Still no flying, so today we have Naming of Parts. No, I'm kidding. But it's Saturday and the weather is cooperating, which means...

Session #6

(Saturday Organized Neatly!)

Added a few new things to shooting my Garand today. First and with the most impact, Gun Mentor loaned me a sling (a nice new leather one which he had conditioned and let sit with saddle soap on it for a couple of months to soften it) and installed it onto my Garand. Shooting with a sling is more accurate than shooting without one (at least, that's the plan) but it's also different.

Before I get to that, though, I have homework. Gun Mentor will probably check in here to see that I did it, so let's get that out of the way.

Things I Noticed About My Shooting Today

  • I am getting better at managing the trigger. I estimate that half the shots I took today, I took on the first try (never mind technique); a quarter I backed off, breathed again and re-set my position with the rifle for a second or third attempt when I couldn't find the sight picture I wanted. The last quarter I took the shot even though I knew I wasn't in the right place - either I was wobbling because I hadn't breathed in too long, or the rifle was cocked at an angle because I didn't have the sling in the right position - and as a result, those shots were markedly less accurate.
  • I now am taking up slack on the trigger as part of my prep to fire, as opposed to as part of my shot. This means I am (in fewer cases, at least) 'jerking' the trigger and gun as I squeeze through a long part of the trigger pull in the moment I want to shoot. In maybe a third of my shots today, I would say, I remember consciously being aware that I was starting to take up the trigger slack, and the shot itself (the trigger breaking) was a surprise that happened when the sight blade was lined up with the target. In other cases, the shot was a surprise that happened just after or just before I was aligned, indicating that I still do not know the trigger pull of my rifle and when I am fully primed to fire - but that third where it worked says I'm getting there.
  • The sling made a difference in the following way - it reduced my wobble, which is what it is supposed to do. With my muscles in opposition across the sling, the rifle was almost as steady as it had been when I was using a fore rest. I'm shooting seated, the sling looped around my left forearm and my left hand inside the sling either gripping the fore rest or palm flat to rest the rifle on. The problems here are that the fore rest on my gun has a bit of play in it, and more important when I grip it inside the sling I find my fingers fall right on the metal clip holding the fore rest on to the barrel. As I discovered, a Garand's barrel gets hot after 16 shots through it, and that clip gets painfully so - and my grip and position suffer.
  • My breathing was better than it was when I began shooting. I have reached the point where in/out/in/out/in/half-out shoot is almost instinctive - I don't have to think about it to do it. I do find that I'm not totally aware of how long I have before I need to retreat out of position and breathe again; this is changing as my wind improves from gym work, but not that fast. I have enough time, it's just that I need to learn to be decisive about not shooting just because and coming out of position when I need to.

What else. Oh, results. My first few en blocs went low and right; startlingly low until I checked my sight and found that...yes, it was set full low. Whoops. Brought it up (four clicks per inch at 100 yards) eight clicks and left two clicks, tried again. Slightly better; in fact, that group was probably my best of the day, 24 rounds pretty much all within the black of a 100 yard smallbore rifle target circle. It was still a bit low, so after hanging new paper and policing brass, I gave it two more clicks up.

That round, I shot low again, almost as low as I had originally. I'm not sure what's going on, but I think I may have adjusted the sling between those two rounds - and the sling adjustment could certainly have changed my stance enough to negate those six or eight sight clicks up. So I gave it four more and shot again at a new target; again, those 24 rounds were much closer to being all in the black. I counted fifteen of sixteen rounds on paper, and fourteen of those fifteen in the black or within 1 cm of the edge; one flyer off to the right and one I never found (it probably hit the cratered wood off to the side of the target and made yet another anonymous hole).

My impression of my results: I am shooting consistently enough that sight adjustments produce the expected result in moving my group center. This is a good thing. I am still not consistent enough to be completely happy with my groups (eight to twelve inches) but I'll give myself an 'acceptable' there. One improvement, which might be breathing and might be sling or both - on past days, I would typically have several rounds which varied high and low along a fairly narrow line. I think (and Gun Mentor thinks, more importantly) that those are breathing problems - the gun being pulled up or down as I breathe, shooting at the wrong time in my breath cycle. This time, however, I didn't see those vertical variables; I saw a much more circular (diamond, really) pattern. The fact that it's a diamond tells me I'm still doing something - or rather, two things, one cross and one vertical, that are affecting my shot. If I was shooting consistently or randomly, I'd expect to see a circular pattern.

This brings me to my next thing to work on. The sling was really a bit short for the way I was using it (clipped to full front ring and stock ring, looped around left forearm, hand inside sling). As a result, the gun was ending up rotated slightly to the right - as I leaned in to the right against the stock, the sling was pulling the bottom of the gun out to the left and I was having also to bring my head fairly low as the sling was preventing the gun from coming up any higher.

I didn't feel that I had either a good or a consistent bone weld. Shooting without the sling, although the gun wobbled more, I felt that I had a very consistent weld against my shoulder and my cheekbone. Next time, we'll try using the sling looped only from the front ring, around my forearm, and see if that's a good tradeoff between stability and range of motion.

Oh yes - the rounds I shot were the ones I releaded recently. I was using 48 grains of IMR 4064 powder and 147 grain boat-tailed spitzer bullets. While I had thought this would be a download, I have to say, that wasn't the case - even at 48 rather than 50 or 52 grains, the shots felt if anything a bit sharper and the recoil a bit harder. That, however, might also be because the sling was carrying more of it to my point of bracing at my elbow.

In any case, the rounds fired (as best I could tell, which is not that well) completely satisfactorily. I think I fired off 92 or 100 rounds; I had zero misfires, and zero feed problems to do with ammunition. The groupings were what I expected given my shooting.

The Remington .30-06 brass that I ordered over a month ago will, it seems, possibly be in the shop sometime in July. Yargh. That's annoying. In the meantime, however, we can keep reloading Gun Mentor's stock of -06 brass, and I have an order of 300 rounds of Greek surplus .30-06 ammo that I need to pick up from my Dad's house this week. Those are reloadable as well. I should have something like 1250 bullets left and maybe half my IMR 4064, and a jug of another powder as well, and enough primers for the moment. But we might head up to the gun shop in a week or so anyway just to poke around, and can always order more supplies.

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