May 19th, 2015

"How Do Bullets Fly?" — Great Online Resource

Bullet External Ballistics
“The overturning moment MW tends to rotate the bullet about an axis, which goes through the CG (center of gravity) and which is perpendicular to the plane of drag….

Ruprecht Nennstiel, a forensic ballistics expert from Wiesbaden, Germany, has authored a great resource about bullet behavior in flight. Nennstiel’s comprehensive article, How Do Bullets Fly, explains all the forces which affect bullet flight including gravity, wind, gyroscopic effects, aerodynamic drag, and lift. Nennstiel even explains the rather arcane Magnus Force and Coriolis Effect which come into play at long ranges. Nennstiel’s remarkable resource contains many useful illustrations plus new experimental observations of bullets fired from small arms, both at short and at long ranges.

Shadowgraph of .308 Winchester Bullet

Bullet External Ballistics

A convenient index is provided so you can study each particular force in sequence. Writing with clear, precise prose, Nennstiel explains each key factor that affects external ballistics. For starters, we all know that bullets spin when launched from a rifled barrel. But Nennstiel explains in greater detail how this spinning creates gyroscopic stability:

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May 14th, 2015

New Muzzleloading ‘How-To’ Book from NRA

Muzzleloader how-to NRA book

Muzzleloader how-to NRA bookIf you have an interest in historic arms, or just enjoy a diversion from the world of precision centerfire rifles, muzzle-loaders can be fun. There are also many states where hunters with muzzle-loaders enjoy a longer (and/or earlier) hunting season.

If you want to learn more about muzzle-loaders, the NRA and the National Muzzleloading Rifle Association have created an excellent new book, the NRA How-To-Series on Muzzleloading. This 132-page handbook ($12.00) covers muzzleloading safety, fundamentals of muzzleloader shooting, black powder basics, shooting positions, cleaning, storage and more. The “how-to” guide covers rifle, pistol, and shotgun muzzle-loaders.

The How-To book is a good starter publication for anyone interested in muzzle-loaders. Along with the book, the NRA recommends that novices attend a muzzleloading course to learn safe shooting practices from qualified instructors.

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May 6th, 2015

Extensive Review of Optics in Target Shooter Magazine

Robert Abrams Bipod Review Rifletalk.org

If you are considering purchasing a new optic for your favorite rifle, you should read a recent article by Robert Abrams that appears on the Target Shooter Magazine Website. Abrams, a Canadian shooter who runs the Rifletalk.org Blog, considers a wide spectrum of optics, from bargain-priced models to top-of-the-line scopes from Nightforce and Schmidt & Bender. In comparing optics, Abrams considers a variety of factors including: Optical Clarity, Controls Function, Cost, Reliability/Durability, and Warranty.

READ FULL SCOPE COMPARISON REVIEW HERE

Robert Abrams Bipod Review Rifletalk.org

Abrams leads off with this invaluable bit of advice: “I have owned a lot of scopes and the reason I’ve owned so many is because, like most people, I made the mistake of ‘false economy’ — initially buying cheap scopes. Today, I firmly believe the old adage ‘only a rich man can afford cheap glass’ and thought it was about time that I shared some of my observations about a few of the optics choices out there.” To prove his point (that buying cheap glass is ‘false economy’) Abrams reviews the full spectrum of optics, from low-end to high-end:

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May 5th, 2015

Intro to Full-Length Dies, Neck-Sizing Dies, and Small Base Dies

This article is part of Sinclair Int’l Step-By-Step Reloading Series. Most of the products mentioned in this article are sold through Sinclair’s webstore.

by Roy Hill, Brownells/Sinclair Copywriter
Making your own precision handloads is a meticulous journey with many steps, many important matters to consider, and many sets of measurements to calculate. For those who pursue the perfect group, the highest score, the really long accurate shot, the rewards more than outweigh the effort. Choosing the right cases, deburring the flash holes, making the primer pockets uniform, trimming the cases, and lubricating them are all familiar – and critical – steps along the journey. And now that your brass preparation is complete, you are at last ready to start running the cases through your press and fill them with primers, powder, and bullets. The very first die the brass encounters is the sizing die. You insert the case, work the press’s lever to return the case to its correct pre-fired dimensions – and the journey continues.

Sinclair International Int'l fL full-length sizing die bump die shoulder bump gauge

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May 4th, 2015

BYOB — Build Your Own Bench with 14 FREE Designs

Free shooting bench plansFREE shooting Bench Plans

Building your own portable shooting bench is a great do-it-yourself project. You can build a sturdy bench for well under $100 in materials. Compare that to some deluxe factory-built benches which may cost $500.00 or more.

FREE Bench Plans on the Web
You’ll find a wide assortment of home-built shooting bench designs (both portable and fixed) on the internet. Renovation Headquarters has links to FREE Plans and building instructions for fourteen (14) different shooting benches. There are all-wood shooting bench designs as well as benches that combine a wood top with a metal sub-frame or legs.

CLICK HERE for Shooting Bench FREE Plans.

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May 3rd, 2015

Read FREE May Edition of Shooting Sports USA

Shooting Sports USA Camp Perry eZine Magazine Free

You can read the latest May 2015 edition of Shooting Sports USA for free. This issue covers the 2015 NRA Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championship and includes an exclusive interview with 2015 NCAA Smallbore Rifle Champion Rachel Martin. If you like classic target rifles, you should definitely read the “Yesterday’s Rifle” article. This recounts America’s program to develop a winning Smallbore Rifle for the 1924 Paris Olympics. The full May 2015 issue of Shooting Sports USA is embedded below.

If you want to read the May issue in a larger, dual-page format, CLICK THIS LINK.

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April 25th, 2015

Ranging Targets in Field Target Competition

This article appears courtesy Target Shooter magazine from the UK.

Field Target (FT) and Hunter Field Target (HFT) airgun disciplines are popular outdoor shooting sports that simulate the challenges of hunting small game. One of the unique aspects of FT competition is target range-finding using parallax and optical focus. (HFT is limited to lower power scopes, so this type of range-fiding is not used in HFT.) Range-finding is very important because the pellets shot by FT airguns drop rapidly once they leave the muzzle (pellets can drop roughly 5″ at 50 yards). If you don’t have your scope set to the correct distance, you’ll probably miss the target high or low.

FT competitors employ high-magnification (35-55X) scopes to sight targets placed from 10 to 55 yards (7.3 to 50m in the UK). Because these scopes have very short depth-of-field at high-magnification, the target will be out of focus unless you have the scope focus/parallax control set very precisely. But competitors can use this to their advantage — once the target is precisely focused, you have effectively established its distance from the shooter. FT scopes often have large-diameter wheels on the side parallax control so the focus can be set very precisely. You can then read marks placed on the scope to adjust the amount of elevation need to put the pellet on target.

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April 24th, 2015

Hammerhead Dual-Caliber, Multi-Discipline Bench Gun

We first ran this story a couple seasons back. Since they we’ve received many questions about this gun, so we thought we’d give readers another chance to learn about this truly innovative, switch-barrel “convertible” rifle. This gun works for both short-range and long-range benchrest matches.

You interested in a really wild, innovative bench gun that can shoot both short-range and long-range matches? Check out Seb Lambang’s latest “do-it-all” rifle. It’s a switch-barrel rifle combining two very different chamberings: 6 PPC and .284 Winchester. With that caliber combo, Seb’s covered from 100 yards (LV/HV mode) all the way out to 1000 (LR Light Gun mode). But the dual chambering is not the rifle’s only trick feature. Exploiting the new long-range benchrest rules, Seb has fitted a 3″-wide, flat rear metal keel to the buttstock. That counter-balances his 30″-long 7mm barrel, improves tracking, and adds stability. Seb built the stock and smithing was done by Australian gunsmith David Kerr.

Seb Lambang 6PPC .284 Win Benchrest hammerhead

Detachable Hammerhead Wing Section Plus Fat-Bottom Keel
To further reduce torque and improve tracking, the stock features an 8″-wide, detachable fore-end fixture. This “hammerhead” fore-end section has extended “wings” on both sides, making the rifle super-stable. The hammerhead unit can be removed, leaving the stock 3″ wide for use in registered benchrest matches where 3″ is the maximum width. The photos below show Seb’s gun in .284 Win Long-Range (LR) Light Gun mode.

Seb Lambang 6PPC .284 Win Benchrest hammerhead

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April 22nd, 2015

Field Skills: Reading the Wind When Hunting

On LongRangeHunting.com, you’ll find a good article by Shawn Carlock about wind reading. Shawn is a veteran law enforcement marksman and a past USPSA national precision rifle champion. Shawn offers good advice on how to estimate wind speeds and directions using a multitude of available indicators — not just your wind gauge: “Use anything at your disposal to accurately estimate the wind’s velocity. I keep and use a Kestrel for reading conditions….The Kestrel is very accurate but will only tell you what the conditions are where you are standing. I practice by looking at grass, brush, trees, dust, wind flags, mirage, rain, fog and anything else that will give me info on velocity and then estimate the speed.”

Shawn also explains how terrain features can cause vertical wind effects. A hunter on a hilltop must account for bullet rise if there is a headwind blowing up the slope. Many shooters consider wind in only one plane — the horizontal. In fact wind has vertical components, both up and down. If you have piloted a small aircraft you know how important vertical wind vectors can be. Match shooters will also experience vertical rise when there is a strong tailwind blowing over an up-sloping berm ahead of the target emplacements. Overall, Shawn concludes: “The more time you spend studying the wind and its effect over varying terrain the more successful you will be as a long-range shooter and hunter.”

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April 17th, 2015

“Say What?” — Forum Members Talk About Hearing Loss

hearing protection ear muffs NRR earplugs osha deafness

Hearing loss can be progressive and irreversible. If you are a shooter, this is serious business. You need to use effective hearing protection every time you go to the range. Even if you are away from the firing line, gunshot noises can damage your hearing. Good foam earplugs costs mere pennies but they can prevent deafness in your later years. Many folks also wear muffs over plugs. Some other shooters prefer the custom-molded ear plugs. Electronic muffs can be useful when you are away from the firing line because they allow you to converse.

Here are some comments from Forum members on the subjects of hearing loss and the need for proper ear protection. You can join the discussion in this FORUM THREAD:

“If you are young and don’t want to end up with profound hearing loss like I have… ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS use hearing protection. This is from a guy who is social security/medicare eligible, has two Re-Sound aids at a not so cheap $2000.00 EACH… and now has religion! When I was young [we] never wore ear gear and laughed at the ringing after 100 rounds of 12 gauge at the skeet range. Now we live with the consequences. Be smarter than I was!” — Gary0529


“Take it from a 70-year-old that has been shooting 49 years. I now have a Re-Sound hearing aid in the left ear and a Cochlear Implant in my right. I still cannot hear. Custom molded plugs are best. Some are sold at gun shows and some are made by the folks that make hearing aids. They are cheap as compared to this $200,000 implant. DO IT NOW for everyone around guns.” — Richard King, King’s Armory


“Say WHAT? You have to type a little louder! I used to shoot without any muffs, when I was ‘young and indestructible’, and now I have about 40% loss. When I take youngsters and friends shooting, they get muffs and plugs. I’m not allowed suppressors where I live. I would use them if I could.” — Josh B.


“For what it’s worth, I wear both ear plugs and muffs that have NO sound adjustment capability. As a youngster (15) I wore no ear protection either in shooting or motorcycle riding. I kept doing that until entering military service at age 18 where we had to wear ear plugs at the range. Started wearing ear plugs after that, except when motorcycle riding. At around age 53 my hearing started going south as a result of my own stupidity as a youngster and now some 15 years later I only have about 45% of my hearing left. So beware all — there is a price to pay if you don’t protect your hearing.” — Shynloco

hearing protection ear muffs NRR earplugs osha deafness

“Here are several points to consider:
1. The NRR (noise reduction rating) is determined by “experimenter” fit, not user fit, and trained listeners during the testing period. This results in inflated protection numbers compared to real-world protection.
2. Any disruptions in the protector/skin seal will greatly reduce the effectiveness. Think eye glass temple bars, lots of hair, ear wax, etc. A 5% leak results in a 50% reduction in effectiveness.
3. Double protection gives only 5-10 dB extra protection.
4. Bone conduction gives about 50 dB protection so hearing protectors are the weak link[.]
5. Keep the protectors in/on your ears. Over 8 hours, if you remove them for only 30 minutes (cumulative), the effective protection is cut in half.

So, if you are using a really good muff with NRR of 33 and a foam plug with NRR of 27, the real-world NRR would be about 35 dB, at best. This would attenuate a gunshot by that amount. The key is time versus exposure. Limit the exposure and you limit the dose.” — DelS


“Personally, I use Etymotic Research GSB-15 electronic blast protectors. They are rated at 26-28 dB, but inserted correctly, with the correct fitting tip, approach 38 dB. And, they have a compressor amplifier that allows you to hear soft sounds normally and with very high fidelity. As the sound level goes up, the gain goes down till at an ambient sound pressure level of around 90 dB SPL, the gain is unity, or what comes in goes to the ear canal. However, once the sound level gets to 117dB SPL, the amplifier cannot go higher. So, if you are firing a large rifle with an impulse noise of around 160 dB SPL, your ear only hears 117 dB SPL of that for an effective attenuation of about 40 dB. RIGHT! about the same as the mastoid bone! Can’t get any better than that.

What gives me the right to say all these things? First, a BSEE as well as the graduate course in Audiology and a hearing aid dispensers license. And working in research and product development for the ear the last decade of my career.” — Norm Matzen

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April 17th, 2015

Manners Composite Stocks — An American Success Story

Manners Composite Stocks Kansas city

Manners Composite Stocks Kansas cityManners Composite Stocks produces some of the best tactical, hunting, and competition stocks you can buy. Learn more about Tom Manners’s company in an insightful Factory Tour Story in LongRangeHunting.com. Author David Fortier recently visited Kansas City, Missouri to tour the Manners Composite Stocks factory. There, Fortier found an impressive facility, with 37 employees producing stocks under the guidance of founder Tom Manners.

The history of Manners Composite Stocks is a classic American success story of dedication and hard work. Tom Manners, a competitive long-range shooter, started producing stocks at home as a hobby. Demand for stocks rose and Tom had to finance expansion. To do that, Manners sold his beloved 427 Cobra replica to purchase a mill and compressor, and pay shop rent for a year. After that initial sacrifice, business has boomed. Tom’s dedication has been rewarded. Fortier reports:

Since he expanded from working at his home, [Tom’s] business has grown by 30 to 40 percent every year. Within five years he had outgrown the shop and secured a larger facility. Business growth has continued, and when I met with him he had just added another 4,000-square-foot building. Today he has 37 employees and runs two shifts trying to keep up with orders. Over the years, his offerings have steadily grown. Some of his biggest supporters have always been George Gardner (G.A. Precision) and Marty Bordsen (Badger Ordnance). They combined and created one of his first tactical stocks, the MCS-GAT. This stock became his first piece to be torture tested. To see just how rugged it was, he took it and put it on the arms of a chair and stood on it (USMC stock test) to try to break it. The stock shrugged off the abuse, so he used it to hit softballs, without issues. He then drove over it with a truck. When this failed to harm it, he put angle iron under each end and parked the truck on it. Despite all the abuse, it never failed and therefore the MCS-GAT caught people’s attention.”

We recommend you read the full Manners Factory Tour article in LongRangeHunting.com. The process of stock production is laid out step-by-step, and Tom talks about new products in development.

Story tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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April 10th, 2015

Test Your Ballistics Knowledge with Shoot 101 Quiz

Shoot 101 Quiz
Vista Outdoors (formerly ATK Sporting Group) has launched a new multi-platform media campaign called Shoot 101. Combining print, web, and television, Shoot 101 provides “how to” information about shooting, optics, and outdoor gear.

On the Shoot 101 website, you’ll find a Ballistics Quiz. The questions are pretty basic, but it’s still fun to see if you get all the answers correct.

You don’t need a lot of technical knowledge. Roughly a third of the questions are about projectile types and bullet construction. Note, for some reason the layout doesn’t show all the possible answers at first. So, for each question, be sure to scroll down using the blue scroll bar on the right.

CLICK HERE to Go to Ballistics QUIZ Page

Sample Ballistics Question

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March 21st, 2015

The Best Gun Salesman Since Samuel Colt

Add the Washington Post to the growing list of sources that credit President Obama with being the best salesman for firearms and ammunition that the country has seen since Samuel Colt. Using a simple linear trend analysis based on NSSF-supplied data, Washington Post writer Philip Bump calculated that the U.S. firearms industry has enjoyed a $9 to $10 billion increase in sales of guns and ammo during President Obama’s terms in office. CLICK HERE for full story in Washington Post.

Obama Gun Sales Ammunition Increase NSSF Trend Washington Post

Take a look at this chart — it shows a huge increase in sales of long guns, handguns, and ammunition during the Obama presidency. (NOTE: There is a decline at the extreme right of the chart because 2014 data only goes through the third quarter of the year.) You can seen why there have been shortages of ammunition. Look at the huge spike in ammo sales (orange zone) over the past six years. This may explain why some retailers ironically refer to the nation’s top elected official as “President ObAMMO”.

By comparing past industry sales numbers with figures for the past six years, the Washington Post calculates that the firearms industry has enjoyed a remarkable period of growth: “If you calculate out the difference between what might have been expected and what was, it’s about a $10 billion increase [in sales]”. We’ve seen evidence that things are cooling off, but according to the Washington Post: “The $9 to $10 billion in increase under Obama will keep growing, through the end of 2016. At which point gun manufacturers will probably be sad to see Obama go — even if gun buyers are not.”

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March 20th, 2015

Horus Video Explains Sources of Zero Shift in Rifle Scopes

[youtube width=”600″ height=”360″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMRBl10ChZ8&feature=player_embedded#![/youtube]

In the above video, a spokesman for Horus Vision explains how and why scopes can experience zero shift. First, just cleaning the gun can cause a small shift in point of impact. Second, when you re-tighten rings and ring bases, this can cause a change in zero. Horus recommends that you use a torque wrench to confirm that you maintain the same torque settings each time. The same goes for action screw tension — tensioning your action screws can shift the point of impact.

Other factors that can cause a change in zero:

Temperature
Dramatic ranges of temperature will change your zero, because the air density affects the velocity of the bullet. With increased temperature, there may be a higher velocity (depending on your powder).

Gun Handling and Body Position
You rifle’s point of impact will be affected by the way you hold the gun. A “hard hold” with firm grip and heavy cheek weld can give you a different POI than if you lightly address the gun. Even when shooting a benchrest gun, the amount of shoulder you put into the rifle can affect where it prints on paper.

Type of Rifle Support — Bench vs. Field
Whenever you change the type of rifle support you use, the point of impact can shift slightly. Moving from a bipod to a pedestal rest can cause a change. Similar, if you switch from a mechanical rest to sandbags, the gun can perform differently. That’s why, before a hunt, you should zero the gun with a set-up similar to what you would actually use in the field — such as a rucksack or shooting sticks.

shooterXbag.com sandbag

Transportation of Firearms
Even if you don’t mishandle your weapon, it is possible that a shift of zero could occur during transport. We’ve seen zero settings change when a tight plastic gun case put a side load on the turrets. And in the field, if the turret knobs are not covered, they can rub against clothing, gear, storage bags, scabbard, etc. If the knobs turn, it will definitely move your reticle slightly and cause your point of impact to be off.

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March 19th, 2015

A Top Choice in Air Rifles Tested

With the high price of reloading components, and the limited availability of .22 LR rimfire ammo, perhaps it’s time to consider an air rifle. Modern air rifles can be very accurate, and, the last time we checked, air was still free (the government hasn’t figured out how to tax air yet).

Air Arms S510 Xtra air rifle airgun Field Target

In the world of air rifles, you’ll find a huge range of products, from low-cost plinkers to $5000.00+ Olympic-class position rifles. If you’re looking for a high-quality air rifle in the $1200.00 range, consider the Air Arms S510 Xtra FAC. This versatile rifle received exceptionally high marks from Hard Air Magazine (HAM), a specialty website for air gunners. HAM’s editors gave the Air Arms S510 a 93% total score, the highest score of any air rifle the magazine has tested to date. Accuracy was outstanding with the heavier pellets in the standard HAM test range. HAM tested a .22 caliber version, but Air Arms also offers the S510 in .177 or .25 caliber. The .177 version is suitable for Field Target Competition.

CLICK HERE to Read Full Air Arms S510 Review. (Very Comprehensive).

Air Arms S510 Xtra air rifle airgun Field Target

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March 18th, 2015

USAMU Talks about Pull-Though Bore Snakes

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. Today’s “Handloading Hump Day” post covers bore-cleaning, specifically the use of pull-through style bore snakes. Visit the USAMU Facebook page each Wednesday for helpful tips.

Handloading USAMU Facebook Bore Cleaning

Today, we’ll shift from handloading to rifle bore cleaning and maintenance, with information courtesy of the USAMU’s Custom Firearms Shop. We recently had some inquiries about bore cleaning, and this seems a good opportunity to share. After all, even the best handloads won’t yield their full potential in a poorly-cleaned and maintained rifle.

1. BORE SNAKES: MIRACLE REPLACEMENT FOR THE CLEANING ROD?
The experiences of both our firearms test specialist and this writer have given no evidence that proper use of a clean bore-snake will damage a match barrel. Of course, one does not pull the bore-snake at an angle to the crown when removing it — pull it straight out, parallel to the bore’s direction, to prevent crown wear over time.

USAMU Handloading facebook page bore snake cleaningBore-snakes are very useful for some applications (primarily a hasty, interim wipe-down). In [my] experience they cannot replace a thorough cleaning with a proper rod and brushes. While the experiment cited here involves rimfire, it may help illustrate. Several years ago, the writer used his new, personal Anschutz to investigate the bore-snake issue. It had been fired ~350 rds with match ammo and had had 3 typical rod/brush cleanings.

Next, starting with a clean bore, the writer fired 300 more rounds without cleaning in order to build up a “worst-case” fouling condition. Afterwards, the writer examined the bore with a Hawkeye bore scope. There was a uniform, grey film down the entire barrel, with some small, intermittent lead build-up at and just forward of the throat.

A new bore-snake was then wet with solvent and pulled through the bore. The Hawkeye revealed that the grey fouling was gone, and much of the visible fouling at the throat was reduced. However, nine more passes with the bore-snake, checking after each with the Hawkeye, revealed no further improvement in cleaning. The writer then cleaned with two wet patches, observed, then one stroke of a new, wet bronze brush, and one wet patch to clean out residue.

USAMU Handloading facebook page bore snake cleaning

The Hawkeye showed a significant reduction in fouling at the throat; it was virtually gone. A second pass with a wet bronze brush and a wet patch removed the remaining fouling. Scrubbing the bore further, checking to see how much fouling was removed, revealed no significant improvement. The reason for this test was to learn what’s needed to get (and keep) this Anschutz clean with minimal cleaning rod use — and thus, minimal risk of bore damage/wear. Leaving fouling in the bore promotes corrosion over time.

Obviously, this applies to a nice, smooth rimfire match barrel, using good, well lubed ammo. It doesn’t apply directly to the use of copper-jacketed bullets, which leave a stubborn fouling all their own. However, it does suggest that while the bore-snake can be helpful and a useful field-expedient, to truly clean a rifle barrel one will still need a good quality rod, bronze brush and solvents. [Editor: Add a good-fitting cleaning rod bore guide

2. SO, WHAT ABOUT BORE SNAKES FOR BARREL BREAK-IN?
The goal of barrel break-in is to fire each shot through a clean barrel, preventing copper buildup and allowing the bullets their best chance at burnishing sharp edges. Thus, it seems this purpose would be best served by one’s usual rods, brushes and rod guides.

Permalink - Articles, Reloading 1 Comment »
March 15th, 2015

Illustrated History of the Second Amendment (Part Two)

Last month we showcased an Illustrated History of the Second Amendment by attorney Robert J. McWhirter. That fascinating article, published in Arizona Attorney magazine, explained the history and evolution of the Second Amendment in a novel way. McWhirter included dozens of annotations with images from old books, magazines, even stills from movies and television shows. This was certainly the most entertaining discussion of the Second Amendment ever published.

Second Amendment Illustrated History McWhirter Part two 2 militia

This month, Arizona Attorney released Part Two of McWhirter’s Illustrated History of the Second Amendment. Like Part One, this article is informative and chock full of fascinating historical footnotes. The footnotes are just as interesting as the main article, as they feature dozens of eye-catching graphics — everything from 18th century lithographs to modern movie posters. Click the Links below to read both Part Two and Part One:

Second Amendment History PART TWO | Second Amendment History PART ONE

Part Two of McWhirter’s illustrated history addresses interesting historical subtopics such as: Guns and Colonial Slavery, Militias and Minutemen, and the Founders’ concerns about Government Tyranny. If you have any interest in American history or Constitutional law, check out this article — it’s definitely worth a read. Part Two of McWhiter’s Illustrated History is available FREE online in digital, eZine Format.

Second Amendment Illustrated History McWhirter Part two 2 militia

Story Tip from German Salazar. We welcome reader submissions.
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March 13th, 2015

Friday the 13th — “Bad Luck” and How to Avoid Train Wrecks

train wrecks byran litz friday 13thToday is Friday the 13th. Oddly enough, this is the second month in a row with the 13th falling on a Friday. Does that mean double bad luck? For those of you who are superstitious — maybe you should avoid climbing ladders or using power tools today.

When it comes to shooting, there are many things that shooters chalk up to “bad luck”. In fact, most of these instances of “bad fortune” just come from a failure to anticipate problems. When you have a major, critical problem at a shooting match, i.e. a “train wreck”, this can be the end of your weekend. In this article, Ballistics Guru Bryan Litz talks about “train wrecks” and how to avoid them, even if you are shooting on Friday the 13th. As Bryan told us: “I don’t believe in superstition — we make our own luck!”

Urban Dictionary “Train Wreck” Definition: “A total @#$&! disaster … the kind that makes you want to shake your head.”

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballisticsTrain Wrecks (and How to Avoid Them)
by Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics LLC.

Success in long range competition depends on many things. Those who aspire to be competitive are usually detail-oriented, and focused on all the small things that might give them an edge. Unfortunately it’s common for shooters lose sight of the big picture — missing the forest for the trees, so to speak.

Consistency is one of the universal principles of successful shooting. The tournament champion is the shooter with the highest average performance over several days, often times not winning a single match. While you can win tournaments without an isolated stellar performance, you cannot win tournaments if you have a single train wreck performance. And this is why it’s important for the detail-oriented shooter to keep an eye out for potential “big picture” problems that can derail the train of success!

Train wrecks can be defined differently by shooters of various skill levels and categories. Anything from problems causing a miss, to problems causing a 3/4-MOA shift in wind zero can manifest as a train wreck, depending on the kind of shooting you’re doing.

Below is a list of common Shooting Match Train Wrecks, and suggestions for avoiding them.

1. Cross-Firing. The fastest and most common way to destroy your score (and any hopes of winning a tournament) is to cross-fire. The cure is obviously basic awareness of your target number on each shot, but you can stack the odds in your favor if you’re smart. For sling shooters, establish your Natural Point of Aim (NPA) and monitor that it doesn’t shift during your course of fire. If you’re doing this right, you’ll always come back on your target naturally, without deliberately checking each time. You should be doing this anyway, but avoiding cross-fires is another incentive for monitoring this important fundamental. In F-Class shooting, pay attention to how the rifle recoils, and where the crosshairs settle. If the crosshairs always settle to the right, either make an adjustment to your bipod, hold, or simply make sure to move back each shot. Also consider your scope. Running super high magnification can leave the number board out of the scope’s field view. That can really increase the risk of cross-firing.

2. Equipment Failure. There are a wide variety of equipment failures you may encounter at a match, from loose sight fasteners, to broken bipods, to high-round-count barrels that that suddenly “go south” (just to mention a few possibilities). Mechanical components can and do fail. The best policy is to put some thought into what the critical failure points are, monitor wear of these parts, and have spares ready. This is where an ounce of prevention can prevent a ton of train wreck. On this note, if you like running hot loads, consider whether that extra 20 fps is worth blowing up a bullet (10 points), sticking a bolt (DNF), or worse yet, causing injury to yourself or someone nearby.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

3. Scoring/Pit Malfunction. Although not related to your shooting technique, doing things to insure you get at least fair treatment from your scorer and pit puller is a good idea. Try to meet the others on your target so they can associate a face with the shooter for whom they’re pulling. If you learn your scorer is a Democrat, it’s probably best not to tell Obama jokes before you go for record. If your pit puller is elderly, it may be unwise to shoot very rapidly and risk a shot being missed (by the pit worker), or having to call for a mark. Slowing down a second or two between shots might prevent a 5-minute delay and possibly an undeserved miss.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics4. Wind Issues. Tricky winds derail many trains. A lot can be written about wind strategies, but here’s a simple tip about how to take the edge off a worse case scenario. You don’t have to start blazing away on the command of “Commence fire”. If the wind is blowing like a bastard when your time starts, just wait! You’re allotted 30 minutes to fire your string in long range slow fire. With average pit service, it might take you 10 minutes if you hustle, less in F-Class. Point being, you have about three times longer than you need. So let everyone else shoot through the storm and look for a window (or windows) of time which are not so adverse. Of course this is a risk, conditions might get worse if you wait. This is where judgment comes in. Just know you have options for managing time and keep an eye on the clock. Saving rounds in a slow fire match is a costly and embarrassing train wreck.

5. Mind Your Physical Health. While traveling for shooting matches, most shooters break their normal patterns of diet, sleep, alcohol consumption, etc. These disruptions to the norm can have detrimental effects on your body and your ability to shoot and even think clearly. If you’re used to an indoor job and eating salads in air-conditioned break rooms and you travel to a week-long rifle match which keeps you on your feet all day in 90-degree heat and high humidity, while eating greasy restaurant food, drinking beer and getting little sleep, then you might as well plan on daily train wrecks. If the match is four hours away, rather than leaving at 3:00 am and drinking five cups of coffee on the morning drive, arrive the night before and get a good night’s sleep.”

Keep focused on the important stuff. You never want to lose sight of the big picture. Keep the important, common sense things in mind as well as the minutia of meplat trimming, weighing powder to the kernel, and cleaning your barrel ’til it’s squeaky clean. Remember, all the little enhancements can’t make up for one big train wreck!

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

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