Another productive Saturday

I had the opportunity to help teach a boy scout troop about shooting at Airfield Shooting Club again this weekend. I took as many pictures as I could and still fulfill my obligations in helping instruct.

This time I helped out with the Shotgun part.

We had three groups of ten kids each and the Club’s Lead Instructor, Dale, started out each group by going over the safety rules and proper gun handling…

…and the differences between shotgunning and riflery.

Although I grew up shooting shotguns and rifles, I must admit that the finer points of shotgun technique is my weakest area of the three disciplines I’m certified to teach, listening as Dale lead the classroom portion was as much a learning experience for me as it was the kids.

Then we’d split them into two groups of five. Dale and I worked with one group as a couple of other instructors worked with the other group.

First establishing eye dominance.

Then working stance.

Then working on some pointing drills to help them with following moving targets.

Then, on to the shooting.

I have to say that Dale is excellent with the kids…especially the younger ones…helping them with their stance and handling the guns and staying very encouraging and positive.

I don’t think there was a kid out there who didn’t break at least one target and some of them got quite good by the end of the session.

With a few of the kids who were hitting more consistently, I put my camera in auto mode and took some progressive pictures to get some action shots of clays being broken.

Some of them came out quite good I thought…on a few you could actually see the shot in the air at various stages.

And in this one, I captured it right as the shot was impacting the bird.

And the aftermath, this is the very next frame, about 1/3 of a second later.

It was a very fun day, I learned a lot of new things and got to pass on some new things to about 30 new shooters.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday.

Finally, the grand finale: I put a bunch of the stills I took together as a video. it’s only about a minute long:

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A riddle:

How do you finish in last place in a shooting competition, and still win?

Be the only competitor.

I was the sole contestant in the Airfield Shooting Club’s M1 Carbine match and I won it handily…while simultaneously coming in dead last.

Yea me.

I think the weather had something to do with the…um…low…turnout. It was a bit chilly and it’s been raining for three days. It didn’t actually rain on us at the range, but it was cloudy and looked like it could have at any time…which probably prompted many potential competitors to just stay in bad this morning.

Anyway, the match director and I had a great time.

Did I mention that I won?

After that I went to the VCDL Freedom Rally in Glen Allen (suburb of Richmond) which I’ll report on over at The Sentinel after I get some much needed sleep.

It was an eventful and enjoyable…but long…day.

How I spent my Saturday (new shooter report x a bunch)

One reason I didn’t get more of the AR build posts done this weekend is because I spent all day Saturday at the Airfield Shooting Club exercising my freshly minted NRA instructor creds.

First we did basic rifle marksmanship for 20 boy scouts.

We had 5 rifles…three scoped and two with open sights…so we rotated them through in four relays.

We tried to give them all a chance to try both styles.

I realized exactly how difficult it is to ingrain the basics into someone who has no experience at all with it. Some of them had shot air rifles or airsoft guns before, and a couple had actually used .22 rifles before, but most had no experience at all.

Many of them had a tendency to want the buttstock too low and/or toward the center of their chests.

Especially when the rifles don’t exactly “fit” some of them very well.

Several kept trying to use the wrong eye to sight down the scope…even though the dominance test demonstrated that they were strong-side eye dominant.

Trigger finger discipline, breath control and trigger control were constant challenges.

But ultimately, all of the kids did reasonably well.

Some of them did very well.

And a few of them did exceptionally well.

And I’m pretty sure that, if the designated loader never sees another Ruger style rotary .22 magazine again for the rest of his life, he’ll be a happy man.

While the kids were getting in their range time, some other instructors had a class of about 30 adults doing the classroom part of the “First Steps” Pistol class.

After the boy scouts were finished, a few of us who had been working with them, stayed to help out with the range portion of the adult pistol class. You need more instructors on the range than in the classroom to ensure safety and give everyone the attention they deserve.

After that, I fired some more break in rounds through my newly assembled AR and I think I got the FSB adjusted properly for windage. I still don’t have the ammo that I want and there was a slight breeze so it may be off a little, but I’ve got it pretty close. After I get some “correct” match ammo, I’ll fine tune it and then lock it down by using thread locking compound on the set screws.

The wife of one of the other pistol shooters was “oohing” and “ahhing” over my rifle as I was shooting. She told me she’d only fired handguns and had never fired a rifle before, so I gave her an opportunity to give it a try. She had a bystander take pictures of her with her phone, but I didn’t get any…I was coaching her. But after she put some rounds downrange, she got up with the biggest grin I think she could have possibly fit on her face without breaking something. I think she’s sold. It wouldn’t surprise me to see her with one of her own out there soon.

All in all, it was a little bit of a long day, but knowing that I had played some small part in ushering some 50 new shooters into the world of the shooting sports made it well worth it.

BTW: While I was on the ASC site to get the URL for the link above, I noticed that there’s going to be an M1 Carbine match there on the 17th of October. That date sounds familiar so there may be something else going on that day that I need to attend to, but if I can fit it in, I’ll have to add that to the calendar.

Pin Match Steel Plate shoot at ASC

We were supposed to have a pin match today at the Airfield shooting club, but when the time came to start, we only had 5 shooters.

Someone said something about it being a big Judeo-Christian holiday weekend which I suppose may have had something to do with it. Also, the weather reports had been pretty ominous, although it wasn’t bad while we were there. Some people probably didn’t want to chance it.

Whatever the reason, we decided not to go to the effort to set up for a pin match and just got out the steel plate rack to play around with.

We still had lots of fun (how could you not have fun at a shooting range on a Saturday morning?)

As I’ve not done much steel plate shooting, I didn’t really do all that well at first. I ran a couple of mags through the center fire guns I brought (the newly parkerized CZ shot just fine, by the way) and then just used the .22 pistol over and over and over and over….until I started seeing some improvement.

Actually, by the end of the day, I believe I had the fastest time. Six plates in 4.43 seconds. Someone recalled a 4.09, but I think they were mistaken…I remember a 5.09 being called out, but I never heard the timer call out anything quicker than my best time.

At any rate, it doesn’t really matter…we had a good time and I vastly improved from the beginning of the session to the end.

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Can’t ever complain about that…even if I’d come out dead last.

And then, to close out the day’s shooting, the club secretary popped off his noise-maker…a home-made black powder mini-canon. He made a point to show us that he was using a newspaper picture of Barack Obama as part of the wadding. Very appropriate if you ask me.

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The maniacal laughter at the end of this short clip of the ceremonial firing was me. Some things are just too much fun.

The next pin match is on May 9th at 10am (the web site currently says 9am…it’s wrong…as I found out when I showed up at 9:00 this morning and was the first one there). To get participation up, they’re asking us to bring a friend. If any local readers are interested in attending, let me know and we can go together, or just meet there. I’m also going to try to get my son to go, but he’s getting very close to the end of his college course work so I don’t know what his schedule looks like.

I highly recommend it if you like to shoot. Even beginners are made to feel welcome. You’ll get some more practical experience with shooting under pressure and it’s a lot of fun. Come on out and give it a try.

Here’s more information on how the matches work and what to expect.

Range Day

Subtitle: A Tale of Two Matches

My wife and I had taken some extra days off over this Labor Day weekend because we intended to drive up to Maine to visit (and for me to meet) some of her family.

Unfortunately, she is still having lingering problems with her back and didn’t think she would be able to make the drive without being in agony. So…with a day off and no voyage to undertake…RANGE TRIP.

It was a great day for it, if a bit hot and muggy. There was one other gentleman there zeroing the scopes on a a couple of beautiful rifles. A Remington .270 and a .22-250 of unknown (to me) manufacture. Since I arrived first, I was the designated Range Master so we coordinated hot/cold range and talked a bit. He only stayed about three hours and the rest of the time I had the range to myself. This allowed me to go uprange and practice some shooting on the move, draw and fire drills and such.

Before I get into the results of the two e-postal matches I shot while there, I want to mention my four major take-aways from yesterday’s range time:

1. After only getting 5 hours of sleep, spending 6 hours at the range is a bit much. I was getting pretty tired and irritable by the time I decided to pack up and go home. the hour drive each way didn’t help. But, I did have a good day at the range even if I was hot, sweaty and very tired. Try to get enough sleep before attempting to spend all day at the range.

2. The sooper-sekrit Todd Jarrett Kung Fu pistol grip…works. I don’t even know if I was doing it absolutely correctly because I was just going by descriptions given by the guys who had first hand training, but just a couple of simple changes and I could tell the difference. As they all said, after just a little bit of practice and getting used to it, recovery between shots was MUCH quicker and my sights just fell right back onto the target. Amazing. I will do a post a bit later on specifically about my experience with this and some pictures to illustrate the differences in grip.

3. I generally (or at least used to) consider myself more of a rifleman than pistoleer. I grew up shooting rifles and didn’t really do any pistol shooting until after joining the Navy. I’ve always been a better shot with a rifle than a pistol. Well, for the past several years, after getting my CHP, I’ve been working on getting better with a pistol. I’ve succeeded and my pistol shooting has gotten markedly better. In the meantime, however, I’ve been a bit remiss on getting to the rifle range and keeping my rifle skills up to par. As everyone knows, marksmanship is a perishable skill and my shooting demonstrated it. I was NOT impressed with my riflery yesterday. Something I definitely need to address and thanks to Sebastian for coming up with the Gun Blog Rifle league which will encourage me to keep working on it.

4. I need a new shotgun if I’m going to even attempt to shoot skeet. What I’ve got is an old Springfield 24″ barrel, full choke 12 Ga pump. I really need something with a bit wider choke pattern, or with replaceable choke tubes. It’s also begun having some issues. I haven’t fired it in over two years and the last couple times It had had some feeding problems. When racking the slide forward, the shell would hang up going into the chamber and I’d have to pull the slide back to the rear and forward again to chamber the round. Well, that was happening WAY too often yesterday. I basically couldn’t count on shooting doubles because I may or may not be able to effectively rack the second round into the chamber. Also, I was having light strikes at first. This seemed to start clearing up toward the end of the round, but I’m not sure. I think I’ll put my gunsmith hat on and see if I can figure out and fix these problems…and then sell it so I can buy something a bit more suitable for shooting skeet. Oh…and I need to have someone at the shooting club show me how to set up the delay on the target control system. I couldn’t figure it out. When by yourself, having the bird released as soon as you push the button is a little problematic because by the time you drop the controller, grip the shotgun and shoulder it, you’ve only got a split second to fire before the bird is out of bounds.

Now to the results of the two matches I shot yesterday:

First, the e-postal pistol match, “Faster”, hosted by Caleb at Call Me Ahab.

I ran out of ammo for the Ruger .45 so I only shot the .22 and the CZ. I’ll try to get to the indoor range tomorrow and shoot it with the .45 if I have time.

If not with my actual score, I was very happy with my grouping with both pistols. I started with the pistol holstered, ten rounds per magazine. I drew and sighted, fired five rounds as quickly as I could get the sights back on target (very quickly using the newly learned grip techniques), sighted on the second target, fired five rounds quickly, magazine change as quickly as possible and repeated the process. I ended up firing 20 aimed rounds from the draw and with a reload in (estimating here) less than 15 seconds. Maybe not Todd Jarrett fast, or even Caleb fast…but that’s pretty good for me.

With the S&W Model 22A in .22lr, at ten yards, I scored 75 out of 100. My sights seem to be adjusted a little low at 10 yards. The sights are adjustable so I’ll have to remedy that.

My group widened up a bit on Target B. I think I was rushing a little after the transition between targets.

With the CZ vz.82 in 9x18mm at 7 yards, I shot a perfect 50 on target A.

As with the .22, I seemed to have been having a little trouble maintaining my sight picture after transitioning to the second target, not only did my groups widen up (with both pistols), but went low with the CZ.

On the second target, I only had three in the black. I still had a respectable grouping, but it was consistently low. My total score with the CZ was 65 out of 100.

As I said, I would have liked to have had more in the black and higher scores, but I’m very pleased with how quickly I was able to finish the course of fire and with my groups. My worst group was only 4 3/4″. IMHO, that’s not bad at all for rapid fire.

Now for the less encouraging part.

The Rifle match is shot at 100 yards in four stages. Our range is actually measured to 100 meters which is about 110 yards so that’s my excuse for doing so poorly…yeah…that extra ten yards…that’s the ticket.

Anyway, I started out with the Garand, which is the only rifle I have a proper sling for. BTW, I don’t use the 1907 leather sling, I use the standard Garand Web sling, which I find to be more uncomfortable than the 1907, but allows for finer tuning of the sling tension. For the SKS and Carbine, I used the “hasty sling” method of leaving the sling attached to the sling rings, fore and aft, and looping the sling around my arm. This is a quick method, but is not nearly as effective as a properly employed traditional sling configuration.

My off hand…for lack of a better term…sucked. This is the only position, by the way, in which the use of a sling is not allowed in service rifle competitions. I was SO bad, that, not only did I only have five out of the ten shots in the scoring area, but three of them were so low they were on the next target down, on which I shot the sitting portion.

I ended up with a 44-1X

On the sitting target, the three holes toward the top that are Xed out, are the three flyers from off-hand.

I did a little better here ending up with an 85-1X

On Prone Rapid, I shot an 85-0X. With the exception of the one flier in the 5 ring, this was the best group of the day…not saying much.

I was VERY disappointed with my prone slow stage. I was very inconsistent and, although the group was one of the two best of the day, with nothing outside the 6 ring, I had no tens so the score was low and the group was still miserable. I used to routinely shoot in the black in prone slow fire. Boy do I need practice!

I ended up with an 83-0X

Garand Aggregate score: 297-2X

Disappointing is an understatement.

Not only does the carbine sling not lend itself to competition style shooting, but the sights are not “click” adjustable for elevation. The aperture is mounted on a ramp with detents. The sight is slid up and down the ramp to adjust for elevation…better than the “Flip” sights that the Carbine originally came with, but still not exactly a precision setup.

Even so, the Carbine is a light, handy rifle that lends itself well to off-hand shooting and I did marginally better with it than with the Garand.

All but one were on the paper and the one was just slightly off the paper below. That still sucks, but better than only having 7 out of ten on paper.

I ended up with a 59-0X

My sitting group was a little better, but centered high and left so the score was still pretty sad.


I again did better prone rapid than prone slow. Very disappointing. What that means is that my setup is not consistent. In slow fire, you have time to set up again for each individual shot. This should shrink your groups considerably since you can fix any issues with a slipped sling, natural point of aim etc. The fact that my groups were as big as they were tells me that I’m not consistent in my setup. The only cure for that is practice practice practice.


Prone Slow: made of fail.


Carbine Aggregate: 313-1X

Finally, the SKS. As most people know, the SKS is not exactly designed for accuracy. I did replace the iron sights and I have a scope mounted on a Choate Scope Rail. For this competition, I used the iron sights. By this time, I was very tired and was having trouble seeing the targets through my diminutive spotting scope. I finally gave up on trying to check the zero on the sights and just shot it as is. It seems they are off to the left about 6 inches or so as my groups were consistently centered to the left. There was a slight right to left breeze, but not enough to make that much difference. I’d figure 3 inches for the breeze and three inches for sight adjustment. the elevation seemed to be pretty good though.

Also, right before going to the range, I noticed that the SKS receiver and barrel have become loose in the T-6 stock. The will move fore and aft noticeably in the stock. Something I need to address and can’t be good for accuracy. I decided to go ahead and shoot it anyway, but only shot with the iron sights. By the time I got done with that I was too tired and frustrated to keep going. I also didn’t shoot my Marlin model 60 .22 rifle either. Just too tired and frustrated by then.

At any rate, the SKS is a very front heavy rifle and doesn’t lend itself well to off-hand shooting. Even so, I didn’t do much worse with it than with the Garand.


Sitting is where it becomes apparent that the sights were misadjusted.


That impression is reinforced by prone rapid.


And prone slow.


SKS Aggregate: 223-2X

The really sad thing? I have to acknowledge that, because the sights were obviously off, the 2 “X”s that I hit with the SKS were both fliers.


Anyway…there you have it. My results in all their…um…glory? If anyone feels froggy and wants to double-check my math, I’d appreciate it. Basic math is not one of my strong suits.

Sorry for such a long post. It was a long day.

Pin Shoot 2

I sucked. I guess last time was just beginner’s luck.

That said, it was still a lot of fun, and the soft nose rounds in the M1 Carbine did wonders for knocking the pins off the table this time.

I shot some video; about 36 minutes of it before my batteries ran down…most of it of yours truly and too embarrassing to post, but great for reviewing for improvement…here’s a nice selection condensed down to less than three minutes. Take note of the young gentleman shooting the revolver under the capable tutelage of his father.

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The guy with the black T-shirt and khaki hat is a Marine. When I asked if he minded if I filmed, he said “no, my family likes stuff like this so they can see what I’m up to”, so I put two clips of him shooting in there (first with a major caliber pistol and then with his M4 adapted to shoot .22lr). I gave him a Captain of a Crew of One business card so I hope he finds it.

If so, I think I forgot to tell you Saturday: Thanks for your service brother.

Pin Match

As per usual…click all pix to make bigger

I know I promised you a post on the Right Reverend Wright’s sermon on Sunday but I didn’t get to it today and I wanted to post about the Bowling Pin Match that was held at the Airfield Shooting Club on Saturday.

This was my very first pin match. I’ve shot in bullseye competitions before, but this is the first time I’ve ever had to engage multiple targets and where speed counts. Because this is the very first time I’d ever shot in this type of competition…I was EXTREMELY pleased with my performance.

First, the way that Airfield shooting club conducts the matches is, from a range of 25 feet, everyone shoots four tables or “strings” per class. There is a time limit of 15 seconds per string. Your timer stops when the last pin leaves the table or hits 15 seconds, whichever comes first. Your score is the amount of time, plus ten seconds for each pin left on the table. Therefore, as long as you clear the table, your score is the time it took. If you don’t clear the table in 15 seconds, your score is the 15 seconds on the timer, plus ten seconds for each pin left on the table. The four string times are added together to get the total “relay” time.

There are 5 classes: Major (generally .40 and above), Minor (9mm and below center fire), Sub (rimfire), Revolver, and Carbine (pistol caliber carbines). If a competitor shoots all five classes, they are entered into the “5 gun aggregate”, the winner of which is considered the match champion.

The match champion wins the wonderful prize of…well…OK…You got me. There are no prizes. But the match champion gets bragging rights at least until next month.

I was shy two classes from being able to enter the 5 gun aggregate. My CZ-82 “minor” class pistol is still a work in progress and I don’t have a revolver. I really don’t think my black powder revolver would be that effective. I suppose if I never miss…figure the odds.

But in the classes I did enter, I did much better than I thought I would.

Match Results Here

My worst showing was in the Carbine class where I placed eighth out of ten. The problem wasn’t my shooting, it was my ammo. Lesson learned…do not use full metal jacket with an M1 Carbine in a pin match. I was getting solid hits on the pins and knocking them over and around…they just weren’t moving enough to get them off the table in one, or two, or sometimes three or four shots. The slugs were passing cleanly through the pins and not imparting enough energy to do more than knock them over or roll them around a little bit.

Not conducive to getting them off the table. Next time, soft nose ammo it is.

In the major class, shooting my every day carry piece…Ruger P-97 in .45acp…and shooting 230 grain FMJ, I did much better, placing sixth out of twelve. On the last string I had one stubborn one that I couldn’t get off the table, but the rest of them I was very happy with. The next to last string was a bit strange. I started on the left and hit the first pin to the left of center. It fell right and hit the next pin over, which fell into the next, which fell into the next…I had to wait patiently until all the moving targets stopped moving, and then I was facing one pin off the table and four lying down. I got a strike! The problem is that they are much harder to hit when laying down than standing up…but I recovered and still did pretty well on that string.

In the last class, Sub, I really surprised myself. Shooting my brand-new, only been to the range twice, S&W model 22A with iron sights, I came in third place out of twelve and shot one string in less than six seconds. During this class, I realized something that I need to work on. If I was going to miss a pin, it was probably going to be the first one. I had the most trouble getting the sights aligned on the first pin after bringing the pistol into firing position. After getting the first shot off, I was having no trouble recovering and hitting the remaining pins, but I missed that first shot/first pin three out of four times. I need to work on getting the pistol up and sights aligned quickly and consistently.

I realize that using a dot sight would help with that…but part of the reason I’m doing this is to improve my “daily” shooting skills. I don’t think I’ll ever be carrying a concealed carry piece with a red dot sight on it, so I’d rather stay with what I’ll be using real world…namely iron sights.

Overall, I was very pleased with my performance. I’ve got plenty of room for improvement, but didn’t embarrass myself and shot respectable times.

They also did a shotgun class, but there was only one entry. He won that class. Came in last too.

I was pretty impressed with the facilities there too. It’s a bit spartan by some range standards, but very well set up, organized and functional.

I didn’t get any pictures of the shotgun area, but it was well set up as well.

This is the covered shooting positions for the 50 meter range.

And the positions for the 100 meter range.

After the match, the outgoing President was kind enough to give me the range tour, safety brief, orientation, and written test and I became a full fledged member of the Airfield shooting club then and there. I may be working the gun show this weekend as my first official duty as a club member. I’ve already volunteered to work the VCDL table Saturday afternoon, so whether I’ll be able to work the Airfield Club table will depend on when they need people. If you’re at the Virginia Beach gun show next weekend stop by both the VCDL table and the Airfield Shooting Club table and see if I’m around to say “hey” to.

And finally, video of one string of Airfield Shooting Club Pin Match goodness from my crappy digital camera:

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