Short Range Training
by John Tate
It’s been suggested that some of my drivel might be of interest here. Here’s a true story that might fit.
As I’ve indicated, I’m not a world class shooter. Instead, I’m one of those guys who can win an occasional local club match … and that’s only if (1) I practice A LOT, and (2) have a good day.
Regarding #1, when I was stationed in Panamà (’92 – ’95), it was very hard to get access to the USA’s Fort Clayton range, and that was the only good KD range in the area. However, Rodman Naval Station had a nice 25 yard range to which I had 24/7 access.
Now I’ve always been pretty good at calling the wind, so that wasn’t an issue. But what I needed was near constant, intense practice with was the basics of national match position shooting, especially sitting and prone rapid fire … for which dry fire just won’t help.
Now, the Navy also had a bunch of M80 ball ammo. Not the most accurate round, but it does go boom and make holes down range.
Now, do the math: If at 25 yards (1,000 inches, 25 meters, whatever), you can shoot a max 2 MOA group at 25 yards, you can hold the 10 ring at 200, 300, 600 and 1,000. And that’s what I did – I dry fired a lot and also shot a lot – with the goal of a single hole… at 25 yards.
(I always shot/shoot my own 1970s vintage “Devine M1A” (serial # on my Devine TX Springfield Armory M1A is 0008XX) on which I’d had Glen Nelson put a heavy, target barrel. Otherwise, it has “my” trigger, “my” rebuilt stock, and NWSC Crane match sights.)
The results, in my “swan song” match, the ’95 Atlantic Fleet matches (some 230 competitors), I shot the best 600 yard score of my life, a 195-6X. My overall score of 483-13X (also my best ever) tied for first place among active duty Navy shooters (tie broken by 600 yd X-count), and I won a Secretary of the Navy Trophy M1.
Now I know that both 483 and 195 would be a shameful score for you pros. But for me, a duffer, this was something special! And all my live fire practice for the year had been at 25 yards.
So here’s the lesson. Dry firing can only teach so much. Sometimes you really need to deal with recoil. Shooting at any range, even 1,000 inches, and holding a near 2 MOA group will help make you competitive at any range. Can reduced range practice take the place of real mid- and long range shooting where the wind can be a huge factor? NO! But as part of a training regimen, it can help. And it’s certainly better than doing nothing because a full KD range isn’t available.