I received another shipment of the ADI 69gr SMK, and so I thought it was time to head out to the range again. I brought along the Musket, of course, but I also brought along Heimdall, the lightweight 16″ that serves as the “home defense” gun (and, it’s my wife’s rifle). Now, I normally go on Sundays, and this trip reminded me why. Saturdays are packed. There was a .22 steel silhouette competition going on at the 50 meter range I usually practice at, so I went to the 100. Also on the range were two gentlemen sighting in their ARs, and an elderly gentleman who was quite crotchety and seemed to be berating his wife for not listening to him. He seemed more interested in talking to everyone else about his long time competition experience shooting across the world in various matches rather than actually shooting. He abruptly retreated to his bench and tried to look busy once the range master came by. When the RM asked to see his membership card, the gentleman grew quite angry that someone would dare distract him while he was trying to sight in his rifle, quite obviously avoiding answering the question of whether or not he was a member (someone later vouched for him as a guest, allowing him to stay).
All the social interaction was quite distracting. The older woman shooting her 10-22 seemed to be oblivious to people walking down range to post targets or make adjustments. And while she never fired while someone was down range, she did keep picking up the weapon, which I found disconcerting. The other two gentlemen were quite pleasant, but were very interested in my shooting gear and were full of questions about it, and the AR platform in general. I got the impression that they didn’t have a whole lot of experience.
Speaking of gear, I had a minor panic while I was packing up for the range. I could not find my target stand anywhere. After nearly an hour of pacing around my house, I finally resolved myself to the fact that I probably left it at the range two weeks ago in my rush to pack up. I was quite upset at my carelessness, and almost decided to cancel the trip all together. When I arrived to the range, I checked in with the office and asked if they had seen it. Sure enough, an honest shooter had turned it in (but not before it had pretty clearly had about twenty targets stapled to it). Thank goodness for honest people! Of course, I also now realized that I left my shooting mat behind as well, so I’ll have to ask about that at some point this week (I’m not holding out hope for the mat, as the nice steel target stand could easily be confused as belonging to the range, and someone might have thought they were just turning it in).
In all, I fired maybe 40 shots in the two hours I was there. I reset zero from the prone at 25m (I had been playing with this on the last trip), and then set to work. The initial Red Coat target only got five rounds this time (one for each silhouette). The first was dead center, but the rest began drifting a bit high and right, as opposed to high left like last time. However, all shots were in the red. I kept this in mind, resolving myself to make sure that I focus on relaxing into the shot and not flinching.
The next three groups were all shot from a crossed ankle sit, which continues to be my strongest position. The first group of five was very nice and tight, except for shot number 4. As I squeezed the trigger on #4, I felt my right shoulder dip back, and I watched the reticle drift to the right right as the shot broke. Final score for group #1 was 49/50 with 2X.
Group #2 was not as good. I was very distracted by the commotion going on around me, and felt rushed to get my NPOA settled. The older gentleman was hovering next to me trying to catch my brass with his hat, and was just overall uncomfortable. I adjusted my position several times during the group, usually by extending or contracting my legs to adjust for elevation. Final score 47 (or 48)/50, 1X.
The last group was much better. The noise was starting to die down. The old guy was busy talking to someone else, and the two gentlemen who were sighting in their ARs were packing up. I felt as though I hit a nice groove on this one, following the rifleman’s cadence and squeezing the trigger at the bottom of each respiratory pause. I concentrated on relaxing for each shot, and just let it happen. I did adjust my NPOA after the first shot (which came in as the single low one). Final score 50/50, 4x (though that last 10 was iffy, I only say it’s a 10 becuase it did rip the line, but it’s probably more of a 9).
At this point, I switched slings from the SAP to the FTW, and wanted to go through it again with both the Musket and Heimdall in order to compare the performance of the two slings. However, it was getting late in the day and I did have some chores to take care of at home. So I did a quick 20 shot string on an AQT target, firing two shots at each target. Instead of standing, I did the first one from kneeling (the range master was already not happy with me for shooting at 25m instead of 100, where the berm was). My stand was low enough that shooting at a downward angle from offhand would cause ricochets off the gravel that might sail over the berm, so I did it from a kneeling. I tried a new technique that I read about regarding foot placement, and it seemed to work for me (that will be another post). First shot through the V, second in the five zone. The rest of the target went ok, with some shots starting to drift high and right on the slow fire prone stage (I think was was starting to feel rushed and just wanted to get done).
In all, the day was fine. I think I’m to the point with my sitting position that I can start moving the target further out. My prone, however, still needs some work with flinching off of my right shoulder. I’m not quite sure why I have this problem more in prone than in sitting, but I’ll work through it.
If there was any upside to having other people around, it was the slight ego boost I got from their ogling my targets. While they were shooting from a bench and sandbag, their targets were peppered roughly around the middle, with some obvious vertical stringing. They were quite impressed with what I was doing without a rest (though, really, a sitting position with sling is almost just as good as a rest). It was nice to have some validation for the work I’ve been doing for the last year.