September 20th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Old “Number 2″ — Cherished M1A of Ray Gross

Ray Gross M1A M14 service rifle .308 .30-06 Distinguished rifleman badge
Old “Number 2″ belonging to Ray Gross. Click Photo for full-screen Image.

Ray Gross, one of America’s great rifle competitors, has served as captain of the United States F-TR Team. While Ray is best known for his F-Class shooting and leadership, Ray is also an experienced service rifle shooter, who secured his Distinguished Rifleman Badge 25 years ago. Ray has shot many rifles during his competitive shooting career, but the M1A rifle above held a special place in Ray’s heart. This old semi-auto earned Ray his Distinguished Badge, and he’ll never forget that, though he parted with the rifle in 2016.

Ray Gross M1A M14 service rifle .308 .30-06 Distinguished rifleman badge

Posting back in 2016, Ray told us:

“I said goodbye to an old friend… Affectionately known as ‘Number 2′, she is the rifle that I earned my Distinguished Rifleman Badge with in 1995 (#1159).

That rifle was also responsible for a fair amount of Venison in the ’90s, as well. But since then, she has spent a lot of time in the closet. Last time I got her out was to destroy a bunch of hard drives containing evidence collected during my Computer Forensics days. She deserved better than that.

I will miss the beautiful sound of all that American steel slamming into battery when I tripped her bolt.” – Ray Gross

M14 rifle Springfield M1A camp perry Shooting Sports USARay Gross was profiled in Shooting Sports USA last year. He explained how he started his competitive shooting career with an M1A rifle:

How did you begin in competitive shooting?

I began competing in 1991, at age 27. I bought an M1A and joined the Midland County Sportsman’s Club. One day I was at the club shooting the M1A when a member, Rich Koskela, came over and invited me to join them shooting competitions. Up until that point, I had no idea there was such a thing as NRA Competitive Shooting and I had been a member since 1986. Anyway, Rich and some of his friends showed me the basics and at my first match, I finished in the top half and first MU.

What are your major accomplishments in the shooting sports?

In 1995, I earned the Distinguished Rifleman Badge and a few years later switched to Palma rifle. On the way to making my first Palma team in 2003, I won the Army Cup, the Andrus trophy twice and the Sierra Trophy once. As a coach, I won the Herrick match, and seven F-TR National Championship team matches. Internationally, I’ve coached three gold medal America Match teams (The USA has only won four in Palma Rifle), and earned a Silver and Bronze coaching on the Palma Team in 2015 and 2019. In 2017, I led the U.S. F-TR Team to a World Championship. This year (2019), I also won the NRA ELR National Championship (25-lb max Division).”

Ray Gross M1A M14 service rifle .308 .30-06 Distinguished rifleman badge

M14 rifle Springfield M1A camp perry Shooting Sports USA

“Descended from the M1 Garand, the M14 utilized multiple improvements that made it a far superior firearm for combat and a much better rifle for competition.” — Dick Jones, Shooting Sports USA.

In the April 2018 issue of Shooting Sports USA, you’ll find a good article on the civilian version of the M14, now sold commercially as the Springfield M1A. An evolution of the battle-proven M1 Garand, the M14 was designed to shoot the 7.62×51 (.308 Win) round instead of the larger .30-06 Springfield cartridge used in WWI, WWII and Korea. While the vast majority of today’s M1As are chambered for .308 Win/7.62×51, Springfield Armory also produces a 6.5 Creedmoor version.

Ray Gross M1A service rifle

Dick Jones reports that accurized M14/M1As could post remarkable scores: “The accuracy potential of the M14/M1A is unquestionable. During their reign as service rifles, they produced multiple perfect 200 scores at 600 and 1000 yards in the hands of top shooters. This is a difficult feat with a modern, scoped, magnum-caliber rifle and remarkable with an iron-sighted battle rifle. Good competition rifles can group 10 shots under one MOA, and the meticulously-massaged rifles used by the top shooters during my career would consistently put up 10 shots under an inch at 200 yards off a test cradle.”

M14 rifle Springfield M1A camp perry Shooting Sports USA

For many years, the semi-auto version of the M14 was “top dog” in iron sights Service Rifle competition. Now that discipline is dominated by .223 Rem (5.56×45) AR-type rifles, but the bigger .308-caliber rifle, now sold as the M1A, remains popular. And in non-pandemic years, the CMP hosts a major M1A Match at Camp Perry, sponsored by Springfield Armory. This is a very popular event with 100+ competitors and significant cash prizes.

See how the modern M1A is built in this Springfield Armory Video:

As racing improves automobiles, competition improves firearms, and the current crop of Springfield M1As, from the Basic to the top-of-the-line Super Match and Loaded models, reflects the years of development. The M14 and its variants are … still considered by many to be the best battle rifle in the history of the U.S. Military. — Dick Jones, Shooting Sports USA

Military Version Operation Revealed — M14 Training Film

The original military version of the M1A was the select-fire M14. The 27-minute official U.S. Army video below demonstrates the operation of the M14. Field-stripping is shown from the 5:13 time-mark through 8:30. Cut-away drawings show the M14’s gas operation at 8:40.

Watch M14 Functioning Cycle Starting at 9:25 Mark:

The M14’s complete 8-step functioning cycle is demonstrated from the 9:25 time-mark through 22:41. These eight operations are: 1) Feeding; 2) Chambering; 3) Locking; 4) Firing; 5) Unlocking; 6) Extracting; 7) Ejecting; and 8) Cocking. This movie is fairly long, but fans of battle rifles will find it well worth their time. Every M1A owner should definitely watch this video start to finish.

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August 30th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Collins Earns Distinguished Badge No. 2500

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

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

Collins Earns Distinguished Rifleman Badge Number 2500

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

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Badge 2500 william Tom Collins Michigan Ohio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Badge 2500 william Tom Collins Michigan Ohio

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

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

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Badge 2500 william Tom Collins Michigan Ohio

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

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

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

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

(more…)

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July 26th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Sharpshootin’ Shannon — Talented 11-Year-Old

Shannon Moriarty high power service rifle airgun Walther Anschutz

11-year-old Shannon Moriarty is one of the youngest High Power Service Rifle competitors in the USA, having just started High Power competition last year. She shoots almost weekly with her dad, Christopher Moriarty, at matches in Maryland, her home state, as well as neighboring states. She also shoots .22 LR smallbore with an Anschutz M64 1903, and has recently started competitive air rifle shooting with a Walther LG 400. She is truly a young “phenom”. Before even reaching her teen years, she has earned NRA Across-the-Course Master and CMP Master Classifications in High Power divisions.

Shannon shot this 100-5X today in a team match at Reade Range in PA. Way to Go Girl!
Shannon Moriarty high power service rifle airgun Walther Anschutz

A year and a half after her first-ever High Power match, Shannon Moriarty of Maryland has made significant strides in her scores, experiences, and level of competition. At only 11 years old, she is an inspiration for young shooters. Shannon has gathered success from a combination of natural talent and hard work through dry-fire training and now cross-training with air rifle.

CMP Profile on Shannon Here: Training with Maryland Junior Shannon Moriarty

Shannon Moriarty high power service rifle airgun Walther Anschutz
Just 11 years old, Shannon already shows great standing form in Service Rifle competition.

Shannon Moriarty high power service rifle airgun Walther Anschutz
Here is Shannon shooting smallbore prone with her Anschutz M64 1903 Target.

Two Talented Ladies — Champion Shooter and Future Champion?

Shannon Moriarty high power service rifle airgun Walther Anschutz

Shannon says that SSG Amanda Elsenboss, of the USAMU (former) and All-Guard (current) Teams, is her marksmanship inspiration and role model. Elsenboss was the 2019 NRA High Power Long Range Champion. Elsenboss helped Shannon progress in Service Rifle competition by giving Shannon an expensive match trigger that Amanda had won in a competition. Elsenboss was Shannon’s original Small Arms Firing School Coach at the CMP Eastern Games when Shannon first started shooting High Power. She is the person Shannon looks up to most in the shooting world.

“Amanda Elsenboss was scoring me”, Shannon said. “After I finished the match, I was putting away my gear at the truck. Amanda walked over and gave me a brand new Geissele trigger which she won during the NTI for High Woman in 2015″. Elsenboss then told Shannon: “You can have this trigger which I got for winning high woman. Once you win yourself one, you can give this one back to me”.

Shannon has set several goals for her marksmanship career. These include a spot on the President’s 100 at the National Matches, High Master classification, and earning a Distinguished Badge. She also wants to fire a perfect score at 600 yards, something she watched Elsenboss do.

Dry Fire Training with SCATT System

Shannon Moriarty high power service rifle airgun Walther Anschutz

To improve her position shooting, Shannon uses the SCATT Dry Fire Training system. This tracks muzzle movement during the entire aiming cycle. A trace appears on a screen. Shannon’s father Chris posted: “Shannon [often does] SCATT training first thing in the morning. She’s holding the aiming black so far. Can’t think of too many 11-year-olds that would be excited to practice — this is absolutely a lot of work!”

Shannon Shoots with Father Christopher Moriarty as a Team

Shannon Moriarty high power service rifle airgun Walther Anschutz

Shannon got her start in shooting watching her father Christopher at matches. Now she often shoots side-by-side in matches. He also coaches her in team matches. Above you can see Shannon competing with her father in a two-person Vintage Sniper Match. Dad posted: “This pic is cool — we’re shooting a Springfield 1903 A4 USMC sniper rifle, 2X scope, .30-06 at 600 yards in Vermont. We’ll be doing this again!”

Shannon Moriarty high power service rifle airgun Walther Anschutz

Shannon Moriarty high power service rifle airgun Walther Anschutz
Father and daughter “Pair Firing” at 200 yards.

Shannon Moriarty high power service rifle airgun Walther Anschutz

CLICK HERE to see Shannon shoot a 300-yard rapid fire prone relay at the 2019 CMP New England Games, CMP Cup match in Jericho, Vermont. NOTE: You will be directed to Facebook to watch.

Triple-Threat Shannon — HP Service Rifle, Smallbore, Air Rifle

Shannon Moriarty high power service rifle airgun Walther Anschutz

Shannon also competes in rimfire matches with an Anschutz M64 1903 Target Rifle, and has recently started training with a Walther LG 400 Alutec Expert Air Rifle. She says the Air Rifle work has improved her hold and trigger control.

Shannon Moriarty high power service rifle airgun Walther Anschutz

Chris notes: “Here is Shannon with her Precision Air Rifle. This should take her through the next few years in 10 Meter Air. It is a Walther LG 400 Alutec Expert with inside/outside sights. I’m very excited for her to begin training with it. I’m also really looking forward to watching her progress in this discipline. I wonder what she’ll name it? Her service rifle is named ‘Cameron’….”

Mom Frames Shannon’s First Clean 300-Yard High Power Target

Shannon Moriarty high power service rifle airgun Walther Anschutz

Shannon’s mother framed Shannon’s first 300-Yard Rapid Fire CLEAN — 100-5X! This will get hung in her room. This was shot at Camp Butner, NC using her new Krieger barrel from Krieger Direct. And guess what, Shannon shot another 100-5X at 300 yards today, July 25, 2020. Look at the top of the page. Not many 11-year-olds can shoot like this!

Krieger Barrels is Now Sponsoring Shannon Moriarty
Shannon Moriarty is now sponsored by Krieger Barrels. Chris Moriarty stated: “Krieger marketing reached out to [us] to offer their assistance and sponsorship to Shannon in her High Power rifle journey! Thank you so much Krieger and Mr. Todd House.”

Krieger sponsor Shannon Moriarty

Shannon Moriarty high power service rifle airgun Walther Anschutz
Gary Andersen, DCM Emeritus, knows a few things about marksmanship. Here he congratulates young Shannon Moriarty at a CMP Match.

Training with the SCATT System — How It Works

This text from Training with Maryland Junior Shannon Moriarty:

Shannon has followed a strict training regimen[.] She attributes a lot of her success to her heavy usage of the SCATT system – an electronic training tool that uses computer software to monitor hold, follow-through, focus, and other shot elements. Shannon shoots 30 shots standing, plus sighters, with a SCATT trainer three times a week, every week. She sometimes practices prone shooting too.

“There’s a feature in SCATT system for acoustic signaling for blind shooting and biofeedback. When using this feature, there is a very high frequency tone when you go into one of the rings”. Shannon and her father, Chris, set this tone to sound when they are holding in the ten ring. “The goal is to shoot a 10 or an X and then keep it there for three seconds”, Shannon says. “And the tone should still be on for those three seconds.”

Though it is easier to shoot with the tone, the reason for using it is to help improve and learn trigger squeeze and follow-through. Shannon usually shoots 10 shots without the tone, preceded and followed by a 10-shot string with the tone.

The use of the SCATT system makes it possible for Shannon to train during the winter months and during the school year, when it can be hard to get to a range. The system allows her to continue to train at home but with more information than dry-firing alone provides.

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May 27th, 2020

F-Class Champ Goes Dark-Side — Sling Shooting with Service Rifle

Jay Christopherson sling shooting service rifle Emil Praslick USAMU
The prone position demonstrated by two talented Service Rifle shooters. At top is SFC Brandon Green, multi-time High Power National Champion. Below is Tony Chow, a gifted match shooter. NOTE: Current Service Rifle rules allow the use of optics up to 4.5X.

Jay Christopherson, 2020 Berger SW Nationals F-Open Champion, is one of the nation’s best F-Class shooters. When shooting F-Class, Jay uses a Seb Mini front rest and a large rear sandbag to support his big 22-lb F-Open rifle. Though he loves F-Class, Jay is also interested in Service Rifle competition where no external supports are allowed. You hold the rifle with your arms and a sling. Some Service Rifle competitions involve three position (Standing, kneeling/sitting, and prone), while others are prone only. Even in the prone position, the sling is a vital accessory.

Jay Christopherson sling shooting service rifle Emil Praslick USAMU

Jay dramatically improved his Service Rifle “hard-holding” technique by enlisting the help of Emil Praslick III, former USAMU rifle coach. Emil’s guidance and advice resulted in an immediate increase in Jay’s scores on target, as recorded by his ShotMarker electronic target system. Jay noted: “These targets show the difference between hacking it on your own, and spending an hour with someone who knows what they are doing and can tell you that you are doing it wrong.” These targets show Jay’s “before and after” Service Rifle results shooting slung up prone at 600 yards:

Service Rifle, Prone with Sling at 600 Yards

Here is Jay’s target BEFORE training with Emil Praslick — a 194-3X with lots of vertical.

Jay Christopherson sling shooting service rifle Emil Praslick USAMU

And here is Jay’s improved target AFTER putting Praslick’s advice to work — impressive 199-8X with significantly less vertical.

Jay Christopherson sling shooting service rifle Emil Praslick USAMU

You can see on this second target much improved vertical. All 20 shots were in a vertical range much smaller than the vertical height of the 10-Ring. Had shot 16 not gone wide left, this would have been a 200. Shot 16 was OUT of the 10-Ring to the left, but note that vertically it has almost perfect elevation.

Jay stated: “I was pretty amazed at not only the difference on the target, but how much difference the changes Emil suggested made to how my hold felt. The entire feel was different and a ton less stress in my neck and arms compared to what I was feeling before. I was actually feeling pretty good about that 194 yesterday, because I hadn’t slung up in two years and that was my highest score (by one point) after doing some load fixing. But having someone explain what you are doing wrong and why makes a world of difference.

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April 11th, 2020

Trigger Tech: Trigger Options for AR-Platform Rifles

AR15 Timney drop-in trigger two-stage 2-stage single stage

AR-platform rifles are fun and versatile, but the standard, mil-spec triggers leave much to be desired. They tend to be gritty, with creep and heavy pull weight. One of the easiest, most effective AR upgrades is a trigger group swap. An improved fire control group makes a huge difference. There are many aftermarket trigger options for the AR platform rifles. Choose single-stage or two-stage, either standard trigger assembly or unitized “drop-in” trigger, such as those made by Timney or Triggertech.

Read Full AR Trigger Article in NRA Blog HERE »

AR15 Space Gun trigger
When upgraded with a precision trigger and match barrel, AR-platform rigs work great in NRA High Power competitions (Photo from NRA Blog, at Camp Perry).

AR15 Timney drop-in trigger two-stage 2-stage single stageTwo-Stage vs. Single-Stage Triggers
Two-stage triggers have two separate movements. The first stage offers a light, spring-loaded pressure that works against the shooter’s pull until stopping at the second stage – this is called “take-up”. If there is no spring pressure, it is known as “slack”. Should the shooter continue to pull the trigger once he’s arrived at the second stage, the mechanism will operate like a single-stage trigger from there until engaging the sear and firing the gun. Some shooters prefer a two-stage trigger because it allows a mental preparation (first stage) before the final decision to “break the shot”.

Single-stage triggers feature no take-up or slack, as they begin engaging the sear as soon as the shooter begins pulling the trigger. Some competitive shooters prefer the two-stage trigger because of the feedback it provides during its first stage, while other shooters, including those using their rifle in tactical scenarios, may want the surety of a single-stage trigger, ready to engage and fire once their finger is inside the trigger guard. Regardless of preference, a good trigger will feature minimal creep and should be free of grittiness, providing a smooth, even break.

AR15 Timney drop-in trigger two-stage 2-stage single stage

Drop-In Trigger Assembly vs. Standard Trigger Group
Once you decide between a single-stage or two-stage trigger, you can choose between standard and drop-in trigger groups. Standard trigger groups feature all the fire control group parts separated, and need to be pieced together and installed much like a mil-spec trigger, while drop-in trigger are pre-assembled and contained within a casing that simply drops in to the receiver and accepts the pins, hence the name.

After-Market Trigger Comparison

Some shooters prefer drop-in triggers due to the ease of installation, while others opt for standard groups so they can access the components individually for cleaning adjustment or replacement. If one piece of a drop-in trigger fails, you’ll need to either replace the entire unit or send it to the manufacturer for repair, whereas you may be able to simply replace the broken component of a standard trigger without needing a whole new trigger set.

Trigger Terminology — “Creep”, “Stacking”, “Overtravel”
“Creep” or “travel” is the distance the trigger moves between the end of take-up and when the trigger breaks to fire the fun. Too much creep can affect accuracy, but no creep can be unsafe, as the shooter may not be prepared to fire. “Stacking” occurs when the trigger weight actually increases during travel — this shouldn’t happen. Lastly, “overtravel” is the distance the trigger continues moving back after the gun fires.

This article is based on a longer story in the NRA Blog.

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March 26th, 2020

AR, Garand, M1A — Six Rules for Gas Gun Reloading

Reloading for Service Rifles
SFC Lance Dement as featured in CMP’s First Shot Online.

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) has published a great series of reloading “how-to” articles on its Facebook Page. This post covers key factors to consider when loading ammunition for Match Rifles and Service Rifles, with a particular focus on self-loading “gas guns”. Visit the USAMU Facebook Page each Wednesday for other, helpful “Handloading Hump-Day” tips.

We offer some “cardinal rules” to help new gas-gun handloaders with safety and efficiency. These address both Match Rifle and Service Rifle versions of the AR15, M1 Garand, M1A, and M110. However, they can also improve safe reloading for many other auto-loaders such as M1 Carbines, FALs, SIGs, etc. The author distilled these principles many years ago to help focus on the essential aspects of these rifles.

RULE ONE: Service Rifles Are Not Benchrest Rifles
Gas-guns require a relatively loose fit between ammunition and chamber (vs. bolt actions) for safe, smooth operation. Many techniques, such as neck sizing and keeping cartridge headspace quite tight, are popular in the extreme bolt gun accuracy realm. However, they are of little value with Service Rifles, and some could even be hazardous. Before adopting a specialized technique, seriously consider whether it is appropriate and beneficial in a gas-gun.

RULE TWO: Never Compromise Safety to Obtain Accuracy
Example: If choosing a brand of great, but ultra-sensitive match primers offers possibly better accuracy at the risk of slam-fires in your design of rifle, don’t do it! You are issued exactly two eyes and ten fingers (best-case scenario). Risking them trying to squeeze 0.25 MOA better accuracy out of an M1A, etc. simply isn’t worth it.

Reloading for Service Rifles

RULE THREE: Tailor the Precision to Your Individual Skill and Your Rifle’s Potential
This has been addressed here before, but bears repeating for newcomers. If you are struggling to break out of the Marksman Class, or using a CMP M1 “As-Issued,” then laboriously turning the necks of your 600-yard brass is a waste of time. Your scores will improve much faster by practicing or dry-firing. On the other hand, if the reigning champions anxiously check your scores each time you fire an event, a little neck-turning might not be so far-fetched.

Verifying Load Improvements — Accuracy hand-loading involves a wide variety of techniques, ranging from basic to rather precise. Carefully select those which offer a good return on investment for your time and labor. In doubt? Do a classic pilot study. Prepare ammo for at least three or four ten-shot groups with your new technique, vs. the same with your standard ammo. Then, pick a calm day and test the ammo as carefully as possible at its full distance (e.g. 200, 300, or 600 yards) to verify a significant improvement. A little testing can save much labor!

RULE FOUR: Be Your Own Efficiency Expert
Serious Service Rifle shooters generally think of ammunition in terms of thousands of rounds, not “boxes”, or even “hundreds”. Analyze, and WRITE DOWN each step in your reloading process. Count the number of times each case is handled. Then, see if any operations can be dropped or changed without reducing safety or accuracy. Eliminating just two operations saves 2000 steps per 1000 rounds loaded. Conversely, carefully consider any measurable benefits before adding a step to your routine.

RULE FIVE: In Searching for Greater Accuracy with Efficiency, Look for System Changes
For example, instead of marking your 300-yard rounds individually to differentiate them from your 200-yard ammo, would a simple change in primers work? If accuracy is maintained, using brass-colored primers for 200 and silver for 300 provides an indelible indicator and eliminates a step! Similarly, rather than spending hours selecting GI surplus brass for weight and neck uniformity, consider splurging on some known, high-quality imported match brass for your 600-yard loads. Results should be excellent, time is saved, and given limited shooting at 600 yards, brass life should be long.

RULE SIX: Check All Your Primers Before Packaging Your Loaded Ammo
This seems simple and even intuitive. However, many slam-fires (which were much more common when M1s and M1As were the standard) are due, at least in part, to “high” primers. Primers should be seated below flush with the case head. The USAMU has addressed this at length in a previous column, but each round should be checked for properly-seated primers before they are packaged for use.

Reloading for Service Rifles

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September 3rd, 2019

CMP Oklahoma Games in October

CMP Oklahoma Games

The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) Oklahoma Games are slated for October 7-13, a month away. Match shooters from the middle of the country should consider attending the popular annual event held at the Oklahoma City Gun Club. CMP OK Games Registration is still open! Note — this match is not just for seasoned competitors. There will be a Small Arms Firing School, and the Oklahoma Games will also feature a New Shooter Clinic for those who have never fired in a CMP Games match.

CMP Oklahoma Games

Previously held in April, the CMP Oklahoma Games will feature the popular M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, Springfield, Vintage/Modern Military, Rimfire Sporter, and Vintage Sniper Rifle matches. Pistol matches, such as the As-Issued 1911, Military & Police Service Pistol and .22 Rimfire Pistol will also be held throughout the week. The CMP Cup Matches will again be held at this Travel Games event. This include two days of invididual competition, followed by a 4-Man Team Match, and EIC Service Rifle Match.

CMP Games - Oklahoma

Oklahoma CMP Games Resources

Electronic Targets Allow Faster Relays and No Pit Duty!
High Power competitions will be fired on CMP Targets, an electronic target system that plots shot placement in real time, and eliminates the need for pit duty — allowing quicker matches with less physical labor. Shot locations/scores appear on remote monitors placed at each shooting location.

CMP Oklahoma Games

Along with competitive matches, a rifle Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) is scheduled to instruct beginning and experienced marksmen in the classroom and on the firing line, with the help of CMP staff and certified instructors. Those in attendance will learn rifle handling, shot technique and safety, followed by firing in an actual M16 EIC match.

CMP Oklahoma Games

Match Awards will be distributed each day. All participants are invited to the annual BBQ where shooters can make friends and mingle with fellow participants and CMP staff. For some the Oklahoma BBQ is the highlight of the event.

CMP Oklahoma Games

About the CMP Travel Games
The CMP Travel Games are regional competitions held in different corners of the country throughout the year, featuring exclusive CMP rifle and pistol outdoor events. A common part of the CMP schedule for the last decade, the Games are centered around recreation-oriented competition and educational activities that are designed to accommodate experienced marksmen as well as those just beginning the sport.

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July 30th, 2019

President’s 100 Match at Camp Perry — A Great Tradition

President's 100 Camp Perry Dennis Santiago
Looking downrange at the 600-yard targets. All Camp Perry photos courtesy Dennis Santiago.

Our friend Dennis Santiago is at Camp Perry this summer. Yesterday (7/29/2019) he competed in the historic National President’s 100 Match. This is a huge event. in recent years, there have been over 1000 ranked competitors from throughout the nation, making this one of the biggest rifle events of the year.

The President’s 100 Rifle Match is richly steeped in history. This unique match was first held in 1878. Here’s the view from the line at 600 yards:
President's 100 Camp Perry Dennis Santiago

The 2017 President’s 100 Rifle Match was a tightly-fought affair, with the top five shooters separated by just two points. SSG John Cogshall (ARNG) shot superbly to take the top position and President’s Rifle Trophy. The top 100 competitors overall in the President’s Rifle Match are designated as the President’s 100. They receive President’s 100 medallions and certificates. GET full match results.

Top Five Shooters at 2019 National President’s 100 Match

1. SSG John Cogshall (ARNG) 390-14X (Trophy Winner)
2. SGT Thomas Colyard (SC, USMC) 389-16X
3. Sean Prosser (PA) 389-12X
4. Greg Troxell (TX) 388-11X
5. John Hefner, (TX) 388-13X

Note: SFC Brandon Green, USAMU, who holds the course record at 400-20X, also shot a 388-13X but was ranked sixth by tie-breaker.

President's 100 Camp Perry Dennis Santiago

President’s 100 Shoot Off! — The Top 20 shooters face off while everyone watches, wishing the best for every one of them. This is what attending a family gathering is for us.
President's 100 Camp Perry Dennis Santiago

President’s 100 Course of Fire
There is a three-yardage, four-stage Course of Fire for the President’s Rifle Match Course of Fire. Firing is done on the SR target at 200 and 300 yards and the MR target at 600 yards. Scores in stages 1-3 determine the President’s 100 and the final rankings of competitors in 21st place and below. Scores in stages 1-4 determine the match winner and the final rankings in places 1-20. If there is a tie for first place (equal total and X-count), the tied shooters will continue to fire one-shot-at-a-time until the tie is broken. No sighters are permitted in National Trophy Rifle Matches.

President's 100

Origins of the President’s Match
Dunfey USAMU President's MatchThe National Rifle Association’s President’s Match was instituted in 1878, as the American Military Rifle Championship Match. In 1884, the name was changed to the President’s Match for the Military Rifle Championship of the United States. It was fired at Creedmoor, New York until 1891. In 1895, it was reintroduced at Sea Girt, New Jersey. Today, the match is held at Camp Perry, Ohio.

The President’s Match was patterned after the Queen’s Match for British Volunteers. That British competition was started in 1860 by Queen Victoria and the NRA of Great Britain to increase the ability of Britain’s marksmen following the Crimean War.

The tradition of making a letter from the President of the United States the first prize began in 1904 when President Theodore Roosevelt personally wrote a letter of congratulations to the winner, Private Howard Gensch of the New Jersey National Guard.

After a hiatus in the 1930s and 1940s, The President’s Match was reinstated in 1957 at the National Matches as “The President’s Hundred.” The 100 top-scoring competitors in the President’s Match were singled out for special recognition.

CLICK HERE for history of the President’s Match.

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July 27th, 2019

SCATT MX-02 Training System Works for Centerfire Shooters

SCATT MX-02 training digital camera sensor target

The SCATT MX-02 is an electronic shooter training system that is capable of operating outdoors with live, centerfire ammunition, at distances from 25 yards to 600 yards. Tony Chow tested this product for AccurateShooter.com. As fitted to his AR-15 Service Rifle, Tony concludes this is a very useful tool that can help High Power competitors refine their technique and shoot higher scores. CLICK HERE for MX-02 3000-word Review.

How the SCATT MX-02 Works
The SCATT sensor mounted on the end of the barrel has a digital camera that recognizes the black bullseye in the target, even in broad daylight outdoors. Using the bullseye as a reference, the SCATT software tracks the movement of the muzzle relative to the center of the target. The unit can plot these movements as a continuous trace, which appears on a monitor as a squiggly, colored line. By sensing the exact moment of shot release, the SCATT can also interpolate relative shot placement (for a single shot or series of shots) — but this is not the same as an electronic target which actually records the exact shot impact location on the target.

SCATT MX-02 training digital camera sensor target

Some time ago, we reviewed this product from the perspective of a smallbore competitive shooter. (Read Previous Review.) Here we test SCATT MX-02 again, this time on an AR-15 service rifle, in order to assess its suitability for the High Power competition community.

We put the MX-02 through its paces in all three High Power shooting positions and in various environmental conditions. We wanted to find out whether the system can reliably operate in the harsher outdoor settings and withstand the recoil of a centerfire rifle. We also wanted to assess whether it provides added values for High Power shooters over older generation of electronic trainers such as SCATT’s own venerable WS-01.

On both counts, we came away impressed. The SCATT MX-02 stood up to centerfire recoil after hundreds of shots and was able to consistently recognize the often less-than-pristine High Power target faces. Both indoors and outdoors, the MX-02 acts as SCATT should and dutifully captures useful aiming traces and other data. It does that even during outdoor live-fire sessions, where shooter performance often differs from indoor dry-firing due to the sensation of recoil and environmental factors.

SCATT Rapid Fire Results (paper target on left, screen on right).
Scatt MX-02 shooting trainer camera

In particular, SCATT MX-02 allows shooters to effectively troubleshoot and improve their rapid-fire performance, a service that no previous-generation trainers are capable of providing. The unit isn’t perfect — the SCATT MX-02 had some mounting issues with small-diameter barrels, but a cardboard shim provided a quick and effective solution.


CLICK HERE for Full SCATT MX-02 Review »

Overall, performance was impressive. In most realistic training conditions that High Power shooters experience, the system performed well. We can certainly recommend SCATT MX-02 as an extremely valuable tool for High Power competitors looking to take their performance to the next level.

For more information or to order SCATT products, including the MX-02, visit ScattUSA.com or call toll-free: 1-855-57-SCATT (72288).

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April 23rd, 2019

CMP Eastern Games and Cup Matches April 26 – May 5, 2019

CMP eastern games creedmoor cup electronic targets

CMP eastern games creedmoor cup electronic targetsThe 2019 Eastern CMP Games & CMP Cup Matches are scheduled for April 26 through May 5, 2019. This is one of the biggest shooting matches on the East Coast, held at the Camp Butner Range in North Carolina. The CMP Games include Small Arms Firing School (SAFS), Garand/Springfield/Vintage/Modern Military Matches, Carbine Match, Rimfire Sporter match, and Vintage Sniper Team Match. There are also several pistol matches.

Following the CMP Games Matches will be the CMP Cup Matches: 4-Man Team Match, CMP 800 Aggregate Matches, and EIC Service Rifle Match. There will also be a GSM New Shooter Clinic, M1 Maintenance Clinic, and Team CMP High Power Clinic. The CMP will also sell rifles and ammunition at the event.

CLICK HERE for Match Program | CLICK HERE for Entry Form

CMP eastern games creedmoor cup electronic targets

CMP Electronic Targets for Games and Cup Matches
All matches on the High Power rifle range will be conducted using Kongsberg Electronic Targets (KTS). The KTS system registers each shot and relays the location and score value to a monitor beside each shooter on the firing line.

The CMP Eastern Games have been very popular, thanks in no small part to the mobile electronic target system. Recent Eastern Games have drawn over 350 competitors. The Kongsberg electronic targets allowed the CMP to run relays more efficiently, and the targets eliminate the need for competitors to do pit duty. GSM Matches, which typically run four relays each day, saw days with a total of nine and 10 relays during its scheduled times, while the Vintage Sniper and other matches finished in record time.

CMP eastern games creedmoor cup electronic targets

“The electronic targets are phenomenal,” said brothers Richard and Jonathan Mast, who attended the Eastern Games along with other family members. Jonathan added, “It was the best shooting experience I’ve ever seen as far as immediately finding out where you’re shooting — best I’ve ever had.”

CMP eastern games creedmoor cup electronic targets

Throughout the CMP Games, competitors will use the CMP’s mobile electronic high power target system. The Kongsberg targets contain internal microphones that locate shot position. The scores are instantly calculated by computer and then wirelessly transmitted to portable, tablet monitors on each firing point.

The electronic targets provide immediate feedback. Importantly, the e-Targets eliminate pit duties and permit relays to fun faster and more efficiently. Shooter Caleb Mast noted: “This makes it easier for people who don’t have [a spotting scope]. All you pay is the registration fee, and I just brought what I’m wearing and was still able to score well enough to get my feedback on the monitor.”

CMP eastern games creedmoor cup electronic targets

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April 10th, 2019

Match Etiquette: Be Prepared, Know the Rules and Course of Fire

Match Etiquette USAMU Course of Fire Rules SFC Norman Anderson CMP Rulebook NRA

Match Etiquette USAMU Course of Fire Rules SFC Norman Anderson CMP Rulebook NRA

Don’t Be “That Guy” (The Bad Apple on the Firing Line)

By SFC Norman Anderson, USAMU Service Rifle Team Member
You know the guy, he’s still talking at the coffee jug when his preparation period begins, then his magazines aren’t loaded when the command “STAND” is given, and finally, he doesn’t know the rules when he argues with the block officer as his target comes up marked “9 and No”. Although this guy might be the highlight of the “after match” activities, he is the proverbial bad apple on the firing line. With this example fresh in your mind, let’s go over how not to be “that guy”.

While the sport of High Power shooting is a hobby for most, all are passionate about performance throughout the day. In order to achieve your maximum performance each and every day, it is essential that you conduct yourself as a professional competitor. As a competitor, you have a personal responsibility to know the course of fire as well as the rules and procedures that apply to it and to be prepared to follow them. Knowing this will not only make you a better competitor, but it will enable you to resolve situations with other targets besides your own. So what does all this mean? I’ll explain…

Know the Course of Fire
Know the course of fire. It sounds easy enough, as we all shoot plenty of matches, but it’s more than that. If you think about it, how many people in the pits, for example, do not really know what is happening on the firing line? This leads to targets being pulled early during a rapid fire string or missing a shot during a slow fire string. In cases like this, the result is the same, delays in the match and upset competitors. To avoid being “that guy,” it is imperative that you stay tuned to the events as the day progresses. When you are at the range shooting a match, be at the range shooting the match.

At any firearms competition — be sure you know (and understand) the course of fire.
CMP Match Etiquette

Match Etiquette USAMU Course of Fire Rules SFC Norman Anderson CMP Rulebook NRAKnow the Rules
Now, let’s discuss rules. As you have probably heard more than once, the rulebook is your best friend. Here is why. I can virtually guarantee that most competitors know some of the rules based only on the old “this is how we do it at home” adage. The funny part of that is, the same green NRA rulebook and orange CMP rulebooks are used to govern High Power matches all over the country.*

It is vital that all shooters be familiar with the rules as they are written, not with “how they are applied at home”. This creates consistency and continuity in how matches are conducted, from local club matches to state tournaments to National Championships. Knowledge is power when it comes to scoring targets under contention, what to do in the case of a malfunction, or even how to file a protest correctly. These rules are in place for a reason and it benefits everyone to both know and operate by these rules.

Maintain Composure and Humility — Exhibit Good Sportsmanship
One aspect of competing that cannot be forgotten is bearing. As I mentioned earlier, you must be prepared for both good and bad to happen. All too often we all see “that guy” (or that “that guy’s” gear) flying off of the firing line in disgust. Remember that we all must maintain our composure and humility in all conditions, not matter what happens. After all, it’s just a game. To put it into perspective, if it were easy, attendance would be a lot higher. Sportsmanship must be displayed in an effort to keep from ruining the day for all those around you. It doesn’t cost anything to smile, and smiling never killed anyone. So turn that frown upside down and keep on marching, better days will come.

Like a Boy Scout — Always Be Prepared
Lastly, I would like to cover preparedness. Being prepared goes beyond simply having your magazines loaded and a zero on your rifle. It means approaching the firing line, knowing what you are about to do, being ready for what is going to happen (good or bad), and being ready for the results. If you approach the firing line to merely shoot 10 shots standing in your next LEG match, you are not going to be pleased with the result. You must be prepared mentally and physically, not only for the next stage, but also the next shot. By being prepared physically (equipment ready), you give yourself peace of mind which is an essential part of being prepared mentally, and by being prepared mentally, you are less likely to become distracted and are more likely to maintain focus for each and every shot.

Conclusion — Informed Competitors Make for Better Matches
The culmination of these efforts results in a shooter that knows how to be ready for success on the range, but also and perhaps more importantly, a shooter who knows what it means to be a competitor. When you have a range full of competitors who know and follow the rules and proper match procedures, the match runs smoothly, everyone shoots well, and a good time is had by all. In the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?


* After this article was originally written, the CMP separated its rules into two different Rulebooks:

The 2019 7th Edition of the CMP Competition Rules for CMP Games Rifle and Pistol Matches governs all CMP-sanctioned matches for As-Issued Military Rifle and Pistol events including Special EIC Matches that are fired with As-Issued Military Rifles or Pistols.

The 2019 23rd Edition of the CMP Competition Rules for Service Rifle and Service Pistol governs sponsored and sanctioned matches for Service Rifle, Service Pistol and .22 Rimfire Pistol events, including National Trophy Rifle and Pistol Matches, Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) matches and other CMP-sanctioned competitions.

This article by SFC Norman Anderson originally appeared in the CMP First Shot Online Magazine.

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April 3rd, 2019

.30-06 Revisited — The ‘Old Warhorse Ain’t Dead Yet’

.30-06 cartridge IMR 4350

This article first appeared in 2014. We are reprising it at the request of many readers who are fans of the .30-06 cartridge.

The “Old Warhorse” .30-06 Springfield cartridge is not dead. That’s the conclusion of Forum member Rick M., who has compared the 1000-yard performance of his .30-06 rifle with that of a rig chambered for the more modern, mid-sized 6.4×47 Lapua cartridge. In 12-16 mph full-value winds, the “inefficient and antiquated” .30-06 ruled. Rick reports:

“I was shooting my .30-06 this past Sunday afternoon from 1000 yards. The wind was hitting 12-16 mph with a steady 9 O’clock (full value) wind direction. My shooting buddy Jeff was shooting his 6.5×47 Lapua with 123gr Scenar bullets pushed by Varget. Jeff needed 13 MOA left windage to keep his 6.5x47L rounds inside the Palma 10 Ring. By contrast I only needed 11.5 MOA left windage with my .30-06. I was shooting my ’06 using the 185gr Berger VLD target bullet with H4350. I managed the same POI yet the .30-caliber bullet only needed 11.5 MOA windage. That’s significant. From this experience I’ve concluded that the Old Warhorse ain’t quite dead yet!”

.30-06 cartridge IMR 4350

Rick likes his “outdated” .30-06 rifle. He says it can deliver surprisingly good performance at long range:

“To many of the younger generation, the Old Warhorse .30-06 is ‘outdated’ but I can guarantee that the .30-06 Springfield is a VERY ACCURATE cartridge for 1000-yard shooting (and even out further if need be). With some of the advanced powders that we have today, the .30-06 will surprise many shooters with what it’s capable of doing in a good rifle with the right rate of twist. My rifle has a 1:10″ twist rate and I had it short-throated so that, as the throat erodes with time, I could just seat the bullets out further and keep right on shooting. My recent load is Berger 185gr Target VLDs pushed by IMR 4350. This is a very accurate load that moves this bullet along at 2825 fps.”

.30-06 cartridge IMR 4350

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 8 Comments »
February 22nd, 2019

Train with Champions at CMP Small Arms Firing Schools

SFC Brandon Green SAFS small arms school CMP marksmanship program

How would you like to get marksmanship training from the reigning High Power National Champion? Get yourself to Oregon this June and you can. SFC Brandon Green of the USAMU will be one of the instructors for the CMP Small Arms Firing School in Eagle Creek, Oregon in June. A three-time National High Power Champion, Brandon is one of the greatest marksmen on the planet. Yesterday he posted: “Three of us will be at the SAFS/junior clinic in Oregon. Come check it out!” If you can make it to Oregon June 8-9, we definitely recommend this class. It will be the only SAFS in the Western USA this year.

SFC Brandon Green SAFS small arms school CMP marksmanship program

Along with the June SAFS in Oregon, there will be eight other rifle SAFS programs this year at locations nationwide. Some of these will be held in connection with major matches, such as the Eastern CMP Games in April at Camp Butner.

CMP Rifle SAFS Locations and Dates:

1. Eastern Cup & Games Matches, April 30 | Camp Butner, NC
2. Douglas Ridge Rifle Club, June 8-9 | Eagle Creek, OR (Range Officer Class is Jun 7)
3. Fairfax Rod & Gun Club, June 22-23 | Manassas, VA
4. National Matches, July 27-28 | Camp Perry, Port Clinton, OH
5. Oak Ridge Shooting Assoc., August 24-25 | Oak Ridge, TN
6. Camp Ethan Allen, September 19 | Camp Ethan Allen Training Site, Jericho, VT
7. Fort Hill Rifle & Pistol, September 28-29 | Keyser, WV
8. Oklahoma Cup & Games Matches, October 10 | Oklahoma City Gun Club, OK
9. Talladega 600 Matches, November TBD | CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park, AL

Led by certified military and/or civilian instructors, SAFS programs offers high level training in a safe, supportive setting, with rifles and ammo provided. The school is structured toward teaching new shooters, so no past firearm experience is required, though intermediate and advanced marksmen are also welcome to participate. During the course, students will learn basic instruction and firing practices, competition skills and live range firing, as well as compete in a real M16 EIC Match.

CMP Provides Rifles and Ammo at Small Arms Firing Schools
At each SAFS, equipment, including rifles and ammunition, will be provided. Personal equipment, such as a shooting jacket or glove, will be permitted during the course as well. Participants are required to bring hearing protection and eye protection is strongly encouraged.

SFC Brandon Green SAFS small arms school CMP marksmanship program

For more information or ask additional questions, please contact Amy Cantu at acantu@thecmp.org or (419) 635-2141 ext 602. The Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) has been an instrumental source for individuals to delve into firearm safety and competition technique. The SAFS course has been a staple event in the National Matches at Camp Perry since 1918 and has expanded its outreach to other areas of the country through CMP’s Travel Games matches in recent years.

SFC Brandon Green SAFS small arms school CMP marksmanship program

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November 5th, 2018

Basics of the Prone Position — Building the Position

USAMU Prone First Shot CMP
USAMU Prone First Shot CMP

The First Shot, the CMP’s online magazine, features a well-written article on Prone Shooting Technique by SPC Matthew Sigrist of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU). The article covers all the major points of gun hold and body position: hand position, elbow position, stock weld, buttstock placement, and sling position/tension.

Keep it Steady — The Elements of a Good Prone Position

Part 1 — Building the Position
By SPC Matthew Sigrist

Imagine the following scenario: You are at the last stage of fire in the National Trophy Individual Match, firing at the 600 yard line in the prone position and every point matters. What should you reflect on as you prepare to shoot this final string? As your eyes cloud from sweat, you realize that all you have to rely on is your experience and knowledge of the fundamentals.

During the National Trophy Individual Match, you will fire 60 percent of your shots from the prone position. This article will address the fundamentals of a good prone position and help you learn the techniques required to be successful in both the slow and rapid-fire stages of National Match competition.

This article will be divided into two parts. In part one, we will discuss the elements of a good prone position. In part two, we will cover the techniques you will in the rapid-fire and slow-fire stages.

The Fundamentals

The fundamentals are the building blocks of a position. Much like the framework of a house, a correct application of the fundamentals ensures a solid and stable structure. Since each person’s position will depend on their particular body build and shape, there is no “perfect position” that applies to everyone. Experience, practice and knowledge of the correct fundamentals will dictate the best position for you.

There are six key elements of any position. The purpose for these six points is to achieve a solid platform that allows for consistent sight alignment using the least amount of muscle tension.

    1. Placement of the Firing Hand (the hand that pulls the trigger)
    The firing hand needs to be placed high on the pistol grip. This high hand position will give you better control of the rifle. Combined with a firm grip there will be a reduced amount of hand movement when pulling the trigger. Wrap your thumb over the three fingers on the pistol grip (excluding the trigger finger). This will help isolate the movement of the trigger finger.

    2. Placement of the Non-firing Hand (the hand supporting the rifle).
    The non-firing hand should grip the handguard or stock in the flat portion of the hand between the thumb and forefinger. The fingers should curl naturally around the stock, but they should not grip it tightly. The position of the hand on the stock will depend on the physical size of the shooter. Generally speaking, taller shooters with longer arms will grip the rifle further out, near the sling swivel, while shorter shooters will need to pull their hand rearward. This is sometimes referred to as “short-stocking” the rifle.

    3. Stock Weld
    Stock weld is the contact that the face makes with the stock. It is important because it directly effects your sight alignment. Consistent head placement will help you achieve consistent sight alignment. The human head weighs an average of 8 to 10 pounds. The full weight of the head must rest on the stock. In doing this you achieve two things, a relaxed neck and reduced recoil because of the pressure of the head.

    4. Placement of the Rifle (the contact that is made in the firing shoulder)
    The rifle butt placement needs to be consistent. If this changes between shots, it effects your sight alignment and the effect of recoil. In the prone position the rifle will sit lower in the shoulder compared to other shooting positions. This allows for a more forward head and a lower position as a whole.

    5. Position of the Sling
    The sling should be high on the arm, above the bicep. This way the sling will have less leverage on the arm so it doesn’t cut off the circulation.


Demonstration of the placement of the firing elbow (left) and non-firing elbows (right).

    6. Placement of both the firing, and non-firing elbows
    A guideline for non-firing elbow placement is that there should be 1 ½’’ to 2’’ gap between your non-firing arm and the rifle’s magazine. (NOTE: this references the AR-15 service rifle) Your arm should be almost straight up and down; this will transfer the weight directly down the arm and not to the side (see picture above). Think of the firing arm as only a kind of kickstand, it doesn’t support weight it only holds the firing hand in position.

Variations of the Prone Position

There are two main variations of the prone position; open/spread legged, and bent-legged. The two types will be discussed below.

Open/Spread Leg Position

Demonstration of the Open/Spread Leg Position.

The first position is the open/spread legged position. This is when the shooter spreads their legs shoulder width or more apart. This allows for a more forward pressure on the sling and elbows. This position requires a tighter sling and solid elbow placement. The rifle should sit tight in the shoulder. With this position, your body will be farther behind the rifle compared to the bent leg position, allowing for minimum disturbance from recoil.

Bent Leg Position

Demonstration of the Bent Leg Position.

The bent leg position is when the shooter bends the firing side leg up towards the firing hand making the knee at a rough 90 degree angle to the body. The non-firing leg will remain straight and inline with the body. This will take pressure off the lungs and heart minimizing the pulse from the chest as well as easing the pressure on the lungs which will allow for easy breathing and control.

Summary

You now know the fundamentals of a good prone position, as well as the two types most commonly used. Extensive dry-firing will reveal which is the best position for you. If possible, have a friend take pictures of you in position. This will enable you to better diagnose and correct your errors. Remember, a position must be both fundamentally sound and comfortable. Practice frequently to learn your new position and to develop the conditioning required to endure long days on the range.

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
October 16th, 2018

Western CMP Cup and CMP Games Start Today in Phoenix

CMP Western Games Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona

The 2018 Western CMP Cup and CMP Games Event kicked off today at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, Arizona. The event runs through Monday, October 22, 2018. For 2018 the CMP takes over what were the Creedmoor Cup Matches, and all matches will now follow CMP High Power Rifle Competition Rules. Notably, this year the Cup and Games matches on the High Power range will be fired on the CMP’s electronic targets. That means less time in the pits, and faster cyeling of relay. Also new this year, the CMP will be adding more smallbore events at Ben Avery. Click HERE for full schedule of events.

Western CMP Cup/Games Program | Cup/Games Entry Form | Online Registration

CMP Western Games

The CMP Cup Matches include two CMP 1000 Aggregate Matches followed by a 4-Man Team Match and an EIC Service Rifle Match. Following the CMP Cup Matches will be the CMP Games Matches, which will include Small Arms Firing School (SAFS), Garand/Springfield/Vintage/Modern Military Matches, Carbine Match, Rimfire Sporter match and Vintage Sniper Team Match.

In past years, Dennis DeMille, former Creedmoor Sports General Manager, served as an instructor for the Small Arms Firing School at the Western Games. Below, Dennis shows a young competitor at the CMP Western Games how to adjust his leather sling.

Dennis DeMille Creedmoor Sports Rifle Sling video training set-up

Sling Shooting Tip — The Benefits of Leather
“Many shooters shy away from using a leather sling because they have never been taught how to use one. That’s unfortunate. A leather sling offers more support than a web sling, which is important when competing with the heavier than normal rifles.” — Dennis DeMille

Dennis DeMille High PowerThe Benefits of Dry-Fire Training
Once you set up your sling properly, you’ll need practice. Dennis DeMille stresses the importance of dry-fire practice with sling and shooting coat. Dry-Fire training is essential to the sling disciplines. DeMille, a past National Service Rifle Champion, told us that, for every minute he spent in actual competition, he would spend hours practicing without ammunition. While in the USMC, Dennis would practice in the barracks, working on his hold and dry-firing:

“The most important thing is to spend time off the range practicing. Most of what I learned as a High Power shooter I learned without ammunition — just spending time dry firing and doing holding exercises. Holding exercises will really identify the weak parts of your position. The primary purpose of dry firing is to get you used to shooting an empty rifle. If you can shoot a loaded rifle the same way you shoot an empty rifle then eventually you will become a High Master.”

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September 20th, 2018

Sling Thing: Dennis DeMille Explains How to Set Up Your Sling

Dennis DeMille Creedmoor Sports Rifle Sling video training set-up
Dennis DeMille shows a young competitor at the CMP Western Games how to adjust his leather sling.

Setting-Up a Leather Service Rifle Sling for Competition
So you made the mistake of disassembling your leather service rifle sling, or are intimidated about how to use one? In this Creedmoor Sports InfoZone video, Creedmoor G.M. Dennis DeMille explains how to set up and use a sling. The covers the basics — Dennis starts with a totally disassembled leather service rifle sling and shows you how to set it up properly.

Tip: “Many shooters shy away from using a leather sling because they have never been taught how to use one. That’s unfortunate. In my opinion a leather sling offers more support than a web sling, which is important when competiting with the heavier than normal rifles.”

Configuring the Sling for the Standing (Offhand) Position
In this second in a series of Creedmoor InfoZone videos on the setup and use of the leather service rifle sling, Dennis DeMille details how to configure and best utilize the leather service rifle sling while shooting from the standing position.

Tip: “Putting the Frogs in different hole will change the amount of added elevation a sling provides.”

Looking at Sling Types — Comparing the Features
In this video Dennis showcases a large variety of shooting slings. He explains the strong points of each type so you can choose the sling best suited to your discipline and shooting style.

Dennis DeMille High PowerThe Benefits of Dry-Fire Training
Once you know how to set up your sling properly, you’ll want to practice. Dennis DeMille stresses the importance of dry-fire practice with sling and shooting coat. Dry-Fire training is essential to the sling disciplines. Dennis DeMille, a national Service Rifle Champion, told us that, for every minute he spent in actual competition, he would spend hours practicing without ammunition. While in the USMC, Dennis would practice in the barracks, working on his hold and dry-firing:

“The most important thing is to spend time off the range practicing. Most of what I learned as a High Power shooter I learned without ammunition — just spending time dry firing and doing holding exercises. Holding exercises will really identify the weak parts of your position. The primary purpose of dry firing is to get you used to shooting an empty rifle. If you can shoot a loaded rifle the same way you shoot an empty rifle then eventually you will become a High Master.”

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September 2nd, 2018

Slick Tricks: Techniques and Tools for Big-Batch Case Lubrication

accurateshooter USAMU Handloading hump day case lube lubrication spray can cartridge brass reloading marksmanship

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. A while back, the USAMU’s reloading gurus looked at the subject of case lubrication. Tasked with producing thousands of rounds of ammo for team members, the USAMU’s reloading staff has developed very efficient procedures for lubricating large quantities of cases. This article reveals the USAMU’s clever “big-batch” lube methods. For other helpful hand-loading tips, visit the USAMU Facebook page on upcoming Wednesdays.

Rapid, High-Volume Case Lubrication

Today’s topic covers methods for quickly applying spray lube to cartridge cases prior to sizing. A typical order for this shop may be 25,000 rounds, so [speeding up] the lubrication process can be a real time-saver. While your ammunition lots probably aren’t this large, the efficient methods discussed here may help save a considerable amount of time over your handloading career. Our case lubrication rates range from 1500-1600 cases per hour, to 2400-2500 cases per hour, depending on caliber.

This shop uses virgin brass, whereas most home handloaders use fired brass, which necessitates some small changes at times. These will be discussed as they arise. Begin with fired brass that has been tumbled clean.

Ensure as much tumbling media as possible is removed from the brass, as when it gets into a size die, it can dent cases significantly. This is a good time to round out dents in the case mouths using a tapered tool to prevent damage from the decapping stem.

First, dump the clean cases into a large box or reloading bin. Shake the bin back and forth so that many cases are oriented with the mouths up. Next, pick up as many cases as is convenient with the mouths “up”, from natural clusters of correctly-oriented cases. With 7.62mm-size cases, this is usually 3-4, and with 5.56mm cases, this can be up to 8-10. Place the cases into the rack slots, mouth-up. Doing this in groups rather than singly saves considerable time. Once these clusters have been depleted, it will be time to re-shake the bin to orient more cases “up.”.

This photo shows a case lubrication rack made by a USAMU staffer.
accurateshooter USAMU Handloading hump day case lube lubrication spray can cartridge brass reloading marksmanship

Naturally, adjust the spacing to best fit the calibers you reload. We have found this size … convenient for handling through the various phases of case lubrication/transfer to progressive case feeders for processing. Note that the 1/2-inch angle does not cover much of the critical case area at the base, just forward of the extractor groove, where most re-sizing force will be exerted. As the USAMU uses virgin brass, less lubrication is required for our brass than would be needed for Full Length (FL) sizing of previously-fired brass.

NOTE: The amount applied using our rack is easily enough for our purpose. If using fired brass, be sure to adequately lube this base area to avoid having cases stick in the full-length sizing die.

Using a spray lube, coat the cases adequately, but not excessively, from all sides. Be sure to get some lube into the case mouths/necks, in order to reduce expander ball drag and case stretching/headspace changes. The spray lube this shop uses does not harm primers or powder, and does not require tumbling to remove after lubing.*

accurateshooter USAMU Handloading hump day case lube lubrication spray can cartridge brass reloading marksmanship

Take a close look at the photo above. The USAMU shop uses a common kitchen turntable, which allows the rack to be rotated easily. We place this in a custom-made box which prevents over-spray on to floors and walls.

Angled Box Method for Smaller Cases to be Neck-Sized
A refinement of the above method which especially speeds processing of 5.56x45mm cases is as follows. A small cardboard box which holds about 100 cases is fitted with an angled “floor” secured by tape. With the smaller 5.56mm cases, usually about 8-10 cases per handful can be picked up, already correctly-oriented, and placed into the box together. This prevents having to place them into the rack slots, saving time.

accurateshooter USAMU Handloading hump day case lube lubrication spray can cartridge brass reloading marksmanship

HOWEVER, note that this does not allow nearly as much lube access to the case bodies as does the rack. For our purposes — neck-sizing and setting neck tension on new brass, this works well. If using this procedure with fired brass, take steps to ensure adequate lube to prevent stuck cases.

As always, we hope this will help our fellow handloaders. Good luck, and good shooting!


*A two-part test performed here involved spraying primed cases heavily, while getting more lube into the case mouth/body than even a careless handloader would likely apply. The second part of the test involved literally spraying considerable quantities of the lube directly into the cases, drenching the primers. After a several-day wait to allow the lube to penetrate the primers, they were then fired in a test barrel. All fired normally; no unusual reports were noted. This bolstered confidence that normal amounts of the lube would not adversely affect our ammunition, and we have been pleased with the results over several years.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
July 25th, 2018

Rattle Battle at Camp Perry Next Week

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU
NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU
NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

Next week, on August 2, 2017, the nation’s top Service Rifle Teams will compete in National Trophy Infantry Team (NTIT) Match at Camp Perry, Ohio. In this match, known informally as the “Rattle Battle”, six-member teams shoot at 200, 300, 500 and 600 yards with time limits — 384 rounds total. To win this match, the six shooters must work like a finely-tuned machine. This is a popular match with spectators as there is plenty of action in a short time span. SEE Camp Perry 2018 NM Schedule.


This video shows the winning 2011 NTIT team at Camp Perry. Six USAMU shooters started with a combined load of 384 rounds to be fired at 8 targets from 600 and 500 yards prone, then 300 yards seated, and finally 200 yards standing.

Last year, the USAMU-Barnhart Team won the title with a score of 1439, with the USMC Team seconed as 1406. The record for this match is 1466, set by the USAMU-Remily Team in 1996. 2017 Team Barnhart members included: SFC Shane Barnhart (coach), SFC Evan Hess (captain), SFC Brandon Green, SFC William Pace, SSG Cody Shields, SGT Joseph Peterson, SPC Lane Ichord, and PVT Forrest Greenwood. (U.S. Army photos by Michelle Lunato/released).

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

The National Trophy Infantry Team Match (NTIT) was first fired in 1922 and is part of the the CMP’s annual National Rifle Matches at Camp Perry. The NTIT is called the “Rattle Battle” because it emphasizes extremely fast, accurate fire.

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

Our friend Grant U., who runs the Precision Shooting Journal on Facebook, says the NTIT is a special match, a real “crowd-pleaser: “The National Trophy Infantry Team Match (Rattle Battle)… was always one of my favorite team events. It takes a hell of a lot more planning, practice, and precision than one might expect. You get one shot at it and the entire team had better be running on all cylinders because there are no alibis. Each team of six shooters is allocated 384 rounds and when the teams fire at 600 and 500 yards, it sounds like a war.”

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU
SFC Brandon Green, one of the nation’s finest marksmen, won the 2018 NRA High Power Rifle Championship at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

PHOTOS courtesy U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. See more on USAMU Facebook Page.
Permalink Competition, News, Tactical 5 Comments »
July 1st, 2018

Trigger Options for AR-Platform Rifles

AR15 Timney drop-in trigger two-stage 2-stage single stage

AR-platform rifles are fun and versatile, but the standard, mil-spec triggers leave much to be desired. They tend to be gritty, with creep and heavy pull weight. One of the easiest, most effective AR upgrades is a trigger group swap. An improved fire control group makes a huge difference. There are many aftermarket trigger options for the AR platform rifles. Choose single-stage or two-stage, either standard trigger assembly or unitized “drop-in” trigger, such as those made by Timney or Triggertech.

Read Full AR Trigger Article in NRA Blog HERE »

AR15 Space Gun trigger
When upgraded with a precision trigger and match barrel, AR-platform rigs work great in NRA High Power competitions (Photo from NRA Blog, at Camp Perry).

AR15 Timney drop-in trigger two-stage 2-stage single stageTwo-Stage vs. Single-Stage Triggers
Two-stage triggers have two separate movements. The first stage offers a light, spring-loaded pressure that works against the shooter’s pull until stopping at the second stage – this is called “take-up”. If there is no spring pressure, it is known as “slack”. Should the shooter continue to pull the trigger once he’s arrived at the second stage, the mechanism will operate like a single-stage trigger from there until engaging the sear and firing the gun. Good trigger reset requires the shooter to keep pressure on the trigger, even during reset, to minimize movement of the muzzle.

Single-stage triggers feature no take-up or slack, as they begin engaging the sear as soon as the shooter begins pulling the trigger. Some competitive shooters prefer the two-stage trigger because of the feedback it provides during its first stage, while other shooters, including those using their rifle in tactical scenarios, may want the surety of a single-stage trigger, ready to engage and fire once their finger is inside the trigger guard. Regardless of preference, a good trigger will feature minimal creep and should be free of grittiness, providing a smooth, even break.

AR15 Timney drop-in trigger two-stage 2-stage single stage

Drop-In Trigger Assembly vs. Standard Trigger Group
Once you decide between a single-stage or two-stage trigger, you can choose between standard and drop-in trigger groups. Standard trigger groups feature all the fire control group parts separated, and need to be pieced together and installed much like a mil-spec trigger, while drop-in trigger are pre-assembled and contained within a casing that simply drops in to the receiver and accepts the pins, hence the name.

After-Market Trigger Comparison

Some shooters prefer drop-in triggers due to the ease of installation, while others opt for standard groups so they can access the components individually for cleaning adjustment or replacement. If one piece of a drop-in trigger fails, you’ll need to either replace the entire unit or send it to the manufacturer for repair, whereas you may be able to simply replace the broken component of a standard trigger without needing a whole new trigger set.

Trigger Terminology — “Creep”, “Stacking”, “Overtravel”
“Creep” or “travel” is the distance the trigger moves between the end of take-up and when the trigger breaks to fire the fun. Too much creep can affect accuracy, but no creep can be unsafe, as the shooter may not be prepared to fire. “Stacking” occurs when the trigger weight actually increases during travel — this shouldn’t happen. Lastly, “overtravel” is the distance the trigger continues moving back after the gun fires.

This article is based on a longer story in the NRA Blog.

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 5 Comments »
May 25th, 2018

Big D-Day Match at Talladega Marksmanship Park

CMP Talledega D-Day Garand Match

TALLADEGA, Alabama — The Annual D-Day Anniversary Matches will be held June 8-10, 2018, at the CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park in Alabama. The event commemorates the Anniversary of the Allied landing at Normandy in June, 1944. In 2015, the $20-million-dollar Talledega Park celebrated its Grand Opening with its first D-Day Match. That was a great success, and the 2018 D-Day Match promises to be even better. This has become a hugely popular event — last year there were over 250 competitors. For many, this match was their first opportunity to shoot on electronic targets. That speeds up the relays and nobody complained about not having to do pit duty.

CMP Talledega D-Day Garand Match

It’s not too late to join the fun — there are still slots available for the event. You can register online. For more information, email shall [at] thecmp.org or phone 256-474-4408 ext. 414.

CLICK HERE to REGISTER | CLICK HERE for Match Program with Rules | MAP to Facility

Watch Highlights from 2017 Talladega D-Day Match:

EDITOR: Worth Watching! Guys, this nicely-produced video shows multiple disciplines (including Service Rifle, Carbine, Pistol, and Vintage Sniper) and lets you see how the electronic targets work. We highly recommend you watch this video.

Electronic Targets + No Pit Duty = More Fun
Competitors will be firing all matches on electronic targets. The John C. Garand Range has a huge firing line with monitors at all shooting stations. These connect to three banks of electronic targets positioned at 200, 300, and 600 yards. Spectators can view the results in real time on large monitors.

Talladega CMP Marksmanship Park D-Day match

INVITATION: The CMP’s John C. Garand D-Day Anniversary Match is a big event with many different competitions for rifle and pistol shooters. Along with the signature M1 Garand event, a Vintage Sniper Match, EIC Service Rifle Match, .22 Rimfire Pistol Match, EIC Service Pistol Match, and .22 Rimfire Pistol matches will be conducted.

CMP Talledega D-Day Garand Match

State of the Art Shooting Facility in Alabama
The 500-acre CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park is one of the most advanced outdoor shooting facilities in the Western Hemisphere. The facility includes a 600-yard rifle range, a 100-yard multi-purpose range, and a 50-yard pistol range, equipped with Kongsberg electronic targets and scoring monitors that allow shooters on the firing line to review shots in a matter of seconds. Since the 54 targets at each line register hits and calculate the scores, no pit duty is required at Talladega.

CMP Talledega D-Day Garand Match

CMP Talledega D-Day Garand Match
State-of-the-art Kongsberg target systems are used at the CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park.

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »