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Single shot vs. AR-15: custom-built rifles are more accurate than repeaters. Oh really? Or ... how I lost another match.

After a stint in the military, I had a strong desire to shoot , Benchrest competition. Why? Well, putting all 5 or 10 bullets in the same hole fascinated me. But alas, no such matches were being held near where I lived, nor did I have any idea where they might be. Consequently, after asking around about matches of any kind in the area, I ended up on a pistol team.

Like many men I have known over the course of four decades of competing, they often get their wives involved, sometimes for simply pragmatic reasons. The wife will not complain so much about the cost and certainly not about hubby not spending time with her. The problem with many such symbiotic endeavors is the child bride is soon out shooting their guy. Asking hubby later why he dropped out to pursue weight lifting, a mild, steroid induced grunt passes his lips.

Yes, you guessed it. After just a few lessons and the borrowing of a beautiful Hammerli pistol, my wife shot an international world's record. In fact I had to tear her away from a novel of some sort just to get her to the firing line. While l shook with excitement and nerves, the mother of my children was as calm as old Quigley in the outback.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Some years later, my dear wife surprised me on my birthday with a Remington 40x Benchrest rifle. It was my first such rifle, and I was excited. I fussed with cases, practiced at the local range, and was finally notified by a friend of an upcoming Benchrest match in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I found myself shooting the 100-yard event seated next to a 9-year old boy. My groups were the better part of ugly, while the young whippersnapper's were downright tiny. After shooting three embarrassing groups, I turned to the boy and enquired, "what do you think I'm doing wrong?"

The boy looked through his scope, studied my target for a moment, then turned to me and thoughtfully replied, "taking up the wrong hobby?"

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I grabbed my rifle, my wife, put the car in gear, and was soon on the road to the casinos.

But through the ensuing years and with intrepid dedication, my ability of imagined greatness grew. I was sitting in my gunroom one day reloading some case or other when my 9-year old grandson, Jory, walked in the room. He didn't say anything, just looked around. After several minutes of silence, the boy said, "Grandpa, you've got 105 trophies hanging on the wall!"

As my back straightened and my chest thrust out a bit without over doing it, I told him with a subdued flair, like melting penuche on one's tongue, that there were others about, some in the attic, etc.

There followed another few minutes of silence before the boy spoke again. "Grandpa, how come they're all 3rd and 4th places?"

As my prowess continued to grow, I began to think of myself as a professional. I thought of myself no longer as just a hobbyist, but as the real deal, forgetting any prior performance my 9-year-old audiences might have become aware of.

Deja Vu

While I have been a Benchrest competitor for 30 years, pistol competitor for several, and a sniper competitor for many, I just finished my first F-Class 600-yard Benchrest match this past weekend. I have rebelled against doing so because it seemed rather backward for anyone to remove his expensive Benchrest gear from a perfectly good bench, put it on the ground, and lay on his belly in the dirt. But, alas, I succumbed to the repeated prevails of acquaintances.

One tactic I have learned to employ in my competitive endeavors is the new and innovative excuse. And I certainly blame all failures to win on my equipment. So here is the first one. Not having a real open class rifle, I decided to shoot my 1,000-yard competition rifle chambered in .308 Baer. A tried-and-true 1,000-yard competition cartridge, it throws a 190-grain Sierra MatchKing bullet down range at 3,250 fps, bucking the wind admirably. My load for the cartridge has always been Norma's MRP, and it shoots very well.

Finding I'd run out of the magic powder, I found five cans of MRP-2 in my powder closet and decided to try it. Several forays to the range, however, did not get the vertical out of the load. Oh well, thought I, the rifle is shooting consistent 3.5" to 4" groups at 600 yards even with the vertical. How difficult can it be? I mean, jeez, these guys are amateur hobbyists while I am a long and tried and true competitor and professional. And besides, that F-Class target is huge!

The day finally arrived. Shortly I found myself squaded on the third relay. I watched the wind intently, noting it was picking up gradually as the time passed and my turn on the line approached.

Xs & 10s

Relay three was first in the pits, and I had the pleasure of scoring target number 4. I did not know which of the fellows on the line I was scoring, but whoever it was proceeded to shoot one 10 after another with several Xs along the way. This guy was a pro I had somehow overlooked. Amateurs indeed! We did have one High Master shooting that relay, and I assumed it was him. Another fellow was thought to be shooting target 4, but I dismissed the idea. He had a .223 Rock River AR-15 he had just purchased and was shooting some factory ammo or other.

My turn in the pits over, I returned to the firing line. There, I discovered target number 4 was being shot by the guy with the new Rock River AR, and the factory amino was some Black Hills 77-grain stuff. But here is where my stomach knotted: He was using iron sights! Reminiscent of Las Vegas, I thought about putting my $5,000 scoped, custom-built, single-shot, 1,000-yard rifle in the truck and begin looking for a casino in South Texas to forget my troubles. But of course I had to show my tenacity to carry on, broken leg or not.

l began thinking of great, new, and innovative excuses once again as 1 waited for relay two to finish their 15th round for score. Like ... it was my first F-Class match. No, that wouldn't fly. It was his first match as well. I thought on, but my mind kept returning to 9-year-old boys and their, as-yet-not-matured, lack of delicacy in matters of male testosterone.

The wind had picked up above that shot by relay one. But I found I only had to vary my hold about 1.5 lines from pickup to letup during the match. Nuts! The vertical continued to plague me. First above the X or the 10, then below it.

Well, you say, this is all a very quaint little story. But is it going anywhere? Absolutely. Willard's new .223 Rock River AR-15 was capable of shooting Xs all day at 600 yards. The center of the X ring is 3". You might say, well, that is only 1/2 MOA. But 1/2 MOA at 600 yards is scarcely the same as 1/2 MOA at 100 yards, and 15 rounds are by far more difficult than 3 or 5 rounds at 100 yards.

What Advantage?

It is commonly believed a single-shot, custom-built, competition rifle is more accurate than repeaters, more accurate than custom-built magazine fed bolt rifles, and easily more accurate than those of the AR variety. And certainly, scoped rifles have the advantage over iron sights.

Yet, there I was, second again. While the point count was the same, Willard had bested me by one X. Which, by the way, dropped me to 3rd place I was soon to discover. Do you think my grandson will ever find out? Not oil your life.

I won some rather large and impressive match or other a few months back, and took home a first place gold plate. The family had dinner the other night, celebrating my grandson's return from a year-long stay in Washington State. During the meal, my kind wife, knowing about my grandson's indiscretion 5-ears earlier, placed the shiny plate on the dinner table in front of the boy. A very slight and knowing smile crossed his lace. And no, I didn't mention the F-Class Match 3rd place finish of the previous weekend. I might be a poor shot, but I do have my own share of male testosterone to protect.

ROCK RIVER ARMS

1042 CLEVELAND ROAD

COLONA, IL 61241

(309) 792-5780

WWW.ROCKRIVERSARMS.COM
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Title Annotation:A GUNS MEDLEY
Author:Gottfredson, Jacob
Publication:Guns Magazine
Date:May 1, 2009
Words:1451
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