How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: Optics in Service Rifle For 2016

It started as a rumor at Camp Perry, then emails went out,  then official word on the website from CMP. At first there was talk of  a weight limit, now it doesn’t look like there will be a weight limit. Hopefully, we are likely a few weeks away from seeing the new rule book.

It’s time to face it, optics will be allowed in Service Rifle matches next year.

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Read CMP’s statement here:

https://thecmp.org/2016-cmp-rifle-and-pistol-rule-changes/

Note that Mark has stated that the weight limit for optic equipped rifles is no longer going be included.



Take a deep breath, it’s ok.

First things first: “why in the heck would they do that!”

My understanding is that it is driven by the military teams.  The logic seems to be that deployed Soldiers and Marines do not use iron sights.

Josh from CBI at Twentynine Palms with his ACOG equipped M16A4

The A2 has dominated the firing line at Camp Perry for almost 20 years. First accepted in 1986, the A2 is fast becoming  an “old gun” at this point. If the question is “should” CMP allow optics, well, the times are changing. From Springfields to Garands to M14s to A2s, the service rifle community has always adapted. The game is changing with the times; the line might look different but it will still be the game we love.

The skills that made a good marksmen in 1907 with a Springfield and a Campaign Hat will make a good marksmen in 2016 with a optic equipped  A4. 

It’s yet to be seen what scopes will do to scores. Things could be about the same, irons could continued to reign supreme, or scopes could break all the records. It took several years for black rifles to take hold in the XTC world. Personally I think we will see the same thing by the time the NTI comes around with a mix of irons and scopes making the cut.

My Service Rifle 2016

I can’t tell you what the right choice is. But  since I can’t change the rules I’m going to embrace them.

The equipment related rule changes that will matter most to Service Rifle shooters are optics and collapsible stocks.

Sadly as far as for the optics, it’s not as easy as just ordering a 4.5 power scope and strapping it on with your favorite tactical brand of scope mounts. Service Rifle is shot “across the course” (XTC) at 200, 300 and 600 yards. With the exception of some very high dollar scopes most 4 powers scopes have a fixed parallax which poses a challenge. 

After Camp Perry I ordered an A4 flattop upper with a MK7 rail, from White Oak Armament in anticipation of the rule change, and I needed a New Jersey legal upper if I wanted to get serious about EIC matches. I really like this upper it served me well in the late season and now is making it easy to adapt to the new rules.

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Leupold VX-R 1.25-4

I ordered a custom VX-R 1.25-4 from Leupold with the parallax set at 200 yards, this being the shortest distance shot in XTC matches. The logic being that 200 yard parallax is fairly close to infinity so the error at 600 will be minimal compared to the error a user will experience shooting a shorter distance than the scopes’ parallax.

I also selected Leupold’s M1 turrets, I picked these over the CDS turrets as they seemed easier to read and I might be more likely to notice if I missed a rotation of elevation when I moved back to 600, like I did in Maryland.

For the reticle, I went with the SPR-G which is the SPR with the green dot instead of red dot. I’m color blind so seeing red on black is a challenge for me. The SPR has a large circle and hash marks. The hash marks were my primary reason for selecting this reticle.  I also like the idea of the large circle – it might come in handy when trying to square up the target.
 SPR-G at 100 on a SR-1
For a mount I went with a DNZ “freedom reaper” one piece mount. The magic numbers for shooting prone with this scope  seem to be 1.38 or less tall  with a 3 inch over hang. Sadly there are not a lot of options for those numbers. I know some other folks are going with a riser with low rings mounted to that. I’ve had a DNZ mount on my Tikka T3 for many years and it never left me down so I will give it a shot on my service rifle.

Basics to look for in a Service Rifle Scope:

  • 200 or 300 yard parallax
  • Repeatable elevation and windage adjustments
  • 1.38″ or less height over bore mount
  • 3″ cantilever mount.

Magpul UBR Stock 

 

The new rules include language around collapsible stocks now being legal. Frankly this one might be worth waiting to see the rule book on as it not clear if “any” collapsible stock will cut it. I happened to have an extra UBR so I installed one on my Service Rifle to kick around.  As far as stocks go this one is one of the best out there. For one, it’s built like a tank, but more importantly it allows the user to adjust the length of pull while maintaining a constant cheek weld.

A full range report will follow as soon as I can stretch its legs a little. I only have a few rounds down range with the scope mounted just getting a rough 100 yard zero due to the recent weather. My initial impression is that shooting with a scope is going to at the very least be more comfortable than irons.

All in it’s around a $800 cost to upgrade your A4 to be optic equipped, more if you have an A2. Make that $1100 if you want a UBR as well.

If you are new shooter please do not be intimidated by all of this. Get a A4 with a removable carry handle or even an A2 irons will still get the job done.

July 2015 Service Rifle and Garand Matches at KFGA

Freshly back from Camp Perry, I headed out to my local club for High Power and a couple of Garand matches.

High Power started off poorly. I was on the end position which had a slightly obstructed view of the target and ended up dropping a miss early in off hand. Unfortunately, the rest of the match didn’t go much better. I seemed to be off in my windage and didn’t correct for it in time. The excuse I’m going with it’s difficult to see the 22 cal holes with the dark range conditions.

I was back at it Sunday with the Garand. It was seasonally hot and sunny. I had signed up for two matches. I started out strong with the first match beating my personal best in slow prone with a 99! KFGA tends to be bight and sunny on the line and dark down range so typically my prone scores end up a little lower here, compared to other places, perhaps I have over come that, or the light was better this month. 

Rapid prone came out well and, dispite some slop in off hand, I was able to tie my personal best with the Garand! 

  

For the second match, I was hoping to shoot my carbine, but I forgot my magizines and wasn’t able to scrounge up any from the other shooters. This turned out to be for the best, as I was able to top my personal best with the Garand by 6 points for a 279! I wasn’t quite able to top my performance in the prone stages in the first match but I still did well.

In off-hand, I really took my time with each shot and ran out the clock. I told myself not to break the shot untill it looked like it was going to be in the black, and it worked out for me. I broke 90% in off hand which is good for me.
  

In this second match, I was able to keep all but 3 rounds in the black, two eights in rapid, and one in off hand. What that tells me is that working on taking my time on each shot, getting the right sight picture every time and focusing hard on the front sight even in off-hand has been helping. 

On the other hand, it tells me is I need to focus on applying these same fundamentals to the rapid strings.  Looking back at my numbers I swing high and low in the rapid stages acoss platforms. I need to find a sweet spot between taking my time with each shot and not saving rounds, especially with bolt guns.  

 It was a great weekend, especially with the Garand. Now that I’ve shot within a handfull of points of the gold medal cut, I’d like to see if I can bring one home from either the Western Games this fall or the Eastern Games in the spring.

2015 National Matches at Camp Perry

This year I signed up for as many matches at Camp Perry as I could squeeze on the calendar. It was a long eight days of shooting with eight different events all the way from Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) through Games Weekend, Vintage Sniper, Garand, Springfield, Vintage Military, and  Carbine wrapping up with the big Black Rifle matches: the NTI and P100. I had a great time, shot well in several events, and took some lumps in others.

SAFS

SAFS

Small Arms Firing School

This was my second trip to SAFS. I had learned a lot last year which I had been applying throughout the year and I was determined get some good coaching and to try and get those 4 “intro points” this year.

I signed up for the “basic” course again. The difference between basic and advanced being that the basic group gets a couple of hours of dry firing based instruction while the advanced group stays in the AC for additional classroom instruction. Knowing how I learn I figured the dry fire portion of the basic class would be of the most benefit to me.

My firing points coach was Sgt Manning from the Army Reserve Marksmanship Team. He gave me some great advice and I couldn’t have asked for a better coach. I picked up some good tips on the sitting position and off hand and even slinging up. For the latter, I had been stubbornly putting my sling above the pad on my jacket. Letting it a little lower on the pad does help keep the pulse down in the front sight.

The day of the SAFS M16 EIC match it was sunny and beautiful. Mid to high 70’s lighting was perfect, and the humidity stayed low at least for the first two relays. I was on relay two; the fella I had been squad-ed with the past couple days set the bar pretty high in the first relay so the pressure was on.

I was able to clean slow prone, as I had been hoping  to, so I could bank up some points for the other stages. Don’t give me too much credit it was a SR target at 200 as opposed to a reduced MR target so the 10 ring is fairly attainable.  I remembered to take my time in rapid prone and shot a 99 with a nice tight group.

I must have gotten a little cocky by rapid sitting. I didn’t feel as stable as I wanted and rushed too much, dropping some 7 and 8s. It hurt a little to post an 86, especially knowing I’ve shot as high as 99 a few times in sitting…. Plus, I was saving that 80 something for off-hand.

Sgt. Manning, my coach, knew  I was grumpy about posting that score and gave me a little pep talk. “Those shots are gone” a phrase that I have been repeating to myself ever since. I’ve heard plenty times to let go of bad shots and that only the next shot counts, but apparently it took that phrasing for it to finally click for me.

Rarely have I been able to recover from a bad string by making it up in off hand (ie The D-Day match at Talladega) however I’m happy to report I was able to walk it home shooting on two legs and made the cut for my first leg points. I ended up at number 14! Of course I still ask myself where I would have finished if I didn’t bumble sitting.

See CBI’s write up of SAFS with me by clicking here.

Vintage Sniper

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My shooting partner arrived at Perry with his original A4 to get the GTB shooting team back together in time for the Vintage Sniper Match. I had never shot a match in this format and frankly, neither of us had a great grasp on how to read wind. We had spent a fair amount of time worrying, strategizing, and throwing rounds down range. So, at least we had a 300 and 600 yard zero.

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We had some trouble getting the seventy plus year old scope adjust elevation and the it was getting a bit stressful in the last few minutes of the sighting period. However, in the end we were able to squeak by the bronze line. Which was a nice surprise!

CBI has a nice write up on the course of fire and last years Vintage Sniper Match Click here to read it

Sunrise at Camp Perry

Sunrise at Camp Perry

National Garand Match

The Garand Match was what I was hoping to do well in. Things were going well in the beginning, four tens in a row. I was on fire, well, then I burnt the house down. I was picturing that fifth ten coming up… waited…. waited… and my scorer calls for a mark. Yep, I cross-fired like a rookie. It got under my skin and I rounded it out with nines. Due to a goof up with CMP’s system my shooting buddy was down at Viale shooting the Garand match, and I didn’t want to have to explain why I didn’t make the cut. After a little pep talk from my scorer (a friend  from my club) who told me I was doing fine just “Don’t F up” again, I pushed hard to make that bronze cut.

I may have only made the cut by a point, and have posted better scores in the past but it felt great to take home a medal by a hair after bumbling slow prone. This was my 4th Garand Match at Perry and it had been a goal of mine to take home a medal from this match. I’m happy to have finally made it. Maybe next year I can “not F up” and bring home one of a different color.

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National Springfield Match

This is the first year I have had a Springfield to shoot in this match. I had pieced together a 03A3 from parts and CBI barrel. This rifle had performed well for me at a local match and at the range so I was excited to try her out at Perry. Rapid prone has been my nemesis with the bolt guns,  HXP and my handloads have been giving me some trouble on primary extraction, so I picked up a couple of boxes of Creedmoor sports new match ammo. That stuff proved to be just the ticket for smooth and accurate rapid fire with my bolt guns. I was able to take home a Silver in the Springfield match posting what, at the time, was my personal best across wood guns!

03A3

03A3

National Vintage Military Match.

The old 1917 and I have never gotten along very well, this blog is full of posts about some terrible scores I’ve posted with this rifle. Only once in a practice session did I shoot it over the medal cut and that was probably exceeding the 80 seconds for  rapid. However thanks to a great slow prone stage, a little luck, and perhaps all the trigger time I was able to wrap up “games weekend” with a bronze with the 1917!

M1 Carbine Match.

This little gun killed my streak. Well to be fair it wasn’t all the gun. I wasn’t familiar with the course of fire which put me out of my comfort zone. All stages are fired from a magazine, “slow” prone is 10 rounds in 5 minutes and off hand is 10 rounds in 10. The latter I missed during the range commands and had assumed it was five as well. That said, I still wouldn’t have made the cut even if I ended with a great off hand. This match is a walk and paste with no pit duty, so it makes for a nice easy day and a welcome break between the games events and the NTI/P100.

 

M1 Carbine Match

M1 Carbine Match

I clearly need to go back to the lab on this gun and get some trigger time. However, and I hate to type this, but it might not be worth it to put the time in on the carbine.

The Board Matches: NTI and P100

The National Trophy Individual Match (NTI), the Presidents 100 (P100) and the various team matches are the “serious matches” at Perry.  I signed up for the NTI and the P100 which was a first for me. Prior to this I had never shot in a match with a true 600 yard stage. Oh boy, did I learn a few things.

I had a bumpy start to the NTI. The wind is notorious at Perry and short of the sniper match a couple of days before I had no experience reading the wind. So, after a bad wind call and swaying too much in off hand I started off the NTI with a miss. I kept it mostly in the black after that. For the P100 I did much better in off hand.

I apparently over corrected my wind for sitting during the NTI and was about a minute left. In rapid prone I was low about a minute, but otherwise had a nice group. I expected some differences  with my zeros at Perry so chalk it up as learning.

 

Rapid Sitting

Rapid Sitting

Back to the 600 yard line. As I mentioned earlier, the NTI was my first time the at 600 in competition. In the reduced matches I am pretty confident on my belly, but the wind and distance is certainly humbling. The 20 rounds of the NTI were definitely learning experiences. I tried to take what I learned in the NTI and use it in the P100 where, after losing some points on my first shot due to a bad initial wind call, I did much better.

The 600 yard line on Rodriguez

The 600 yard line on Rodriguez

All said it was a great week. I made the SAFS points and brought home my first medals from Camp Perry. I learned a lot of lessons (some the hard way) and had a great time. After this trip to Perry I am inspired to start trying to chase some EIC points. I plan to start focusing on EIC matches and getting a bit more serious about the black rifle.

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How To Use a 1907 Sling

A sling is more than just a strap to carry the rifle. Properly using a sling can provide a sturdy shooting platform. 

I prefer a Ron Brown 1907 sling. While slower to sling up, I feel more stable with a 1907 over a web sling. 

The sling pictures is a John Weller 1907 I picked up at Camp Perry a couple years ago. Sadly John passed away since then and these slings are no longer made. Ron Brown slings, sold by Creedmoor sports is a good alternative. Ron Brown Slings are thicker and more sturdy than many other slings. 

First you will need to have your 1907 installed correctly. CMP has a detailed write up on this below that can help get you started. However, they do it wrong. Put the frogs facing in towards the rifle. As you’ll see below this will put the frog on the top when slinging up which is easier to manage and less likly to slip.

http://thecmp.org/training-tech/armorers-corner/1907-sling-installation/

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Once the sling is set up correctly remove the frog on the short strap (aka tail) of the sling from the looped long strap. Then pull it free from the rear sling swivel.

Adjust the sling so there is a large enough loop to fit your arm in. Pull the upper keeper away from the frog so that it is easier to adjust.

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Turn the loop clockwise so that the loop faces you. The frog should be facing more or less to the left or away from the rifle. Be careful not to do this step twice in haste and get the sling twisted.

 

Then stick your support arm through the loop.

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Push the sling up your arm as far as it will go. There is some amount personal preference here. The key is to do it the same every time. I use the pad on my jacket as a reference point.

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Once you have the sling all the way up draw it as tight as you can. I do this by pulling on the lower half of the loop with my left hand and holding the upper half of the loop with my right hand.

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Once the sling is nice and tight, slide the upper keeper all the way down to the frog which will lock it all together.

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Then you are ready to  go. Place your support hand over the sling and grip the stock.

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You will need to determine what the best length and support hand position Is for you. Rig up, get into position and dry fire a few times until you feel comfortable.

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My left handed wife informs me I should add that this depicts a right handed shooter.

 

 

Shoot by wire?

Over at guns.com they ran a story about a new digital trigger prototype. There is not a lot of info on how it works other than “an electronic signal releases the trigger.” From watching the video below I’d speculate it’s activated when the trigger which just pivots on the trigger pin and spring hits the little blue button behind the trigger.

This certainly won’t be service rifle legal in the foreseeable future. Electronic triggers are not uncommon in the paintball/airsoft world it will be interesting to see if they catch on outside of a novelty . What do you think?

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Video linked from Guns.com you tube channel