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October 5th, 2021

Lessons from Camp Perry 2021 — Tips for Service Rifle Shooters

CMP Camp Perry National Matches Long Range Pistol Rifle Commercial Row History

Hi-Lux Optics has created three videos of interest to across-the-course and service rifle competitors. The first video highlights the appeal of service rifle shooting, with comments from 2021 Camp Perry competitors. The second video offers five tips for new service rifle shooters. The third video focuses on the CMP matches at Camp Perry this past summer. If you have ever wanted to share the Camp Perry experience, this last video provides a great over-view of the event.

Four Reasons to Shoot Service Rifle

Service Rifle shooting is fun yet challenging. You need to develop skills with multiple positions and be able to make rapid wind calls. However, the modern AR-based service rifle is affordable and has relatively low recoil. Highly-customizable, modern service rifles can be fitted with adjustable stocks and optional magnified optics. Older military rifles, such as the M1A and M1 Garand, offer different challenges with heavier-recoiling cartridges, greater weights, and classic iron sights. Hi-Lux asked competitors at Camp Perry during CMP’s 2021 summer games what they enjoyed most about competition with service rifles and Military rifles such as the M1 Garand. The shooters’ responses had four key themes: Self-Improvement, Comradery, History (enjoying shooting rifles with heritage), and Challenge.

Five Tips for New Service Rifle Shooters

This summer at Camp Perry, Hi-Lux reporters asked competitors “What advice do you have for new shooters getting into service rifle?” The most common responses, explained below, were: Keep Learning, Don’t Quit, Stay Calm, Practice Fundamentals, and “Get Started!”. These tips will actually apply to a wide variety of shooting disciplines.

00:21 Keep Learning
Every shot you take is a learning experience. There are so many ways to learn — talk to fellow shooters, watch training videos, attend a training clinic such as those hosted at the CMP Regional Games. Don’t be afraid to ask, and never stop learning.

01:38 Don’t Quit
You may hit a performance plateau. Don’t let that stop you. The only way to get better is to continue moving forward. Persevere and continue your training off-season with dry-fire practice.

03:10 Stay Calm and Focused
Go into each shot with a clear and empty mind. While you’re up on the line, it’s just you and your rifle.

04:20 Practice Fundamentals
With the right mindset in place, practice will strengthen your fundamentals. Dry firing can reveal issues with follow-through and trigger pull that might not be noticeable under recoil. This is especially true with offhand shooting.

05:48 Get Started
You’re not too old to start a new discipline. There are many free clinics available, and many local ranges have regular service rifle competitions where you can hone your skills. Learn more about Service Rifle shooting clinics on the CMP website.

The 2021 National Matches at Camp Perry — Return of the Games

After cancellation in 2020 due to COVID, the CMP National Matches at Camp Perry returned in summer 2021 with a full selection of matches for pistol and rifle. This video showcases the unique experience that is Camp Perry — the leading venue for American marksmanship competition since 1907. The video covers different disciplines, including Service Rifle, M1 Garand matches, Vintage Sniper, and more.

CMP Camp Perry National Matches Long Range Pistol Rifle Commercial Row History

History of Camp Perry

“In the year 1907 the machinery of the National Matches, now grown to immense proportions, was moved to the mammoth new range at Camp Perry.”
—James Drain, Arms and the Man, August 1911

Federal legislation originally launched the National Matches. The 1903 legislation also established the National Matches, commissioned the National Trophy and provided funding to support the Matches. The National Matches have been held at Camp Perry since 1907. The range is located along the shores of Lake Erie in northern Ohio near Port Clinton. The site was first acquired in 1906, in response to the need for a larger facility for military training and the NRA’s shooting programs. In 1906 Gen. Ammon B. Crichfield, Adjutant General of Ohio, ordered construction of a new shooting facility on the shores of Lake Erie, 45 miles east of Toledo, Ohio. The original land for Camp Perry was purchased in 1906, and the reservation was named after Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the American naval commander who won the Battle of Put-in-Bay during the War of 1812.

NRA National Matches

On August 19, 1907, Cpl. L. B. Jarrett fired the first shot at the new Camp Perry Training Site. And that year, 1907, Camp Perry held its first National Pistol and Rifle Championship events. This location has hosted the annual National Matches ever since (though they were cancelled in 2020 due to COVID). Typically over 4,000 competitors attend the National Matches each year, making it the most popular shooting competition in the western hemisphere.

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August 30th, 2021

SSG Amanda Elsenboss Wins National High Power Championship

Amanda Elsenboss 2021 High Power Champion championship Camp atterbury service rifle National Guard USAMU

Hail the new Champion — SSG Amanda Elsenboss is the 2021 NRA High Power Rifle National Champion. Amanda secured the High Power title with a Grand Aggregate score of 2386-133X. This is a major achievement for Amanda. In winning the coveted High Power title, Amanda is now just the third female to earn this honor, along with Nancy Tompkins and Nancy’s daughter Sherri Gallagher. And we believe this is the first time a woman won the High Power title shooting a Service Rifle in all matches.

Amanda Elsenboss 2021 High Power Champion championship Camp atterbury service rifle National Guard USAMU

Elsenboss, formerly with the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, now competes with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard Team. She is classified as a High Master in NRA High Power. Finishing second overall was SSG John Coggshall of the Army National Guard with a score of 2380-125X. Coggshall, like Amanda, shot a Service Rifle. Kenneth Lankford, shooting a Match Rifle, finished third with 2379-104X.


CLICK HERE for Full High Power Championships Results »

The match was held August 22–28 at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. On her Facebook Page, Amanda posted:

“Today was a great day. After four long, hot days on the range I won the 2021 NRA [High Power] Rifle Championships. Thank you to everyone for the support and encouragement along the way. Congratulations to John Coggshall for coming in second overall and second Service Rifle, and to Kirk Freeman for being third Service Rifle. It was some great shooting by the Guard… and everyone really making the last day count.”

Amanda Elsenboss 2021 High Power Champion championship Camp atterbury service rifle National Guard USAMU

Amanda added: “I have to thank my biggest supporter — Perry Sabertooth X Mayfly” (shown above in Amanda’s shooting cart at Camp Atterbury).

Before Her High Power Victory, Amanda Took 2nd in Long Range

Amanda Elsenboss 2021 High Power Champion championship Camp atterbury service rifle National Guard USAMU
Before winning the 2021 High Power National Championship, Amanda took second in the 2021 NRA Long Range National Championship, also held at Camp Atterbury.

This has been a great summer for Amanda at Camp Atterbury. She finished second overall at the 2021 NRA Long-Range Nationals, behind Oliver Milanovic, and she also won the Canadian Cup at Atterbury. Prior to that, competing at Camp Perry with the National Guard All Guard Marksmanship Team, Amanda shot perfect individual scores in both the National Trophy and Hearst Doubles team events. Her 500-34X in the National Trophy Team (NTT) event set a National Record.

Amanda, then shooting with the USAMU team, previously won the NRA Long Range National Championship in 2019. Now that she has won BOTH High Power and Long Range National Championships, Amanda can truly be ranked among the most notable shooters in U.S. history.

Amanda Elsenboss — America’s New Leading Lady of Shooting

SSG Amanda Elsenboss 2021 NRA High Power Championship

Before his retirement from the U.S. Army, Emil Praslick III coached Amanda as a shooter with the U.S. Army Markmanship (USAMU) team. Emil, considered one of the greatest shooting coaches in the nation, was impressed with Amanda’s skill and dedication. Emil posted: “[Amanda is] by far the easiest shooter to coach I’ve ever worked with. A machine.”

SSG Amanda Elsenboss high power championship NRA Camp Atterbury

Video Interview with SSG Amanda Elsenboss
This video, featuring SSG Amanda Elsenboss, was created by the USAMU to mark Women’s History Month. Amanda talks about her career in the military, and her love of competitive shooting. This is a great video, well worth watching. There are images from many shooting ranges around the nation.

SSG Amanda Elsenboss. CLICK Speaker Icon to Hear Sound!

When serving with the USAMU, Amanda shot the sling division at the Berger SW Nationals:
SSG Amanda Elsenboss

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August 21st, 2021

How to Install and Adjust Competition Rifle Slings

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.

The NRA High Power Over-the-Course (OTC) National Championship will be held at Camp Atterbury over the next 7 days. Firing will be done in multiple positions — prone, sitting/kneeling, and standing. Proper support and adjustment of the sling is vital for successful High Power competition. In this short article, Dennis DeMille, a past Service Rifle Champion, explains how to set-up a sling on match rifles.

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, Dennis DeMille (past Creedmoor G.M.) 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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August 8th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: Springfield M1A at Camp Perry

Springfield M1A match high power rifle

2021 CMP Springfield M1A Match at Camp Perry
Today we feature the M1A rifle. This is the one day in the year when the rugged M1A rifle, descended from the M1 Garand, is the star of the show at Camp Perry. The 14th Annual Springfield Armory M1A Match takes place today, August 8, 2021 at the CMP National Rifle Matches.

History of the Springfield M1A Match
The Springfield Armory M1A match began with one man’s idea and passion. Springfield Armory’s Mike Doy witnessed the waning of classic M1 Garand and M1A rifles from the competitive High Power firing lines. “I really wanted to get those M1A rifles out of safes and closets and back out onto the field. So [13] years ago, I promoted the idea of running an M1A-specific match at Camp Perry. That first year we had over 600 competitors and spectators.” Now the match offers some of the biggest pay-outs at Camp Perry. In recent years, Springfield Armory has donated over $25,000 worth of cash and prizes, including a $2,000 cash award to the overall winner.

Folks, take the time to WATCH this 3-minute video. It has great match footage of Camp Perry and interviews with M1A competitors. Well worth watching!

Springfield M1A match Nick Till
Nick Till in 2009 M1A Match. Nick was the 2007 Service Rifle Nat’l Champion. Photo courtesy NRA Blog.

Springfield M1A at Camp Perry National Matches
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. The CMP hosts a major M1A Match every year at Camp Perry, sponsored by Springfield Armory. Significant prizes are awarded. In past years M1A Match competitors took home over $25,000 worth of cash and merchandise. This year’s Springfield M1A match will be held at Camp Perry on August 8, 2021.

M14 rifle Springfield M1A camp perry Shooting Sports USA
Photo courtesy Civilian Marksmanship Program.

Springfield M1A Match 2016 — Rapid Fire Sitting Stage

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.”

In this video, YouTube Reviewer Hickok 45 compares the M1 Garand and the M14/M1A:

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.

M1A Match Equipment Rules and Course of Fire
Renewed interest in the M1A, coupled with major sponsorship from Springfield Armory, led to the the first dedicated Camp Perry M1A match in 2008. That first-ever match proved a huge success, drawing over 500 shooters. This year, match organizers also expect hundreds of shooters.

Equipment rules allow pretty much all types/grades of M1As in the match. The one-day course of fire consists of 50 shots at 300 yards on the NRA MR-65F target, as follows: 5 sighters; 20 shots slow-fire prone; 10 shots rapid-fire prone; 10 shots rapid-fire, kneeling or sitting; and 10 shots slow-fire standing. Here are photos from the 2014 Springfield MIA match, courtesy NRA General Operations.

Springfield M1A Match Camp Perry

Springfield M1A Match Camp Perry

Springfield M1A Match Camp Perry

Springfield M1A Match Camp Perry

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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June 30th, 2021

Marksmanship Training Sessions at Camp Perry this Summer

Camp Perry small arms firing school training ohio

How would you like to get rifle and pistol training from some of the best marksmen in the country for a modest charge and ammo included! This summer, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) will offer Small Arms Firing Schools (SAFS) at the Camp Perry National Guard Training Facility. Choose from pistol, smallbore rifle, rimfire sporter, or service rifle courses. No prior competition experience is required, and the CMP even supplies the guns. For more details on the Small Arms Firing Schools CLICK THIS LINK.

2021 Camp Perry Small Arms Firing School Dates:

Pistol: July 13
Smallbore (.22 LR) Rifle: July 20
Rimfire Sporter Rifle: July 24
Service Rifle: July 31 – August 1

REGISTRATION
Registration is now Open. You can register on-line on the CMP web site and make payment via credit card.

The SAFS courses have been a staple at the annual Camp Perry National Matches since 1918, educating over 1,000 pistol and rifle participants each year. Formulated specially to ease in those of who are new to marksmanship, the school is led by members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit along with qualified civilian and military professionals. The minimum age for Pistol SAFS students is 14 while the minimum age for Rifle SAFS students is 12.

Camp Perry small arms firing school training ohio

Currently, the CMP offers SAFS courses in smallbore rifle (.22 caliber), rimfire sporter rifle (.22 caliber), centerfire service rifle (M16), and centerfire pistol (M9). Since the schools are intended for beginners, no past firearm experience or gun ownership is required to participate. All ammo will be provided by the CMP along with the M9 pistols and M16 rifles. NOTE: Smallbore students can request to borrow a Walther KK300 for the class — send request to bdonoho@thecmp.org.

SAFS utilizes both classroom and live-fire training that covers basic instruction and firing practices as well as a scope of competition skills. Students in the Pistol (M9) and Rifle (M16) courses will also be entered into a true Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) Match. Though firing in the match is not required, it allows participants the chance to earn four EIC leg points toward a Distinguished Badge.

Small Arms Firing School COSTS

Pistol and Rifle: $50.00 for adults, $35.00 for juniors
Advanced Pistol School: $20.00 for adults ($15.00 for juniors)
Smallbore School: $35.00 for juniors
Rimfire School: $35 for adults, $25 for juniors

WHAT YOU GET

For the entry fee(s), students receive:
All instruction
All needed ammunition for the school
Use of an M9 9mm service pistol or an M-16 service rifle (with Walther KK300 for smallbore on request).
USAMU Guidebook for the particular program
SAFS T-shirt
SAFS certificate

Camp Perry small arms firing school training ohio

NOTE: All Pistol and Rifle SAFS students also receive automatic entry in the M9 Pistol EIC or M16 Rifle EIC Matches at no additional cost, a special EIC match pin and an opportunity to win four EIC credit points.

National Matches 2021 Full Schedule
To view the full schedule of the 2021 National Matches at CLICK this SCHEDULE LINK.

Camp Perry 2021

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June 6th, 2021

Sunday Gunday: AR Service Rifle — Focus on Ammo & Reloading

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels
The 600-yard target has an X-Ring 6 inches (1 MOA) across, while the 10-Ring spans 12 inches (2 MOA).

The following article is about reloading for NRA/CMP Highpower Rifle competition and is geared toward competitors shooting the AR15 Service Rifle. In Highpower Rifle competition, shooters fire in four stages: Standing slow-fire at 200 yards, Sitting rapid-fire at 200 yards, Prone rapid-fire at 300 yards, and Prone slow-fire at 600 yards. Competitors use a sling for support in all positions but standing. A typical AR15 Service Rifle sports a 20″ free-floated barrel and a 4.5-pound trigger. Service Rifle scopes are limited to maximum power of 4.5X.

Thoughts on Loading for Service Rifles, Particularly for 600 Yards

by Danny Arnold, Team CMP
Article originally published in CMP Shooting News

Before we get started, I want to stress that all of the information that follows is geared toward the .223/5.56 Service Rifle. That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing here for anyone else, but the .223/5.56 Service Rifle platform is where I’ve spent the majority of my time, so here we go.

There is only one “Perfect” 600–yard load for my rifle, True or False? This example is more anecdotal than scientific, but it provides some food for thought….

Team CMP spent the early part of March competing in the Orange Blossom Regional. As soon as we got on the range, Sara Rozanski (Team CMP member) started having problems with her 600-yard ammunition. Nearly 1/3 of her cases were exiting the chamber minus the primers. I offered to swap my ammunition for hers, suspecting that my Wylde chamber would be more forgiving than her CLE chamber — a solution that seemed to solve the problem. At least neither of us was blowing primers!

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels

Sara’s ammunition was a factory load using a well-known 80+ grain bullet with an unknown primer and powder, using brass from a respected manufacturer. My load was a different brand of 80-grain bullet, with my choice of powder and primer, all in brass made by someone else. Given the color of the primers, the only thing that our ammunition could possibly have had in common was the brand of powder… maybe. So, how did we shoot?

Sara and I shot the two-person team together and the entire 2,400 Aggregate, although on different relays. Sara’s combined 600-yard score was 780-28X (97.5%). Mine was a 783-24X (97.87%). Our scores were never more than two points apart on any of the four days. Keep in mind that we were using each other’s ammunition the entire time.

So, we had different barrels, chambers and ammunition, but similar results. That goes back to the idea that a good load will perform similarly if fired in a good barrel.

Are We Too Focused on Ballistic Coefficients (BCs)?
The revailing wisdom has always trended toward loading the highest-BC bullet we could find and pushing it as fast as possible. Back in the early ’90s when I got started with the AR15, the 80-grain Sierra was state of the art. Actually, I picked up all of my Leg points with it, although today it looks a bit dated — kinda like me.

So, the question I’ll pose is this: Would you rather shoot a high-BC bullet that groups 3/4-MOA (minute of angle) or a lower-BC bullet that groups into one-half-MOA traveling 50 feet-per-second faster? The reason that I posed this question is a situation I found myself in a decade ago. Our coach decided that he wanted us to pair-fire some 600-yard for practice. Unfortunately, I hadn’t gotten the memo and all that I had available was my normal short-line ammunition, loaded with a 77-grain bullet. The shooter I was paired with was using a higher-BC bullet than I was, but in the end, we both shot 198s.

Admittedly, using 77-grainers meant that coach had to work a little harder to keep us together on target, but it was a teaching moment for me. I knew that my upper shot 77s better than the available bullets in the 80-grain range, so I cranked out a windage table for the 77-grain bullet at 600 yards and shot those for the rest of the season. After all, the wind blows ALL bullets around. It’s just a matter of knowing what YOUR bullet is doing.

With the shortages that we’re experiencing right now, a lighter bullet may be all that you have available for the 2021 season. That doesn’t mean that you’re disadvantaged though.

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels
Danny Arnold teaching Highpower Clinic at 2021 CMP Eastern Games

Loading High-BC Bullets
In the past decade, several bullets have appeared that weigh 80-grains or more. One thing that many of them have in common is a very sharp nose profile, whether metal or polymer. The question is: Are you using the right seating stem?

The jacket material in the bullet’s nose is very thin. If you section a bullet, you’ll find that there is a surprising amount of air space in the nose. If you’re using older seating dies, your seating stem may be contacting the bullet nose too close to the tip, where the jacket is the both thinnest and is unsupported by the lead core. This can manifest itself either as a deformation at the very tip of the bullet or as a circular dent around the bullet nose that you can see and feel with your thumbnail. I think we can all agree that denting a bullet is usually considered a bad thing.

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels

One company goes so far as to recommend their proprietary seating stem for use with their high-BC bullets. Other companies leave it up to you to find a seating stem that will allow the bullet nose to go deeper into the seating stem, moving the contact point further down the bullet where the jacket is thicker and supported by the core material.

Seating Depth and Bullet Preferences
Some bullets don’t mind some “jump” into the lands, but some really do. Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t tell you much about that. Your chamber configuration (Wylde, CLE, or some hybrid of the two) and the bullet that you choose will determine your optimal seating depth. Long and short of it, a quality measuring tool to determine seating depth is a necessity these days. Keep in mind that if you’re doing this with a brand new barrel, the throat is likely going to change slightly in the first 200 rounds and may need to be re-measured. Actually, since all of your short range ammunition has to be loaded to magazine length, you’re probably better off developing your short range loads before starting on long range load development. That gives the throat a chance to wear in a bit on a new barrel.

Brass Prep — Why It Is Important
When match-grade AR15s first arrived on the scene, it was amazing how little it took to get them to shoot well. Other than making sure that I had brass from the same lot and running it through a set of match-grade dies, I did nothing. Of course, we were also using a post front sight. Was the occasional bad shot me, the rifle, the load or just an archaic sighting system?

Transitioning to optics has caused me to reconsider how and what I do in my reloading process: That, and having some extra time on my hands to experiment.

A little (or a lot) of time spent with a neck turning tool, a primer-pocket uniformer and a flash-hole reamer will quickly show you how consistent brass is by manufacturer and even by individual lot. That exercise also makes the prices charged for high-quality brass seem ridiculously cheap. That doesn’t mean that I advocate neck-turning or other uniforming practices, nor do I advocate spending scandalous amounts of money on long-range brass. However, our sport is about consistency. The consistency of your brass is a matter of choice, whether you choose to simply segregate cases by weight (cheap option), neck turn (labor intensive) or open your wallet a little wider for premium brass.

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels

Weighing Charges vs. Throwing with Powder Measure
To measure or weigh? For a long time, I used a powder measure to throw all of my 600-yard loads. The powder I was using metered well, and the results downrange didn’t justify the extra time spent with a scale. That was in the day of iron sights though. Nowadays, I’m throwing my charges and trickling up to the desired weight as measured on a scale that weighs to a 100th of a grain.

To quantify the difference between individually weighing each charge versus throwing charges with a powder measure, I weighed six kernels of powder that I trickled into the pan and then dumped them into the hopper. Going through that process 10 times, I came up with an average weight of .08 grains for six kernels. Next, I threw 50 charges for weighing using my powder measure. If I felt the measure hanging up as it cut kernels, I put the charge back into the hopper without weighing it.

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels
That’s six kernels of powder sitting in the pan — average weight .08 grains.

Those 50 smoothly-thrown charges varied .26 grains from lowest to highest, with the majority varying no more than .16 grains from highest to lowest. If the desired weight was exactly in the middle, at worst you’d be .13 grains (9-10 kernels) low or high, with the majority being off no more than .08 grains (6 kernels) above or below the desired charge weight. Is that enough to send a shot outside the 2-MOA 10-Ring? Probably not.

Has more consistent brass and weighing charges to one-hundredth (0.01) of a grain added up to higher scores? Honestly, this question is hard to answer. Looking at the results on paper at 200 yards, using a powder that meters well combined with a consistent touch on the loading lever doesn’t appear measurably different than meticulously weighing each and every powder charge. Looking back over my 600-yard plots however, I can see a trend toward a group that is closer to X-Ring height.

Since the bullseye is widest at the center, shooting groups that are the height of the X-ring gives you more room for error when the wind is blowing. That can translate into higher 600-yard scores.

How You Load Your Ammunition vs. How You Load Your Rifle
The loading/chambering cycle of the AR-15 is, in a word, violent. You have a relatively heavy bolt and carrier assembly under power of a stout buffer spring slamming forward to chamber each round of ammunition. By design, those rounds were supposed to be held securely by the magazine feed lips until the bolt stripped them off the follower. Obviously, due to their overall length, 600-yard loads can’t be chambered that way. Although the barrel extension is funnel-shaped, it’s also got a lot of “teeth” ringing the inside of it (see below).

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels

Whether you’re using a standard magazine or a single-round loading device (SLED), dropping a round in the loading port and releasing the bolt is an act of faith in that you’re trusting the bullet to arrive in the chamber undamaged.

Ask yourself, how many times have you seen someone drop a round on the follower, press the bolt release and watch as the bolt jammed on a cockeyed round? If that happens once every 100 tries, how many times did the bolt close on a scratched, dented, or misaligned bullet? Could that be the cause of the occasional errant shot?

My technique is to drop each round on top of the SLED and then push it slightly forward with my finger, partially chambering it before releasing the bolt. Admittedly, some people may be unable to do this due to body configuration or left-handedness, but why go to all the trouble of loading “perfect” ammunition and then damage it on the way into the chamber?

Now that we’ve covered bullets, brass, and assorted errata we can move on to discussing loads for 600 Yards…

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels highpower target
The NRA Highpower 600-yard target has a 6-inch (1 MOA) X-Ring, and a 12-inch (2 MOA) 10-Ring.

Load Development for 600 Yards

Finding a load for 600 yards is a lot like finding a load for short range. Once I decide on a bullet, powder, primer, velocity range and a measured guesstimate of seating depth, I load 10 rounds of each test load, increasing in 0.2 (2/10) grain increments. I test them from the prone position at 200 yards. Ideally, I want to see two loads that are 0.2 (2/10) of a grain apart that shoot almost identical groups. The load that I choose will fall in between the two best shooting loads that I tested. If the first load is XX.2 grains and the second is XX.4 grains, my chosen load will be XX.3 grains.

Why develop loads in 0.2-grain (tenths) increments if I have a scale that measures in 0.01-grain (hundredths) increments? Or, why not test in 0.1-grain increments?

For me, working in 0.2-grain increments gets me to the results quicker. Also, there is a difference between accuracy and consistency in this scenario. Developing loads in 0.2-grain increments gets me to an accurate load. Producing that load using a scale that accurately measures to .01-grain insures a consistent load, assuming that I do my part.

Once I’ve settled on a load, it’s time to play with seating depth, if I choose to. If I’m lucky and the groups are acceptable as-is, I won’t do anything. If I think there’s room for improvement, I’ll experiment a little. Depending on the bullet, changing the seating depth by a couple of thousandths one way or the other may change the group size. During this phase of testing, it’s a good idea to chamber a round and see if the entire round will then extract. If you leave a bullet stuck in the throat, your rounds are too long. Finding that out at a match can ruin an otherwise good day.

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels
Danny Arnold shooting his AR15 Service Rifle, standing position at 2021 CMP Eastern Games.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your barrel is not static. Every round fired has an effect on the throat, vaporizing and scouring away metal until the distance the bullet travels before meeting the rifling measurably increases. If you have chosen a bullet that shoots best when close to the lands, you’ll need to periodically re-measure and possibly change your bullet seating depth to maintain that optimal relationship.

The Elephant in the Room — User Skill Level

There’s really not a delicate way to put this, so I won’t try. There’s little point in spending time and effort developing a load that shoots into half-MOA off the bench if you’re only capable of shooting 2 MOA using a sling right now.

That doesn’t mean that there’s no hope. On the contrary, it just means that your time and effort is better spent practicing with some good short-range ammunition on reduced targets at a 100 or 200-yard range. At that distance, wind is not a factor and your technique can be improved more quickly so you’re in a position to benefit from that ½ MOA ammunition.

About Team CMP
CMP has created a Highpower Team with top competitors. Team CMP competes at several events throughout the year and most importantly, helps to teach Highpower Clinics at CMP Competition Events. Learn from Team CMP at Camp Perry during the Advanced Highpower Clinic, scheduled this year for July 30 through August 1, 2021. Visit the Highpower Clinic Web Page for more information.

The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally-chartered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, visit www.TheCMP.org.

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June 3rd, 2021

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 multiple Rulebooks:

The 2020-21 8th Edition of the CMP Games Rifle and Pistol Competition Rules for CMP-sanctioned matches for As-Issued Military Rifle and Pistol events including Special M9 and M16 EIC Matches, and Service Pistol, and Rimfire Sporter.

The 2020-21 24th Edition CMP Highpower Competition Rules for CMP-sponsored and sanctioned matches for Highpower Rifle events in National Trophy Matches, Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) Matches, CMP Cup Matches and other CMP-sanctioned competitions.

The 2020-21 24th Edition CMP Pistol Competition Rules for CMP-sponsored and sanctioned Pistol Matches in the National Matches, National Trophy 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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May 9th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: Tactical Twins – SFC Brandon Green’s PRS Rigs

SFC Brandon Green PRS Rifle Micarta Foundation Stocks

What does a three-time High Power National Champion choose for PRS comps? A set of twins. Twin rifles that is. SFC Brandon Green of the USAMU is one of America’s best marksmen. He’s excelled in Service Rifle and High Power disciplines, and now he’s getting very serious about the Precision Rifle Series (PRS). Brandon recently took delivery of “Twins” — two impressive rifles optimized for PRS competition. Green told us: “The Twins are ready for business! The silver one is a 6XC and the black one is a 6.5×47 Lapua”. Both rifles feature Impact Precision actions (with AICS-type mags), 24″ Proof stainless barrels, and Fat Bastard muzzle brakes. Rifle work was done by Stuteville Precision (Wade Stuteville) and Exodus Rifles (Joe Walls).

SFC Brandon Green PRS Rifle Micarta Foundation Stocks
In the 6XC, Brandon runs Berger 105gr VLDs in Norma 6XC brass. For the 6.5×47 Lapua he shoots 140gr Berger Hybrids or 143gr Hornady ELD-Xs in Lapua brass. Both rifles have stainless steel Proof barrels, but the 6.5x47L has a matte black Cerakote finish.

Brandon loves his new Twins. He said he likes the “feel” of the guns with the Foundation stocks: “These rifles weigh around 17 pounds with optics. They feel very solid under recoil — without the ‘tuning fork’ vibration you can get with a metal-chassis gun. They feel like a good wood-stocked gun, but the material is stronger and more rigid than wood. I’ve heard that guys are having success with these Foundation stocks with the actions installed without pillars or conventional bedding.” Currently Brandon is running both guns without action-screw pillars. He did have one skim-bedded, but he doesn’t think that was really needed. “Both rifles hammer now”, Brandon tells us.

Green Runs Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27x56mm FFP scopes on both rifles:
SFC Brandon Green PRS Rifle Micarta Foundation Stocks

High-Tech Micarta Stock Material
At first glance, those stocks may look like wood, but they are actually a special “Micarta” material that is strong, durable, and stable. Micarta, often used for knife handles, is a “a brand name for composites of fiberglass, carbon fiber, or other fabric in a thermosetting plastic.” The stock-maker, Foundation Stocks, says Micarta offers some distinct advantages over laminated wood or conventional fiberglass: “The solid block of material gives us a dense, homogenous material that is absent of any voids or air pockets commonly found in composite stocks. The high compression strength of the material allows us to build an action/DBM specific stock that requires no bedding or pillars. The material is very durable and stable in extreme environments. We use advanced CAD software to design and model our stocks, working in conjunction with action manufacturers and rifle builders to provide exact fitment.”

Here is a close-up of a Foundation Stock showing the distinctive Micarta texture:
SFC Brandon Green PRS Rifle Micarta Foundation Stocks

Tactical Competition vs. NRA High Power Competition
Brandon says PRS competition is tough: “PRS can be pretty humbling, but it’s been a lot of fun and a great challenge. For a shooter (like me) with a Service Rifle/High Power background, the variations in stages combined with the time limits can be very challenging. And the unusual shooting positions put a new spin on things. PRS is definitely a different ball game, but I really enjoy it.”

SFC Brandon Green 2015 High Power National Championship
SFC Brandon Green honored as the 2015 High Power National Champion. Brandon also won the HP Championship in 2013, and in 2018.

Life before the Twins… Here is Brandon, with his previous PRS rig, at the MasterPiece Arms Precision Rifle Shootout, a PRS event at the CORE Shooting Solutions Range in Florida:

SFC Brandon Green PRS Rifle Micarta Foundation Stocks

SFC Brandon Green
Three-time National High Power Champion SFC Brandon Green (left above) set four new National Records at Camp Perry in 2017, when he won the Service Rifle Championship.

When He’s not Competing in PRS, Brandon Excels with his Service Rifle
This video shows SFC Brandon Green shooting his modern AR Service Rifle in the off-hand (standing), prone (2:20 time), and sitting (3:25 time) positions in competition.

SFC Brandon Green is a shooting superstar. Green won his third NRA National High Power Rifle Championship in 2018 at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. He dominated the High Power Championship cycle, finishing eight points and ten Xs ahead of his nearest competitor. Brandon also won High Power National Championships in 2015 and 2013. And in 2017 he set new records at the CMP’s National Trophy Matches at Camp Perry, winning the Service Rifle title. One of the greatest marksmen in the nation’s history, SFC Green excels at all positions, both rapid-fire and slow-fire.

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April 22nd, 2021

AR, Garand, M1A — Six Rules for Semi-Auto 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

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
March 3rd, 2021

Marksmanship Training — PRO Tips from the USAMU

USAMU Shooting USA Pro tips

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU), in cooperation with Shooting USA TV, has created a series of instructional Pro Tip pages covering a wide range of shooting disciplines. All totaled, there are more than 50 USAMU Pro Tips. Most relate to rifle marksmanship but there are also numerous tips for shotgunners and pistol shooters. Each Pro Tip entry includes multiple photos and 6-15 paragraphs, in an easy-to-follow format. Many Pro Tips also include an instructional video produced by Shooting USA. Here are three Pro Tip videos, and links to seven more Pro Tip web pages.

USAMU TOP TEN PRO TIPS

1. Reading the Wind with SGT Sherri Gallagher.
Apart from gravity, wind has the most pull on the bullet as it travels down range. Being able to accurately read the wind and mirage will greatly enhance your performance on the rifle range. National Champion, SGT Gallagher gives you some of her tips.

2. Angle Shooting with SFC (Ret.) Emil Praslick.
SFC Praslick shows you how to determine the angle to your target, and then how to include that to change your data necessary to hit your target on the first shot.

3. Rifle Grip, Stance and Body Position for 3-Gun with SFC Daniel Horner.
Professional 3-gun marksman SFC Daniel Horner, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU), give tips on how to properly handle a semi-automatic rifle, including grip, stance and body position.

4. Service Rifle Positions (with SFC Brandon Green)

5. Rifling and Twist Rate (with SFC Ret. Emil Praslick)

6. Setting the Right Zero (with SPC Ty Cooper)

7. Practice Drills (with SFC Lance Dement)

8. Using the Sling

9. Getting Your AR Zeroed

10. 3-Gun Rifles By Division (with SFC Daniel Horner)

USAMU Pro Tips Sherri Gallagher Emil Praslick Daniel Horner

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February 27th, 2021

Fundamentals of Marksmanship — Learn from a Champion

USAMU Basic Riflemans Course SFC Brandon Green High Power Shooting Training

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) has produced an excellent series of videos covering the Basic Rifleman’s Course. If you are getting started in High Power shooting, or want to improve your position shooting skills, this series is well worth watching. And these videos are not just for service rifle shooters — even bench shooters can benefit from these videos, particularly Part 5, which explains how to estimate wind speed and direction. The lead instructor for these videos is SFC Brandon Green, three-time National High Power Champion, and 2017 Service Rifle Champion. When SFC Green talks, you should listen.

SFC Brandon Green is a shooting superstar. Green won his third NRA National High Power Rifle Championship in 2018 at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. He dominated the HP Championship cycle, finishing eight points and ten Xs ahead of his nearest competitor. Brandon also won High Power National Championships in 2015 and 2013. One of the greatest marksmen in the nation’s history, SFC Green excels at all positions, both rapid-fire and slow-fire.

Part 5 — Wind and Weather Estimation (Very Useful for All Shooters)


Note: This video includes a hit location “target analysis” in the first 6 minutes.

Part 4 — Minute of Angle Explained

Part 3 — Ballistics and Zeroing

Part 2 — Positions, Sight Alignment, and Natural Point of Aim (Very Useful)

USAMU Basic Riflemans Course SFC Brandon Green High Power Shooting Training

Part 1 — Aiming and Sight Picture

SFC Brandon Green 2017 CMP Camp Perry USAMU Service Rifle
SFC Brandon Green (left above) has set multiple National Records at Camp Perry.

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February 20th, 2021

New Lens Reducer Product May Benefit Some Scope Users

White Oak ghost ring lens reducer assembly

“Ever had trouble calling your shots? Everything looked and felt great and you swore it was a 10, but it came up as a wide 9? This may be a result of inconsistent eye placement behind the optic. Here’s an affordable solution to help you stay in the 10 Ring.” — Creedmoor Sports

White Oak ghost ring lens reducer assemblyHere is an interesting new product. This scope accessory attaches to the rear (ocular) lens on a scope. It has a center hole in the middle that can help get you on target faster, and get your eye exactly centered in the scope. That will eliminate certain parallax errors.

This scope accessory was invented by White Oak, which calls it a lens reducer assembly. This features a transparent lens with a chamfer around the center hole which acts as a ghost ring, centering your eye in middle of the optic. The transparent lens allows a full field of view so you can still see surrounding targets and target numbers. The lens is held in place by a Butler Creek lens cap.

White Oak’s unique “ghost ring” design allows a full field of view so you can still see surrounding targets and target numbers but acts as a ghost ring centering your eye in the hole, minimizing effects of parallax and helping you call your shots better.

The Lens Reducer Assembly is currently offered by Creedmoor Sports for these three optics PLUS other scopes which use the same Butler Creek Cover listed after each scope:

Konus XTC-30, $34.95, (Butler Creek #18 lens cover)
Weaver K-4, $34.95, (Butler Creek #09A lens cover)
Vortex PST 1-4, $34.95, (Butler Creek #14 lens cover)

White Oak ghost ring lens reducer assembly

To Install: Simply press the lens into the lens cap until it is against the shoulder inside the cap. It will be a snug fit, the snug fit ensures the hole is centered. Then install the lens cap on your scope as usual.

NOTE: Some folks may look at this and be concerned that the grayish chamfered ring will obscure vision. Yes and no. The actual “image” that comes through the scope is a very small-diameter circle of light (“exit pupil”) that will fit fully inside the small, unobscured, fully open circle. So if your head is properly centered there will be NO obstruction. However, if you get out of alignment, then, yes, you’ll see the gray chamfered area, just as you’d see the outside of a ghost ring sight.

Permalink New Product, Optics 1 Comment »
January 31st, 2021

Sunday GunDay: 7.5-lb AR for CMP’s Modern Military Matches

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

Retro is back — at least in the CMP’s Standard Modern Military Rifle AR class. Though Service Rifle competition has evolved to allow optics and heavy barrel profiles, the Standard Modern Military Rifle (AR category) is truly a “blast from the past”. Overall weight is limited to 7.5 pounds, and the rifle must be equipped with iron sights (Rule 5.2.3). In addition, the rifle “be based on the M-16 rifle or be based on an AR design” with “exterior configuration similar [to] the original military or military-type rifle”. See Rules.

With this in mind our friend Dennis Santiago recently put together his own AR-platform Standard Modern Military Rifle for matches run under CMP Competition Rules. This is not quite a classic AR, as it has a metal free-float handguard (vs. plastic handguards), but it IS light (7.3 pounds), and it does have iron sights — a key requirement for Standard Modern Military class rifles.

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

Here is Santiago’s CMP Modern Military Rifle (Standard Class) with an ultralight free float tube that has a titanium barrel nut, and mechanical, center-able front sight. The barrel is an AR-Stoner brand 20″-long 1:7″ Government contour chambered in 5.56×45 NATO. Dennis says: “This makes the 7.5-lb weight limit with a few ounces to spare. We’ll see how well it drives soon enough.”

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

Dennis explains: “The Standard Modern Military (AR) is a category of military-style rifle that shoots the 200-yard, 30- or 50-shot courses alongside the M1 Garands, Springfields, Vintage, and M1 Carbines. This one boasts a Midwest Industries (MI) ultralight Free-float Handguard and a Yankee Hill folding front sight. Any Government contour or thinner profile rifle-length gas tube barrel with a 0.750″ gas block will work.” Colt makes a suitable Government Contour 20″-long, 1:7″-twist barrel, sold by MidwayUSA.

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

To test the accuracy of his rifle, Dennis fitted a Mantis-X unit on the top of the float tube. The Mantis-X records the movement of the rifle to interpolate shot placements. Dennis reports: “I spent some extra time at the range grabbing a decent zero for my Modern Military rifle. I stuck a Mantis-X on it to record a few shots shooting offhand at the plates at 200 yards. It drives very easily even with no shooting coat or glove.” The Mantis-X is attached just forward of the carry handle, on top of the MI free-float handguard. The Mantis-X works with live fire as well as dry fire. It communicates via BlueTooth to a smartphone App.

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago
AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

Rifle Shoots Well with 77gr Sierra MatchKings
The gun is presently zeroed with 77gr Sierra MatchKing ammunition. Dennis reports his rifle “can easily hold the X-Ring on an SR target for both 100-yard and 200-yard CMP Modern Military Games matches. And it’s fun to shoot!”

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

CMP Standard Modern Military Rifle (AR Class)
This rifle is built from carefully selected and fitted parts to conform to the CMP’s 7.5-pound weight limit iron-sighted rifle rule. Officially, this is a CMP Standard Modern Military Rifle, Class “A” (AR type).

1. S&W M&P lower receiver
2. White Oak Armament match upper receiver with 1/4×1/4-MOA pinned rear sights
3. AR-Stoner 20″ 1:7″-twist 5.56x45mm NATO Government contour barrel from MidwayUSA*
4. MidWest Industries ultralight free-float handguard with a Titanium barrel nut
5. Yankee Hill Machine folding front sight with a 0.072″ square front pin
6. RRA 2-stage trigger
7. A2 length buttstock

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

Easy Rifle Build Using Mostly Existing AR Parts, Plus New Barrel and Free-Float Handguard
Dennis was able to put his Modern Military AR together using components he had collected over the years: “Most of these parts were already in my bin of old AR parts available to be recycled. The barrel and free-float handguard were the only new acquisitions.” And with the AR’s modular format, this was an easy build: “Assembly time was about 30 minutes. I’ve done these parts swaps so many times now.”

Key Rules for Standard Modern Military Rifle (AR Type)

Dennis Santiago’s new AR rifle was built as a “Standard U.S. Modern Military Rifle”, Class A (AR Type), as specified in the CMP Competition Rules.

5.2.3 Standard U.S. Modern Military Rifles, Class A
Category A Standard Modern Military Rifles must comply with these requirements:

a) Rifles must be based on the M-16 rifle or be based on an AR design;
b) Rifles must be manufactured by a USA manufacturer;
c) Rifles must be equipped with issue-type metallic front and rear sights; rear sights with adjustments finer than one minute of angle are permitted;
d) Total rifle weight, with sights and without sling, may not exceed 7.5 pounds;
e) Rifles may be fitted with a float tube or free-floating handguard. A nonadjustable sling swivel may be attached to the forward end of the handguard; and…
f) The rifle must be chambered for the 5.56x45mm or .223 Remington cartridge.

Also, from Rule 5.2.2:
a) The exterior configuration of the rifle must be the similar to that of the
original military or military-type rifle;
b) The trigger pull may not be less than 4.5 lbs.;

Comments from other Modern Military Rifle Shooters:

“I built a Modern Military [Standard]. It was tough getting below the 7.5-lb [limit]. I had to carve off a bunch of the 20″ barrel diameter but wanted to stay with it for sight radius (over a 16″). I would just as soon shoot that little iron-sighted rifle at 200 yards as my 15-lb Nightforce-scoped Service Rifle. I love that little rifle.” — Kenneth S.

“I’m building one of these that will make 7.5-lb [Standard Modern Military] weight limit, with the long barrel and long sight radius. This has been on my list this winter.” — Tom K.

“We found that turning down a National Match barrel and taking a few inches off of it made a very accurate rifle.” — Jack A.

“My old (complete) A2 upper has been sitting forlorn on a shelf for a couple of years now. Perhaps I need to do a [Standard Modern Military] build of my own.” — Derek D.

Dennis Santiago replied: “Derek — that’s the reason I was attracted to this. I had bought a brand new WOA A2 pin upper receiver to make a new upper then the scope rule was adopted and it was all flat tops. This gives new purpose to the old parts.”

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

Standard vs. Unlimited, Class A vs. Class B

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

There are actually two different classes of Standard Modern Military Rifles, Class A for AR-type rifles and Class B for other military-style rifles, such as the M1A and FN-FAL. Ok, got that? Now, in addition, there is also a second division for UNLIMITED Modern Military Rifles, again with two classes (Class A — AR-type and Class B — other military rifles). These unlimited rifles can have optics, heavier weights, modern-design adjustable-length stocks, and other upgrades. Here is Rule 5.2.2 from the current CMP Games Rifle and Pistol Competition Rules:

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January 13th, 2021

Shooting Sling Options and Sling Set-Up Explained

Creedmoor Sling

Creedmoor Sports has long been an important gear source for serious sling shooters, including Service Rifle and Palma competitors. Creedmoor has a wide variety of slings available, with features to suit particular disciplines as well as personal preferences. Chose leather, webbing, or synthetic materials. Here are some popular competition slings sold by Creedmoor Sports, along with some helpful videos that cover sling selection, set-up, and adjustment.

Dennis DeMille Creedmoor Sports Rifle Sling video training set-up

If you want to learn more about setting up your sling properly for position shooting, here are some tips from Dennis DeMille, a past Service Rifle Champion (and former Creedmoor Sports Gen’l Manager). Dennis explains how to choose a sling, and then how to adjust it to fit properly (second video).

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.

Creedmoor Sling

Jensen’s Deluxe 3.5 Cuff Sling

Creedmoor Sling

Creedmoor No-Pulse Sling

Creedmoor Sling

Jim Owens No-Pulse Service Sling

Creedmoor Sling

Ron Brown Heavy Leather Sling

Creedmoor Sling

Gehman No-Pulse Sling

Creedmoor Sling

Turner All Weather Sling (3 Colors)

Brandon Green Sling shooting
SFC Brandon Green, 2018 Nat’l High Power Champion. Brandon, one of the nation’s best “hard-holders”, demonstrates proper use of sling in prone position.

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, former 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 competing with the heavier-than-normal rifles.”

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

And Here Are Two Good Guidebooks for Sling Shooters:

Creedmoor Sling

Slings & Things
by Glen Zediker

Creedmoor Sling

The Leather Sling & Shooting Positions
by MSGT Jim Owens

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December 27th, 2020

SunDay GunDay: Doctor Paula Goes Distinguished at Age 67

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman
Paula Crenshaw earned Distinguished Badge #2521 in 2020 at age 67.

Feature based on story in CMP’s The First Shot
Paula Crenshaw, a 67-year-old grandmother, never stops reaching toward new ambitions. This November, Paula earned the prestigious Distinguished Rifleman Badge at the 29 Palms Marine Base. “I’ve always been late to the party,” Paula said. “I didn’t start medical school until I was 37.”

A physician from Reno, Nevada, Paula took up rifle shooting in her early fifties to support her husband’s interests and undertake a new challenge. Turns out she loved competitive shooting. And now, in 2020, many years later she earned her own Distinguished Badge, #2521 at the age of 67. Earning the coveted Badge was “The fulfillment of my dream” Paula notes.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman
Paula earned her “hard leg” 10 EIC points during the National Matches at Camp Perry in 2019.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman

Distinguished Badges are awarded to marksmanship competitors who collect at least 30 Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) “leg” points — earned by placing in the top 10% of an EIC match. This Distinguished Rifleman program was started way bay in 1884. Now, two decades into the 21st century, the badge continues to be a prized achievement for competitive shooters.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman

Paula is a member of the Coalinga Rifle Club in California and the Palomino Valley Gun Club in Nevada. She had been on the hunt for a Distinguished Badge since she earned her first points in 2018, then went on to claim her own “hard leg” (10 EIC points) at the annual National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio, in 2019.

After that, “legging out” (that is, earning enough points to receive a Distinguished Badge) became a near obsession. “I dry-fired almost every day,” she recalled. “I worked out. I thought about winning first thing in the morning and as I fell asleep at night. I read many shooting books, sometimes multiple times. I drove my non-shooting friends away talking about shooting!”

By the end of 2019, she had been so dedicated to competing that she had wrangled up 22 EIC points, just eight points away from a badge.

Overcoming a Pandemic and Anxiousness about Earning the Badge
The start of 2020 met Paula with not only the difficulty of finding matches due to the enduring pandemic but also with some EIC nervousness that kept her scores below a point-earning level. With the close of the 2020 shooting season rapidly approaching, Paula decided to go to the 29 Palms Marine Base in California in November for one of her last EIC match chances — carrying within her a newfound resolve to capture those final points she had sought after for so long.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman
Click HERE to order mask like this.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman

Achieving the Goal — After So Many Years
Though her emotions were up, Paula competitive game was down as she fired a sub-par offhand score to start out the first stage of her match. “I was done for, and therefore totally relaxed and enjoyed shooting the rest of the match,” she said. Her new leisurely approach to her final three firing stages, without the pressure, shockingly boosted her scores — enough to earn herself the final points she needed for her Distinguished Rifleman Badge.

“No one was more surprised than me to learn I had won the eight-point leg,” she said, proudly. “I had finally done it”.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman

Husband and Wife that Shoot Together
Paula and husband Greg have shot together for many years. This demonstrates that competitive shooting can be a great activity for a couple to share. Paula told us that she often meets shooters’ wives at shooting matches who are interested in trying the sport, but some feel intimidated at first. Paula encourages them to get started. Interestingly, many shooting instructors find that women learn faster than men initially, primarily because they are better listeners, and they don’t let their egos get in the way.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman

Paula notes: “For us, as a couple, to share in the joys and despairs of shooting competition has been really special. The wives and girlfriends of the men I shoot with have a really wonderful opportunity to grow in their relationships. So many men I shoot with have expressed remorse they don’t share this with the women they love. Greg doesn’t babysit me and we are independent at the range. But he really helped me get started, and continues to be supportive to this day. But I’m at a point I can help him too.”

Paula said husband Greg has been a great shooting partner — helpful and supportive from the very start. And Greg was very proud of Paula’s accomplishment in earning her Distinguished Badge. To celebrate and mark the moment she earned her final Distinguished Points, Greg pinned his own Distinguished Badge on her hat. “Greg most certainly helped make this possible for me….”

Details of Service Rifle — Components and Match Loads

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman
Click photo to see FULL SCREEN image.

Paula’s rifle features a 1:7″-twist Krieger barrel with Wylde Chamber, barrel sourced from White Oak. The Sun Devil lower is fitted with a Geissele Nat’l Match trigger. The stock is a Magpul UBR. The upper is fitted with a Hera Handguard. On top is a March 1-4.5x24mm Service Rifle scope with MTR-5 reticle. Paula uses a Hollis sling, Monard shooting coat, and both Monard and Creedmoor gloves.

Match Ammunition — For 200/300 yard stages, Paula runs 73gr Berger bullets, with Varget powder and Wolf primers. For 600 yards, she uses 75gr or 80gr Hornady bullets, also with Varget powder but with CCI BR4 primers. Bullets are loaded 0.060″ off the lands.

Paul Crenshaw AR16 service rifle distinguished
Here is Paula’s rifle from 4 years ago. She has upgraded her rig with many new components.

Shooting Sports — Multi-Generational Fun for All Ages
One thing Paula really likes about the shooting sports is that you can keep getting better even in your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. Walt Berger has won Benchrest matches in his 80s! Few other sports offer true multi-generational competition like this.

“The really wonderful thing about shooting is that you can do it at any age, and even with disabilities. There is a discipline for everyone. We all seem to put lots of energy into the junior shooters. I’d like to see more energy put into helping older shooters get started. For an aging person who can no longer do some of the sports of their youth, shooting is a wonderful new venture. For me, my age, just was never a factor. I do work out to stay as strong since old age is somewhat of a slide into decrepitude. Whether you are young, middle-aged, or a senior shooter, you can all compete together.” — Paula Crenshaw

Paula is justifiably proud of her accomplishment, and she notes that there is, perhaps, an important message to be found in her earning the Distinguished Badge at age 67. Paula demonstrated that men and women can achieve important things even late in life, even after retirement. “Keep striving for your dreams” Paula told us, and “stay active with the outdoor activities you love”. A physician, Paula observes some people who remain vital and active even in their 80s, while some people in their 40s let things slide.

Even during this tough Pandemic year, Paula stays fit through weight-lifting, and she also enjoys motorcycle riding (on her own machine). She wants to encourage readers to continue all their outdoor hobbies as long as they can. As they say, you only go around once in life. The important thing, Paula tells us, is to continue to do what you enjoy, focus on your goals, and remain positive. Even at 67 Paula still enjoys mountaineering and motorcycling as well as shooting. Here is Paula in her younger days, rock-climbing.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman

NEXT Challenge for Paula Will Be Palma Shooting
What’s the next challenge for Dr. Paula Crenshaw? Well right now our friend Gary Eliseo of Competition Machine is building Paula a new Palma rifle, using his vaunted TubeGun chassis. Paula looks forward to competing in long-range Palma matches with the new rifle, which will be chambered in the .223 Remington. Yes, you read that right. With the latest generation of bullets and high-energy powder, a .223 Rem can be competitive with a .308 Win in many conditions.

Paula encourages women of all ages to try shooting. In her experience women often excel far beyond their expectations: “Women seem to have an advantage in shooting, in that they take to it quicker. They get better quicker. Everyone has theories. I watch beginning juniors. The guys fidget more and seem to feel embarrassed if they don’t do well. The girls don’t seem to worry if they do badly. They listen better. But I see many fantastic female juniors excel only to give it up later. So it seems men stick with it longer.”

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

Read more about Paula’s journey to earn her Distinguished Badge on the CMP website (search for Paula Crenshaw and then click on the Biography link).

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October 8th, 2020

Improve Your Marksmanship with USAMU Training Videos

USAMU Training tuesday video series prone sling sitting position Brandon Green

Here are three videos from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU). On Tuesdays, the USAMU regularly releases a new Training Video. Most of these Training Tuesday Videos cover match rifle shooting, but there are also tips on pistol marksmanship and shotgun shooting. You will find all the latest Training Tuesday videos on the USAMU YouTube Page.

Getting Set-Up for Prone Shooting with Mat and Spotting Scope
SGT Forrest Greenwood of the USAMU Service Rifle Team explains how to set up service rifle gear for a slow-fire, 600-yard course of fire. This video offers some helpful tips for all prone shooters — even F-class competitors. SGT Greenwood explains how to place the mat, set up the spotting scope stand, lay out the log book and ammunition, and then get ready to shoot. SGT Greenwood has earned the Distinguished Rifleman Badge and the President’s One Hundred Tab.

Rifle Shooting from the Sitting Position with SFC Brandon Green
SFC Brandon Green, three-time NRA National High Power Champion, is one of America’s greatest marksmen. In this video Brandon explains the sitting position while SGT Benjamin Cleland demonstrates. This video was filmed at the 2019 Eastern Games Rifle Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) in Butner, North Carolina. The USAMU Service Rifle Team soldiers helped run the SAFS Class hosted by the CMP.

Setting Up a Sling for High Power Service Rifle Standing Position
SPC Kade Jackovich with the USAMU Service Rifle Team offers clear advice on how to set up a sling for the standing portion of a service rifle match. The sling must be adjusted to a shorter length. Kade shows the most efficient method to do this.

USAMU shooting training tuesda tips video

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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.

Permalink Competition, News, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
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.

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills, Tech Tip No Comments »