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April 1st, 2016

NRA Launches New “MRA” Activities Program for Millennials

Millenials NRA MRA participation trophy

At its upcoming Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, the National Rifle Association (NRA) will launch a new activities program for Millennials — young Americans in their 20s and early 30s. The new MRA (Millennial Rifle Activities) program will include a series of special events for Millennials held throughout the nation. These MRA “gatherings” will be unique among NRA competition disciplines. First, all participants in MRA events will receive a participation badge or trophy for showing up. Second, though shooting at targets will be encouraged, no actual gun-handling is required. Millennial participants can choose to watch instead. Finally, for those who do choose to shoot at MRA events, scoring will optional. Actual scores will be kept confidential, and there will be no published rankings. “At MRA events”, promises an NRA news release, “all participants will be winners.”

Millenials NRA MRA participation trophyThe NRA’s new MRA activities program targets “Millennials” — the young Americans raised on video games and the internet. If you’re not familiar with the term “Millennials”, this refers to Americans born between 1980 and 2000. They represent “the first generation that grew up with the internet and the first to have truly incorporated technology into their daily lives.” READ More.

Scoring Optional at Millennials Matches
Creating a competition program for Millennials has been challenging. With short attention spans, Millennials are easily distracted and they lack motivation to prepare or practice. Very self-absorbed, Millennials were raised on “instant gratification” and see themselves as entitled. These personality traits seem to run contrary to the focus, self-discipline, and mindset required for serious competition. Accordingly, the NRA has taken a whole new approach to MRA matches — scores won’t count and the focus will be on participation. Said one member of the NRA Competition Committee: “These were the kids who got ‘participation trophies’ for playing soccer. We are offering the same kinds of rewards. At our Millennial Matches you’ll be acknowledged just for showing up. Scoring will be optional. The emphasis is not on winning, but on participating.”

Millenials NRA MRA participation trophy

An NRA spokesman told us: “We’ve done a lot of research into the Millennial group. This demographic is very different than older generations. They expect to be rewarded for participation and they don’t want to be judged by objective standards, such as numeric scores. We’ve also learned that they like to do activities on the spur of the moment and without preparation. That’s why actual shooting will be optional at MRA events. We expect that many participants will arrive completely unprepared — without a gun or ammo. But they can still participate, and be acknowledged… and that’s what it’s all about. We want to get more Millennials involved, whether they actually shoot or not.”

NRA Millennials Outreach Follows Success of NRA Programs for Women
The NRA’s outreach programs have enabled the organization to grow its membership base successfully. For example, in recent years the NRA has significantly expanded the ranks of female members. The NRA now offers a wide variety of programs expressly for women, including self-defense training and women’s wilderness retreats. The NRA also maintains a media channel for women, NRAwomen.tv. This broadcast/web channel promotes women’s activities and recognizes top female shooters.

Millenials NRA MRA participation trophy

Millennials Create Unique Challenges for Match Directors
Dennis Santiago is a seasoned match director with decades of experience running NRA matches. He said that finding a formula for the new Millennials Match “gatherings” has been a challenge: “Designing a competitive course of fire for the new MRA Millennials discipline is not as easy as you would think. Millennials have short attention spans and it is difficult to draw them away from their digital devices. You have to come up with range commands that can attract their attention. We are thinking of sending commands via Twitter, or possibly streaming match instructions over Spotify.”

Dennis also noted that a shooting competition with “optional scoring” is something new and different for the NRA. “The concept of recording and reporting scores was hotly debated. Ultimately we decided to make scoring optional. We concluded that mandatory scoring would probably discourage participation by Millennials. To a generation that has been rewarded for simply showing up, we wanted to create a ‘safe space’ and a non-threatening environment for this new class of competitor.”

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March 11th, 2016

Thrown (Volume) Charges vs. Weighed Charges — What is Better?

Lee Auto-Disk Chargemaster weight vs. Volume

When we first ran this story a year ago, it spurred a hot debate, with strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Some guys argued vehemently that volumetric powder dispensing was best — citing the experience of short-range benchresters, most of whom still throw their charges. Others say weighing your charges is best, so long as you have a very precise, and very repeatable scale. We know some of the top 1000-yard shooters weigh their charges to the kernel.

Lee Auto-Disk Chargemaster weight vs. VolumeThe Great Debate: Volume vs. Weight
Most competitive long-range shooters weigh powder charges for their handloads. Some even use ultra-precise magnetic force restoration scales to load to single-kernel tolerances. But is weight-based measuring always the best way to fill a case with powder? Another option is volumetric charging. This method fills a precisely-sized cavity with powder and then dumps the charge into the case. A Harrell’s rotary powder measure works this way, as does the sliding powder filler on a Dillon progressive press.

Lower ES/SD with Precise Weighing
For long-range applications, most people believe that precise weighing of powder charges is the best way to achieve optimal accuracy and low ES/SD. Our testers have definitely seen ES/SD go down when we started weighing charges with a lab-grade force restoration scale. However, those short-range Benchrest guys still do pretty darn well with their thrown charges, at least at 100 and 200 yards.

Our friend Dennis Santiago recently observed something that made him scratch his head and wonder about weighing charges. His AR-15 match rifle shot better with volumetric (cavity-measured) charges than with weighed charges dispensed by an RCBS ChargeMaster. Here’s what he reports:

Cavity vs. Dribble (Dennis Santiago Report)
I had the chance to compare nominally identical ammunition loaded two ways. These were all .223 Remington match loads using 77gr Sierra Match Kings over 23.4 grains of Hodgdon Varget. Same gun. However I loaded some ammo with charges dispensed with a Lee cavity-style powder measure while other rounds were loaded with powder weighed/dispensed by an RCBS Chargemaster. The cavity-drop ammo (with powder dropped from the Lee unit) was consistently better than the weighed-charge ammo. I have no idea why…

So, ladies and gentlemen — what do you think? Why did Mr. Santiago’s volumetrically-charged ammo shoot better than ammo filled with weighed charges? What’s your theory? Gary Eliseo suspects that Dennis’s Chargemaster might have been drifting. What do you think? Post your theories in the comments area below.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 25 Comments »
October 13th, 2015

View from the Pits at CMP Western Games

Ben Avery CMP Western Games Video SAFS Dennis Santiago target frames

Our friend Dennis Santiago was doing pits duty during the Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) phase of the CMP Western Games. Here are some views from the pits at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, Arizona. Dennis also took a video from the pits during live fire. Listen to rounds zip over-head and impact into the berm beyond the targets, in the video below.

Watch Video with rounds flying over the pit zone:

Dennis reports: “Here’s a slice of life at the receiving end of live fire. This is a rapid fire stage as seen from the target pits at the 2015 CMP Western Games. The targets are placed up in the air. The bullets go through them over the heads of competitors protected behind an earth berm. The bullets land in a designated impact area (berm) beyond the target frames.”

Ben Avery CMP Western Games Video SAFS Dennis Santiago target frames

At the CMP Western Games, participants shoot, score and do pit service. The pit workers are positioned on a catwalk behind a concrete wall. There is a thick, earth-works berm on the other side.

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October 9th, 2015

Rimfire Sporter — Fun Way to Start Competitive Shooting

BRRC Rimfire Sporter CMP match

Readers often ask us: “Is there an inexpensive way I can get started in position shooting?” The answer is “yes” — across the country CMP-affiliated clubs host Rimfire Sporter matches. You can use a wide variety of .22LR rimfire rifles — manual actions (such as a Winchester model 52) or semi-automatics (such as a Ruger 10/22). There are prone, sitting/kneeling, and standing stages. CMP rules provide separate classifications for scoped rifles, open-sighted rifles, and aperature-sighted rifles. The matches are fun, the ammo is inexpensive, and everyone has a good time while improving their marksmanship.

BRRC Rimfire Sporter CMP matchOur friend Dennis Santiago recently helped run a CMP Rimfire Sporter Match in Southern California. Dennis reports: “You want something challenging? Well that X-Ring 50 yards away is the diameter of a 50 cent piece, and there are people out there that can womp that thing with iron sights.”

The rapid-fire sitting or kneeling stage of a CMP-sanctioned .22 Sporter Match consists of two, 5-shot strings. A manually-operated or semi-automatic rifle may be used for this match. Below is a video Dennis made that shows a sitting/kneeling rapid fire stage.

Dennis notes: “There are six (6) stages of fire on a tough little target. Notice the rifles that can be used run the gamut from pump and bolt actions to variations on the semi-auto theme. All still require a good eye and a steady hold to earn one’s bragging rights for the day. A match takes about an hour and a half per relay. The slowest part of the match is initial sighting in. It’ll take longer than the allocated 5 minutes for the typical first timer coming to a club match.”

BRRC Rimfire Sporter CMP match

At Dennis’s Burbank Rifle & Revolver Club (BRRC), procedures are modified a little bit: “What we typically do at BRRC is run two relays. Experienced competitors shoot per the full rulebook. New shooters are afforded a bit more relaxed environment to make the experience more fun and inviting. We do the same thing in our M-1 Garand Clinic/Match series.”

Rimfire Sporter Match Basics
The CMP Rimfire Sporter Rifle Match is an inexpensive, fun-oriented competition using .22 caliber sporter rifles (plinking and small game rifles) commonly owned by most gun enthusiasts. To compete, all you need is a basic rifle, safety gear, and ammunition. No fancy, high-dollar rifles are required.

Rimfire Sporter Guide ShootingThe event is shot with standard sporter-type, rimfire rifles weighing no more than 7 ½ lbs, with sights and sling. Rifles may be manually-operated or semi-automatic. Shooters with manually-operated actions are given extra time in the rapid-fire stage to compensate for the difference. (See Video).

There are three classes of competition — the standard “O Class” for open-sighted rifles, “T-Class” for telescope-sighted and rear aperture-sighted rifles and “Tactical Rimfire” class, which is a .22 caliber A4 or AR15 style rifle. Firing for all classes is done at 50 and 25 yards on a target with a 1.78″ ten-ring and an 18″ outer one-ring. Even new shooters can get hits on this target, but it’s still tough enough that no one yet has fired a perfect 600×600 score.

The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) has a CMP Guide to Rimfire Sporter Shooting. This FREE, 50-page digital publication covers equipment, positions, course of fire, rules, scoring and much more. You’ll find helpful “how-to” sections on aiming, sight picture, hold control, and trigger control. Reading these instructional sections can benefit any prone or three-position competitive shooter.

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 2 Comments »
September 8th, 2015

Tuesday Tumble — How to Make Lake City Brass Shine Again

Dennis Santiago Lake City Gracey Trimmer Case Prep Military Crimp Wilson

“Once-fired, lot-number-traceable Lake City 7.62×51. This has been de-primed, pocket-swaged, small base body die’d, full-length sized, trimmed with a Gracey Trimmer, and tumbled. Now it’s shiny again. It’s like gourmet macaroni for shooters!” — Dennis Santiago

Our friend Dennis Santiago shoots a variety of disciplines, including Vintage Military Rifle. He burns through a lot of brass, some of it run through gas guns, so he often saves money by acquiring once-fired Lake City Arsenal brass. But that stuff is often pretty ugly when it arrives. For his “previously-owned” Lake City Brass, Dennis does a complete case prep operation and a thorough cleaning/tumbling operation. Special attention is paid to the primer pockets — they are swaged to remove the military crimp. The cases are trimmed and chamfered in one operation using a Gracey Powered Case Trimmer.

Dennis likes once-fired Lake City brass for some applications. The price is right, and with proper attention to detail during case prep, Lake City brass can shoot exceptionally well indeed. You may want to sort Lake City brass by weight. To remove the military crimp you have a variety of options — you can swage it out with a special tool like Dennis does, or you can ream out the crimp. For Wilson trimmer owners, Wilson makes a special Primer Pocket Reamer to remove military crimps. It works very well, as shown below:

Military crimp primer pocket reamer salazarMilitary crimp primer pocket reamer salazar

Case Processing with the Gracey Trimmer
Designed by Doyle Gracey 30 years ago, the Gracey machine trims, deburs and chamfers in one operation, indexing off the case shoulder. The manufacturer claims the Gracey will process 20 cases per minute while holding .002″ tolerances on trim length. Two steel cutters are employed — one cutter trims the case to length and puts a chamfer on the inside of the case mouth. The second cutter removes the burr from the outside of the case-mouth. A 1/15 hp motor turns 1550 rpm. Interestingly, a clamped rubber hose serves as the “drive shaft” to turn the cutting head.

Dennis Santiago Lake City Gracey Trimmer Case Prep Military Crimp Wilson

Trey Tuggle, writing in Shooting Sports USA, reviewed the Gracey Trimmer, giving it generally high marks, though it lacks some of the refinements of the more modern Giraud Trimmer:

“This model may have a piece of wood for a base, no on-off swith and a piece of bent sheet metial to contain brass shavings — but it does trim, debur and chamfer with great speed and accuracy at a nice price. The [Gracey] two-bladed cutter requires a little more patience to adjust than the one-piece cutter on the Giraud, but it gets the job done superbly. [The Gracey] does the job for less money, if you’re willing to tinker with the cutter blade adjustment.” Gracey machines are still available new from MatchPrep.com for $335.00 (or $235.00 without motor).

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
July 12th, 2015

Want a Challenge? Try the CMP’s Four Gun Aggregate

CMP 4-Gun As-Issued Santiago

by Dennis Santiago
Tricked-out match guns are fun but, if you want to prove that you’ve got an eagle eye and steady hands, a true test of skill is the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s As-Issued Four Gun Aggregate.

CMP 4-Gun As-Issued SantiagoThe Four Gun Aggregate encompasses a series of CMP John C. Garand 30-shot matches (200-yard As-Issued Military Rifle Match Course A) on NRA SR targets at one of the CMP Regional Games or the Nationals officiated by the CMP. These are the only places you can earn the coveted neck-ribbon CMP achievement medals.

You will need four as-issued rifles. The first is the M-1 Garand. (The course of fire is named after this rifle’s inventor.) This remarkable battle rifle will test your prowess at slow prone, rapid prone, and offhand. The match winner will put almost all bullets into a saucer.

You do get to hear that classic “ping” when the en bloc clip ejects with this gun. It’s a good idea to write your firing point number on your hand for each match because you will move around over the course of the tournament.

Next comes the hyper-accurate 1903 Springfield. You can use either the WW I M1903 or the later WW II M1903A3 model with peep sights. A Springfield will typically shoot groups half the size of a Garand with the same ammunition. Think potential in terms of tea cups instead of saucers.

(more…)

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April 9th, 2015

Die Selection and Reloading for Reliability in AR10s

By Dennis Santiago
Dennis Santiago AR10 diesCompetition teaches you things. Compared to loading for benchrest bolt guns, producing ultra-reliable and accurate ammo for tight-chambered, semi-auto .308 target rifles requires a different approach to case prep. Smoothness of operation is much more important in a field course gun. Reliability trumps everything (even case life) for these types of guns.

In the photo below, there’s a Redding small base body die for bumping the shoulder and making sure the case body is at SAAMI minimum. This body die is not just nice to have. It is vital. There are also a full-length sizing die and a Lee Collet neck-sizer in that turret holder. One or the other gets used after the body size die depending on what rifle the ammo will be used in. The semi-auto rounds always go through the full-length sizing die. After that comes trimming and finally cleaning — then loading can begin. The cases are trimmed using a Gracey trimmer so everything’s the same each and every time. I use an RCBS Competition Seater Die to seat the bullets. One nice feature of this RCBS die is the open side slot that allows you to place bullets easily.

Dennis Santiago AR10 dies

It’s a long path methodology but uniformity is accuracy. More important for safety, controlling “stack-up” errors in the system solution is how one achieves reliability. The chamber-hugging philosophies of benchrest bolt guns do not apply well to AR-10s. Like most things, the right answer is context-dependent. Success is about accepting and adapting.

Dennis Santiago AR10 dies

Dennis Talks About Using a Semi-Auto in Tactical Competitions
I have succumbed to the Dark Side — deciding to put an AR-10 together. For tactical competitions you want a bolt gun most of the time but there are times the course of fire favors the use of a semi-auto. I was using an M1A that gives me 0.75 MOA performance but I heard people were getting almost bolt-gun-level, half-MOA accuracy out of their AR-10s — so I wanted to see if that was really achievable. A quarter-MOA difference in accuracy potential may seem tiny in practical terms but it will make a difference in competition. In a match, the difference between 3/4-MOA and 1/2-MOA can alter your hit probability on a small target by 20-30%.

The AR platform also lets you tinker with triggers, stock ergonomics and muzzle brakes that help in managing the dynamics of a long distance shot better. Well I found out you can get the incremental accuracy but there’s more work to do to get the same reliability. Being a curious sort, it’s worth it to me to explore it. It’s a far cry from as-issued M-1 shooting with whatever HXP is handy. This is definitely swimming in the deep end of the pool.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 7 Comments »
October 31st, 2014

CMP Offers High-Quality .30-06 Ammo from Creedmoor Sports

NEW PRODUCT REPORT by Dennis Santiago
At the recent Western CMP Games and Creedmoor Cup Matches in Phoenix, I received a box of the all-new .30-06 Match-Grade ammunition from Dennis DeMille of Creedmoor Sports. My job was to test the ammo (at the Games) and write about it. This box was part of Creedmoor’s 3-million-round production run for the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). CLICK HERE for Ammo Sales.

Author Dennis Santiago (right) with Dennis Demille of Creedmoor Sports (left).
Creedmoor .30-06 ammo

The new .30-06 “Match-Grade” ammunition from Creedmoor is impressive. This ammo is made from top-quality components: brand new Lapua .30-06 brass and 167gr Lapua Scenar bullets. The ammo, optimized for 200-yard CMP Games tournaments, runs at 2720 fps. DeMille says the Standard Deviation (SD) is very tight with this ammo — comparable with precision hand loads. The low SD reflects great attention to detail in ammo assembly. Creedmoor’s industrial loader is run at half-speed to improve consistency. Charges are thrown precisely — I believe in two (2) half-charges.

Creedmoor .30-06 ammo

When you hold the ammunition up to the light, each round appears a perfect clone of each other round — something that cannot be said for some other factory ammo (even so-called “match ammo”). This is about a close as one is likely to get to a precision hand load. The good news is that Creedmoor plans to produce similar ammunition in other chamberings.

The economics of the ammunition are equally intriguing. This ammo is being sold by the CMP for $1.30 per round. Think about that — new .30-06 Lapua brass sells for around $100.00 per hundred cases. So, you get to fire a precision match round for about 30 cents and have premier once-fired brass for future use. The price per rounds tells me that CMP isn’t making money on this — it is being sold at near cost to promote marksmanship.

Great Ammo at a Great Price
In offering this new .30-06 ammo at an affordable price, the CMP is making it possible for non-reloading competitors to have the same quality of ammunition as those who handload with premium components. This will be a major improvement for shooters of m1903s and M1 Garands. I think this ammo can be real equalizer for those who do not currently hand-load their own .30-06 ammunition. The CMP and Creedmoor Sports are to be commended for collaborating on this game-changing product introduction.

Where to get the Creedmoor Sports CMP .30-06 Ammo
The CMP is now selling the Creedmoor-produced .30-06 ammo on the CMP website, item #4C3006CS167-100 (click the “e-Store” button to launch shopping cart). The retail price is $130.00 per 100-round case (i.e. two boxes). That works out to $1.30 per round.*

Creedmoor .30-06 ammo

.30-06 Ammo Performance
When someone hands you a box of ammo with a challenge how can you not throw all your match plans out the door and play? I was planning to fire the CMP GSM match with my M-1 Garand the next day using 150gr SMK handloads but I said, “What the heck. Let’s go for it.” You get five sighters in a GSM match which is plenty to zero with new ammo.

The ammo is optimized for shooting 200-yd CMP matches with rifles like my as-issued DCM M-1 Garand.
Creedmoor .30-06 ammo

I shoot the M-1 Garand matches with a rebuilt 5-digit receiver gun with a 1950s barrel refurbished at Anniston Armory that I got from the DCM back in the day when the postman delivered them. It shoots true and has garnered its share of Western Games trinkets over the years including a number of golds and one of those coveted M-1 EIC 4 points medals. It’s a good platform for the test. Sighters revealed the Creedmoor ammo shoots about two minutes higher impact versus my pet load. The tale of the tape said 96-2X slow prone, 93-1X rapid prone and 81-1X offhand totaling 270-4X. The DCM machine took home a bronze in 2014.

Accuracy and Consistency
This Creedmoor ammo is indeed amazingly consistent. The slow prone stage was a pure joy to shoot. This ammunition is “brutally honest”. It will reveal every little error you make be it defocusing on your front sight drenching in sweat under the Phoenix sun, not being fast enough to reset your NPA mid-string in your rapid as the big gun moves you around or just being jittery on your feet during the back half of your offhand. With this ammo I felt confident to trust that any error was mine after each shot. There was no wondering about the ammo. I knew its feedback was accurate. That is a huge thing to be that confident in one’s gun and ammunition. I never felt that confident with HXP or even my handloads. If anything, I now know that even my ammo for the M1 Garand and M1903A3 will benefit from the same careful case preparation and assembly as my tactical rifle or long range ammo.


*At the Western CMP Games this Creedmoor .30-06 ammo was sold at a discounted price of $1.15 per round. That’s an example of the great deals one can get by attending CMP competitions.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product No Comments »
October 30th, 2014

CMP Rimfire Sporter Matches — High Fun Factor, Low Cost

Readers often ask us: “Is there an inexpensive way I can get started in position shooting?” The answer is “yes” — across the country CMP-affiliated clubs host Rimfire Sporter matches. You can use a wide variety of .22LR rimfire rifles — manual actions (such as a Winchester model 52) or semi-automatics (such as a Ruger 10/22). There are prone, sitting/kneeling, and standing stages. CMP rules provide separate classifications for scoped rifles, open-sighted rifles, and aperature-sighted rifles. The matches are fun, the ammo is inexpensive, and everyone has a good time while improving their marksmanship.

BRRC Rimfire Sporter CMP match

BRRC Rimfire Sporter CMP matchOur friend Dennis Santiago recently helped run a CMP Rimfire Sporter Match in Southern California. Dennis reports: “You want something challenging? Well that X-Ring 50 yards away is the diameter of a 50 cent piece, and there are people out there that can womp that thing with iron sights.”

The rapid-fire sitting or kneeling stage of a CMP-sanctioned .22 Sporter Match consists of two, 5-shot strings. A manually-operated or semi-automatic rifle may be used for this match. Below is a video Dennis made that shows a sitting/kneeling rapid fire stage.

Dennis notes: “There are six (6) stages of fire on a tough little target. Notice the rifles that can be used run the gamut from pump and bolt actions to variations on the semi-auto theme. All still require a good eye and a steady hold to earn one’s bragging rights for the day. A match takes about an hour and a half per relay. The slowest part of the match is initial sighting in. It’ll take longer than the allocated 5 minutes for the typical first timer coming to a club match.”

BRRC Rimfire Sporter CMP match

At Dennis’s Burbank Rifle & Revolver Club (BRRC), procedures are modified a little bit: “What we typically do at BRRC is run two relays. Experienced competitors shoot per the full rulebook. New shooters are afforded a bit more relaxed environment to make the experience more fun and inviting. We do the same thing in our M-1 Garand Clinic/Match series.”

Rimfire Sporter Match Basics
The CMP Rimfire Sporter Rifle Match is an inexpensive, fun-oriented competition using .22 caliber sporter rifles (plinking and small game rifles) commonly owned by most gun enthusiasts. To compete, all you need is a basic rifle, safety gear, and ammunition. No fancy, high-dollar rifles are required.

Rimfire Sporter Guide ShootingThe event is shot with standard sporter-type, rimfire rifles weighing no more than 7 ½ lbs, with sights and sling. Rifles may be manually-operated or semi-automatic. Shooters with manually-operated actions are given extra time in the rapid-fire stage to compensate for the difference. (See Video).

There are three classes of competition — the standard “O Class” for open-sighted rifles, “T-Class” for telescope-sighted and rear aperture-sighted rifles and “Tactical Rimfire” class, which is a .22 caliber A4 or AR15 style rifle. Firing for all classes is done at 50 and 25 yards on a target with a 1.78″ ten-ring and an 18″ outer one-ring. Even new shooters can get hits on this target, but it’s still tough enough that no one yet has fired a perfect 600×600 score.

The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) has a CMP Guide to Rimfire Sporter Shooting. This FREE, 50-page digital publication covers equipment, positions, course of fire, rules, scoring and much more. You’ll find helpful “how-to” sections on aiming, sight picture, hold control, and trigger control. Reading these instructional sections can benefit any prone or three-position competitive shooter.

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 2 Comments »
May 29th, 2014

Santiago Does the ‘Mad Minute’ with Authentic Lee-Enfield

Our friend Dennis Santiago recently recreated the “Mad Minute”, a marksmanship drill practiced by the British Army in the decades preceding World War I. Dennis, an active high power rifle competitor and instructor, enjoyed his “Mad Minute” exercise, though he assures us that this takes practice to perfect. Dennis tells us: “Here is a ‘Mad Minute’ drill, done using a period correct Lee-Enfield (SMLE) No.1 Mk III rifle and Mk VII ammo. I got to the Queen’s Regulations (15 hits in one minute) on the second run and put a good group on the target at 200 yards. This is ‘jolly good fun’ to do every once in a while. This is ‘living history’ — experiencing a skill from a time when the sun never set on the British Empire.”

Dennis Does the Mad Minute

Lee Enfield Mad Minute Mark IV
British Lee-Enfield Model SHT’22/IV Rifle, courtesy www.iCollector.com.

Lee Enfield Mad Minute Mark IVLee-Enfield No. 4 Rifle (1943), courtesy Arundel Militaria.

“Mad Minute” was a pre-World War I term used by British Army riflemen during training at the Hythe School of Musketry to describe scoring a minimum of 15 hits onto a 12″ round target at 300 yards within one minute using a bolt-action rifle (usually a Lee-Enfield or Lee-Metford rifle). It was not uncommon during the First World War for riflemen to greatly exceed this score. The record, set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall, was 38 hits. (From WikiPedia.)

Want to See More “Mad Minute” Action with a Modern Tubegun?
In 2012, Gary Eliseo ran a “Mad Minute” exercise using a modern, .308 Win Eliseo RTM Tubegun of his own making. Gary ended up with 24 hits on a bull target set at 300 yards. (Gary actually had 25 hits in 25 rounds fired, but the last round hit just after the 60-second time period expired.) Note how Gary pulls the trigger with the middle finger of his right hand. This allows him to work the bolt faster, using his thumb and index finger. CLICK HERE for Eliseo Tubegun Mad Minute story.

Watch Gary Elesio Shoot the ‘Mad Minute’ (Starts at 4:47 on Video)

NOTE: In an interesting coincidence, Dennis Santiago was actually in the pits pulling targets for Gary during Eliseo’s 2012 “Mad Minute” exercise.

History of the Mad Minute
Commentary by Laurie Holland
The original military requirement of the “Mad Minute” saw the soldier ready to fire with a round in the chamber, nine in the magazine, safety on. This course of fire is still followed by the GB Historic Breechloading Arms Association and other bodies in their recreated “Mad Minute” competitions.

The first 10 would go quickly, but reloads were critical, this not done by a magazine change as Gary did with the RTM or in a modern tactical or semi-auto rifle, but through slick use of ‘chargers’. It is this aspect which fouls so many of my colleagues up as it is very easy to cause a jam and a large part of 60 seconds can go in sorting it out!

Charger clips were selected for those that just held the rounds firmly enough to stop then falling out, were sand-papered and polished with a stove / fireplace polish called ‘Zebrite’ so that the rimmed rounds would slip through the clips like corn through a goose.

lee enfield 1916 rifle

If you’re unfamiliar with the cock-on-closing Enfield action, it seems clumsy. With intensive practice it is very smooth and can be operated incredibly quickly. The trick is to whip the bolt back onto its stop and initiate a rebound movement that takes it and the cartridge well into the chamber thereby reducing the effort required to close the bolt and chamber the round.

Permalink - Videos, Shooting Skills 17 Comments »
January 30th, 2014

Reptilian Bling for Santiago’s New .284 Win Prone Rifle

Santiago Tubegun Eliseo R1 Snakeskin Hydro-dip

Santiago Tubegun Eliseo R1 Snakeskin Hydro-dipA 7mm Snake for Santiago
Our friend Dennis Santiago has a new reptile in his arsenal. It’s actually an Eliseo R1 single-shot tubegun chambered in .284 Winchester. The eye-catching aspect of Santiago’s new toy is the snakeskin dip job on the exterior. This really creates a distinctive look. Dennis tells us: “It was Gary Eliseo’s idea to try a water-transfer printing finish for this rifle. There are many patterns to choose from — this is the WTP-260 Snakeskin Illusion-Fall Copper from WaterTransferPrinting.com. For a single shot LR gun, I figured something on the bright side would be interesting and pick up less heat from the sun in the summer.”

Dennis will use his new rifle in prone and tactical matches. He says: “I can’t wait to start breaking it in. Underneath the hood, it’s a Rem 700 Long Action, chambered in .284 Win. Yes it’s a single shot! I don’t need anything else for a prone gun. Nothing to get in the way of building the perfect position.”

Santiago Tubegun Eliseo R1 Snakeskin Hydro-dip

Dennis says: “Length of pull, offset and cast initially set the same as my similar RTS .308. My gun, my body dimensions.”
Santiago Tubegun Eliseo R1 Snakeskin Hydro-dip

A FFP Sightron Rides on Top
The optic is a Sightron 6-24x50mm, FFP MOA-2. Dennis reports: “I looked at many scopes (within my determined price range), and this is the one that had the best combination of features for for this gun’s particular application. The sight line sits about 3 inches above bore line on these guns. It’s been leveled, bore-sighted and pre-dialed for a 200-yard estimated zero for the ammo I plan to use during break-in. If I did everything right, the first round will be on paper — theoretically. Those are Gen II A.R.M.S. rings. Super easy to tailor to different rail widths. Same rock-steady steel performance.”

Santiago Tubegun Eliseo R1 Snakeskin Hydro-dip

Santiago Tubegun Eliseo R1 Snakeskin Hydro-dip

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