Friday, May 02, 2008

Epiphanies in rifle practice

I was practicing shooting by the numbers last night and was unsatisfied with my support hand placement, so I pulled out my copy of Art of the Rifle, and reviewed. As I read and reviewed the pictures, I was reminded that I needed a proper shooting sling, and not the cheap surplus web one I picked up for a few bucks at the last gun show. I needed a sling that had a loop suitable for putting the support arm though, I was just doing a hasty sling, and wrapping my arm around it. This put pressure on the rear sling loop which was at the bottom of the butt of the rifle, and forced the rifle to cant to the left (I shoot rifles lefty). This meant I had to expend muscle pressure to keep the rifle vertical, which meant it was subject to random muscle spasms. This meant a shaky front sight.

I wondered how much a difference a sling I could put my arm through would make and wondered if I could rig one up with the nylon webbing I had lying around. As I thought I realized the sling I was using had a loop through it, but it looked to be too far back to be used in such a way. I tried it anyway, pulling the loop high into my armpit as I got into the prone position.
A giant light-bulb went off.

Everything was perfect. The pressure of the sling against my upper arm was perfectly matched by the pressure of my shoulder. The front sight was almost completely immobile. My support arm was completely relaxed, and held in place by solid bone instead of twitching muscle. The stock was held firmly against the pocket of my shoulder. Everything was exactly like I thought it should be, but could never quite get to. Everything was perfect.

After my initial excitement at this new discovery, I settled down to test how steady I could make that front sight. As I lay immobile, watching the tiniest twitches of the front sight I realized I could now truly discern the effect of my heartbeat on the rifle. I thought for a bit and realized that this must be why people used shooting jackets and shooting gloves, to keep skin from naked contact with the rifle. I grabbed a jacket and a thick washcloth (lacking a thick gloves), and after futzing with the sling's contact with these new garments, settled into a prone position. This time, the front sight was dead still. Dead. Still. I seem to have accomplished a perfectly stable shooting position!

Pulling the trigger (of course) was a whole 'nother ballgame. I pulled off about 1/10 dry-fires completely undisturbed, and was surprised at how heavy my previously light trigger seemed. The trigger hadn't changed of course, my sensitivity and perception to it had.

I'm excited to get out to a proper rifle range and put this practice to the test.

Until then I'll have to work on getting my trigger control down to three muscles. Excitement.

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