No, this isn't about Unreal Tournament, sadly, although now I really wanna go play that game again.
Took the AR I built with the intent of getting into competitive shooting out to a match for the first time last Saturday. Since this was a Garand shoot, I was made fun of until I ripped off the optics and bipod, in favor of good old iron sights (Yankee Hill Flip-up sights) and a sling (GI-web, standard issue [for Vietnam]). I had one morning of practice last week, first time shooting the AR with iron sights, and the first time ever shooting with a sling (turns out, no, it doesn't go over your shoulder). It was hot (turns out showing up in a t-shirt and shorts isn't competitive enough), it was long (35 minutes are averaging about 1 shot a minute), and quite discouraging (sighting in at 100 yards, standing, I hit paper 5 out of 20 shots).
I wanted to practice most of the week with the sling and my positions (prone, supported by the sling, sitting, support by the sling, and standing off hand), but work and prior commitments got in the way every day! Come Friday night I had just enough time to load my mags, strip/oil the gun (my bolt catch sticks something awful), and get everything in one pile before going to bed. And waking up every, single, hour, thanks to a dog I'm babysitting. Not that big of a deal except for the fact that I had to be up by 4:45am. My thoughts that night were that I'd be happy if I could average 5's (the largest circle), satisfied if all my shots were on paper, and really happy if I knocked in a bull.
Morning came, way too early. In fact, it was still dark, and neither I nor the dog were awake for our walk. Got down to the range without eating breakfast, figuring we'd be gone by lunch, and was feeling pretty good as I headed off into the pits at 8:45.
Let me explain how this works. This was a Garand match, but very laid back, so there was a few other service rifles that weren't Garands (they were older), and two ARs. The distance was 200 yards, we all had open sights (no scopes), and were shooting with slings. Now, at 200 yards its hard to tell if you hit a bull that's two inches wide, so half the shooters were back in the pits, imagine a concrete trench back at the business end of the range, just under the targets. As they shot, we could pull the targets down, mark where the hit was, and mark what point value it was.
The targets were standard 200 yard targets, pasted onto a cardboard target that expanded it. The X ring is about 2 inches in diameter, and I believe each additional ring was about two more inches. So it went X - 10 - 9 - 8 - 7 - 6 - 5, and everything outside of that was a miss. Scoring was whatever that zone was numbered, Xs count as 10, but in the event of a tie, its the number of Xs that determines the winner.
The course of fire was the opposite of a 'normal' order. It was prone slow fire 25 shots (5 were sight-ins, 20 counted), prone rapid fire 10 shots, sitting rapid fire 10 shots, standing slow fire 10 shots. Slow fires were alloted one minute per shot, rapid prone was 80 seconds, rapid sitting was 70 seconds. For the slow fire, the pits pull down the target after every shot, marking where the hit was, and marking what it was worth. For the rapid fire, the target is only pulled after the time limit is up, and all hits are marked.
We had 4 teams with 4 people each, so there was going to be 4 'relays' firing. Each team sent two guys to the pits, and left two at the line to shoot. My team was two guys I knew from the church I grew up in (my partner was easily in his 70s.... he took third), one of their co-workers, and me. My partner and I went to the pits first, which was nice as the sun hadn't risen enough to warm the concrete, and we had shade.
I tell you what, it was quite intimidating to watch one of our guys, who shoots at Camp Perry every year, get misses. Made me think I had no shot. One shocking thing I learned (and for all I study firearms, never thought about) is just how loud a bullet it. Not the report from the gun, but the bullet going over you. Its traveling in excess of 3000 feet per second, well over the speed of sound, so you get a nice sonic boom as it whips over top of you. At 200 yards I couldn't hear the report of the guns over the bullet coming by. Another thing that's easy to forget at indoor ranges, is just how destructive bullets are. The rounds going over were hitting about 10-20 yards up and in front of us, and yet I'd still get showered by dirt occasionally. Amazing.
Shooting commenced around 9AM, first shooter was done around 10:30, and we were changing pits with the firing line around 1145. Yes, it takes a LONG time. The old guy with me shot first, so I could see what the rhythm is how it all works. He took his time getting prone, and into sitting, complaining of some cataracts and a touch of mono.... Proceeded to run up a string of 9's in the rapid fire that were almost touching. To give you an idea of how good that is, an 'accurate' weapon might shoot '1/2 MOA [minutes of accuracy]'. 1 MOU is roughly 1 inch at 100 yards. So to shoot with 1 MOU accuracy at 200 yards means your bullets should be spread out over an inch. So for him to have them just about touching, that's good shooting.
Finally around 1pm, with some nice heat exhaustion (didn't bring more than one bottle of water) and no food all day other than two granola bars, I got my chance on the line. I basically just wanted to shoot my 55 rounds, and get the heck out of dodge. Being sighted in at 100 yards, I wasn't even sure where I'd be hitting for my sight in shots, but, thankfully, they were right on!
5 sight-ins went down range, and I started into my 'for record' slow fire shots. After about 10 (loaded one by one) I was ready to call it quits. But, I was still hitting good numbers, so I pushed through the exhaustion, and just ended up rushing the last 4 shots... with a solid 12 minutes to go! So I stripped out of my gear (sweatshirt and shooting jacket/glove) and bummed some water from people, happy with the three bulls I nailed in the last 10 shots.
Rapid fire I just BLEW through, went wide the first two shots (6's) but the second magazine (you shoot 2 rounds from one mag, then 8 rounds from the next) was all pretty good. Finished that about 10-15 seconds early.
Rapid fire sitting is more uncomfortable, so again, I was just rushing to get it done with. As I finished up I debated just skipping the standing off hand bit, seeing as I couldn't hit anything last week, and the fact that I could barely pick the weapon up in between sitting and standing. I sucked it up, prayed for just 10 more minutes of not-passing-out, and started shooting. Well, the other guys must have thought me crazy. I spent my 'prep' time sitting on the ground, in a t-shirt, not geared up getting a good stance. I was getting gear on as the load command was given, not really caring what happened, as I was already really happy with my three bulls from prone. Took my first shot, started reloading immediately, just wanting the rounds out of my hands, when the spotter called a 10! I turned around said "Could you recheck?" Sure enough, its a 10. A little heartened, I took a second shot. "9". Dang... after the first few shots I actually started trying, which made my scores start to slip, but wow. I scored a 54 total, which means that even on my worst position I met my hopes of scoring an average of 5's. Huzzah. Miracles DO happen!
In the end, I shot a 389, an average of 7s, or just outside the black. I had one 'M' that was agreed upon my the experienced shooters to have been a 'blown jacket', or a bullet that wasn't made correctly, and blew itself apart. They saw no hits from the pits, and it was in the middle of a string of 10s so *shrug*. I'm quite happy with that outcome, and have to thank my dad for giving me the instruction he did on BB guns in the basement, its the only teaching I've had. Other than the guy helping us sight in last week, of course.
I'd embellish more, and add some pictures, but Firefox keeps crashing so I'll just hit publish.
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