Hangin’ It Up Soon

I decided that I don’t have the time or the inclination for all this right now.  It’s not that I don’t like to shoot, or even to write about it, I just don’t feel the need to be accountable to do either at a certain frequency.

I think that I’ve gotten a lot out of my endeavors to share my shooting with you, and for a time it was a very rewarding experience.  It reached the point of diminishing returns for me, probably sometime last year, and has since become more of a chore than a labor of love.  Having a full time job and a family is more than enough as it is, and is really where I need to focus my attention.


The Target Doesn’t Care

It’s pretty easy to get stuck within the confines of a certain method.  Adopting a method is a necessity to develop skill.  Dabbling without committing to a way is a good way to stay in the “suck zone”.

A method can become a problem when the shooter attaches a portion of his ego to it.  It’s really easy to get stuck in the trap of this versus that in subjects as minute as trigger control, positional shooting, equipment, etcetera.  Sometimes the attachments are for really weird reasons too, such as tradition, because whatever way is the right way, primacy (what you learned first), because of hero worship, or other impractical, emotion-driven nonsense.

I’ve also noticed the need in some people to take extra, unnecessary punishment.  If it wasn’t really hard, it must  be crap!  I have had that problem (see four years of preceding blog entries).

Why are those things problems?  Let’s start with emotional attachment to a method.  Things evolve.  Methods become more effective.  People get better at stuff and the state of the art changes.  Getting stuck is a pretty effective way to become obsolete.  You are likely to disregard effective changes as being flash in the pan trends, while you are actually being left behind.  Obsolescence = BAD (unless you want to be a living museum).

As for the gluttons for punishment, I think it is obvious that if we can get a task done as effectively or more effectively with less effort, that is GOOD.  I’m gonna break the rules and leave that paragraph as one sentence.  Oh wait!

Here’s an example to cover both of these problems.  I learned to shoot in sitting position the right way.  Some could call it the best way.  It was a time tested method proven in competition.  I always like something a little different, and cross ankle sitting with a sling is a little off the beaten path while still being an accepted method (it is, in fact, the right way, is it not?).  It also takes a bit more effort to learn properly, and it’s not common to found it done properly.  How perfect is that?  Difficult, uncommon, traditional, works well enough to impress, just doing it correctly puts you in some elite group right off the bat.  About as perfect as perfect can be, that’s how perfect it is.

Then I notice some dupes shooting in sitting with their feet stacked on top of each other and the rifle sitting on top of the feet.  These people must have missed the history of seated rifle marksmanship.  Skipped day 7 of Deadly Sniper School did you?  Violating all the rules of sitting position.  Hah!  Not using the sling as a marksmanship aid.  Hah!  If you want to know the right way you can ask me.  I’ll show you…

After I noticed people I actually know using this bastard of a sitting position, I decided I had to do something and I set out to test it to show just how bad it was.  If you read the linked article, you might have noticed that in my comparison the little bastard actually did better than the distinguished gentleman of a sitting position.  It’s also a lot faster to get into.  Follow up shots are quick too.

While I was impressed, I still felt as though it should be a requirement to learn an orthodox technique.  The real question there is why?  Does the target care?  Well, it actually might, but we can probably be safe in assuming it doesn’t share your priorities if you’re shooting at it ([sarcasm off] that should only be construed within the context of a lawful shooting situation).  I think the ‘why’ in that case was that learning the positions was, for me, a rite of passage in becoming a rifle shooter.

For practical purposes of hitting a target with a bullet, rites of passage or rifleman titles have no relevance.  What your finger does as it pulls (or squeezes, or presses) the trigger doesn’t matter as long as the sights aren’t disturbed during the act.  The position is irrelevant so long as it affords clearance for the lines of sight and trajectory, and affords the necessary stability.  How difficult, exclusive, or cool something is also matters not one bit.  Most of the crap that we obsess and fight each other over is probably not very important.

What does have relevance is whether the bullet hits the target within the time allotted.  That’s really about it.  If something accomplishes that more effectively, it’s better.  If what your ego is doing is holding you back then drop it.

“On Demand” Performance

I remember my first USPSA match.  I used my wife’s Browning Hi-Power.  I took enough time and got mostly A hits, except for the B’s I got on a stage that required headshots at 15 or 20ish yards (but the rounds were grouped nicely just to the left).  I clearly remember one of the more experienced competitors advising me that I was shooting too slowly if I was shooting all A’s, and that I should push my speed up to the point where maybe 2 out of 10 shots were C’s.  It was good advice at the time, as I was very slow.

After a while playing the action pistol game, pushing my performance a bit became second nature to me.  I don’t think it’s odd to have a couple shots that are outside the A zone on a USPSA target, or something similar if I’m using a different target.

In some applications, missing brings with it harsher penalties than a point deduction.  On the other end of the spectrum from USPSA, in a defensive shooting, every round will be accounted for and must be articulated.  Missing the target and hitting a bystander would be disastrous.  That context necessitates a change in aiming philosophy.

I recently had a two day rifle/pistol course that served as sort of a ‘refresher’ class for me to really knock the rust off of my close range skills.  In the drills we shot, in order to get a score we were not allowed to miss the primary scoring ring, usually the size of an A zone (body or head, depending on the drill).  Near the end of the first day I shot a drill, which I think was some derivative of the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 drill, and I had a miss.  NO SCORE FOR ME!  (Soup Nazi voice).  I had to wait my turn to shoot it again, and I figured that I would have to see all my hits in order to get them.

I shot the drill again and I controlled my pace just to the point that I knew each shot had an acceptable sight picture.  My cadence felt much slower.  I would guess that my splits were in the 0.3 range rather than the 0.2 neighborhood that I usually can stay in, so it wasn’t as slow as I perceived it as I was shooting it.

The difference between those two runs illustrated for me the difference between training for a game and training for ‘actual’ shooting.  I could have told you before that yes, of course I understood that there are times when I need to slow down and get my hits.  The problem has been that unless the context was drastically different, such as a drill requiring the utmost accuracy with no time limit, I have tended to let the speed carry me away to the edge of my limits and beyond.

Requiring all hits as a prerequisite to receive a score on a drill brought me to a place where I think I know how to run my shots at an appropriate speed without letting myself be carried away by the ipsick rush.  I believe this is the heart of all those catchy sayings about not being able to miss fast enough to win and accuracy being final and all that.  Go as fast as you want, but don’t have any misses (overriding first priority).  That’s how it’s done.

The difference between “on demand” performance and the “ipsick rush” style shooting is that what you can do cold and clean versus shooting a drill 20 times and cherry picking a really good run.  A guarantee versus a maybe.  One is for real and one is for fun.  One is an end and one is a means.  You can figure it out.

X15 Barrel

One thing I just got done that I had been working on for a while is getting a new barrel on my Noveske.  The Noveske barrel, despite their reputation, just never was as precise as I wanted for the vision I have for the X15 (it’s what I call my AR as I experiment with it).  I also have to concede the possibility that I could just suck as far as precision shooting goes.

Although I kept meticulous records of my round count for the first 3000 rounds or so of the Noveske barrel, I have to guesstimate that I probably have a total of 3500 rounds through it.  I figure the barrel still has a significant amount of life in it, so I will probably put it on a close range blaster at a later time.

The new barrel is a Compass Lake Engineering ‘Recon’ barrel, which is a 16.1” barrel with a mid-length gas system made from a Douglas 1-8 blank.  I picked the CLE chamber instead of the Wylde, based on a conversation with Bunny at CLE.  Not having shot it yet, I worry about having compromised reliability for the sake of potentially better precision, but I’ll find out as I go.  I got one of Compass Lake’s gas blocks, which is a set screw style instead of pinned.  Again, it may not be as reliable, so the experimental designation is going to stick on this rifle for the time being.  Also, I opted to get a bolt matched to the barrel.  It may not have been necessary, but the only thing it can hurt is my wallet.  I think when Frank matches the barrel to the bolt he says a secret incantation to get some extra mojo in it.




The smudge came from me.  I apologize for not having my good camera on hand to properly document this for you.  

It took several months before I got enough time to think about installing the barrel.  When I finally did I found out that my friend’s upper vice block wouldn’t fit my Vltor MUR upper that came on my Noveske upper.  I had to spend about $40 on a DPMS vice block that fits on the inside of the upper.  I also needed a special crow’s foot wrench to fit the Noveske NSR barrel nut.

The installation itself was pretty uneventful.  Never having done one before, I got some assistance from a meticulous friend who has done a few barrel installs.  I can say with the utmost confidence that the handguard is as perfectly indexed to the upper receiver as is possible.  As I received the upper from Noveske I could see some mis-alignment.  No more.

IMG_8459The receiver extension will never, ever be this clean again.  I’m happy with the alignment of the M4 cuts.

I have a couple thousand Sierra 69 grain SMKs that I got from pulling them from a bad batch of Gold Medal Match several years back (a 69 grain bullet at 3400 feet per second is not a good thing).  I really want these bullets to work in this AR so I can actually use them up.  The Noveske barrel never shot them well.

I have a few pounds of N540, a pound of Varget, and about two thirds a keg of 844 pulldown to play with.  Varget and N540 both sound about right for a 69 grain bullet, and since I have enough of the 540 to play around with a bit, I started there.  I learned somewhere that between 24 and 25 grains should do the trick, so I loaded a few test loads in between there to play with.

At the range, I loaded all my test loads in a single magazine so I could test them round robin style.  That means that each subsequent round I fire is a different load on a different target.  I load mine in the magazine such that I shoot the lightest charged round first, each subsequent round being a heavier charge until I cycle back to the light round on the light target again.  I do this so that the conditions of each group will be as similar as I can make them to each other group in the test.  The downside is that it seems as though I end up with larger groups than if I fire them one at a time, but absolute size isn’t as critical in this step as a valid comparison between charge weights.


What I found most interesting, although of no real consequence, is that I didn’t have to touch the scope’s adjustment.  I started at 25 yards, figuring on 1.2-1.4 mils of offset at that distance for a 100 yard zero.  I started with two rounds, figuring that for what the barrel is, and the distance, that it would be enough to make further gross adjustments.  Turns out I didn’t need to.


I moved to 100 and fired the remainder of the 10 rounds I had allocated for zeroing.  I found out that my reticle covered that small bull on that target, so I had to replace the load testing targets with my standard target with the 4 MOA circle at 100.  I tested five rounds of 24.0, 24.5, and 25.0 grains of N540.  That could be construed as less than the bare minimum, but I just wanted an idea of what seemed to work.  So far the 24.5 grain load seems to work in my rifle:

69 SMK 24.5 N540Sub half MOA.  Must mean that I did my part.  Whether that means it’s “sub MOA all day long if I do my part”, I’m not sure.  I did my best to ensure that the photo is as close to actual size as possible on my screen.  

As I mentioned, I didn’t have to touch my knobs to get this point of impact.  In fact, I went to adjust my zero to get it closer, and with my scope’s funky 0.2 mil adjustments I can’t get my point of impact any closer than that.  Why they use a 0.2 mil adjustment is beyond me.  It’s a stupid idea for a capped turret that is more than likely just going to be zeroed and left alone.  If the point is to get a good zero, which incidentally will be the basis for all further holds to compensate for trajectory and wind, why not enable the user to get a better zero?

So my current feeling is that the rifle is probably capable of shooting how I want it to.  A mean radius of 0.191 MOA is very good (better than I’ve shot in a long time).  The Noveske barrel never shot that well.  How well that small initial sample predicts the future performance is unclear.  There have been no malfunctions of any kind so far.  Predicting the future performance of the nut behind the trigger may be well nigh impossible.

Chasing That Last 1% of Performance…

…From the 50th Percentile.

We all have to deal with finite amounts of time and resources to allocate to those things that we deem worthy.  It would make sense then that it should be a priority to invest those limited commodities as wisely as possible.  We want the most bang for the buck.

From what I’ve seen and from personal experience, when it comes to improving the ability to use a rifle to hit things with bullets, people tend to use their time, effort, and money unwisely.  I have wasted plenty myself.

The basic problem is a failure to consider return on investment.  How much are you getting for what you put in?  I have been willing to invest a lot of time and effort into improving my shooting.  Think of the Soviet Union and their military budget.  That has been me.  I rarely considered the cost of my input.  If I thought it might be possible that I could squeeze anything more out of my performance I was willing to make the sacrifice.

That approach could make sense for a certain segment of shooters, namely those who represent the top shooters.  The one little issue with that is that’s not going to be appropriate for most of the shooters out there.  By definition, for there to be top shooters, the rest of us have to be worse than them to a greater or lesser degree.

I have always had the problem of wanting everything to be right, all at once.  I just don’t like the idea that I could be doing it wrong.  The reason that’s a problem is because not all things are of equal importance.  Some of the things we fuss over may not make a difference at all, except in terms of the preferences of different internet forums or communities.

In most disciplines and in most products there is a “sweet spot” in which value is maximized.  Take rifles, for instance.  A $1000 dollar rifle may be twice as good quality wise as a $500 rifle, but a $5000 rifle will not likely be five times as good as the $1000 rifle.  It’s just minor details, quality control, finish work that looks nice, maybe better options, etc.  The way that many of us approach our practice is like putting in the $5000, and not even getting the basic functional product, but only the minor details.  Those minor details don’t translate to increased function without a foundation to place them on, and it only makes sense to put in that extra work if you’re good enough to appreciate the difference.  Think about it this way- if you still have room to improve your follow through and trigger control, is weighing cases and neck turning a wise investment of time?

I’ve come to the conclusion that most of us can get the greatest value and satisfaction from our shooting relative to what we put in by making modest expenditures of time, effort, and money in the areas that have the greatest effect on final performance.  In fact, I believe that expending too much time and effort in an inefficient manner can reduce performance and is likely to reduce one’s level of satisfaction with the outcome.  I think that it would lower one’s satisfaction even if performance is maintained or even slightly increased, due to the paltry return on investment.  I’m not going to make suggestions with what you do with your money.  Check with your spouse on that one.

I think the most bang for the buck areas of practice are standing, trigger control up to the command break, getting control of balance in all positions, and shot timing.


I didn’t intend to publish the previous post.  I wrote it a week or two ago and just kept pushing back the scheduled publish date, and it finally just went out.  I’ve been rethinking it, and I don’t think distinguishing between medium range marksmanship style shooting and medium range field shooting is a valid one.  I’m leaning towards considering only how the bullet hits the target, how large the target is, and how long it takes to hit it.

Thanks to Karl and Federalist for helping me to come to that conclusion.


On Standards: Medium Range General Marksmanship

I’ll start with what I’m most comfortable with.  I didn’t invent this wheel, but I’ve ridden on it a bunch, hit the curb with it a time or two, and adjusted the spokes to true it up.  Okay, I have to acknowledge that I’ve taken the analogy way too far.  Suffice it to say that I’m familiar with it.

I think of this spectrum of rifle shooting as a generally 100 to 500 yard distance, although that can be adjusted shorter or longer depending on target, perhaps terrain, and maybe some other circumstances.  Time is typically a concern at this distance, the range not being so distant that the shooter is undetectable by sight, sound, or smell, but hopefully we can rule out touch and taste.  This is also within the lethal range of most small arms, so the ‘social’ marksman has to consider the two way effect as well.

The ‘general’ aspect of this skill spectrum connotes a “pure marksmanship” type of shooting.  It’s to be a test of shooting and gun handling under time.  This is more of a sterile test of skill, rather than an emphasis of interaction with the shooter’s immediate environment.  We can leave out considerations of movement, cover, concealment, and use of what is available externally for support.  In my mind this also means that we leave out what cannot be carried, accessed, and employed in a practical manner by a shooter in the field.

This spectrum of rifle shooting is, in my opinion, nearly adequately addressed by the Appleseed AQT, but with a few caveats.  Before I discuss which caveats and why, I feel like I should discuss my qualifications to make this discussion.

I’ve been shooting “Rifleman” scores on AQTs since day 1 of my first Appleseed.  I’ve been shooting scores in the 230s since my first shoot way back in aught-niner.  At my last shoot my scores on all the AQTs I shot were day 1: 246, 247, day 2: 247, 243, 229 (full distance), 244 (full distance), average score = 242.667 using 55 grain FMJ handloads.  Overall, I feel that I can say without reservation that I am ‘good’ in this niche of shooting, and that is coming from a person who is extremely self-critical.  I don’t know if you have to be good to define what good is, but it helps.

Also, I am not advocating here that Appleseed needs to change their scoring system or how they do things.  This is purely a discussion of modifying the AQT for a more general test of abilities.

The first caveat I would make for using the AQT as a means for evaluating a shooter in the medium range, general marksmanship spectrum is that I don’t believe that the shooter should have the luxury of preparation beyond that of having a loaded rifle at the ready.  That would necessarily exclude the luxury finding one’s natural point of aim prior to the command to begin.  It would also rule out having the sling on the arm, and the shooter allowed to be ‘set’ in position (as is allowed by Appleseed in stages 1 and 4).  I think that a standard ready position, probably standing in a relaxed position, should be mandated for the test to be more meaningful.  As mentioned above, equipment would be limited to what the shooter can carry and use in the field.  Gamers gonna game, game, game, game, game, so if you have to make them walk 5 miles to shoot (walk it off, walk it off), so be it (and remember, no prep time!).

The second modification I would make is that I would allow for the shooter to address each stage in a ‘freestyle’ manner.  If you have a bipod you can use it.  If you want to ‘monopod’ using the magazine, do it.  If you want to utilize stackfoot sitting, have at it.  Kneeling or squatting would be permissible instead of sitting.  Perhaps Hawkins instead of prone is your thing.  The limitation would be that a position of “like height” to the intended position be used (this is to simulate dealing with obstructive intermediate terrain, so it’s important).  Why freestyle?  If the shooter is able to deal with the problem of terrain, he connects bullet with target, and does so in the permitted time, do we care exactly how the bullet got there?  Results are paramount.  Methods are secondary.

Thirdly, I don’t believe that attaining a score of 210 is adequate to define a great shooter in this niche of shooting.  I have seen some mediocre shots score a 210.  I think that 225 is getting closer.  225 is 90% of 250, which if we’re going to be arbitrary, is at least a nice round number, an A-.  I would not consider a score of 225 acceptable for myself.  I could plop right down, right now and shoot a score better than that cold.  And that would be my final requirement- that the shooter can do it on demand, utterly cold, without any preparation or coaching beforehand.  Also make that a clean score with no “30 cal rule” (seriously, if you were to scale up the reduced ‘400’ yard target to actual size, a .22 hold would be close to 4″).  Under those conditions, a score of 225 is actually pretty good.  I would consider that person a good shot within that realm of shooting.

If you read carefully above you may have noticed that I said the AQT nearly adequately addresses this niche of rifle shooting.  The only real possible deficiency I’ve been able to think of so far is that I could conceivably bomb stage 1 (standing) and still come out with a decent score.  One way to deal with that would be to say that no stage can have less than 43 or 44 points.  I haven’t really crunched the numbers, I just threw that out there.

What I actually like better is having a reference of group size according to position.  It’s pretty easy for me to throw numbers out that I would consider decent for myself (not the crazy numbers I would have expected early on, but those that I might expect on an average day).  I’ll just throw out some numbers for 10 shot groups in MOA.

Prone, unsupported with sling: 1.75 MOA
Sitting, unsupported with sling: 2.75 MOA
Kneeling, unsupported with sling: 5 MOA
Standing, unsupported: 6.5 MOA

I would consider those good, but not great numbers.

Ballistic Lock Picking

Warning: I never condone my own behavior, so don’t take the following as advice.

My wife has this sweet vintage 1948 utility trailer that she loves hauling stuff around in.  It was her grandpa’s, and now it’s all her’s.  She was raised in the ‘hood (a crime ridden neighborhood), so she’s constantly paranoid about this sweet trailer getting stolen.  Therefore it HAS TO HAVE A LOCK ON IT AT ALL TIMES!  We were pulling a load of our kids’ bikes on a dusty logging road.  The dust was too much for the lock, and it jammed the mechanism.  I tried cleaning it to no avail.  The next day when I got home the trailer was still locked to the Expedition and the key was broken off in the lock.  Someone tried brute force.  That’s not good with brass keys.


Normally you’d think bolt cutters would be the thing to use.  The lock wasn’t going to budge under them, and there wasn’t room to cut it.  The chain is all original to the trailer, man, and you can’t go and cut something as cherry as that.

I decided that a .308 round might do the trick.  My wife was concerned about fragmentation, and that’s a good thing to be concerned about.  She might have been worried about the tires we just bought for it the previous week that cost $1000.  I’m not exactly sure.  Mostly I hear that “wha-wha-wha-wha” sound that Charlie Brown’s teacher makes when she talks about stuff like that.

I chose a bonded 168 grain bullet, as my experience has been that it really holds together and keeps driving forward.  Not just a little bit either.  That thing will just keep on trucking right through all kinds of stuff.  Don’t ask me about my testing, just rest assured that it’s been extensive.

I parked the Expedition in a gravel pit and presented it so the lock would be broadside.  My distance was 37 yards.  My hold was a half mil.  I tried for the cylinder itself, missing only slightly.





It was definitely looser after that first shot, but it was still on.  No signs of damage or concerns with fragmentation at that point, so we decided to proceed.  It looked like there was still a portion of the mechanism to the right that needed to go, so I aimed slightly right.



Obviously that did the trick, and the chain was left completely undamaged, as was the rest of the vehicle, and of course the sweet vintage trailer.


The lock made a nice necklace for my 17 year-old daughter.  It’s a nice conversation-ender piece when boys want to talk to her (but probably only in my imagination).



A Special Treat

Things that are easy, convenient, and work well don’t come along very often.  Things that are worthwhile usually aren’t easy, you have to break your damn back to get anywhere in life, blah, blah, blah.  When I find something to the contrary, that is to say, efficiently effective, I’ll take it.  Yes, I found something good during all my crazy experimentation, group measuring and staticizing (made that word up).

I’ll have to refresh your memory, so let’s do some recapping.  In January I did a series of articles on the loop sling and how it works.  I followed that up by analyzing how well it works in comparison to no sling at all in a few positions.  Then I took a look at the hasty sling, even though I don’t like it, to give it a fair chance (and I’m still not a fan).  About the last thing I did was to put up an introductory article about the potential for the cross body carry (what folks tend to call ‘tactical’) sling to be used as a marksmanship aid.  I’ve had my analysis done since then, so the demo photos and shots of groups are old.  That’s where we’re picking things up.


I’ll give up the punchline first: the cross body sling and the kneeling position are like chocolate and peanut butter.  They go together like they were meant for each other.  Some other positions with the cross body sling stabilization were potentially useful in certain ways, others were okay, and several were just not good at all.

Why does the cross body sling stabilize so well in the kneeling position?  The broad answer is that it presents a happy confluence of factors.  I’ll show you how.

Remember that the conventional loop sling, which we’ll consider as our gold standard of sling support, works to take the place of all the muscles within its span.  Here are some photo reference reminders:




Hopefully that conveyed the point that the taut span of webbing from the arm to the front of the hand, coupled with the structure of the bones and connective tissue of the hand, arm, and shoulder, allow for a much greater degree of relaxation in the position, especially when the support elbow can be rested on a stable surface.  It also allows for a freakishly consistent return to a finite natural point of aim because unlike a muscle, it’s a strap that ain’t goan stretch.

Let’s begin our examination of this cross body carry sling as used to support our position in kneeling.

A few things come to mind.  I shaved the beard quite a while ago.  Pity.  If I ever buy beer again I’m probably going to get carded.  Next, when am I ever going to learn about that strong side foot making me shaky when it’s planted too near to the center of my gravity?  Also, I’ve lost about 20 lbs of fat since that picture was taken (I carried it pretty well, but I was riding at about 25%).  Don’t worry, I decided to keep the muscle and to keep getting stronger.

So from what you know about the loop sling, you should be able to tell that in the above photo the cross body sling, having been tightened to a snug setting, is supporting the rifle in an extremely similar manner.  The straight line of the sling from below the armpit to the support hand looks strikingly similar to that of the loop sling.  The primary difference is that the origin of the sling is on the butt swivel, and that the back has to support the sling tension, rather than just the support arm.


The reason that this support works so well in kneeling is likely because of two things.  In kneeling, the back is nearly vertical.  This gives the sling something to hang on to.  Other positions tend to lean the torso forward, which causes the sling to ride up to the neck and lose the tension it needs.  The second factor is that the support elbow can be planted on the support side knee.  Like I said, a happy confluence of factors.

The feeling of the cross body carry support was very similar to the loop sling.  You may be able to see in the photo above that my support arm kept the sling from sliding up my back toward my neck.  That did contribute to some discomfort (achiness) in my shoulder area for a while after.  That’s not normal, but for shooting test targets and getting my photo taken by an eight-year-old, I spent some serious time in position.

The most pleasing part was the target.  I had comparisons to my performance with the loop sling and without a sling.  To ensure that I could record all my shots (i.e., not miss the target completely), I shot from 50 yards.  The pace was neither slow, nor rapid, but at my natural pace (which tends more toward the rapid, but I wasn’t in a hurry).  The black primary bull presents an 8 MOA (just a hair over 4″) target at 50 yards.

Kneeling, no sling:

Kneeling No Sling

Kneeling, loop sling:

Kneeling Loop Sling

Kneeling, cross body carry support:

Kneeling Tactical Sling

Interestingly, the loop sling group was narrow and tall, while the cross body supported group was short and wider.  Overall however, you can see that the cross body carry sling won this round.  I don’t think it’s a definitive indication that the cross body carry sling is more stable than the loop sling, but I will take it as an indication that performance between the two is sure darn close.

Given the relatively comparable precision of the loop sling and the cross body sling in the kneeling position, you have to consider the time necessary to utilize the support.  The loop sling can be fast, given a practical sling (or it can be unbearably slow, as is the case with the USGI web sling).  If you figure it takes about 3-4 seconds to go from port arms to a slung kneeling position with a Ching sling or RS-1, it’s not really an apples to apples comparison to go from carry mode in cross body to a stabilized kneeling position:


Incidentally, within the last week I finally got my RS-3, which is the sling in the video above, up for sale here.  I’ll say no more about it for now.  If you want to see why the written word is my preferred mode of communication, there’s a video at the link.

I found the cross body support useless in prone and in sitting.  There was a bit of support in squatting, but not so hot.  It does do something in standing and I’ll probably get to that sometime relatively soon.  It’s still nice to have a loop sling as a tool on the belt, and I think it’s definitely a necessity to have just in case, but for kneeling the cross body carry support is most definitely the way to go.


I wrote this in February or March, prior to going on break.  The really good parts I just added to it right now. 

This article will pertain to target shooting, where you have the luxury of making your shot on your time.

I’m getting to the point in my standing position where I’m almost happy with my level of precision.  Scary.  I’m sure the last MOA will be the toughest to shave off.

I think that if a relatively decent shooter were to look through my sight picture in the standing position and experience what my hold looks like, he would not believe that my average extreme spread for a 10 shot standing group is in the 5.5 to 7 minute range.  The limit of my hold is much larger than that.

The reason that I can group much better than my hold is that there is a moment where the hold steadies up, where all systems are go, and all that needs to be done is to press the trigger before the moment is gone.  After I spent a lot of time in the standing position, I realized that the skill of timing the shot release was allowing me to get easier results in other positions as well.  Any position that is not perfectly steady will show smaller groups if the shooter is able to time the release of the shot.

The ability to effectively time the shot depends on a few things.  The shooter must be able to control the trigger sufficiently well to allow for a very narrow window of time- probably a half second or less.  The shooter must be aware of his cycle of movement.  The shooter must have the patience and discipline to accept only the right moment and not one that is only ‘close’.  The sights resting briefly on the target is not the same thing as the sights crossing over it.  The shooter must also have a level of attention and readiness to fire that is always at the ready to recognize the right moment and seize it immediately.

Knowing Your Rhythm

The only way to get a feel for your personal cycle of movement is to do a lot of firing.  I do a lot of dry firing but in my case I needed live fire to really learn to take advantage of my cycle of movement.  I think for me it had to do with making live fire standing practice a routine thing so it didn’t feel so much like a test.  Dry fire probably set the skill, but it didn’t transfer directly to live fire without some work.

My own cycle of movement begins with a rather wide arc.  I usually take one breath after bringing the rifle up.  A second after I reach my natural respiratory pause, things usually begin to settle.  I don’t see figure eights, just sort of a happy meandering sort of movement.  If my position is properly balanced I will feel a sense of steady calmness about my position.  If my center of gravity is outside of my feet I will feel a sense of slight panic and urgency to quickly get the shot off.  If everything is as it should be I will only have a moment before things begin to break down.  For the most part I only get one optimum cycle each time I bring the rifle up, although sometimes I get two good shots before lowering it.

Knowing Your Hold

One of the things that has seemed to help my development in the standing position is using an appropriate sized target, or in my case an appropriate distance from my target.  Using a huge target is obviously a waste of time unless you just need an ego boost.  Using a target that is too small imparts a feeling of futility that results in reckless decision making when it comes to breaking a shot.  If there is already very little hope of hitting the target, the shooter is more likely to just to say, “Screw it,” and let a shot fly.

Using a target that is difficult, but potentially hittable 90% to 100% of time with a little luck or perseverance will allow for the shooter to relax and practice good decision making.  When I was working standing hard last December, I realized that my confidence was lacking at the 50 yard line with my 4” target.  It was on the day that I moved forward to 35 yards that my groups went from 10.590 MOA extreme spread to 6.775 MOA extreme spread.  Since then I haven’t gone back above 7.5 MOA in my ‘practical’ standing position, which is my normal one, and lately have been regularly between 5.5 and 6.5 MOA.

With that difficult to hit, but attainable target size, the shooter will be forced to pay attention to his movement cycle and make good decisions.  There are times when I’ll see what looks like the real window for firing, but I can tell if I’m really on top of things that it’s going to be too transitory to break a quality shot.  Great shots usually don’t come about when the muzzle is moving away from the target.  Only with experience will you know the difference.

Seize the Moment

You should have the feeling of a predator ready to pounce, but only when the time is right.  If you work enough on your hold, such as with holding exercises, you may become too accustomed to watching your sight without the intention to do anything about it when it is on target.  Sometimes the right time is only long enough to recognize it and fire and not one bit longer.  That’s not the time to be watching passively at your sight while your attention is on your balance or your breath.

When the sight is up, and you’re about the business of firing, your trigger finger should just be waiting for work like that homeless guy who uses newspaper to clean your windshield while you’re stopped at the intersection of Sunset and San Vincente.  You don’t really want him touching your car, but you have to admire his work ethic.  The sight resting on the target is like a Mercedes stuck at a fresh red light (it’s your cue that it’s GO TIME).  The trigger under your finger with the slack taken up is like the LA Times Opinion section in your hand, ready to wipe down that windshield, except unlike the LA Times hopefully it doesn’t completely suck.  Get after that windshield!  There might be a dollar in your immediate future, and a 40 of Mickey’s in your hand very soon!

That was so impressive I think I just have to leave it right there.  This isn’t the time for me to thank your for reading.  You should be thanking me now, shouldn’t you?