Wednesday, May 30, 2012

matches and equipment failure

Since I've started shooting in matches, I've learned one thing.
The crucible of competition tests not only the competitor, but the gear.
You can shoot for a month of Sundays, practicing your bullseye poppin' prowess at the range. Equipment won't be stressed the same as it will be in even the most casual match.

I shot fairly well last week.
Perfect score would be 300-30X. I shot 278-5X. Nowhere near perfect, but my best yet.

Too many steenkin' 8's!
 The next day, I was wrapping up the chore of cleanup, when I noticed my scope was ummm slightly loose. Not the whole scope, just the ocular bell. It wobbled around, maybe an eighth inch of free play. This is not good. for. accurate. shooting.
I've liked this scope. It was offered in the market for a limited time by Springfield Armory. It featured 4-14x power plus an interior bubble level. The reticle used a range finding system that actually made sense to me and seemed to work.

built-in level at bottom, ranging system that worked.

Seems like there were some quality control issues. SA only sold 'em for a couple years. For instance, my scope adjustment clicks are getting soft. Instead of a precise "click", the adjustment feels more like ... "cli ...ummm ... uh ... k". Like, somewhere in the mechanics are soft plastic gears, whose teeth are rounding off. 

So I tried tightening thing up. Which, being the totally unqualified, untrained optical equipment fumbler, made thing worse. Undeterred, I continued my application of uneducated adjustments and proceeded to make things worser. At one point I had the ocular bell entirely off, with the interior level assembly torqued into the 9:00 position on what remained of the mounted scope. As it ended up, I've now got a variable power scope that's no longer variable power. What cheeses me off is that this scope hasn't seen rough field use or a high round count. While it wasn't the most expensive piece of glass, it wasn't a cheap, under $100, scope either.
My plan is to head to the range early. Take the offending equipment to the 100 yard range. I'll try and "shoot the box".

Hoppes S10; Perfect target for a scope workout

If that isn't working, I'll swap out the scope.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A noobs guide to an F class match

Want to try some long range shooting? Have a rifle in .223? Maybe some variation of .30 caliber? Scope? Bipod or sandbags? Then you've already got almost everything you need for this league.

The second season of ISRA F-Class Shooting is off to a fine start.
Wednesday held a threat of rain almost all the way up to the 5:30 pm deadline for live fire.
Shortly before the season kick off, the wind settled down, the sky cleared, and the range gods smiled upon us.

As the group of shooters assembled, ISRA staff volunteers Mike and Pat shuffled paperwork, collected cash and squared away the logistics.

Pat weighs in the rifles
As part of the classification process, rifles are weighed. My AR HBAR with bipod and scope came in at 10.14 lbs. That puts me in the Target Rifle class with room to spare, the upper limit being 8.25 kg/18.18 lbs. Target class is also limited to .223/5.56x45 or 7.62x51 calibers, with an unmodified chamber ... I'm good there as well.

In short order, we were divvied up, 1st relay to the firing line, 2nd relay to the pits. Thankful to be on the 1st relay, I hustled to the firing line to begin setting up. You'll notice my set up in the foreground. Everyone uses a mat. The sod was fairly wet since the day before held an all day soaking rain. Shooters seemed evenly split between Target Class using bipod and a rear rest and the heavier Open class that can use front and rear rests.

Think we had a total of 20 shooters

Since I had some time to spare, I snapped this pic for ya'll that might be wondering what an eighteen inch bullseye looks like from 300 yards ...

Target #4 seen at 14x power magnification ... should be easy, right?

As the 5 minute prep time concludes, all the targets drop to half mast. The Line Boss calls out the commands;
  1. The pits are ready, standby on the line.
  2. Ready on the right?
  3. Ready on the left?
  4. All ready on the firing line ... for the second annual season of ISRA F Class matches ...
  5. You may commence firing when your targets appear.
The targets rise to the full up position. The first string of fire is an 18 minute time block, course of fire is 2 sighters and 15 shots for score.  I notice that my rifle is the first to bark. Both sighters score low 8's, about 5:00 o'clock. I adjust my scope up 2 cliks, left 2 cliks. At 1/4 moa per click, that should be... ahhh ... up and left!  At that point I begin shooting for score.
My first shot scores another 8. Then I grab a string of 9's and a 10. I settle into a rhythm of chasing the spotter disk around the X ring. Just as I'm about to load my last round, the Line Boss bellows Cease Fire!
I run out of time and drop my last shot! (need a timer!)
I squander our 5 minute break. The second string of fire proceeds much as the first. The X ring on my target survived my best efforts to pierce it.
As I'm packing up to clear the line, I notice that my bipod has loosened to point of being ready to fall off. Note to self; spend the break between strings of fire to double check equipment!

Then we switched relays. It was our turn in the pits.
There's only one thing to remember in the pit. Service your target.
That primarily means, "watch the berm". Behind your target is the earthen berm. you'll notice a shot out portion. Watch for the "dirt splash" when a round impacts.
That's your clue that your target has a new hole in it and needs the spotter moved, maybe the scoring disc moved and the old bullet hole patched. If you miss that splash, cuz you're fiddling with pasters, or jawboning, that leaves your shooter waiting on the line, wondering whats going on. He's on the clock. Waiting for you. So, be attentive. Watch the berm!

When all the shooting is done, everybody meets in the pit area. We double check and sign scorecards.
Match directors record scores. Everybody compares notes of the days festivities. Excuses are made and high scorers are ribbed.

I'll conclude with sending a thank you down range aimed at the guys who've put together this league and are working hard to welcome us newbies. FYI; These matches are open to the public also. If you want to give it a try, come on out to the range.

See ya on the firing line.