December 2, 2013, 12:47 PM
Kept trying to get a perfect score this year, but didn't quite make it. The last 3 shoots I put down a 196/11x, 196/9x, and 196/5x (20 shot strings at 300 yards on the reduced size targets.)

When I shoot 5 shot strings (and drive out to change practice targets) I can put all of them in the X ring at 300 yards. Every single time. The load itself is proven. At 100 yards I shoot one ragged hole, every time, with this load.

But as I continue shooting the longer 20 round strings, the group opens up and on a 20 shot string I consistently put 3 to 4 shots out. I tried pacing myself to use the full 20 minutes, hoping it would keep the barrel cool, but the same result. I still thought my barrel was getting hot and opening up, but yesterday I took a mid-string sighter at the 10 round mark, and it was dead center in the X-ring.

Mirage was also an issue again, 38 degrees out. I draped folded, spent targets over my barrel to keep the heat from washing up in front of my scope.

Which has me thinking that I'm fighting human fatigue, and not the gun.

The gun and load are capable of a 200/20x, of this I'm confident. When I shoot 5 shot strings, every one lands in the X ring. When I shoot 10 or 20 shot strings, between cramping neck muscles and slight muscle tremors kicking in about the 10-15 min mark, it grows more difficult.

The only thing I can think of to do, is 20-minute dry fire sessions where I stay in position for the duration. Prone position uses muscles I'm not accustomed to using in daily life (I can tell this, by how sore my neck / back are after each shoot).

Any other ideas would be welcome.

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Howard Roark
December 2, 2013, 01:17 PM
You answered your own question, dryfire in position.

Also, shoot faster rather than slower. This will allow you to a) be in position a shorter time and b) enjoy fewer wind changes. You should be slinging rounds down range in your condition as fast as you accurately can.

December 2, 2013, 01:41 PM
Get more stamina in the prone position through practice/exercise, or learn to relax and control breathing better. This will help keep you from tightening up.

20 round groups are much harder than 5 round groups, for anybody, for various reasons.

December 2, 2013, 02:18 PM
Yup, that's why they're 20 shot matches. The longer you're behind the rifle, the more time there is for wind conditions to change on you. Or the light. And for the muscle and eye fatigue to set in.

Jim Watson
December 2, 2013, 02:52 PM
A mirage band on your barrel will help that problem.
The elastic band stretched between the front of the scope base and a front sight base or a screw near the muzzle seems easier to maintain than the type that looks like a piece of venetian blind held by sticky Velcro.

December 2, 2013, 04:01 PM
Howard Roark - The problem with banging rounds out as fast as I can is I'm shooting Open class with a 300 win mag. My barrel would melt if I did that. As it is, counting to 45 between shots to pace myself (and still leave some time for wind watching), it gets VERY warm. If I shot at a faster tempo I wouldn't be able to see my target by the 10th round, Venetian blind or no.

My buddy was next to me this last match shooting a 308 - he was shooting at double my tempo and his barrel didn't get nearly as warm as mine.

EDIT: Temps on this shoot were 42F at the start (near sunset), and 36F when we had our second relay done - was nearly dark. I don't know if I'll even be ABLE to complete 20 rounds in the midsummer months.

December 2, 2013, 04:11 PM
Well that's the challenge using magnum calibers in rifle competition.

The preferred approach is to shoot the string as quickly as your pit service and conditions allow. You are experiencing the consequences of not being able to do that, and competing with a magnum round that'll kick you around.

You could just accept that you're going to have those limitations and enjoy the sport with what you have, or you could make some choices about what you compete with. Perhaps settling on a reduced load, or acquiring a different rifle? Either way, 196's are very respectiable scores for someone new to the sport.

December 2, 2013, 05:40 PM
I lucked out when working up loads, when the most accurate load I found happened to be the starting load. (The second most accurate was at the other end of the spectrum, .2gr above max). Given the choices... I went with the one that is easier on my barrel. :)

I'll practice dry fire prone and build up my wimpy neck muscles, and see how I do next month!

December 4, 2013, 01:23 PM
If your neck muscles are getting sore, that means you are using then to hold your head up. Try raising the comb on the rifle or doing something to improve your cheekweld so you don't have to use those muscles so much.

Same with other muscle tremors. Holding ANY playroom for 20 minutes will make muscles shake. So don't use them! Examine your position just like a High Power shooter might and try to eliminate muscle. Raise or lower your position behind the rifle maybe. Or just take a break after every five shots and roll over on your back to let the muscles relax for a bit.

Have you considered adding weight to the rifle to reduce fatigue I'd you aren't at the weight limit already?

December 4, 2013, 02:15 PM
When I use too heavy of a cheek weld, my heartbeat transfers too much, and my groups open up. I might try angling myself more away from the line of the rifle. Currently my body is about 10-15 degrees off the rifle axis. Might try shifting so I'm closer to 30 degrees. That may ease up a little on the neck muscles.

I could experiment a little with height, too. I'm also shooting very low to the ground (put my support hand in a fist under the stock, squeeze my fist slightly for fine elevation adjustment).

The rifle I'm shooting currently weighs only 9.5 lb, there's plenty of room to add weight.

December 4, 2013, 02:55 PM
sore neck / back =chiropractor :D

December 4, 2013, 06:13 PM
I shoot a lot of smallbore prone. International target at 50 meters. 60 shots for score.

I shoot F-Class instead of coat, sling and iron sights.

I end up being prone for about 45-50 minutes.

If it was easy, girls could do it.

http://i890.photobucket.com/albums/ac105/puebloshooter/DSC03027.jpg (http://s890.photobucket.com/user/puebloshooter/media/DSC03027.jpg.html)

December 4, 2013, 06:18 PM
If it was easy, girls could do it.

Tell that to my 9yo daughter. She can do anything she sets her mind too, I raised her that way. She also deer hunts.....is that something else only boys can do?

As a dad with 3 daughters, statements like that just bug the heck out of me!

December 4, 2013, 07:27 PM
Many great women shooters out there. ;)

December 4, 2013, 07:28 PM
Many great women shooters out there. ;)

Exactly, Amen!

December 4, 2013, 09:58 PM
Too bad there isnt a sarcasm icon here.

And all the female shooters that routinely beat up on me get to hear me say that.

In fact Tuesday afternoon I shot along side Jamie Gray at the Olympic Training Center. Her sense of humor is 100% intact...

December 4, 2013, 09:59 PM

December 4, 2013, 10:08 PM
I knew how you meant it.

Men, if you can't deal with having your butt kicked by a girl, don't play rifle sports.

Jamie is awesome. She grew up next county east of me.

December 4, 2013, 10:09 PM
Sorry. Didn't know it was a joke. Just a daddy bear with daughters. Lol

December 4, 2013, 10:46 PM
I've always said women make better marksmen than men do, and I'll stick by that until proven otherwise. :)

Women have better hand-eye coordination and attention to detail, overall.

Took my wife pistol shooting after she went through my first NRA Basic Pistol course. She's been out maybe a half dozen times her entire life to shoot pistols. After 10 years of living with "Mr. Gun Nut", she got a little interested in them (finally...mid 30's).

Go to the range, fire the first shots. She puts them all in the X ring on a big sighter target.

Ok... hmm. 3 yards, on a big target, confidence builder for the first shots. No big deal. But still, all 6 shots are in a 3" circle.

We move back from 3 to 5 yards.

She repeats. All 6 shots in the 3" 10 ring.

Move back 5 to 7.

She repeats. All 6 shots in the 3" 10 ring.


We move back to the 10 yard line.

She repeats. Puts all 6 shots in the 3" 10 ring.

I go to my trunk, grab a smaller target (11").

She cloverleafs 3 of 6 in the 1.5" 10 ring, puts the other two in the 9 ring.

What's more impressive with it was she was using my little 38 snubbie.

Yeah.. ok. *I* can't do *that* repeatedly.

But she sure as heck can.

December 5, 2013, 11:07 AM
I used to coach the Air Force Academy Shooting Team.

If I had to choose a bunch of cadets to work with, I would take a dozen "never shot before" women over a dozen "I have plenty of experience" males.

Women will actually listen to you and take your advice. More often than not they turn out to be better shooters.

Back to the subject at hand before I derailed it...

The more time you spend prone the better you will tolerate it. The older you get the harder it is to get you neck cranked up like that. And 400mg of Motrin an hour before helps me not creak when I get up.

December 5, 2013, 11:53 AM
Hoser, I like the Motrin point. I REALLY don't remember prone being this painful when I was in my early 20's.

Part of the neck issue is skeletal too, not just muscular. I was in a bad motorcycle crash in June 2010 on the Road America race track in Wisconsin, during pre-race practice before the Festival of Speed 4th of July races. Left the bike mid-corner in a high-side, landed in the middle of the track about 60 feet from where I'd launched. Tore up my left leg bad, both knees, left wrist. Then the motorcycle behind me dodged my bike, but hit ME instead - right in the back of the head/upper back doing about 80mph.

That tossed me off-track. I tried to stand, fell down because my left leg wasn't working, tried to get my helmet off but my arm wasn't working (found my bone was sticking out my wrist, severed the nerve and artery at the scaphoid juncture). By the time the track was cleared and the ambulance got around to me, my speech was incoherent. Spent the next several months getting words mixed up, had amnesia for a few months (I was functioning, going to work, etc, but couldn't retain anything new or remember anything, had to write it all down). Would ask family "pass the spoon" when I meant "salt", sort of thing.. irritating.

Even now, 3 1/2 years later, every once in awhile I'll be talking to someone and suddenly they'll look at me funny. I'll go "ok, what did I just say?". Then we'll get a few chuckles because one of the words I thought I said OK will come out totally wrong. Used to make me angry, but now I just laugh about it.

So any position is painful, much more than it used to be.

But I'm just glad I'm still shooting. It's all I have left from a martial arts standpoint; that crash in 2010 ended my ability to advance further in karate. I still work out (to my ability), but I can't remember forms - kata all blend together in my head and I can't keep them separate, so won't be testing for higher ranks again.

I made shooting a more active part of my life - rather than recreational. This year I became an NRA certified instructor for Rifle, Shotgun, and Pistol.. range safety officer.. taking CRSO on the 21st.. became secretary at my gun club (I still type fast).. certified by IL State Police to teach CCW courses.. started a monthly High Power / F-Class competition club match at our club.

Anyway. That's the back story.

Sorry to relay my life story, just trying to get across what this means to me. I'm "decent" at shooting - better at long range than high power, where I'm plateauing out at expert level. F-Class I can see the potential to shoot at high master level, if I'm willing to do a little travelling to registered / sanctioned matches. Right now ours is run in the format but not sanctioned, to do that, I have to drive a long way.

I've always wanted to shoot at Camp Perry and go through that experience, hoping to in 2014, but need to make sure I am ready.

December 5, 2013, 12:26 PM
I REALLY don't remember prone being this painful when I was in my early 20's.lol, that's because it wasn't. Getting old ain't for sissies.

Jim Watson
December 5, 2013, 12:33 PM
It's all a compromise.
I have not resumed F class since my Incident of 2010, but I am shooting BPCR and I figure a .40-65 off buffalo sticks is not much different physiologically than a .308 off a bipod.

Anyhow, I find that a low prone is more accurate but also more painful.
Decisions, decisions.

December 5, 2013, 12:35 PM
Yeah, there's a LOT of stuff that I did in my 20s that I try to do now and say the exact same thing. "I don't remember this being so tough and hurting so much."

I've always wanted to shoot at Camp Perry and go through that experience, hoping to in 2014, but need to make sure I am ready.

Nonsense. You go in 2014. There is no, "hoping I'm ready." I've shot alongside a 13 year old girl out with her family where Perry was her first match.

Every single time this question about going to Perry comes up, those who put it off say that after they finally went, they realized they should have gone much, much earlier. Like, as soon as they had the equipment and could afford the trip.

I've heard that often, "I should have went sooner."

I've never heard someone say, "I shouldn't gone, I should have waited longer." Ever.

December 5, 2013, 12:58 PM
Do you have to qualify (or something) to go to the National Championships at Camp Perry? I haven't looked much in to it, to be honest. I check the scores every year, have for a long time, to give myself motivation to improve. But I haven't ever looked in to actually GOING. Their website shows lots of information about lodging, etc. But getting details is pretty scattered.

Any guides like "Camp Perry for Noobs" floating around out there?

December 5, 2013, 01:38 PM
Nevermind I found some info. Looks like you register, pay your fee, rent a hooch, and shoot. :)

December 5, 2013, 04:37 PM
Sorry to hear about your motorcycle wreck, but glad you came through in one piece!

Injuries will definitely complicate things. Raising your position may ease stress on your neck and may help despite higher being generally a bit less steady.

I hadn't thought of a cheekweld transferring pulse to the rifle. I'm wondering if it isn't the arteries in your neck or shoulder that are coming into play as the cheekweld is increased? Either that or the increased downward pressure from the cheekweld is bringing out the pulse in your hand under the toe of the rifle. Might take a look at the way the stock rests against your body or try one of those squeeze bags for the rear rest.

December 5, 2013, 05:46 PM
I notice more heartbeat in one of three situations now;

Not enough rearward pressure on the rifle (lets the butt float too much, especially if I'm wearing a winter coat)

Too much pressure on my cheekweld (again, this might just be a winter problem since I'm shooting with gloves on, and there's padding between my supporting hand under the stock, and the stock itself).

Not relaxing my trigger-side arm. This one is particularly nasty - if I don't relax that arm completely it transfers heartbeat to the stock through my trigger hand, on the stock itself, and it's a 100% horizontal shift. If I don't relax that arm I can see my crosshairs move a good 1 MOA back and forth from the heartbeat that's transferred. Relax the trigger side arm and it stops.

I'm getting better at shooting on an off-beat, causing it by a deep breath and exhalation. I get to a neutral point in my lungs (not too much, not too little), and hold it - and more often than not, once I stop at that point, my heart seems to skip a beat. Or at least gets delayed a little. I think it's a natural thing from over-oxegenating. I can't do it every time but when I'm relaxed, this lets me shoot between heartbeats.

I've also learned to feel my pulse in various parts of my body. You can almost always feel your pulse somewhere if you "listen" hard enough. Usually I can feel it in my hand, but sometimes my abdomen, where it presses against the ground, I can also feel an aortic pulse. I get in to a rhythm there and break the trigger after the beat.

This long range stuff, when you start splitting hairs, becomes as much art as science.

I'm finding it incredibly difficult to improve at this point - 18 years I've been shooting rifles and finding little tweaks, it happens, but I'm not improving in giant leaps and bounds anymore.

High Power I just started this year - I went from 65% to mid 80%'s pretty quick (about 6 shoots) but now I'm finding it waaay tough to get in to the 90% range. It gives me a whole new appreciation for high power shooters that can get in to the high master range.

I'm still not shooting with a coat and sling, though. I want to keep it practical. I could probably pick up 5% if I used a shooting coat, and another 5% if I used a loop sling. But.. I just can't bring myself to wrap up like a mummy to shoot a dang rifle .. not yet.

December 5, 2013, 08:58 PM
Yeah, uh, I have no idea what you're talking about there beating yourself up.

A 196 is 98%. That's rockin'. Especially for a guy using his fist for a rear rest.

No, Camp Perry is not the Olympics. There are no trials. You pay your entry fee, show up, and shoot the matches.

I hear from a lot of guys who talk about Camp Perry as this place where only champions go to shoot. They've never been there, so they don't know how wrong they are. Yes, champions go there to shoot. But so does everyone else, from the Marksman to the High Master. And everyone gets put into a big mixing bowl and we get squadded randomly. So, that means you'll have a very good chance as a newbie being squadded either with or next to a hot shot.

Go. Learn. Grow. Have fun.

And then, once you're done, you'll come home saying the same thing everyone else does - I should have went sooner.

December 5, 2013, 09:41 PM
Thanks Ken.

I've been shooting for a long time, just getting started in this whole F-class thing (August was my first time out, then I skipped a few months, just shot highpower, then shot again in Dec).

I was thinking about doing high-power and F-Class both .. if I can get off work on the 25th. Looks like High Power starts the 26th of July in 2014. I could shoot high power 26-29 then F-class Jul 30 through Aug 1st?

Man. A week of shooting. That would be an awesome vacation away from work and stress.

My rifle is ugly but shoots good:


I bought it new in 1998, so it's over 15 years old now. After I wore out the first barrel I had it rebarreled by Krieger. I ordered the barrel to my spec, and sent it off to Kreiger for them to fit and true it, and they used a .332 dia throat reamer at my request (I neck turn to .330). It's got a Timney trigger, to replace the old stock one (this rifle pre-dates the Savage Accutriggers, which I don't really care for).

The Choate stock is something I picked up back in 1999, they're ugly as sin but comfortable and balanced, and I wanted the barrel freefloated. I shimmed length of pull to fit my gorrilla arms.

Harris bipod and a Nightforce scope top it off.

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