Better than I ever hoped

I know there are only a couple of people still sticking with my blog since I hardly ever post any more, but I had to share something that I’m just amazed by.

Longtime readers may remember many years ago when I blogged about assembling a national match AR for service rifle matches. Well, our house got robbed while on vacation a few years ago, that rifle was one that was stolen. I’ve never gotten it back.

I recently decided to replace it, but the CMP and NRA service rifle rules have changed…because the rifles being used in service have changed. No more the bare-bones A2 style carry-handle rifles with open sights. Now you can use free-floated railed handguards, flattop uppers, collapsible stocks and even optics up to 4.5x.

I started ordering parts and got it put together last week.

(Note: As pictured, the scope mount is on “backward” to try to get it positioned better. I eventually opted to turn it back around so it looks slightly different now)

Click to make bigger.

I was a little worried about the barrel. It was listed as a “contractor over-run” with no brand name and on sale for a ridiculous price. It only had one review but it was a 5 star glowing review. The price was just too good to pass up so I took the chance, understanding that I might be buying a paperweight and may have to spend more money on a new barrel if this one turned out to be a bust. It’s a 20″, HBAR profile, rifle length gas system, 1 in 7″ twist, unthreaded with a target crown. The only thing I would have wanted different is that it has a 5.56 Nato chamber and I would have preferred a Wylde, but otherwise, exactly what I’m looking for in a match barrel.

I put a Nikon 1.5-4.5x scope on, a nickel boron bcg, a Rock River Arms national Match two stage trigger and A2 buttstock with about 2 lbs of weight to counterbalance the heavy barrel. Also a low profile gas block and relatively inexpensive free float M-lok handguard.

I lapped the upper receiver face to make sure the barrel sits square, was extra careful to get the gas tube perfectly aligned. The only real “issue” I had is that by the rules, the front sling swivel has to be between 13 and 13.5 inches forward of the font of the magwell. This placed it exactly below the gas block. There wasn’t enough space between the bottom of the gas block and the handguard to install the M-lok fasteners for the magpul M-lok GI style sling swivel I wanted to use. I ended up getting one of these which mounts slightly behind the gas block but extends forward enough to be in the right spot. Of course, the actual QD sling swivel that came with it is too narrow for a leather National Match sling, so I also had to order an oversized QD sling swivel. Hopefully that will work out. if it doesn’t, I’ll buy an M-lok picatinny rail section to mount there and put a rail mounted sling swivel on.

So, all told including optic, scope mount and Turner NM sling, I ended up coming in at just under $1k.

I was very meticulous when assembling the rifle and was certain my build was good, but as I said I was a little uncertain about the no-name barrel so it was with no little trepidation that I took it to the range yesterday after work to get started on the break-in.

The first hint was that, at 25 yards, firing individual shots and cleaning the barrel between each shot, the last 7 shots or so just made one ragged hole.

The next stage of break-in is three shot groups, cleaning between groups. I switched to 100 yards because I wanted to see if the group with single shots at 25 was a fluke. I only got three groups in before it started getting dark and I had to pack it up, but boy were they some groups. I was also testing the 1/4 moa scope adjustments which placed the three groups far enough from each other to keep them separate.

Three consecutive thee shot groups under an inch. The first was 5/8″, the second was 1/2″ and the third was 15/16″.

That was at 100 yards with the rifle just resting on my range bag…not even a real rest and because the bag is too tall, I didn’t have my butt on the seat of the shooting bench.

Holy crap. I’m thinking if I was shooting from a solid rest, I’ve got a 1/2 moa rifle here. That’s better than my old match rifle that had a more expensive, brand name barrel on it.

Let’s just say my sooper cheap match barrel didn’t disappoint. I’m surely glad I took the chance and didn’t drop $250 or more on a big name barrel.

I’ve still got four more three shot groups to send before break-in is complete, so it may get even more accurate…but I may never know it; I seriously doubt that I’m capable of better than 1/2 moa with any rifle, but I’ll let you know.

Of course every benefit has an associated cost. If the accuracy of this rifle holds up, I’ll have no excuse if I don’t do well in matches.

Oh by the way…this was with hand-loaded 75gr Hornady Match HPBT bullets over 24 grains of Accurate 2520 that chrono at 2650fps. I haven’t even had a chance to “tune” my loads to the rifle, but I honestly doubt that I’ll be able to do better than that. This may already be the sweet spot for this rifle.


WOT Redux

I never did do a follow up to my post on Women On Target.

This is an NRA program that we host at Airfield Shooting Club once or twice a year (which I have allowed my membership to lapse…I was in Germany when renewals were due…and it keeps slipping my mind to get it taken care of).
We generally have several instructors, both men and women, who generously donate their time in the effort to introduce new people to the shooting sports.

Women on Target is specifically designed to provide a non-theatening, low stress environment for ladies to be introduced to the sports with a group of their peers.  Because they’re all beginners and they’re all women, it seems to make for a much more comfortable environment than a mixed crowed of varying experience levels.  There is no feeling of competition…the only goals are to get familiar with the basics, including safety, and do as well as one can…oh…and have fun.

This session started out on a serious note.  ASC’s Chief Instructor, Dale, lost his mother recently, and another ASC supporter and member lost a son, so seven of the instructors, led by Dale’s wife…a retired Naval Officer, fired three volleys in honor and memory of those lost.

As usual, we had women of all ages and demographics in attendance.

We covered all the major disciplines:  Rifle, Shotgun, Pistol and Archery.

The weather was beautiful, if a bit warm for this early in the year.

As usual, it was a great day.  The ladies were a joy to work with, were attentive, engaged and seemed to be having a great time.

There just aren’t very many better ways to spend a Saturday.

A short video to recap the day:

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Just a quick 6,000 words…

…on how I spent my Saturday:

Update:  Primarily for the participants who happen by here:  all 419 photos are now up on my personal web space (Click HERE) for you to see and download.  The Airfield Shooting Club, as well as staff members and participants in the event are free to use the photos in any way they see fit.  Everyone else should consider the photos to fall under standard copyright law and refrain from copying, reproducing or publishing the photos without permission and attribution. Update 2:The images have been removed after a suitable time period. If you were a participant and want copies of any of the images and didn’t get them downloaded, feel free to Contact Me

(As usual…click to make bigger)

Possibly my favorite picture from the whole day:

Poof…it’s gone.

I took over 800 pictures (after eliminating the chaff, I ended up with around 400 good shots), plus video, so I may put more up later with a little commentary about the day.


I won, I won…

Well…unofficially anyway.

Airfield shooting club hosted an “as issued military rifle” match on Saturday.

Not to pick nits, but they did allow a couple of AR style rifle entries, which technically aren’t “as issued military rifles” but it was just a fun match anyway so nobody complained.

I hadn’t been to the range in quite a while.  Considering that I still have half a case or so of .30-06 and the entry fee for club members was only $5, I figured I could spare that and maybe the same amount on gas to participate.

I loaded my M1 Garand (which is too dangerous for us lowly civilians to own, don’t you know…just ask the Brady Campaign…why would anyone want one of those military style rifles anyway?  They’re only good for killing people…or something.  But I digress…as usual) and assorted other shooting paraphernalia onto the bike and hit the range for the first time in a while.

I shot in the third relay.  Another shooter in the second relay was using a Krag carbine.  I’ve seen them at gun shows and places like that, but I’ve never actually seen anyone shooting one…and BOY was he shooting his.  I knew he was going to be a challenge to beat.

I shot pretty well.  I have to admit after shooting my National Match AR for a while, with it’s two stage, four and a half pound trigger, the Garand felt like trying  pull a truck with my trigger finger.   The Garand really does have a good trigger for a stock service rifle…no creep, crisp letoff, but I’d guess the pull weight is around 7 or 8 pounds.  Might be time for a trigger job.

As an added excuse, I lost my reading glasses right before it was my turn to shoot, so I was having a hard time focusing on the front sight.  Interestingly, I realized that my vision is such that, when prone, My eyes are just enough closer to the sights to make the front too close to focus on…but when standing off-hand, it’s a couple of inches farther from my eye, which was enough to make it come clearly into focus when shooting from that position.  I was actually very pleased with my off-hand shooting for the first time in a long time.

Anyway, overall, I was pretty pleased with my shooting…could have been better, but didn’t suck…and after talking to Mr. Krag (also known as Chuck) while scoring my targets, he told me that we had tied on score but that I had beat him in Xs.

The official results were posted today and he was right…except they didn’t post the Xs in the results.  I don’t know why.

So I suppose officially we tied with scores of 261, but I know that he told me he only got 2 Xs to my 3, so I’m declaring myself the unofficial winner.

Not that it’s THAT important to me, but hey, bragging rights are bragging rights…especially because Chuck is a retired Marine.

Go Navy.


Rifle Matches Wrapup

I got busy right after the matches ended, first working on my Son’s graduation gift, and then on a project for  VCDL, and I never got my final wrap up post from the Atlantic Fleet and All Navy Rifle and Pistol matches written.

I ended up not doing as well as I had hoped, but was improving by the end of the All Navy match so I still have hope for the future.

One thing I was very happy with was my rifle.  I didn’t have a single failure of any kind, my actual sight settings were as close to exact as I could hope for (What I mean is, when I put in 8 clicks of adjustment, I got two minutes of angle of change in POI.   What that tells me is that the sight adjustments are calibrated correctly and are accurate), it was putting the holes in the targets right where the sights were aligned (I’ve just gotta get better at aligning the sights with the X in the middle of the target), it was very easy to clean (for an AR) with very little copper fouling.  I’m just ecstatic with how it performed.

One thing that’s interesting is that my other AR…the one for which I purchased a pre-assembled upper that was built by a reputable company…is less reliable than the one I completely put together on my own.

I don’t know why yet, but if the Del-ton upper on my M4 style rifle is the least bit dirty, it starts having chambering and feeding issues.  I haven’t messed with it yet to figure out what’s going on, but I want to change the configuration of it anyway, so I’ll be completely disassembling the upper here in a while and figuring out what’s up with that.

But I digress.

My lessons learned from this match:  I need to practice more.  Most of my problems were related to inconsistency in my positions, and the fact that getting into position isn’t as natural an act as it should be.  The only thing that can fix that is practice.

My off-hand, as usual, left a lot to be desired.  I was calling my shots virtually unerringly…the shots were going where the sights were aligned, but I wasn’t getting the trigger to break when the sights were aligned at the right place.  I need LOTS more dry fire practice in off-hand.

On the plus side, as I mentioned in past posts, I was very pleased with my wind-reading and adjusting.  I think I handled the weird, swirling and shifting winds of Dam Neck as well as anyone and better than most.  By the end of the All Navy match, I had more than a couple people asking me what I thought about the winds before deciding on their final adjustments.  That’s gratifying.

One of the most frustrating things for the better shooters about the rapid fire stages is misreading the wind by just a little bit and making a nice tight group…all in the 7 and 8 ring off to the right or left.   My problem isn’t getting the adjustments right.  Every one of my rapid fire groups was centered perfectly…my groups were just too big because I wasn’t consistent enough from shot to shot.  I basically dance all around the X ring.

So, finally, how did I do?

Overall, about normal.  By the final match of the second week, the All Navy EIC match, I actually fulfilled my goal of moving up in the standings, but leading up to that, I pretty much was solidly in the middle of the pack every time.

How I did in that final match, however, did a lot for boosting my confidence and encouraging me to keep working and do better next time.

Here are my final scores and placing.

Off Hand
Slow 200yd
Rapid 200yd
Rapid 300yd
Slow 500yd
Total Place
Fleet Forces Command Atlantic Individual Rifle
78-0x 86-1x 87-0x 189-3x 440-4x 78 of 148
Fleet Forces Command Atlantic EIC Rifle
83-0x 83-1x 90-1x 180-2x 436-4x 73 of 133
All Navy (East) Individual Rifle
82-0x 94-1x 90-0x 193-6x 459-7x 49 of 118
All Navy (East) EIC Rifle
82-0x 91-0x 94-1x 185-3x 452-4x 21 of 70

So, as you can see, not terrible, but not great and pretty consistently so.

I did improve my scores slightly from week 1 to week 2 which is encouraging, and improved my overall placement relative to the other shooters pretty steadily as well.

The reason I moved up in the rankings on the All Navy EIC match, even though my score was not as good as the Individual Match, is because the weather conditions were much more challenging on EIC day than during the Individual rifle match.  Because I adapted better to the…um…interesting…wind conditions, I did better with respect to the other shooters, even though my score actually went down slightly.   During both weeks, the winds on EIC day were worse than during the Individual match.  I actually shot better than most at 500 yards in the EIC All-navy match, which helped make up for my typically poor performance in off-hand.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I need to practice more, both at home practicing my positions and dry-firing, and at the range actually putting lead downrange.

I’ve found out that one of the gun clubs in the area has been doing monthly high powered rifle matches at Blackwater in North Carolina, so I’m going to start competing in those as often as I can.  Shooting a regulation match once every three or four years just isn’t cutting it, even if I do shoot reduced range 100 yard matches in between.  There just is no substitute for actually going to a real rifle range and shooting at 500 or 600 yards.

I just wish there were more rifle ranges around here to do that at.   Every time I drive by any of the many golf courses in this area, my immediate thought is “what a shameful waste of a perfectly good rifle range…”

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I’ll stop blathering on and boring you about the matches…at least until next year.


Promise kept

I promised you a picture of the targets from the 500 yard line.

I’m going to go one better.

I already showed you what the targets look like from 200 yards, but here’s a reminder of that view.

This is what they look like from the 300 yard line.

It’s the same size target as the 200 yard target, but at 200 yards, the black only covers out to the 9 ring.  On the 300 yard target, the black covers the 8 ring as well.

The black and white ammo cans in the foreground mark the 200 yard line, where the first picture was taken from.

Sorry about the tilt.  I don’t know why, but I sometimes have issues holding the camera level when taking pictures.  I never seem to notice it until I get home.  I usually use Gimp to rotate them back to level but I didn’t bother this time.  Too tired.

And here’s the view from 500 yards.

Again, the ammo cans in the foreground mark the 300 yard line, where the last picture was taken from.

The most important thing about shooting long distance, whether with open sights or a scope, is knowing your rifle’s sight/optics settings and your ammo’s ballistic characteristics.

If you don’t know the correct sight settings to at least get you on paper, or have no idea how much the bullet is going to drop over the distance you’re firing at, there is no way you’re ever going to get hits on target.

After you get that worked out, it’s just a matter of reading the weather conditions, adjusting your sights accordingly, and then employing basic shooting skills:  Proper position, proper use of the sling to stabilize your hold, proper hold, proper sight alignment and sight picture, proper breath control, proper trigger control and practice, practice, practice.

The black appears as nothing more than a speck using iron sights at these distances.  Consistency is the key.  Every aspect of each shot has to be as close as possible to exactly the same as every other shot in order to make good groups.  At this distance, the tiniest difference in your sight alignment, sight picture, hold, etc can send a shot a foot, or even a couple of feet, away from your previous shot.  Even your heartbeat can effect your sight alignment and, therefore, change your point of impact on the target.

As daunting and intimidating as that may sound, the fact is that anyone physically capable of performing the necessary tasks can learn to do it.  Give it a try sometime.  The old hands will help you out, explain the ropes and get you on paper in no time.

Here’s a great article from the US Army Marksmanship Unit (posted on the CMP web site) about what you need to get started in High Powered Rifle shooting.  Although there’s the potential to spend thousands of dollars on fancy equipment, it isn’t necessary to get started and you probably already have most, if not all, of what you need.

Incidentally, that article is one of a series done by the USAMU about High Powered Rifle Shooting.  The articles are a great resource for someone who wants to learn more about the tricks and techniques of the discipline.

It is challenging and takes a lot of dedication and hard work to become one of the top contenders, but even if you don’t aspire to that level, it is also a great way to build your skills as a rifleman and learn more about precision shooting at long ranges.

That’s enough for today.  EIC pistol is tomorrow and that’s the last day of competition for me.   They are having another 500 yard “fun” rifle match later in the week, but I couldn’t get that much time off work so I’ll have to miss it.  I’d have really liked one more opportunity to shoot at 500 (that’s my favorite stage of the matches), but it was not to be this time.

After it’s all over and when time allows, I’ll do one more “wrap-up” post about the matches, how I did, lessons learned and my plans for the future.


I’m Exhausted…

…but I’ve just gotta share.

Today was the 500 yard stage of the Individual rifle match and the President’s 100 pistol match.

We rushed to get it done because it was threatening to storm all day.  They wanted to try to get in as much as possible before the storm, so we were on the run all day.  The storm never materialized so we got everything done, but finished really early…and really tired.

Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to share.

I shot a personal best in the 500 yard stage today.

For those unfamiliar with High Powered Rifle matches, in a standard National Match course of fire, the long line stage is 20 shots in 20 minutes slow fire from the prone position.  The maximum score you can get is 200-20X.  The 10 ring is 12 inches in diameter and the X-ring (still counts as a 10, but also scores an X) is 6 inches in diameter. 

I shot a 193-6X

I shot two 8’s and three 9’s.  The remaining 15 out of 20 shots were within a 12″ circle and 6 of those were within a 6″ circle.

At 500 yards.

With iron sights.

For the really good high powered rifle shooters (like Robert Langham, for example), that’s no big deal, but for me that was a significant achievement.  Success is a great motivator to keep one working toward improvement.

Now I’ve gotta get some rest.  I’m beat.


Fleet Forces Command Rifle and Pistol Matches.

The Navy matches are considered teaching matches.  New shooters are welcomed and highly encouraged to participate.  Most shooters have at least some equipment, but spotting scopes and stands, shooter stools, shooting jackets and gloves, and even rifles, are provided for those that need them.

They also pair up an “experienced shooter” with a new shooter so that the experienced shooter can mentor the newer guys (and gals…there are usually quite a few of them as well).

Although I don’t feel like it since I haven’t competed in a match in four years, I was considered an experienced shooter and was paired up with a new shooter.

Luckily for me, my “new shooter” was a Naval reservist who was a prior Marine and already knew how to shoot (in fact he shot better than me the first day) but just needed some help with the finer points of match procedures, documenting scores on the scorecards, things like that.  To be honest, there was a lot about that kind of thing that I didn’t remember myself and had to defer to other “old hands” about many of those issues as they came up.

But we muddled through pretty well.

As I hinted at before, I got permission to take pictures, but they were pretty reluctant so I was very careful not to be too obtrusive about it.  Not only that but I was busy keeping score and providing what meager help I could to my “new shooter” so I didn’t get many.  I also wanted to concentrate on shooting so I put the camera away after first day on the 200 yard line and didn’t take any from 300 or 500.  Next week I’ll try to get at least one shot of the targets from the 500 yard line (NRA standard is 600 yards, but there’s a road in the way at Dam Neck so the long line is 500 yards there) so you can get an idea of how small they look from that distance.

One of the integral parts of shooting on a range like this is running “the pits” for the other relays of shooters.  When you’re shooting targets 200, 300 and 500 yards away, it would get pretty onerous to have to walk to the targets to score and repair them between each string of shots.  While some of the shooters are on the line shooting, others are in the pits running the targets up and down, marking the hits and patching the holes after they’re scored.

It’s a lot of work running those carriages up and down and up and down and, during the slow fire stages, you’re expected to hear the shot that hit your particular target, pull the target down, patch the hole from the previous shot, mark the new hole with a shot marking disk called a “spotter”, mark the score of the shot with another scoring spotter and get the target run back up, in less than 18 seconds.  You do get into a rhythm after a while and get pretty good at it, but it’s a lot of work.

Although Rifle is what I tend to focus on, there are also pistol matches conducted at the same time.  These are standard “bullseye” style service pistol matches and most people use match tuned, but otherwise government issue 1911A1 .45acp pistols.  Match grade Baretta M9 pistols are also authorized, but are surprisingly (considering that the 1911 hasn’t been issued to troops for close to 20 years) rare.

Bullseye pistol matches are quite a bit different from the “practical” shooting disciplines. The match is shot one handed, standing, unsupported.

At the Navy Matches, the individual pistol match uses the NRA National Match course of fire:  10 rounds slow fire at 50 yards, 10 rounds timed fire (two strings of 5 rounds in 20 seconds each), and 10 rounds of rapid fire (two strings of 5 rounds in 10 seconds each) at 25 yards.  The EIC match is similar but the 50 yard slow fire stage consists of 20 rounds versus 10.

As with the rifle matches, pistols are also available for issue and instruction for new shooters is provided.

Of course, one of the many advantages to having your own equipment is that you can personalize it to your heart’s content.

And for those who doubt that women can effectively use a large caliber pistol like the 1911, I imagine that the Commander to the left of center in this picture would beg to differ…

As would the young Marine that was on the extreme right end of the line in this one.

I really didn’t get a good picture of her, but she was about 5’5″ tall and probably 110 pounds soaking wet…and was handling a 1911 with one hand, shooting full power 230 grain ball ammo,  like it was nothing.

The guy in shorts in the foreground, by the way, was one of the Marine range safety officers.  They volunteered to run the ranges for us through the week, including over the weekend that they otherwise would have had off.  They were afforded the opportunity to wear civvies in “payment” for their generous donation of valuable time.  My hat’s off to them.  They were extremely professional and run an excellent, safe and organized range.

Ready on the right…

Ready on the left…

All ready on the firing line.


All in all, having to get up at an ungodly hour in the morning notwithstanding, it was a great 5 days of shooting and I’m looking forward to the All Navy match starting on Saturday.

As far as how I did.

Not as well as I’d have liked.

I shot OK and came out around the middle of the pack in the individual rifle match as usual.  The final EIC match results hadn’t been posted by the time I left on Tuesday, but based on my scores, I’d say I probably fell out about the middle of the pack again in that one too.

I had hoped to do better than that this year, but I can say unequivocally that it wasn’t the rifle’s fault.  It has exceeded my expectations from when I first decided to put together a match rifle out of the lower I had languishing in the gun cabinet.

I was “calling my shots” during slow fire…basically, you take a mental snapshot of the sight picture as the shot breaks.  If you’ve got the sights adjusted and aligned properly, wherever the front sight is on the target when the shot breaks is where it’s going to hit.

I was calling my shots very accurately.  I only mis-called two shots in the 75 or so rounds of slow fire that we sent downrange.  The rifle was poking the holes where I was pointing it…I just need to get WAY better at pointing it at the X in the center.

I simply don’t practice enough.  But that’s a deficiency that’s easy to fix.

During the rapid fire stages, I kept having stupid bonehead things get me flustered and make me rush.

The rapid fire stages require you to start from a standing position, then get down into the required shooting position (sitting or prone) after the clock has started.  Also, you start out with the magazine inserted, but the bolt closed on an empty chamber.

It was always something.  Once, I forgot to rack the bolt to load a round, got in position, all lined up, taking my time, pulled the trigger and “click”.  CRAP!

One time I almost fell down while standing, lost my balance and was all out of position so I had to completely reset after the timer started and we could get into position. Having to find my natural point of aim and get back into position cost me time so I rushed while shooting and was all over the place.

Once, in sitting, I forgot to unhook the bottom two fasteners on the shooting coat so I could hardly breathe when I got into position to shoot.

None of those are excuses.  Each and every one of them was a stupid mistake that was completely my fault and were completely the result of not practicing enough.  All of those actions should be so natural and automatic that there should never be any doubt.  But I screwed them up and my shooting suffered as a result.

I can’t express enough that, regardless of your chosen shooting discipline, or even if you only shoot for fun, practice is the key to proficiency.

To end on a positive note, one thing I did well is read and judge the winds and sight settings.  The only stage I had trouble with was the long line in the EIC match.  The winds on Tuesday were gusting and swirling and constantly changing and everyone had trouble with them so I wasn’t the only one.  To give you an example, when I shot at the 300 yard line, the flags down by the targets were pointing to the right and indicating about 5 mph winds.  I used one minute of left wind and was right on the money.  My group sucked, but it was centered on the X ring.

By the time I humped my gear back and settled in on the 500 yard line, the wind was completely opposite…the flags at the targets were now pointing left and showing 5 MPH or so.  In about ten or fifteen minutes, the wind had completely shifted direction by 180 degrees.

While I was shooting my 20 shot string from 500 yards, the prevailing winds shifted at least three times, requiring me to adjust for the shifts after seing my point of impact moving around on the target.

It was a tough day for everyone…but I think I did as well as anyone in reading and adjusting for the winds so I’m pretty happy with that aspect of my week anyway.

And hopefully, I’ll do better next week.


More new shooter training this weekend

At Airfield Shooting Club.

Chief Instructor Dale and I taught 6 boy scouts about shotgunning. I didn’t take a bunch of pictures because I was involved with the kids too much and just didn’t have time to worry about pictures.

One of the older kids was a downright natural. He broke the first bird he saw and didn’t stop until we ran out of time. I think he only missed three or four all afternoon (the one in the red shirt sitting in the front with his hand up).  All the boys did really well and even the ones who started out a little rough were breaking clays regularly by the end of the day.

Dale talked to me about getting more involved in the shotgun instructing.  The only problem is that I don’t have much experience in the shotgun disciplines.  I’ve got experience shooting and maintining them, and I know the basics, but I’ve never participated in organized trap, skeet or sporting clays shoots.

So, the first step is going to be getting some more experience in the shotgun sports.  I’m going to start by hitting the 4H instructor training class later in the month…assuming I can get registered for it successfully before Friday.  At some point I’m going to have to get a shotgun that is more suitable for this type of shooting and just start practicing.  I can’t really afford it right now with our financial situation the way it is, but I’m going to start checking the auction sites and classifieds and see if I can find a decent used over/under or semi-auto for cheap.

Then I guess I’ll be getting more involved in the 4H “Swamp shooters” shoots that happen two Sunday afternoons a month.  I’m going to help out with the First Steps pistol class next weekend, the Fleet Forces Command – Atlantic and All Navy rifle matches are the last two weeks in April (gotta get registered for that asap as well), I’d like to hit the NRA annual meetings this year since it’s in my neck of the woods for once (that’s in May) and then there’s the Women on Target shooting clinic that I’ll be helping out on the rifle clinic for….

It’s shaping up to be a very busy spring.


Women On Target

As usual, click all pix to make bigger

It’s no surprise to those who keep up with community news that the shooting sports are catching on with more and more women. Whether it’s as a means of self-defense and empowerment, a way to get out of the “comfort zone” and challenge themselves, an interesting, rewarding and exhilarating hobby, or just a matter of learning a new skill, women are an integral, important and growing segment of the shooting community.

On November 14th, Airfield Shooting Club played a small part in this growth by hosting an NRA “Women on Target” shooting clinic.

The ground still wet from the Nor’Easter formerly known as Ida, having ended a scant day before, 21 women of all ages, backgrounds, statures and experience levels, some from as far away as Washington State, braved the soggy, chilly weather to get a taste of the basic shooting disciplines: rifle, pistol and shotgun.

The experienced and able ASC corps of NRA certified instructors covered the rules of safe gun handling,

range rules and etiquette,

gun components and operation,

and basic shooting techniques,

for each of the disciplines.

And, before long, shells were flying, clay birds were breaking,

metal plates were pinging and the air was tinged by the sweet, sweet fragrance of smokeless powder.

Over the course of the morning and into the early afternoon, the ladies rotated through the three disciplines so that they could get a taste of each of them.

The chill and damp were quickly forgotten as the budding shootists engaged in the sports with eager enthusiasm.

After a long morning of learning and shooting, the group adjourned to the Airfield 4H center’s dining hall for a wonderful buffet of salad, fried chicken, ham, and all the trimmings. The facilities available at the 4H center that hosts the Airfield Shooting club are impressive and very well managed.

Senior Instructor and all-around good guy Dale, handed out certificates of completion and smiles were the uniform of the day.

After a wonderful lunch and good fellowship, back to the range we went. This time, the new shooters were able to choose their favorite discipline(s) for further instruction, practice and fine tuning of their newly acquired skills.

A few of the ladies brought personal firearms to practice with.

And the opportunity was not to be passed by.

Even though Ida did her best to waylay us, we persevered, and the clinic was a great success. The ladies seemed very satisfied with the experience and many expressed an interest in further training at future clinics and classes. It was a long day at the range, it was chilly, damp and a bit muddy. But a bad day at the range is better than a good day almost anywhere else, and this was no exception.

And, finally, I actually thought to take my video camera with me this time, so, for your entertainment and edification…Women on Target at the Airfield Shooting Club:

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