Range Reports, Shooting Analysis

Range Report: 21 September 2014

After many weeks of wanting to get to the range, but then something inevitably coming up and making me re-prioritize my plans, I finally got out there today. This was my first time back on the range since the Appleseed shoot back at the beginning of August. My goal today was to review the fundamentals that I had learned, and practice them with Ascalon to see what kind of difference using a scope made over the iron sights that I used during the Appleseed shoot.

Ascalon would be the bulk of the shooting today. I also brought along the Musket in order to check zero after doing the RIBZ sight modification. I had originally wanted to get in some pistol practice as well, so I brought my Beretta 92A1. But I ended up not doing any pistol shooting, as there was another event going on at the pistol range. That event delayed my start, and it was getting later in the day than I had wanted by the time I finished with the rifles. I’ll have to do pistol again on another day.

As a side note, this was also my first outing with my new Challenge Targets Range Pro stand. My wife bought this as a gift for me almost two months ago. I was frustrated that my range never seemed to have target backers available. And when they did, they only fit into slots at certain points on the range. The new stand lets me use two 1×2 furring strips and a backing of my choosing and place it anywhere I want. It performed its job as advertised, and I’m happy to have it as part of my range kit now. I may do a review of it in the future so I can better highlight its features.

Now, as for the shooting, I was definitely reminded that marksmanship is a perishable skill. I spent a lot of time fidgeting with my position again, rather than naturally falling back into shooting as I had done in the past. At many points, I almost felt like I was giving up on getting a good natural point of aim in favor of just taking the damn shot. Usually, this worked out, but it is certainly not a habit that I want to continue doing.

Part of that fidgeting, though, was due to the difference in using a scope instead of irons. While shooting irons last month, I found a nice little groove in shooting nose to charging handle and repeating it every time. I already knew that shooting that way with a scope was not doable, as there wouldn’t be enough eye relief. But even shooting at a more comfortable point with my eye further back, I found that I still didn’t have enough eye relief. The Vortex PST 2.5-10×32 actually has a fair bit, and I was constantly struggling to back my head up just a bit further on the stock in order to get to the proper point. But whatever movement I made would be lost when I resettled back into correct NPOA. The obvious answer was to move the scope further forward, which I did. But moving the scope one notch forward on the top of my rifle shifted my groups 2 mills low and one mill left. I also had trouble getting a consistent group. So I put it back to the original point and just put up with it. This experience is making me strongly consider the benefits of a fixed rifle stock, or going back to the TR24 for this gun and putting the 2.5-10×32 on a 308.

In any case, after getting comfortable with my positions again, I put up a target at roughly 25 yards (there are no markings at the range, so I paced off a known 25 yard area and then did the same on the 100 yard range in order to place my target). The target had twelve one-inch dots. Four rows of three dots. My goal was to practice traditional positions firing one shot at each dot, shifting right, firing, shifting right, firing, and then working my way back. Each row was a different position. Ideally, I would have two shots in the first and second dots, and one shot in the third dot of each row. From bottom to top, I went prone-crossed ankle sit-squat-back to prone.

What I found that I seem quite good at getting a good solid NPOA for the first shot, but was rushing the shot during transitions. Impacts of shots after each transition tended to run low and left, sometimes in the dot, sometimes just outside of it. What I recall happening, more often than not, was shifting my NPOA too far in one direction, then trying to shift back, and then just “going for it”. My thought was that as long as the crosshairs where on the intended spot at the time of trigger squeeze, then I would have impact. This worked, sometimes, but I think the parallax error introduced by improper eye relief also meant that I wasn’t getting good confirmation of where my crosshairs actually where at the time of firing.

I may be wrong, though. Looking at the middle dot of the first round of prone (bottom row), both shots were low and left. One is understandable by my explanation, but the second should have theoretically been low and right. Perhaps it has something to do with canting the rifle? At first, I thought I missed the first dot on the second shot, but I could not determine where it would have went. The hole in that first dot, which is dead center, looks slightly larger than the others….so maybe I put two through nearly the same point.

By the time I got to prone the second time (top row), I seemed to have gotten the transitions better under control, but still favor shooting left a bit.

This was also my first time doing NPOA shifts of this type with the squatting position. I kept in mind the practice of keeping both elbows inside the knees as I previously discussed back in July.

From looking at the target today, I need to get out to the range more to practice these positions. I only have three months left, and I wasn’t even applying time limits to today’s exercise.

After finishing up with Ascalon, I set up the musket. I was instantly reminded just how much I enjoy the full length AR. It just immediately felt, “right.” I did not use a sling on it, as the Turner sling was still attached to the scoped upper, and I still have a swollen red friction ring around my deltoid and tricep from how tight it was. At 25 yards, my zero had changed very little from the previous setting. I quickly moved the target out to 50 yards, dropped two clicks on the rear drum, and fired five more shots. The first went through the ‘x’ on the ten ring, but the next four were all about an inch high and even spread left to right in the black ring. As much as I’d like to say “mission accomplished” due to the hitting the ‘x,’ I think there is more work to be done playing with the RIBZ setting. On my next outing, I will use the correct 100 yard setting and go for 100 yards. I may have to tinker with what settings on the drum correlate to what ranges.

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