Quick AAR: First Across The Course Match With Optics

  Took my shiny new, optics equipped service rifle down to Quantico for fleet week to give it a work out.

Some quick observations. I am using the VXR 1-4 with a SPR-G reticle.

1. My zeros were 100% and my windage changes went where I expected.

2. The back berm is where it mattered the most. Today was just me vs the wind. As opposed to me vs my eyes. When the math was right the shot went where it should. Best of all after the string my eyes didn’t hurt.

2. I like the dot. There has been a lot of speculation on the right reticle. At least for me it doesn’t seem to matter. I put the green dot in the middle of the black dot and squeaze.

3. Hold off. There was some crazy shifting wind at 600 today. I was able to hold off when I could see the conditions changing.  In theory this can be done with irons but it seemed much simpler to me with optics. With the light conditions I could just make out some of the scoring rings and was able to slice up the black for windage in a pinch.

4. Seeing the spotter. This one is minor but I’ve been using the rifle scope to see my last shot instead of my Konus. Shoot #1 > load > see shot #1 > make needed changes >take shot #2 > plot shot #1. While a little goofy at first this way, I am able to use the time the target is down to plot my shot in my score book. 

Bottom line: I like it. For me it seems to make a difference and be worth any trade offs at least for now. I posted a 458/500 which is my best EIC so far, even with a Hail Mary in sitting.

Let’s see what I say after tomorrow’s match  as they are calling for rain! 

MD State Championship and EIC at Fort Hill

To tack on one last EIC match for the season I headed to Fort Hill Rifle and Pistol which is tucked  the hills of western Maryland for the MD state Championship on Saturday and an EIC match on Sunday. Ft Hill is really a great club. Not a huge range but its run by a very dedicated group of folks who really made the match run smoothly.

600 yard line

600 yard line

MD State Championship

The MD state championship was a CMP 800 Agg. It was cool and overcast most of the day. which made for a nice day of shooting.

I had an up and down match but all in all it had some bright spots. Off hand started out about average in the first string, then I finished up with a bang and shot my best ever off-hand  string a 96-2 . That’s good news the way I see it as now I know i “can” shoot well in off-hand I need to just not screw up so much.

DCIM128GOPROShow me your warface! 

Sitting was a hot mess, rushed the first string after bumbling the load.  The second string went better but still a little weak. During the off-season I am going to spend some time practicing getting into position and firing with my 22 upper, my club as a nice warm,  indoor 22 range that would be perfect for this.

Rapid prone had been causing me some trouble in the past few XTC matches. I was able to get it together this time and post a reasonable score. Big surprise the key is slowing down.

Back to 600 I added another layer of bad shooting followed by one of great shooting. I shot my lowest ever slow prone in the first string. Dropping 5s, and 7s all over the place. Then, something clicked and I shot my best ever slow prone at 600. As in off-hand from this match I’ll take this as progress as it just means I have a higher potential for improvement now.

Fort Hill EIC Match.

Pre dawn I jumped back in the truck and crossed the MD line to Fort Hill’s Warrior Mountain Range for a day of shooting. I was hoping to take the best of what I did the day before and reproduce the best strings. Well, things didn’t quite go as planned. The

Off Hand started out good and ended good but I popped a 5 in the middle of the string, I knew it was bad when it left, I wasn’t ready and squeezed it anyway. Frankly i am lucky i caught that 5 ring.  That said the rest of the string was good. Still feeling ok about off-hand.

She ain't got no alibi She ain’t got no alibi

Well, In sitting I finally was that guy, I called an alibi. First round wouldn’t feed and while tried my best to troubleshoot it the clock ran too long. After trying to replicate the issue at home with some dummy rounds I think the culprit was as simple as i didn’t seat the mag all the way. Either way I pulled that mag from rotation.

Rapid prone proved to be a bright spot a with a nice and neat 1/4/5. if I work on my pace a bit I am sure I can tighten that up.


Before I racked my rifle at the 300 yard line I cranked on the elevation, I needed to head back to 600,  Or so I thought. Took my time squaring up the first shot, squared trigger, bam, right in the dirt. Check my sight everything seemed fine, I added 5 clicks, maybe the light is different, maybe it was a bad round. Second one, perfect 6:00 right below the 5 ring.

Took the rifle out of my shoulder and cranked the elevation all the way down, at one rotation it bottomed out. I had put 38 clicks on instead of 63. Well there went trying to make the cut for a silver achievement award.  I went on to have a pretty good string, but there was no coming back from those two blanks.  My rear sight now has a nice index mark so at a glance I can see if I am at the right elevation for 600.

In the end I made some stupid mistakes this weekend but I’ll take that as progress. I’m feeling more confident off-hand and at 600 so I’ll I need to do is not F up. Easy right?



Magpul M3 Sand PMAGs: Beach Tactics Testing

NOTE: Tactical words bolded for high speed low drag reading.

On a recent surf fishing trip, I brought along one of Magpul’s new sand color PMAGs. I ran this peice of kit through rigorous high speed low drag trials to see if it is up to the tactical demands of a surf fishing operator.Initial testing indicates that these PMAGs are less noticeable on the sand than black PMAGs 40s. 

Scientific trials were conducted by placing a black PMAG 40 and a Sand PMAG 30 near the edge of the surf where beachgoers were likely to walk. 

Observations indicated that subjects (n=1) were 100% more likely to trip over the sand colored Pmag. Therefore it is assumed that sand colored PMAG are 100% less visible in a beach environment. 

Subject was interviewed after the experiment and was quoted as saying “I hope you got that because I’m not doing it again” 
Where did my AR pistol go?

Oh there it is.




Road Trip to the 2015 CMP Eastern Games

The Garand Thumb Blog Shooting Team loaded a truck full of M1 Garands and 30-06 and hauled down to the CMP Eastern Games  at Camp Butner, NC.

We shot three Garand Matches over the weekend, two on Saturday back to back, and one on Sunday . The conditions were absolutely perfect,  bright and sunny in the low 70’s We could not have asked for better weather.

The three of us did very well. I brought a home my first ever medals: a bronze and a silver! My shooting partner earned two bronze medals and a sliver while, the new shooter we brought with us significantly improved his scores.


As far as my performance, I was able to pull off a 98/1 in slow prone in my second match, Garand Reentry, which made me very happy! I struggled with off hand this weekend to the point that even after that 98/1, my off hand fell apart and put me dangerously close to being out of contention.  In the end, I had a great weekend beating my personal best twice and brought home two medals, just  missing a third by 3 points.

I want to give some credit to the new shooter that came with us. He shot three matches in a row and consistently shot better each time. On Saturday he picked up a new Service Grade Garand that he had bought from the CMP trailer. After a brief check of the vital parts in the hotel room and a guess at the elevation, he used his 5 sighters to zero his rifle. He then went on to post his best score yet! We were quite proud of him in the pits for not having any misses in rapid prone, which had made working in the pits on his firing point last weekend a little scary .


CMP hosts a “Competitor Only Sales Event” on the Friday of check in. I had read reports on the CMP forum of some “surprises”  over the past few years and was excited to see what they had for us. While there were no Carbines, Bolts, or Winchesters, CMP brought a nice selection of service grades.


There were indeed some surprises among the service grades. There were at least five nice six- digit Springfields. The three of us each took one home. One is a pre-war, mine is a December 1941, and the third an October 1942 with a original barrel and a lead dipped heal. The first two are 1960’s Springfield Rebuilds with nice shooter barrels.


These matches were a ton of fun, the whole event had a nice laid back atmosphere and the Camp Butner Range was great to shoot at. Being able to park so close made everything a little easier and I really liked the switch operated pits. Beats the upper body work out the target carriers  at Camp Perry give you, especially on back to back matches.


If you are can make it next year for sure take a trip to Camp Butner it is well worth the trip and a great way to kick off the shooting season!

Pictures  from the weekend below.
















Harpers Ferry National Armory: the other Springfield.

In 1794 George Washington commissioned two national armories to supply weapons for the new nation. The Springfield Armory in the north is known for making the M1 garand, 1903, Trapdoor, and many other great rifles. It’s partner tucked in the Virginia (now WV) mountains, was the Harpers Ferry National Armory.

Sadly you will find no “Harpers Ferry M1 Garand” here as the armory did not survive the Civil War. Union troops burnt it and it’s 15,000 some rifles early in the war after being surrounded by Confederate Troops.

It was not rebuilt after the war and there isn’t much left of the armory. The only standing building is the firehouse known as “John Brown’s Fort”. The site of the armory is mostly covered by a now abandoned railroad embankment. NPS marked off the outline of where some of the original buildings were.


The National Park is mostly centered on the John Brown story. However there are some nice displays of the weapons made there and the machinery used at the time.

1805 Harpers Ferry Pistols (mislabeled by NPS as 1806 pistols, the 1906 stamp represents the year it was made not the model)


A display of the rifles/muskets made in Harpers Ferry

A Harpers Ferry 1842 dated 1852 on display at the Old Courthouse Museum in nearby Winchester, VA


Some examples of equipment used in gun making at Harpers Ferry, inexplicably surrounded by various saddles and tack.



The area is beautiful if you like to hike. Harpers Ferry is considered the half-way point on the Appalachian Trail so there are 1100 miles of trail either direction in addition to several trails in the park itself.



Read about my trip to Springfield Armory here