August 9th, 2018

Become a CMP Master Rifle Instructor

CMP Master instructor clinic workshop training Camp Perry Talladega Marksmanship
Photo Courtesy Garand Collectors Association, TheGCA.org.

We all enjoy shooting rifles, but it’s also fulfilling to share your knowledge as a mentor. Serving as a rifle instructor can be very rewarding. Now the CMP offers a program to certify Master Instructors for the CMP’s most popular rifle programs — Vintage Military and Rimfire Sporter.

CMP Master Instructor Training Workshops

As a CMP Instructor you can help novices learn to safely shoot the M1 Garand, M1903 Springfield, and other vintage military rifles. You can also help with the very popular Rimfire Sporter program. Later this year, the CMP is offering an excellent program to help train new Master Instructors.

Experienced rifle marksmanship instructors and shooters who wish to receive advanced training and be certified as “Master Instructors” to teach CMP-sanctioned Clinics are invited to apply to attend a CMP Master Instructor Training Workshop. These workshops will train instructors to conduct Garand, Springfield, and Vintage Military Rifle Clinics and/or Rimfire Sporter Clinics. There will be two (2) instructor training workshops this year, one at Camp Perry in October and the second in Talladega in December. Dates and locations are:

Camp Perry, Ohio: Oct. 6-7, 2018 | Talladega Park, Alabama: Dec. 4, 2018

For more information or to register, visit http://thecmp.org/training-tech/gsm-rifle-master-clinics/ or contact Kim Filipiak at kfilipiak@thecmp.org, 419-635-2141 ext 706.

M1903 Springfield shooter at Camp Perry. From GarandThumbBlog’s 2015 CMP Games Video.
CMP Master instructor clinic workshop training Camp Perry Talladega Marksmanship

CMP Master Instructor Class — In the Beginning
Our friend Dennis Santiago has been a CMP instructor for many years. He reports this has been a great experience and the CMP is a great organization. Dennis earned his “teaching credentials” at the first-ever GSM (Garand/Springfield/Vintage Military) Master Instructor Class.

CMP GSM Dennis Santiogo Master Instructor
CMP Director Gary Anderson is top row far left, with Dennis in front row center.

My Decade as a CMP Master Instructor by Dennis Santiago
I was in the first GSM Master Instructor class. It was taught at Camp Pendleton (CA) in November 2006 as part of the CMP Western Games. It was a three-day class by then-head of the Civilian Marksmanship Program, Gary Anderson.

Master InstructorWe were the guinea pigs for an experiment. Our mission would be to take what we learned back to our clubs and create programs to teach the sport of High Power riflery to Americans, most of whom, were unfamiliar with shooting, let alone the details of serious competition. It was one of the most rewarding shared experiences of my life and it began a 10-year journey that helped build my love for the sport.

Gary spent lots of time not only teaching his prepared material but working with us on feedback about how to improve the curriculum. I took what I learned back to the Burbank Rifle and Revolver Club (BRRC) and, working with Wayne Fenner (left in photo), my friend and fellow sponsor of the California Grizzlies Junior Rifle Team, adapted BRRC’s training match program to the CMP’s approach.

Over the course of almost a decade, I taught a battalion of Americans from every walk of life and every political and ethnic background how to operate and compete with the U.S. Rifle M-1 Garand. It defined one weekend of every month of my life. We experimented with every CMP match format that came out, often discussing concepts with Gary and the CMP team.

Many of the students I taught went on to become accomplished competitors in their own right. I’ve watched them win medals, major tournaments, become distinguished riflemen. Some set national records. One made it to the Olympic Trials. The true reward was to hear from all of them again and again over the years. I’m from the old school that says you pass on what you have learned because you pay forward in gratitude to those who taught you. And so it was the decade I was BRRC’s GSM Master Instructor of record.

If you want to make a difference to the growth of our sport, consider taking the time to become a GSM Master Instructor. Teach another battalion of Americans what it means to be the caretakers of our heritage from behind every blade of grass.

DCM Emeritus Gary Anderson Teaches Clinic at Camp Perry, Ohio:
CMP Master instructor clinic workshop training Camp Perry Talladega Marksmanship

CMP 1903 springfield
Here a Springfield M1903 shooter (in period-authentic uniform) competes in CMP Legacy Match.

Permalink Competition, News, Shooting Skills No Comments »
June 9th, 2016

Using a 50-Yard Sighting Target with Vintage Military Rifles

Garand sighting 50 yard target

Take a look at that unusual target below. We bet you’ve never seen one of these before. It’s a 50-Yard Sighting Target for the M1 Garand. It’s designed to allow a rifleman to confirm his zeros for multiple yardages all the way out to 1000 yards. But importantly, he can establish those zeros at a very “short” shooting facility, since the target is positioned at a mere 50 yards.

Garand sighting 50 yard target

Here’s how it works. The target is placed at fifty (50) yards. You start at the bottom, aiming at the black circle. Then check your come-up table and work your way up, clicking step-by-step to the various horizontal lines set for 200, 300, 500, 600 and 1000 yards. This is NOT “spray and pray” — you need to have a pretty good idea of the clicks you need, based on your ammo’s ballistics. This target is calibrated for the U.S. Military M72 Ball Ammo. The targets are available from Champion’s Choice ($0.75 each) or from Creedmoor Sports (12 for $5.95).

Lapua’s Kevin Thomas used this target to get zeroed for the recent D-Day Anniversary Match at the Talladega Marksmanship Park. Kevin used the target for both his M1 Garand as well as his M1903A1 Springfield, both chambered for the .30-06 Springfield cartridge.

Garand sighting 50 yard target

Zeroing at a Short Distance — How to Use the 50-Yard Sighting Target, by Kevin Thomas
As part of my preparation for the Garand Match at the CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park, I needed to zero my new M1 Garand, but I was crunched for time. I didn’t have time to get to my normal range and confirm zeros at actual yardages. But a 50-yard zero target came to the rescue. Made for M1s using the M72 National Match ammo, the target allows the shooter to establish fairly good zeros at 200, 300, 500, 600 and 1,000 yards if you’ve got access to a 50-yard range.

I have no idea when these 50-yard Sighting Targets were first developed, but they’ve been around for at least as long as I’ve been involved in this game (longer than I care to admit). It consists of a tall target, with a smallish black bullseye located at the bottom center. The bullseye is an aiming point only. Extending through the top of the target is a vertical line that runs directly up the center, to nearly the top of the paper. Across this, there are intersecting horizontal lines that are marked 200, 300, 500, 600 and 1,000.

The target was designed for the M1 rifle using then-issued M72 National Match ammunition. This ammo launched a 173gr FMJBT bullet at approximately 2,640 fps. It was a good load in its day, supersonic out to the 1,000-yard line. While that ammo is fairly scarce these days, this isn’t a problem for the handloader. My standard match load for the M1 Garand utilizes the 175gr Lapua Scenar HPBT, and delivers remarkably similar ballistic performance. Thus my normal Garand load translates nicely to this 50-yard target. Yes, this is by design. No point in reinventing the wheel when Lake City has already established what works!

Garand sighting 50 yard target

In use, the shooter sets the target up at a measured 50 yards, and (this is critical) checks the vertical line with a plumb bob or a carpenter’s level, to ensure that it is absolutely vertical. Once the target is set, the rifle is fired and the group noted. From there, it is a simple matter of zeroing it normally to bring the groups into alignment with the vertical line, at the elevation needed for a particular range. Once your group is hammering the intersection of the vertical line and the horizontal line marked “200”, you have established your 200-yard zero for that rifle. Record the number of clicks, and you’re good to go. Raise the impacts up to coincide with the line marked “300” and you now have a 300-yard zero as well. And so on, right up the target. Record those settings in your data book, and you’re ready to go to the range at the full distances. If done carefully, you may be in the X-Ring, but at the very least, you’ll be well-centered and ready to get some hard dope recorded for future shoots.

The same target can also be used with an M14/M1A, at least at the shorter distances. The ballistics of the M118 and the current M118LR are similar enough that this will get you on target at the full distances, probably requiring just a half MOA or so change from the 50 yard zero you recorded. Same bullets, moving at a slightly more sedate 2,550 fps, you’ll be in the ballpark at least.

Bryan Litz has recently popularized the short-range zeroing methods once again, reintroducing it to a new generation of shooters that may not have been aware of the old M72 short-range zero target. The same principles apply, and with the advent of the myriad computer ballistics programs and chronographs on the market today, any shooter can rapidly develop his own zero targets to accomplish the same result. But in the meantime, especially with the M1’s resurgent popularity, it’s nice to know that there’s an easy way to do things without a trip to a full-length range. The modestly-priced 50-Yard Sighting Targets can be ordered through Champion’s Choice or Creedmoor Sports.

Oh, and when I arrived in Talladega, yes, my zeros were good! All’s well that ends well. Safe Shooting! — Kevin Thomas

Permalink Competition, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
July 15th, 2015

Vintage Sniper Rifle Match July 17th at Camp Perry

Vintage Sniper Rifle Match

This Friday, July 17th, the CMP hosts the Vintage Sniper Rifle Match at Camp Perry. One of the most popular vintage rifle matches held each summer at Perry, this is a two-man team competition using scoped rifles of WWI and WWII Vintage. Many competitors use some version of the M1903 Springfield, but you’ll also see scoped M1 Garands, K31s, Mausers, and even a Lee-Enfield or two.

Vintage Sniper Rifle Match

Two-person teams will fire 10 rounds in 20-second intervals from scoped vintage military rifles set on sand bags. One team marksman shoots from the prone position at 300 and 600 yards, while the other serves as a spotter to relay shot position. Marksman and spotter switch positions on the firing lines, allowing each teammate to play both roles. Scores are then combined for an Aggregate team total.

Two M1 Garands, fitted with scopes and lace-on cheekpads.
Vintage sniper rifle team match camp perry

Who can identify this rifle, with its unusual scope mount?
Vintage sniper rifle team match camp perry

Our friends at Criterion Barrels have written an interesting article about last year’s Vintage Sniper Rifle Match. It you want an “insider’s perspective” on the 2014 Match, plus Vintage Sniper gunsmithing tips, read this article. Here are some highlights:

About the Match and the Rifles
The Vintage Sniper Match was the brainchild of Hornady’s Dave Emary. The competition was inspired by his father, a World War II scout sniper, who carried a rifle similar to the 1903A4 rifle builds that can be found today on the Camp Perry firing line. Bob Schanen worked alongside Dave and the CMP staff in establishing the various competition rules prior to the first official Vintage Sniper Match in 2011. The match developers made a point to offer some level of flexibility in rifle configuration, allowing specific types of non-issue optics and rifle rebuilds. This helped make the match more inclusive.

Hornady’s Dave Emary and “Gunny” R. Lee Ermey (right):
AccurateShooter.com CMP Vintage Sniper Rifle Match

Bob Shanen has two vintage sniper competition rifles. Both builds are based off of the USMC Model 1941 sniper rifle, a design similar to the M1903A1 National Match rifle. Bob’s rifles both carry 8x Lyman Junior Target Spotter scopes with a thin crosshair reticle. Bob attributes a large part of his rifle’s accuracy to the Criterion M1903 match-grade barrels installed on each rifle by Rick Humphreys, a Milwaukee area gunsmith. These tack-driving barrels are capable of half-MOA accuracy.

Camp Perry — The Venue
The hallowed grounds of Camp Perry have hosted some of the nation’s finest shooters each summer for more than a century. Some of the world’s greatest marksmen have accomplished remarkable feats on the ranges of this lakeside military outpost. Located on the coast of Lake Erie, Camp Perry is positioned just outside of the scenic town of Port Clinton, Ohio. It is our firm belief that every shooter should make the pilgrimage to the Camp Perry at least once in their lifetime. If not participating in an event, visitors should at least make an attempt to meet the competitors, witness the wide selection of firearms used by participants, and pay a visit to the various vendors on base.

Photos from Garand Thumb Blog and NRA Blog.

Permalink Competition, News 2 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 3rd, 2012

How Hodgdon Powder Co. Started — With a Life Insurance Loan

Here’s an interesting factoid from Hodgdon Powder’s new Facebook Page:

Bruce Hodgdon

The story of Hodgdon Powders begins with one number: 4895. Founder Bruce Hodgdon, a handloader and U.S. Navy veteran, knew that after WWI tons of surplus powder were dumped at sea. After WWII, rather than let it all go to waste, Bruce borrowed against his life insurance and bought 25 tons of 4895 from the U.S. Government. It was the perfect powder for the flood of surplus M1903 Springfield rifles chambered in .30-06. The rest is reloading history.

Shown below is the life insurance loan contract that funded Bruce Hodgdon’s Purchase of 25 Tons of 4895 Surplus Powder:

Bruce Hodgdon Powder Loan

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News 3 Comments »