Range Reports

Range Day 22 December 2014, Refreshing the Fundamentals

Today was the first “serious” range day I’ve gotten to have in a while. The last couple ended up being more of a social event than anything, which meant less  focused practicing of the fundamentals and more just blasting ammo. Going along with my commitment to shooting just one rifle for all of my practice, I took the Musket along.

The first ten shots or so were to get a good zero on the TR24G, since it has not been used on the Musket at the range before. Elevation was dead on, but I needed to adjust windage a bit. The second group chewed the x ring out of the target. I could immediately tell a significant difference in the performance of the gun now that the barrel is free floated and not being pulled around by the sling tension. I forgot to document the group, unfortunately.

Speaking of slings, the SAP sling continues to be perfect for my use. It is easily adjusted for tension and length, and the fastex buckle is extremely easy to get out of when I’m done shooting.

Weather was a bit of a challenge. It was 70 degrees and sunny, which was nice. But there was a 17-22 mph wind coming from the 11 O’clock, with gusts up to 30 mph. My groups reflected the wind disturbance.

I didn’t have a ton of time to spend on the range, so I got right to work. I fired ten shots for zero on the TR24 at 25 meters. I did an additional five shots off of a bipod to compare. To my surprise, but consistent with past performance, my grouping using a sling was about half the size of the grouping off of the bipod. My only guess as to why this is the case has to do with trouble finding a natural point of aim, and not having the rifle “locked in” as tightly due to incorrect bipod shooting form. This will be a subject for another time.

I again used the 50 yard small bore target. To keep with my desired accuracy standard, I should be able to keep shots within the 10 ring at 25 yards. That’s about one inch. I was shooting the same Independence 55gr 5.56 load that I’ve been using for the past six months or so.

The first group was from a crossed ankle sit.

I’m pretty happy with this one. It took a lot of patience with getting proper NPOA, dealing with the gusty wind, and fighting the rifles tendency to cant when under a lot of sling tension. But this was the end result, I would venture to say it was slightly better than the second prone group I did for zero.

Part of my goals in the coming year is to honestly spend more time doing the positions I know I’m not as good with. In this past year, I’ve spent a lot of time with prone, squatting, and crossed ankle sit. I got fairly proficient with those positions at the expense of open leg/crossed leg sit, kneeling, and standing. So I decided to give those a shot today.

This was open leg.

Not quite the same level of performance. I’ve always struggled with this one because I find it difficult to just ‘relax’ into it. Perhaps I have more flexible hips than some, but my legs just want to flop open and don’t offer much support. The only thing that stops my legs from opening any further than they do is the material in the crotch of my pants. However, I did try something different this time that seemed to help. Previously, I think I was shifting weight too far to the rear in sitting back. When I did that today, the wind almost blew me over. When I shifted my weight forward, and leaned into it almost as much as I do with crossed ankle, things got much more stable. However, as you can see from the target, my stability just wasn’t where I needed it to be.

I attempted to do kneeling, but just couldn’t hold it. I normally shoot in heavy leather Ariat work boots, but wore my minimalist Merrell running shoes today (vapor glove). They offer practically no support for a kneeling position. Instead, I went with squat. Like open leg sitting before it, the wind just kept pushing me around. I tried to time my shots in between the gusts, but I think that caused me to rush them a bit.

Like the open leg group, I think the wind was pushing me side to side a bit. With the squat, it was also causing me to rock back and forth. That’s the best way I can explain the pattern here. I’m going to have to do some reading on how to better “stabilize” in the wind and balance better.

Speaking of balance, Rifleslinger has been doing a great series of posts about shooting in the standing position and the importance of balance. I took some of his findings to the range with me today and finally decided to work on my standing position- something that I’ve neglected terribly

The first two shots are the ones off to the right. After I adjusted my feet to be more “in line” with the target, I fired the next three that appear to run near the center line of the target. I’ll definitely be keeping that in mind in the future. I also used the rear hand stop as my forward point of contact in the position, and it seemed to be quite comfortable.

Lastly, I went back to the prone to do a dot drill. Twelve one-inch dots on paper. I loaded two magazines with six shots each. I think I need to work on my NPOA shifting technique.

All the shots down the middle dots were pretty good. But in the left and right columns, they need help. I was definitely fighting cant in the rifle, as well as numb fingers from the tension in the sling, but those don’t explain why the middle column was so much better than the others. I know I’m not shifting NPOA using my hips correctly, but I can’t quite figure out what the actual error was.

That’s all for today! It was definitely nice to get out there again, and I’m extremely happy with the Musket right now.

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