to the idea of pursuing a Distinguished Badge. Collins admits that he had no clue what “going distinguished” meant. Bragg went over the terms – legging out, finishing “first leather” and other related expressions.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Badge 2500 william Tom Collins Michigan Ohio
Photo courtesy photographer Jonathan Ocab, who himself earned the Distinguished Rifleman Badge.

In 2015, Collins went to the National Matches at nearby Camp Perry, Ohio, and fired in his first President’s Rifle Match. Watching the elite shooters take their final shots inspired Collins: “Learning about the Distinguished Badge, learning about the President’s Match — I just knew that I had to get this Distinguished Badge on my way to, hopefully, getting into the President’s 100 or even the Top 20.” So Collins began traveling to GSMM competitions with his match rifle in tow, just to get in a little extra practice. It became his main focus. In June 2019, he earned his first set of six leg points at the CMP Viale Range 800 Aggregate and EIC Service Rifle Match at Camp Perry. It was a breakthrough.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Badge 2500 william Tom Collins Michigan Ohio

When I first started, I was shooting the Garand and the M1A. [But] once I realized I wanted to get my Distinguished Badge, I said, “None of the wood guns. It’s all my match rifle until I go Distinguished”.

He went on to earn eight points at his next match in July, followed by eight more in August. With one more match left in 2019 and only seven points away from the required 30 to earn a badge, his goal was within sight. But it wasn’t until the EIC match at the Washtenaw Sportsman’s Club in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in July 2020 that he was able to conquer his nerves and earn his final points: “The most rewarding thing – it’s when you get there. When you finally earn it, everybody knows it. Everybody at the range celebrates with you. All of your friends are there with you. It’s just rewarding in itself. You’re part of that tradition that spans three centuries.”

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Badge 2500 william Tom Collins Michigan Ohio

Friendships Made on the Road to Distinguished
More so than the time, effort, and skill it took to earn the badge, the journey to become Distinguished was almost as rewarding as the badge itself for Collins, given the relationships he’s made along the way:

“These guys I’ve met and hung out with — we’ve given jobs to each other, we celebrate each other’s birthdays, we know each other’s families. It’s just been a great group of guys. You always are rooting for your friends, regardless of how well you’re doing. If you’re doing bad, you root for them even more.”

Distinguished Badge-Earning Marksmen Will Be Honored in 2021 at Camp Perry
Part of the tradition of earning a Distinguished Badge is walking across the stage at Camp Perry during the National Matches award ceremony. There, badge winners are formally pinned by their peers on a stage that has felt the footsteps of prominent marksmen for over a century.

“Last year, when I got the first points, I told myself, ‘I’m going to walk this stage at Perry next year'”. Collins and all others who earned a Distinguished Badge in 2019 or 2020 will still have the opportunity to take the stage next year at the 2021 National Matches — and that’s just what Collins plans to do.

(more…)

Permalink Competition, News, Shooting Skills 3 Comments »
August 30th, 2020

How to Kill a Barrel in One Afternoon — Firing Rate and Heat

barrel life test rapid fire cooling

Can sustained rapid-fire shooting with no cool-down period wear out a quality barrel more quickly? The answer is “Yes” according to Forum member LCazador, who did an interesting comparison test with two .243 Winchester barrels. He started off with two, identical, match-grade HV taper stainless barrels. Both were NEW at the start of testing, and LCazador shot the same load through each: 95gr match bullets with 38 grains of Hodgdon Varget. After giving both barrels the same, gentle 20-round break-in, 300 rounds were then fired through each barrel — in very different ways. Barrel condition and wear were monitored with a borescope.

Barrel One — Slow Fire, Cool Down Periods, Cleaning Every 50 Rounds
At the end of the 300-round test, Barrel One looked brand new. There was none of the severe fire cracking found in Barrel Two. This barrel was shot no more than 10 times without a cool down and firing was done at a much slower pace. Cleaning for this barrel was done every 50 shots.

Barrel Two — Fast Firing, No Waiting, Cleaning Every 100 Rounds
The second barrel, which received hard use and minimal cleaning, was severely damaged with severe fire cracking at the leade and throat. As a result, the barrel had to be re-chambered. This barrel was shot 100 rounds at time without cleaning and was shot up to 20 times in succession without a cool down.

LESSON LEARNED — Heat Kills Barrel Life
Don’t let your barrel get too hot, and keep it clean. One afternoon can ruin a barrel!

Hawkeye Borescope imageMonitoring Barrel Wear with Borescope
Some folks worry too much about what their borescopes reveal — many barrels do not have to be “squeaky clean” to perform well. In fact some barrels run better after ten or more fouling shots. However, a borescope can be very helpful when your barrel starts losing accuracy for no apparent reason. Forum member FdShuster writes:

“A borescope is a positive way of backing up your suspicions when the rifle starts to throw an occasional (soon followed by more frequent) wild shot. Using the scope is also an excellent way to determine that the cause is barrel wear and not simply a need for a concentrated cleaning session to remove built up copper and more importantly, carbon fouling.

I’ve had a few barrels that gave every indication of being shot out. But I ‘scoped them out and found the cause to be nothing more than requiring a good cleaning. They then returned to their usual performance. There’s no guessing involved when you are able to get ‘up close and personal’ using the scope. The borescope also provides an excellent view of the all-important condition of the crown. My borescope is one of the most valuable investments I’ve ever made.”

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip No Comments »