The Effect of the Subconscious on Performance

This article is based primarily on what I have gleaned by reading Lanny Bassham’s With Winning In Mind.  If you want to get your mental game in gear, you need to read it.

Of all the things you might think would limit your shooting performance, gear would be the first thing for most shooters to consider, which is not very useful.  Wherever you go, there you are, right?  If you are a bit more serious, you will go to technical skill, which is good.  But even if you have top of the line gear and your individual skills are “there”, your performance will still only rise to the expectations of your subconscious.  Have I gone plum crazy?  Well I don’t think so, but don’t ask anyone that knows me.

The subconscious mind is what basically runs things while your conscious is conducting the window dressing part of the show.  Example: you might understand intellectually that another $5 coffee is stupid, and that Starbucks’ passivity doesn’t equate to an actual support of your rights, so you say to yourself, “I’m not going to keep wasting money on that darned expensive coffee.  But your subconscious mind says, “You are the type of person that spends too much money on coffee on a regular basis,” and you somehow end up in line for a $5 coffee despite what you are aware you “ought” to do.

Let’s try a shooting related example.  You’re setting up to shoot a 5 shot group from the bipod.  You have been practicing the whole week in dry fire to clean up your technique.  You think to yourself, “Maybe I will finally be able to consistently shoot under 0.5 MOA groups.”  So you start shooting, and by the time you have three shots downrange, they’re all touching.  This is about the time that your subconscious kicks in and says, “You always blow it right about… NOW!”  Shot #4 turns your 0.3” group into a 1.2” group.

You didn’t even realize that you’ve been battling yourself in your quest to improve.  Not only that, but it’s the equivalent of a Chihuahua vs. a German Shepherd (the subconscious being the land shark).  Not very uplifting a thought is it?  Have no fear, I like to break you down and build you up stronger.

You can influence your subconscious.  You do it all the time.  When you talk about yourself, or particularly your shooting, do you ever use self-deprecating humor to keep from sounding pompous?  “On a good day I might be able to hit the broad side of a barn.”  Do you ever place an emphasis on the things you do wrong?  “I always get that weird flyer.  I don’t know where it comes from.”  Every time you say something like that, it influences your subconscious to make it a reality.

When you review your performance, do you focus on the things you did wrong?  The irony is that if you are really concerned with improvement, you probably do.  When you watch another shooter, do the things he does wrong get your attention the most?  Do you make a commentary of his mistakes?  This is counter-productive.  Every time you focus on a negative, it increases the likelihood that you will embody it.

Do you think of world class shooters as a world apart from yourself?  Do you think that it’s impossible for you to be like them?

If you do these things, which most people do, you’re getting in the way of your own progress.  You are training your subconscious to believe that you are the type of person who is not a world class shooter, who may be able to hit the broad side of a barn on a good day, who does stuff wrong more often that does it right.

Now that I’ve emphasized all this bad stuff, let’s move on to what we should be doing.  This is where you put all that stuff that preceded this sentence out of your mind and just move on.

First of all, world class shooters are people just like you.  Just ask them.  One of the ways to improve your own performance is to immerse yourself in a crowd of people who are better than you, then become one of them.  When you stop thinking of them as gods and start thinking of them as peers, your performance will begin to reflect it.

Next, focus on what is right.  If not much is right with the way you just did it, then focus on making it right.  You have to look ahead to where you are going if you want to get there.  You will go where you attention is focused.  Focus on doing it right.

If you have a bad performance, don’t dwell on it.  Learn from it if there is a lesson to be learned and move on.  When you watch someone else’s performance, don’t dwell on the negative.  Try to find something they did well and emulate it.

If you’re having a bad day at the range, STOP!  Go home.  On the other hand, take extra ammo, because of you’re having a good day at the range, keep going.  Reinforce it.

If you have a bad shot, just move on.  Don’t say or think anything to emphasize it.  Just be aware.  If you have a particularly good shot, think or say out loud to yourself, “That’s just like me.”

There are many things you can do to improve your mental game, not just with regard to shooting.  It is not just about tricks to make some overnight success.  As with shooting, this is something that needs to be worked consistently over time.

I highly suggest buying this book.

Special Occasion or Way of Life?

I noticed something today about the way I’ve been approaching my range sessions.  I get a little nervous and hope I will do well.  I have noticed many times, especially when shooting offhand, that live fire feels much more precarious than dry fire.  Why?  I’m doing exactly the same thing. 
I think that I experience these performance inhibiting effects because I have been approaching range sessions as some sort of big event, or even a type of test.  It’s ironic because I’ve always enjoyed taking tests and tend to test well.  I usually end the range session feeling like I did not do as well as I should have.  The difference being that by the time I take a test for real I knowthat I have the material down.
I can see now that what I have been experiencing is simply a logical consequence of a flawed approach.  Excellence is not likely to result from “special occasion” range trips.  Excellence comes at the point of a boring reliability of consistently excellent performances.  Furthermore, boringly consistent excellent performances do not magically and spontaneously spring forth from nowhere, like a gift from Santa.  Excellence comes from putting time in, making mistakes, and having the wherewithal to learn from them and drive on.
Since April I’ve been hitting the range at least once a week.  This has been very helpful.  I have to believe that if I can maintain this momentum, I will begin seeing improvement settle in slowly.
Another important component is documentation.  It’s easy to forget what you did at the range.  It’s just as easy to create a new memory to replace what you’ve forgotten.  The new memory will probably paint your performance in a better light than it actually was (speaking from personal experience).  This can make for disappointment on a return trip to the range to find that things aren’t as good as you remember.  The key is to have a method to record what you do.  I use a data book and a blog.
Something else that is very helpful is video.  I would not have discovered this without the blog.  My discovery was that I don’t always realize exactly what I’m doing.  Because the way you always do something tends to feel comfortable, familiar, and therefore “right”, it’s unlikely that you’re going to realize that there’s something wrong.  If a buddy or instructor tells you you’re “doing it wrong”, you might think to yourself, “What is this guy smoking?  I know what I’m doing.”  If you see yourself on video what you will say is, “What was I smoking?  I had no idea what I was doing.”  That is incredibly useful, and a very non-threatening way to figure out what needs improving.
The point is that if you go to the range and it feels like a special occasion, you probably aren’t doing it frequently enough for it to make much of a difference.  When it gets familiar enough for things to develop a rhythm of their own, and it starts to click, you will probably start to improve a lot more. 
So howzabout letting go of the mouse and picking up a rifle? 

Rifle Ten

Continuing with standard, or “classifier”, courses of fire for the rifle, I present to you Rifle Ten.  This is another one of the Colonel’s concoctions for his 270 Rifle course, which is the gold standard of rifle training (or so I hear, never having had the opportunity to attend).

While the Rifle Bounce is short, simple, and mostly about field marksmanship, Rifle Ten brings a more physical component to the table.  For Rifle Ten a single IPSC “Option” target was placed at the target line.  Firing points were designated at 200, 225, 250, 275, and 300 yards.  The shooter began from “clear” (there was no elaboration on what that meant exactly) of the 300 yard firing point, and at the signal moved to the 300 yard firing point.  Two rounds were fired from the 300, then the shooter moved to the 275 yard firing position and fired two more rounds at the target.  The shooter advanced to the 250 and fired two more rounds.  The shooter moved to 225, where a two foot high obstruction kept him from shooting from prone, and he fired two rounds.  He moved to 200, where a 3 foot obstruction forced him to use the standing position.

A similar problem arises as with the Rifle Bounce; the target is not readily available.  In this case it is obsolete.  What is quite interesting about the original IPSC targetsis that one of them, the “Item” target, essentially turned out to be the current USPSA “Metric” target.  The “Option” target is very similar to the Official IDPA target.

I happened to have one used IDPA target in my vast target inventory.  The “A” zone on the IDPA target is approximately 1.8” smaller than the dimensions listed for the “Option” target, but all of the modern technology that has come along in the way of precision and optical superiority since that target was used should make up for that now shouldn’t it?

One other minor clarification that needs to be made is the starting position, since the single word “clear” doesn’t lend itself to consistent execution.  Let’s define that as 6 feet away from the 300 yard firing line.

The scoring system that Cooper outlined is identical to what is printed on the IDPA target.  Two rounds at each firing position (five of them) for a total of 10 rounds.  At five points possible per round, that makes 50 the maximum points possible.  The maximum time allotted is two minutes.  Cooper originally specified that the score was to be divided by the time in minutes to obtain a score.  It’s easier and more common nowadays to use seconds, so that’s what we’ll do here.

What should be considered a good score?  From the man himself: “Any shooter who scores more than 40 points, with half of his shots in the X-ring, in 120 seconds or less, can consider himself a good shot.” (Art of the Rifle, 96)

I took two runs at this course of fire.  I had been thinking that 2 minutes is an awfully long time, so on my first run I took it a little easy.  I finished at 126 seconds with a score of 44.  The next time I took it a bit more seriously and took off over 20 seconds from my previous run, finishing at 103.39 seconds with 45 points.  I did not start “clear” of the starting line, so I docked myself 5 seconds, which should more than cover any advantage I might have had due to starting position.

Two runs worth of Rifle Ten hits.

The hits marked with a red line are from the first run.


I think that the key to a good Rifle Ten is moving swiftly and smoothly between shooting positions and taking just enough time to get good hits- not a record setting benchrest group, but good hits.  From analyzing my performance, I could do with a bit more efficiency in movement, and a few more of those good hits I just mentioned.

I also found that my zero was not quite where I thought it was.  It was at least a minute high, which at 300 yards will put some of the rounds out of the center ring.  This is a good example of why you should check your zero at 250 if you want it to be at 250.  Zeroing at shorter ranges and extrapolating makes too many assumptions.  I also think that my holdovers and holdunders need to be practiced more to get me right on.  That makes it hard to diagnose the “group” because the vertical could be my breathing, my rifle, or my faulty elevation holds.   The wind was not stiff enough to move everything so far to the left, so it looks like some fine tuning of the zero would help there as well.

The errant round to the right was the most alarming shot I fired.  It was the first offhand round from the first run.  I actually called it off the target to the right.  All of the other shots felt like they went fairly well.

I would love it if some of you would get out the range and shoot this.  If you post your score, I will update this article as a Rifle Ten database and rank them by percentage as they come in.  If you film your run and post it to youtube, place the link in your comment and I will embed it in the article.

Score submission format:

Name (or pseudonym), points/ time, other pertinent info (positions, rifle, etc…)

Col. Jeff Cooper, 44/ 118 seconds, location Scandinavia, rifle unknown (Art of the Rifle, p. 97)
His hit factor is .373

Rifleslinger, 45/103.39(+5) seconds.  Rifle: Sako 75, 30-06, Ching Sling, zero was high, I believe the magnification was at ~6x.
Hit factor .415

Shoot it and send in your score!!!

An Unorthodox Approach to the Kneeling Position

I came across a version of the kneeling position that I had not seen before while perusing the Firearm User Network.  The position is demonstrated by MSG Raul Torres as the rapid fire kneeling position he uses in AFSAM competition.  Take a look:

I like the innovative spirit with which he approaches the kneeling position.  The advantages would appear to be that the shooter is lower to the ground, which should be more stable than the traditional kneeling position and provide a lower target signature, and when used with an AR, or in MSG Torres’ case an M16, the magazine can be used as a means of support against the leg.  As he demonstrates the position, the entire support arm seems to be snugged up against the leg, which would seem to make for a tighter, more stable position:


I decided to try this with a bolt action rifle.  I used the Remington 700, because I had ammo for it, which I did not have much of for #1.  The Remmy is a tad more accurate.  I did not do much dry fire practice to prepare for the range trip, although I had practiced for it a bunch on an earlier trip in which I was not pleased with the groups I shot.  I chalked it up to a lot of wind affecting my ability to shoot well from kneeling on that day.

It turned out to be another windy day at the range (it was the same day I tested the mid-level supported positions).  I had difficulty getting comfortable position.  I believe that the lack of a magazine monopod type support works against this modified position with the bolt gun.  I could not find what felt like a natural point of aim.  I was looped up with a TAB sling.  What I did was allow the rifle to move in a small pattern and tried to break the shot as it patterned toward the bull.  Here’s what happened.:

When I did the “regular” kneeling position almost a year ago (posted 8/25/11) here’s what happened:

That was with #1, which, again, is slightly less accurate than the Remmy.  Also from that article: “I shot a 10 round group with the Remington that was about an inch better”.  I would say that this version of kneeling turns out to be, for me with a bolt action rifle, about as accurate as the regular kneeling position, but this version is slightly slower to acquire.  Having said that, MSG Torres appears to use it to great effect.

For purposes of comparison, I would like to show you another target from last summer, posted 9/26/12, which means I shot it in August:

It is a bigger group because it was fired from 300 instead of 100, but it’s 3.6 MOA, fired from the rice paddy prone position (squatting).  This position much quicker to assume, but apparently nearly twice as accurate (for me anyway).  Just something to consider…

Action Smoothness

On a recent trip to a gunstore (they do let me out on “work release” occasionally) I got to handle a basically new in box (if I say “NIB” Mark will stop reading my blog) Sako 75.  The action, while smooth, was not nearly as smooth as #1, my Sako 75.  What I gather from this is:

1.    I’m blessed to have such a nice rifle (but I still need a couple of Mausers and an AR in .308 or .260).

2.    Since I only have about 500 rounds through my rifle, it’s probably the extensive amount of dry fire that made my rifle so smooth.

3.    All that dry fire probably had the same effect on me as it did on my rifle- it made me way smoother.

4.    If everyone dry fired regularly, the world would be a harmonious utopia (or at least people would suck less [sorry about the language- I’m drunk (not really [wow, I’m into my 3rd set of parentheses (whoops that was the fourth)])]).

That’s it.  I know it’s short.  Cut me some slack.  If you want content  click on this link J  

The Czech is in the Mail

I Got Free Stuff!!!

Here’s the story on how I got some free ammo.  It’s also the story of me selling out, (it will enhance your experience to imagine the following with Alex Jones’ voice) bowing to the plans of the corporate power elite oligarchical endgame designed to enslave you(you can turn off Alex’s voice now). 

Here’s how it all went down (the following is a dramatization of real events):

5/21/12: Out of the blue I received an email from Russ at LuckyGunner.comwhich said the following: “I just stumbled across your blog.  I can’t believe that I have been able to live this long without it.  It is the best blog on the planet!!!  Just by viewing it my shooting skills have increased one thousand fold!!!  How can I ever repay you?  Would some free ammo to review suffice?

I have heard of bloggers getting free stuff before.  Heck, some anonymous benefactor even bought me one of Andy’s Slings.  When that happened I felt like it was alright because I didn’t know who the sling was from, and therefore I could do a non-biased review.  But now I was getting a straight-up offer for free merchandise to review.  This was something I had to give some serious thought to.

About a minute later I sent a reply to Russ: “Send it!”

I explained to Russ what guns I have, and what ammo I typically shoot.  He told me that he’d like to send me some Sellier & Bellot 30-06 Match Grade Ammunition (link here).  My initial reaction was that the words “Sellier & Bellot” and “Match Grade Ammunition” did not go together.  I looked at the specs, and noticed that they were actually using Sierra Match Kings.  It got me curious.  Curiosity can be a good thing.  It can also kill…

We finalized that I am legally able to possess ammo and stuff, and about a week later 40 rounds of the S&B Match arrived via Fedex.

The Czechs have a pretty long and involved history with firearms.  They made of lot of Mausers back in the day, which are very nice guns.  I do have in my personal collection a CZ75, which is a very nicely designed and manufactured steel 9mm service pistol (which the Col. approved of incidentally).  They still make a modern day version of the 98, which is sold by CZ as the 550.  The CZ 550 is regarded as a very nice rendition of the Mauser and a great value.  Naturally, I felt that I should use one of these fine rifles to test the ammo.  Unfortunately Russ would not agree to send one to me for testing (OK I never asked).

My previous experience with Sellier & Bellot has consisted of using their large rifle primers.  They worked fine.  To me primers is primers, so long as they work and are not corrosive.

#1 is currently out of service for a performance enhancing retrofit.  It should be back up and running sometime relatively soon. In the meantime, I elected to do some preliminary investigation of the ammunition.

What we have here are 2 boxes of ammunition. 


It is unusual for me to get to shoot factory ammo through #1, especially factory match ammo.  I did put a box of FGMM 168 Match through it a few years back.  I wish I still had it to compare this too. 

Here’s what it looks like up close:



The box had some interesting information.  The first bit was a nice trajectory lesson:


It’s actually a pretty complete lesson if you know what you are looking at.

There was more information in the box.  I spliced together two pictures so you could read it:


I decided to sacrifice one round in the interest of science (at least pseudoscience).  Here’s what the bullet looked like:


It’s a little hard to see, but there is a small indentation on the bullet from what seems like a lot of neck tension.  I’m guessing they put a crimp on the case mouth after seating.  It would appear that this mark on the mouth confirms it:


Here’s a Federal FGMM 168 SMK pulled from a .308 round for comparison:


Here’s what I found inside the case:


I’m not sure what powder it is, or if it is even commercially available.  I had figured it was likely a Vihtavuori powder, as they are closer geographically than any other powder manufacturer I can think of, but I don’t know.  I know it is not VV N150, because I have some on hand and it did not look or smell the same.

Here’s a closer look for anyone who may be able to identify it:

It would seem as though the primary role of a commercially available 30-06 match round would be for use in the M1 Garand, or possibly a variant of the 1903 rifle.  Other ammo that would fit a suitable niche would be the Federal Gold Medal Match, which sells for about $37/box of 20, and the Hornady A-max 168 grain match, which sells for $31.50/box of 20.  The S&B compares pretty favorably at $29.00/box of 20.  I believe that Black Hills also makes a 30-06 match load, but I can’t remember any details on it.  

I can’t say how the S&B compares to the other 30-06 match ammo out there.  What I can do is a comparison with my own reloads.  I don’t know if it will be “fair”, but it will be interesting (to me, at least). 

I do not know if the S&B Match has a suitable pressure curve for a Garand or not.  If anyone knows, please leave a comment.  I do not own a Garand, so for me it’s a moot point.

Here’s what I have in mind for the ammo:

-Perhaps a head to head test against my current Nosler 155 Custom Competition load
-Case measurements (headspace, etc.) before and after
-I could weigh the brass to check consistency after it’s decapped and cleaned.

If you have any suggestions or request for a specific test, let me know. 

Using the Ching Sling

Back in February I finalized my sling choice, and settled on the Ching Sling.  I completed a review that you can see here.  I described basically how it works, and stated that I believe that it is as accurate as a regular loop sling.  Since I was too busy to attend to the most basic of functions, that being getting out and shooting, I did not go into much detail about the particulars of the sling and how well it works in comparison to a standard loop sling.
For those of you too snobby to click on the above link to my previous article, the Ching Sling is made up of two separate pieces of leather.  One of the pieces attaches like a standard rifle sling, at the front and rear of the rifle stock.  The second piece attaches to a third sling swivel stud that is placed just forward of the bottom metal.  The other side of the second piece attaches to the main piece.  There is a stopper on the main section of sling to limit the travel of the smaller piece.  What all this means is that there is a rather large fixed loop that is always available.
The advantages to the Ching Sling are speed of looping up, ease of looping up, simplicity of looping up and un-looping, and the thing just exudes class.  The disadvantage is the necessity of having to add a third stud.  Now that I recapped my old article let’s move on.
The Ching Sling, being a fixed loop, works best with a half twist in the main section so that it wraps around the support hand.  It also is a good conversation starter if you can come up with a good answer to the repeated question you will receive: “Why is it twisted like that?”.  I highly recommend the twist.
To loop up with a Ching, hold the rifle by the pistol grip with the strong hand.  Thrust the weak hand and arm through the sling loop that exists between the two forward sling studs and the long section of sling.  You want the sling to be high up on your bicep, but probably not in your armpit (that hurts).  You should have the sling adjusted so that it’s tight enough to necessitate a firm push of the buttstock to get it in the shoulder.
The Ching is known for being fast.  What folks tend to assume is that it is akin to a glorified hasty sling.  I’m not a fan of the hasty sling, so prior to installing the Ching I was a little worried about it.  Since you may be too, I decided to post groups as a comparison for you.
I shot a preliminary 3 round group from a bipod from 100 yards to check on my 1stround flier situation.  Yep, still there.  The location of the flier started out as about 2 moa high and was extremely consistent, to the degree that a 10 round composite group of cold bore shots would have been sub-minute.  The location of the flier has shifted within the last year to be a bit closer to the main group within the last year or so.  On this occasion the three round group size, including the cold bore, was 1.75”. 

I apologize for the state of the targets.  They got splashed by a nearby exploding jug.

The next group was 4 rounds using the Ching Sling for support.  I tried to space the rounds 20 seconds apart.  Group size is about 1.3”-1.4”.

The final group was using a TAB sling.  The group turned out to be about 1.15”.

I will concede that the Ching group is larger than the TAB group.   Frankly, I was surprised at both of the groups.  That’s pretty good for me, far and away the best I’ve ever shot slung up in prone from #1.  She’s been shooting real nice lately.  I tend to think that the two slings are about equal in terms of steadiness, and that if I had done it again, the Ching would have a 50-50 shot of beating the TAB that time.  That’s my take on steadiness and group size.
Here’s a photo tutorial on looping up with the sling while getting into the rice paddy prone position.  If your scroll speed is set correctly, it should work like animation.

Start out by standing in your back yard, face blacked out, minding your own business:


Wow, now you suddenly need to get steady and shoot at something.  Start getting into position while shoving the hand through the loop.  If you have long sleeves, it helps to grab the sleeve so it won’t get bunched up:


Continue sinking into position while thrusting the arm into the loop until it’s high on the bicep.  If you end up in the armpit, you’ve probably gone too far.  A good measure is to have it 2/3 the way up the bicep:


The legs are in position (is it too late to be thinking about wearing nicer pants?), now bring the support hand around the sling so that it will be trapped between the sling and stock:


At this point I should be pushing the butt forward to get it to my shoulder.  I knew my sling was too loose for that rifle, but did not adjust, as this was just for a photo shoot.  What I didn’t notice until after (aside from how holey my jeans were) is that it was so loose I didn’t have to push the butt forward (THAT’S TOO LOOSE) and that I forgot to “pretend”.


Now assume firing position and do what needs doin’:


Here’s a close up of the support hand/loop detail:

There’s a loop all ready to go (‘cause it’s always there and always ready to go):


Grab the sleeve to keep it from getting pulled up and bunched up and shove in the arm:


Now get the arm all the way in up to high on the bicep:


The next 2 photos detail the hand going ‘round the sling:



Place the support hand on the forend.  Now would be a good time to use the firing hand to push the butt into the shoulder:


Assume a firing position:


Again, I’m aware there are people out there like me who were educated in public school and need video.  I’m happy to oblige:

That was going really slow, and it took 5 seconds, which would be blindingly fast just to get looped up into a 1907 or a TAB sling, and that would not include the time to get into position.  Real world, using the Ching, I would say I would have been basically falling into position and snapping into the sling, for a time of maybe 2 seconds.

Colorado Pete left a comment that I thought was worthy of being included in the main text.  Here it is verbatim:

To keep your sleeve from snagging the sling strap and carrying it sideways with your arm-insertion movement, position your support hand/arm high through the loop, so that your sleeve drags slightly on the bottom of the rifle stock fore-end, thus keeping your sleeve as far as possible from the leather.

Also, the more the rifle is held horizontal as you put your support hand through the loop, the more open the loop tends to hang. The more the rifle is tilted up at the muzzle, the more the loop tends to hang in a more closed configuration (the main and center straps coming closer together), thus increasing the likelihood of the dreaded sleeve snag.

The Ching Sling really works and is very rapid to acquire.  You can buy one from Andy.

Rifle Bounce

I recently discussed standard courses of shooting as an aid to rank one’s level of skill. One standard that was endorsed (probably created) by Col. Cooper was called the Rifle Bounce. This course of fire calls for 3 Pepper Popper targets, with one placed at each target position of 100, 200, and 300 yards, relative to a shooter’s fixed firing line (not fixed firing position). The shooter is given a total of 6 rounds to complete the course by hitting each target once (if you cleaned it you’d have 3 rounds left). The shooter must first engage the 100 yard target. After hitting the target, the shooter moves to a new firing position, which is likely to be adjacent to his first position, and engages the 200 yard target. After hitting the 200 yard target, the shooter shifts positions again and engages the 300 yard target. The positions are freestyle. 20 seconds was stated to be a good time to beat. 

I mentioned in the previous article that not everyone has access to Pepper Poppers, let alone those rated to withstand hits from a centerfire rifle. I decided to try using a reactive target that regular schmoes like me will likely have available: gallon milk jugs. This means that technically this course does not conform to the specifications of the Rifle Bounce. This happens in USPSA all the time; variations of courses are catalogued as approved classifier courses, though they don’t seem to use gallon jugs (what’s with that?). So it’s not a problem as long as we call it its own name. I propose the name “Jug Bounce” for this one. 

Other than the target, the specifications of the course are the same. Jugs filled with water (food coloring would make it more fun- any color you like- some colors are more advantageous) to be placed at 100, 200, and 300 yards. To ensure some degree of consistency, the jugs must be consistently oriented. The only way I can see to keep the appearance of the jug symmetrical is to place the handle either facing towards or away from the shooter. Orienting the handle away will give the most uniform appearance, so that’s what I’m going to say is the way to go. 

A gallon jug is a smaller target than a Pepper Popper, although it is pretty close in size to the round area of the popper. We should therefore expect that the elapsed time for the Jug Bounce will likely be slightly longer than for the Rifle Bounce. 

Col. Cooper did not specify, to my knowledge, exactly how the firing positions were to be oriented. My impression is that they are basically supposed to be right next to each other. We’re going to need to standardize this part of it as well, so what I went with for this was to make the center firing position one yard wide. The left and right positions are simply separated by the 36” wide center position. 

The shooter begins the course in the left firing lane from the standing position with the rifle at port arms, the sling in carry position, and the bipod, if any, folded.  Upon a start signal the shooter begins by taking up whichever position he chooses, and the time stops upon the 3rd target being hit. 

To come up with a hit factor for this course, I’m designating that each target is worth 5 points. Although you could score this as the Col. did, by using the time only, I want a hit factor. I think it will make the math slightly easier for me. The hit factor is, again, points divided by elapsed time. 

I tried this out. It was difficult. It turned out that my zero was slightly off, which made holding over on the 300 yards jugs unnecessary. I also noticed some opportunities to eliminate extra movement. I did not do it in less than 20 seconds. That is going to take some work. Even less than 30 seconds is going to be tough. 

If you shoot the course for score, feel free to video it. I’ll post it on this article if there’s an easy way, such as you putting it on Youtube. Also, it would make it easier for everyone to appreciate the results in a consistent way: 

Format to Submit Your Score: 

100 Position used/ rounds to hit
200 Position used/ rounds to hit
300 Position used/ rounds to hit
Include any pertinent information regarding the rifle, or anything else here. 

Example Score Submission: 

100: Offhand, 1
200: Rice Paddy Prone, 1
300: Prone, 3
Sako 75, 30-06, Ching Sling, Scope zeroed at approximately 290 yards and set at 6x, turned it up to 10x for prone. Held under at 100 and 200. Held over at 300. 

My hit factor is established by dividing my score, 15 points, by my time, 39.94, which equals .376, which was rounded to the nearest 100th

Since I went first, my score is the only one there, which means that I’m at 100%. If you get a score up quick, you might beat me and be the best before someone better comes along! 

Mid-Level Improvised Support

Last year I covered several variations of shooting positions that involved support that could be improvised from whatever you happen to find around you.  I have been calling this type of position “improvised support”.  Col. Cooper called them “jackass” positions.  He must have been very intelligent to come up with so fitting a description of me without the two of us ever meeting.
So far, if memory serves, I’ve covered the Hawkins position, which is sort of an improvised support position, although it’s mainly for getting very low, kneeling, and standing (that article was a primer on improvised support).  Those positions really cover a lot of ground as far as what height your support may present itself to you.  The missing link is the height that is between kneeling and standing.  I’m going to call this the “mid-level position”.
The difficulty with the mid-level position is keeping steady while maintaining yourself at the proper height.  You’re either going to have to bend your knees, bend your back, or lean into it.  None of them sound particularly steady.
The best case scenario would be that your support is of the right size, shape, and of sufficient steadiness to fully support your full weight if you rested your upper body on it.  The type of surface that will allow this is one with a large enough horizontal surface to accommodate your body from the chest all the way forward to the rifle’s forend:

Mid Level shooting position
This photo is not intended to depict the use of a vehicle as cover.  I simply needed something to use for mid-level support (so Firearms and Training can relax now).  The rifle is worth more than the truck, which shows you that I have my priorities straight.


A more likely scenario is something like a ledge, railing, ladder rung, etc…  With this type of support you’re likely to have to support your upper body and be bent over to achieve the same height as the support.
Another possibility is resting the rifle in the crook of the support elbow.  I got into this position at the range and determined that it was very much less stable than either of the positions I described above.  I decided not to waste the ammo on it.
I went to the range and tried this stuff out for you.  I used the Remmy, since I am running low on 30-06 ammo at the moment.  Here’s what happened at a distance of 100 yards:

Fully supported with entire upper body on truck (exactly as pictured above).

I was very pleased with the results from the fully supported position. It felt very easy to shoot from.  I shot it similarly to the Hawkins, by grabbing the sling at the front swivel.  I need to let you know that when I was putting the target boards away I noticed an errant shot to the right of this group.  I also only counted 9 holes in this group.  Having admitted the possibility that this group is not perfectly indicative of the position’s accuracy, I still think it works pretty well.
The next position was with only the support side hand utilizing the support.  It was not as stable as the fully supported position, as one would expect, although you can count all 10 shots within the photo frame.  



What I did was lock out my elbow and grab the sling directly at the front swivel.  I leaned into my support hand, with my lower fingers grasping the support and my forefinger and thumb holding fast to the sling.  What was very cool about this position was that the rifle did not move from the target on recoil.  It was even better than a bipod for watching the hits happen. 

I had originally thought that it would be more stable to bend at the knees to lower my position to the height of the support.  My reasoning was that I could relax my upper body and be more steady.  This turned out to be clearly not the case.  It was so clear that I did not bother wasting ammo.  I would encourage you to try it, though, before dismissing it.  Your experience may differ. 

I had been a little worried about how well I could do from the mid-level positions.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well it all worked out.