Can a human being, hand-holding a rifle, out-shoot a mechanical test rest? Who would win in this battle between man and machine? You might just be surprised. At 600 yards, with an AR-platform rifle, the results can be remarkably close, based on targets provided by the USAMU. When clamped in a test rig, a USAMU M16A2 produced a 200-18X group with handloads. The USAMU says this was “one of our better 20-shot groups at 600 yards, testing ammo from a machine rest”. Can a human do better?
Remarkably, a human soldier came very close to matching the group shot from the machine rest. The photo below shows a 20-shot group shot by a USAMU marksman with sling and iron sights, using USAMU-loaded ammunition. The score, 200-16X, was nearly the same. As you can see, the USAMU rifleman didn’t give up much to the machine rest, even at 600 yards!
In fairness, this was no ordinary human performance. The 200-16X score was a new National Record set in December, 1994. This was fired by PFC Coleman in an Interservice Match at Okeechobee, Florida. Nice shootin’ soldier!
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Commonly, hunters won’t have the ability to fire one or two fouling shots before heading out on a hunt. Therefore it’s important that a hunter understands how his rifle shoots with a “cold bore shot”. Both the point of impact (and possibly velocity), may be different with a cold bore than with a barrel that has been warmed and fouled with a series of shots. In this video from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU), you’ll learn how to determine your cold bore point of impact (POI) for a rifle that just been cleaned, as well as the cold bore POI with a barrel that has already been “fouled in”.
SGT Joe Hein of the USAMU shows how to plot cold bore POI with both a clean bore and a fouled bore. Note that the “cold bore” shot from a fouled barrel was closer to the follow-up shots than the cold bore shot from a clean barrel. This is typical of many factory barrels. SGT Hein provides a simple way to understand your rifle’s cold bore performance. Hein’s advice can keep you from missing that long range shot at that big buck on opening day. A little time spent on the range before that critical first shot will help ensure you have meat in the freezer this season.
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Daniel Horner of the USAMU has been crowned the World Shooting Champion, and he has a $50,000 check to prove it. In the first running of the Trijicon World Shooting Championship (TWSC), 159 of the world’s top shooters competed in a grueling 4-day, multi-discipline event. To do well at the TWSC you had to be an expert with rifle, shotgun, and pistol — and you couldn’t have any real weaknesses. You needed mastery of speed pistol, trap shooting, long-range rifle shooting, cowboy action disciplines, “run and gun”, and defensive action scenarios.
SSG Daniel Horner (File photo — not from TWSC)
Horner topped the field with 966.856 points. In second place was Bianchi Cup Ace Bruce Piatt with 924.895. The legendary Jerry Miculek took third with 870.153. Jerry’s performance gave hope for us old guys. There must also be something about Miculek DNA — Jerry’s daughter Lena was the top female competitor, finishing 28th overall. We also want to acknowledge young Brian Nelson who, competing as a Junior, finished fourth overall, a great accomplishment. Other than Nelson, most of the top finishers are professional 3-Gun competitors. These folks know how to put rounds on target quickly and transition smoothly from one firearm to the next.
For four days, the shooters competed in twelve equally-weighted disciplines from various shooting sports. The match combines pistol shooting (action and bullseye), rifle shooting (action, smallbore, high-power, and F-Class), and Shotgun (Sporting Clays/trap/tactical). All firearms and ammunition were provided for each event.
Horner won the big prize through consistency. Out of the 12 shooting events, he finished in the top 10 in all but two. Writing in the Shooting Wire, Jim Shepherd reports: “Horner took outright stage wins in the Wobble Trap Doubles (100%) and NRA Action Rifle (100%) and used them to overcome his two worst scores, a 28th-place finish in F-Class rifle and a 13th-place in .22 rifle. For his achievement, Horner wins the $50,000 prize, and the dubious honor of now knowing that every competition shooter in the world has him solidly in their sights now, not just the 3-gun shooters he regularly tests … and bests.”
Big Cash Awards and Unrivaled Prize Table
Competitors came to the Peacemaker National Training Center in Glengary, WV for a chance to be crowned the “World Shooting Champion” and receive a $50,000 first place cash prize. This match carried “multi-gun” competition to a whole new level, with BIG MONEY at stake:. There were cash payouts for most stages and over $150,000 worth of hardware on the prize table.
First Place Overall: $50,000
Lady Champion: $5,000
Pistol Segment Winner: $5,000
Rifle Segment Winner: $5,000
Shotgun Segment Winner: $5,000
Second Place Overall: $3,000
Third Place Overall: $2,000
Fourth Place Overall: $1,000
Stage Winner $2,000
Side Match Winner: $1,000
Meanwhile, in Spain — the ISSF World Shooting Championships
The next TWSC will be held October 15-17, 2015. This inaugural event went well, and it will surely grow in prestige as time passes. However, we do question the notion that this was truly a “World Championship”. The TWSC took place in West Virginia at the same time that the ISSF World Championships were being held in Granada, Spain. That means that virtually none of the world’s top shotgun aces or top prone/3P rifle shooters attended the TWSC — they were in Spain instead. Over 2000 shooters are competing at the 2014 ISSF World Championships, including hundreds of Olympians. The TWSC had less than 200 competitors, and few Olympians. TWSC was, then, more realistically, a North American Multi-Gun Championship. Let’s hope that, in the years to come, the TWSC will attract more foreign-born competitors. That way it can properly be called a “World Shooting Championship”.
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We are already half-way through the NRA High Power National Championship and SSG Shane Barnhart of the USAMU remains atop the leaderboard, with a score of 1193-64X out of a possible 1200 points. Barnhart shot a 595-28X during Sunday’s Navy Cup, Coast Guard Trophy, and Army Cup matches. Barnhart currently holds a three-point lead over second place SSG Brandon Green (1190-58X), the defending High Power National Champion. Like Barnhart, Green shoots for the USAMU. Kenneth Lankford leads the “any sight” (scopes allowed) division with 1191-54X.
High Power Hardware: The Guns of Perry
We thought our readers would like to see some of the ultra-accurate rifles campaigned by High Power competitors at Camp Perry. Both bolt-action and self-loading rifles are popular. Among bolt guns, Tubb 2000s and Eliseo tubeguns are popular. Semi-auto AR platform “Space Guns” offer some advantages (particularly during rapid-fire and for standing position), and are favored by many of the top marksmen. Many Camp Perry High Power competitors are also shooting less exotic AR service rifles.
Here is your current leader, SSG Shane Barnhart, with an AR Space Gun. Note the side charging handle and tall iron sight set-up.
Tubb 2000 with a shortened handguard, and custom hand support bracket forward of mag well.
The modern AR Space Gun, scoped version. Note the side charging handle, and absence of forward assist. A block fitted under the handguard helps with the standing position. The scope is mounted on a “piggy-back” rail that extends forward of upper receiver’s built-in rail.
Tubb 2000 rifle, left-hand version. Note how the butt-plate is adjusted for cant, angle, and drop.
Look carefully — it appears that a separate fore-arm section is duct-taped to the red free-floated handguard. Perhaps this AR owner experienced some wiggle, and that’s why he seems puzzled?
A countdown timer is attached directly to this shooter’s Tubb 2000 rifle.
This Service Rifle competitor shows how to get some “R & R” between relays.
Tyrel Cooper of Creedmoor Sports will be competing at Camp Perry this summer. A past member of the USAMU, Cooper’s shooting resume includes five national championships (one each in 2008, 2011, 2012, and two in 2013). He is the current (2013) NRA National Long Range Champion, and reigning (2013) NRA National Service Rifle Champion. In this article, Cooper offers advice to other competitive shooters.
Below is a 2012 file photo of SSG Ty Cooper shooting a service rifle. Cooper won the 2013 NRA National High Power Rifle Long Range Championships with a final score of 1243-71X. In the Long Range Championships, Cooper used a Nesika-actioned bolt gun with long barrel chambered in 7mm SAUM.
Mental Preparation by Tyrel Cooper
Getting focused mentally is an important part of preparation for Perry. I have shot two long range team matches and a no-sighter, 50-shot across-the-course match since last Perry — that’s it. So I expect to be a little rusty but at the same time I am preparing myself to win mentally. I am telling myself “I am the 2014 Nation Champion”. Now my goal hasn’t been to be the Service Rifle National Champion; no, my goal the last 4 years has been to be the overall National Champion and do it with a Service Rifle. Now I haven’t achieved that goal and with today’s rifles and calibers it might never happen. The purpose of this goal is to look past a service rifle and go after everyone.
In 2011 I was chasing Sherri Gallagher, since then I have been chasing Brandon Green and last year almost got him. If I get beat by a Service Rifle I am going to make him or her work for it. So there is your peak into my mental process. I go for the top and if I am hanging with them then the Service Rifle National Championship will come, Kind of like how I shoot for X’s and Tens will come.
Now I understand everyone is at different levels. You have to figure out what your goals are and then lie to yourself that you’ve already achieved them. Here is a trick that I used back in 2008: When I was a kid just starting out, my Dad made me read several books on shooting. One of them being With Winning In Mind by Lanny Bassham. One of the things I remember from his book is that he would make notes and place them where he would see them often. They contained his goals or stated he was already a world champion. I took a page from his book and did the same thing.
I made 3×5 cards and wrote my personal best 500 and 800 aggregate scores and taped on the horn of my truck, above the radio in my truck, on my laptop and a few other places I would see them often. Every time I saw those I would tell myself that I average those scores and I would get used to seeing them. By doing this you are lying to yourself to overcome the mental blocks the subconscious mind lays out for you.
I went from my worst year in 2007 to winning my first National Championship in 2008. I kind of slacked off in 2009 because I had reached my goals and didn’t set new ones and it showed, so I had to find new goals and motivation which I did and that pushed me back to the top.
Long story short, this is a mental sport and you have to figure out what you need to do to perform at your highest levels and breaking through those mental road blocks. You have to figure out how to get yourself to relax and control your mind keeping calm when you are shooting a personal best, either standing or on the day.
Here is a tip from my mental process from shooting. First I shoot for Xs, I took the line from the movie The Patriot and applied it to my shooting, “Aim small, miss small” and it is true. If you accept wide shots then you will keep shooting wide shots.
Slow, Solid, Smooth, Center
Always focus on the positive and good shots, and what you did physically and mentally, when you shot them. When I am nervous and need to calm myself down I tell myself: slow, solid, smooth, center.
I want my movement to be slow… I can shoot tens and Xs all day with slow movement.
Solid like a rock, a rock doesn’t move and that’s how I want my positions. By saying solid it reminds me to go through my little checks to make sure I am doing what I need to do make that happen.
Smooth — that is my trigger word for smooth movement. You don’t want fast choppy movement but slow and smooth. This also reminds me to be smooth on the trigger. You can be smooth-fast or you can be smooth-slow but you have to be smooth and most people aren’t when they think they are. Just before leaving the USAMU, I walked up and down the line of five shooters during a rapid fire string and only one of them was smooth with their trigger control. It’s the second most important thing when it comes to shooting.
This reminds me that I want my shots in the middle. It is just a positive reinforcement of where I want my shots to go. I shoot a reverse flat tire so it also kind of reminds me as to what I am looking for.
Organizing Your Gear
[This year] I have all new gear, a new place, and I am creating a new system. Coming from the Army Marksmanship Unit, I had years to develop and refine my system from my daily routines, to my gear, and to my set-up process. I wanted to share with you a little bit of what I am going through right now.
I went and shot a match at [Fort] Benning a few weekends ago and I had more issues with my gear and system than I did with the act of shooting, it was frustrating and I didn’t like it one bit. So in my preparation for Perry, I took all of my gear apart in my living room and started over. I went through as if I was going to shoot a match; placing gear where I wanted it in or on my Creedmoor Range Cart. There is a lot to be said for having a system and not having to worry about where your gear is or isn’t. Once I got all of my gear in place, I put my new Ron Brown Sling on my rifle and dry fired a little bit. Worked on sitting and prone to figure out what sling notches I would need to use and how my new glove/mitt combination would work. My gear is set and ready to go in my living room, and even though I am not leaving until Sunday, I am setting all the shooting gear and equipment aside to make sure I have everything I need.
If you don’t have a system with your gear where everything has its place or certain spot, then I would suggest you start working on one. When it comes to a match, you don’t want to be searching for something or worrying if it was forgotten at home.
If you have a good system, it allows you to focus on the important things such as how to get your mind in your little bubble, working on what you need to think about to shoot Xs, and thinking about whatever reminders you need to think about to get you to perform at your highest level.
My reminder that I ask myself when I am setting up my gear either in my living room or getting ready to head down range is this: Scope, mat, rifle, stool, jacket, sweatshirt, sling, glove, ammo, mags, data book, and ear plugs. This is the most important stuff that I can’t shoot a match without. I always have extra pens, flags and small stuff in my stool.
Story Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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A great time was had by boys and girls, men and women, young and old alike at the 2014 Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) held July 17, 2014 at Camp Perry. This year’s SAFS was a great learning experience for the hundreds of participants, ranging in age from 7 to 70.
Military Rifle Coaches and CMP Rifle Master Instructors taught marksmanship basics and fundamentals to some 472 rifle marksmen (and “markswomen”). The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) Rifle Team Members conducted a classroom session in the morning, and then the Army Rifle Coaches provided “world-class” instruction on the firing line. The Rifle SAFS concluded with the Rifle Excellence in Competition (EIC) Match. SEE Match Results.
Here are photos from the CMP SAFS Photo Gallery. CLICK HERE to see hundreds more images …
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Report based on story by Lars Dalseide forNRA Blog
This afternoon, SSG Patrick Franks of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit walked off the Rodriguez range as the new NRA National Pistol Champion. This is his first-ever National Pistol Championship — and it didn’t come easy. With a final score of 2649-147X, Patrick’s victory was by a slim margin.
“He won by 16 Xs,” said Match Director Tom Hughes. “I can’t remember one ever being this close.”
2014 has been a great year for Patrick Franks. “This year was my first 1st-place win at Interservice (the 55th Interservice Pistol Championships at Fort Benning),” said Franks. “A lot of our team matches at Interservice and at Canton were milestone performances and looking back at those I just kept going with it while I’m here.”
“I thought I was shooting pretty well,” Franks continued. “Good for my average, good for being up here. Just tried concentrating on the team matches and ended up coming out better than I expected. Just enough.”
The USAMU Pistol Team enjoyed a clean sweep of the individual matches, won the .45 caliber team match, and secured the overall Team title. Congratulations to SSG Patrick Franks on winning his first National Pistol Championship, to SFC James Henderson for taking second, and to SGT Greg Markowski for taking third. (Markowski also won the Revolver Match). 13-time NRA Pistol Champion Brian Zins, a few weeks out of hip surgery, finished 10th.
Here are photos from the CMP Photo Gallery for the 2014 National Trophy Pistol Matches at Camp Perry.
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Using a spotting scope seems simple. Just point it at the target and focus, right? Well, actually, it’s not that simple. Sometimes you want to watch mirage or trace, and that involves different focus and viewing priorities. Along with resolving bullet holes (or seeing other features on the target itself), you can use your spotting scope to monitor mirage. When watching mirage, you actually want to focus the spotting scope not on the target, but, typically, about two-thirds of the distance downrange. When spotting for another shooter, you can also use the spotting scope to watch the bullet trace, i.e. the vapor trail of the bullet. This will help you determine where the bullet is actually landing, even if it does not impact on the target backer.
In this video, SFC L.D. Lewis explains how to use a spotting scope to monitor mirage, and to watch trace. SFC Lewis is a former Army Marksmanship Unit member, U.S. Army Sniper School instructor, and current U.S. Army Reserve Service Rifle Shooting Team member. In discussing how precision shooters can employ spotting scopes, Lewis compares the use of a spotting scope for competition shooters vs. military snipers. NOTE: You may wish to turn up the audio volume, during the actual interview segment of this video.
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Report based on story by Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer/Editor
Would you like to learn AR marksmanship under the tutelage of world-class USAMU team members? Then consider attending the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s Rifle Small Arms Firing School (SAFS), held Wednesday, July 16-17, during the National Rifle and Pistol Matches at historic Camp Perry. SAFS courses have been conducted at the National Matches since 1918. Hundreds of rifle participants are expected this year.
The school is structured toward teaching new shooters, so no past firearm experience is required. Intermediate shooters are also welcome to participate. Students will learn basic firing practices and competition skills. In addition to the live fire practice, students will compete in an EIC Match. All participants will be instructed by members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) and coached by Military Rifle Team Members or CMP Rifle Master Instructors.
For those already familiar with rifle shooting, an Advanced Rifle Course will also be held to provide additional class instruction and the chance to fire in a special Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) Match. Whether an experience shooter or picking up a firearm for the first time, come enjoy a day of fellowship and fun in one of America’s oldest pastimes with the security and knowledge of some of the best marksmen in the country!
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The ability to read the wind is what separates good shooters from great shooters. If you want to learn wind-doping from one of the best, watch this video with 2010 National High Power Champion (and U.S. Army 2010 Soldier of the Year) Sherri Gallagher. Part of the USAMU’s Pro Tips Video Series, this video covers the basics of wind reading including: Determining wind direction and speed, Bracketing Wind, Reading Mirage, and Adjusting to cross-winds using both sight/scope adjustments and hold-off methods. Correctly determining wind angle is vital, Sheri explains, because a wind at a 90-degree angle has much more of an effect on bullet lateral movement than a headwind or tailwind. Wind speed, of course, is just as important as wind angle. To calculate wind speed, Sheri recommends “Wind Bracketing”: [This] is where you take the estimate of the highest possible condition and the lowest possible condition and [then] take the average of the two.”
It is also important to understand mirage. Sheri explains that “Mirage is the reflection of light through layers of air, based off the temperature of the ground. These layers … are blown by the wind, and can be monitored through a spotting scope to detect direction and speed. You can see what appears to be waves running across the range — this is mirage.” To best evaluate mirage, you need to set your spotting scope correctly. First get the target in sharp focus, then (on most scopes), Sheri advises that you turn your adjustment knob “a quarter-turn counter-clockwise. That will make the mirage your primary focus.”
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There’s no denying that 3-Gun competition is growing in popularity nationwide. Using a pistol, rifle and shotgun to shoot multiple targets at varying distances is exciting and challenging. Here are some pointers for performing better on the 3-Gun range by the USAMU’s SSG Daniel Horner, a two-time winner of Crimson Trace’s Midnight 3-Gun Invitational (M3GI) match.
Competing in Night-Time Stages
“I use the same gear all year long, so when it comes time for this match (the M3GI), I just adapt the guns, so they will work for the night time,” stated Daniel Horner. “I attach the Crimson Trace lasers and lights to the guns in whatever is the easiest way possible. Last year I just screwed a rail to my shotgun with wood screws. So, people can compete with pretty much whatever they have available and make it work.” Horner also recommends using a pair of head-mounted lamps. One can illuminate your firearms’ iron sights while the other headlamp is aimed at the targets.
Adapting to New Equipment
New 3-Gun competitors really need to focus on their equipment says Horner. “New competitors should know how to operate all their equipment. They should spend time getting familiar with their equipment. I spend exponentially more time ensuring the gear is right than I do shooting.”
Safety in 3-Gun Competition
Everyone practicing with shotguns, rifles and pistols must keep safety as top priority. “Obviously, safety is the No. 1 priority, but after that, the focus should be on developing specific skills,” noted Horner. A good three-gunner must not only be fast, but he or she must also be accurate and be able to adapt to a wide variety of shooting positions. And strategy is involved too. Successful 3-gunners develop a ‘plan of attack’ for each stage.
Watch Night-Time 3-Gun Match Highlights
Crimson Trace’s Midnight 3-Gun Invitational (M3GI), the world’s only night-time 3-Gun match, will be held in the high desert of central Oregon in August. Taking place in complete darkness over two nights, the 2014 M3GI will challenge even the most experienced competitors who must use lights and lasers to hit their targets. Event registration is by invitation only. Learn more about the 2014 M3GI at www.M3GI.com.
Photos of SSG Daniel Horner courtesy USAMU.
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If you shoot a pistol, you should watch this video. It covers the key fundamentals of handgun shooting: stance, arm position, grip, sight alignment, and trigger control. This excellent video features USAMU shooter SGT Shane Coley.
Arm/Elbow Position: You should not lock your elbows says SGT Coley: “Because my elbows are slightly bent, it allows the recoil to transfer into my shoulders, down my core, into my legs and to the ground, allowing me to maintain a flat-shooting gun … on multiple targets.”
Grip (Hand Position): SGT Coley explains how to divide the support between both hands: “In terms of grip pressure, I’m applying about 60% to my support hand, and 40% to my strong hand. This is because I need to maintain dexterity with my strong hand to operate the trigger at high rates of speed.”
Trigger Control: The placement of your finger on the trigger blade itself is very important notes Coley: “Putting too much (or not enough) of your finger on the trigger can cause you to pull or push your shots. When you squeeze the trigger, make sure to squeeze it all the way to the rear, in one smooth motion. A quick dry-fire drill to help you with this is to take an empty piece of brass and place it on the front of your slide. Aim at the target, and with the proper trigger control, you should be able to break the shot without the piece of brass falling.”
On the web, you’ll find hundreds of pistol shooting videos — some good, some not helpful at all. In some of those “not helpful” videos the featured shooter has bad habits, or more often than not, he exhibits poor accuracy on target. You won’t find those kinds of shortcomings in this USAMU-sponsored video. SGT Coley doesn’t make foolish mistakes, nor does he exhibit bad habits when shooting. And his accuracy is outstanding. When you look for a pistol trainer — stick to someone like SGT Coley, who has solid fundamentals, the complete skill set, and superior accuracy. A trainer can’t teach a skill that he doesn’t understand himself.
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