USAMU FAQs: Shooting Techniques and Tactics
SHOOTING TECHNIQUES AND TACTICS FAQ
The U. S. Army Service Rifle Team and the CMP have teamed up to provide our First Shot readers with an opportunity to submit their questions on highpower/service rifle shooting and get answers from some of the greatest shooters and coaches in the country.
If you have questions about shooting techniques and tactics, send them to USAMU@thecmp.org and a USAMU shooter or coach will answer it here.
Q: Good morning, I need some help getting on paper on 800-1000 with my NM AR15. It is an Armalite so it has the front sight that must rotate a 360 degrees to be in line. I am shooting 75 GR Amax at about 2750fps and I am wondering if you can tell me how to get on paper at 800 then maybe and idea of how many min. to 900 and 1000. Do I need to go to the 80 or 90 gr to shoot at these distances. I am shooting the Amax because it performs under ½ min with a scope on the gun. Thank you for your service to this great country! Corey T.
A: Sir, I doubt that your load will remain supersonic at 1000 yards. We shoot 80gr bullets at 1000. Our come ups for the 800 yard line are 10 minutes up from our 600 yard zero. 16 minutes from our 600 yard zero for 900, and 21 minutes from our 600 yard zero for 1000.
SFC Kyle Ward
Q: Hi, I own an M1A1 Springfield Armory rifle. There seems to be some debate about cleaning procedures. I have been told not to remove the action from the stock as it will disturb the bedding. I have also heard that the operating rod and bolt can be removed without removing the action from the stock. I cannot seem to accomplish this.
When I served in the Army, we simply removed the action and cleaned them in very hot tap water. I would appreciate a reply. Richard K
A: Mr. K, We have not fired M14s in competition for several years now. When we did fire them regularly, we did not remove the action from the stock for cleaning. The operating rod/bolt CANNOT be removed without removing the action from the stock. I would only remove the bolt and/or operating rod for repair. They can both be cleaned while still in the action. We cleaned the barrel from the muzzle end using a rod guide to protect the crown from damage. I hope this answers your questions.
SFC Grant Singley
USAMU Service Rifle Team
Q: I am a right hand shooter who writes with his left hand. Do you have any tips for keeping a data book while shooting? For now I am using my right hand and I find that weeks/months after matches I am unable to read my notes. I haven’t found anything that works for me yet. Any ideas? Thank you. SSgt G
A: SSG G, It sounds to me like you are trying to keep notes while you are actively shooting. If this is so, stop. The only thing you need to do between shots is plot your previous shot and prepare for the next one. Any notes on initial sight settings, the range, or conditions should be recorded before shooting begins. And any notes on performance or adjusted zeroes should be made after firing has ceased. This will free your mind to concentrate on the much more important tasks of sight alignment and trigger control.
Lance S. Hopper
Q: 1) While attending the SAFS class this year at Camp Perry, SSG Tobie Tomlinson mentioned penumbra and that it represented the geometric center of the rear sight. I regularly see the penumbra, but it is not always centered in the rear sight. Does this mean that I am not directly behind the sights? Can I use the penumbra to check my head position or should I just ignore it?
2) In the Service Rifle Marksmanship Guide, on page 61 there is a discussion on “Favors.” It states, “favors are generally six-inch favors”. My question is: Do the pictures below the paragraph actually represent the sight picture for a six inch correction or are they exaggerated? The reason I ask is because my sight picture never looks that far off, but I spray shots well beyond a six inch radius. I especially have elevation problems using the 6 o’clock hold. Would it be better for me to use a center of mass hold or learn to deal with varying light conditions?
I am in my third year of HP shooting and cannot seem to get past Sharpshooter scores. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you in advance.
Regards, Glen C.
A: Dear Sir, The dark spot, or penumbra is, indeed, in the center of the aperture.
You must focus your eye on the tip of the front sight post and concentrate on achieving correct sight alignment.
We describe the process of achieving sight alignment as, “Resting the full weight of your head on the stock, in a manner that allows the dominant eye to look through the center of the rear sight aperture.”
The appearance of your “favor” will depend on the dimension of your front sight post. A wide front sight post will give the appearance of the picture in the manual. You must concentrate, not on the edge of the front sight post, but on the center. In the diagram, the center aligns with the edge of the black. On the short-range target (200 yards), this is approximately 6 inches from center.
To favor effectively, you must practice the skill. Army shooters do a lot of rapid-fire team training. The skills of favoring are practiced frequently. It is the only way to “calibrate” your eye to the correct hold-off.
Good Luck, and Good Shooting!
Q: I just saw Brandon’s write up on the offhand position. Outstanding!! One quick question, I have a 2-stage trigger on my AR and usually I take up the first and 1/2 of the second stage, hold, and then fire. I notice the article says to take up the first stage and then squeeze off the full second stage. Is there anything seriously wrong with my procedure? Does anyone do it my way? Thanks for the help. You guys are the best!
A: Dear Sir, What you are describing is “pre-loading” the trigger’s 2nd stage. This is a common technique. SGT Green has an excellent hold (about a 10-ring wobble), so he can essentially squeeze off a shot within his hold area.
To utilize his technique, you must work on the stability of your position and endurance. This is best done by dry-fire practice. In addition, air rifle training, or .22 sub-cal training are very beneficial.
Good Luck, and Good Shooting!
Q: Hi, If there are different wind conditions downrange – which wind will have the most effect on the bullet’s path…the wind closest to the rifle – or closest to the target?
Where I shoot regularly, there are 2 gullies across the range and the wind sometimes can do weird things. On the 300m range I’ve seen the 100m flag showing a 5mph left to right wind, and the 200m flag showing a 10mph right to left. Which flag do should I gauge my windage aim-off on please? Regards, Chris
A: Dear Sir, Although the wind will affect the bullet’s trajectory at all ranges, we typically look at the mid-range point-especially when shooting at distances up to 600 yards. For shooting at extreme ranges (600 yards plus), the wind nearer the target seems to have more effect.
The other technique, which probably best describes your particular situation, is to do some testing and experimentation on your home range. With your windage set at “no-wind”, fire in various conditions and take note which flag seems to best indicate the condition. Take careful notes. You might become the local wind-guru on your range!
Good Luck, and Good Shooting!
Q: Dear Sir: I have been shooting the National Match Course for almost forty years and have been able to solve most of my problems, but I need help on this one. I am seventy seven years of age and wear corrective lenses in the top half to correct for astigmatism only no other correction. I have no trouble seeing my target until I look through my rear aperture then I see what appears to be a black spot or fuzz in the center of the rear aperture. Looking at the targets through the aperture I see the target on either side of mine but my target and front sight are blocked out by the black spot. Holding off to the edge of my aperture I can see my front sight and target well. Opening up the rear sight aperture to about .070 seems to help some, but not enough for a clear sight and target; it is unacceptable. I am shooting at 200 & 300 yards. Distance doesn’t seem to be a problem.
I don’t want to go the telescope route because this will eliminate my NMC shooting. Any help or advice would be appreciated. Thank you. A.K.
A: Dear Sir, The black or fuzzy spot you are describing may be the “penumbra” effect of light entering and exiting the aperture. As we age, our eyes undergo many changes and it is difficult to know what is happening in your case. I would recommend that you visit a shooting-friendly eye doctor and describe your problem to him. If possible, arrange to bring your upper/rifle with you so that the doctor has a clear understanding of the issue you are describing.
Good luck and good shooting!
Q: Dear Sirs, This question may have been asked before and if so, I apologize, but do you have any tips or practice techniques for learning long range windage reading and corrections–WITHOUT actually having a 600 yard range to shoot on? Is shooting a .22 LR at 100 yards/meters a viable alternative? I just do not have any opportunity to shoot at 600 yards on a regular basis. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you. Regards,
A: Mr. H. You hit the nail on the head with your question about smallbore shooting at 100 yards. The 10 and X rings of the American smallbore prone and the 600 yd. highpower targets have the same minutes of angle dimensions. Also, the wind will affect smallbore bullets at 100 yards and highpower bullets at 600 yards in a similar manner. So, the training you get in the wind at 100 yards with a .22 will help you a great deal. As with any aspect of shooting, the more time you can put in on the range the better you will become. Good luck with your shooting.
SFC Lance Hopper
Q: I would like to know if there is a general rule of thumb or reference material that you could direct me to, that tells how different light conditions affect the impact point of a bullet. I have heard for years the “lights up–sights up” saying. I shoot an AR15 and an M1A. I seem to have the most problem with 300 yard prone rapid fire, especially on partly cloudy days when the light is constantly changing as the clouds pass overhead.
Thanks in advance for your help, Owen
A: Mr. Peters, Light conditions affect your perception of the target, therefore they change your zero. The rule of thumb, “lights up, sights up”, generally applies to a shooter whose sight picture is “six o’clock”. I use a center of mass hold, and find that light affects me the opposite of this “rule”.
Your real answer is to keep a careful record of your zeroes, and any zero shifts in varying light conditions. If you experience dramatic shifts in your point of impact at 300RF, you might want to change to a “flat-tire/center hold”, as this sight picture usually less affected by light changes.
SSG Emil Praslick
Q: Could you give me your cleaning procedure and the chemicals that you use?
A: Mr. Smith, The following is the cleaning regimen that most of the members of the Service Rifle Team use to clean their weapons. It varies slightly from person to person, but we all are nearly the same.
1. Run 2 wet patches soaked with Sweet’s 7.62 copper dissolver through the bore. Let this soak in for a couple of minutes. I usually disassemble my bolt carrier group while I’m waiting.
2. I then switch over to a brass bore brush and apply a liberal coating of Sweet’s to the brush itself. I then brush the bore 20 times. In and back out again equals one complete stroke. I then wait about 5 minutes. While I wait, I clean my bolt carrier group, ensuring that I remove all of the carbon build up.
3. I apply another generous coating of Sweet’s to my bore brush, and brush another 20 times. Letting the solvent soak in the bore, I lubricate my bolt, and reassemble the bolt carrier group. I do not lubricate the bolt carrier at this time, just the bolt itself.
4. Switching from my bore brush to my jag, I run two patches through the bore soaked with hydrogen peroxide. This neutralizes the action of the Sweet’s. When you run the hydrogen peroxide through the barrel, you will notice that a foamy substance comes out of the end of the muzzle. It can be anything from blue to brown in color. In addition to neutralizing the Sweet’s, the peroxide will lift the dissolved copper from the grooves in the barrel and suspend it in the foam.
5. At this time, I normally flip the rifle upside down and wipe out the upper receiver as well as clean the chamber and locking lug areas. I clean the chamber by using a 7.62 chamber brush after wrapping it in a .30 caliber cleaning patch soaked in Hoppes. I give it a few turns in the chamber, replace the soiled patch with a clean dry patch, and then dry the chamber. Turning the rifle right side up again, I begin to run wet patches soaked with Hoppes Powder Solvent through the bore until they come out looking the same way as they went in. It usually takes 4 or 5 patches. By doing this, I am removing all of the foamy residue from the barrel.
6. Once my Hoppes-soaked patches begins to come out clean, I run three dry patches through the bore to dry things out. If I do not plan on using the rifle again anytime in the near future, I will leave the bore wet with Hoppes as a preventative maintenance measure. Hoppes is a petroleum based product that will prevent the barrel from rusting. If the bore is left wet, just make sure that you either run a couple of dry patches through it prior to shooting, or pull a bore snake through the barrel a couple of times.
7. The final steps in my cleaning process are to remove all sight black from my front sight assembly with a toothbrush, clean the crown using q-tips, lightly lubricate my bolt carrier, and reassemble the rifle.
From start to finish, the whole process takes about 15 minutes.
Here are few more helpful hints:
1. Always clean the rifle from the chamber end. Your patches should leave the rifle the same direction your bullets leave the rifle if possible.
2. When putting chemicals into the bore of an AR-15, clean the rifle right side up. This will minimize chemicals going into the gas tube.
3. Every once in awhile, squirt a little Gun Scrubber into the gas tube just to blow out any undesirable build up. We have found that this is particularly important when using ball type powders.
4. Wearing chemical resistant gloves is a good practice to get into when cleaning your rifle. I have no idea what these chemicals do to your body, but it can’t be good. Additionally, your hands will not be discolored from all of the carbon that comes out of the gun.
5. Many of us have started using Mobile 1 Synthetic motor oil as a lubricant for our rifles. A quart is 5 or 6 dollars and will last you forever. It is much cheaper that buying small bottles of other commercial lubricants that are specifically designed for firearms. Mobil 1 doesn’t burn, and therefore you don’t have a problem with the smoke that ends up burning your nose and eyes while shooting that is sometimes associated with other lubricants.
6. You should clean your trigger every once in awhile. Hose out the lower receiver with Gun Scrubber and re-grease with lithium grease.
This is not an endorsement of any one product. There are several types of copper dissolving products, lubricants, etc. available on the market. This is just what we use. I hope you find this helpful.
SFC Kyle Ward
Q: I have a RRA national match rifle and I wanted to know the proper way of zeroing it for service rifle competition. Is it better to zero it at 200 yards on the bench? Best Regards, Pat
A: Mr. Oxo, We typically zero our rifles at the 200 yard line in the sitting position. Zeroing from a bench is also acceptable, but you may have a slight shift in zero from what your zero would be if you fired from an actual shooting position. This is possible because you probably will not get your head on the stock the same way as you would in a normal shooting position.
SFC Kyle Ward
Q: Hi Guys! First of all thanks for this opportunity. My question is what is the rule of thumb for come ups from the 200, 300, 500, and 600. My club is going to the mid range match 3-5-600 and I don’t have a 500 yard zero. So what will get me on paper? Thanks in advance. Van Texas HMC/USN/Ret
A: Van, since I’m not sure what you are shooting, these numbers will not be exact, but they should be very close. From the 200 to the 300 come up 2.5 minutes. From the 300 to the 500 come up 5 minutes, and from the 500 to the 600 come up 5 more minutes. Remember that these numbers are good only if you are using the same sight picture from one yard line to the next.
Lance S. Hopper
Q: Dear AMU;
First let me say Thanks to all of you for your service to our country and for your recommendations to help your fellow competitors. My question concerns the recommended weight and balance point for a properly tuned competitive AR Service Rifle. Presently I am using a Compass Lake/CMP AR. It weighs in at 14 pounds, less magazine. It balances just about in the middle of the magazine well. I have the molded lead weight in the butt stock and stick on lead wheel weights under the front handguard applied to the float tube. During standing I notice that there is more tendency for front sight side sway then with a medium weight M1A with weight in the butt stock only. As with most people, offhand is my nemesis and I am looking to conquer it. Please advise as to proper weight/balance point and weight placement in tuning the AR.
Best regards, Mark K
A: Mark, You have your rifle weighted the same as I do, but your balance point is a little further to the rear than mine is. This issue is one of the great debates on our team and one that I believe is very body-type dependent. What you should understand is that a lighter rifle is easier to start moving and a heavier one is harder to stop. I recommend that you do some holding exercises with the weight at different balance points to see what holds the best. If you are unfamiliar with holding exercises, they are nothing more than holding the rifle in position for an extended period of time (3-5 min.) while aiming at a target and without dry firing. Once you think you have it set the way you want, go to the range and do some shooting.
Lance S. Hopper
Q: I’m trying to understand how MOA affects sight adjustments when changing distances. In other words, after zeroing at 100 yards, how does MOA assist in predicting how many clicks you’ll need to add at 200, 300 and 600 yards. Thanks, Curt Ullery
A: Mr. Ullery, Basically, MOA is simply a unit of measure. To be exact, it is 1/60th of 1 degree as it pertains to longitude and latitude. As for your sights, they are machined to move in MOA. Most “match” service rifle sights move 1/2 MOA per click for both elevation and windage. MOA translates into roughly 1″ for every 100 yards. 1 MOA equals 1″ at 100 yards, 2″ at 200 yards, 3″ at 300 yards and so on. Knowing this will help you to manipulate your sights as you move to other distances. You also need to know how much your bullet drops over these distances. Typically, any of the popular .223 loads drop about 2-3 minutes from the 200 to the 300, and about 10 minutes from the 300 to the 600.
Once you know the drop of your bullet, it is all a mathematical
journey from there. Say for example that you need to come up 2 & 1/2
minutes from the 200 to the 300; your correction on a 1/2 MOA sight would be 5 clicks. This also means that you are looking at about 10″ of drop from the 200 to the 300 yard line.
I hope this helps!
SFC Norm Anderson
Q: I am a Master service rifle shooter and am trying to make it to High Master service rifle next year. I am currently shooting indoors with a .22 upper from White Oak Precision on a Rock River lower with their National Match trigger. I decided to marry that rifle until my goal is achieved. I shoot many other disciplines but HM has become my goal and I find it difficult to switch back and forth between 4 oz and 4 pound triggers.
Here is my problem: I have been working with the AR, with no shooting coat, just trying to get a feel for the rifle without any support. I have noticed, and it may just be my trigger control, but shots seem to pull to the right. I have tried a firmer grip, rotating my trigger hand on the grip, varying trigger finger placement and holding the rifle firmer like you would while shooting in the wind. I check my NPA between each shot. Sometimes each of these techniques seem to work, but I continue to see some missed shots going to the right. I see it during recoil, but can’t put my finger on it.
Dale C. D.
A: As far as shots breaking to the right are concerned, I believe you should shift your focus to your firing side shoulder and upper arm. I have the same challenge that you are describing and can almost always trace it back to too much tension in the shoulder and upper arm. Many people believe that they need to pull the rifle into their shoulder to control the movement. However, the weight of the arm is usually enough to pull the rifle into the shoulder without any extra effort by the shooter. I would also pay special attention to the amount of head pressure you are using. It should be as much as you can comfortably and consistently apply. This should also help eliminate any undesirable movement.
Lance S. Hopper
Q: I have not shot in a high power match since I was in the Marine Corps. I enjoyed the article “Don’t be that guy”. I shoot in muzzle loader (primitive) events can relate. I usually shoot a flintlock and always help others when they need and what it. But I can’t pack their possible bag or paddle their canoe, so to speak. Where can I get a CMP rule book or a site to download it? Thank you, Dano
A: Dano, Here’s the link for CMP Rules.
SFC Kyle Ward
Q: Dear Sirs: Normally, should the sling be longer for the Prone positions when compared to the sitting positions? Secondly, do most shooters have different sling settings for prone rapid vs. 600 yard prone? I have heard that prone rapid should be one notch tighter, your thoughts.
I know there is no set rule here with regards to my questions, personal preference prevails, however, I am just curious from a “general” perspective. Thanks, Tony Marino, PA
A: Mr. Marino, The majority of the members of the Army Service Rifle Team set their slings one to two notches tighter for sitting than for rapid fire prone. Some of us loosen the sling a little for slow fire prone vs. rapid fire prone, while others leave it the same for both. The general consensus is that it really doesn’t matter if you loosen, tighten or leave your sling the same from rapid fire prone to slow fire prone, but all agree that your sling setting should be relatively close for both. If you have to drastically change your sling setting between the two stages of fire, something is very wrong.
SFC Kyle Ward
Q: Hello, I have 2 questions that relate to elevations setting to be used on the rear sight (AR15) in the short range events. On some days, a setting of +5 clicks (1/2 minute) from zero will center the group in Rapid sitting and on other days it takes +6. Similarly, in Rapid prone on some days it takes +10 clicks and on others it takes +11 to be centered. While 1 click may seem small the wrong choice is usually enough to cause a poor score with the group being too high or too low.
Question 1 – What is the cause of this phenomena ? Question 2- Because there are no sighters in CMP matches how can I determine the correct choice BEFORE I SHOOT ?
Thank you. Sincerely, Jay Sonneborn
A: Mr. Sonneborn, Let us begin by analyzing conditions when this occurs. First, do you keep an accurate data book? Do you notice that you have to make that change when it is either bright or dark? Is this change consistent? Realize that it is extremely common to have to make both elevation and windage changes to your zero for changes in light. The light condition affects how you see the target and therefore your perception of the front sight post’s relationship to the target.
The answer to your second question lies in your own records and past experiences. Check through your old data book pages and look for consistencies in shot group placement in certain light conditions. These consistencies will give you an idea which zero to use for the given day. Another idea is to see what happens to your zero during standing. If you notice that you have to come up or down during standing, there is a good chance that you will need to do the same for your rapid fires. Make sure that you keep track of your zeros each day.
SFC Norm Anderson
Q: How do you guys practice? Do you practice everyday? Do you shoot a match everyday? Do you dry fire a lot? What is the best way to practice? Is it different for smallbore verses highpower?
Thanks! Good luck at the Nationals. Mason Parker
A: Mason, Developing a training schedule can be a complicated affair. When the coaching staff develops the training schedule we weigh various factors, such as: time available, the time of the year (proximity to major matches) and the skill level of the shooters. An ideal training plan includes a combination of exercises designed to build shooting skills, generate solid zeroes (crucial for CMP matches), and shoot aggregates (practice matches) to assess the current level of ability.
Dry firing is an integral part of many of the drills we use in training. During the early part of the year we will extensively dry fire to reinforce (and relearn!) positions and sight pictures that may have atrophied during the Winter, especially in the Standing position.
Outside of matches, we average about 3-4 days per week on the range. Each morning we start with a Standing exercise that is a combination of dry and live fire. During the week our shooters will fire a series of drills, both rapid and slow fire, during which the shooters are generating solid data and improving those particular skill sets that make up the different stages of Highpower. Finally, we may shoot one aggregate (800, or 500 point agg.) and record those scores. This lets us track each shooter’s development and identifies those key areas that need to be focused on.
As to the differences between Smallbore and Highpower, you must train for your chosen sport. There are good training ideas in both disciplines. The mistake I see many Highpower shooters make is shooting matches only (practice or otherwise). Aggregates should comprise only a small part of your training plan. Balance the rest of it with drills designed to build your skills, and your skills and scores will steadily climb.
SSG Emil Praslick
Q: What is the proper way to install a leather 1907 pattern sling? Also, how do you “Sling up” with the same sling for support when shooting? Also, what about a nylon M 14 sling?
Thanks, Russell Jarosinski
A: Russell, There are different techniques to set-up the 1907 (leather) sling. There are a few pictures in the CMP Service Rifle Marksmanship Guide that may be of use, as well as the CMP series on Highpower (VHS or DVD). The best way to demonstrate the sling setup is visually. If you attend the Small Arms Firing School we will cover it during our classes.
The nylon sling is a rapidly adjustable and versatile piece of equipment. The way our shooters utilize it is to reroute the sling through the adjustable buckle so that it forms a self-tightening cuff. The running end then runs through the sling swivel and back through the clasp, which then becomes the sling length adjustment.
SSG Emil Praslick
Q: Hi, I think you guys are doing a great service here and I would like to thank you. Ok here’s my question – I started shooting across the course a little over a year ago. I’m shooting good in all positions except 600. The wind doesn’t really bother me more than the next guy but I have serious elevation problems – 7 to 7 ring. It usually stays in the width of the 10 ring. I conographed my load and its good and I shot it scoped from a bench at 300 and it was a little under moa. So its me. What am I doing wrong? Thanks again – AJ
A: AJ, Without seeing your groups or watching you shoot, it sounds like you are having some issues with sight alignment. When shooting from 600 yards, sight alignment is critical and therefore must be acquired religiously. First determine your head position on the stock. This is where your head must REST while in position. If your head is not resting on the stock, you are using muscle tension to hold it up. When the muscles fatigue, your head will wander behind the rear sight causing errors in sight alignment.
If you are confident that this is not the problem, you may need to try changing your sight picture to something other than what you are using. Typically, changing sight picture causes one to pay more attention to the front sight post and thus ensure good sight alignment. Make sure that you move your zero to correct for your change in sight picture.
SFC Norm Anderson
Q: Hello, I would like to begin by thanking you for taking the time to read and respond to our questions. It is truly invaluable to have the opportunity to tap such an elite resource. My question can probably not be answered completely in a simple email, but I was wondering what techniques you use to read the wind?
Is the mirage or are the flags more important? What do you do when the flags and mirage do not agree? Where do you look for the mirage, by the targets or around the 300 yard line? As you can tell I have been having some trouble in the wind at 600 yards and any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Dan P.
A: Mr. Pekala, I will try my best to answer your questions, and I will try in order.
Your first two questions go together….the more important one is the one that is telling the truth. Seriously, it can be both at the same time, or one by itself, or even a combination. As a shooter, you have to quickly identify what is telling you what is going on downrange. By that I mean, if you call a shot center, and have what you believe to be no wind on the rifle, then find the condition that is telling you why your shot is where it is. Most shooters will find the mirage by focusing on the 300 yard line and then look at the targets. That is fine, but that may not always be telling you what is actually going on downrange.
Understand that because mirage looks different, it doesn’t mean that the wind is different also. Changes in light, barometric pressure, and humidity can all affect the way mirage looks through a scope. What is important is determining the changes in mirage or flags that result in a change of shot placement.
Look at the location of the wind flags, are they next to a tree line? How about a berm? These can affect the way wind hits the flag and skew the reality of what is going on between you and the target. Are there any obstacles between you and the target such as a gulley or body of water? These can alter how the wind travels over the ground, thus skewing the reality of what the wind is doing to the bullet.
Basically, your own experiences (and learning from those experiences) will eventually lead to knowing what to do in certain situations. Your knowledge base will broaden and before you know it, you will be giving advice to new shooters….but just so you know, everyone still has trouble with the wind at 600 yards!!
SFC Norm Anderson
Q: Hi, I was stationed at Cherry Point, N.C. as a coach and instructor on the rifle range when discharged in Feb. 1960. (USMC) It has been a forty five year lay off, but attending the “Opening Shot” ceremonies in 2005 got me fired up to shoot once again. I am shooting the M-1 Garand and plan to shoot the JCG match this year at Camp Perry mostly for nostalgic reasons. I wear glasses mostly to read but had the eye doc fix me up with a pair of shooting glasses giving me a clear view of the front sight but I am having difficulty seeing the bullseye at 200 yds. It seems to turn gray and eventually disappears. The doc suggested I try shooting with my regular glasses but the clarity is still lacking. Any suggestion would be most appreciated!! Matt
A: Mr. Troy, There is really no good way to overcome this. You have to see the front sight clearly in order to be effective, but you have to see the target for obvious reasons. I think the best scenario is for you to get a prescription that allows you to see both the target and front sight post somewhat clearly. Obviously, both can’t be crystal clear, but only seeing one of them is not an option either. If you get a new prescription that does this, you will have to change focus between the front sight and the target very rapidly.
One last recommendation is to use a neutral colored blinder over your non-shooting eye. Since you will be wearing glasses, you can use Scotch tape over the lens…..that works just fine. This will allow your shooting eye to work with more information without getting the other eye involved. Best of luck with this.
SFC Norm Anderson
Q: To whom it may concern, How does one try out for the shooting team?
A: Mr. Benedict, A person interested in trying out for the USAMU Service Rifle Team must be prepared with the following:
1. A comprehensive shooting history including scores, goals, and accomplishments. We typically are looking for younger shooters with Highpower experience, usually Distinguished High Masters or Masters.
2. A full length photograph of his or her self. We need to have an idea of a person’s height/weight in accordance with Army standards.
3. A brief biography of personal intentions both professional and personal. We need to be able to determine performance gates to set for a potential team member.
4. A timeline of when that person would be ready to enlist, or start the enlistment process. This includes all testing and medical screening prior to enlistment.
The best way to get your foot in the door is to approach the civilian head coach while at the Nationals at Camp Perry. The coach can set up a meeting with the NCOIC (Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge) and potential applicants to cover these items as well as possible openings on the team.
SFC Norm Anderson
Q: Hello, Our recently formed service rifle team is has had difficulty communicating during those few seconds one has for the coach to call shots for the shooter during rapid fire. Do you have a write-up on the specific manner in which the shots are called? Of course, calling “Xs” works fine, but when a guy needs to be moved out of the eight ring or so, things can get problematic. Also is there any information what the coach and shooter should understand before and during rapid fire prep time? Thank you! Mike Costello, South Bay Rod & Gun Club
A: Mr. Costello, The techniques used by coaches to communicate with shooters is a topic not often enough discussed. A coach must be able to determine from a shooter’s call the correction necessary to put the shooter in the middle. This communication breakdown can be restored by setting baselines for what terms mean when said by a coach and heard by a shooter. If you as a coach tell a shooter “good, right there,” the shooter has to understand that the shot was in the middle regardless of how it looked to him, thus making the shooter’s new job to point each successive shot just like the one before it!!
Terms that are common are: Center, Good right there, Good at a clock direction, Out at a clock direction, and Way out at a clock direction. Typically, no actions are required (from the shooter) when hearing a “center or good right there.” When a shooter hears good or out at a clock direction, then the shooter has to determine (very quickly) if he shot it there or if he needs to favor. Meanwhile, the coach is trying to determine if the conditions changed causing the shot to be in that direction or if the shooter just shot it there. In a perfect world, if I as a shooter called a shot at 3 o’clock I should hear “Good at 3, favor a little left.” But, having called that shot on the right, I would ignore the favor. Learning to interpret calls (and the accuracy of them) from shooters is quite possibly the most difficult task given to a coach.
This is where it gets problematic as you say. Coaches feel obligated to favor or give correction to a shooter based on a shot out of the 10 ring. Often times, that is just the shooter doing what that shooter does. Not very many shooters, regardless of what you hear, shoot perfect shots every single shot. A coach can’t make a shooter shoot good shots, so all he can do is get the center of that shooter’s group as close to the center of the target as quickly as possible. It is the job of the shooter to shoot good shots.
Since it is impossible to communicate both ways between every shot during rapid fire, it is very important that a shooter understands what his coach is telling him and that the coach is saying what the shooter wants to hear. Different shooters like to hear different things during rapid fire, to include nothing at all. It is very important that a coach understands this about each of his shooters. This information is only gained by experience with each other, and open lines of communication. Standardizing the calls from the coach can be tried, but before that can happen, those calls need to be defined and understood by both shooter and coach. This way when a coach is speaking apples, the shooter isn’t hearing oranges.
I hope that I didn’t get carried away here, and I hope that I was able to answer your questions. There is a chapter in the Service Rifle Marksmanship Guide dedicated to coaching that goes into much greater detail. This guide was written here at the USAMU and is available through the CMP. Good luck with your team!
SFC Norm Anderson
Q: When I was taught the M-1 sight and rear sight settings in boot camp, I was very impressed and would like to use the same material with my grandson. I shot a lot before going to the army but this really improved my shooting and I cannot find these booklets anywhere. HELP Bob Hoffman
A: Mr. Hoffman, If it is manuals or literature that you are seeking, I would recommend looking at gun shows or maybe some specialty military stores, gun shops, maybe even e-bay. However, it is the trajectory of the bullet and the sight picture of the shooter that determine the sight settings for each yard line. Take your grandson to a 200 yard range and get him zeroed. Count the number of clicks from the bottom to determine your 200 yd elevation zero. Count the clicks either left or right back to center and that is your 200 yd “no wind zero.” Mark the rear sight with a paint pen or nail polish to determine mechanical zero and your sight settings should be applied from mechanical zero.
When moving from the 200 yard line back to the 300 yard line, you should have to come up 2-4 minutes or clicks of elevation from your 200 yd zero depending on ammunition and sight picture. You will need another 12 minutes or so (from 300) when going back to the 600 yard line. If you try to shoot 1000 yards, roughly another 22-25 minutes from your 600 yard zero should put you on paper. I hope this is the information that you were looking for.
SFC Norm Anderson
Q: What is the best method of zeroing a new DCM AR? I just completed a custom built rifle for my son (Compass Lake Lower w/DMPS DCM Upper) and I’d like to know how you guys zero for competition across the course. Regards, Gary Vance
A: Mr. Vance, Your best bet is to take the rifle out to the range, start at the 200 yard line and work your way back. While at the 200 yard line, shoot your first shot with about 4 minutes of elevation and the windage set at Mechanical Zero. If the first shot is too far left or right from center, you should be able to move the front sight base to get it close. I STRONGLY recommend that this not be attempted unless you have done it before. The good news is that you shouldn’t be that far from center anyways. You should be within a couple of clicks. Mark your mechanical zero with a paint pen or nail polish. After you get centered on the target, count your elevation off of the rear sight, and move your windage back to mechanical zero. This is your 200 yard zero. From there, you should add 2-3 minutes of elevation for the 300. Again, fine tune it, and record your 300 yard zero. You should not have to move windage much from your 200 yard windage zero. The same goes for the 600. You will have to come up about 10-12 minutes from your 300 yard zero for the 600. Again, record what you take off of the sights as your 600 yard zero.
Understand that these should be within a half minute each time that you go to the range. You may notice changes depending on light and temperature differences, but you need to keep track of that in your own records. Good luck, hope this helps.
SFC Norm Anderson
Q: Hello. I have 2 questions.
1) I will be shooting in my first national match at Perry this year. I understand the wind can be a factor at the 600-yard line. Can you recommend a good source to read about how to deal with wind and weather for highpower?
2) I only have access to a 200-yard range for practice and will not be able to actually shoot at 600 yards before any competition. What is the best way to ‘get close’ for the 600-yard line? Should I compute the drop of my load from 200 to 600 and go with that? I’ve heard that a rule of thumb is 3 MOA elevation for every 100 yards. Any substance to that?
Thanks, Ray Frank
A: Mr. Frank, First, you are correct in saying that the wind can be a factor, especially at Camp Perry!! However, there are several publications available from any shooting supply vendor that provides worthwhile information on wind reading techniques. I recommend the Service Rifle Guide written by the USAMU which is available through the CMP. There is a chapter dedicated to wind reading in that book.
Generally speaking, that rule is close until you get out past 400 yards or so. From there, the bullet starts to fall farther faster so more correction is needed. If you are shooting an AR-15 type rifle, most competitors come up between 2-3 minutes from the 200 to the 300 yard line. From the 300 to the 600 is about another 10 minutes of elevation. You will definitely be on paper with these rough adjustments provided that you maintain a consistent sight picture. If you go from center mass to 6 o’clock or vice versa, the adjustments could vary by as much as two or three minutes. You should still hit the target, but keep this in mind if you change your hold like that. If you are shooting a slower heavier bullet such as a .308, you may find that a full 3 minutes is needed from the 200 to the 300 and as much as 12 minutes to get in the center at the 600, and less if you are shooting a laser like a .243 or 6mm.
SFC Norm Anderson
Q: I have always struggled with a serious tendency to shoot high and to left. I have tried many firearms instructors advice on how to overcome this problem but have still not mastered it. I work in law enforcement and my shooting skills are an important factor in my job. I am also right handed with a dominant left eye (with an astigmatism). I have three years till retirement which tells you how long I have dealt with this issue. Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks, Bill Adams
A: Mr. Adams, Am I to assume that you are having this problem with a pistol? If that is the case, my recommendation is to adjust your grip with your firing hand. The pistol probably fits into your hand the way that you currently grip it, but it could be the root of your problem. Good pistol shooters work for hours trying to find the way to grip the pistol so that when they pick it up, the sights are aligned. Groups that are not in the desired area are typically the result of one of these two things: not properly zeroed or poor natural point of aim.
Natural point of aim with a pistol starts with the firing hand grip. Once you establish a good grip with the firing hand, ensure that your support hand is not affecting your natural point of aim in any way. Also, try shooting from a bench to ensure that you are in fact zeroed.
Being right handed and left eye dominant does not create much drama with a pistol as you can put the rear sight in front of your dominant eye and yet pull the trigger with your opposite but still dominant hand.
I hope this helps you with your problem, and thanks for all you do!
SFC Norm Anderson
Q: Sir, I shoot service rifle and I have heard it explained many times that the shooter should focus and concentrate on the front sight. As simple as it sounds, I’m not sure I do it. When I prepare to make a shot, I look through the rear sight at the combination of the front sight and the aiming black of the target. Before taking the shot, I make sure the tip of the front post is exactly in the middle of the black circle created by the rear sight. Then after being satisfied of this alignment, I position the front post as perfectly centered on the aiming black as I can with the appropriate “line of white” then shoot. I do not consciously concentrate only on the front post but, rather the combination of the post and aiming black as one sight picture although, the post is sharply in focus. Am I viewing the right thing the right way? Thanks, Mike
A: Mike, My first response to your question is Yes, you are looking at the right thing the right way. I know this because you say the FRONT SIGHT POST is sharply in focus, not the target. My concern however is that you are not giving your full attention to the front sight at all times, and here is why I say that. The front sight moves all the time, meanwhile, the target stays still, right? The natural tendency is to be drawn to the target just because it doesn’t move. That is what makes focusing on the front sight so difficult; we are fighting a natural instinct to look at the still target. This is what also makes looking at the sight picture as a whole “not the best thing to do.”
As a shooter, you need to be aware of the location of the front sight post in relation to the target, not as part of it. When you can gain control of your focus and stay on the front sight while it moves around, you will see immediately that you will be inside of call, and your shots will be closer and closer to center. Understand that this isn’t too far departed from what you see already. I think that what you are missing is right there in between checking your alignment and final focus on the front sight post. Just remember to always keep your focus on the front sight, and good things will happen.
SFC Norm Anderson
Q: I am 56 yrs old. I shoot an AR-15 service rifle. I use a .+5 diaptor in the rear sight. I notice when I shoot off hand, I have a very clear sight picture of the front post. When I shoot sitting and prone rapids, the front post does not stay clear very long. I am wondering if this has something to do with my breathing and lack of oxygen in my blood stream. I try to take deep breaths before rapids and between each shot. I still get a fuzzy front post. Could you advise me in this matter. Thanks Wm. Gibson
A: Mr. Gibson, A couple of thoughts come to mind. When using a lens, eye relief changes the focal point more drastically. Pay particular attention to how close your eye is to the rear sight in each position. Next, try to make sure that you are looking out of the center of your eye (as straight ahead as possible) in each position. For most people, their heads are in a manner that allows them to look out of the center of their eye for standing, but not for other positions. If you aren’t looking out of the center of your eye, your eye has to work harder and therefore fatigues more quickly.
If you find that this is the case, try to get your position higher off of the ground so that your head is more upright, allowing you to look straight ahead with your firing eye. This in conjunction with breathing between each shot should give you desired results.
I have also heard of people taking their rifle into the optometrist with them to get their prescription. This allows the shooter to ask questions to the professional about vision as well.
Good luck, and I hope these prove to be solutions to your problem.
SFC Norm Anderson
Q: I’m having a lot of trouble “getting into the zone” to shoot. Maybe just too many concerns of life, or whatever. Got any hints????
A: Mr. Perkins, There are a lot of people that struggle with the mental aspect of this game. I have personally attended several seminars on mental management taught by experts in that field. All agree on two things: 1. There is a “Zone,” and 2. The harder you try to find it, the harder it is to find.
Here is what I found that works for me. I spend all of my free time (at the range) thinking about doing the things that I have to do to shoot 10’s. I keep repeating these things in my mind over and over again. When the time comes to move my equipment to the line, I am MENTALLY prepared! Understand that by having all of my equipment ready (magazines loaded, data book filled out…etc.) I allow myself time to do this. This accomplishes a couple of things: first, I have eliminated all extraneous thoughts from my head, and second, it gets me ready for what I am about to do.
This works for me because it is so easy to catch myself getting distracted. I think about sight alignment and trigger control, and when my mind starts to wander, it is incredibly obvious so I am able to very quickly restart my thought process and get it back on sight alignment and trigger control. It takes some getting used to, and for me, it required an entire lifestyle change. That change was eliminating negative thoughts from my everyday life. Between thinking positively and thinking about doing what it takes to shoot good shots, I find myself in a state of mind that is really close to being in the zone, but it is intentional and I can repeat that situation. When I get into the zone from there, then it gets real fun!!! A good mental management program will definitely help you both in shooting and everyday life…..not to sound like Dr. Phil or anything….
SFC Norm Anderson
Q: Gentlemen, the CMP is telling shooters you folks will provide shooting tips so here is a question I have not been able to find an answer to elsewhere.
When shooting 400 meters or farther at bulls-eye or silhouette targets what effect does mirage have on how we see the target?
I am some what familiar with using mirage to read wind direction and speed but that is not my concern. I do not understand how much mirage shifts the location of the target. Does boiling mirage make the target appear higher, lower, left, or right of where it actually is?
Is there any literature on this subject?
A: Tom, You have posed a question that has been a hot topic of discussion since the beginning of highpower competition. There are a number of different theories and beliefs how mirage and light affect your perception of the target. I would like to be able to give you a solid, scientific formula that you could use to know how mirage affects you, but there is none.
The best tools you have are your data book and experience on the range. Record the mirage conditions along with any zero changes due to these conditions in your data book. The mirage may affect your sight picture differently on different ranges. I am unaware of any books on this subject.
SFC Grant Singley
Q: Hi, I shoot service rifle and am just starting to shoot a match rifle. I’m 47 years old and my eyes are starting to give me problems. With my match rifle I have a variable diopter rear sight that I can dial in my front sight and target so I can see well. However I don’t have that with the service rifle and although I have shooting glasses for my prescription, towards the end of the match my vision is not as good and I’m having real problems just seeing my target number, much less the black. Any suggestions on what I can do?
The lack of adjustment on a Service Rifle is what makes it so challenging to shoot. You can install a lens in your rear aperture that will be similar to a match rifle setup. I would recommend experimenting with various width front sights and different size rear apertures. Most of the people that are getting “older” on our team have been going to a larger rear aperture and wider front sight. The fatigue you are experiencing towards the end of a string is probably due to your eye having to work harder than necessary to keep everything in focus. I look through my spotting scope with my non-firing eye to allow my other to relax. If things start to get blurry during the string, take a break in position, lay your head on your arm and close your eyes for 30 or so seconds. You may need to take your rifle to the eye doctor and try different prescriptions while looking through the sights. Remember, the key is to see the front sight clearly.
SFC Grant Singley
Q: How do your most successful shooters load single rounds for long distance match shooting using an AR15/M16 target rifle? Do they leave an empty magazine in the rifle and insert a round in the magazine before sending the bolt forward or do they insert a round directly into the chamber and close the bolt? I have just acquired a match Rock River for CMP & NRA local competition and I’ve never fired this type of rifle before. I trained on and used a M-14 when I was in the Army and have used a NM M1A until recently. I’m trying to find techniques that give me the best chance of maintaining tight groups.
Unlike an M14, it is not necessary to put the round in the magazine before letting the bolt go forward. In fact, most AR15 600 yard loads are too long to fit in a magazine. The technique we use is to put the round on top of the magazine and push it all the way into the chamber with a finger. Doing this ensures that the round is always seated straight in the chamber when the bolt is released.
SFC Grant Singley
Q: Hello There!
I am a right-handed shooter shooting an AR-15 service rifle, and my rapid fire strings always seem to drift towards five o’clock on my target. Even when I get hot and clean a target, I always seem to have a few outside tens there at five o’clock. Can you help me at all with this? Thank you very much for your time–I know you are very busy.
Without watching you fire a string there is no absolute answer to your question. However, there are several areas that you can look into. First of all is trigger control. It is very easy to disturb the rifle with poor trigger control during rapid fire. Ensure that your finger placement on the trigger allows you the maximum mechanical advantage and a straight pull to the rear. The next area to look at is your right elbow. If it is slipping during the string you should see the front sight moving towards the right. A couple sprays of shooting adhesive on the right elbow of your jacket can keep things in place. Make sure that your elbow has sufficient pressure on it to hold it in place. The advice I give guys on our team about rapid fire is don’t break the shot if it’s not in the middle. This may sound trite and simplistic, but it is a very simple concept to follow. If the gun doesn’t settle back in the center every shot, don’t break it until it is back in the middle. You may even have to muscle it a little from shot to shot to keep it centered, but that is OK as long as you stayed focused on the front sight and are smooth on the trigger.
SFC Grant Singley
Q: Hello, I have been shooting highpower now for about 3 years and am currently Expert but close to making Master. One of the things I have been frustrated with is my ability to shoot consistently good scores at the slow fire prone 600 yds. I shoot the Sierra 80gr. MK, and use a Rock River AR-15 with a 1-8” twist. I have noticed periodically (about 10%) that I get an unexplainable flier in the 7 ring. It could be me doing something wrong that I can’t rule out (i.e., wind shift, lapse of concentration), but it occurs even when there is very little wind, not enough to push me all the way out to the 7 ring. I often wonder if the 1-8” twist is fast enough for the 80 gr. Bullet. As a comparison, I have shot a few 200yd reduced course matches where I use my standard short-line ammo, a 77gr. SMK loaded to magazine length, and my scores there for the 600yd reduced are in the low-mid 190’s. On the 600 yd line, I’m usually in the low to mid 180’s. I practice a lot at 600yds, and have received coaching from Masters and High Masters at the range to try to figure out if it’s me or my technique, and I have still not been able to resolve this problem yet.
I’m coming due to have my rifle re-barreled by the end of this season, and I’d like to know if you have any suggestions on twist rate. I’ve already convinced myself to go to 1-7.5” min, but maybe even 1-7” would be more appropriate for the 80 grain SMK. Do you have any recommendations on what the best twist rate would be?
Thanks for your help.
A: Mr. Murphy,
Let’s start by saying that several factors could be contributors here. 600 yards is a long ways away, and therefore makes sight alignment critical. If you are certain that your sight alignment is perfect, and are not pulling the trigger in a fashion so as to disturb your sight alignment and sight picture, we have to look elsewhere for the answer. A twist rate of 1-8″ is very capable of shooting the 80 grain Sierra Match King bullet. One item to consider is that your 77 grain ammunition is shorter in length than your 80 grain ammunition. This means that the 77 grain bullet is most likely “jumping” to the rifling, whereas your 80’s may not be. Not so much as a rule, but from experience, some bullets perform better with a little jump. If your 80’s are not jumping, you could be experiencing pressure issues that might lead to stray shots. However, if this were the case, I would expect it to be more regular than just once in a while. On the other hand, if they are jumping too far, that could lead to problems as well. Try varying your seating depth a couple thousandths of an inch each direction and see if you experience any changes. Take good notes of your data and the results.
Getting to your new barrel, I would say that anything in the range of 1-7″ to 1-8″ twist would be an excellent choice. Ask your buddies where you shoot and see what they are using and what kind of success they are having. Taking all of this into account will help you make an informed decision.
SFC Norm Anderson
Q: Sir, I am a second year NRA classified marksman highpower rifle shooter. I finished second in my class at the 2006 Ohio Service Rifle Championship. I shot a 659×7 on the Rodriguez Range RMC and missed marksman first place by 37 points. I desire to be the best.
I bought the Service Rifle Marksmanship Guide prepared by the United States Army Marksmanship Unit through the CMP. I will be attending the 2006 Rifle SAFS at Camp Perry.
What should I do between now and then to train, discipline myself, and improve? I can commit to 3 hours per day on the highpower range (200yd, 300yd, and 600yd) in live fire, and another 3 hours at home for dry fire/study/reading. Would you please give me a program and reading resources to be the best I can be.
With sincere thanks and God’s blessing on you,
Harry Burgess Douglas III (H.B.)
A: Mr. Douglas,
Let’s see what we can come up with for a training plan for you. Remember, you will not improve by simply putting bullets into Lake Erie. You have to practice shooting “good” shots, not just practice shooting. With that in mind, here is some training ideas with which you can work. First, get yourself so that you prepare your equipment the same way every time. Do this at home, as it is easier to work it out and repeat it over and over again. For example, when going up to the firing line for standing, I first pick out where I want to stand, then move my shooting stool up to my position. This “marks” my spot so I can move off of the line in order to get the rest of my things together. From there, I make sure that my zero is on the rifle, blacken my sights, get my ammo ready, get all my items out where I can get to them, make sure my data book is ready to go, and then put my jacket on. The reason this is important, is it allows you to take advantage of your full preparation period to dry fire and get ready mentally, instead of chasing down all of your equipment or whatever. The same goes for all other positions. Have your own routine that you go through to get yourself ready. Being prepared is the first step to success.
Next, there is no substitute for dry firing!! Dry firing allows you to experiment with hand positions, or sling settings without trying it on match day. Dry firing is also an effective inclement weather practice plan. Be sure to take good notes on lessons learned while dry firing. Importantly, make your dry fire session as match-like as possible; wear ear plugs, keep a timer, and even plot your calls on some makeshift data book pages. Dry firing in this manner will help you to create a mental routine for each shot. Perfecting this routine is what will ultimately allow you to maximize your potential.
As for reading, knowledge is power. Arm yourself with all of the information possible to give you different perspectives. I can assure you that you will find every champion does his or her own thing differently, but does it the same way every time. The more you can learn, the broader the knowledge base you will have when applying to your own routine. There are several publications available from most shooting supply vendors such as Creedmoor Sports, Champion’s Choice or Champion Shooter’s Supply to name a few.
Remember, matches are a way to gauge how well you have practiced. If you practice well, you will do well in the matches. Going to the range for practice is important for getting zeroes, keeping your timing right for rapid fire, and to also gain confidence. However, when you don’t have your shooting buddy to go with you to the range, dry fire!!
You have probably heard of visualization. You can visualize and go over your routine without ever pulling a trigger! This will give your mind the practice it needs to be ready for match day. Just remember when visualizing keep all of your thoughts positive. Positive thoughts lead to positive actions.
I hope these ideas help you to be successful.
SFC Norm Anderson
Q: What do you think about on the firing line? How do you maintain concentration for 22 shots?
A: Mr. Kerns, Concentration for the duration of an entire string standing depends upon several items. Foremost, it depends on your own ability to determine which part of your shot process requires the most concentration. Simply put, if you develop a pre shot routine (i.e. the mechanics of putting the rifle in your shoulder) and stick to it, then your mind doesn’t wander around wondering if you forgot to load, or if your scorekeeper got that shot, or whatever. You must have a consistent and foolproof pre shot routine.
Secondly, it depends on whether or not things are going your way. The best example that comes to mind is being on call. If you are not on call standing, your mind will automatically shift to that and ultimately break your concentration.
Lastly, if you are easily distracted by what is going on around you, it will be harder for you to concentrate. Double hearing protection can help with this.
Obviously, these aren’t the only contributing factors to one’s ability to concentrate for 22 shots, but if you start here, you will soon be able to make it the distance.
SFC Norman Anderson
Q: USAMU, I have been shooting for 4-5 years, and about a year ago I moved up to a 300 Winchester Magnum, which I was fine with at first, but after about six months I (quite suddenly) developed a flinch, which has now poured over to most any rifle I shoot, even down to .223. What is the best way to get rid of this, for I love to shoot, but am very frustrated right now with this problem. Is it best to keep shooting the 300 and try and work through it, or start low and work my way back up? Or something completely different? Thanks for your help, Pat H.
A: Pat, Getting rid of a flinch is no easy task. The first step in eliminating the flinch is to step away from the gun that caused it. You have to be comfortable with the rifle that you are using, and if you are scared of the Magnum, don’t shoot it.
Also, prepare yourself mentally to focus on the things that are important, such as sight alignment and trigger control. If you stay focused on these things, the thought of the flinch should never enter your thought process and should begin to disappear.
SFC Norman Anderson