So you think you’re a rifleman?

A friend is putting on an Independence Day rifle match at his place in Latah County, Idaho;

Five shots from each of four positions (standing, kneeling, sitting, and prone), 4 black bull’s eyes (one for each position) each being 4 M.O.A. in angular size at 25 meters. That’s a target size of about 1.1″. You have a total of ten minutes to get into your various positions and make your 20 shots.

“Four M.O.A.”, you think, “I can hit that all day”, right? We hit one M.O.A. targets at Boomershoot, at distances such that the shifting wind is a major factor, so 4 M.O.A. is a piece of cake, right?

Uh uh. Using a light, but quality AR carbine in 5.56 mm, the best I’ve done so far in practice is 8 hits out of 20 shots. I’m not using a shooting sling, as that’s something I’ve never worked out. Other than your body and possibly a sling, there is no support allowed.

Any rifle in any caliber, centerfire or rimfire.

I noticed right away that the sight heights on my ARs (I use optics) are such that I needed to re-zero for 25 meters (about 27.5 yards).

Try it and report back.

I would love to see a match like this done in the form of a mountain woods walk, so you have the added issues of the portability of your equipment, your physical condition, your ability to shoot under some degree of physical stress (such as aiming while winded) and using improvised shooting positions due to terrain and flora. Too often we tend to want a “shooting range” set up all nice and ideal and level and comfortable, and in that case we are sometimes missing the point. Anyone who’s hunted for more than a few seasons will understand, and in fact hunting includes all of the above (plus the unpredictable nature of the target(s), doesn’t it?


19 thoughts on “So you think you’re a rifleman?

  1. Essentially, this is the same as what Biathlon shooters do. Looks simple, is hard.

    • That was my first thought too, although there’s a time penalty for missing in biathlons too :).

      • I shoot primitive biathlons, and they flip that around: You get 5 minutes off your time for every hit.

        No supports or slings allowed. Offhand only

        And yeah, I can hit a 6″ all day long at the range at 50 yards, but after lugging my fat ass up and down the Vermont hills in February, with snowshoes on my feet? Best I’ve done 6 out of 9 targets.

        For those interested:

  2. lyle:

    i used to do something like this called bench rest 50, shot w/ .22 long rifle. targets at 50 yards.

    50 bulls. one shot, each bull. one hole, each bull. scored as you would think, according to values of rings around the bulls.

    on calm days it was pretty challenging. on windy days it was very very difficult. if a shot wandered onto a bull with a hole in it, resulting in two holes, it was not scored. no holes on a bull, not scored. more than 50 holes, the highest scores on holes until there were 50 holes to be scored, and the excess holes were excluded from scoring.

    a fun shoot, and the shooters were very knowledgeable about position and holes, and pressures applied to the gun. the game did not last long, as the air rifle guys did not think it difficult enough. they thought the .22 long rifle guys were clods. they changed the rules until they ran the .22 long rifle guys off.


    too bad. a fun game.

    john jay

    • We still shoot this at our range, 50/50 target, .22 rifles off the bench, any sights (scope recommended.) Very challenging but I’m not a big scope or br shooter. Give me prone and irons, I’ll shoot a scope from the bench when I’m old.

  3. May give this a try over the weekend. My kneeling isn’t great because for high power there’s no reason for it if you are able to shoot sitting. BTW, 4 moa is the standard for Project Appleseed.

    • This match is run by a former Appleseed instructor.

      From a bench it would not be challenging, but bench rest shooting is for determining the inherent accuracy of your system and otherwise has little to do with real life shooting.

    • In the field, kneeling has the advantage over sitting because it gets the rifle up higher over grass, brush or terrain. In a hunting situation even kneeling can often be too low, and so the standing position must be used.

      So it is that I am constantly impressed by the differences between range shooting or match shooting and what I call “field shooting”. They are different worlds, and that can’t be stressed enough.

      Get away from the range regularly, and out into the real world.

      Range shooting has it’s place, for sure, but it is no substitute for, and can in some cases even be detrimental to, real world shooting.

  4. Attend am Appleseed event and learn how to make these shots with confidence. These are great training and history for experienced shooters as well as beginners. 25 meters with .22 cal. Just sign up and learn

  5. I used to win a few silhouette shoots (offhand if you don’t know) in Colorado with a 742 Remington on -06. 24″ barrel and all. It was partly due to me shooting almost all the time since I was 8 but also because that gun was so long and heavy. I finally gave up hunting with it as it wasn’t much of a challenge any more. Went to black powder instead. Nothing stays on target when you’re huffing and puffing up a Colorado trail better than a long heavy gun. Just physics.
    I’ve often written that these AR platforms are mostly noise makers rather than something that kills. In the military they are mostly used to keep the dirtbag’s head down till something bigger gets involved. That or clearing a room. Either way not something you should be using at 100 yds. or even 50.
    My AR’s stay in the safe and that now real old -06 stays in the bedroom.

  6. My 100 yard targets have a 1.047″ center, so that should be close enough for 4 MOA at 25 meters (82 feet rounded down). Something to try for fun, I guess. I’ll use my suppressed 5.56 AR with both supersonic and subsonic ammo. My scope is zeroed for 100 yards so I’ll just adjust the elevation turret for 25 meters.
    Time to go measure out the distance. Back later.

    • Got the range measured, but the humidity today is stifling. Will try on a nicer day.
      Also decided the AR is way to heavy for standing, so will use my Savage 64F with a sling.

      • One of the aspects of practical shooting, IMO, is dealing with adverse conditions.

        At 1.047″ 25 yards would put it closer to the 4 MOA value, splitting hairs though we may be at this point.

        • I’m having to wait for better weather conditions here in Coastal South Carolina. Heat Index has been in the low 100’s for several days now. Weather Service keeps putting out warnings for it. Did I mention I’m an OFWG?
          Not good for me to be out too long.

  7. At 25 yards, the tall sights on an AR-15 will be problematic. This is one time where you want to line of sight close to the bore. I’d try this with a .22 Rifle and use the iron sights.

    • Some of the best shooters at the match were using ARs. Sight height over bore is a non issue so long as you know your trajectory relative to the line of sight. Sight height CHANGES the trajectory-relative-to-line-of-sight (or more correctly; it changes your line of sight relative to the trajectory), but so long as you KNOW it, it’s no problem at all.

      I did most of my practice with ARs, and switched to a Mini-14 two days prior to the match because I decided I should be using some UltiMAK equipment. The AR and the Mini have very different sight heights. One or the other, made no difference to me. By the far the biggest difference, for me, practically speaking, was in the triggers. For me at least, when shooting from the standing position, with a wobble area larger than the target, the trigger makes a BIG difference. From prone I could hold dead on and pull, pull, pull through all the trigger creep and it wasn’t not a problem (I shot a group smaller than the bull, with most holes touching). From standing it looked like I’d used a shotgun with no choke.

      Although I shot above average for the match, I believe I paid a penalty for switching rifles prior to the match– I just didn’t get enough time in on that partucular setup. (“Fear the man with one gun– He probably knows how to use it” — I have a lot of guns)

      Also; my kneeling and sitting positions need more work, especially sitting. I haven’t developed a proper sitting position mainly because it has little or no use in the field (too much terrain and brush, etc.) . I’ve used prone, mainly at Boomershoot, or firing out the back of my pickup bed. Other than that, you have to be kneeling or higher, most anywhere outside of a flat desert or an empty parking lot, to get up over the interference. On snowshoes, your options are standing or kneeling, and nothing else. I WAS confident in my kneeling position, but after this match I see that even it needs more refinement.

      I shot a score of 7 of 20, and was very disappointed in myself. The best was 17/20, and that was a record for the event (previous being 15), which has gone on for some years. The second best this time was 11. There were a couple of 8s, and most people shot 6 or less, there being a lot of 6s.

      There were more 22 rimfires there, compared to other calibers, but ARs were aplenty, and there was one AR-10. I had the only Mini.

    • I just learned for certain that the top score yesterday, the match all-time record of 17/20, was shot with an AR in 308 Win.

  8. I wish the heat wave would break so I can go out back and try this. As I post this the Temp. is 93° and the Humidity is 60% for a Heat Index of 107°.
    From the Weather Service.
    This Hazardous Weather Outlook is for southeast North Carolina and
    northeast South Carolina.
    .DAY ONE…Today and Tonight.
    Heat indices will reach 100 to 105 this afternoon.
    .DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN…Friday through Wednesday.
    Heat indices will reach 100 to 105 Friday afternoon.

    • No excuse. In winter I always hear “I’ll get out when it’s no so cold” and now “I’ll get out when it’s not so hot..”

      Not buyin’ it, OFWG. Bring water, and wet your shirt now and then. Drink ice water. Get used to it.

      The need for self defense and defense of community and country does not wait for perfect weather. Anyway; when that rare incidence of perfect weather does come, you’ll say you have too many outdoor chores to catch up on…

      The right frame of mind would say stuff like; “Hey, this blizzard (or this horrific heat wave) is a PERFECT opportunity to get out and practice in adverse conditions!”

      I’ll be 60 in a little over a year, and I’m still climbing trees and hauling deer carcasses up and down nearly sheer cliffs in icy conditions, and across thinly frozen creeks. I recently to spoke to a customer who is 80 and just got back from safari in Africa.

      Tell me you don’t WANT to do it, tell me it would be extremely uncomfortable, inconvenient and difficult, and I will listen, but don’t tell me you CAN’T do it. That’s an important distinction.

      If you can still carry a rifle and still see through the scope, you can shoot in 100+ degree weather if you want to. You just have to find a way to make it work. It could even be fun, after all, once you’ve forgotten the pain and discomfort.

      Anyway; I figure that if I die doing what I love, then it was a good death. Every season, it seems, someone dies while hunting around here. “OK then”, I say to that, “sign me up.” I can think of about a thousand worse ways to die, and most of those involve following other people’s advice on how I should “stay safe”. Fuck that.

      If you later discover that I’ve died while out hunting or camping, or hiking, or just shooting, or I died in my workshop, building things, then by all means, celebrate!

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