Musings of a man with lacking in self preservation

Day at the range, accurately shooting from a bench rest (and in general).

I picked up an "assault rifle" in 308/7.62nato, an Adams Arms SF308 patrol enhanced specifically. I'd been eyeing one for quite some time, but the price combined with political urgency never really lined up. Finally a manufacturer I love (very truly innovative technology at great prices) came forward with an amazing firearm, and the political urgency is there (Clinton will win, she dislikes firearms, plus Oregon/Washington is going anti-gun) so I picked it up. Shortly thereafter, I went shooting at the local gun range.

I haven't shot in a while, and definitely not at a range with a bench rest since I was in boyscouts... at age 12. Sure I went shooting quite often at my previous house way out on a mountain, but I honestly hadn't shot rifles in a year by the time I got out again. Shooting trap also isn't all that helpful or relevant. Needless to say I was a bit rusty, and I had a few firearms that were out of sorts needing zeroing and general tooling with.

To my surprise, I was continuously not the least knowledgeable person there, and often was in the upper 25% of the shooters there. I found that a bit crazy since my last time at a proper range was shooting in boyscouts when I was 12 years old and rushed onto a bench rest by apathetic 16 year olds just passing by their summer. So to be that much more knowledgable to me was odd to me. My dad owned so many firearms, but never shared shooting with me. I came into it on my own, and just... kind of had to figure it out. Same with a lot of people there as well I discovered helping two very green individuals zero in a red dot on a 10/22. They asked if I was in the military as walked them through how to zero in a sight through my spotting scope, and then the individual immediately followed up his question with a somewhat defensive exclemation that he was new to guns and his father had never shown him.

Anyways for those of you who are semi or totally anti-guns and visit here, I feel one part of my trip is reason to call for mandatory training (which personally, I'd be okay with provided it's a paid public service). We were going cold on the range (all rifles clear and safe, eveyrone out of bunk house, no one can shoot or go near firearms so we can go downrange and put up targets safely) and part of that process with an AR style firearm is locking the bolt open. Two young adults had come in and sat down next to me while I was getting my SF308 first sighted. When it came time to lock their bolt open, they did what they thought was right, but it was very much wrong and had nothing to do with locking the bolt open. I showed them and it was simple of course, but yeah sure enough you can get a firearm and not even fully know how to operate it let alone watch a video on basic operations of a friearm. I don't think I'd mind some mandatory firearms training being a requirement to purchase firearms.

Enough tooting my own horn though. I knew more than a few weekend warriors at my range on one particular day, but by no means think of myself as an expert or even solid intermediate compared to many. There was plenty I didn't know. I'm going to jot my experiences down and document what I learned to fix it, and hopefully remember better because of it.

  • Start with smaller calibers, move your way up. If you aren't shooting a little 22 rifle right you aren't going to do any better with a 308. I could have saved myself a fair bit of ammo recalling the basics on that rifle instead of my new 308.
  • Breathing in relationship to shooting. I'm sure I covered it in boyscouts forever and ages ago, but you'd be amazed just how much people blow past this topic... even in the Ruger hunter training instructional videos (where I found other answers). The answer is to breathe smoothly to stay comfortably oxygenated, and then as you are preparing to shoot take a solid breathe, exhale just a bit so you aren't over-filled and then hold that breathe until moments later when you send it. Hold too long, you get shakey. This was a sticking point for me.
  • Body position on the bench. The ruger hunter prep videos answered this, specifically video #7. Get the rifle comfortable, then cradle the butt stock in the web of your hand, and grab your right bicep with your fingers. Other cool point of note is your natural point of aim. Get on target, get everything set... then just close your eyes, breathe a bit, and see if you've shifted. If so, you're body is tense. Reposition back arm to adjust height, adjust body seating to move left right. When you can close your eyes and relax a bit then open back up right on target, you're going to be the most accurate.
  • Scope mounting is important. I didn't pay enough attention to this during rifle setup, largely due to lack of time but I also failed to recognize it was lacking as well. When trying to get accurate at long distances or even medium distances, your scope slowly coming undone on you isn't going to work even at 50 yards. Spend a lot of time to get it all right at home, blue loctite it in place and snugly so, and go from there. Or, know if it isn't configured and come specifically prepared to dial it in at the range and then lock it all down.
  • Don't fuck around with ear protection. If it hurts, go get better ear protection right away dummy. I left my good hearing protection at home and used cheaper plugs and toughed it out. I am now paying for it. On the bright side, now maybe I can not be bothered so much by dubstep as I can't hear it as well.

That's that. Shooting was fun, I'll probably do some of it here or there to make sure I can safely use the firearms I have effectively if needed, and that's that. Get them all configured, stored right and... just break them out once in a great while from there.