Dec 14, 2010
Looking at the National Rifle Association Competition Division’s own numbers, less than three percent of the NRA membership has been classified in any NRA sanctioned discipline. Note you get a Marksman card simply by showing up and safely participating, regardless of final score!
The NRA’s American Hunter magazine boasts a readership of one million yet Sporting Rifle, an event designed for hunters, has roughly 2,000 classified shooters. That’s 0.2%, or only one in 500. I have not yet met a hunter subscribing to that magazine that has even heard of, much less participated in, Sporting Rifle. Even among serious High Power competition shooters the event is little known.
I have a copy of American Rifleman from June 1961. Starting on page 23 of that issue is a detailed report of Operations in 1960. With a membership of 418,000 total, the NRA in 1960 boasted 120,367 classified competitors and the Marksmanship Qualification Program had 374,112 participants. That is, roughly 29% of the membership was classified in formal competition and 90% participated in the MQP. Page 49 of that same issue details a drive for 500,000 members by using the Marksmanship Qualification Program and a push to get every NRA member involved.
Today, with a 4,300,000 members, a ten fold increase, less than 100,000 members are classified shooters (less than 3%) and the Marksmanship Qualification Program isn’t even tracked despite advances in information processing and computers.
Can’t blame this on the anti-gun media because this is the percentage of card carrying NRA members not participating and the failure to promote to them. This is a HUGE drop off in participation and a rather poor state of affairs for a growing pro-gun organization with more than a $100 million per year operating budget, not counting Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s million dollar annual salary. They should be capable of doing better than this, yet the NRA’s own published numbers show a large decline.
I’ve competed in AFSAM (an international NATO military shooting competition), Camp Perry, USPSA Nationals, IPSA Nationals, Single Stack Nationals, All Army and countless local events. Ask serious competition shooters about their opinion on this and you’ll find many of them echoing what I’ve written here.
This isn’t intended as a slam against the NRA. I’ve been a Life member most of my life. They have many great programs. I’m simply pointing out that there is much room of improvement and that not all our problems come from the anti-gunners.
I’m sure I’ll be lambasted for failing to toe the party line on this issue when I’m supposed to tilt the windmills but I am merely reporting the NRA’s own numbers to you. Considering how poorly gun owners receive organized shooting, perhaps part of our “anti-gun media” problem is our failure to keep people informed. We can improve a number of things for gun owners internally! Why aren’t more gun owners attending these events and how do we motivate them to do so?
Dec 1, 2010
When first learning about military-sponsored shooting teams many troops naturally ask how they can get a slot.
Step One: Go shoot!
Your first step in earning a slot on a shooting team is to start in competitive shooting. The best way to start in competitive shooting is to go find events, be it military or civilian, on your own and attending. Consider a player vying for a position on a team in the NFL. If he doesn’t already have years of solid background with high school and college teams, forget it! A couch potato who was never played a game is not going to be offered a tryout. Why bother?
Yet, you’d be amazed how many troops with zero competition shooting experience complain that they can’t get started because no team will give them equipment or fund their travel to a match. For every 100+ troops with no previous competition experience maybe one of them is worth a look. Even if/when you earn a slot you’ll still have to shoot and train on your own so already having places and venues to do so will help long term as well.
Find out what ranges are in your area and look into attending organized civilian events. http://wheretoshoot.org/ is a great resource. Nearly every team shooter has a civilian shooting background and the best way to get started is to simply jump in. If you approach a team having already participated in matches and earning higher level classifications on your own any coach will want you to try out.
For military sponsored events, find a National Guard sponsored event in your state. Even if you’re not the Guard, you can shoot the EIC events. The Arkansas Guard, at Camp Robinson, is the national headquarters for this.
All Army is hosted by the Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning every year in the spring and is open to all Active, Reserve and Guard Army personnel. Even if you’re not on a team you can register in advance on your own and be able to borrow guns and get a free place to stay on post. The event is HIGHLY recommended!
Step Two: Train your Discipline
The USAR shooting team focuses on three disciplines. Two of them, Service Rifle and Service Pistol, are shot as civilian competitions recognized by the NRA and CMP. Shooting Sports USA lists events and is a free, on-line magazine.
The third discipline, Combat, is a NATO event that doesn’t have a civilian equivalent, however practical competition such as Action Pistol, IDPA and USPSA Multigun is close. This is also the style event you’ll find at National Guard hosted events.
The bottom line is, if you want to be on a military sponsored shooting team you need to be a competition shooter. You become a competition shooter by being a competition shooter. Shoot events on your own, attend All Army and you’ll earn a slot.
Nov 14, 2010
Robert Kolesar wrote up an article about the Small Arms Instructor Academy I taught at, posted here.
Nov 13, 2010
The US Army Reserve has been a dominate force in international marksmanship competition and the team continued its winning ways at this year’s Armed Forces Skill at Arms Meeting (AFSAM.) Hosted by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center in Camp Robinson, Arkansas, AFSAM is an International shooting competition open to all NATO countries that began in 1991 with three countries and 49 participants. AFSAM 2010 consisted of 18 formal teams, with several more shooting for honors, and competitors hailing from seven countries. In addition to US Army Reserve and National Guard teams from the United States, shooters from Canada, Australia, England, Netherlands, Denmark and Norway competed in this year’s events.
USAR shooters started strong in the nine individual events, taking seven first places, five second places and five third places. In the overall individual rifle aggregate, USAR team members took gold for first place and four of the top ten places. In the individual pistol aggregate, USAR shooters took first through fourth and secured six of the top ten places..Most impressively off all, USAR team shooter MSG Lance Espinosa won first place overall in both rifle and pistol matches.
Team matches are the real focus of all major competition and Team Captain LTC Pasquale Sperlongano summed this up: “Individuals win matches but it takes a team to win a championship. A team that comes together, trains hard and becomes one entity can accomplish anything.”
Putting this philosophy to practice USAR teams took five first places, two second places, and four third places, earning trophies in nine of the ten AFSAM team events. This culminates with each country competing for the Lexington Green Trophy, a grand aggregate comprised of the International Service Rifle match and Close Quarter Battle match. The first is shot from 100 to 500 yards and ends with a run down, shooting at every yard line from 500 back to 100, which the USAR team finished with a 28 point lead. The Close Quarter Battle started with casualty evacuation and ammo resupply exercise, requiring teams to run with two litters each loaded with 150 pound “casualties” and sprint to the firing point with eight 30 pound ammo cans. Shooters then fire four stages of a close quarters battle course culminating with a CBRN drill shot in protective masks. Despite the physical demands the USAR team finished 93 points ahead of the next closest team, taking the Lexington Green Trophy and the overall AFSAM win.
Oct 15, 2010
This brief description of my day is just like a fight, except in your typical fight everything is compressed into a few seconds. "Fighting," as Scott Reitz says, "is problem solving at high speeds." You're presented a problem, and you have to come up with a solution for that problem and apply it immediately.
When you have a base of skill that you can consistently apply effectively at high speeds your problem solving ability improves tremendously. I recall shooting with a police officer who struggled to draw and hit a silhouette target at ten yards in under three seconds. Even at this slow pace his shooting was still erratic. On the same exercise I was consistenly getting good hits in just under one second.
Even if the Law Enforcement Academy imbued some magical tactical knowledge into this officer (it didn't and couldn't, but let us pretend anyway) I would still have an additional two seconds in a split-second shoot/don't-shoot scenario to assess the situation and make a decision and still land a better hit, if that's what the situation called for.
Get your basic, fundamental skills and fitness down and your problem solving automatically becomes high speed.
Oct 1, 2010
What is considered skilled shooting with a basic, issue, rack-grade (unmodified) service pistol? Let's use a 9mm, 5" barrel, open/iron sight, handgun, standing, two hands, slow fire at 25 yards (75 feet.) What should the grouping diameter look like?
First, what is the mechanical accuracy of the gun as fired from a machine rest? Most common rack-grade issue self-loading service pistols will be good for about three-inch groups at 25 yards. Some might be worse and others will do better but this is a reasonable guess. Tuned and accurized CMP Service competition pistols ("ball gun") will shoot under three inches at 50 yards or better.
An old standard from practical shooting is to shoot a slow fire group freestyle (standing, two hands, no support) at 25 yards less than twice the size of the mechanical accuracy. So, with a factory gun capable of a three-inch group at 25 from a Ransom rest, a good goal is to shoot freestyle groups less than six inches at the same distance.
Skilled pistol shooters can do better. When preparing for military practical/combat matches (AFSAM, All Army, etc.) one of my training exercises is to shoot slow-fire five round groups (standing, two hands, unsupported) with an issue M9 (Beretta 92FS) on a blank target inside four inches. On a good day I can do this with all shots fired double action as well as single action. Of course, not every day is good. :) With a proper bullseye pistol, do the same thing with one hand.
The most important thing is that you see improvement each trip to the range. I recommend standard bullseye pistol targets (B-6 or B-8) at 25 yards, or the equivalent scaled target at a different distance, and shoot a few slow fire strings for score each range session. When your shots are mostly 9s and 10s, with nothing outside the 8-ring, you're getting it!
Sep 15, 2010
The effective range of the .30-30 is about 150-170 yards. Some of the wizzy new Magnums can outperform this by roughly 300 percent, at least on paper. But can the hunter outperform the .30-30? Can you?
The .30-30 WCF (Winchester Center Fire), originally a black powder cartridge, was a hot little number when first debuted in 1895 but today's hunters complain about this "obsolete" antique. Standard wisdom states this cartridge is best contained within a range of 100-175 yards. A .30-30 will push a 150-170 grain bullet out at approximately 2200 fps or so. With a 150 yard zero, the bullet will be about two inches above line of sight at 100 yards and around five inches low at 200.
Few hunters possess enough shooting skill that warrants better performance than this. Are you one of them? Find out with the .30-30 Drill.
Begin by getting a good 150 yard zero for that anemic .30-30 (or whatever your favorite hunting rifle is chambered in.) Set up a Y-ring steel target at 150 yards. If you don't have a quality, self-resetting steel target that is about 8-10 inches in diameter, a paper dinner plate at 150 yards makes an ersatz substitute. Get a shooting timer, or a buddy with a whistle and stop watch, to record the time.
Start from standing up. On the start signal adopt a sitting position and fire one aimed shot at the plate. Stand back up and repeat the drill for a total of three shots. After completing this three string/three round sequence from the sitting position, do it again adopting and shooting from prone.
We are shooting at the distance we zeroed giving point-of-impact at point-of-aim on a nice, level playing field with no intervening brush, trees, etc. All the shooting is done from the two most stable positions available in the field. Furthermore, the target is presented whole, as opposed to a large animal with the vital zone hidden somewhere inside, thus eliminating the need to estimate target angle. Just hold center and let 'er rip!
Regardless of elapsed time, a hunter claiming to need something better than a .30-30 should get at least 5 hits out of 6 shots (83% hits) or better on this six MOA target every time. If so, our hero can actually make use of the ballistic capability provided by a .30-30 or equivalent for field shooting. If not, their maximum effective range in field shooting is shorter than 150 yards and the capability of a .30-30 rifle exceeds their present level of skill.
A more competent hunter-shooter who can get those same hits in ten seconds per shot or less just might benefit from a "better" rifle. They possess sufficient skill to warrant extended range.
We can repeat this drill out even further. Use the same target and set at 200, 225, 250, 300, or out as far as you dare. Give the shooter an extra three seconds or so for every 50 yards beyond 150. Sight in appropriately and shoot. For example, .308/.30-06 and cartridges of similar ballistics can set their zero to 200-250 yards.
Aug 16, 2010
Where the Interservice Rifle Championships compile the best rifle marksman in all the US services, the Nationals are open to all. Law enforcement and civilian shooters compete equally in this World Series of marksmanship. These events consist of a series of rifle National Match Courses. The rifle NMC consists of four stages of fire, shot from 200 to 600 yards from Standing, Sitting, and Prone. Fired with a total of fifty rounds, the NMC is worth a possible 500 points and 50 X's.
The US Army Reserve team had a number of impressive wins. Among the most amazing at the National Trophy Rifle Matches were the individual championships garnered by Army Reserve Career Counselor SFC Norman Anderson.
Team matches are considered by many to be most important because a good performance there helps the whole team. SFC Anderson shined during team events and was recognized multiple times for his efforts. The Pershing Trophy is awarded to the top member of a team, ranked as individual results, of all competitors who fired on eligible teams in the National Trophy Team Match. SFC Anderson took this with 496 points and 16 X's. The Rattlesnake Trophy recognizes the top Army shooter during this event so SFC Anderson won this as well.
The top Reservist shooter of the National Trophy Individual Rifle Match is awarded the Citizen Soldier Trophy. SFC Anderson took this with a 490 – 12.
The Mountain Man Trophy recognized the top National Trophy Matches Individual Champion, which is the overall highest scoring individual competitor in an aggregate of the Presidents, National Trophy Individual and National Trophy Team Matches. SFC Anderson's 1283 – 38 also took top honors here.
Finally, there is the Overall Individual Service Rifle Aggregate, which compiles the individual scores from the President's, NTI, NTT and Hearst Doubles Matches – in other words, all service rifle events in the National Trophy Rifle Matches. SFC Anderson posted an aggregate of 1580 – 48 to win this.
Naturally, with a star like SFC Anderson, the rest of the very solid USAR Rifle Team can be expected to have an equally impressive finish. The main USAR Rifle team, USAR Gold took the Celtic Chieftain Trophy, which is awarded to the Reserve Component teams in the National Trophy Infantry Team Match. USAR Gold consisted of Team Captain MSG Mark Bearnson, Team Coach SGM Neal Dickey, and firing members SFC Anderson, SGT Atkins, SFC Dorosheff, SGT Farro, SGT Friend, MSG Withus.
Aug 15, 2010
The Interservice Championships represent the pinnacle of marksmanship within the US military. The Nationals are open to everyone, including law enforcement and civilian shooters. For shooters, this is the World Series.
As always, the US Army Reserve was well represented there. Starting with individual accomplishment the star of the USAR pistol team at this year's nationals was MSG Robert Mango. MSG Mango took the U. S. Reserve Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the top shooter among all Reserve competitors, including Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy. This is awarded during the National Trophy Individual Pistol Match for the first place Reserve competitor.
MSG Mango also finished very high among the entire field of 580 competitors, earning a fourth overall in the Individual Service Pistol Aggregate and a fifth Individual National Trophy Pistol Aggregate.
On the team side, USAR Black posted a respectable fourth overall finish in the National Trophy Pistol Team match. USAR Black consisted of Team Captain LTC Toler and firing members MSG Mango, SFC Spencer, SSG Rosene and CPT Sleem.
Aug 14, 2010
Just as with the Interservice Championship for conventional pistol, all the military services send teams for a rifle championship as well. Shot at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, the Interservice Rifle Championships represents the best conventional rifle shooters in the US military. The rifle National Match Course consists of four stages of fire. At 200 yards competitors shoot slow fire from the standing position and rapid fire from sitting. Rapid fire has the shooter begin standing and as the targets appear, adopt a solid sitting position firing two shots, reload the empty rifle and reengage with eight more rounds all within 60 seconds. Moving to the 300 yard line shooters fire prone rapid similar to sitting rapid but further away and in 70 seconds. Finally, shooters move all the way back to 600 yards and shoot slow fire from the prone position.
The US Army Reserve team managed some impressive finishes. During individual competition, SGT Kristoffer Friend posted a 200 – 10 for the win during the Prone Slow Fire match. Fired at 600 yards, SGT Friend not only scored a perfect 200 points with all twenty shots fired but landed half of them inside the center X-ring!
For team competition, the USAR team managaed a respectible third place overall. The rifle team representing the entire US Army Reserve at this year's Interservice consisted of Team Captains LTC Jon Casillas and SGM Neal Dickey, Team Coaches SFC Norman Anderson and 1SG Mark “Bear” Bearnson, and firing members SGT Atkins, SFC Dorosheff, SGT Friend, SGT Smith, SFC Anderson, SGT Farro, MSG Withus, SFC Stauffer, SSG. Gervasio, 1SG Valasek.
Aug 12, 2010
The US Army Reserve Pistol team was well represented at this year's match. Shot at Fort Benning, the Interservice Pistol Championship is open to shooting teams from all military services. These teams represent some of the best marksmanship talent in the world.
For 2010 the main Reserve team, USAR Black, took first place in two of the overall team championships. In conventional pistol shooting, team events take the aggregate of four shooters firing against the challenging pistol National Match Course. This course consists of thirty rounds worth a possible 300 points - 30 X's. Pistol NMC starts with ten rounds slow fire at 50 yards. Moving to the 25 yard line, shooters fire Timed and Rapid strings, five rounds in twenty and ten seconds respectively, for a total of ten rounds each. All shooting is unsupported and with one hand only.
With a combined score of 1166 – 42 USAR Black won the Center Fire Team Championship. This event requires an accurized centerfire pistol. Team members of USAR Black were SFC Sanderson, MSG Mango, SSG Rosene, LTC Toler, SFC Spencer and CPT Sleem.
Of particular note was the amazing score posted by SFC Keith Sanderson, who fired a 298 – 19!
USAR Black also took top honors in the .45 Caliber. Team Championship with a score of 1160 – 48.
Aug 1, 2010
>> Over 1000 Norwegian fans are clapping, cheering, and singing during the match
But shooting isn't "spectator friendly."
The REAL reason shooting sports aren't more popular is that the organizations that allegedly promote marksmanship have failed to draw significant interest. Over eighty million people own guns in America, but so few participate in, or are even aware of, any form of organized shooting.
Don't blame Sarah Brady on this issue because Wayne LaPierre is at fault here!
Jul 27, 2010
Jul 14, 2010
Army Study Guide is primarily for folks preparing for a promotion and features flash card-type tidbits of army knowledge and trivia to study to look good before the board. However, their summary of shooting fundamentals is quite sound, if sparse, and is a good primer for any marksman. I only wish Army personnel would actually read something like this. It is clear from most ranges they do not!
Jul 13, 2010
Top Shot on the History Channel
The good news is this show is mostly good PR for gun owners and shooting. I don't like the manufactured drama but they are following a formula that has proven successful. The fact that this formula is successful and what that says about our society is an issue I'll leave alone...
I'm more disturbed that the courses of fire are just goofy and have little resemblance to anything typically used in organized shoots. The producers seem determined to ignore a century's worth of existing courses. What's worse, the shooting challenges would be incredibly difficult to duplicate on a home range making it nearly impossible to test your skills against what the show's competitors are doing.
In this regard, the Front Sight Challenge was much better. At least portions of the courses could be set up by anyone on almost any range.
If the goal was really to find the Top Shot it would make more sense to have the participants compete Across-The-Course, Silhouette, IPSC/Steel Challenge, on modified law enforcement and military qualification courses, etc. An aggregate of all the diverse events would truly indicate the "Top Shot."
Use targetry with instant feedback (Sius-Ascor, steel, etc.) to maximize spectator value and emphasize that these events are held year-round throughout the US and are open to all. It would encourage gun owners to go try some of the events themselves and yield a host of new applicants for upcoming seasons.
Jul 9, 2010
Proper Benchrest Shooting Technique
Proper bench rest shooting is more like gunnery. Consider these videos:
Start at 8:30
When I rail against the use of the bench rest it is NOT directed towards skilled BR competitors like this. Competition BR is its own discipline and, as these high-level competitors demonstrate, it is more like gunnery. Note that the tripod and bags are like the carriage of an artillery piece. In both cases, the gunner manipulates the pedestal/carriage to lay the weapon. The benchrest shooter isn't really holding like a rifleman, instead, he is obtaining a lay for his piece based on the target and conditions.
Benchrest competition has taught us many things about the accurate construction of firearms and ammunition. The level of improved mechanical accuracy inherent in modern factory rifles today is due to these competition shooters. However, as these videos demonstrate, benchrest shooting (which is really a form of gunnery) is a world apart from practical and field marksmanship. The hunter, practical and field shooter needs to work on position shooting, that is, marksmanship practice where the shooter's body is the primary, and sometimes only, source of support. If the support isn't available in the field, such as a shooting sling or similar, then you shouldn't use it on the range even when you zero.
Let the BR competitor worry about gilt edged accuracy and load testing because it is what they are best at. Attempting some half-ass version of this with a hunting rifle that is supposed to be shot in the woods from a held POSITION is a waste of time. Note that High Power and Smallbore shooters don't shoot from a bench, even when zeroing, and their marksmanship and accuracy standards are much higher than any field shooter or hunter.
Unless you want to win formal Benchrest competition and compete folks like those in these videos, do NOT use a bench rest! It has ZERO use for any competent field marksman.
Jul 4, 2010
Televised eating contests, yet, professional-level shooting contests receive virtually no coverage. Humans never cease to disappoint!
Jul 1, 2010
Q: There’s definitely a proliferation of so-called firearms academies, some of them run by IPSC guys who win a couple of titles and open a school.
A: IPSC guys are very good shooters. Obviously, IPSC has changed from the early days, from what Jeanne-Pierre Denis and Jeff [Cooper] and the original guys set out to make it. The P was meant to stand for practical. The arguments went on in the 80s and very early 90s about whether it’s practical or it isn’t. Finally, IPSC got to a stage in the early 90s where they said, No, we’re not being practical, it’s a sport. But the bottom line is, if you get somebody like Rob Leatham, Jerry Barnhard, guys like that, they’re tremendous mechanical shooters. And if they open a school and teach mechanical shooting, which a lot of them do, I think there’s nothing wrong with that.
Q: But is mechanical shooting what is needed by most people who get their concealed carry permits and want to protect themselves?
A: How many people who get concealed carry permits do you think are serious about it? How many do you think want to punch a piece of paper so they can legally have a firearm if one day they might need it. Most people buy a gun, take a concealed carry class, buy a box of fifty rounds of ammunition, and the firearm and fifty rounds of ammunition are found in their estate thirty years later. In a drawer somewhere.
I’ve got a problem with flat, non-representative targets. We’re talking about shooting people, and if the target is an 18 by 30-inch piece of flat paper, this has nothing to do with reality. All males from the shoulder line to the waist are the same height, whether it’s me or a basketball player. And from nipple to nipple they’re all nine inches wide. So in a full frontal shot, if you’re out nine inches here you’ve got nothing. And if people are going to be kind enough to stand like that, why are you shooting them? They’re probably twisted in like this with an AK or a blade and you’re down to three or four inches of target.
But you’ve got to start somewhere. If you’ve got a neophyte you’ve got to teach him the basics. The problem is, what is an advanced gunfight? There is no advanced gunfight. I’m running with curved targets, graphic targets, angled this way and that and everything else. But you’ve got to start somebody off with flat paper, explain this is the trigger, these are the sights, this is the follow-through, get them to shoot a group on a piece of paper. You can get an organ grinder’s monkey to shoot a group on a piece of paper, he can take his paw and pull the trigger back and he can shoot accurately. That’s all there is to it. Has this got anything to do with shooting people, when the target is that big and three feet away from you and is about to turn you into a little brown spot on the ground?
People are very, very hard to hit because a lot of shooters cannot transpose the angles of a biped as opposed to a quadruped. You were talking about dangerous game earlier on. What comes at you like a human? Maybe a polar bear, that’s about it. Everything else runs on four legs, but a human is usually on his hind paws most of the time when you have this problem. People have trouble transposing this concept into a vertical instead of a horizontal problem. I bend one piece of cardboard, interstice it into another and then staple a target over that, then I angle them some way or twist them or turn them. Now you’ve got to start thinking about going into the ribcage, side of the head, simulating a flight of stairs. If the guy is lying in a bed, say the head’s facing you and the feet are away, you have to go in real high, because if you shoot at the chest and miss by five degrees you’re going to miss him entirely.
Jun 15, 2010
>> Over 1000 Norwegian fans are clapping, cheering, and singing during the match
But shooting isn't "spectator friendly."
The REAL reason shooting sports aren't more popular is that the organizations that allegedly promote marksmanship have failed to draw significant interest. Over eighty million people own guns in America, but so few participate in, or are even aware of, any form of organized shooting.
Don't blame Sarah Brady on this issue because Wayne LaPierre is at fault here!
Jun 1, 2010
Dennis DeMille is a former Camp Perry National Champion and one of the top High Power shooters in the country. Dennis has served as the General Manager of Creedmoor Sports since retiring from the US Marine Corps Shooting Team. With his decades of competitive experience, Dennis has a wealth of knowledge and shares insights into the most effective ways to train for competition and the fundamentals of marksmanship.
Training for High Power (Across-The-Course) shooting
I think the most important thing is spending time off the range practicing. Most of what I learned as a High Power shooter I learned without ammunition. I learned in my garage, or in the barracks, just spending time dry firing, holding exercises.
One of the most helpful things you can do is holding exercises. Dry fire is helpful also but holding exercises where you are holding the rifle up for a minute in position will really help you identify the weak parts of the position.
I think a lot of people miss the reason why you dry fire. The reason you dry fire is not to get your muscles to build muscle memory. The primary purpose of dry firing is to get you used to shooting an empty rifle. If you can shoot a loaded rifle the same way you shoot an empty rifle then you will eventually become a High Master.
Fundamentals of Marksmanship
One of the most important fundamentals of marksmanship is Natural Point of Aim. You have trigger control sight alignment but if you don't have natural point of aim from the time you mount the rifle until the shot breaks is an uphill battle. The definition of natural point of aim, in my mind, is where the rifle wants to rest naturally when you are relaxed in your position, where that rifle is, where that front sight is in relationship to the target. If they marry up when you are ready to break a shot and you are naturally resting your front sight there the shot will be good.
May 15, 2010
Random post found
>> IPSC/IDPA may "fill the house," but both sports are generally for people who aren't skilled enough to shoot bullseye.
A common assertion among the Conventional "Bullseye" crowd is that practical shooting is inferior. This is not true. Top tier practical shooting (Master class level or higher) takes every bit as much effort as top tier conventional/bullseye shooting. Much like sprinting differs from marathoning, the disciplines are unique.
It is sometimes asserted by practical shooters that bullseye is easier because "I can just slow down." This is equally wrong! Too often practical shooters don't have the raw marksmanship chops to deliver real precision.
OTOH, it is sometimes asserted by bullseye shooters that practical/IPSC is easy because "those targets are so big and close." Wrong as well! Too often bullseye shooters don't have the gun handling chops to deliver shots at speed.
Both disciplines have merit and a Firearm User will take benefit from both.
May 1, 2010
Time to get schooled
Start at :24. Watch and listen for the click.
A classic and very common marksmanship error. Shooting can never be learned at a decent level until you can fire live ammo without being subconsciously afraid of the firearm. Any motion or reaction on a "click" when a "bang" is expected indicates this hasn't been addressed and fixed.
Everybody wants to be a gun fighter and hold a "Tactical Clinic" but nobody wants to do the work. Fundamental marksmanship skills can be mastered at home performing daily, organized dry practice for a few minutes per session. Good physical fitness can be achieved at home with no equipment by performing simple exercises and calisthenics daily in an organized fashion.
Yet, fat flinchers abound. Sad.
Apr 15, 2010
- High Master
- Distinguished Rifleman
- Distinguished Pistol Shot
- Silver EIC (20 or more "Leg" points)
- Bronze EIC (any number of earned "Leg" points)
However, a civilian "Sharpshooter" rating is almost always much more difficult to earn than a current military "Expert" qualification! Because most public sector marksmanship training is originally derived from organized civilian shooting, the names are the same and have stuck. Here's the breakdown.
First, there are the the rankings used to describe Classification in competitive shooting, such as the Conventional events recognized by the NRA. Those rankings are only earned by competing against other shooters in events tracked by the NRA, specifically, the event has to be an Approved or Registered tournament. When a competition shooter talks about being a "Master Class" shooter (or "Sharpshooter" or "Expert") that's what they mean.
An "Expert" Classification earned this way (not to mention "Master", "High Master"/"Grand Master") through open competition is the most challenging rating to earn and requires the most shooting skill.
The Distinguished Rifleman or Pistol Shot badge is a different award earned by accumulating 30 "Leg" points over your competitive shooting career in Service Rifle or Service Pistol matches. Called Excellence in Competition, these points are only awarded at EIC events recognized by the Civilian Marksmanship Program, US Army, and/or US Marine Corps. It can be very hard to earn and is quite prestigious.
Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification is a self paced program designed to let shooters improve their shooting skills and track their progress by successfully firing certain set drills on prescribed courses of fire. This program is entirely self paced and the NRA does not actually track or officially award the qualification levels. It's all pretty much on the honor system.
The self-paced program has value as it gives concrete goals to work towards and, more importantly, gives a way to track shooting progress. It was designed to prepare a marksman for higher level organized shooting, such as competition. However, a "Distinguished Expert" on a Marksmanship Qualification Program course is roughly equal to a high level "Sharpshooter" Classification in competition.
Lastly, is Qualification within the military and police departments. Despite sharing names, this is the lowest skill level of all. Most public-sector shooting courses were originally derived from organized civilian events. That's why the qualification and classification rating names are the same. However, while competition shooters have progressively improved over the decades and have made their standards more challenging, most military and police departments courses have allowed non-marksmen to handle training and have downgraded the standards. Thus, an "Expert" rating (not to mention Sharpshooter or Marksman) on an Army, Marine, or police qualification course is the lowest rating of all.
If you have never participated in organized shooting, the best recommendation is:
- Take a good entry level class or find a well organized shooting club hosting regular events.
- Try a self-paced Marksmanship Qualification program to give you a baseline idea of where your skills are at.
- If you are interested in really becoming a good shot, take up competitive shooting. Winning, high level competition shooters are the best marksmen. Shoot with them.
Apr 2, 2010
The "Bannister Effect" will maximize your shooting skills!
On May 6, 1954 a British physician by the name of Roger Bannister was the first human in history to run a mile faster than 4 minutes. This feat is especially significant because prior to Bannister's run it was theorized by athletes and physicians alike that it was physically impossible for any human being to run a mile faster than four minutes. Yet, a month and a half after Bannister's record run Australian John Landy did it as well. By the end of 1957, sixteen other runners had broken the four-minute mile barrier.
In the space of about three years the "impossible" had been achieved numerous times by a number of people. Today, a four minute mile, while still exceptional, is not uncommon. The current record stands at 3:43:13.
People that were involved in this sport during the early '50's built up an imaginary barrier, but when Bannister proved the barrier didn't really exist other competitors were able to break it too. I like to call this phenomenon the "Bannister Effect".
The Bannister Effect applies to the shooting/marksmanship world all too often. The good thing about shooting is we already have our Roger Bannisters. Competition shooters, people who actively compete in organized shooting events, are the best marksmen in the world, period. Their techniques have been developed by free experimentation, without the artificial restrictions of a bureaucracy, and honed through hundreds of thousands of repetitions and practice rounds. They have broken the barriers. If you want to see what a real pro can do with a firearm, just watch G. David Tubb shoot across the course with a Match rifle or Rob Leatham with a iron-sighted 1911 pistol.
I can hear some of you ask already, "Who are these Tubb and Leatham guys?" My point exactly . . . .
The barrier in shooting ability isn't figuring out what can be done, because competition shooters already did that. The barrier is spreading the word so enough shooters know who the pros are and, more importantly, what they can do. If you aren't aware of competition shooting and you limit yourself to the same once-a-year sight-in before season starts or occasionally shooting with a few buddies, then you are shooting in a vacuum and will never better yourself.
If you have military or police experience your unit or department may have said you were "qualified." Your hunting buddies may say you are a "good game shot." But are you really, truly a competent marksman? Does your technique and ability stack up? Organized shooting events help you find out. By participating with others, you can gauge your abilities by directly comparing scores. More important, by participating in a national organization you and your immediate shooting buddies can go past the limits of your personal experiences and find what the best hunters and shooters are capable of.
The first issue is to find a metric, a system to measure shooting skill. Bannister wasn't trotting about; he used an established course, running one mile on a properly measured track, with timing done to within one tenth of a second. Current records are measured more precisely still.
Let's say a hunter finds out about HunterShooter events and learns a system for measuring field marksmanship skill. This is an important first step because we are now translating activity into a number and achieving accurate feedback.
The next step to have something to compare with. On a given Ratio Count Scenario the best Hit Ratio (HR) he and his friends can score is 2300. Now what does that mean? Based on this personal experience he would be justified to claim this is "good", and could make the assumption that it wouldn't be possible to go beyond 2500. But that is relative to the limits of his experience. This happens quite often among hunters and gun owners who don't regularly attend organized shooting events. This artificial barrier, the lack of "Bannister Effect", holds them back.
However, the active Participant isn't limited by personal experience. Because of regular participation in a national shooting organization this shooter will be able to find out what kind of performance the very best Participants in the whole country can achieve. There may be marksmen in another part of the country who routinely shoot the same Scenario with HRs in the 3000 range, for example.
The Bannister Effect begins. The imaginary barrier built no longer exists and the shooter can start to go beyond it. What are these other shooters doing different? How are they able to obtain these scores? And, more important, how can you use this information to help yourself?
Of course, this assumes you are ready to put forth the effort to improve. Simply knowing others can run a four-minute mile or shoot 3000 HRs is only the beginning. But it is a crucial starting point.
If you aren't willing to find out and test your skills in practice or, better yet, in a competitive environment, then your overall shooting experience will suffer and you will never even approach your true potential. Every track star since the 1950's proves this point.
Mar 15, 2010
How shooting competition defends the Red, White, and YOU!
One of the principles behind the Firearm User Network is that organized shooting events bring out the best in our shooters and their equipment. By hosting formal events, we learn what techniques are consistently best, what equipment works, and who really knows what they are talking about.
The only way you can develop skill is by actually doing something. With marksmanship, that means getting your butt out to the range and burning powder on a regular basis in an organized fashion. There is no other way.
By happy coincidence, marksmanship principles learned will apply to all shooting situations. For example, as a hunter, the best way to mastering field shooting is by competing in simulated field courses as used at HunterShooter events. But, failing that, you can learn more about your skills by shooting in a variety of events.
In 1999 I was a new member of the US Army Reserve Small Arms Training Team (SATT). This unit specialized in small arms instruction and supported the All Reserve Competitive Marksmanship Program. The majority of the shooting they sponsored is of the conventional, Camp Perry type.
If you had asked me a few years prior to joining this unit, I would have said that the Conventional type of shooting does nothing to promote marksmanship in the military. Up until that point, my only formal shooting experience was of the practical variety (USPSA, IDPA, etc.) On my very first mission with the unit I was shown how wrong I was.
SATT sent a team to train several units deploying overseas to Kosovo and Bosnia on their automatic rifles (M249) and crew served weapons (M2, Mk19). For a number of soldiers, this was their first time ever firing these weapons. In fact, one unit was literally unpacking their weapons from the shipping crates.
During the SATT instructor rehearsal, I learned that a few of the instructors hadn't touched some of these weapons in a year. I was shocked and concerned. How will these instructors competently teach other soldiers?
As it turns out, I shouldn't have been worried. Not only did we successfully train and qualify everyone, we qualified an additional platoon-sized element and ended up finishing two days ahead of schedule!
There are several reasons why, but one of them is the simple fact that the SATT instructors were honest-to-God high-level shooters. They are not only good at their job, they like it. During down time, we inevitably were talking about shooting and matches.
On the range, the soldiers received accurate, decisive help and were shooting well from the get-go. On the Mk19 range, I watched SATT instructors give immediate corrections to students. In most cases, the instructors could determine deflection and elevation in mils out to 1500 meters and have the student on target with one adjustment. After doping wind, these instructors had students getting hits on their first burst out to 800 meters. This can be tough enough using 7X Steiner binos with a mil reticle. These guys were doing it with unaided vision.
I asked one of them how they could make such accurate estimates without optical help. "One mil is about a four minute adjustment", he said. The "President's Hundred" tab on his shoulder told me he could probably make the calculations in his sleep.
During my military career, I've seen other military "instructors" at a loss trying to help a student successfully zero rifles at 25 meters. This was a refreshing change of pace.
I've heard many times that conventional shooting is "irrelevant" and has no direct benefit to the soldier or hunter. While the specific courses of fire may have a gamesman's element, the fact is, if you can regularly shoot a high score on any challenging course it means you have an innate understanding of the shooting process.
The lesson I learned here: Good marksmen are good marksmen. While the disciplines differ, a good shooter has put the time into learning what constitutes good shooting. You can harp about the importance of sight picture and trigger control all day and memorize ballistic tables, but if never bother to practice in some fashion and demonstrate a high level of skill regularly, you don't really know anything.
It is interesting to note that SATT later became the SARG and allowed a huge influx of unqualified personnel. The ranks were allowed to swell up with soldiers with no competitive shooting or other useful marksmanship background, such as drill sergeants. At the same time many of the competition shooters were squeezed out. Needless to say, these novice level marksmen killed off the effectiveness of the unit and it no longer exists. Don't make the same mistake!
Mar 1, 2010
Darryl Davis – On the Subject of Marksmanship
Rifle marksmanship is a civilian attribute which is alien to the military environment. It must be introduced into the military by force and can be kept in the military only by ongoing active measures, else it will be eradicated and replaced by equipment familiarity.
- 14th Iron Law of Marksmanship
The military does not teach rifle marksmanship. It teaches equipment familiarity. Despite what the officer corps thinks, learning to shoot a rifle is not like learning to drive a car. Instead, it is like learning to play the violin. You can have coherent-appearing results after equipment familiarity training, but to get the real results, you keep plodding on. The equipment familiarity learning curve comes up very quick, but then the rifle marksmanship continuation of the curve rises very slowly, by shooting one careful shot at a time, carefully inspecting the result, and the cause.
How are we doing with rifle marksmanship? By Vietnam, wasn’t everything beyond 200 meters abandoned to crew-served weapons?
During Vietnam, troops pulled back from the line for R&R were tested to reveal that they could, on average, pump out 300 rounds a minute at a target 50 meters away at a rifle range, and they would average one hit per minute. During the American Revolution, the enemy advised their officers that even at over 200 yards the American riflemen will hit with their first shot, so officers should conduct themselves accordingly. Also that these riflemen could reach as far as 300 yards.
As flintlock riflemen can pump out a maximum of only four shots per minute, it is obvious that Vietnam troopers have 75 times the firepower of the flintlock riflemen of the Revolution. This is in terms of muzzle statistics. In terms of target statistics, the flintlock shooter has four times the firepower of the M16 user because he has the skill to make every shot hit and the M16 user cannot hit more than once per minute.
Feb 15, 2010
Finally, someone who gets it!
I've decided for about the last 6 months that except for initial sight in, I'm not shooting off of a bench anymore. I want to test how I can shoot, not how the rifle shoots.
Wish we could have you "mind meld" with every gun owner in the country!
Let's start with the gun rag writers who've infected an entire generation of gun owners into doing STUPID things, like using bench rest techniques with field rifles. Hunters should emulate competitive High Power shooters, not competitive Bench Rest folks.
Zeroing off a bench gets you a zero from the bench, so this ignores the possible point of impact errors. The book definition of a "true zero" also includes the position fired from. Non-shooters, like your typical hunter bang-bang-boy types, would likely be shocked to learn that smallbore and high power shooters sometimes adjust their sights when changing position even when shooting the same target, distance, rifle ammo combination.
For me, going from sling-prone to sling cross-legged sitting with a field rifle (Savage Scout with a Ching Sling) moves my PoI to the right about 1 MoA at 200 yards. Shooting an open legged sitting, while less steady, doesn't give me a PoI shift. Of course, the majority of hunters in this country probably don't shoot well enough to notice a 1-2 MoA PoI change at typical hunting distances, or even what that means...
Feb 10, 2010
Jeff Cooper on Shooting Masters and Instructors
The shooting master must be an extraordinarily good shot, by whatever measure you choose to employ, but that is by no means enough. The master must understand more than just how to be a good shot. He must know why. The master is more than a practitioner. He is fundamentally a dispenser of doctrine, and he must understand fully the basis of his doctrine. The theory of shooting doctrine is not readily available and must be studied with more care than is usually given to it.
Certain elements of shooting skill are inherent, such as eye-to-finger coordination, but even a clumsy man may improve his skill if he knows how to go about it, and the shooting master must be able to explain this clearly.
At one time all masters were self-taught, there being nothing but field experience on which to understand the art. This is no longer true, but still the physiological basis for the study of marksmanship is known to comparatively few people.
Too many instructors feel that simple repetition will teach what is necessary and gauge the worth of any training system by the number of rounds fired. It would seem obvious that error repeated does not make for proficiency. Yet it is amazing how many people who profess to teach marksmanship watch the target rather than the shooter.
Jan 25, 2010
I used to show an episode of American Rifleman TV in my training classes just to illustrate improper technique.
Some of the range shooting with the camera pointed back towards the shooter, you can see obvious flinches, they blink their eyes, dip the muzzle.
Yeah, this is sad.
The guy screws up the difference between the Marine 36 yard vs. the Army 25 meter zero procedure and states the setting incorrectly. To obtain a 300 meter zero at 25 meters with the M16A4, set the elevation drum to two clicks (1 MOA) above the 300 meter setting. The drum should read 6/3+2, NOT -2. The short barrel M4 should be left at 300 meters (6/3)
The AMU Service Rifle team has a MUCH better video:
Jan 15, 2010
So they go to "fightin' school"... and end up learning the fundamentals of practical shooting that any half-decent competition shooter already practices and knows.
One thing I liked about Front Sight was their attention to fundamentals and even offering "just shooting" (Skill Builder) courses to focus on them. Too few schools bother with skill evaluations. Front Sight requires that students shoot a "Graduate" or sometimes a "Distinguished Graduate" score in order to attend more an advanced course. FS holds Skill Builder courses to further train and retest students before advancing. Candidates at the Instructor Development course are expected to perform at the DG level on demand.
For pure shooting and gun handling skill most of the top-flight competition folks offer classes that are superior. And, as always, the most cost effective approach is to attend local events. Skilled, local competition shooters will very likely be more talented than the staff of even the best "fightin' school" and you can take "lessons" from them at every event for MUCH less money!
Jan 10, 2010
As originally designed, HunterShooter targets used a flexible overlay for scoring hits and determining target angle. Score zones were designated with a 'V' (vitals), 'Y', and dead center was labeled 'X.'
The final score is a ratio of earned points divided into total elapsed time. The ideal shot is fired dead center as quickly as possible, hence, "Fast X."
Jan 4, 2010
The "rule" that no instructors will shoot in front of the students is weak!
You don't need to be THE champ to teach, and the champ may be an AWFUL teacher, but you better know what the hell you are doing and how to teach it!!
I may not be able to snap off a personal best .70 reload on the first try in front of the class, but if I can't demonstrate CORRECT technique, full speed and ssssssssslow mo, by the numbers, than even LEO you are just a gun rag commando with a badge.
There are WAY too many “instructors” out there, who can’t teach worth a damn, and can’t even really shoot. But they scowl and wear the gear, and somehow people buy it.
Sure, there are instances where I can NO LONGER do something, but still understand it well enough to help folks in the technical aspects, and even move them past my current level.
BUT!!! Just reading about, or going to some course where they mentioned a technique, does NOT qualify you to teach it. You don’t even have the shallowest, most basic understanding of something if you can only say "stand like that, do that, don't jerk the trigger, come on, front site maggot!!!".
If you take being an instructor seriously, as in you want to be good AT INSTRUCTING not just talking about it, you already know about different learning styles and that one drill, demo, description or technique is not going to “turn the light on” for every student. If you take away demo-ing, you've lost a major tool in turning that light bulb on.
I have buddies who are LEO, went through the academy myself and have had LEO in my classes.
LEO at the experienced "street cop" level are so used to knowing it all, and being the final word, you MUST be able to demonstrate a technique, and PROVE it's better or they will ignore you. Sure, once they've been to a year's worth of matches, they ACCEPT that the academy was 30 years behind and they are more open minded, but if you get them fresh of the street, they know it all.
At the academy I had an experience EXACTLY like you describe, from the STUDENT’S point of view. As “instructors” they had a bunch of LEO, working the range as an "extra duty". They weren’t gun nuts, competitors or even good shooters. But there was an abundance of tough talk, posturing and telling us we sucked. ZERO demo.
The fact that any of us qualified was pure, random chance.
They kept barking at me, even though I was the best shooter in the class, and qual'd the first try through.
They hated what I was doing, and when I asked them to demo the "right" way, they were furious, and crawfished away most riky tick.
When I won the shoot off at the end and the students wanted to match me up with the most boastful instructor, he declined.
This was when I was about a low "C" level shooter. What did some super-dee-duper LEO instructor have to fear from me?
I was so disgusted with the LACK of decent understanding of proper technique and instruction that I sought out competition as a way to finally learn something about shooting, first IDPA then graduating to IPSC / USPSA. I liked that the shooters HAD TO do more than talk about it, and that proof made me a believer and made it easier to improve through positive visualization.
Yes, you not only need to demo, you need to rescind that stupid rule and hold the instructors to a higher standard.
Jan 1, 2010
I found this on the web some time ago. It has served as my guide for publishing articles in various firearms periodicals (is that high-falutin' enough for ya?)
And to my friends and colleagues in the industry: "Ha ha, only serious!" :-)
Gunrag Writing for Dummies: Nine Easy Steps
Paragraph 1: Quick synopsis of the history of the gunmaker. Misspellings and artistic license are allowed, and even encouraged here.
Paragraph 2: Glowing report, in general terms, of other guns of same brand you have owned, and strong hints that this particular gun will be better than all the others.
Paragraph 3: Brief description of new gun. Be sure to stress "new" features and "new" materials. The adjectives "space-age" and "mil-spec" are tried and true, and can't ever be used enough.
Paragraph 4: Pick one feature of the gun, whether it is a decocker, accessory rail, bobbed hammer, or whatever, and write one sentence articulating your dislike about it. Poorly concealed digs at current trends are always useful here. Then, prefacing the next sentence with the words, "Having said that," proceed to refute everything you just said.
Paragraph 5: Description of your range session. Be sure to give precise details about how cold or hot it was that day, and it is absolutely necessary to do some name-dropping when mentioning your range buddies. If Roscoe Benson or John Lysak are unavailable, it is permissible to use the name of a famous holster maker.
Paragraph 6: When reporting accuracy results, it is paramount to choose only the most obscure and expensive premium ammo you can find. Black Hills MUST be represented, as well. Under no circumstances should you include Winchester white box ammo in the results, even if it is the only ammo that will cycle. Results must be listed in a table. Feel free to use the standard boilerplate table, with results pre-entered. It's not as if anyone actually reads these tables anyway. If smallest groups are in the 5" range, drop some strong hints that you were doing speed drills at 50 yards, not benchresting from 7 yards.
Paragraph 7: To describe the functioning of the pistol, you must use either "flawless" or "100%" somewhere in the sentence. If you and your buddies couldn't get it to work at all, be sure to describe the gun as a "pre-production prototype" and mention that the factory fixed the problem by sending you another gun.
Paragraph 8: Pick another feature or quirk of the gun, and express your dislike of it in ambiguous terms. If accuracy was completely abysmal, play up the "perfect for plinking and informal shooting" angle.
Paragraph 9: Conclude the article by saying that "even if the factory doesn't fix XYZ, I was still impressed enough with the gun that I bought the sample for my personal collection."