I'd like to thank the instructors for putting on an enjoyable shoot and to express my appreciation for your efforts. It was a busy time for my son and me, and we didn't put on 1/10th the effort the instructors did. Thank you Nero, Scoob, American Amazon, and Earl.
It was a truly worthwhile experience, and I learned a lot. I was especially impressed with Scoob's demonstration of the prone position. I would not have believed the human body could be that stable. If I had not witnessed it, I would have thought that laser pointer was mounted on a gimbal in a vice. Wow.
It was especially humbling when we had to work with other shooters to diagnose trouble spots. Trying to watch the head, hands, body position, and muzzle for indications of problems is very difficult. I appreciate the instructor's dedication and efforts all the more.
The weather wasn't too bad. Hot, but not scorching. The wind was sometimes distracting, especially when it flipped my mat back at me while shooting. I wish I could blame the wind for not being able to bring it all together, but now I have a good idea of what to work on.
Over the years, I've learned that practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent. If you practice bad habits, they become permanent. Worse still is if you don't know you're practicing bad habits. Since training teaches a person how to practice, I've learned a new foundation that will hopefully result in good (or at least better) habits and skills. I'm confident I will be able to resolve some of my shooting issues, and increase my scores.
Congratulations again to Craig for earning his patch.
I would have taken more pictures of the firing line, but running a bolt rifle meant I was usually the last person shooting. Between loading mags, watching the instructors, and inspecting targets, I didn't manage to take many good pictures. However, even a blind pig finds an acorn every once in a while.
Scoob maintaining the firing line vigil
Scoob and Pat demonstrating the sitting variations
Nero tells the tale of three strikes
Instructors covering the course of fire for the AQT.
Earl rockin' the pink
The final day featured 8 shooters, 6 with some sort of 10/22, several borrowed.
After the shoot, Nero let participants take a crack at the M1A. It was awesome.
I may not know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop, but it takes about 430 .22 cartridges to have a great Appleseed.
No, I didn't count the empties.
The whole shoot was enjoyable. The pace was just a notch below frantic. The instructors say it's like drinking from a fire hose, and that's an appropriate metaphor. Learn a skill, try a practice, and move to the next skill. Then try to use all the skills at once. It gets daunting, but I truly believe that once I figure out how to do it all at once my shooting will improve.
As if the great instruction wasn't enough, Nero, American Amazon, Scoob and Earl also proved to be engaging story tellers, and breaks and lunch were filled with well told tales of the rocky road to independence from British rule, and the contributions of ordinary citizens.
My boy and I had a fantastic time. Thanks again to Nero, Pat, Scoob, and especially Earl, who drove a long way just to help. I appreciate your time, energy, and friendly attitudes.
To anyone thinking about attending, you really should. The crew really put forth effort to make sure everyone had adequate equipment and form. They're very good about answering questions, and they run everything with safety as the top priority.
My observations about attending with maximum enjoyment:
1) Stretch - some positions require contorting into shapes that would make a cirque du soleil performer cringe (or at least feel that way). I've been practicing the prone position, so my middle-aged body wasn't too sore. You will hurt, but you don't have to be in agony.
2) Make sure your gun fits - the instructors will do the best they can to improvise solutions, but there are limits to their ingenuity. Make sure you can get a good cheek weld and still see your sights, especially from prone because you will be shooting prone a lot.
3) If you use magazines, make sure you have at least enough to shoot the reloading stages. Two stages of the AQT require at least one reload: firing 2 rounds, reloading, and then firing 8 rounds. This is regardless of capacity or how your rifle feeds (detachable box magazine, tube, fixed). If all you have are 5 round magazines, you will need 3 for these stages (2 rounds, 5 rounds, 3 rounds). Two 10 round magazines will suffice, but expect the occasional frantic stuffing of cartridges. My son used a clear 10/22 magazine, and it was easy to see how many cartridges were loaded. Very helpful for knowing if you've put in all 8 rounds.
4) Use a sling. Buy one, borrow one, scavenge one, but by all means use one. I used a hasty sling, and felt it served its purpose. I also had an opportunity to try the GI sling, and was impressed with how much it aided a steady hold.
5) Practice changing magazines. If I had a good change during stage 2 and 3, I usually got off all 10 rounds. If I bobbled the change, I frequently had leftover rounds at the end of the stage.
6) Have fun. To paraphrase an expression, this should be therapy, not a reason to need therapy.
I'll practice what I learned, and come back for that elusive patch.
Finally, I got a lot of attention about the Ruger American Rimfire rifle. I shot the compact with the long, high comb, which fit me best. The stock may not be handsome, but it is handy. The only real negative I can find with the rifle is that the magazine well is on the tight side, and not all Ruger magazines fit properly. One old magazine fits tightly, and a clear magazine doesn't fit at all. Six other magazines fit and eject fine. The only problems I encountered were dumb things I did operating the bolt (mostly short stroking), and running the 6 safety steps in order. The safety steps are 1) mag out 2) bolt back 3) safety on 4) chamber flag in 5) rifle down 6) stand back. The rifle has a tang safety that can't be reached with the bolt back, so I had to switch steps 2 and 3. No biggie. When I first got the rifle, I did swap out the standard extended magazine release with a flush release for aesthetic (not practical) reasons, but don't believe this hindered me much. Here's the tweaking I made from the out-of-box configuration: swapped the magazine release for a flush unit, reduced the trigger pull to lowest setting (which involves backing out one allen screw), adding a scope, and using the long, high comb. In the future, I might add a GI sling. No gunsmithing is required to make the firearm Appleseed ready. I like this rifle more every time I shoot it.