- November 17th, 2010
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Yes, before I start, marksmanship and wind reading are very passionate subjects with me. Yes, you will hear me get cranked about what I see today concerning Marksmanship. In the Military the Marine Corps are the only folks teaching marksmanship. The US Army now has dropped to 300 yards to qualify. Why? Because some Russian came here and told our Military that most of the killing was done under 300 yds. Now, we listen to what Russians have to say? If we are taught to shoot 600 yards then we will keep our enemies out that far.
Problem was no one was qualifying expert under the 600 yard mark in the Army. That tells me it’s the instruction rather than the students. Who, the hell came up with this crap of laying straight behind the weapon???? For 250 years we have laid behind the weapon at 20 to 30 degrees. Now, before you comment on this remember Carlos Hathcock, Dave Tubb and a myriad of world famous shooters have always shot 30 degrees behind the rifle. So don’t even try to tell me your smarter than these folks.
Shooting straight behind the rifle (with rifle aligned with the crotch) it places the rifle butt square on your collar bone, with your head and cheek weld misaligned to the sights. I have had young men right out of sniper school show up trying to shoot like this and worse yet shooting free recoil like a benchrest shooter would. That’s right!!! Not even touching the rifle. HEAR THIS! You have to be able to control the recoil of the rifle in order to shoot repeatable accuracy.
In the last four years I’ve sent more people home because their marksmanship was so bad they could not repeat a shot if it hit them in the A$$.
Now, that’s out of the way we can start. From the prone position. Your rifle stock has to be completely adjustable! Cheek piece and butt plate. Your cheek weld may be good now but when you change your scope out for one of these high end deals it won’t be. You can NOT control the recoil of your rifle if the stock is too short. People let gunplumbers (note not gunsmiths) talk them into cutting the stock to a certain length of pull when most folks don’t know what LOP is! It might fit you now that it is warm and you have on less cloths. However, when winter comes and you start packing on the cloths you find your stock now nos longer fits you. Thus, the reason for adjustable butt plates.
I’m asked all the time “what stock do I need flea?”. I tell them “the one that fits you”. Not a smart a$$ answer. The stock needs to feel like an extension of your body. I tell them the best advise I can give them is to go to an F class match or local long range class and look at stocks. Ask people if you can lay down behind their weapons and check out their stocks. Most people are very proud of the rifles and will gladly help another shooter by letting the try the stock out. NOTE: (Shocker) I’ve gone away from these flat bottom stocks. Like the A-4, A-5?s and AICS and est. These stocks have flat bottoms at the rear of the stock. While the look very cool, it’s dang near impossible to get elevation from one target to the next in a fast manner. The butt hook is worthless IMHO. No one can hold the rifle with their hand and make repeatable shoots at long range. Between your thumb and index finger is a mass of nerves right where the butt hook lies. With the weight and recoil of a rifle it’s impossible for a shooter to hold repeatable accuracy while trying to support the bottom of the rifle. If your only shooting F-class there fine. But, when you have to go from one target at one elevation to another at a higher elevation you can’t do it fast. Gunnersgear came out with a great new bag, like a cam. It does help. However, even with that at different elevations we find ourselves squeezing the bag to get that last little bit of elevation out of the rifle. Human nature almost always makes us drop the squeeze at the break of the trigger. Thus allowing the shot to go over the target. Yes, I see this all the time being a long range instructor. If I had to choose just one stock it would be the Manner’s MCS-T2A with the butt spacer system. Fully adjustable and with an angle bottom to elevate the rifle. I think (IMHO) this is the best stock on the planet.
1) first the shooter must align his rifle to the target. Use your bipod at it’s lowest setting or where it will allow the shooter to see the target. Don’t raise the bipod way up in the air. The higher the bipod the more it will move. Place a rear bag under the back of the stock and keep your left hand there to control the elevation of the rifle(if you right handed, if wrong handed use your right hand). This gives you a three point platform to shoot from. If your in the correct position you shouldn’t see any heart beat or rise and fall from your breathing. (UNLESS YOUR OLD LIKE ME AND HAVE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (MARRIED FOUR TIMES) in that case. Breath in a natural breath of air and while your pressing your trigger let half of the air out and hold it. YES, IF YOUR SHOOTING FROM A SLING IT’S ALL TOGETHER DIFFERENT.
2) next you must make your scope parallax free. Adjusting the crosshair so it doesn’t move on the target. With your correct eye relief and without moving the weapon sight down the scope at the target. Move your head from side to side and up and down and adjust your AO or side focus knob until the crosshair doesn’t move on the target. NOTE: even with the width of the crosshair movement will make a .25 MOA rifle a 1 MOA group.
3) fine your nature point of aim. Lay behind the rifle and sight down the scope on a small target at 100 yads or your intended target. (ALWAYS ON THE HIGHEST POWER). (PRACTICE ON THE HIGHEST POWER OF YOUR SCOPE WILL ALLOW YOU TO CORRECT FOR ALL THOSE TINY LITTLE MOVEMENTS) Lock on to the target and then close your eye’s for five seconds. When you open your eyes you should be in the middle of the target. If your left of the target point of aim(POA) then move your body a couple of inches left. If your right of the target move a little right. Recheck by sighting down at the target and closing your eye’s again. If you don’t find your natural point of aim you will be fighting the rifle from one side to the other.
4) Once your ready to shoot, bring the stock back into your shoulder using a firm hand shake grip. (not the point that your shaking but snug in your shoulder). Use your left hand (for right handed shooters) to adjust the rear bag. Keep your hand on the bag for those small adjustments.
5) lock on the target and without letting the crosshair move AT ALL start pressing the trigger one hair at a time straight back until the trigger breaks. Make sure you do the same thing every time you shoot. This will produce repeatable accuracy. However, whatever you do you must do it the same shot after shot. If you lighten your grip the shot will not go into the group. FACT!!! If you tighten your grip from the first shot it will not go into the group. FACT!! Pull the rifle into your shoulder with enough pressure to hold it there. Use a firm hand shake grip. Lock on the target without letting the crosshiar move. Then start pressing the trigger straight back one hair at a time. Until the trigger breaks. It should be a surprise every time. FACT!!!! KEEP your eye’s on the target and press the trigger completely to the rear.( we call that follow through) By watching the crosshairs you will be able to see them stay on the target. If you see the crosshairs jump from one side to the other, your not holding the rifle tight enough. NOTE: ( some Remington actions have a lot of vibration in the bolt that transfers through the rifle. Take the firing pin assembly out and place plumbers teflon tape around the threads. This will help with the vibration and your accuracy. Just one wrap around the thread will do) this will deaden the vibration and make it possible to keep your crosshairs on the target when the trigger breaks.
6) once your shot has been fired keep your cheek weld. DON’T RAISE YOUR HEAD!! If your right handed place your right thumb on the rear tang (behind the action) pressing down and with your fingers raise the bolt. Then take your hand and move the bolt back in a positive manner. ( BY DOING THIS YOU WON’T LOOSE YOUR TARGET SIGHT PICTURE). This is a must at long range, so get into a habit of doing it. If you raise your head and open the bolt you will loose your target and take forever finding it again. Especially at long range.
7) Push a new round into the chamber and repeat the last three steps. If you do this the same each time you will have good repeatable accuracy.
DRY FIRE!!!! Dry firing is perfect practice. No noise, no recoil, no conditions to worry about. Find a place in your house or if you have a place outside (away from the eye’s of neighbors) where you can lay in the prone position and sight in on a small target at full power on your scope and take all the steps above and dry fire. NOTE: ( Make dang sure there’s no ammo in sight. That’s why you should do this in another part of the house or yard away from your gun room or storage area) It will cure most marksmanship problems such as jerking the trigger. Most important this will build muscle memory. Within a few days of dry firing you will find yourself dropping right down on the rifle without hunting for your eye relief. Within a week or so you will find your natural point of aim and position right from the start without having to hunt your body position.
I can NOT express enough as to how important dry firing is. I competed in long range shooting matches for well over 40 years. I’ve set world records and won many national matches. When asked “how many round did you shoot practicing?”, I tell them, “none, I dry fired an hour a night for weeks at time before the match. This will help your marksmanship far more then firing thousand of rounds a week for practice.
Try dry firing for five days the first week only for 15 minutes. Then the following week go to 20 minutes. Followed by 30 minutes five days a week the third week. After that maintain about three days a week of dry firing for an hour a day. This will keep your marksmanship skill very high. Folks, Marksmanship is a very perishable skill. Don’t use it and you’ll loose it. Plane and simple, you must practice. Make no doubt in your mind, I will send you home to practice your marksmanship before I let you shoot long range. So your marksmanship must be good before you get here. 2 MOA at 100 yard won’t do! Laugh but 75% of the students I see can’t consistently shoot under 1 moa of accuracy. YOU CAN’T FIRE 100 ROUNDS AT 1 MOA PLUS AND HAVE ONE GROUP AT .5 MOA AND CALL YOURSELF A HALF MINUTE SHOOTER. THAT DOG WON’T HUNT HERE.
Think of it this way. Most any instructor can teach you how to range a target and dial your knobs to get you on a target. Very few instructors can put you on target the first shot at long range. Most people come to CVT for wind reading. Of all the variables it’s the most challenging. NO, I’M NOT LOOKING FOR NEW STUDENTS. I’M RETIRED AND I LEAVE THAT TO SHEP AND ED SHELL. They both have trained with me and understand wind reading completely and will be happy to teach you. After near 40 years of teaching folks I’m done. I will help you with any questions you might have concerning gear, weapons and long range shooting but I will not teach after Oct. of this year. I may do some train ups for certain matches or get togethers around the east coast but other than that I’m done. Ed Shell will be taking over CVT and training from here. Shep is just a short trip to Ga. and will be most happy to teach you.
From time to time I will be writing about long range shooting as much as I can. You know by now I will do most anything to help a shooter. So if you need me call on me. I hope this article on Marksmanship has helped you! Shoot well! One last thing. When I’m at matches or get togethers please don’t think I’m being stuck up because I don’t walk up and down the line talking with folks. I am disabled. Most days I can’t walk 50 yards much less up and down a firing line. I will shake anyone’s hand and answer any question (if I know the answer, I don’t know everything). I’ll always take the time to help a shooter. So please don’t think I’m being a snob if I don’t walk to your end of the line. Fact is a can’t, my body won’t let me.
Take care, flea