Konrad's journal of Highpower Rifle Competition

"Mental Focus. Not Equipment Hocus Pocus."


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The 2005 Highpower Season

The Scores

Date Location Offhand Sitting Rapid Prone Slow Prone Aggregate
4/10/05 Bonfield 96-1 99-5 99-6 196-7 490-19 98.0%
4/17/05 Bonfield 97-3 100-4 97-2 200-8 494-17 98.8%
4/30/05 Bonfield 194-4 199-9 194-7 198-12 785-32 98.1%
5/1/05 Bonfield 97-2 98-3 100-5 196-8 491-18 98.2%
5/14/05 Milan 193-8 200-10 198-7 196-4 787-29 98.4%
5/26/05 Racine 95-1 96-6 96-1 189-5 476-13 95.2%
5/28/05 Lodi 95-2 99-4 100-2 197-8 491-16 98.2%
5/29/05 Lodi 187-0 200-8 198-7 391-16 976-31 97.6%
6/2/05 Racine 97-1 100-7 99-5 199-8 495-21 99.0%
6/4/05 Milan 192-6 199-10 198-5 196-5 785-26 98.1%
6/9/05 Racine 94-0 100-3 96-0 191-3 481-6 96.2%
6/12/04 Lodi 187-4 199-9 198-9 197-6 781-28 97.6%
6/16/05 Racine 92-2 100-5 100-5 199-8 491-20 98.2%
6/23/05 Racine 93-2 100-5 98-2 194-9 485-18 97.0%
6/30/05 Racine 88-3 96-3 94-3 194-3 472-12 94.4%
7/7/05 Racine 96-4 89-5 100-3 197-10 482-22 96.4%
7/9/05 Racine 188-3 199-12 197-6 199-6 783-27 97.9%
7/10/05 Racine 93-3 96-0 99-5 196-8 482-16 96.4%
7/14/05 Racine 92-0 100-1 98-6 196-3 486-10 97.2%
716/05 Van Meter 93-3 100-4 100-7 189-7 482-21 96.4%
7/16/05 Van Meter 93-3 99-3 99-4 196-7 487-17 97.4%
7/17/05 Van Meter 192-6 199-10 200-11 197-6 788-33 98.5%
7/21/05 Racine 94-1 99-3 100-3 195-4 488-11 97.6%
7/23/05 Lodi 194-6 200-12 198-3 194-8 786-29 98.3%
8/2/05 Camp Perry 96-1 - 100-6 97-3 293-10 97.7%
8/3/05 Camp Perry 96-4 100-8 100-4 198-11 494-27 98.8%
8/5/05 Camp Perry 87-0 99-2 100-6 193-4 479-12 95.8%
8/7/05 Camp Perry 97-3 99-4 99-3 196-8 491-18 98.2%
8/9/05 Camp Perry 192-5 200-11 200-7 197-7 789-30 98.6%
8/10/05 Camp Perry 191-3 194-12 198-7 185-7 768-29 96.0%
8/11/05 Camp Perry 183-0 199-10 197-4 199-14 778-28 97.3%
8/25/05 Racine 94-2 100-4 93-0 197-6 484-12 96.8%
9/1/05 Racine 89-0 100-2 96-5 185-3 470-10 94.0%
9/3/05 Milan 193-6 197-4 197-4 199-12 786-26 98.3%
9/4/05 Milan 194-4 200-13 198-9 197-9 789-35 98.6%
9/10/05 Bonfield 190-4 200-10 199-11 198-9 787-34 98.4%
9/11/05 Bonfield 98-2 100-4 95-0 199-10 492-16 98.4%
9/24/05 Bonfield 194-7 200-9 198-7 199-11 791-34 98.9%
10/2/05 Bonfield 190-1 200-13 199-6 197-8 786-28 98.3%

 

The Stories

Another season has arrived. The Anshutz gets put away and I get to relearn a 4 1/2 pound trigger. I've been looking at what I need to improve and have come up with a semi-organized plan.

bullet

At the top of the list is group size and consistent location in 300 rapid. This has always been my Achilles heel but I have made a position modification to try to get my body more in line behind the rifle. This should allow me to be more resistant to recoil. bullet

My sitting performance dropped off last year from 2003. In analyzing why I keep coming back to pulse. When I'm bouncing around I tend to snatch at the trigger and I get one or two nines. Repeated cleans is what I'm after. My new position brings my legs out forward so I don't feel so constricted. bullet

Comparing scores from the 2004 Nationals shows that I really fell flat in offhand compared to the civilian service rifle shooters that finished ahead of me. I need to elevate the rifle to bring it up to my face but I still need to get control over it using my forward hand. 

April 10

The first order of business is to zero my re-barreled upper. I was tempted to shoot this first match with my upper from last year but I have to get zeros some time. My standing hold was much worse than I expected. I was breaking shots when I saw 10s but the movement really scared me. For sitting I had a lot of movement when I first sat down then I settled in. I need to work on how to best get into position when I first sit down. Rapid prone was a good group but placed a bit low. I tried to have the same in-line position for slow prone as I do for rapid prone. I don't think this allowed me to get comfortable. I shot fast because I'm leaving the rifle in my shoulder but I still shot four nines. Even though I felt like I didn't perform well, I still walked away with some rough zeros.

Offhand: 96-1

Sitting: 99-5

Rapid Prone: 99-6

Slow Prone: 196-7

Aggregate: 490-19

 

April 17

This was one fantastic day to shoot with clear skies and warm temperatures. I modified my standing from last week to get my torso away from the target a little. This allowed my left hip to jut toward the target and gave me a little shelf to put my left elbow on. This steadied the hold and gave me more time to break a good shot. Still, when the shot didn't look good within a fair amount of time, I breathed and started over. My sitting zero needed a couple of clicks left but the string felt better the more I shot. After the first sighter in rapid prone I questioned the tentative zero that I got last week and came down a couple of clicks. In conjunction I was holding a little lower than normal and had three shots go out the bottom. I think I'll go back to the elevation zero from last week. The in-line position that I used for slow prone last week didn't feel comfortable so I went back to the more flat one from last year. It was more relaxed and I just kept getting good front sight focus and breaking the shots quickly.

Offhand: 97-3

Sitting: 100-4

Rapid Prone: 97-2

Slow Prone: 200-8

Aggregate: 494-17

 

April 30

Just a little cool today with overcast skies but we were still dry by the end of the day. My offhand settled in after I had a few shots downrange. My forward arm was well supported by my torso and it felt steady. The lost points came on shots where my wobble would settle and I wanted to break the shot but my pulling of the trigger also moved the whole rifle. Either that or I would squeeze the trigger as the wobble was moving out to it's extreme. My second string of sitting was a much better group because I settled lower in my position. This felt like I was cradled and steadier. On my first string of rapid prone I pulled the trigger all the way through the first stage and into the second stage. The rifle went off when it was pointed at the six ring. I came back with a 7x clean on the second. NPA cost me two points in slow prone and I felt like I was trying to pull the rifle to the left.

Offhand: 194-4

Sitting: 199-9

Rapid Prone: 194-7

Slow Prone: 198-12

Aggregate: 785-32

 

May 1

Temperatures in the low 50s, overcast skies, and a gusting breeze made shooting an un-pleasant experience. I had the same problem today in standing as yesterday. On some shots the shot would go as my wobble started to get bigger. The key seems to be getting the sights to the target without the time waste of drifting over. Sitting just seemed like a disaster with one shot being called high but there were two up there. I think I'm snatching at shots because I feel like I'm getting behind time-wise. For rapid prone I concentrated on focusing on the front sight and squeezing the trigger when everything was centered up. The breeze may have pulled a couple of shots out in slow prone but I certainly helped things along on the other two.

Offhand: 97-2

Sitting: 98-3

Rapid Prone: 100-5

Slow Prone: 196-8

Aggregate: 491-18

 

May 14

A day in May that feels like March. Still, we didn't get rained on so it worked out. I'm learning to be more aggressive on the trigger in standing. This gives me an instant trigger break without having to consciously force it to go. This was my third match this year where I dropped a point on my last shot offhand. These shots don't feel any different. Sitting felt tight with little pulse but I noticed that I spend quite a bit of time getting into position and then rushing through the string. For rapid prone, I concentrated on getting that front sight real clear and pulling back on the trigger and keeping it there. Then I would release and let the trigger reset. This made trigger actuation nice and smooth with no movement because of taking up the first stage. I shot some 90 grain Sierras for 600 and found them to shoot acceptably but I'm not sure if I would replace my 80s just yet.

Offhand: 193-8

Sitting: 200-10

Rapid Prone: 198-7

Slow Prone: 196-4

Aggregate: 787-29

 

May 26

I'm finally able to get away to shoot in the Thursday night league but it turns out to be a disaster. Standing went fine until half-way through the string when I started shooting nines. I pulled through the second stage on the trigger in sitting and shot a seven. Loose position for rapid prone caused a huge group to wind up on the left side. I couldn't even hold elevation during slow prone because of light problems. Boy, I'm glad that's over.

Offhand: 95-1

Sitting: 96-6

Rapid Prone: 96-1

Slow Prone: 189-5

Aggregate: 476-13

May 28

I was able to get on a pick-up team today. While it was overcast for most of the day we stayed dry. I just wasn't able to get comfortable in standing and get into my rhythm. The sitting group was kind of large and spread out over the whole ten ring with one shot just off the line. I was back into my usual rapid prone position and the shots fell right where they were supposed to be. I was finally able to hold decent elevation in slow prone today and I had a coach behind me to keep us centered up.

Offhand: 95-2

Sitting: 99-4

Rapid Prone: 100-2

Slow Prone: 197-8

Aggregate: 491-16

 

 

May 29

Today's Regional Championship ran backwards from 600 to 200. Both slow prones should have been pretty easy with readable conditions and good light. I gave up more points than I should have because of some sloppiness in sight picture. Rapid prone produced some decent groups with the first one being slightly high for two shots out. Standing was an exercise in patience because of the wind. There were plenty of lulls which gives me no excuse for the number bad shots I took. I had four nines in the first half and then proceeded to shoot 9 after 9. Nothing was settling and it seemed like the rifle went off by itself either on the left or the right. My sitting was better than I called since I thought that I broke some bad shots but it worked out all right. I even wound up winning the rapid-fire aggregate.

Offhand: 187-0

Sitting: 200-8

Rapid Prone: 198-7

Slow Prone: 195-9

Slow Prone: 195-7

Aggregate: 976-31

 

June 2

Tonight, I was on the second relay so I started at 600 and moved forward. My concentration in slow prone was on not only getting a good front sight but also on keeping that focus while the rifle was recoiling. This was my way of ensuring that I wasn't closing my eyes as I was squeezing the trigger. In rapid prone I focused on the top of the front sight but also on being aware of how I squeezed the trigger. Just squeeze, let it out just enough to reset, and squeeze again. Used the same focus on the sight and squeeze technique in sitting. By the time we got to standing the sun was going down but the targets were still fairly well lit. I concentrated on the front sight but I wish I knew how to get more aggressive on the trigger. It seems like I have to see the right sight picture and then I watch it for what seems like an eternity before I let the shot go.

Offhand: 97-1

Sitting: 100-7

Rapid Prone: 99-5

Slow Prone: 199-8

Aggregate: 495-21

 

June 4

We had to get past a rain delay in the morning but the rest of the day had great weather. I started off well in standing dropping two points in the first half. I was in a rhythm and the shots were going in well but then I started to break shots when the sights were pointed in the nine ring. My trigger finger got over-eager for one shot in sitting and I pulled the sights over as it went off for the one nine. I was quite perplexed by the fact that my 300 yard zero wound up being three clicks below my regular zero. This put two shots high in my first string as I hate to correct for elevation from my sighters. I came down for the second string and cleaned it. My biggest problem in slow prone was my inability to get a clear front sight. I could see the body of the post but the top edge kept getting blurry. I was fighting this but it took a while and I wound up shooting much slower than I normally do. Overall it was a mediocre performance with a bunch of little mistakes that made the difference.

Offhand: 192-6

Sitting: 199-10

Rapid Prone: 198-5

Slow Prone: 196-5

Aggregate: 785-26

 

June 9

I was on the second relay again tonight but the conditions were not so favorable. We had quite a bit of overcast which really darkened the targets. When I got into position my firing point had a high spot that was right under my chest. This caused my supporting elbow to feel like it was very low and consequently I was craning my neck down to meet the rifle. Although I knew I shouldn't have shot like this, I did so anyway. The bad position wasn't letting me get comfortable and so I was breaking sloppy shots. This combined with the dark targets really played havoc with my elevation. For rapid prone my group was decent enough but it was misplaced. I'm still messing with my zero for this event. Sitting felt fine but I still had a low x-count. I was doing fine for about half the string in standing but then I broke my concentration and forgot my sequence.

Offhand: 94-0

Sitting: 100-3

Rapid Prone: 96-0

Slow Prone: 191-3

Aggregate: 481-6

 

June 12

It was a warm and muggy day but the sun was out for the whole thing. I had no excuses at 600 because of the calm conditions. Wind was worth about 3-4 clicks and it didn't change much. The targets were well lit, maybe too well lit. The white was quite bright and caused the sighting black to fade into the background. I shot one 9 and one 8. The 8 really surprised me but I probably held the sight picture for too long. 300 netted me a pair of 99s. I brought the sights up too high in one shot in sitting and that was the one that was out. Where I was really disappointed was offhand. The breeze was slight and you had plenty of opportunity to to shoot good shots. But I didn't take those opportunities. It seems like I was shooting on the move and when the sights did stop they did so in the nine ring and I broke the shot anyway. The main problem was the judgment that makes the shot decision. I could, and should have done better. There was no excuse not to. Dropping 6 points outside of standing should have meant an upper 780s aggregate. It was all I could do to break 780.

I've had my ups and downs in standing this year but today really took the wind out of my sails. I don't feel as excited about shooting now. I'll still shoot on Thursdays but a lot of my enthusiasm has melted away. Whether I can regain my offhand performance level isn't really the point. It's more about gaining perspective on the amount of improvement relative to the overall score. The higher the scores I shoot, the smaller the points improvement that's gained. After a while this is get frustrating.

Offhand: 187-4

Sitting: 199-9

Rapid Prone: 198-9

Slow Prone: 197-6

Aggregate: 781-28

 

 

June 16

It was one of those evenings that made you glad to be alive. Temps in the upper 70s, calm breeze. I was able to get a good sight picture in slow prone and didn't change the windage at all. Simply a case of focusing on the top of the post and squeezing the trigger. My rapid prone group was a band with x-ring elevation but strung out from the center to the right edge of the 10-ring. This was because of a slight fade to the right as I was breaking some shots. I overcame a position problem in sitting with a really good squeeze of the trigger. Standing was just a disaster. My hold was large and the sights would settle and then take off at will. The shot decision making was also hurting me. I broke some shots when the sights were pointed out of the ten. If I could get my offhand back to where it has been...

Offhand: 92-2

Sitting: 100-5

Rapid Prone: 100-5

Slow Prone: 199-8

Aggregate: 491-20

 

June 23

A hot one today. Slow prone was going along just fine with three clicks on the rifle when up pops an eight on the left. I thought that I pushed it out there and send the next shot downrange and it's a nine on the left. The windage knob gets turned a few clicks and my next shot is an eight on the right. After that things were fine but it's still hard to give up those five points in three shots. While I had good focus on the front sight I didn't put it on the sighting black the same every time and that cost me two out the bottom. Sitting felt fair but I noticed my pace changes during the course of the string. Standing was a let down again with a wobble that kept me from having the nerve to pull the trigger. My feeling is that this comes from a shift in my left arm position and the way it supports the rifle.

Offhand: 93-2

Sitting: 100-5

Rapid Prone: 98-2

Slow Prone: 194-9

Aggregate: 485-18

 

June 30

This was a rough day because of the wind. I was hoping to bounce back in standing from my recent sub-per performances but the only bounce was the one that my rifle was doing from the gusts. I had two really bad shots where I lost over half my points so I don't feel too bad about my score. Sitting was more of a let down because I thought I was breaking good shots but everything wound up on the left side. My immediate thought was that I didn't use as much cant as I normally do. In rapid prone I would bring the sights back on target but they would drop to just under the center when I broke the shots. As I was firing I thought to myself that the group would be low but I just kept on putting them in the same spot. One of those easily preventable mistakes that high masters aren't supposed to make, but they still do. There was nothing really disastrous about slow prone but out of the six nines that I fired, four of them were at 11 o'clock. Something was happening as I broke the shots to put them there.

Offhand: 88-3

Sitting: 96-3

Rapid Prone: 94-3

Slow Prone: 194-3

Aggregate: 472-12

 

July 7

Uninterrupted blue skies and calm conditions on a wonderful summer evening. Things were going just fine at 600 with plenty of x's when up popped an eight. The sight picture looked the same as all the other shots but obviously something went wrong. Not knowing what the problem could be makes it tough to rectify it. I was finally able to focus on the front sight in rapid prone. Focus and squeeze, it's just that easy provided I can do it every time. I saved a round in sitting because it came out of the magazine and the bolt locked back. By the time I closed the bolt and got back on the sights the targets were already coming down. I felt better about my standing than I have in a long time. My position was comfortable but trying to concentrate fully was exhausting. Still, the shots were on call and my confidence is restored.

Offhand: 96-4

Sitting: 89-5

Rapid Prone: 100-3

Slow Prone: 197-10

Aggregate: 482-22

 

 

July 9

This was the first time that I've shot on a weekend in a month. Standing was underwhelming. The shots were on call but I was making bad decisions on when to break them. There was one bad one and the rest were nine after nine. The one that was out in sitting was because my second string had a much larger group than the first string. The position certainly felt different. I made the mistake of correcting off my sighters in 300 rapid. My group was on the edge of the 10 ring on the right side with three out. I followed this string up with a six-x clean. Slow prone went well with a nine at 11 early on in the string. I was just making the front sight sharp and breaking clean shots.

Offhand: 188-3

Sitting: 199-12

Rapid Prone: 197-6

Slow Prone: 199-6

Aggregate: 783-27

 

July 10

My first leg match of the year. Plenty of breeze to move the rifle around in standing. I gripped the rifle hard and tried to break clean shots but it wasn't easy. Not a top-notch performance but acceptable for the conditions. When I went down to shoot sitting immediately after standing I forgot to put my 200 rapid elevation on the rifle. Since standing is 6 clicks lower my group was down into the nine ring with a shot that I broke wrong in the eight ring. With proper elevation this would have been a 99. I guess I've been spoiled by sighters. Rapid prone worked well and I made the right wind call with one shot just below the 10-ring. Things were going fine in slow prone until I shot two 9's late in the string. I think I just got sloppy as I was getting towards the finish line.

Offhand: 93-3

Sitting: 94-0

Rapid Prone: 99-5

Slow Prone: 196-8

Aggregate: 482-16

 

July 14

It was tough to get any x's today. Standing had a side to side wobble that I couldn't get rid of. The result was shooting nine after nine. The sitting group was a bit low in the ten ring. Rapid prone had a great group in the x-ring and then one shot out under the 10-ring and another one way out at 4 o'clock. These were when I tried to rush things before I had the front sight in focus. Slow prone started off with elevation problems where I was either too high or too low. I finally figured it out after 5 shots but I had already shot four nines. Still, it would have been nice to shoot a few more x's.

Offhand: 92-0

Sitting: 100-1

Rapid Prone: 98-6

Slow Prone: 196-3

Aggregate: 486-10

 

 

July 16

Today's team match was a hot, humid, miserable affair. The temperature was in the mid-90s with the humidity making conditions terrible, especially with a sweatshirt and shooting jacket. Offhand was frustrating with no end in sight to the problems I've been having. The rapids were just fine with scores that I've come to expect. By the time we got to slow prone I just wanted to be get in some shade. I was pair firing and my glove was getting so hot that my fingers felt like they had touched a hot stove. With all the moisture in the air and partially shaded targets it was real hard to get a good sight picture. By the end I just wanted to get off the line.

Offhand: 93-3

Sitting: 100-4

Rapid Prone: 100-7

Slow Prone: 189-7

Aggregate: 482-21

 

July 16

For the afternoon's Leg match it seemed like a lot of the humidity burned off. It was still hot but there wasn't the oppressiveness of the morning. There were still a couple of people that had to drop out of the leg match because of the conditions. Another offhand where I was shooting nine after nine. It was tough to give up points in the rapids because the conditions were pretty calm and I just didn't execute properly. The targets were much easier to see in the afternoon and my 600 yard score showed it.

Offhand: 93-3

Sitting: 99-3

Rapid Prone: 99-4

Slow Prone: 196-7

Aggregate: 487-17

 

July 17

Today was the Regional championship. Today's temperatures were just as high as yesterday but we didn't have as much humidity. I was actually very happy with my offhand. The score was nothing earth-shattering but it was a much better performance that I've had recently. The rifle was quite steady with only bad shot decision making causing dropped points. In my second string of sitting I yanked on the pistol grip as I was breaking the shot and put one on the right side. Rapid prone went real well with a couple of good groups. I've been telling myself to focus and squeeze for 300 rapid and it's been working every time that I do it. 600 yard conditions were relatively calm but the wind would reverse occasionally. I wound up shooting one on the left side, under-correcting for it and shooting another one. Then I put on more correction when the wind reversed and I wound up with one on the right side. So I had three nines in a row. But overall the day went well with some confidence restored in my offhand.

Offhand: 192-6

Sitting: 199-10

Rapid Prone: 200-11

Slow Prone: 197-6

Aggregate: 788-33

 

July 21

Some storms blew through the area so there was plenty of cloud cover which made for some dark conditions. My hold in standing was actually pretty decent but my shot decision making was bad. The sights would settle and I would break the shot even if it was sitting in the nine ring. I also noticed a tendency for my eyes to close when I pulled the trigger. I can also feel myself lean back as the rifle fires. My sitting didn't feel great but my group was on the left side. Centered up it would have been a clean but I can't find a reason for it to be so much to the side. The targets looked really dark for 300 rapid but I concentrated on focusing on the front sight and squeezing the trigger when I was pointed at the center. Things were going just fine at 600 for the first half but then I wound up out on the left and then the right. By the time it was over I had dropped five points.

Offhand: 94-1

Sitting: 99-3

Rapid Prone: 100-3

Slow Prone: 195-4

Aggregate: 488-11

 

 

July 23

I finally had a decent offhand performance. My torso is facing the target more than it has in the past. This creates a better shelf right at the "point" of my left hip. During prep period I wiggle around to find the settling point for my left elbow. Then, I adjust my vertical natural point of aim by placing the butt of the rifle accordingly in my shoulder. Even with the more stable hold I wound up shooting 2 eights but I definitely sense some upper body movement at the point of shot release. But otherwise most shots were inside of call. I felt like a lot of them were going to be just out and they wound up being just inside the line. Sitting was another case where the group didn't look as good through the sights as it did on the target. For rapid prone my front sight focus was lacking a little bit which is why I put one shot out the bottom on each string. A passing storm made 600 a bit darker than I cared for and, again I had several shots drop out at six o'clock.

Offhand: 194-6

Sitting: 200-12

Rapid Prone: 198-3

Slow Prone: 194-8

Aggregate: 786-29

 

 

At this point I've done what I could to shoot as well and as consistently as possible. Now it's time to take my annual trip to Ohio for the National Matches. My offhand has started to come back and my scores in the sling supported positions are better than they have been before. As always I'm hoping to do well but anything can happen over the course of two weeks at Camp Perry.

 

 

August 2

The day of the President's match was pretty nice if a bit warm. I had every confidence that I would make the hundred but I wanted to place within the top 20 or 30. My offhand expectations weren't high and so I wasn't disappointed. My hold was what it had been recently and so the four nines were expected. I thought the wind at 300 was worth two clicks so that's what I put on and got a well centered group. It was a little hard to see it through the scope because the target pullers used the round spotters instead of the golf tees. My wind call (guess) was a bit off and I lost two points on the very first shot. Still, the final result was acceptable and I finished in 17th.

Offhand: 96-1

Rapid Prone: 100-6

Slow Prone: 97-3

Aggregate: 293-10

 

August 3

The NTI was just as warm as the President's but, I felt, more humid. When the targets went up for my standing prep time I tried to remove my empty chamber indicator but it was wedged over the top of my bolt. I was yanking on the charging handle and my scorer was pulling on the ECI but to no avail. We called over an armorer and at one point there were four people trying to get that thing out of there. Eventually we got it freed right as my prep time had ended. After a couple of minutes of dry-firing I started shooting and fired X's for my first three shots. Unfortunately my luck wouldn't hold out as I shot four nines during the rest of the string. Sitting felt more like a 5x clean rather than 8x but I guess I'll take it. My 300 rapid had been pretty good lately and it didn't let me down this time. The windage was fine but there was a shot right at the top of the 10-ring and one at the bottom. Not much wiggle room in the elevation department. Once again my wind guess at 600 was off and I shot a nine for my first shot. By about shot 12 I was about to break a shot when my entire sight picture, post and target, went fuzzy as I squeezed the trigger. Sure enough it came up as a nine out the top. When it was over I was pretty happy with my x-count as I had more than anybody else in the match. My final placement was third overall and the top civilian earning the Nathan Hale trophy. For more information about how this trophy pertains to me, read this.

Offhand: 96-4

Sitting: 100-8

Rapid Prone: 100-4

Slow Prone: 198-11

Aggregate: 494-27

 

August 5

Six-man team match day always seems to be windy for offhand and this year was no exception. I was getting pushed around and couldn't even hold the black. Even my sitting was a let down as I couldn't even clean that. In the five years that I've shot in this match it seems like my performance level drops compared to the individual matches. This bothers me as I feel more motivated to do well for the team than I do for the individual contests.

Offhand: 87-0

Sitting: 99-2

Rapid Prone: 100-6

Slow Prone: 193-4

Aggregate: 479-12

 

August 7

In the Rumbold John Holliger and I decided to shoot with a couple of Illinois juniors that were staying for the second week so that they could get some practice and maybe pick up a couple things. With my recent team match performance I was hoping they wouldn't watch me and get any bad habits. My offhand started real well and I was clean through six shots. Then I promptly shot an eight and a nine. Cleaning the rapids seemed harder than usual. All my sighters for sitting and rapid prone were higher than the zero that I used last week. It's as if my zeros are different for CMP week than they are for NRA week.

Offhand: 97-3

Sitting: 99-4

Rapid Prone: 99-3

Slow Prone: 196-8

Aggregate: 491-18

 

 

August 8

The first day of the NRA championship and my standing wobble is still too big. On a day that I should be shooting 195's I'm in the low-190's. The best I can hope for is to shoot this consistently and try to make it up in the sling supported positions. During my second string of sitting I kept breaking a bunch of shots at about 10 o'clock. As I was shooting them I would tell myself not to do that but I put the next shot there anyway. My first 300 yard sighter was high so I brought my zero back down to where it was before I came to Camp Perry. I had a lot of confidence in my rapid prone and when both strings came up clean I felt like that's the score that I've shot all year.

Offhand: 192-5

Sitting: 200-11

Rapid Prone: 200-7

 

 

August 9

Today is when the problems start to appear. Offhand was unusually calm for the Navy Cup but my hold was still larger than should be. It was tough to break good shots but I muddled through it. On my first string of sitting I took a little too much time in getting my initial position and dressing up the shots. My final shot went downrange as the target was dropping into the pits. This gave me a five at 12 o'clock. I was furious with myself since this was such an easily preventable mistake and I just gave away five points to everyone else.

Offhand: 191-3

Sitting: 194-12

Slow Prone: 197-7

 

 

August 10

The third day should be pretty easy with two rapids and a 600. While the rapids were not what I had hoped for, they weren't disastrous. Slow prone was another story. I had about four shots downrange at 600 when I noticed that the mirage had completely reversed and was now going to the right. I lay there for a few minutes waiting for the condition to come back but there was no sign that it would. I took off the eight clicks of right wind that I had on and put on what thought what the new correction would be. I was close and got a nine. A couple more clicks and I was back in the middle but a few shots later it picked up and I had an eight out the right. Putting on another three clicks would have been fine if the wind had not let up and I wound up with an eight on the left side. By this time the sun was starting to come out and combined with the humidity in the air to give me a hazy sight picture which made the target hard to define. By the time it was all over I was shooting all over the target no matter what I did.

Sitting: 199-10

Rapid Prone: 198-7

Slow Prone: 185-7

 

 

August 11

The wind that is usually present for the Navy Cup showed up this morning. I was holding on tight but still faced a sight picture that flew around the target frame and resisted my best attempts to settle it down. I only had two bad shots which gave me a couple of eights. But I thought that if I could break them in the black then at least half of them would wind up tens. Unfortunately 13 of 18 were nines and I bled out the points for the whole match without a single x. For rapid prone the wind was blowing from right to left. For some reason I interpreted this as needing about 10 clicks of LEFT wind. Imagine my surprise when my first sighter was a six on the left side. I couldn't believe that the wind was strong enough to push the bullet that far out so I came over a couple of clicks thinking that I just lined the sights up incorrectly. My second sighter came up a seven straight out the left. Now it was time to stand and I couldn't understand what was going on. It was then that it occurred to me that I had turned my sights the wrong way. Now my sighters were useless and it was time to shoot the string. I cranked in what I thought was the correct right wind and fired the string purely on faith. Fortunately I had a good group on the left side with one nine. The wind was still blowing at 600 but it seemed very steady. I started shooting with a good sight picture and a clear front sight. It seemed like every time that target went down it came back up with an x. A nine came up by around the 15th shot but other than that it went pretty well.

Offhand: 183-0

Rapid Prone: 197-4

Slow Prone: 199-14

Championship Aggregate: 2335-87

 

August 25

Even though I was on first relay tonight, light is still a problem. It's not a problem when you just look around but when you look through the rear aperture you can really tell that you're losing light. Standing was actually going just fine. I had shot two nines in eight shots but for some reason I wanted to rush through and finish. This eagerness to complete the stage made me shoot when I wasn't ready and I shot eights on my last two shots. When I shot 300 my position felt fine and it seemed like I was seeing the sights OK. The target came up with a group that could have been a clean but it was situated in the nine ring at about 4 o'clock. This is surprising since I've been shooting pretty good rapid prone scores recently. Of the three nines that I shot in slow prone, two were in this same 4 o'clock position. Hmmmmmmmm... 

Offhand: 94-0

Sitting: 100-4

Rapid Prone: 93-0

Slow Prone: 197-6

Aggregate: 484-12

 

September 1

This is going to be my last Thursday night since we're losing so much light and my mind really isn't in it any more. There was plenty of wind for standing and my score shows it. I really did try but it seemed like someone was holding my muzzle and yanking it around. Since my sighters at 300 didn't correlate to what I thought the wind was doing, I was going to outsmart the wind by scoping my target during the magazine change. I looked through the scope but I must have bumped it since all I could see was Lake Michigan and part of the impact berm. I got back on the rifle and took my time breaking good shots but the targets were going down as I shot the last shot. I was lucky that it caught a 7. The wind at 600 was a fishtail that couldn't make up it's mind whether it was going to give me 8's on the left or 8's on the right.

Offhand: 89-0

Sitting: 100-2

Rapid Prone: 96-5

Slow Prone: 185-3

Aggregate: 470-10

 

September 3

The Illinois Service Rifle Championship. In addition to shooting I also ran the line and entered scores when I found a few extra minutes. When I got into my standing prep I noticed that when I brought the rifle down the sights stopped moving for what seemed like forever. I knew that if I could keep that hold I would shoot a good score. Things were going fine and I only dropped two points in the first half. After that I not only lost concentration but the sun started to peek out from behind the trees and made getting good front sight focus difficult. My sitting position felt very loose as if I was holding the rifle up with my whole arm. Rapid prone was a bit less than what I had hoped for as well with a couple of rather oversized groups. The position in slow prone wasn't very good either but I can accept that in slow fire since focusing on the front sight is more important. My aggregate score was decent but I'm still disappointed in dropping 6 points in the rapids.

Offhand: 193-6

Sitting: 197-4

Rapid Prone: 197-4

Slow Prone: 199-12

Aggregate: 786-26

 

 

September 4

Today's team match had clear skies in the morning with some slight afternoon drizzle. As I was shooting offhand I felt like I was struggling to get through it and was forcing shots. The sights settled but it seemed like every time I saw a good sight picture and decided to shoot, my entire body would pull the trigger. After dropping five points in the first eight shots I decided that I really needed to clean the rest of it to get an acceptable standing score. I came close with a nine on shot number 19. I wish I knew how making this decision brought out a good performance. Sitting was where it should have been. A good position and a squeezing of the trigger. Rapid prone had an elevation nine in each string. By this time the overcast skies made seeing a bit difficult for me. Slow prone went fairly well but I still had a position that felt like the rifle was falling away from me.

Offhand: 194-4

Sitting: 200-13

Rapid Prone: 198-9

Slow Prone: 197-9

Aggregate: 789-35

 

September 10

After last weekend I was looking forward to offhand. But today the sights never seemed to settle and I felt like I had a new position for each shot. It did seem that my hold felt better when my torso was turned towards the target and my shoulders were more perpendicular to the bore. The rapids were fine with good 300 yard groups The rapid prone position felt really good and allowed me to get back on the sights quickly. By the time slow prone came around I found that the brightness of the sun caused me to have to really work to get a good sight picture. On some shots I had to try and focus several times.

Offhand: 190-4

Sitting: 200-10

Rapid Prone: 199-11

Slow Prone: 198-9

Aggregate: 787-34

 

September 11

As I suspected from yesterday, turning my upper body towards the target more in standing gave me a steadier hold. While there was still plenty of movement to deal with it wasn't as much as I've had recently. This steadiness translated into more confidence as I was lining up the shots. The only nines were on shots 7 & 9 and that was because I held a bit too long. Once I got to 300 rapid I was feeling good and my group size was fine. But the group was right on the edge of the ten ring on the right side. This really left me scratching my head because the range is pretty well protected and I can't believe that the wind pushed me that far out. The nine in slow prone was on my last shot and it looked just like all the others.

Offhand: 98-2

Sitting: 100-4

Rapid Prone: 95-0

Slow Prone: 199-10

Aggregate: 492-16

 

September 24

It seemed like I had a million things on my mind today. I was running the match and my alarm didn't go off so I arrived late at the range. By the time I got to the line I still felt rushed but I was ready to shoot. My focus kept going from the front sight down range for almost every shot in standing. This didn't seem to affect my score because the shots just kept coming up inside of call. When I would call one just out, it was just in. My wobble actually seemed worse for the first few shots and wound up throwing an eight on the left. I settled down after that but still broke some shots I shouldn't have. On my first string of sitting I would bring the front sight just into the bottom of the ten ring and I'd still shoot it there. I would tell myself to bring them up higher for the next shot but I kept doing the same thing. The result was a fine group, in the bottom of the 10-ring. Go figure. The second string felt much looser position-wise but it seemed like I was breaking the shots clean. My rapid prone had two nines out the bottom in the first string because I didn't have good front sight focus. I was rolling along pretty well in slow prone even though I had several 10s that were right on the line. About 3/4 of the way through I put one out at two o'clock. I can't remember if it felt different or not. Oh, well. The overall result was acceptable and pretty much what I expect to shoot here at Bonfield.

Offhand: 194-7

Sitting: 200-9

Rapid Prone: 198-7

Slow Prone: 199-11

Aggregate: 791-34

 

 

 

 

October 2

 

Well, this is it. The final highpower match of the season. Time to relax and just put into practice all those things that I know. But it didn't quite go according to plan in standing. Concentration was lacking. Especially for the first several shots. I shot a seven and an eight early on. Once I had done that, inexplicably, I just decided to do better and then went on a nine shot string of 10s. My 18th and 19th shots were an eight and a nine. This just reinforces to me the mental aspect of shooting standing. The rapids went fine and I felt like I was just cruising through them. I made the mistake of shooting slow prone with a position having less than ideal comfort. I could see a bit of high frequency side to side wobble in the front sight. The fact that I shot three nines when I was expecting at least a 199 was disheartening.

Offhand: 190-1

Sitting: 200-13

Rapid Prone: 199-6

Slow Prone: 197-8

Aggregate: 786-28

 

 

 

 


Post-Season Reflections


With the end of the 2005 season it's time to take stock of what has happened. A number of people have come up to me and said that I've had quite a season this year. This is true to a certain extent. A lot of this is based on my success during one day of CMP week at Camp Perry. While I was fortunate to win the Nathan Hale trophy I can't use that one day performance to gauge the whole season. So let's see what I have been able to do.

The Positives
In my opinion, my overall aggregate score consistency is what I'm happiest with this season. I was able to go into matches and be confident that, barring glaring mistakes or bad conditions, I could shoot a score at a particular level. There wasn't the worry of previous years about certain stages. I knew that if I could shoot the standing that I was capable of, I could hold my own in the sling-supported positions.

Rapid prone has always been a stage where I struggled and one that I targeted for improvement this year. I'm thrilled with how I've been able to perform in this position. My groups are smaller and more consistently placed than before. This can't be attributed to just one reason. I feel that my new leather shooting jacket had something to do with it as well as a position that got me more behind the rifle. But another component is that I would go into rapid prone telling myself to "focus and squeeze". Focus on the top of the front sight and squeeze the trigger. Once I started to actually do this my groups were much smaller and shooting felt a lot easier. Almost as if the rifle is shooting itself. Of course there were plenty of times that I didn't do this and that's where the stray shots came from.

The not-quite-so-positives
I had hoped that my standing this year was going to be better than it has been. My expectations were being met at the very beginning of the season but then as I started to accept slightly lower scores my performance slipped to match my expectations. Unfortunately this slump lasted from June to September. Once I start the season with a particular position and shooting process I need to be very mindful of shifts that cause increased wobble. Once this shift starts I find it difficult to get back to the same performance state. In any event my scores in this stage need to be improved and more consistent or they will continue to cost me wins in matches like they did this year.