First of all, yes I seem to be back writing. It wasn’t a given. I don’t know how much I’m going to do, how often, etc… If it’s a win for both you and me then I will do it. If one of us isn’t getting anything out of it, I probably won’t. Since I don’t make money from the blog, it has to be worth my time in other ways. Sometimes churning away at picky experiments is not worth it. I’ll give out some updates on me later, and I do have unfinished (or simply undocumented) work from before I took my break, but first things first.
Part of a larger project I’m working on has me thinking about how to get close to one’s potential as a rifle shooter. I suppose that has really been the point all along, but I don’t think we can have realistic hopes to reach a destination without defining where it is. The last year has been a big leap for me as a shooter, and it has changed the way I look at the journey of the rifleman, both in front and behind me.
Looking behind me, it’s clear that I didn’t really know where I was going, and it was hard to recognize the path. In hindsight I can see it more clearly, and recalling the route that I’ve taken shows that I probably spent as much time wandering off on side journeys instead of keeping to the most direct route to where I am now. Some bushwhacking isn’t harmful, but maybe I could have saved some time and maybe more than just a little money if I’d been more efficient. That’s the problem with being your own teacher.
Part of what is missing in the orienteering tools that the average do-it-yourself is a standard of excellence to act as a beacon to guide him along his path. This started gnawing at me sometime last year. Really, it’s been longer than that, and it was part of the reason I started this blog.
Other fields have standards. Hobbies have standards. Competitive bodies have standards. So why do we lack them?
One could argue that we do have standards. There are some, and there are even some good ones that address certain aspects of shooting. I’m familiar with some professional standards, but the problem is that they tend to ensure that the candidate is practically guaranteed to prove his suitability for the position, rather than to actually test it. What we lack is a comprehensive set of standards for excellence in the many facets of rifle shooting.
Part of the difficulty lies in the diverse applications of the rifle. Excellence can really only be defined in terms of how effectively it accomplishes a given task. No single standard can be reasonably expected to provide an adequate measure of every application. So the logical first step is figuring out what types of skills we need to have yardsticks for. Here are those that come to mind, just off the top of my head:
- Close range, high speed.
- Medium range, time sensitive, general marksmanship. I’ll arbitrarily define medium range as 100-500, though other variables could alter that. This would be Appleseed’s realm of specialty, using non-scaled targets at full distance.
- Medium range field shooting, e.g. the Cooper standards.
- Surgical shooting- small targets in conditions and/or distances that don’t require complex accounting for trajectory or environmentals.
- Precision shooting in the environment- up to long range, which I’ll arbitrarily define as 1000 yards, possibly extreme long range, >1000 yards.
I believe that any standards devised with the intention to measure the above, or any other modes of rifle shooting, should include the requisite rifle handling skills (loading, reloading, clearance) that would be reasonably expected in that venue.
Another thing to consider is the value of versatility. Can a specialist really be considered a great rifle shooter? In my mind, the answer is no. Can someone who is only a generalist? I don’t think so, but I’m interested in hearing what you have to say.
Normally, when I have written something and published it on the blog here, I have the entire series of articles ahead of it all done. At least if not done, I know what I want to say, or what I want to look into. This time that is not the case. I’m open to feedback. In fact, I probably can’t get through this without some feedback from shooters who have already attained some level of excellence in some of the niches of rifle shooting I outlined above. Since this site is used as a free resource for a lot of budding riflemen and riflewomen, any help you provide could become very useful for others.
As always, thanks for reading.