Hit the range today to do some focused mindful practice. I got there around noon, and had full run of the 100 yard range. Sun was bright overhead, and a 15-20 mph wind blowing from the 10:30.
I started off with an Appleseed red coat target just to get into the groove. I tried to focus on each shot by itself rather than the group. This proved much more difficult than I thought it would be. 100, 200, and 300 were all okay, but the trend of the day showed up in the 400 and shingle target (and the 200, honestly).
In light of my reading about the potential pressure problems on the Independence 5.56 I’ve been shooting, I checked my brass after. Sure enough, there were ejector swipes on the case heads. No bulging or anything on the primer, though.
I then started in with practice from just the prone. My plan was to work up to spending time in the sitting today as well, but with the amount of time I spent taking notes between shots, I ran out of time and had to move on with the day.
Here are the five groups from prone.
From checking my notes today, a few things stood out to me that I need to fix.
1. I have a flinch. Whereas I always thought of flinches as more about jerking the trigger, this is definitely more of a shoulder buck. I didn’t think I had it until I attempted to squeeze the trigger with the safety accidentally engaged (kinda like a ball and dummy drill). I definitely felt my shooting shoulder push slightly forward and bump the sights off target. I also made a concerted effort to watch what the reticle did during the shot. Generally, they seemed to drift to the right, which is counter to the up/left drift of my stray shots.
2. I am impatient when it comes to breathing and NPOA. In looking at previous range days, I see vertical stringing that is typically associated with breath control. Sure enough, I figured out why today. My tendency was to find a NPOA that was “good enough” horizontally, but then attempt to lock it in vertically by holding my breath at different points. In other words, I was impatient and not spending the required time to get a good NPOA. Once I really focused on fully exhaling before shots, things tightened up quite a bit. For whatever reason, though, my body doesn’t really want to hold at that pause, though.
3. I can’t tell if it’s my eyes or what, but I definitely noticed some blurring of my target after each shot. This got better when I switched to the PST 2.5-10×32 later with parallax adjustment. This leads me to think the TR24’s fixed parallax was causing me issues at 4x and only 25 yards.
So, +1 for taking detailed notes (thanks again, Pete!). I think I need to spend some more time doing ball and dummy and breathing focus. I found that when I could completely relax and just “see” the shot and the target, things went very well.
After that, I moved on to testing the new 69gr SMK ammo. I moved the stand out to 100 yards and laid the rifle on my pack. Bottom line, I couldn’t tell much of a difference between the ADI or the Winchester. I did, however, notice a significant decrease in recoil compared to the Independence I’ve been shooting. They both performed well. I certainly appreciated the PST’s matching reticle and turrets, which let me adjust the zero very quickly.
To close the day, I did one AQT target (still using the PST scope). The first three stages were with Winchester Ranger 69gr SMK. The last stage was a mix of ADI and Winchester. I had problems with standing, as the wind was blowing me around like crazy. In any case, the magnification helped immensely.
In stage 3, I did not fire the correct number of shots. There are only 2 on the left target instead of 3, and only 3 on the right instead of 4.
The final score was 219. That would be good enough to win a Rifleman patch, and exceeds the goal I set for myself this year. However, I’m not counting this one for two reasons: I did not put myself under time limits, and I did not perform the reload sequences (I used a single 10 round mag for each stage). It is nice to know that I’m capable of making the score I wanted, I just have to speed it up.