.009″ — The Record That Stood for 40 Years.
In 1973 Mac McMillan shot an amazing 100-yard, .009″ five-shot group in a benchrest match. The .009″ group was measured with a 60x microscope for verification. Mac McMillan shot the group using a handbuilt prototype McMillan rifle with an early McMillan stock.
Mac’s .009″ group was the “Holy Grail” of rifle accuracy. This .009″ record was considered by many to be unbreakable, a record that would “stand for all time”. Well, it took 40 years, but someone finally broke Mac’s record with an even smaller group. In 2013, Mike Stinnett shot a .0077″ five-shot group using a 30 Stewart, a .30 caliber wildcat based on the 6.5 Grendel. Stinnett’s .0077″ group now stands as the smallest 100-yard group ever shot in registered benchrest competition.* Read About .0077″ group HERE.
Stinnett’s success doesn’t diminish the significance of Mac McMillan’s .009″ group in the history of benchrest competition. For four decades Mac’s group stood as the ultimate standard of rifle accuracy*. For those of you who have never seen Mac McMillan’s .009″ group, here it is, along with the NBRSA World Record certificate. The target now hangs in the McMillan Family Museum.
*Somebody else might claim a smaller group, but unless moving backers or electronic targets were used, it cannot be verified. Moving target backers are used at registered benchrest matches to ensure that five (5) shots are actually fired in each group. That eliminates any doubt.
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Some folks say you haven’t really mastered marksmanship unless you can hit a target when standing tall ‘on your own hind legs’. Of all the shooting positions, standing can be the most challenging because you have no horizontally-solid resting point for your forward arm/elbow. Here 10-time National High Power Champ Carl Bernosky explains how to make the standing shot.
Carl Bernosky is one of the greatest marksmen in history. A multi-time National High Power Champion, Carl has won ten (10) National High Power Championships in his storied shooting career, most recently in 2012. In this article, Carl provides step-by-step strategies to help High Power shooters improve their standing scores. When Carl talks about standing techniques, shooters should listen. Among his peers, Carl is regard as one of the best, if not the best standing shooter in the game today. Carl rarely puts pen to paper, but he was kind enough to share his techniques with AccurateShooter.com’s readers.
If you are position shooter, or aspire to be one some day, read this article word for word, and then read it again. We guarantee you’ll learn some techniques (and strategies) that can improve your shooting and boost your scores. This stuff is gold folks, read and learn…
How to Shoot Standing by Carl Bernosky
Shooting consistently good standing stages is a matter of getting rounds down range, with thoughtfully-executed goals. But first, your hold will determine the success you will have.
1. Your hold has to be 10 Ring to shoot 10s. This means that there should be a reasonable amount of time (enough to get a shot off) that your sights are within your best hold. No attention should be paid to the sights when they are not in the middle — that’s wasted energy. My best hold is within 5 seconds after I first look though my sights. I’m ready to shoot the shot at that time. If the gun doesn’t stop, I don’t shoot. I start over.
2. The shot has to be executed with the gun sitting still within your hold. If the gun is moving, it’s most likely moving out, and you’ve missed the best part of your hold.
3. Recognizing that the gun is sitting still and within your hold will initiate you firing the shot. Lots of dry fire or live fire training will help you acquire awareness of the gun sitting still. It’s not subconscious to me, but it’s close.
4. Don’t disturb the gun when you shoot the shot. That being said, I don’t believe in using ball or dummy rounds with the object of being surprised when the shot goes off. I consciously shoot every shot. Sometimes there is a mistake and I over-hold. But the more I train the less of these I get. If I get a dud round my gun will dip.* I don’t believe you can learn to ignore recoil. You must be consistent in your reaction to it.
5. Know your hold and shoot within it. The best part of my hold is about 4 inches. When I get things rolling, I recognize a still gun within my hold and execute the shot. I train to do this every shot. Close 10s are acceptable. Mid-ring 10s are not. If my hold was 8 inches I would train the same way. Shoot the shot when it is still within the hold, and accept the occasional 9. But don’t accept the shots out of the hold.
6. Practice makes perfect. The number of rounds you put down range matter. I shudder to think the amount of rounds I’ve fired standing in my life, and it still takes a month of shooting standing before Perry to be in my comfort zone. That month before Perry I shoot about 2000 rounds standing, 22 shots at a time. It peaks me at just about the right time.
This summarizes what I believe it takes to shoot good standing stages. I hope it provides some insight, understanding, and a roadmap to your own success shooting standing.
— Good Shooting, Carl
* This is very noticeable to me when shooting pistol. I can shoot bullet holes at 25 yards, but if I’ve miscounted the rounds I’ve fired out of my magazine, my pistol will dip noticeably. So do the pistols of the best pistol shooters I’ve watched and shot with. One might call this a “jerk”, I call it “controlled aggressive execution”, executed consistently.
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Precision rifle shooters don’t have to hit a big-league fastball, or launch a top-fuel dragster in the blink of an eye. Nonetheless, reaction times are important in our sport — both for competitive shooters and hunters. Want to catch that prairie dog before he slips down his hole? You’ll need to be quick. Want to win at short-range benchrest? Then you’ll need to watch your windflags and respond quickly to a change. Miss a major wind-shift and you could ruin your whole weekend.
Here’s a fun test of reaction times from HumanBenchmark.com. The way it works is that, after clicking “Start”, you wait until the background color changes from red to green. The instant you see green, immediately click your mouse. The average (median) reaction time is 215 milliseconds. Hint: If you keep your finger “preloaded” in contact with your mouse button you can shave some milliseconds — but don’t “jump the gun”.
Tips for Faster Times
Here are three tips to speed up your reaction times:
1) Respond to the color change (by itself), rather than wait to read the word “CLICK!” after the box shifts to green.
2) Try focusing at the corner of the box, rather than the center. This may help you react “without thinking”.
3) Have your index finger “poised and ready” over the left button–you can shave milliseconds by very slightly depressing the button before you actually click.
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Guest Article By Michelle Gallagher, Berger Bullets
Let’s face it. In the world of firearms, there is something for everyone. Do you like to compete? Are you a hunter? Are you more of a shotgun shooter or rifle shooter? Do you enjoy running around between stages of a timed course, or does the thought of shooting one-hole groups appeal to you more? Even though many of us shoot several different firearms and disciplines, chances are very good that we all have a favorite. Are we spreading ourselves too thin by shooting different disciplines, or is it actually beneficial? I have found that participating in multiple disciplines can actually improve your performance. Every style of shooting is different; therefore, they each develop different skills that benefit each other.
How can cross-training in other disciplines help you? For example, I am most familiar with long-range prone shooting, so let’s start there. To be a successful long-range shooter, you must have a stable position, accurate ammunition, and good wind-reading skills. You can improve all of these areas through time and effort, but there are other ways to improve more efficiently. Spend some time practicing smallbore. Smallbore rifles and targets are much less forgiving when it comes to position and shot execution. Long-range targets are very large, so you can get away with accepting less than perfect shots. Shooting smallbore will make you focus more on shooting perfectly center shots every time. Another way to do this with your High Power rifle is to shoot on reduced targets at long ranges. This will also force you to accept nothing less than perfect. Shoot at an F-Class target with your iron sights. At 1000 yards, the X-Ring on a long range target is 10 inches; it is 5 inches on an F-Class target. Because of this, you will have to focus harder on sight alignment to hit a center shot. When you go back to the conventional target, you will be amazed at how large the ten ring looks.
Also, most prone rifles can be fitted with a bipod. Put a bipod and scope on your rifle, and shoot F-TR. Shooting with a scope and bipod eliminates position and eyesight factors, and will allow you to concentrate on learning how to more accurately read the wind. The smaller target will force you to be more aggressive on your wind calls. It will also help encourage you to use better loading techniques. Nothing is more frustrating than making a correct wind call on that tiny target, only to lose the point out the top or bottom due to inferior ammunition. If you put in the effort to shoot good scores on the F-Class target, you will be amazed how much easier the long-range target looks when you return to your sling and iron sights. By the same token, F-Class shooters sometimes prefer to shoot fast and chase the spotter. Shooting prone can help teach patience in choosing a wind condition to shoot in, and waiting for that condition to return if it changes.
Benchrest shooters are arguably among the most knowledgeable about reloading. If you want to learn better techniques about loading ammunition, you might want to spend some time at benchrest matches. You might not be in contention to win, but you will certainly learn a lot about reloading and gun handling. Shooting F-Open can also teach you these skills, as it is closely related to benchrest. Benchrest shooters may learn new wind-reading techniques by shooting mid- or long-range F-Class matches.
Position shooters can also improve their skills by shooting different disciplines. High Power Across-the-Course shooters benefit from shooting smallbore and air rifle. Again, these targets are very small, which will encourage competitors to be more critical of their shot placement. Hunters may benefit from shooting silhouette matches, which will give them practice when shooting standing with a scoped rifle. Tactical matches may also be good, as tactical matches involve improvising shots from various positions and distances. [Editor: Many tactical matches also involve hiking or moving from position to position — this can motivate a shooter to maintain a good level of general fitness.]
These are just a few ways that you can benefit from branching out into other shooting disciplines. Talk to the other shooters. There is a wealth of knowledge in every discipline, and the other shooters will be more than happy to share what they have learned. Try something new. You may be surprised what you get out of it. You will certainly learn new skills and improve the ones you already have. You might develop a deeper appreciation for the discipline you started off with, or you may just discover a new passion.
This article originally appeared in the Berger Bulletin. The Berger Bulletin blog contains the latest info on Berger products, along with informative articles on target shooting and hunting.
Article Find by EdLongrange.
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To succeed in long-range shooting matches, given the high level of competition these days, you’ll need solid wind-reading abilities. We’ve found an article by SFC Emil Praslick III, retired USAMU Service Rifle coach and U.S. Palma Team Coach, that can help you make better wind calls in competition.
Emil Praslick, now retired from the U.S. Army, is considered one of the best wind gurus in the United States, if not the world. During his service with the USAMU he authored an excellent two-part article on wind reading that is available on the CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) website. Both articles contain helpful illustrations, and are “must-read” resources for any long-range shooter–not just Service Rifle and Highpower competitors.
Part One covers basic principles, tactics, and strategies, with a focus on the 200-yard stages. Emil writes: “There are as many dimensions to ‘wind reading’ as there are stages to High Power competition. Your tactical mindset, or philosophy, must be different for the 200 and 300 yard rapid-fire stages than it would be for the 600 yard slow-fire. In the slow-fire stages you have the ability to adjust windage from shot to shot, utilizing the location of the previous shot as an indicator. Additionally, a change to the existing conditions can be identified and adjusted for prior to shooting the next shot.”
In Part Two, Praslick provides more detailed explanations of the key principles of wind zeros, wind reading, and the “Clock System” for determining wind values: “The Value of the wind is as important as its speed when deciding the proper windage to place on the rifle. A 10 MPH wind from ’12 o-clock’ has No Value, hence it will not effect the flight of the bullet. A 10 MPH wind from ‘3 o’clock’, however, would be classified as Full Value. Failure to correct for a Full Value wind will surely result in a less than desirable result.”
Praslick also explains how to identify and evaluate mirage:
Determine the accuracy of the mirage. Mirage is the reflection of light through layers of air that have different temperatures than the ground. These layers are blown by the wind and can be monitored to detect wind direction and speed.
Focus your scope midway between yourself and the target, this will make mirage appear more prominent. I must emphasize the importance of experience when using mirage as a wind-reading tool. The best way to become proficient in the use of mirage is to correlate its appearance to a known condition. Using this as a baseline, changes in mirage can be equated to changes in the value of the wind. Above all, you must practice this skill!
Click HERE for more excellent instructional articles by Emil Praslick and other USAMU Coaches and shooters.
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Do you shoot with a SEB joystick-equipped bipod, or are you considering acquiring a “Joy-Pod” for your F-TR rifle? Then you should read this article. Here Sebastian (“Seb”) Lambang, the inventor and builder of the SEB joystick bipod, offers tips on shooting with this impressive piece of engineering. Seb explains some techniques that can help with tracking and getting back on target. You can ask SEB questions about his Joy-Pod in this Shooter’s Forum Thread.
Joy-Pod Shooting Tipsby Seb Lambang
1. Be sure that the rear bag is settled before starting to shoot. Tap your stock into the bag. Then move your rifle back and forth, while checking your reticle. If it tracks straight, vertically perfect, and comes back to the original point of aim, it’s fine. If not, re-adjust.
2. If you use the Pod-Pad, be sure it is fully settled before starting to shoot. Tap the top where the feet rides on using your palm — you wan to create a flat top. To be sure the Pod-Pad does not move or slide, remove any gravel or pebbles under the pad — these can act as roller bearings.
3. Be sure your shooting mat is NOT springy or spongy. This is very important. Use a proper mat, or cut it if possible so your rear bag rests directly on the ground. Use a heavy rear bag. You can use a sand-filled doughnut (not a rigid spacer) to stabilize the bag on uneven ground. These doughnuts are relatively inexpensive and really work.
4. Be sure your whole body position is correct, so your shoulder is square. “Follow” the recoil with your shoulder, don’t push “against” it. Don’t move too much. Don’t make unimportant movements during your shooting string. Always be as consistent as you can in all things — how you hold the rifle, even how you breathe before taking the shot.
This young lady shooter is using a first generation Joy-Pod. The newer versions have flat, ski-like feet.
5. Be sure your rifle and rear bag are aligned. You want the slot between the ears of the bag perfectly aligned with your barrel. (You can use a yardstick or a piece of string to help with the alignment).
6. Use a heavy rear bag. The heavier and the more stable, the better.
7. It does not matter (from my own experience) whether you light-hold the joystick or leave the joystick in the air when you shoot (see Darrell Buell video — he shoots “hands off”). I believe the bullet already exits the muzzle before the joystick moves in your fingers. I lightly hold the joystick myself, just as I would hold a billiard stick.
Watch Darrell Buell shooting his .375 CheyTac equipped with a counter-balanced Joy-Pod. Note how the gun comes straight back, and how Darrell can release the joystick before breaking the shot.
SUMMARY — When It All Comes Together
If everything is set up right, and done correctly, your rifle will track beautifully straight and your reticle will come back or very close to the original point of aim, every time. If you have to change the Joy-Pod, rear bag, or your body position after a shot, there could still be something wrong with your set-up, alignment, or body position. When everything is right, you can also see your own score in the scope after every shot you make (after initial recoil). You also should not have to change the bipod’s setting, the height, the cant etc., at all. You only need to adjust for the current condition with the joystick, the joystick will do it all. That’s why we call our bipod the JOY-Pod.
SEB JOY-POD Joystick Bipod, and POD-PAD
Weighing in at just 18 ounces (510 grams), the Gen 2 Joy-Pod is unlike any other bipod on the market. Designed specifically for weight-restricted shooting classes, the Joy-Pod offers smooth and precise joystick-controlled aiming. The Gen 2 model offers up to 14 degrees of cant and an improved design that functions with up to 50 pounds of rifle weight. Each Joy-Pod comes with a Weaver rail adapter. The optional Pod-Pad accessory is designed expressly for the Joy-Pod. It works filled or unfilled with the Joy-Pod’s sleds to bring you back to your shooting position easily. CLICK HERE for more information, or visit SebRests.com.
.308 Win Tactical Rifle fitted with Joy-Pod on Pod-Pad. CLICK HERE for Video.
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Want to show off some groups you’ve shot? Or keep a handy pack of mini-targets in your range kit? Then check out this unique product from stockmaker Bell & Carlson. Shoot’n Aces cards feature a 1-inch black square aiming box with a 1/2-inch inner square. These cards are normal poker-playing-card size, 3.5″ high x 2.5″ wide (89 × 64 mm). Shoot’n Aces cards come 56 to a pack. Carry a few extras in your wallet or a pack in your vehicle glove compartment and you’ll always have a precision target to shoot at the range. Cards can be stapled or taped to target stands.
Sniper Central says these cards work well as targets: “The bold square is easy to pick up with the inner white portion making a nice aiming point. The material of the cards is the same as normal playing cards and the bullets make a very nice hole when passing through.” The sharp edges of the bullet holes makes it easy to measure group sizes with precision.
Each pack of Shoot’n Aces contains 56 premium-quality target cards. If you want some, order Bell & Carlson item SA-2006. This is a set of four (4) card-packs with 56 cards per pack (224 cards total) priced at $20.00 (i.e. $5.00 per pack).
Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Nielsen-Kellerman (NK), makers of Kestrel® Weather Meters, has launched a new website, www.KestrelBallistics.com. The new mobile-friendly site features a Schoolhouse section with a wide range of information for long-range shooters of all skill levels. There you’ll find “How-To” guides and technical articles by respected ballistics and firearms experts. Along with the Schoolhouse, and a resource section offering free downloads of technical manuals, NK’s new Ballistics website will feature a webstore where customers can purchase long-range shooting accessories such as scopes, range finders, weather vanes, and Kestrel weather/ballistics meters. Along with Kestrel products, the eStore will offer Bushnell optics, MagnetoSpeed chronographs, and Accuracy 1st Ballistic Solvers.
The Schoolhouse resource offers articles from Kestrel’s own experts as well as Kestrel’s industry partners Applied Ballistics and Accuracy 1st. The purpose of the Schoolhouse section is to provide up-to-date information about industry advances and new techniques, as well as to provide comprehensive, detailed “how-to” guides for owners of Kestrel Weather Meters and Ballistics Calculators. Shown below is the Schoolhouse section that explains how to set up a Kestrel.
“As Kestrel has progressed in the long-range shooting space, we have seen that there is a real thirst for knowledge among long-range shooters. Just as we never ship a product without ensuring that it will provide accurate, reliable information, we will ensure that KestrelBallistics.com only contains articles, advice and products that customers can rely on. We are truly enjoying expanding our customer offering in this area.” stated Nielsen-Kellerman CEO, Alix James. NK’s new Ballistics site provides information and resources that can benefit all long-range shooters, whether they are primarily interested in hunting, competitive, or tactical shooting.
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Baseball and car racing have their fantasy camps, and now the shooting sports has its own successful version following the inaugural NSSF Shooting Sports Fantasy Camp last week in Las Vegas. Sold out just days after being announced, the Shooting Sports Fantasy Camp attracted 30 shooters from across the country. The big draw was the opportunity to work with top shooting champions Jessie Duff, K.C. Eusebio, Julie Golob, Jerry and Kay Miculek, and Dianna and Ryan Muller. The NSSF made sure that “fantasy” wasn’t just a catchphrase. Not only were Camp guests provided personalized instruction by top shooting pros, but the Fantasy Camp included a three-night stay at the luxurious Las Vegas’ Aliante Hotel + Casino + Spa, all meals from arrival to departure, as much ammo as Campers could send downrange for the weekend, a bevy of new guns to try, evening cocktail receptions, plus a swag bag full of shooting gear.
“It was awesome,” said camper Georgiann Pharis. “[This] far exceeded any expectations I ever had.” And she added, “When [the pros] ride to the range on the bus with you, that says a lot to me. They’re not above you. They’re here on our level showing us how to get to their level. That’s a big plus.”
Jessie Duff Was One of the Fantasy Camp Instructors
Industry Sponsorship Support
“We knew when this event sold out immediately that we were onto something big,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer. “We are always looking for ways to connect the industry with our customers, to show the public that shooting sports are on par with other major league sports[.]”
This first-ever fantasy camp was made possible through the support of many companies: SIG SAUER, Ruger, Taurus, PolyCase Ammunition, Hornady Ammunition, Winchester Ammunition, Federal Premium Ammunition, Kahr Firearms Group, HIVIZ Sight Systems, FIME Group/Arex, and LWRCI.
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Last year 43,196 young Americans earned a very special marksmanship distinction. Can you guess what that was? Here’s a hint — the award helps a young person become an Eagle Scout. That’s right, last year 43,196 Boy Scouts earned the Marksmanship Merit Badge for rifle shooting. This is one of the toughest badges to earn, according to Scouting leaders, but it is still one of the most popular badges among Scouts — it fact it is the second most earned elective merit badge. Since 1910, over 350,000 Scouts have earn Rifle Shooting Merit Badges. Millions more have participated in Boy Scout Shooting programs. Merit badges are offered for both Rifle Shooting and Shotgun shooting.
Mark Keefe, editor of the American Rifleman explains: “According to Scouting magazine, the Rifle Shooting Merit badge was number two of the non-required badges earned by all Boy Scouts cross country last year with 43,196 Rifle Shooting merit badges sewn on sashes. Since 2009, again according to Scouting, nearly 350,000 Rifle Shooting merit badges have been earned. That’s a lot of merit badges — and a lot of .22 Long Rifle downrange.”
The Marksmanship Merit Badge has been offered by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) since the first Boy Scout Handbook in 1910. Keefe explains: “Back in 1910 to earn the ‘Marksman’ Badge of Merit, you had to ‘Qualify as a marksman in accordance with the requirements of the National Rifle Association.’ And NRA and the BSA of have had a strong partnership for more than a century, and both organizations remain committed to teaching firearms safety and marksmanship.”
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Ever find yourself sitting in an airport, bored out of your gourd? Well here’s how to make good use of your time — listen to a gun-centric Podcast. There are a number of interesting Podcasts for shooters and firearms fans. A Podcast is like an old-fashioned radio show, but delivered over the internet. You can listen “live” or save the Podcast file for later review. That’s great when you’re on an airplane and don’t have a web connection. Download some Podcasts to your smartphone before you get to the airport and then you can play them back during your flight.
Our friends at the NRA Blog have researched Podcasts for fans of the shooting sports. It turns out that Podcasts are more popular than ever: “The Great Podcast Renaissance is upon us! Podcasts have been around for about 10 years now. It’s easier now than ever for anyone and everyone to make their own podcast, which is why the number of podcasts and variety of show topics have greatly increased.”
The Gun Girl Radio Podcast is hosted by our friends Julie Golob and Randi Rogers, both top action shooting competitors. Julie served with the U.S. Army before embarking on her professional shooting career. Randi has been a champion in various shooting disciplines including Cowboy Action and 3-Gun.
2. The Firearms Radio Network
With more than a dozen different podcasts, the Firearms Radio Network (FRN) offers a large range of audio programming. Whether you’re a tactical shooter, or a handgunner, or a hunter, you’ll find something of interest. This network also offers a regular podcast dedicated to hand-loading. Here are some of our favorite FRN podcasts:
3. Tom Gresham’s GunTalk
Tom Gresham’s GunTalk is the only nationally-syndicated radio talk show about firearms, shooting and gun rights. It is available as a live radio broadcast as well as recorded podcasts. Each week Tom host notable guests from the firearms industry and shooting sports.
4. Hunt Talk Radio
Randy Newberg’s Hunt Talk Radio covers hunting politics, access to public lands, and conservation topics. Expert hunters and guides join Randy each week, sharing their field skills and stalking tips.
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There’s a chap in New Zealand who has produced some of the most valuable (and well-researched) books on hunting you can buy. Nathan Foster’s Long Range Hunting series of books is a gold mine for rifle shooters seeking verified, first-hand knowledge of the performance of hunting cartridges, plus expert “how-to” advice on field skills, stalking, marksmanship, and ballistics.
Right now, Foster’s company, Terminal Ballistics Research (TBR), is offering Easter Special discounts on its most popular book titles. For starters, as a Easter weekend promotion, you can get 15% off the Practical Guide To Long Range Shooting in paperback or eBook format. This book is chock-full of information that will benefit competition marksmen as well as long-range hunters. You’ll find good advice on use of BDC and Mil-dot reticles, plus extensive sections on ballistics.
Other TBR books by Nathan Foster are on sale as well:
Train Online, Then Register for a Range Session
For the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting course, Phase 1 is conducted in an online environment, completed on your own time (cost is $60.00, non-refundable). After successfully completing the online exam, students can register for Phase 2, the instructor-led training session. Phase 2 is conducted at your local range with an NRA Certified Instructor. You must successfully complete Phase 1 and Phase 2 in order to receive your NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting course certificate.
Designed and developed by experts to accommodate busy schedules, the web-based course takes a blended learning approach to firearms training with both online and physical components. Students have 90 days to work through 11 online lessons before registering for Phase 2, the NRA Certified Instructor-led phase at a local range. “America has more first time gun owners than ever and the NRA remains dedicated to being the number one provider of firearm training,” said Executive Director of NRA General Operations, Kyle Weaver. “Thanks to our online courses and network of more than 125,000 NRA Certified Instructors, it has never been easier to learn basic firearm skills.” The NRA offers other online training courses at Onlinetraining.nra.org. These offerings include a Range Safety Office (RSO) course, and a Range Development and Operations course.
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After the success of its recent winter Ballistics seminar in Michigan, Applied Ballistics has decided to take its show on the road, offering additional Ballistics seminars in three different states (Texas, Michigan, and North Carolina). These three seminars will cover a wide range of topics, with the primary focus on basic to advanced ballistics principles as applied to long-range shooting. Registration is now open for the three (3) upcoming Ballistics Seminars:
This video explains the subjects covered by Applied Ballistics Seminars:
Ballistician (and current F-TR National Mid-Range and Long-Range Champion) Bryan Litz will be the primary speaker at the spring, summer, and fall seminars. He will present material from his books and the Applied Ballistics Lab, and he will discuss his experience shooting in various disciplines. The seminar will feature structured presentations by Bryan and other noted speakers, but a great deal of time will be alloted for questions and discussion. By the end of the seminar, participants should have a much better understanding of how to apply ballistics in the real world to hit long-range targets. Along with Bryan, other respected experts will include:
Emil Praslick III – Head coach of the U.S. Palma team and retired head coach of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. Emil will discuss tactics, strategy, and mindset for successful wind-reading.
Eric Stecker – Master Bulletsmith and President of Berger Bullets. Eric will be presenting on precision bullet making technology.
Nick Vitalbo – Owner of nVisti Tactical Innovations and chief engineer for Applied Ballistics. Nick will discuss the state of the art in laser rangefinders and wind reading devices.
Mitch Fitzpatrick – Applied Ballistics intern and owner of Lethal Precision Arms. Mitch specializes in Extended Long Range (ELR) cartridge selection and rifle design.
Ballistic Solvers – How they work, best practices, demos.
Weapon Employment Zone (WEZ) Analysis – How to determine and improve hit percentage.
Optics and Laser Technology – State of the Art.
The seminars costs $500.00. But consider this — each seminar participant will receive the entire library of Applied Ballistics books and DVDs, valued at $234.75, PLUS a free copy of Applied Ballistics Analytics software, valued at $200.00. So you will be getting nearly $435.00 worth of books, DVDs, and software. In addition, a DVD of the seminar will be mailed to each attendee after the seminar concludes.
We are in the midst of “March Madness” — the annual NCAA college basketball tournament. Here’s a clever piece by Hap Rocketto that examines the game of B-Ball and explains why shooting targets is actually more difficult than shooting hoops. This story originally appeared in the Hap’s Corner section of Pronematch.com. Hap is a rare talent in the gun world — a serious shooter who also has unique insights, and a great sense of humor. We recommend you visit Pronematch.com to enjoy the many other interesting Hap’s Corner postings.
by Hap Rocketto
I know shooting is tougher than basketball…. Come on, just how difficult is it for five tall guys to help each other toss a big ball into a basket? Granted basketball is more physically demanding than shooting a rifle, but I think that blasting a quarter-size group into the center of the target at 100 yards all by yourself is a far more difficult task than working as a team to dunk a ball.
Therefore, in the style of Late Night talk show host David Letterman, I have constructed a list of ten reasons why rifle shooting is tougher than basketball.
TOP TEN REASONS Why Rifle Shooting is Tougher Than Basketball
10. When you get tired in basketball the coach just calls time out and replaces you with someone fresh. Not so in shooting.
9. When’s the last time a basketball player had to make a shot with the sun in his eyes?
8. How often does a basketball player have a perfectly good shot blown out by the wind?
7. If a basketball player places a shot a little higher than intended, no problem. The backboard causes the ball to bounce into the basket. No such luck in shooting.
6. Rifle matches commonly run all day. When was the last time you saw a basketball game run more than an hour or so?
5. If you’re not making your shots in basketball, you can just pass the ball to someone who is hot. No such convenience in shooting.
4. Rifle bullets travel faster than the speed of sound (roughly 300 meters per second). Basketballs top out at around 15 meters per second.
3. A basketball player can shoot from anywhere on the court that is convenient and comfortable. All riflemen shoot from the same distance.
2. A basketball player may shoot as often as the opportunity arises and is not limited to the number of shots taken. A rifle match requires that each rifleman shoot the same number of record shots. If they shoot more than allowed, then a penalty follows.
1. And the Number One reason why shooting is tougher than basketball is that, if you miss a shot in basketball you, or a team mate, can just jump up, grab the ball, and try again. Try that in shooting.
The only real similarity between the two sports is that a competitor attempts to score points by shooting. In rifle it is through a hard-hold and easy squeeze in prone, sitting, kneeling and standing; while in basketball it is via hook shots, jump shots, lay-ups, or the dramatic, ever crowd-pleasing, slam dunk.
About the Author: Hap Rocketto is a Distinguished Rifleman with service and smallbore rifle, member of The Presidents Hundred, and the National Guard’s Chief’s 50. He is a National Smallbore Record holder, a member of the 1600 Club and the Connecticut Shooters’ Hall Of Fame. A historian of the shooting sports, his work appears in Shooting Sports USA, the late Precision Shooting Magazine, The Outdoor Message, the American Rifleman, the CMP website, and Pronematch.com.
Credit John Puol for finding this article and communicating with Hap Rocketto.
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Midsouth Shooters Supply now carries the full line of shooting and reloading books from Krause Publications at very attractive prices. Looking for reliable reference works on reloading, or a gift for a shooting buddy? You’ll find something worthwhile among the Krause library of gun books, which includes the respected Gun Digest Shooter’s Guides. Match directors also take note — books make great match prizes. Paperback books cost no more than wood plaques but they will provide valuable information for years instead of just gathering dust in a closet. If your club offers training programs, Krause offers many titles that will help new shooters improve their skills.
Here Are Some of our favorite Krause Shooting and Reloading Titles:
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Do you find that the crosshairs in your scope get blurry after a while, or that you experience eye strain during a match? This is normal, particularly as you get older. Focusing intensely on your target (through the scope or over iron sights) for an extended period of time can cause eye strain. Thankfully, there are things you can do to reduce eye fatigue. For one — breathe deeper to take in more oxygen. Secondly, give your eyes a break between shots, looking away from the scope or sights.
In our Forum there is an interesting thread about vision and eye fatigue. One Forum member observed: “I have noticed recently that if I linger on the target for too long the crosshairs begin to blur and the whole image gradually darkens as if a cloud passed over the sun. I do wear contacts and wonder if that’s the problem. Anyone else experienced this? — Tommy”
Forum members advised Tommy to relax and breath deep. Increase oxygen intake and also move the eyes off the target for a bit. Closing the eyes briefly between shots can also relieve eye strain. Tommy found this improved the situation.
Keith G. noted: “Make sure you are still breathing… [your condition] sounds similar to the symptoms of holding one’s breath.”
Phil H. explained: “Tom — Our eyes are tremendous oxygen hogs. What you are witnessing is caused by lack of oxygen. When this happens, get off the sights, stare at the grass (most people’s eyes find the color green relaxing), breath, then get back on the rifle. Working on your cardio can help immensely. Worked for me when I shot Palma. Those aperture sights were a bear! The better my cardio got the better and longer I could see. Same thing with scopes. Try it!”
Watercam concurred: “+1 on breathing. Take a long slow deep breath, exhale and break shot. Also make sure you take a moment to look at the horizon without looking through rifle or spotting scope once in a while to fight fatigue. Same thing happens when using iron sights.”
Arizona shooter Scott Harris offered this advice: “To some extent, [blurring vision] happens to anyone staring at something for a long time. I try to keep vision crisp by getting the shot off in a timely fashion or close the eyes briefly to refresh them. Also keep moisturized and protect against wind with wrap-around glasses”.
Breathing Better and Relaxing the Eyes Really Worked…
Tommy, the shooter with the eye problem, said his vision improved after he worked on his breathing and gave his eyes a rest between shots: “Thanks guys. These techniques shrunk my group just a bit and every little bit helps.”
To avoid eye fatigue, take your eyes away from the scope between shots, and look at something nearby (or even close your eyes briefly). Also work on your breathing and don’t hold your breath too long — that robs your system of oxygen.
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The CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) offers a wide variety of resources for novice shooters and juniors. These materials help novices learn basic marksmanship skills and get started in competition. Some resources can be downloaded from the CMP website, while others are available for purchase from the CMP E-Store. In addition, The CMP maintains a Coaching Resources webpage with dozens of informative articles. Here are some of the CMP articles you can find online:
On the Mark Magazine
This monthly magazine offers competition reports, news about junior events, along with instructional tips and coaching information.
Gary Anderson Instructional Articles
This link opens an index page with 30+ articles by Gary Anderson, DCME. Topics include: Introduction to Marksmanship, Sight Adjustment and Zeroing, How to Practice, Rimfire Sporter and much more.
Right-click and “save as” the links below to download these Powerpoint presentations to your computer. These can be used in a classroom/seminar setting, or can be reviewed by shooters on their own. NOTE: Clinking a link will initiate the download to your default download folder!
Principles of Marksmanship, by Gary Anderson, DCME. This is an outstanding presentation well worth watching. Not just for juniors.
Coaching Young Rifle Shooters
Gary Anderson, DCME, has authored a great book on instructing junior shooters. This full-color, 200-page treatise is probably the most comprehensive marksmanship coaching guide in print. The author, Gary Anderson, knows something about high-level competition — over his illustrious career he captured two Olympic gold medals, won seven World Championships, set six world records, and held 16 national titles. In this book, Gary provides coaches with all the tools and techniques needed to help young shooters (and novices) improve their skills. Packed with useful illustrations, this 200-page book sells for $19.95 plus S&H through the CMP E-Store.
USAMU Service Rifle Marksmanship Guide
and USAMU Advanced Pistol Guide
These illustrated books, written by U.S. Army Marksmanship Team personnel, provide detailed instructions on the basic and advanced skills of High Power service rifle shooting and service pistol and bullseye pistol target shooting. The books cost $6.95 each through the CMP E-Store.
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Are you looking to improve your long-range shooting? Doubtless you’ve been thinking about upgrading your rifle or optics, but wonder what to buy (and how to get the best “bang for your buck”). In this video, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics offers “solid gold” advice on equipment selection for mid-level shooters (i.e. those who are somewhere between “newbie” and “Master of the Universe”). Bryan explains the logical first step is a barrel upgrade — a new tube from a top-barrel maker can make a huge difference. Then you should research the best factory ammo for your rifle, or get started in precision hand-loading. Bryan also offers advice on choosing a scope and optics accessories.
Equipment Upgrades: Barrel, Optics, Ammoby Bryan Litz
Every equipment element can be upgraded. You can run that factory rifle for a period of time, but the barrel eventually is going to be what holds you back. The twist rate probably won’t be fast enough to stabilize the high-BC bullets that you want to shoot at long range. So, the first thing you want to upgrade on your factory rifle is probably going to be the barrel. [With a new custom barrel] you’re going to get a fast twist rate, you’re going to get a chamber that’s optimized with a throat for your … bullet. And a good quality custom barrel is going to be easier to clean, won’t foul out as much, and it’s going to improve to overall accuracy and precision of your shooting. Barrel swaps are very common and routine thing for gunsmiths to do.
The next thing is improving your scope. If you don’t have a quality optic it’s going to hold you back. The job of the scope is to precisely and perfectly delineate [the target] within a half a degree (from 100 to 1000 yards is only a half a degree). The scope has got to put you on the money within that half a degree. So, it’s not a piece of equipment you want to go cheap on.
The other big factor is your ammunition. Getting into hand-loading is meticulous and it takes a long time to learn, but ultimately you’ll be making ammunition that is tailored for your rifle, and there simply won’t be anything better for your rifle than what you can develop through individual handloads.
So that’s typically the upgrade path: Get your factory rifle re-barreled, don’t skimp on a scope (or anything that attaches to it), improve your ammunition (whether by upgrading to better factory ammo or hand-loading on your own). All through this process is continuous learning… Once you have the best equipment (and it doesn’t get any better), the process of learning and education never ends. That is something you build on every single time you go to the range, and it’s what going to allow you to continually improve your skills.”
No matter what kind of rifle you shoot, whether it be an AR or a brenchrest rig, the principles are the same — develop a good load, learn the gun, hone your wind-reading skills, and practice in all conditions. Making a video of a practice session can help you identify and correct bad habits.
Bryan Litz says “don’t skimp on your scope”. Purchase a quality scope, rings, and scope level. Successful long-range shooting all begins with your view of the target.
Even with a top-of-the-line F-TR rig like this, you still have to practice diligently, putting in the “trigger time” needed to improve your game.
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There is an excellent article about Mirage on the South Texas Marksmanship Training Center (STMTC) website. This article explains what causes mirage and how mirage can move the perceived aiming point on your target. Most importantly, the article explains, in considerable detail, how you can “read” mirage to discern wind speeds and wind directions.
Mirage Is Your Friend
While hot days with lots of mirage can be frustrating, mirage can reveal how the wind is flowing (and changing). If you learn how to recognize and read mirage patterns, you can use that information to shoot higher scores. That’s why many leading long-range shooters tell us: “Mirage is your friend.” As the STMTC article explains: “A mirage condition is not a handicap, since it offers a very accurate method of perceiving small wind changes[.]”
Mirage Illustrated with Diagrams
With simple but effective graphic illustrations, this is one of the best explanations of mirage (and mirage reading) we have found on the internet. This is a “must-read” for any serious competitive shooter. Here is a brief sample from the article, along with an illustration. NOTE: the full article is six times longer and has 8 diagrams.
The term “mirage” as used by the shooter does not refer to a true mirage, but to heat waves and the refraction of light as it is bent passing through air layers of different density. Light which passes obliquely from one wind medium to another it undergoes an abrupt change in direction, whenever its velocity in the second medium is different from the velocity in the first wind medium; the shooter will see a “mirage”.
The density of air, and therefore its refraction, varies with its temperature. A condition of cool air overlaying warm air next to the ground is the cause of heat waves or “mirage”. The warm air, having a lower index of refraction, is mixed with the cooler air above by convection, irregularly bending the light transmitting the target image to the shooter’s eye. Figure 1 shows (greatly exaggerated) the vertical displacement of the target image by heat waves.
Heat waves are easily seen with the unaided eye on a hot, bright day and can be seen with spotting scope on all but the coldest days. To observe heat waves, the scope should be focused on a point about midway to the target. This will cause the target to appear slightly out of focus, but since the high power rifle shooter generally does not try to spot bullet holes, the lack in target clarity is more than compensated by clarity of the heat waves.
Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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