Jun 24, 2009

The Bronze Award for Shooting

Have you earned your Bronze Award for Shooting?

The Boy Scouts of America ( http://USScouts.org ) offer an Arts and Hobbies Awards at different levels for scouts who organize and host events. I extracted theses guidelines from the Boy Scouts of American Venturing Handbook (No. 33493), 1999 printing.

I pose the following question and challenge. Have you earned your "Bronze Award" for shooting and hunting? Please note to earn this award at the Bronze level a Boy Scout has to perform at least nine separate tasks in a variety of areas. Hunters and gun owners only have to focus on their one area of interest.

Here are the Boy Scout's requirements to earn a bronze level Arts and Hobbies award:

1. Choose a new hobby such as ... marksmanship.

2. Keep a log for at least 90 days of each time you participate in your hobby.

3. After participating in your hobby for at least 90 days, give a presentation on what you have learned for your crew or another group.

4. Develop a plan to assess the physical skill level of each member of a group.

5. Once you have determined your starting point or base, develop a plan with each member of your group to develop a training improvement program.

6. Test your group members on a regular basis over a 90-day period to see if there is improvement.

7. Share your results with the group and/or your crew.

8. Lead or participate in a discussion on the merits of choosing a sports hobby [like shooting]. Discuss health benefits, opportunity to associate with friends, costs, etc.

9. Ask an adult [or friend] who is not active in your crew and who has an active sports hobby to join your discussion to get his or her point of view.

10. Teach disadvantaged or disabled people a sport and organize suitable competitions, or help them develop an appreciation for an art or hobby new to them.

11. Organize a hobby meet (a place where people gather to display and share information about their hobbies) for your crew, [local community], or another group [like, say, the local media].

12. Organize a contest.

The Boy Scouts figured this much out. They expect kids to do the above in order to learn a new skill and to promote their hobby. Shouldn't we expect grown adult hunters and gun owners to do the same to promote their hobby?

How much skill and public respect would hunters and gun owners garner if every range and sportsman's club adhered to these simple guidelines; guidelines that children in the Boy Scouts are expected to follow?

If a Boy Scout looked at your shooting and hunting, would you earn your Bronze Award?

Jun 17, 2009

Gun Gremlins

Gun Gremlins

by Hubert Townsend

What with the cost of ammunition escalating and my rather frugal nature, I am happy with the advice I was given long ago. When new members of the Wyoming Guard shooting team were first issued their M14 rifles (.308 caliber) we were told to plot and write down every shot that came out of the barrel.

Info in our shooting data books included ammunition lot, date, time, place, light conditions, wind velocity and direction, temperature, sight settings and shot locations. We were wisely instructed to study our results and look for trends. And see them we did; such things as how light intensity and direction affected our aim and group location. Going from Wyoming’s high altitude down to Arkansas’ necessitated a sight change up to compensate for the thicker air down south. And now that my blurry eyes have forced a change to using scopes, the discipline of data booking continues to pay monetary dividends. But sometimes this shooting business is just plain voodoo to me.

Last year I thought I had a gnat’s ass zero on my Reserve team’s M16 rifle with its four power scope. I had consistently pounded the center ring at 300 yards. The next day I came out bright and early at the exact same time (to avoid the wind and mirage issues), fired from the exact same spot wearing the exact same equipment along with a consistent position, trigger pull and all those other pesky consistent marksmanship fundamentals. And, of course, the same lot of ammo. But my group was a minute off to the side!

Note: a minute of angle, MOA, translates into a change of an inch at 100 yds, two inches at 200 yards etc.

I complained to an experienced marksman out at the range who has been doing this stuff since his Corps days during WWII. He just told me that we are different people every day, see things slightly differently and showed me something very similar with some of his old target data. But how can change in impact happen when I thought I had taken care of all the ballistic variables? Was this knowledgeable gentleman on to something?

Well, yesterday I went to the range to confirm my civilian rifle’s zero prior to varmint hunting. Previously, at 64 degrees F at 0900 at that shooting range, it would shoot a three shot group at 100yds that could be covered with a dime (1/2 MOA) and it was exactly in the center. But now it was shooting 1 MOA high, at 100,200 and 300 yards. But all the variables were the same, including the temperature. “What gives here?” I angrily said to myself, along with some unprintable exclamations.

I later took my wife, Leta, to a sporting goods store to buy some reloading stuff and was replaying my voodoo story to the counterman whose explanation I was hoping for, as he is very experienced. After hearing the tale of woe and waiting for some kind of logical explanation, Leta, who isn’t lost in the forest for the trees when it comes to shooting, just looked at us both with that “wise woman” look and said “It’s the gun gremlins.” Doggone it! That is the best explanation I have ever heard for such things and goes a long way to explain all kinds of weird stuff that happens in spite of our very best efforts to control and account for the myriad of variables that effect where a bullet goes. Simple as that. Oh, the wisdom that comes from raising four children.

The lesson of this gremlin story is that if you have accounted for all the variables you can and your small shot groups move a wee bit off center then don’t fret; it’s just the “gun gremlins.” But if your groups look like how we instructors poetically describe as “rat shit in a dresser drawer,” then that isn’t the gremlins fault. It is a failure of one or more of the four marksmanship fundamentals. Keeping a data book can go a long way toward improving your group size and placement, along with your pocketbook.

Originally published in the Casper Tribune

Jun 10, 2009

Go for the Ink

Alan Korwin, of Bloomfield Press, the "gun law guy", has this to say about Tactics That Work:

Go for the Ink — in the Letters to the Editor Column
Even if they don't run 'em, the editors have to read 'em, and they have some effect. If they're not running 'em, find out why, change your style, get better, get ink more. Try a one- or two-liner, very effective when you dream up good ones.

That first line is most poignant. I've lost track of the folks who never bother to submit letters or press releases because they believe (sometimes wrongly) that the editor is anti-gun and won't run them and nobody will read them. Balderdash, on both counts! The main reason you don't see more pro-gun content is because so few people bother to send anything in.

An excellent, common sense guide, also at Mr. Korwin's site, http://www.gunlaws.com/FiveMinutesToFreedom-Haupt.htm is an exellent read.

Jun 3, 2009

Practical Shooting with the .22 Rimfire

Appleseed's 'Official' Liberty Training Rifle (LTR/.22 sub-caliber trainer) statement


As the cost of military surplus and new-production ammunition rises, and while supplies of the same are (at best) unreliable, many Appleseed instructors and attendees have noted a need for a cost-effective means of practicing marksmanship, especially at 25 meters. To this end, we have conducted extensive research and testing of many currently available products. The following is a summarization of our findings and experiences in the development of the Ruger 10/22® Liberty Training Rifle.

The Appleseed Program promotes rifle safety and marksmanship, as well as knowledge of Revolutionary War history and grass-roots participation in the political process, especially as this relates to the preservation of the Second Amendment. Thousands of satisfied Appleseed attendees have proven that the marksmanship principles that the Appleseed Program teaches at 25m translate into accurate shooting at up to 500 yards.

Unfortunately, the rising cost of ammunition has hindered the participation of some Americans in marksmanship activities. Proficient marksmanship requires regular practice, though not necessarily at full-distance. Practice at 25 meters, fortunately, does not require a full-power centerfire battle rifle; for this distance, a .22LR rimfire rifle is all that is required. Moreover, many indoor ranges do not allow the use of full-power rifles, but .22LR rifles are permitted.

There are several accurate and durable .22LR rifles on the market today, but the Ruger 10/22 has proven one of the most successful. It is both affordable and accurate, and several aftermarket accessories have been shown to make it an ideal platform for a 25m training rifle. The components listed in this thread should not require any gunsmithing, and little mechanical aptitude is required to install them. In short, this is a true ‘do-it-yourself’ project.

This should help you build a rifle that can quickly be put into service at an Appleseed, be lent to someone at a local AQT shoot, and be used to practice at 25m (or even use in 25 & 50 yard CMP rifle competitions) - all with cheap .22LR ammunition. Also, it will give you a valuable tool to use to train new shooters, without subjecting them to the often-intimidating recoil of a full-power main battle rifle.

Disclaimer -- RWVA, its members, the Appleseed Program, and the author have no financial interest in any of the companies listed in this post. Any product endorsement is purely the result of our own satisfaction as consumers.

Why the 10/22?

One Appleseed instructor speaks of his Liberty Training Rifle. He deliberately built this rifle just to practice the Army Qualification Target at 25 Meters. He writes "It is difficult to safely load (on a firing line while sitting or prone) a tube fed rifle quickly enough to finish within the time limits.

"Yes, the 10/22 when set up correctly closely mimics the M1A/M1 rifle. It's close enough for me that I've gotten down in prone, inserted the mag., wrapped up in my hasty sling, laid my cheek on the stock, gotten my NPOA and then wasted time searching for my M1A/M1's safety with my trigger finger. Only when I raised my head up off the rifle to try to see what was wrong with the safety did I realize it was my 10/22. When I related this story on the M14 Firing Line Public Forum it got some chuckles/laughs as others have done the same thing. It's that close.

"Accessories (sights, stocks, butt extensions, magazines, bolt hold open/release, trigger/sear, etc.) are wide open for the 10/22. Not sure about the Marlin.

"As for accuracy? As bad as my up close eye sight is (can't focus on the front sight - always has a blurry look that I can't get rid of) my 10/22 will do 5/8" shot groups at 25 yds.

Before you buy do some searching on the internet for availability of the accessories you'll need to shoot the rifle (whether at Appleseeds, the rifle range or small game hunting) and pick what you feel will work best for you. Hopefully the folks that suggest the 10/22 are doing so based on their positive experience and not "something they heard/read". I think you'll find that this is a forum of shooters who talk about shooting. It's not a forum of collectors who talk about shooting. There's a difference. Hang around, attend an Appleseed and an RBC and you'll see the difference between shooters who talk and talkers who (sometimes) shoot.

Because of the popularity of the Sturm-Ruger .22 caliber rifle there are several organizations who embrace its practicality and ease of use. Another Appleseed veteran instructor writes of his choice of the rifle and recalls the Liberty Training Rifle in its beginning stages.

"The 10/22 was chosen by a member who wanted a rifle that had (or could have added to it) sights that approximated the sight picture of his M1A and M1 Garand. At the time, the 10/22 with TechSights was the only choice. TechSights has noted that they are working on a set of aperture sights for the Marlin 60, but these are not yet available. The idea really took off when somebody (Junior Birdman?) found a stock with an adjustable length of pull for the 10/22. Someone pointed out the quick-reload advantage of the 10/22 vs tube-fed rifles, and this was also a factor."

Let us quote a text from Appleseed’s founder. Fred states his response to the cost and availability of surplus and commercial ammo in the higher calibers. Here, in a post quoted from the Appleseed’s forum in Fred and this programs response.

"The Solution to the Ammo Shortage

"There's always problems. And seems a current problem is the sudden high cost of good surplus ammo. What a few months back was 15 cents is now above 50 cents a round. That's a more than 300% increase. Ouch! If you come to an Appleseed, and you go thru 300 rds in two days - or 800 rounds in six days of Boot Camp - your ammo costs have shot up from $45 to over $150 at the weekend Appleseed - and from $120 to over $400 at a Boot Camp.

"That's gotta hurt. But there's an easy solution. It's called .22 rimfire. For most of us older guys, say “.22” and you only mean one thing - the lowly .22 rimfire cartridge, billions of which are fired every year in this country.

"I say ‘lowly’ because, being boys at heart, we all gravitate toward speed and power, so the .223 and other “.22s” of recent decades tend to grab the glory, at least among “the .22s”. Yet if any of us can reach back far enough in our memories, we’re likely to find the .22 lurking way back in the past as the cartridge on which we cut our teeth as marksmen. If you soak in those memories a bit, it all starts to come back. The importance with which you approached the clerk in the country store and asked for “a box of .22s. And not just “a box of .22s” - no sir - it was a box of “longs” or “long rifles” or - if you were “poor” that day, a box of “shorts”.

"Yep, even back then power was an aphrodisiac, and, if you had the 72 cents, you went for the big ones - the Long Rifles (and if you were really flush, you bought the “Long Rifle Hollow Points" and paid the 80 cents - this country is so rich today that nearly all .22s now sold are “LR” so the glory attached to those two words has probably faded considerably with the younger set.) If you were short in the coin department, if the most loose change you had was a couple of quarters (made of silver, too!) you were stuck with “shorts”.

"Bottom line, when you opened the box, and started dropping them down the mag tube, don’t know that, excitement-wise, it made much difference. It’s no secret the power and impact that cartridge has on marksmanship. In that field, the .22 rimfire packs muscle that dwarfs 7.62 X 39, for example. Real Marksmanship Muscle.

"Some of the most accomplished marksmen are the small bore shooters.

"It’s an old truth, often told: small bore shooters make great high power rifle shooters - but the reverse is not automatically true. A center-fire marksman has to work on his skills when he starts to shoot small bore, because you have to be sharper than with centerfire. Which means .22 rimfire is a heck of a maker of rifle-shooting skills. And no slouch in the Liberty department, either.

"Back in 1940, one .22 champion shooter in England explored the possibility of using .22 rimfire on the invading Hun. He made up dummy targets - wood ‘dressed’ in a wool uniform, leather cartridge belt, etc - just like an invading Nazi would wear - and found out that, at 300 yards, the ‘lowly’ .22 would penetrate ‘uniform’ and ‘gear’ to lodge an inch or more into the wood. He concluded the basic .22 cartridge would make nasty wounds.

"He concluded, based on his research that .22 rifles were a viable option in facing the Hun. Before you laugh, imagine being on the receiving end. Without warning, sizeable lead pellets penetrate an inch or more into your body. You can’t hear them coming. There’s no muzzle report - certainly, not amid vehicular or battlefield noise - to give away the location of the shooter. They may not kill you, but you will be something the military says is even more valuable: a casualty. Requiring 2-4 men to drag you to a first-aid station, then convalescence, etc.

"There’s an article in one of the gun magazines way back in the days when there was a flap over civil defense and bomb shelters - say, sometime in the 1950s or early 60s. It was a story about a man who appeared at his local gun shop once a month, and bought a .22 single-shot and a brick of .22s. (Back then, a twenty would get you both!) When finally asked why he was buying all those rifles, he responded that, when the time came, the rifles were for his neighbors, and he expected them to use ‘em - to get a battle rifle! Shades of the generations of riflemen who have guarded this country’s liberty and heritage for so long! Now we are in a time of shortages of cheap surplus ammo.

"Those of you who had the opportunity to ‘buy it cheap and stack it deep’ acted like the grasshoppers that most Americans are and instead of planning for the winter, you danced and sang and partied... But even those with a few cases stacked away are reluctant to freely spend that now 50-cent a round ammo. But .22 is still plentiful and cheap. So herewith, we draft that cartridge back into the Cause, once more.

"Yes sir, march onto the ‘battlefield of liberty” - the 25-meter marksmanship training range - with the goal of becoming riflemen, of becoming one with the tradition. It’s actually already happening."

At Appleseeds, we already see nearly half the guys showing up with .22 rimfire rifles. In fact, at the recent New York Appleseed, BOTH Riflemen who qualified were firing .22s (one shot a 237!). Guess you could say that’s the beauty of Appleseed. That at 25m you can shift from centerfire to rimfire and the only difference you’ll notice, marksmanship-wise, is that your ammo dollar still buys a dollar’s worth of ammo. There’s really not much difference, otherwise.

Your shoulder is no sorer. You still have to ‘ride the bull’ of the Six Steps of Firing a Shot. NPOA is still mandatory. Position checkpoints? Absolutely the same, and absolutely as important. Plus, if you can master the lowly .22, you can master the big center fire.

No problem. Now, to stock up of some of that .22, before IT gets scarce!

At less than 20 bucks per thousand, it’s a deal - and a steal! And you never know when you’ll have to go ‘hunting the Hun’ - huh? Maybe the title for a future column: “Stalking the Hun with pipe and .22...” Or, “what will happen if we let this country go down the same road as England”, right? Meantime, .22 offers marksmanship training opportunities in your back yard and basement. With CB caps, you can be near as quiet as an air rifle.

Geez, I starting to not even miss centerfire!

So yes, the lowly .22 can be a lifesaver - if it allows you to acquire the marksmanship skills you need. And, as our English guy discovered (maybe to his surprise, and to the snorts of you machos out there), it may even have utility as a defender of Liberty , if and when it ever comes to that.

Buy some before everyone else finds out about it, and shortages begin to pop up...

Got some .22 already? Then come to an Appleseed! Bring your centerfire for Sunday, when we often switch to longer ranges, so you can see for yourself that what works at 25, works for 200 - or 300 - or 400. And by using .22 for 90+% of your training on the AQT, your costs to attend an Appleseed actually go down, not up.
Sweet deal.

And the same goes for the Boot Camp. By firing 2/3s of your shots with .22 rimfire - easily done - you ammo costs stay the same as when surplus ammo was cheap, but you get to shoot over 200 rounds of centerfire to polish off your training. Sweet deal!

So, in the spirit of Appleseed - adapt, improvise, overcome - and persevere - turn the current ammo shortage in your favor - and save money even more than before the shortage cropped up!