Konrad's journal of Highpower Rifle Competition

"Mental Focus. Not Equipment Hocus Pocus."

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The 2009 Highpower Season

The Scores

Date Location Offhand Sitting Rapid Prone Slow Prone Aggregate
4/19/09 Bonfield 95-1 100-2 100-6 195-3 490-12 98.0%
4/26/09 Bonfield 97-5 99-2 99-3 195-6 490-16 98.0%
5/2/09 Milan 190-5 200-13 195-4 191-4 776-26 97.0%
5/9/09 Bonfield 187-5 192-4 197-9 197-9 773-27 96.6%
5/23/09 Lodi 96-2 97-2 100-3 191-2 484-9 96.8%
5/24/09 Lodi 189-5 200-10 199-8 391-10 978-31 97.8%
6/6/09 Milan 194-6 200-14 199-7 195-6 788-33 98.5%
6/13/09 Wright City 190-3 200-8 199-7 197-8 786-26 98.3%
6/14/09 Wright City 98-2 - 99-3 98-4 295-9 98.3%
6/14/09 Wright City 92-2 96-2 89-3 198-12 475-19 95.0%
7/11/09 Lodi 187-2 198-13 198-5 192-4 775-24 96.9%
7/12/09 Lodi 94-1 100-4 100-4 196-8 490-17 98.0%
7/18/09 Van Meter 95-0 - 100-5 98-4 293-9 97.7%
7/18/09 Van Meter 96-1 99-7 100-5 194-9 489-22 97.8%
7/19/09 Van Meter 196-3 199-7 199-13 197-11 791-34 98.9%
8/3/09 Camp Perry 97-3 - 100-4 98-2 295-9 98.3%
8/4/09 Camp Perry 90-3 99-1 98-3 195-8 482-15 96.4%
8/6/09 Camp Perry 95-2 100-4 99-1 197-6 491-13 98.2%
8/9/09 Camp Perry 94-0 100-2 100-6 189-6 483-14 96.6%
8/10/09 Camp Perry 94-3 100-8 100-6 191-2 485-19 97.0%
8/12/09 Camp Perry 193-1 200-9 197-3 196-8 786-21 98.3%
8/13/09 Camp Perry 189-5 198-6 199-8 191-4 777-23 97.1%
8/14/09 Camp Perry 185-2 200-9 199-8 198-7 782-26 97.8%
9/5/09 Milan 194-6 199-12 198-6 195-8 786-32 98.3%
9/6/09 Milan 189-4 199-10 197-7 195-10 780-31 97.5%
9/13/09 Bonfield 97-2 100-4 97-4 198-7 492-17 98.4%
9/26/09 Bonfield 195-6 199-15 199-13 196-10 789-44 98.6%
9/27/09 Bonfield 194-4 199-12 196-3 194-8 783-27 97.9%
10/4/09 Bonfield 193-7 200-10 200-9 200-9 793-35 99.1%
10/11/09 Bonfield 93-2 100-6 97-2 199-12 489-22 97.8%


The Stories

This was the first year that I actually started working with the service rifle before I finished the smallbore season. I just wanted to ease into highpower sooner and identify and document my improvements faster. Another change is that all my focus during the pre-season has been in standing. Other positions have been made secondary to being able to bring offhand to the level where I expect it to be.


At the end of last year I feel I finally had a handle on both rapid and slow prone. By that I mean that I could distill the most important part of these stages down to a few concepts that I had to execute. When I am prepping to shoot that stage, I just remember the concepts and put them into practice. This makes it easier than trying to remember a checklist of things.


The NRA brought another significant change to highpower by eliminating the requirement to stand before rapid fire strings. They did allow those who wished to stand to do so but loading can only be done once in position. I've never shot like this before so I'm sure it will be different.



April 19

In addition to getting zeros for my rebarreled upper, the other goal for today was to test out my new boots. This was certainly the day for it with mild temperatures but a rainy forecast, soggy ground, and heavy overcast. Despite my pre-season work on standing, when I took my firing point and began dry-firing things didn't feel right. It seemed like the rifle was too far away from me to the right side and I was trying to pull it in. I tried different positions for my support arm and was changing things. Towards the end of the string it got a little better but not before half the shots I fired went out. For the rapids I decided to try staying in position. It felt very different since I have been so used to getting up over the years. I didn't feel like there was any extra time gained doing this but I think there is an advantage in already having (and not losing) the position. This was more evident in sitting than rapid prone. Sometimes in sitting I will squirm around a little after dropping into position but this time I didn't have to do that. I was able to just shoot with everything the same as it was in prep and sighters. The sitting group was good but a couple clicks high due to no zeros. For rapid prone the advantage wasn't as pronounced. In slow prone I had a hard time getting centered up. The front sight was black and clear but I think I just didn't have a relaxed position to start with.

Offhand: 95-1

Sitting: 100-2

Rapid Prone: 100-6

Slow Prone: 195-3

Aggregate: 490-12



April 26

This was another day where we just seemed to miss the rain. Although the breeze did pick up during the course of the day. It wasn't a factor for my relay at 200 but was blowing downrange in both rapid and slow prone. I put more back bend in my standing position and that seemed to bring more control to the rifle and I saw a steadier hold. Mental mistakes allowed the bad shots but I was happy with the x-count. Sitting didn't feel as solid as last week but I will be trying to bring my right elbow inboard more during the coming week. Rapid prone had a wide group. The side shots were still inside the 10-ring but I had one shot at the very bottom and another just off the line at six. Slow prone felt more comfortable than last week but I was getting lazy in letting bad shots go. I would see the sights rise up a bit and still let the shot go even though I knew it was high.

Offhand: 97-5

Sitting: 99-2

Rapid Prone: 99-3

Slow Prone: 195-6

Aggregate: 490-16



May 2

I seem to have a hard time replicating my home offhand hold to a match one. This morning saw the sights wandering more than I wanted them to. Instead of a lazy wobble the movement was quick and unpredictable. This led to a whole string of nines in the first half. After shooting an eight for my 11th shot, I figured out that if I elevate my right elbow that twists the rifle into my face more and I can get better control. After that I only dropped one more point and was able to dictate the movement of the rifle better. Sitting felt good and the rifle did not move very much. As I was about to shoot the last shot on the first string the rifle went "click" instead of bang and I saw the head of the unfired cartridge sticking out of the ejection port with the bolt closed on it. With seven x's on this string I was able to get another good group on the second string although it was on the left side. With the alibi I now had to shoot a clean to keep my 200. I did it with another 7x. My rapid prone wasn't nearly as good. I felt like I had good front sight focus but after each shot I had to keep pushing the sights back on target from the right. The groups were big and I even pushed an eight out the top. The goal of slow prone was to get a zero for 600 but it wasn't going to be a no-wind one. The wind was going downrange and would sometimes push to the right and sometimes go straight. Regardless, a slightly looser sling helped get a more relaxed position.

Offhand: 190-5

Sitting: 200-13

Rapid Prone: 195-4

Slow Prone: 191-4

Aggregate: 776-26



May 9

My experience with match rifles is limited to a few tries in long-range matches but never across the course. Still, I was curious about trying one so I borrowed a .223 spacegun and shot it in a match that I was running. I did a little bit of prep with it the week before the match to see what adjustments I should use but that seemed like a labor-intensive task. I wound up getting an approximate 200 yard zero and settling on two positions for the length of pull on the buttstock, one for standing and one for everything else. That was all the adjustment I could stand.

In standing I actually found a small benefit to the spacegun. Because of the short magazine, the magazine well rested naturally on the back of my palm based on my normal way of holding the rifle. I found it more difficult to call my shots with a good call leading to something wider. Getting started was rough with 11 points dropped in the first 8 shots. But after that I got into a rhythm and was able to clean the next 10 shots with the final two shots of the stage being 9's. Unfortunately there was no rhythm in sitting. Trying to shoot this thing like my service rifle just made my position unstable and I felt very loose while firing. The groups were oval in shape with one end in the middle and then spreading out to the edge of the black at 2 o'clock. Thank God I didn't have to work a bolt! Rapid prone was a little more stable but I found that I canted the gun to the left to get the sights in front of my eye. The groups were pretty decent but a little low. Not bad considering I didn't have zeros. I was able to play with the buttstock adjustment a bit more for slow prone but the rifle never felt right. In addition I had a hard time keeping the same focus on the front sight and I was adjusting the rear aperture open and closed. I lost three nines early on and was able to clean the remainder.

What have I learned from this experience? First, shooting a match rifle is almost like taking up another sport. There are so many new things to learn and so many new mistakes to make. Second, there might be potential there to increase my scores but I don't see a lot of immediate benefit for the effort required. It would still require a lot of dedication to a new rifle with a lot of adjustment and tinkering. I enjoy shooting more than tinkering with equipment.

Offhand: 187-5

Sitting: 192-4

Rapid Prone: 197-9

Slow Prone: 197-9

Aggregate: 773-27



May 23

Pair firing standing in the team match and it was hard to settle on the target. The signts had a mind of their own. I was taking my time and trying to break the shots clean but lost concentration on one shot and fired an eight. For the rapids I am now going to shoot 2 & 8 instead of 5 & 5. The diverging procedures between the NRA and CMP means I have to change the way I shoot most matches just to accommodate shooting in one week of the Nationals. Anyway, my sitting position wasn't supported properly and I put three shots out at 4 o'clock. Rapid prone went well and felt good. In slow prone my biggest problem was holding elevation. I had multiple shots out the top probably from not being demanding enough when I was seeing the front sight.

Offhand: 96-2

Sitting: 97-2

Rapid Prone: 100-3

Slow Prone: 191-2

Aggregate: 484-9



May 24

Starting at 600 the wind was slow and readable but my bigger challenge was holding 10-ring elevation. I started dropping shots out the bottom and then the top but it was the comfort of my position that was giving me fits. I felt like I was contorted and my neck was straining to see through the rear sight. Everything seems comfortable in prep but then goes downhill after I shoot for a while. Things were better in rapid prone due to tightening my sling with mostly centered groups but a few shots high in the ten ring. Standing was still rocky with no rhyme or reason to the wobble. I dropped a bunch of points early on, got comfortable during the middle stint and then dropped a few more at the end. Sitting went well but the last shot of my second string felt like it was going into the 7-ring on the left. I was sweating out the seconds until the target came up with the errant shot just on the 10 line at 9 o'clock.

Offhand: 189-5

Sitting: 200-10

Rapid Prone: 199-8

Slow Prone: 194-4

Slow Prone: 197-6

Aggregate: 978-31



June 6

The weather forecast was iffy for our state highpower championship. The rain did come while I was in the pits and one of the biggest challenges was keeping the pasters dry. I have been working on my standing hoping to make my hold smaller and get better control over the rifle. Today's offhand went fairly well at the beginning with enough movement to make me stop and start several shot routines over again. As my dry-firing has shown me, getting cheek pressure on the stock will get more control over the rifle and slow down the movement. This was inconsistent though and I had six bad shots. Sitting went well with a 6-x and 8-x cleans. Tightening my sling has really allowed me to improve my ability to keep the rifle controlled in rapid prone. In the first string I broke several shots higher than normal and I was rewarded with three tens and one nine at 12 o'clock. My second string had a sight picture with more of the black showing above the post and was a clean with half the shots at 6 o'clock in the 10-ring. When I started slow prone I thought I was actually focusing on the front sight. But I started out throwing elevation nines and was wondering if I would throw away the day's hard work. I started to become more deliberate in focusing on the top edge of the post and that's when I got back in the middle.

Offhand: 194-6

Sitting: 200-14

Rapid Prone: 199-7

Slow Prone: 195-6

Aggregate: 788-33



June 13

A pretty nice day to shoot but not a good day for my standing. I had my ever-present high frequency wobble which causes the sight to dart in and out of the middle. I would break shots and they kept coming up nines. Many of these were going out at about 2 o'clock. Sitting was acceptable but I wound up coming down one click which seems contrary to my zero from the last several matches. My first string of 300 had less than x-ring elevation with 5 click wide windage while the second string was two clicks wide but from the top of the 10-ring to the bottom. I finally worked on truly focusing on the front sight and that helped keep the shots in the middle. Of course, I had some lapses and it cost me some points.

Offhand: 190-3

Sitting: 200-8

Rapid Prone: 199-7

Slow Prone: 197-8

Aggregate: 786-26


June 14

30 shot President's team match. Standing really clicked this morning with the shots breaking well. I wish I could put my finger on why it worked. At 300 my group was fine but shifted low. Seems like I have been playing with elevation at this range this weekend. Slow prone lost one shot to wind and one to elevation. Still, it was a good score for this course of fire.

Offhand: 98-2

Rapid Prone: 99-3

Slow Prone: 98-4

Aggregate: 295-9


June 14

On some days the shooting gods look down on you and smile. On those days they bless you with an ability to execute the basics and perform in a way that you rarely can. On other days they let you wallow in a miserable shooting experience. This was going to be one of the latter days. Just a few shots into standing told me that things weren't going to go well. My hold was too big and when I did break the shots they were on the way out. For the rapids, this was my first try at the CMP method of dropping into position and pulling the bolt back. At this range though, the muzzles must be no higher than level so that added to the complication. I dropped into sitting and nothing felt right. I was muscling the gun and it was shaking back and forth. My group was on the right side and I also put four shots out. But wait, it gets worse. When I dropped into prone at 300 my first though was that I should close the bolt. After all, that's what I've always done for years. Before I did this though I needed to lower my muzzle so I put the rifle butt in my shoulder. Then I reached over the rifle with my right hand and hit the bolt stop. Since the bolt was already forward nothing happened. Realizing this I yanked on the charging handle with the rifle in my shoulder to open the bolt and then let it strip the first round. I heard it chamber and I lined up the sights. As usual, I took a little extra time to line up the first shot. My cadence felt normal but later I saw the targets begin to drop in the pits. I squeezed the trigger and got the shot off but the bolt going back forward signaled that I had saved a round. Oh, well. At 600 just tried to concentrate on the front sight and put them in the middle. The string felt good and the number of x's was satisfying but the two that I lost were elevation including my last for record.

Offhand: 92-2

Sitting: 96-2

Rapid Prone: 89-3

Slow Prone: 198-12

Aggregate: 475-19



July 11

I still have the shakes in offhand. The absolute movement isn't huge but the sights tend to dart around the entire black. This makes it very difficult to decide when to shoot. Because of the lag between when I decide to shoot and when the gun actually goes off, the movement has already carried me out of the 10. My sitting felt no different than other strings. The sights would come back to the target, I would dress up the sight picture, and squeeze the shot off. Actually some shots felt like they were pretty wide and the last shot looked to me like it went off as the sights slid past center. My reward for this mediocre effort was my second ever 100-10x. All at the bottom of the x-ring. I followed this up with a much bigger group that had two out the bottom. 300 was a bit strung out in the wind with a 9 on each string. In slow prone the targets were in some shadow which made getting contrast with the post more difficult. The changing breeze didn't help matters but it was the elevation shots that frustrate me more.

Offhand: 187-2

Sitting: 198-13

Rapid Prone: 198-5

Slow Prone: 192-4

Aggregate: 775-24


July 12

As I was pair firing I had some more time between shots to analyze my standing. I tried all kinds of things to get rid of the wobble I had but to no avail. Rapids went fine but I have noticed that after going back to loading 2&8 it seems like it takes forever to finish that second magazine. Precisely the reason I went to 5&5. Now, I keep waiting for the bolt to lock back and it takes a long time to happen. At 600 the front sight looked good and it wasn't too hard to keep it sharp. Keeping out of the wind changes was more difficult with two 9's and one 8.

Offhand: 94-1

Sitting: 100-4

Rapid Prone: 100-4

Slow Prone: 196-8

Aggregate: 490-17



July 18

The weather this weekend was very un-Van Meter like. No high temperatures. No high humidity. Even sweatshirt weather in the morning. I spent some time this past week working on my offhand to try to control the movement better. I found that I could slow down the sights if I didn't twist my hips toward the target and kept them square. This brings the rifle more across my chest. In this morning's team match the rifle movement wasn't the problem, it was seeing. The range faces east so the sun wasn't directly in my eyes but I was getting a bright spot in the middle of the aperture. This caused a problem focusing on the front sight but more so it made the target washed out. This led to bad calls and just plain breaking shots when I didn't know where I was aiming. Other than that the morning was uneventful with a decent rapid fire and one bad shot at 600 when I pulled the trigger and watched the front sight rise on the target as the gun was going off. That gave me an eight out the top.

Offhand: 95-0

Rapid Prone: 100-5

Slow Prone: 98-4

Aggregate: 293-9


July 18

This is my second leg match of the year and that means my second chance to try to get used to the weird CMP rapid fire loading method. Offhand really wasn't working this afternoon and I wasn't sure why. For sitting I dropped into position with a closed bolt and the first thing I did was to hit the bolt release. Old habits die hard. There was some side-to-side shake in the sights and I broke one just out at three. While rapid prone went fine, 600 didn't. I was trying to focus on the front sight and break clean shots but things got sloppy and I paid the price in a whole mess of dropped points.

Offhand: 96-1

Sitting: 99-7

Rapid Prone: 100-5

Slow Prone: 194-9

Aggregate: 489-22


July 19

For this morning's Regional I was again facing into the sun but the glare wasn't as bad. I was able to see and, more importantly, my position with my hips more square to the target and the rifle across my chest gave me less movement. It still took effort to get the sights to the middle and then I still needed to break the shot clean, but it was much better than it has been this year. Not many x's but many shots were inside of call. On my first string of sitting I called one shot out on the right and that was the only nine. 300 had some good centered groups with a couple of fringe shots on each string. I worked hard in slow prone to get comfortable and focus on the front sight. When I could clearly see the top of the post, it would be an x. Unfortunately, three poor shots crept in.

Offhand: 196-3

Sitting: 199-7

Rapid Prone: 199-13

Slow Prone: 197-11

Aggregate: 791-34


That was probably my last time shooting before Camp Perry this year. I feel better about my offhand than I did a month ago and I'm pretty confident in my rapids and 600. As I do every year, I go out to Ohio trying to shoot the best score that I can.



August 3

This my 12th time firing in the President’s Rifle Match but I stepped up to the firing line with my nerves going full throttle. Despite this, the rifle was holding fairly well and after I got the jitters out of the way with the first two shots I cruised through the string. My rapid prone felt a bit sloppy and I wasn’t sure what I was going to get. Luckily the target came up with a clean. For 600 my wind call was good initially but I got caught on a couple of shots despite trying to shoot as fast as possible.

My score put me second overall and I got into the shootoff. With a couple of delays due to boats in the impact area we started firing shot by shot. My correction for the first round was too much as the bullet went just wide of the 10-ring at 9 o’clock. After that I just doped off the mirage, the flags and the previous shot to stay in the 10 until a pickup gave me a wide 8 on the right. For the eighth shot I spent so much time trying to figure out what correction to put on, I took too long to shoot and the targets went down into the pits as time expired for that shot. That gave me a miss and I tumbled down the order. The final two shots were 10’s and I came away feeling that I had performed well compared to the other shooters but that one saved round cost me the President’s win. Still, I shot a personal best in this match so I don’t have too much to be ashamed of.  

Offhand: 97-3

Rapid Prone: 100-4

Slow Prone: 98-2

Aggregate: 295-9


August 4

The wind came out a bit for the NTI. It was moving me around a little in standing and I reacted with lousy trigger control. Despite an X for my first shot I let my discipline slip and started to grab the trigger and rush into bad shots. In one case I snatched at the whole pistol grip and it seemed like an eternity before the gun went off. During that time the sights flew out to the left and all I saw was white above my post. That piece of work netted me a six. I dropped into position in sitting and of course I hit the bolt release despite the CMP rules of having a closed bolt. I’m still trying to overcome an ingrained action. As I began shooting 300 with 6 clicks of windage I saw the flags shift towards downrange so I took off one click during the magazine change. It wasn’t enough as I lost one shot at 8 o’clock and one more low at 7. At 600 I knew that it would be difficult to gauge any wind changes during the string. The sky was a bit overcast with no mirage. I just wanted to shoot fast and keep my exposure to a minimum. I put on 16 clicks to start with and had a nine just out on the right. I put on two more clicks and kept going. I had another nine in a let off and an 8 in a pickup but then got into a rhythm for most of the string.

Offhand: 90-3

Sitting: 99-1

Rapid Prone: 98-3

Slow Prone: 195-8



August 6

This morning’s weather was great for standing. The only adjustment for conditions was to pull my hat down to keep the sun out of my eyes. I started with a nine, then shot another one a few shots later, then shot another one a few shots later, then finished with one. I found that I had to bring the sight up into the target. That worked fine but I felt like we were running out of time so I probably broke some shots that I should have tried again on. When I dropped into sitting I actually did not hit the bolt stop. I racked the charging handle like I’m supposed to. When I got on the sights I kept having to bring the rifle to the left because I felt like my NPA was way off to the right. I must have come down from standing and shifted position. For rapid prone I did hit the bolt release with no effect. While I only dropped one I felt like I should have shot a much better group since the shots were all over the 10-ring. The wind was changing often when I started shooting at 600. My coach had me clicking but for the most part we were able to stay inside the 10.

Offhand: 95-2

Sitting: 100-4

Rapid Prone: 99-1

Slow Prone: 197-6



August 9

The NRA has added a new 2-man team match and it looked like it would be fun to shoot. The breeze in standing made it not so much fun though. As always it wasn’t enough to really cause big problems but it was enough to affect me mentally. Only one shot out of the black but several more nines. The group in sitting was spread out but still a clean and the 300 string felt good. I’ve been really happy with the way my rapid prone has been going this year. After so much time with large and misplaced groups I am finally confident when I shoot this event. The wind was pretty strong at 600 and it was giving us fits. It was mostly the pick-ups that were problematic but with the wind velocity it was difficult to make out mirage.

Offhand: 94-0

Sitting: 100-2

Rapid Prone: 100-6

Slow Prone: 189-6



August 10

Today’s team match was fairly calm when I shot. The string started well. The shots were breaking more or less on call but I was still having to work harder than I expected to. About half way through it felt like I had already fired 10 shots and I was being worn down. A wavering sight and bad decision making caused a seven out the top. Sitting felt fine but had plenty of x’s while 300 was another clean today. Getting centered up at 600 was a challenge with the blowing wind and my x-count showed it.

Offhand: 94-3

Sitting: 100-8

Rapid Prone: 100-6

Slow Prone: 191-2



August 11

The first day of the NRA championship brought great conditions to shoot offhand. My pace was a little too fast and I broke some shots that I should have waited on. After I dropped my fifth point on shot 10 I decided to be more disciplined on when to let the shot go. After that things went smoothly with nines on my last two shots. I went into sitting with a positive attitude and expecting to clean it, which I did. I had the same attitude towards 300 but instead of the wind giving me problems it was me holding poor elevation. The front sight was not very clear due to the lighting conditions and I was dropping shots out the bottom.

Offhand: 193-1

Sitting: 200-9

Rapid Prone: 197-3


August 12

Today is when the wind comes out for standing. I was moved around a little but it was hard to still break good shots. As soon as the sights were in the middle, I would jerk the rifle. I found that if I had a position that elevated the rifle more that brought some of the hold down. My confidence was high when I shot my sitting and I felt that the group was alright through the sights but I wound up losing two 9’s out the bottom. Conditions were good for 600 with an easy to read mirage. I spent so much time trying stay on top of the wind that I didn’t spend enough time executing the basics and focusing on the front sight. I lost more shots to elevation than windage including an eight because I shot without dressing up the sight.

Offhand: 189-5

Sitting: 198-6

Slow Prone: 196-8


August 13

What should have been the easiest day turned ugly in the afternoon. After a straightforward sitting and an uneventful rapid prone, I had only dropped one on the day and felt like I could finish well today. At 600 the sun was out and the wind was changing a little but still tolerable. I started shooting and it didn't take long to begin shooting nines. I'd get them up high and down low and in the corners. I would try to focus on the front sight as well as I could but I still shot them. I left the line scratching my head and it wasn't until the next day that I could narrow down the problem.

Sitting: 200-9

Rapid Prone: 199-8

Slow Prone: 191-4


August 14

This was a pretty calm morning for standing but my heart wasn't into it. I started with a few decent shots but whenever I would call a shot out it wound up an eight. I never really saw these as my calls weren't that far out. The only thing I could think of is that I wasn't being discriminate enough with what I saw through the sights and I would let the shots go even when I shouldn't have. At 600 I got into position determined that I wouldn't repeat yesterday's performance. After I started shooting I didn't feel comfortable so I focused on what my muscles were doing. While my support arm and hand were relaxed, I noticed that my back just below my left shoulder blade was tensed and pushing forward. When I concentrated on relaxing this I could break good shots but things were still uncomfortable. I shot through the discomfort but realized at the end that my position was such that I should have adjusted my sling to support the rifle better instead of using my back muscles.

Offhand: 185-2

Rapid Prone: 199-8

Slow Prone: 198-7

Aggregate: 2345-70



September 5

It was a little hard to see the targets this morning as we had some fog on the range. When looking through the sights the sighting black was hard to discern from the rest of the frame. This made my calls inaccurate but I just tried to put the post in the middle of the gray blob and squeeze the trigger. With the fog my first sitting group was low but still a clean. The second group had seven shots in the middle with one 9 out the top. Right after Camp Perry I replaced my sling and I'm still working on the correct tension for each stage. I got pretty close for rapid prone but things still didn't feel like they used to. The first group had a 9 straight out the left side. The rest of the group was still bigger than the x-ring. The second group was on the left side but it was about as tall as 3/4 of the 10 ring. For slow prone I didn't shoot with much wind on the gun but my bigger problem was getting completely comfortable and shooting with the right sight picture so that was a mediocre performance there.

Offhand: 194-6

Rapid Prone: 199-12

Rapid Prone: 198-6

Slow Prone: 195-8

Aggregate: 786-32


September 6

Standing for the team match just seemed like one bad shot after another. I didn't have anything out of the black but the 9's were everywhere. At one point I shot three in a row. My calls were bad and several shots seemed to go out to that 2 o'clock corner. I've put quite a few out there over time and I'm thinking about what is causing this. The other problem was there seemed to be such a long delay between when I decided to fire and when the gun actually went off. During this time the sights would dart across the target and then the rifle fired. Regardless, this was just a poor performance with too much movement in the rifle. Sitting was another dropped point while 300 had a misplaced first string with two 9's. In slow prone I wasn't any more comfortable than yesterday but I still have to find the right sling position.

Offhand: 189-4

Sitting: 199-10

Rapid Prone: 197-7

Slow Prone: 195-10

Aggregate: 780-31



September 13

It's been a long time since I've shot here at Bonfield. For some reason it was decided to use the NRA's alternate scoring system. I would break a shot that I thought was just on the line and the value disk was in the lower right corner of the target frame. Since I was pair firing, I didn't have a scope so the spotter looked like it was on the line but the value, to me, was saying it was a nine instead of a ten. I had several shots in a row like this and I started to feel frustrated. Then I realized that this meant these shots were tens. Even so, I would have like the hold to be smaller. Sitting was a clean but it seemed like one of those cleans you luck into rather than one you hold for. There wasn't the control I normally strive for. My first seven shots in rapid prone were all within the 10-ring but then I felt like I was running out of time. I threw the last three downrange faster than I should have blurry vision and all. My first sighters in slow prone were at the top of the ten ring so I came down one click and then proceeded to have mid-ring 10's at six. I was afraid of coming back up the one click and put one out the top so I stayed in the bottom. After a clean first half I dropped two shots out the bottom in the second half. Looks like it was one click on the gun and six clicks in my head.

Offhand: 97-2

Sitting: 100-4

Rapid Prone: 97-4

Slow Prone: 198-7

Aggregate: 492-17



September 26

Standing this morning was, for some reason, very relaxing. I didn't have to exert a lot of effort to get the sights in the middle and it just seemed like I was bringing the rifle up, breaking the shot, and doing it again. I concentrated on keeping my hips and torso square to the target. The first string of sitting felt good and had 8 x's. I fired the second string too fast and I knew it. As I was breaking the shots I wanted to slow down but I kept shooting when I was still coming down from recoil. That cost me one shot out on the left. My 300 yard groups were pretty good with the first string having a nine that was just across the line and the second string being an 8-x clean. While I felt comfortable in slow prone I didn't have good sight focus on several shots. The first nine I shot I was focusing on the target and not the post. I should have been in the 790's today but silly mistakes put me several points down from where I wanted to be.

Offhand: 195-6

Rapid Prone: 199-15

Rapid Prone: 199-13

Slow Prone: 196-10

Aggregate: 789-44


September 27

Today's standing was not quite as relaxed as yesterday but it still wasn't too difficult to get good shots off. I had three nine's in the first half and then settled down and just tried to get the front sight in the middle. When it didn't want to go, I just started over again. On the 18th shot the rifle swung across the black out to seven o'clock and I got an eight for my trouble. I couldn't get the job done in sitting as I had one shot just out on the first string. With some forceful pulling back on the pistol grip I had an 8x on the second string. In the afternoon for rapid prone the clouds would alternate the range in sun and shade. This made it really difficult to get good front sight focus and my groups opened up. Slow prone started off as a struggle. I shot corner nines and I couldn't call the shots that were out. I normally shoot with both eyes open but found that things looked brighter through the sights with my left eye closed. I shot my ninth shot like this and got a seven. After that I knew I couldn't continue flailing so I thought about my position and shortened my sling. That made things much better and I cleaned the final 11 shots.

Offhand: 194-4

Sitting: 199-12

Rapid Prone: 196-3

Slow Prone: 194-8

Aggregate: 783-27



October 4

It was a chilly morning but at least I wasn't shivering in offhand. I tried to get my third shot off too fast and got an eight for my effort. After that I wanted to take my time and only let the shot go when I was in control. On several shots the sights arrived in the middle and I had good front sight focus. On a few others there was more movement than there should have and I wasn't patient enough. It's those decisions to not shoot a bad shot that kept me from a better score. The bad shots were easy enough to see which tells me that I need to wait and patiently let the good shots come. My first string of sitting felt really good but I must not have brought the post high enough into the black because there were four shots in the bottom of the 10-ring. The second string was better but I still had a few low shots despite the narrow group. At 300 I took my time and made sure I could see the front sight when I fired. It's been a pretty good year for rapid prone but I finally got my first 200 for the year. After much experimentation after Camp Perry, I was able to get my sling right for slow prone. This gave me a position that was comfortable and I could get behind the sights without having to push or pull the rifle. After that it was just a case of focusing on the front sight and squeezing the trigger.

Offhand: 193-7

Rapid Prone: 200-10

Rapid Prone: 200-9

Slow Prone: 200-9

Aggregate: 793-35



October 11

I don't normally shoot this late into October but this was a match that was rescheduled from the middle of the year. There was a heavy overcast and the high temperature never got above the mid-40's. I don't like the cold but it affected my outlook towards my shooting rather than anything mechanical with shot execution. I started shooting offhand and just didn't have the same drive towards only breaking good shots. I would give up on shots sooner than normal as I just did not want to stand out in the cold with just a shooting coat on. The results were predictable with plenty of nines and one eight. After the 200 last week in rapid prone I was actually looking forward to that stage. While the whole group was only x-ring wide, I dropped three shots out the bottom. I think when the sky is darker as it was today it is harder to see the target. To offset this I tend to drop the front sight lower to see more of the target above the post. I came back stronger in slow prone with my first shot for record out the bottom and then cruised through the rest.

Offhand: 93-2

Rapid Prone: 100-6

Rapid Prone: 97-2

Slow Prone: 199-12

Aggregate: 489-22




End of season reflections



The biggest change to my shooting this year occurred not because of me trying to improve but because of a rule change. Having to stay in position for rapid fire strings in NRA matches changed how I approach these events.  The expectation to clean the target is much stronger now, especially for sitting. This expectation is based on the fact that, for me anyway, sitting is much easier not having to break position.


Overall this season I found that while my average score wasn't as high as previous years like 2006 or 2007, I still found myself winning matches and placing well. In addition to winning a couple of NRA Regionals and several state championships my best placement at the Nationals was in the President's match. While I wasn't able to win the match, being in a position to do so gives me confidence for the future.


My standing was up and down this year but it's up and down every year. My typical pattern is a mediocre offhand performance for most of the year and then some decent scores in the autumn. Typically my average standing score in September is higher than any other month.


Sitting was good with plenty of cleans and a pretty high average score. Of course a lot of that is due to the rule I mentioned.


After so many seasons of inconsistent rapid prone strings, this year I was finally able to confidently face this stage.  Staying in position really didn't affect me but taking my time to focus on the front sight controlling the rifle more with cheek pressure helped. This shrunk my groups down which gave me more leeway when the groups weren't perfectly centered.


My slow prone was sub-standard all year. Too many mid-190's that should have been high-190's. As I found out in the last 600 yard match at Camp Perry I was putting tension in the muscles in my upper back to push my left arm forward. Once I came back to a truly relaxed position it was much easier to break shots in the middle.


In summary it was a pretty good year. I was able to have fun at matches which is something that was missing last year.