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Old July 14, 2014, 07:19 PM   #26
MrBorland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trent
Good points, and fair!
Indeed - you make excellent point, too, Trent, so thanks for the clarification. In particular, 2 points:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trent
as the person organizing the match one of my primary jobs is trying to encourage people and keep them from getting discouraged. So sandbagging has a place. I shoot to the skill level of the group shooting.

We do this in Karate, too, with sparring partners. We don't knock the living crap out of the new guys. We hold back - a LOT - letting them score every once in awhile to build confidence. Sure, it's a false confidence, but for awhile, that is *vital* to getting the right patterns developed. (If all you ever do is fail, you soon quit, right?)
When practicing with a pistol shooter during training, I've done exactly what you do in your sparring sessions for the same reasons. And better shooters likely have done the same to me.

And if I were organizing a match, and knew I was Top Dog among newer shooters, I'd likely not shoot at all or shoot for funzies. A friend of mine is an IDPA MD who happens to be a Distinguished Master, and it really chaps and discourages people when he handily wins his own match.

In my case, though, I live about 20 minutes from Camp Butner, and don't expect anything other than full-on competition or anyone to sandbag on my behalf. That's life, so I'll do my best to prepare.

Finally I mentioned "those people" in such a way to suggest they're all terminally deluded, but the fact is, most realize very quickly that it's the indian and not the bow. Some may quit, but many others face the fact, and start working hard, stick with it and improve. The nature of competition is pretty self-selective in that way. Come to think of it, so is life...
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Old July 14, 2014, 07:20 PM   #27
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Keep in mind also that the skill degredation origin of this thread was taking 6 months off to get the new format of the competitions in order, and RSO's trained. I'm just *now* - this month - picking up a rifle again. Between the NRA ban on officials from competing in their own events, and the 'transition shock' we went through going from a casual rifle match to an approved NRA tournament, I had other worries than shooting.

But now I've got RSO's who can run the ship smooth. The "sneak in and shoot in sporting rifle" test was successful this month. Unfortunately I found I was nowhere NEAR the shooter I was this last winter.

Taking breaks hurts (back is killing me today from 3 straight days on the range).

Sorry about getting sidetracked and longwinded on all of the philosophical stuff. For all I know I'm beating a dead horse or going about things the wrong way; just trying to do the best I can.
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Old July 14, 2014, 07:27 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by MrBorland View Post
In my case, though, I live about 20 minutes from Camp Butner, and don't expect anything other than full-on competition or anyone to sandbag on my behalf. That's life, so I'll do my best to prepare.
Around here, there's a whole lot of nothing. Of course there are great IL High Power program running throughout the state, but the closest venues are all 2+ counties from home (think the closest match to me is at Chillicothe, which is 1.25 hours and it is a 100 yard reduced target affair). Beyond that I have Effingham (4 hours), Bellville (3+ hours), Milan (2.5 hours), etc. Every event in every direction is a heck of a long drive; and the ones that are close to me are reduce range events. Only a few ranges go to 300 yards, two go to 600, and only one range in the entire state goes to 1k - but they have events only 2x a year...

Illinois also bans all hunting (except 'yotes), with centerfire rifles. So there's really no 'practical purpose' to owning a rifle in Illinois (other than home defense, perhaps.)

Which means we have a lot of people who don't know how to really use a rifle. New shooter, or very inexperienced shooters, are the norm at my competition. Now that we're in the second year, some guys are starting to get pretty competent, and the competition across the board is closing in (20-30 point differences between the leaders, scores all up 150+ points aggregate from last year, etc).

It's really neat to see it develop from the ground up, watching people get to DO something with their nifty sporting rifles besides sit at a bench once a year and plink a few rounds to make sure they still work.
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Old July 14, 2014, 07:38 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trent
Now that we're in the second year, some guys are starting to get pretty competent, and the competition across the board is closing in (20-30 point differences between the leaders, scores all up 150+ points aggregate from last year, etc).

It's really neat to see it develop from the ground up, watching people get to DO something with their nifty sporting rifles besides sit at a bench once a year and plink a few rounds to make sure they still work.
Just an important point I failed to make in my previous post - huge kudos to you, Trent, for your involvement and mentorship!! It's great to hear...
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Old July 14, 2014, 08:32 PM   #30
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Just an important point I failed to make in my previous post - huge kudos to you, Trent, for your involvement and mentorship!! It's great to hear...
Thanks man. I appreciate it. It's a surprising amount of work.

Getting RSO's trained up and delegating saved my sanity this year. Was very hectic running both smallbore and highpower concurrently, but I wanted to "keep the band together" when I split off our casual match in to two separate main events.

We do a rimfire aggregate (relaxed smallbore rules, introductory stuff at 50 yards), NRA smallbore, Highpower Sporting Rifle (casual), NRA High Power, F-Class, and even have a benchrest course if someone doesn't want to do positional shooting. The sheer amount of targets required is staggering. I've gotten to the point I just leave them in my truck full time to avoid hauling them in and out.

Now that the RSO's are taking over more of the mundane tasks and the regulars all know the routine, I get to spend more 1:1 time helping shooters and even get to filter in to shoot again. I have one RSO run the smallbore line and one assist me on the high power line. Next match is the first time I hand off the high power line to an RSO - going to keep an eye on him, but he's been at every match and knows what to do. I've been lucky so far - for 14 matches straight I haven't been sick, or had any family emergencies interfere. Need to make sure if anything happens to me someone else can tow the line temporarily.

Logistically it was difficult to coordinate everything, but in the end the (somewhat complex) program has panned out and worked very well. Something for everyone! And everyone still has a lot of fun. I managed to retain the 'if you have a rifle you can shoot and have fun' atmosphere that I intended from the start, even after getting 'approved' for real tournaments and score submissions by the NRA. It has been a success so far.

Once last year I threw everyone a curveball and announced a "USA vs. Communist" rifle event where they all had to choose sides and bring an appropriate firearm. ("Partisans" with arms from neither side could choose one or the other at will, if someone didn't happen to own a US or comblock mfg firearm.)

Was a lot of fun, and got to see stuff that people normally wouldn't consider in a traditional shoot. Personally when I shot last year, I tend to bring oddball stuff to the event, so I can shoot to my potential but still handicap my scores. I've brought a Mosin Nagant, a Swiss K31, a Yugo M76 8mm (hard hitting but not known for accuracy lol), etc. I even brought a bolt action Steyr SSG 69 once with the original Zeiss glass.

Ian (forgotten weapons) suggested I bring a belt fed once, and I think I'll use the PKM this fall in the USA vs. Communist shoot. 18 pounds dry (more with a full 100 round box attached), and it removes flesh from your left arm on ejection if you try to shoot it shouldered, but I'll strap some leather on and give it a try. Damn thing is ACCURATE for a belt fed rifle - shoots 2 MOA at 200 yards off the tripod, so I might surprise people if my muscles can take it in positional shooting. I'd thought about using an MG34 or MG42 but those bottom ejectors would damage my legs if I tried to shoot them while sitting. They eject with authority. (Also a real danger of unintentional bump fire with those and I don't want rounds leaving the ballpark).

Anyway will post up a range report tomorrow on "match" ammo (assuming work remains slow and I don't get called in). See if I can further nail down my 'baseline' accuracy (me, not the gun).

If I can do this properly I can track progress as I continue on.

If I can't, I'm just speculating if I'm getting better or not.
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Old July 14, 2014, 10:50 PM   #31
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Trent,
I didn't read all you posted yet.
What do you make of this? In the last 2 years I hardly shot at all. Prior to that I practiced a lot (air rifle) and dryfired.I went out to a clinic on Saturday and shot a 93 for prone sighting, 96-2X in RP, 95-0X in RS. Sunday I go to a match and shoot a 97-4X in RS and a 96-2X in RP. 2 personal best on Saturday and 1 on Sunday. My offhand was low for me. My personal best being a 96 in OH.
What I put forth is that the core physical skills (once developed) don't diminish as much as the mental part of it. I also think being away forces me to work at it more.
I don't have great equipment but adequate. I have what I call a "Budget Match" AR. I have a similar problem in that my right eye is not as good as my left.
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Old July 14, 2014, 11:33 PM   #32
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WNTFW:

How much skill is lost is going to depend greatly on the individual.

Downtime also sometimes has the reverse effect. Found that out on guitar playing and other physical disciplines. Sometimes a break is what you need to take things to the next level. Your body retains muscle memory. Sometimes that break helps your brain sort out things that you couldn't while you were busy overthinking them.

Some of my skill degradation was due to physical weakening. I have a pretty sedentary job (computer stuff) and aside from gardening (which is good exercise), I did very little (read as none) physical workouts or cardio workouts during that downtime. I am stronger right now than I was last year but my cardio system (endurance) is kind of crap right now.

My arms / chest / and core were still strong from outside work. But my back and certain muscles used for shooting that I didn't touch while doing yardwork/ gardening were really, noticeably weakened. My back, in particular, has sore muscle fatigue today (badly). The muscles used in prone shooting, twisting and holding myself up to load the next round in slowfire, etc, really wore me the hell out.

Even with muscle fatigue, muscle memory will carry you a long way.

My prone supported (f-class) scores never really budge no matter how much time I take off. I've taken a couple years off shooting long range rifle and land right back where I was. Prone with a sling is a lot more demanding. More fine motor coordination, more major muscle groups involved.

I DO agree that being away will force you to work at it more. That's also one of the reasons that taking a break can sometimes push you past a plateau that you had been bumping off of! This is gleaned from both martial arts and guitar, as well as shooting, there are similarities between any different physical art that involves both fine and gross motor skills and precision of movement.

Think of it this way; a champion ice skater could very likely take a few years off and skate circles around me even if I were to spend all of that time trying to learn. They won't be in peak form and might not be able to pull off moves successfully that they could before, but the point of skill they regress to is still higher than I can attain in that period they took off. Change that to "20 years" and one might skate circles around THEM.

You can only build muscle memory so fast, and you only GAIN muscle memory through repetition. Push it too hard though and you gain no additional traction, or have to do 10x as many to gain a little. Take a short break and you reset the clock on the memory. Now when you resume you regain skill fast, and gain NEW skill fast. For a period of time.. then the effect diminishes.

You can only LOSE muscle memory so fast AND it only diminishes to a certain point. If you learn to ride a bike as a kid you will forever be able to ride a bike so long as you have two legs, two arms and a sense of balance... but you might be a little wobbly.

This varies by skill too.. Some other skills .. not so much. When I was a kid I could do cool things on a skateboard. Now all I do when I try to jump on MY kids board is fall on my rear.

I think shooting falls somewhere on the "high retention" end of the spectrum. You won't lose it completely unless you are away from it for a VERY long time. It's a very gradual curve.

Lots of speculative and theoretical stuff on muscle memory retention. I'm by no means an expert and all I can do is give anecdotal personal experience; which is of limited use because every human being and mind is different.
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Old July 14, 2014, 11:44 PM   #33
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Quick followup: As Taliv pointed out earlier, different positions / shooting disciplines lose skill more rapidly than others.

Putting this in to a more scientific thought process, I would put forth that the amount of work required to gain skill in a discipline, and the rate that you lose skill, is *directly* proportional to the amount of muscles involved in that act, AND the ratio of fine motor coordination to gross motor coordination.

E.g. "low" position bipod prone - very few muscle groups involved, pretty easy to pick up and learn.

"High position (30 degree forearm) smallbore prone" - MUCH more difficult to learn and master than supported prone.

"Sitting" - no muscle groups involved in the torso, none in the legs; only neck, shoulder and wrists (as minimal as possible on those). Pretty easy to learn and master. Pretty slow to lose skill.

Standing - EVERY muscle is involved to some degree, either relaxed or tensed. A lot of major AND minor motor skills interacting. Very difficult to master. Faster to lose.

Handgun - same as standing, but worse. Handgun skills RAPIDLY diminish if you don't keep that kettle boiling.

The similarities I've found between that, and martial arts moves, is very similar. I had a 3 year forced break after a motorcycle crash. Was still highly proficient, except in the very fine details. Gross motor coordination didn't diminish at all. Minor mistakes in minor motor skills were abundant. Slight tensioning / relaxation errors. Somewhat jerky movements at times.

Basically the same thing I *started* feeling in my rifle shooting after 6 months. But it came back fast.

My first standing score this month after my 1/2 year break was in the *40's*. But after that it quickly bounced up to low-to-mid 80's. I've also started integrating a couple of helpful things in the off months from other shooters, should be able to push in to the 90's quickly now.
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Old July 14, 2014, 11:47 PM   #34
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(Yet one more speculation before I go to bed)...

This raises the question "if I want to retain my skill, how often MUST I practice to avoid backsliding."

I think that would depend on level of mastery; the more refined you are, the higher that level of precision, the more you have to practice to keep the pot boiling.

(If it tracks with martial arts, anyway. Pure speculation).
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Old July 15, 2014, 07:19 PM   #35
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OK, I thought that Malaysian ammo was crap ... until I shot Winchester White Box 147gr 308 factory ammo today. WOW.



I thought my SCOPE was broke so I took it off and tried again with irons. NO called fliers. Just inconsistent as all hell.



So I switched over to Hornady Superperformance 165gr - thinking maybe I forgot how to shoot? It grouped at 1.25" at 100 yards with iron sights. (Forgot to snap a pic.)

Anyway decided to move on at that point, satisfied I hadn't forgot how to shoot overnight, and started more sitting 200 rapid fire strings. I was averaging about the 52 second mark on completion.

The first two strings were with the Leupold on to get a baseline, it was set at 6x.

1st string sitting rapid fire 200 yd:

98-2x (or maybe 4x, those other two were touching the line).



2nd string sitting rapid fire:

98-2x again.

(One shot shouldn't count though as I finished the string at 1:04... had trouble getting a sight picture on the scope this time.)



With the scope slowing me down, I removed it and shot the factory irons:

3rd string sitting rapid fire 200 yd:

97-2x

That one shot WAY low was an "OOOPS" - after executing the reload I shouldered it, and snapped off that first shot accidentally ... hit the paper but was low, and still managed a 97-2x.



Fourth string sitting rapid fire 200 yds:

Yet another 97-2x. I lost my focus and had a known flier; range was busier today and another guy bumpfired dumped his damn AR as I was sighting following the reload. (That's obnoxious, by the way).




At this point I was down to 20 rounds of Hornady and decided to save it (have another rifle I want to test it in), so tried more strings with the Winchester white box.

Fifth string sitting rapid fire 200 yds:

90-1x.



Whoa. That was depressing. I should have started with WWB ammo and went to Hornady later. Talk about a morale killer.

Realizing also the 147 was hitting higher than the 165gr hornady, I held a 6 O'clock hold for the remainder of the shooting.

Sixth string sitting rapid fire 200 yds:

89. well.. that didn't get any better. Following the reload I had a rear sight alignment issue that I caught by the third round.



At this point it was getting REAL hard to see the bullseye with irons due to all the white pasters (I ran out of black a couple months ago).

So I threw a fresh target up and did 2x Sitting Rapid fire 10 shot strings back to back.



186/200 1x

Clearly, there is a limit as to what I can expect from Winchester White Box ammo.

Anyway now that I have some fresh donor cases time to do a bit of loading. I just picked up a 308 caliber conversion kit for my Dillon 650 last month, so hopefully I can find a decently accurate round that I can produce quickly. Don't have time in the summer to sit at the single stage doing rifle ammo.

I seem to have hit a plateau with sitting rapid fire for now, at the 97-98% mark, so I'm going to move on to prone for a while after the loading hiatus.
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Old July 16, 2014, 09:56 AM   #36
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Trent,
I still have not gone back and read yet.
I feel that some of the skill that degrades is not so much core skills or basics.
Some is the finer points like how easily I achieve NPoA. Then again I am still learning on what works. Wind reading is one I feel you need to work at to keep up, but then I never got good at wind reading.
With a lot of sports I find anything timing related needs regular maintenance.

No doubt sorting out equipment and ammo is worth some points though. It is pretty hard to overcome a poorly shooting gun.

Since I last shot for score and the previous time I think my shot calling really came in. Plus I practiced sitting and prone with air rifle and dry fire. Quality over quantity when it comes to practice is a big one in my eyes. Some times I would shoot 3 10 shot sessions instead of 1 30 shot session a day to go through the process 3x more in a day.

I also think swapping between scope/irons rifle/pistol and such helps. I also feel playing any game that has a similar mental/physical focus help. In my case I can be impatient in shooting, so any game that rewards patience helps me. I did find myself watching the wind more when not shooting.

Very interesting stuff you are talking about.
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Old July 16, 2014, 10:28 AM   #37
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WNTFW -

One of my issues was tension. I noticed this yesterday when I went out - each time I got ready to shoot a string, before I hit the timer, I had to FORCE myself to relax my shoulders. Seems stress from work / life was carrying over to my shooting.

Have an eye doc appointment today to see if they can figure out why my right eye has deteriorated so rapidly. I had blind spots show up 2 years ago in the right eye that went away after a few months, they couldn't find anything wrong. Hoping something isn't going south there. (Part of the reason I was brushing up on left handed shooting was this nagging feeling that there is something seriously wrong with the right eye... there will probably come a point when I'm *forced* to switch, and don't want that transition to be so abrupt.)

Anyway appt set for this afternoon, so we'll see. Nervous.

Good ammo that shoots well in the rifle is definitely worth points. Notice the size of what I was doing yesterday with Hornady, vs. the size of the groups while shooting Malaysian surplus, or Winchester white box.

I found well tuned ammo on F-Class is worth more to a shooter than high quality glass.

I've never bothered to work up handloads for that SCAR; but I think it's long overdue. Also need to get a flash suppressor ordered so I can pull off the compensator, so it's competition legal in Match rifle. (Not that it'd make a good Match rifle, but the way it sits now it's not a legal gun, PERIOD.)

I'm planning on keeping the compensator around for practice, though. That rifle is going to kick like an angry mule once that compensator is pulled off.
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Old July 16, 2014, 10:53 AM   #38
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Trent,
I am searching for and eye doctor. I have what I think is a floater.

At the local F Class match there are some guys that dominate. All have been shooting forever and shoot open. I think the biggest factor is they are at the range 4 days a week. A portion of that has to be observing wind conditions there. Of course every thing they do contributes.

I have reached the point which shooting a better bullet is my next move for F class TR.
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Old July 16, 2014, 11:17 AM   #39
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Wind reading is definitely the most important skill for long range F-Class. Having a supported rifle the skill level for the actual shooting fundamentals is greatly reduced over other disciplines (shooting positionally, shooting prone w/ sling, etc).

That takes a lot of the "meat bag behind the trigger issues" out of the equation, and makes it a lot more about the rifle, the bore, the optics, and the ammunition (especially the ammunition..). I mean you still have to know how to shoot, but the biggest contribution the human makes to the equation is figuring out everything else off-course, and reading wind on-course.

It's a great discipline for the 'thinking man' since so much more effort goes in to preparing for the match, than the match itself.

Any long range discipline is a good pairing for higher end reloading concepts; neck turning, case sorting by weight, etc. You've got to shoot .5 MOA to hit the X on the F-Class targets, and have to consistently shoot sub MOA to get a perfect score (with all external variables accounted for).

That is where getting an extra .05 MOA out of ammo becomes critical, as well as finding a load with a VERY small velocity variation. (Frustratingly, the two don't often coincide with one another...)
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Old July 16, 2014, 11:29 AM   #40
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floaters & retinal tears

WNTFW, floaters are said to be a common occurrence. However they can be a sign that
something is going wrong.

For instance, a small retinal tear will cause floaters to suddenly increase to such numbers that vision is significantly darkened. If the condition is ignored, retinal detachment can be next in line.
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Old July 16, 2014, 11:53 AM   #41
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LOL (Kind of a joke)

"So if my eyesight finally goes that means I can still take up "Action Shooting" again."

(Referring to 3 gun, etc...)
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Old July 16, 2014, 03:57 PM   #42
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Ok, trip to the eye doc mission accomplished.

Two issues... vision in right eye had deteriorated to 20/80 (with my glasses on!), *and* my right eye tear ducts aren't working properly.

So, new glasses on the way, and I get to use glycerin eye drops several times a day from now on.

Will continue this journey when the new lenses show.. 7-10 days.
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Old July 17, 2014, 04:44 PM   #43
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This has been an interesting read Trent. Thanks for that.

Now I know why we haven't seen a lot of you on THP. You've been spending all of your time shooting and posting here.

And, yes, this thread is yet another reminder that I won't progress in service rifle if I only get out and shoot a couple of times a year. <sigh> one of these days, I need to make that more of a priority.
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Old July 17, 2014, 07:52 PM   #44
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I guess that's a relief of sorts about your eyes trent.
Keep on training those WHO shots. Once you're confident with WHO, they're a great place to pick up points on the competition.

lol on the action pistol accuracy joke.
Consider also that less accuracy = more thinking. Or something like that.
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Old July 17, 2014, 08:26 PM   #45
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Well at least I won't have to be relegated to an eternity of "Action shooting" to get my gun kicks.

(Not that there is anything inherently wrong with action shooting... I just prefer targets with X, 10, .. etc on them instead of "A B C D")

Action shooting gets the young shooters interested but there's no replacement for sending the lead down range with a great deal of precision. One is merely "area shooting", the other is "hit dead center or lose."

Or if you prefer the warrior-mindset when you are on the range, "hit or be killed." THAT is worth a few points on it's own, twofifty..
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Old July 17, 2014, 08:29 PM   #46
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Jeff - yeah there's no replacement for some trigger time.

I've found that on days I'd rather not shoot, by the time I get my gear unpacked and sights on a target, I forget ALL about what a big PITA it is to get motivated, get my gear together, and get out the door. Force yourself up and out the door to get to the range, the rest of the day will be far more enjoyable.
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Old July 17, 2014, 09:02 PM   #47
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Good points. It's all good in my books.

Given how hot it is right now and trent's comment above about what a pita it is to get out the door, this would be an opportune time for him to repost a couple match pics taken this past winter, at -10F iirc. trent?
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Old July 17, 2014, 09:26 PM   #48
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Ok, you asked for it. Consider this the "THR Ice Water Cooler" for the day.

Load development in the snow (7.62)



Getting a winter hike in (-20F) to keep cardio up. (At that temp your breath forms ice crystals all over your face / hat / shoulders)



Competitors changing targets. 14" of snow on the field, we took 4x4's to the range but could not make it to the targets in the trucks. (Someone tried and got horribly stuck at 100 yards)



That was a LONG walk for me to supervise scoring ... (Competitors score but I have to supervise to resolve any cross-fire, extra shots, or "double holes")



Collin (a minor at the time, a tall one at that, so no last name) switched to a bolt gun after his AR froze up solid.



My buddy Dave on midrange prone (shooting under match rifle / rule 19.5.3 optics)



Proud guys after a hard day of REALLY cold shooting. Wind chill of -24F, actual temp -10F or below.



Me, demonstrating horrible form in the snow. (Was covering "how to go prone quickly in snow", which essentially involves throwing your body down hard face first.)

Note; proper high power prone technique (hiking right leg up) wasn't required to clear my diaphragm from the ground, as the snow cushioned it just fine.



My buddy Chris on F-class prone. He lays down high master scores with an off the shelf Rem 700, a good handload, and cheap glass.



Kevin with his old Anschutz on NRA Smallbore.



PS90 handload development in the frigid cold.



For some reason I always have the range to myself on days like that. (-17F wind chill).

Note: the body armor is to put between me and the rifle. Was developing loads for 5.7x28mm that there was no data for, anywhere.



I love shooting in harsh conditions. I mean, I get the range to myself. No one bothers me. It's beautiful to sit back and gaze on nature during rest breaks. Totally peaceful.

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Old July 17, 2014, 09:49 PM   #49
twofifty
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Join Date: April 21, 2007
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Very refreshing. Thx.
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Old August 7, 2014, 09:57 PM   #50
Trent
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New glasses are finally in!

Was a long delay because the first set that came in was the wrong prescription.

So, redux, and now I've got a new set of lenses - and they work!

So back out again this weekend to see if there's any difference on irons. (I haven't shot since the last post on here - figured why waste the ammo on bad vision...)
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