Art of the Rifle

There are a lot of websites concerning firearms.  My anecdotal experience tells me that most are concerned with marketing of gear, whether deliberately or through a more organic process of show and tell leading to “I want that”.  There are a ton of blogs concerning 2nd Amendment politics.  There are even some that touch on shooting- but you really have to dig.

I’ve been looking for online resources to research shooting methods, particularly concerning practical field shooting, and finding very little.  Germán A. Salazar writes the excellent Rifleman’s Journal.  This is pretty specifically geared towards competition rifle shooting.  Bryan Litz’ website, Applied Ballistics, has several informative articles, and I highly recommend his book, Applied Ballistics for Long Range Shooting, but again, I was thirsting for something to help me with general field shooting.  I find the Sniper’s Hide Forum quite interesting, but most of the threads are about gear.  There is good information, but you have to look for it.  They do offer subscription based online training, which I will try when more funds are available.

I found myself looking for was a resource along the lines of Jeff Cooper’s book, Art of the Rifle.  It’s a short, clear, practical guide to practical rifle shooting (and I don’t mean practical as in tricked out race gun practical- I’m talking about the dictionary definition).  He writes about the skills that all riflemen should possess before taking to the field, whether that means the hunting field, the battle field, or wherever else one may find himself in need of riflecraft.

To describe the type of rifle shooting I am envisioning, think of yourself picking up one rifle in your collection that performs to your standard.  Now exclude any thoughts of acquiring a bunch of gadgetry to magically give you abilities you didn’t work for (because they will probably only separate you from money that you did work for).  Spend some time learning the intricacies of your system (rifle, sight, ammunition, shooter) to the point where another person might say you’ve “mastered it”, but you still feel like you can learn from it.  Know the trajectory of your load from this rifle, and what it will do in the wind.  Practice shooting from enough different positions, both dry-fire and live, so that you can solve any shooting problem that presents itself.  Do this under the stress and time constraints that invariably will present themselves if you find yourself needing to use your rifle “in the field”.

It doesn’t matter what your definition of “in the field” means.  You may take this as  hunting, or maybe your job leads you into harm’s way, or you want to plan for defending your town against roving gangs (yes, your detection of sarcasm was correct), or maybe you have a patriotic duty to be ready to defend your country as our forefathers did, and intended for us to do.  I hope to approach rifle shooting in a way in which any type of naturally occurring shooting situation could apply.

What I will try to stay away from is shooting that is confined within a dogmatic set of rules.  If it requires a special type of coat, glove, hat, rest, bench, or a gun that only does one thing (and costs more than a new mid sized sedan), then it’s usefulness is limited in a general purpose sense.  It’s analogous to a martial art that says, “We will only use kicking, but not to the groin.”  In other words, it’s limited by the mind that conceived of it.  Don’t misunderstand, I have great respect for what competition shooters can do.  I would like to do it myself if I had more time or money.  I just don’t see myself getting into competing to the point that I take my eyes off of the reason for the rifle in the first place.

If a type of shooting says, “You must do it this way, or else,”  I think it demands that an alternate method be tested against it.  Compare David Tubb’s technique to “orthodox” technique, and look at his results.  But let’s not get caught in the same trap that Tubb broke out of by making his technique the new orthodox.  There isn’t a grand authority that can give you all the answers.  I’m hoping that you’ll make the journey with me as I ask some questions and look for the answers.

This is not a typical blog in the sense that I will not provide a “thought of the day” or a 3 sentence blurb about not feeling well.  I’m also not getting into politics.  There are plenty of blogs that do, if that’s what you’re looking for.

You’ll be getting six to eight articles per month about shooting rifles.  I’ll start with an honest assessment of where I’m at, and the methodology I’m using to improve.  Then I’ll show the results.

Let’s get things moving…