Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Preparing YOU and your RIFLE for Service Rifle Competition

It has been my observation that many Canadian Rangers are not well prepared for service rifle competitions. It is simply a style of shooting we don't do very often. Having said that there are some things you can do in your home community before travelling to shoot BCRA/ORA service rifle or CFSAC.  A good portion of the preparation and readiness required to win is directly related to establishing the proper zero and sight picture, one of the tiers of successful marksmanship.

Please note that the following is not the conventional method of zeroing your rifle for field duty. This is for competition applications only.

The traditional method of zeroing the lee enfield rifle was designed to ensure that ‘point of impact’ (POI) was the same as the ‘point of aim’ (POA). It is arguable to say that while this zeroing system works well under conventional circumstances it does not provide the best results in service rifle competitions.

I will identify why this is the case and propose an unconventional zeroing system that wins championships.

The first thing I would like the reader to do is to “keep an open mind”.

Shooting with open sights at targets ranged between 25m and 500m is both entertaining and challenging. Regardless of the distance you are shooting at the key factor that wins matches is a ‘consistent site picture’.

The traditional method of engaging targets is by aiming at the centre of mass. This works fairly well out to 200m but starts to fail the shooter between 300m and 500m. At these distances the shooter is no longer able to discern the centre of the target. The shooter is faced with making a guess where the centre is or to change sight picture and make unnecessary site adjustments. This does not bode well for consistency, accuracy nor does it achieve results on the trophy podium.

The Mission is to train Rangers to shoot at the base of the target with a point of impact that is ten inches high. The centre of the V-Bull on all 12.59 targets is exactly ten inches up from the base of the target. At all times, regardless of the distance to target, the shooter will be able to acquire sight picture on the base of the target faster, with more comfort and achieve more consistent results in deliberate, snap and rapid-fire serials.

Try to think which sight picture (conventional or competition) would serve you best while examining these photos.
Conventional: At 200m things are able to see the centre of mass but you're starting to experience eye strain.
Competition: The base of the target is clearly visible (V-Bulls are easy peasy)

Conventional: At 300m you are having extreme difficulty accurately discerning the centre of mass
Competition: The base of the target is clearly visible (keep shooting V-Bulls!)

Conventional: At 400m you can no longer see the centre, you are starting to guess now
Competition: You can just make out the base of the target (don't quit yet!).

Conventional: At 500m the target appears as a tiny grey dot - inpossible to discern the centre.
Competition You are now aiming at the base of the 4' frame
From this small graphical simulation you can see why aiming at the base of the target can be of assistance when in service rifle competitions.

For your consideration: Establish a base-line at 200m using a 12/59 ‘C’ target – engage your target using your conventional point of aim (centre of mass) with ten rounds before attempting the following zeroing process.

Then try it again while aiming at the base of the target. Raise your sights by five minutes of angle (approximately 10 clicks if a vernier rear site). Compare the two groups and you will probably find there is no significant difference, remember this doesn't really start to win dividends until you're between 300 and 500 metres out. What you might realize though is a reduction in eye strain in the ever continuing struggle to clearly see the desired point of aim.

ZEROING (Two Phases)
You will set your rear sight to 200 yards. We will start at 25 metres and adjust your front sight to the appropriate height and then fine tune on a 12/59 ‘C’ target at 200m with a 10” high POI.

If you are instructing this you may discover some hesitancy from the participants to attempt this as they will be stepping outside of their comfort zone. Once they start to see an increase in performance I am positive they will be intrigued and more receptive to further coaching in marksmanship discipline.

End State:
At the end of this zeroing exercise the participant will:
  1. Understand the importance of consistent sight picture regardless of the distance from which the shooter is engaging targets;
  2. Have zeroed and calibrated their service rifle to obtain a POI ten inches high at all distances;
  3. Obtained a higher degree of marksmanship confidence;
PHASE ONE – 25 metres
  • Rear Sight: Flipped up to utilize the 200 yard rear site setting;
  • Target: 1" horizontal X 1 ½” vertical black rectangle
  • Shooting Position: Prone Supported
  • Point of Aim: 6’Oclock position (base of rectangle)
  • Desired 25m Point of Impact: 1 3/8” above the point of aim (+/- ¼”) this will give you 10" high at 200m   NOTE: If you want POI to be the same as POA at 200m you want your 25m grouping to be 3/4" high on the square.
  • Grouping: 5 Shots
  • Only concerned with precise elevation – not windage
  • If a grouping is high then a taller front blade is required;
  • If a grouping is low then a shorter front blade is required;
  • Each front blade increment is .015 inches taller than the last;
  • One change of increment will vary the point of impact by 1/2" at 25 metres or 2” at 100m

  • Centre of grouping is 3” lower than the 1 3/8” desired POI (ft site too tall)
  • Front Blade is currently +090
  • 3” low / ½” size increments
  • Need shorter blade six sizes smaller which is +000
PHASE TWO – 200 metres

  • Rear Sight: Flip up to utilize the 200 yard site setting;
  • Target: 12/59C 
  • Shooting Position: Prone Supported
  • Point of Aim: 6’Oclock position (base of target)
  • Desired Point of Impact: 10” above the point of aim
  • Grouping: 5 Shots
  • Correct for elevation and windage as required
The end result will help to get you closer to obtaining one of these
Shoot Safely - Shoot Straight - Shoot Well