This report is a week late, sorry.
I hit the range last Sunday. The weather was very nice, a sunny 75 degrees with a 10 mph tail wind off of the ocean. In the interest of time, I skipped the usual opening red coat target and set right to setting up for a 50 meter zero. There were three things I wanted to accomplish this trip: 1) Practice sitting at 50 meters, 2) Test the new method of kneeling by not flexing my toes under me, but rather keeping them straight and sitting on the shank of the boot, and 3) Test a theory I’ve had about whether or not magnification is holding me back.
One of the few failings of the TR24G reticle is that it lacks any usable holdover points. In general shooting practice, you can zero the top of the triangle at a known distance and use the various parts of the triangle for some holdover, but it is not very precise. Beyond about 300-350 meters, you are trying to hold the target somewhere in a thick black post. This actually works fine for relatively large target zones at common hunting distance, but is not quite what I need. So I uncapped the top turret and set out to figure out my adjustment to go from 25 meters to 50 meters. Now that I have it, I can turn the knob back and forth for different ranges. Of course, with capped turrets, this won’t be done very quickly in the field. But it works for my purposes here.
The great M855 ammo scare triggered a run on nearly all 5.56 and .223 ammo, so I was reluctant to waste any of the ADI 69gr SMK that I brought, so I used a mix of Hornady 75 gr TAP and SSA 77gr SMK that had been sitting in a mixed box of loose rounds. Once I approached what I thought was a good zero, I switched to the ADI to finalize.
An interesting finding about that. I did this portion off of a concrete shooting bench using the Atlas bipod. The first group for final zero was not quite tight enough for my liking, so I rebuilt my position and leaned a bit more into the bipod. This ‘loading’ is something that I’ve been told about many times, but I don’t quite think I was doing right until this moment. The next five shots were perfect, filling the 10 ring.
I used my scaled AQT targets for this one. Placed at 25 meters, they are the same as the largest target on the AQT, at 50 they match the 200 meter size, at 75 they match 300, and at 100 meters they match 400.
As I got started, I immediately felt that something was off. I just didn’t seem to have the patience that I usually exhibit for this style of shooting My mind wanted to just shoot and not spend time settling into a good NPOA, which seemed to be taking entirely too long.
With kneeling, I found the straight food method worked well enough for a short period. But, again, I started having problems with ankle pain from prior injuries that made the position very uncomfortable to hold (any kneeling position, not just straight foot). My groupings reflected my distraction due to pain.
I attempted a couple shots with standing position as well. Standing has long been the bane of many shooters, as it is the most unstable. I kept in mind my findings on the chicken wing, and kept my shooting elbow high enough to keep my head as upright as practical. I tried to center my balance below the rifle and between my feet. The shots were OK, certainly better than they had been in the past. But this position will require more work.
I brought my target stand back to 25 meters and wanted to finish the day with two AQT. The first would be with the 20″ rifle and TR24G set at 4x. The second would be with the lightweight 16″ carbine and an EOTech XPS 2. My theory was that the magnification might actually have been hindering me. I have often read of there being “too much” magnification in shooting. When shooters use too much magnification, they see the jitters and wobble zone of the reticle over the target, and it causes them to hesitate on the shot. In reality, these jitters and sways are happening when there is no magnification as well, but it’s harder to see. I wondered if my scores would improve by shooting with no magnification. I suppose I could have done this just as well by setting the TR24 to 1x, but the reticle gets far too large for that relative to the small targets on the AQTs later stages.
Also, due to ammunition restriction, I only used 20 rounds for each AQT rather than the prescribed 40. I also did not use time limits (again).
The first round, using 4x magnification, resulted in a score of 121. Assuming the same level of performance, this would have gotten me a 242 on a full course of fire. Not bad.
The second round did not go as well. I was reminded of the primary advantage of magnification, a better ability to see where you are actually pointing. Don’t mind the mass of shots at the zeroing square, the EOTech was being an absolute pain to get dialed in.
Some notes: I found myself fighting against the sling on the 16″ lightweight. I have the rear sling attachment at on the receiver end plate rather than the stock (the MOE stock does not have a QD point). When tensioned, this caused the sling to sandwich between my cheek and the stock, producing a less than desirable cheek weld. I’ve noticed this tendency before when using any sling attached to the end plate, and I am now seriously considering picking up a BCM Gunfighter stock to replace the MOE.
I noticed that my follow through on the last shot each stage or magazine to be terrible. When I know it was the last cartridge in the magazine, or the last one on the target, I found myself rushing to “unsling” and stand up rather than keep the same calm follow-through. I would not be surprised if this seriously negatively affected my shooting.
Lastly, with the bright sun out, the fiber optic triangle in the TR24 can get retina-searingly bright. I was thankful to have the sun shade adjustment that let me block the FO element. But I can easily see why a lot of shooters end up laying electrical tape over the fiber optics on their ACOGs. This is further solidifying my decision to go with the Elcan as the optic of choice for the 20″ musket.