3rd day of Steel Safari didn't go so well for me. The 6:10am start meant I was looking into the sun for the first 3 stages. That combined with having my head up my backside for those stages meant a pretty lackluster score. I barely finished in the top half for the three days. Still, this is an amazing event -- one that's pretty unforgiving for errors in so many aspects of shooting. Snowflake egos need not apply.
I'm looking forward to the next Safari matches, both individual and team events.
The Safari had 3 DQs due to NDs this year. I know one of the ND guys, and by chance I talked to another in the parking lot after he returned to the field. IMO the stories are worth relaying.
First ND -- the shooter was in prone position, weighting his bipod, sights were on target, preparing to take the shot. The bipod either collapsed or broke, the shooter broke the shot as the bipod was collapsing, and the round fell well short of the target. The RO was spotting (eyes in binos) and didn't see the collapsed bipod until the shooter called attention to the issue. The shooter stated that was an ND and DQ'ed himself from the match. Many of us in Colorado know him -- he goes by a dinosaur nickname. He's a great guy with outstanding character.
Second ND -- The shooter stated he just finished a stage. Dropped his mag, then proceeded to rack the bolt of his AI bolt action 4 or 5 times. He then had his RO rack the bolt 4 or 5 times. The shooter stood up, grabbed the rifle, pointed it down range towards targets, told the RO he was going to drop the hammer. BANG! RO was uncertain what to do, but shooter called ND and DQ'd himself. The shooter stated he believes a live bullet was stuck in the chamber, probably due to a mis-sized case.
I suspect the shooter had just loaded a round into the chamber, then ran out of time prior to breaking the shot. Which means he knows he has a live round in the rifle. I suspect he dropped the mag, cycled the bolt, and no round ejected. Which means he continued to cycle the bolt -- not only himself, but with the RO's assistance. He stated he looked into the chamber, but with an AI action, it's hard to see into the chamber. I can't comment here, as I don't own an AI rifle.
This means 2 failures occurred -- #1 the shooter didn't stick a finger down the chamber to feel for a round, and #2 the shooter didn't pull the bolt out of the gun to look down the bore. Furthermore, if there was a concern that the live round was in the rifle, then the gun should not have been moved.
IMO a better way would have been first to determine that the live round didn't eject. Once that was determined, pull the bolt and figure out a way to remove the round. If that doesn't work, agree to fire the round towards a target (may require match director approval), break the shot, then inspect gun & ammo afterwards.
Fortunately, all 3 NDs in the match occurred with rifles pointing down range and no injuries or issues ensued. NDs are scary -- I've had one. Let's be safe out there.
Thanks for the stories. I won’t offer an opinion about the stuck round, and you’re right it could have been caught by removing the bolt. I would not, however, call breaking a shot as the bipod collapsed a “negligent” discharge (assuming that’s what “ND” refers to). Unintentional? Yes, but I don’t understand how the shooter’s negligence caused it.
“I can’t give you brains, but I can give you a diploma.”
— The Wizard of Oz
Negligent, accidental, unintentional, malfunction...... matches we're shooting all means the same. Don't have control of your rifle when the shot breaks, you're done shooting.
Exactly. IIRC during the pre-match briefing, the match director defined an ND as any impact that wasn't within about 10 yards of the target.
The Steel Safari is about as far removed from a square-range, RSO-controlled match as one can get. At any one moment 25 people can be shooting rifles in almost a 300 degree arc -- only the road in and out of the range is fairly well out line of fire. And of course, the central meeting point. We're shooting off tall tripods, from rocks, supported by tree branches, using slings, and sometimes even off hand. Standing, kneeling, sitting, prone. From uneven terrain, sometimes at the edges of substantial cliffs. There's a zero tolerance for improper and unsafe gun handling.
Okay, thanks. That explains much.
Added: I’ve thought about this for a bit and although I’m of two minds about saying anything more, I decided to explain the basis for my comment/question further.
I am an old man, the product of a different education system and of long careers in which words mattered. A lot. Whenever I see the definitions of common words tortured into something that they don’t mean in common usage, and especially when there are perfectly good substitutes readily available that actually mean what someone is trying to convey, I have a speed bump experience.
My question has nothing to do with safety or good shooting competition practice. The rule that if a bullet hits the ground more than 10 yards from the target is an automatic disqualification seems like a good one under the circumstances of the matches described. There’s nothing wrong with having tight standards, including standards that penalize shooters for things like collapsing bipods that are completely beyond their control. Life isn’t fair, and when it’s not practicable to always determine the reason for something like a misdirected shot, then we just have to make rules and enforce them with no regard to the reason.
When I learn that a shooting match had X number of shooters disqualified for “negligent” discharges, that’s more than a little alarming. I don’t shoot the number and types of competitions as what are usually discussed in this thread, but I have been involved in shooting and been around other shooters for well over 50 years. I have been a professional firearms instructor for the past 16 years and intermittently for decades before that. The number of genuine negligent discharges I have seen in which a shooter was truly responsible due to carelessness or something else that he could and should have controlled and prevented amount to a very low number: one. The number of negligent discharges by people I have known personally but that I didn’t witness have been somewhat greater, but not much: three.
I like to tell people that organized shooting events, either competitions or formal training sessions, are extremely safe; safer by far, for example, than the many bicycling events my little mountain town sees every year. Safer than kayaking or river rafting. Much safer than riding motorcycles. Even safer than skiing.
But if I were to learn that three highly experienced and skilled shooters were disqualified due to their own inattention, carelessness, and/or lack of ability to properly handle their firearms in a single event, I would have to seriously reconsider my opinion of the matter. And what’s most important, I wouldn’t blame the gun-grabbers for pointing to those reports as proof of their contention that no one—not even the best of us—should be permitted to own firearms, much less be permitted to fire them in the company of other people.
And the point of all this? Words.
The words we use to describe important things like firearms discharges that shouldn’t have happened are important in themselves. Just based on the limited account related above, the individual who fired a shot as his bipod collapsed wasn’t negligent in any traditional sense of the word. It was unintentional and not something any reasonable shooter could have anticipated, and much less could have influenced. If the collapse had happened a second or two sooner or later, it would have had no effect on how close the bullet hit to the target. Even if he should have been more careful with his bipod, the nexus between having a bipod screw loosen and firing a shot at the same instant is too remote to say that the discharge itself was negligent. And if the bipod broke, as seems to have been a possibility, even that degree of blame was absent.
We could legitimately say that the bipod incident and the one with the stuck round were violations of the match safety rules because of their outcomes, and that any violation of the rules is basis for disqualification regardless of anyone’s intent. But I believe that it’s a mistake to call any rules violation in connection with an unwanted discharge “negligent.” Some may be, but some obviously aren’t. The same is true of some of the other incidents posters report here. All unintentional discharges are by definition unintentional, but not all unintentional discharges are negligent, and shouldn’t be characterized as such. Misusing the word makes it more difficult to properly assess and learn from the inevitable incidents that occur, and give the enemies of our gun rights more ammunition to use against us.
That’s all I have to say about the subject, but I believe it was worth saying.This message has been edited. Last edited by: sigfreund,
“I can’t give you brains, but I can give you a diploma.”
— The Wizard of Oz
I was planning on getting a Tikka CTR in 308 and put it in a GRS chassis. I stopped by a friend's shop yesterday and he handed me a 6.5CM version of The Fix by Q.
Caliber deliberations aside...is it worth 2x my planned purchase???
What slings do you guys use to carry and support these heavy rifles?
All the instructors the professional firearms courses I've attended stated there is no such thing as an accidental discharge ("AD"). There was nothing accidental about the events leading up to the discharge. We didn't accidentally buy a gun, buy ammo, store the gun, bring them out of storage, transport them to the range, load ammo into the gun, holster/sling the gun, or grasp the gun. If we broke a shot at an unexpected time and/or in an unexpected direction, we were negligent. This comes from Bruce Gray and Jerry Jones (Grayguns), Jacob Bynum (Rifles Only), and Frank Galli (instructor, and operates Snipers Hide site). buddies who have attended courses at Gunsight, Thunder Ranch, and K&M say the same thing.
I don't think the average public gives a rat's ass what we call an errant shot, as long as the shot doesn't hit people, animals, or valuable property. We're just low-brow gun-loving bubbas being sheep dips in the desert or woods. Joe Public only seems to care about public "mass" shootings, especially if a semi-auto firearm is involved. The public seems numb to inner-city violence. Rifle/pistol/carbine/shotgun training and competition is way off the radar scope.
IMO we shooters should call it as it is -- negligent discharge. It was our gun, our ammo, our finger on the trigger. It wasn't an accident. It wasn't a boo boo. We did something that could have injured or killed, and that shouldn't be taken lightly or swept under the rug. We can make a sigh of relief if the bullet only struck soft dirt, but that bullet should have only struck the intended target.
It's my understanding that many of the NDs in training and competition result in no damage or injury, due to firearms being pointed in reasonably safe directions. But not always. I also understand that a few of the top pistol competitors have bullet scars down their strong side legs. It's only a couple of inches difference between the aim point of a thigh and the ground next to a foot. I don't see how one can be an ND and the other an AD.
There are a number of different brands that work. Most shooters want a fairly wide strap. It needs to be adjustable and strong -- strong buckles and attachments.
I use FTW (Rifles Only) and TAB Gear slings. Other popular brands seem to include Short Action Precision, Armageddon Gear, and Tactical Intervention.
Depends on what you want.
Cuff/sling. Short Action Precision. Believe it's the smartest, easiest to get out of cuff.
W/O cuff. Easy to put one together yourself.
Order 1 1/2 webbing here
Order 2 Three bar sliders and 2 ends of your choice.
If you have someone who can sew for you. Sew one of the ends of choice on, three bar slider on the other end.....
Alpine and I competed in the Competition Dynamics team match near Douglas, WY over the weekend. This was our 3rd go at the match. I think we are getting a little better as a team and we are getting a little faster in the stages. Unfortunately, the top guys in this match are just really, really good. We finished near the middle of the pack, helping to maintain the fat part of the bell curve.
We had three 60-minute field course, shot in the mornings. These consisted of 4 shooting stages, laid out over maybe 1 to 1.25 miles. Most of the stages were 8 steel targets, with one shooting position. One field course was a mix of 8 targets with 1 shooting position position, and 4 targets with two shooting positions. Targets were of unknown location and distance. We were given left and right boundary limits -- we then had to find and range the targets. Distances varied from maybe 350 yards to 900 yards. A few targets were visible with the naked eye; some were &%^$#@ tough to find even with really good binos.
I was the carbine guy on the field courses. I shot first, needed to engage only 4 targets, and was able to fire unlimited rounds at targets. I had mandatory targets out to 760 yards. Not a place for an SBR with 55 FMJ ammo. I used a 20" barrel AR-15 with 73-grain match ammo and a 4-16x scope. Some carbine competitors used AR-10s (6.5 & 6mm) and AR-15s with non-traditional chambers (Grendel, Valkyrie).
Alpine was the precision rifle guy, using a 260 remy. He shot after me, had to engage all 8 targets, and was allowed only 1 shot per target. Maximum points per field course was 48 points. The top scores were in the low 40's per course. We scored in the low- to mid-30's on the field courses.
Finishing the field courses under 60 minutes gained the teams bonus points. The top bananas finished all stages early -- shaving as much as 30-40 combined minutes off the allowed 180 minutes. Alpine and I shaved a combined 9 minutes off the two stages we finished early. I need to do more running....
After lunch we had two assault courses, generally about 5 minutes in length. Here we used a combo of our long guns and pistols, generally in (sort of) run & gun situations. One course involved shooting steel plates with our pistols, hauling a 160-ish pound dummy back and forth between shooting locations, and shooting plates in kneeling/sitting/prone positions with our long guns. Under the clock, this was an ass kicker.
We had 2 night stages, with targets lit by strobes & flashes. I did not like these stages. At all. Without pulling punches, I relayed my thoughts to the guys who put on the competition. Evidently, I wasn't the lone ranger here. Not a lot of love for the night shoots.
All 27 teams finished the match -- no DNFs or DQs. The match director seemed pretty pleased about that. This is a tough comp -- from a physical effort standpoint, the complexity of acquiring targets, and from the high levels of marksmanship required.
I'm looking forward to next year's match
Sounds fun! I wish WY wasn't such a long drive for me.
I shot in the Nightforce Precision/Tactical 2-gun match over the weekend in Raton, NM. It's an individual match, with the shooter deploying both a carbine and precision rifle in the same stage. In some stage we get to ground one rifle and the pack, in others we are fully geared up at the start. Nothing like having a full pack on your back, precision rifle slung, shooting & moving with an AR-15 -- often with the AR on a tripod, in order to get a clear target sight picture between/over/around vegetation.
For the past 2 years the match was held in Coal Canyon -- a really cool area that's on the very north end of the NRA Whittington center, and just a few miles west of Raton. For whatever &$%*$# reasons, the NRA management no longer wants shooting in this canyon. So over the past few weeks, the match director scrambled to move the competition to the other locations in the center of the Whittington property.
One course of 5 stages was placed in an area with trees. Distances to targets weren't all that long, maybe 650 yards tops. Terrain, brush, trees, and site pictures varied enough to make this a nice area to shoot.
The other course of 5 stages was placed in the flats, generally to the east of Whittingtons formal shooting areas -- i.e. those with platforms, benches, and roofs. There were lots of targets out here, so our precision targets were painted with white centers and green edges. These stages were fairly well designed, but just not up to the fun level of those in the trees. Precision targets were a little further out here. Our longest target was 1030 yards, but most were much closer.
It appears 74 shooters entered. I shot the wooded area on Saturday really well, but not so much on the flats on Sunday. Placed in the top 30. Had I repeated my Saturday score on Sunday, I would have placed in the top dozen or so.
Winds were variable from 5-15 mph in the flats, generally from our 9 o'clock. My final stage of precision rifle was shot from a good position. First targets were 600-700 yards, figured I had about a 3 mph cross-wind window for a hit. First target -- held for 10mph, landed the shot just left of target, estimated wind at 5 or 6 mph. Immediate followup shot, holding 8-9 mph. Miss right of target, figure wind picked up to 13-14 mph. Next target, repeat, then repeat again. Frickin' wind.
I was originally scheduled to shoot with the strongest squad of the match. A squad that included the match winner and 3 of the top 10 competitors. The match director asked me to move to another squad at the last moment, because "a friend" wanted to shoot in that squad. Being the nice guy, I agreed. Total dipshit action on my part. I won't do that again, and I plan to write to the match director to say as much. I ended up being in one of the weakest squads in the match. My ability to talk stage tactics and to relay wind information was very limited. Like in conversing with a brick wall.
There was a shooter in my squad that used an AR-10 for his precision gun and an AR-15 for his carbine. He had serious loading problems with his AR-10 -- maybe ammo, maybe mags, maybe rifle. He wouldn't take our advice for single feeding, so it was just painful to watch the cluster. Wasn't the best with an AR-15 either, but at least it cycled most of the time.
On the second day he had an ND with the carbine. Full pack and precision rifle on his back, moving right to left from position one to position two with the carbine. Shooting from tripod at steel at 100 yards and paper at 20-25 yards. He stated that he felt the gun ran dry on the second shooting position -- he dumped a lot of rounds at the first few targets at the first position. Dropped the mag, and in the process of reloading torched off a round roughly down range, maybe 30-40 degrees up angle, towards the mountains a couple of miles away. Game over, pack up and go home.
OK, some of us have done stupid crap and produced an ND. I raise my hand in shame. Fortunately, this round probably didn't do anything other than chip a boulder in the distance and scare a squirrel. Honestly, I was somewhat relieved this guy was done.
I've had several "AR10s", in both .308 and 6.5 Creed, with a lot of rounds downrange. The only malfunctions I've ever had were clearly magazine related. But I've never had a malfunction with a 308 Pmag (also used for 6.5), so that's the only mag I'll use now. They do limit COAL, but they are long enough for my chosen loads (I only shoot 140 gr. and under in 6.5, no more .308 for me).
And now some words about our favorite love/hate relationship with the Evil Black Rifle.
Over the past couple of years I've seen a few matches where AR-15s and AR-10s play an integral role. Most rifles function without a hitch, but a surprising number present problems. Ammo and magazines seem to be common problem themes. Ammo loaded too long or too hot. Defective magazines. And let's not forgot bone dry, hot guns in dusty conditions. A little cleaning here and there might be warranted, too.
I suspect a part of many problems is trying to have the rifles do things they weren't designed to do. They're not 1,000 yard precision machines, regardless of chamber. They're not meant to do mag dumps with cheap ball ammo, then smack the left ear of a P-dog at 500 yards in high winds. They need ammo that actually fits into Pmags, or whatever mags. Routine parts inspection is a good thing, performed during routine cleaning and lubrication.
Last year in a team match I experienced double feeding. After a couple of stages of frustration (and offgrid's "WTF" looks), I realized a magazine was to blame. Magazines are cheap to throw away. Feeding clusters are expensive.
I see competitors with downed guns, sporting BCGs that are dry and caked in carbon. Some seem to wear that as a badge of honor, but not me. I don't recall a downed AR, where the owner pulled out a clean and wet BCG, then stated "well that's the problem".
If you want to see frustration, look at the guy whose 80-grain uber-distance bullets are jammed nose into a small space just below the chamber. Learning to mortar an AR becomes one of their skill sets.
I'm not without AR problems. The allen screw that holds my small rail attachment for the bipod came loose this past Saturday. Nobody in the field had an allen wrench of the right size, so I did my best to keep it sort-of tight each stage. Fortunately, a slightly wobbly bipod wasn't much of an issue. That screw was tight for Sunday, however. That's what I get for not fully inspecting a rifle that I hadn't shot in maybe 8 months.
But my biggest problem with ARs is direct thread mount suppressors. I had the suppressor loosen in 2 back-to-back matches, on different rifles. I have no issues with bolt rifles and direct thread mounts. Slow fire, precision-aimed AR use doesn't seem to be a problem. It's the higher-volume 3gun-type shooting that causes the can to just slightly loosen, and then produce dramatic POI shifts. With my 20" barrel rifle the shift is straight down. With my 18" rifle the shift appears to be more-or-less to my 3 o'clock. It seems I can't get the can on tight enough unless it's already warm/hot. Then it's a bugger to remove at the end of the day when it's cool.
I picked up a cert for a Thunderbeast can at this match. I have virtually decided to get a 7" Ultra 30-cal can, assuming I can get QD mount attachments for normally-threaded .223 through .308 barrels. This way I can use the suppressor for any center-fire rifle I own, regardless of action type. But until then, I need to make certain my cans are tight between stages.
Ultimately, I think ARs are really reliable platforms. With the right ammo, mags, cleaning, & lubing, they can run like tops. Competitions and formal training can test a AR well beyond what the square-range shooter will ever understand. IMO, an AR that prospers after a few matches should be GTG for anything we civilians can throw at them.
Thanks for that discussion, fritz; good confirmation of what I would have thought was common knowledge among experienced competitors.
“I can’t give you brains, but I can give you a diploma.”
— The Wizard of Oz
The Raton match was heavily sponsored by Nightforce, including prizes and match expenses. Three of their reps attended. I know one from prior matches, as he was half of the winning team in Wyoming the prior week. The second guy I know from BS-ing about products at prior matches. The third guy was new to me, and is a good tech/sales rep.
Naturally, the NF reps shot the match with new NF scopes. Therefore I got to see some of the new products.
First up is the ATACR 7-35x ffp. Stunning scope. Side-by-side the glass is clearer than my ATACR 5-25x. Not by much, but it is there. The 7-35x has parallax adjustment down to a measly 10 yards. A few of us put it on about 15x, stepped off 8 yards, and the image was still sharp. NF reps said the scope is being used by top air rifle competitors due to its parallax capabilities. We also looked at the 2000 yard targets across the valley at 35x. Clarity was outstanding. Mongo want scope.
I got to see the new ATACR 1-8x ffp. Again, outstanding glass. Clear as a bell throughout the magnification range. True 1x and virtually no distortion. NF reticle designers kick ass -- the reticle works (really works) throughout the zoom range. The red dot is daylight bright at all magnification powers, and was actually a bit too bright for me at its highest illumination level in the NM sun against glaring desert sand. With 10 (?) illumination levels, there's something for everyone in every condition. Mongo want scope.
Unfortunately the NF guys did not have the new NX8 1-8x ffp scope on hand, for a side-by-side comparison to the ATACR 1-8x. They did say that the NX8 is a very good scope, but the ATACR's glass is noticeably better when viewed side-by-side. The NF guys also said that's why the ATACR costs about $1,000 more, too.
They had an ATACR 4-16x, but the reps kind of lost their thunder when two of us stated that we already have them on our rifles. At that point, the other competitors now starting asking us for feedback, rather than the NF reps.
Now if I only shot well enough to convince NF that they should sponsor me......
A few weeks ago, offgrid, Alpine, and I shot the NF Extended Long Range match in Wyoming. Alpine was very close to top of the heap with his 7 SAUM, offgrid placed quite well with his 7 SAUM, I kept the middle of the bell curve tall with my 6.5 Creedmoor.
Targets ranged from 600 to 2200 yards. It doesn't take long to realize that my 6.5CM is wheezing past 1300 or 1400 yards, especially compared to the 7mm and 30cal magnums. IIRC, some 40% of the targets were beyond 1375 yards. I had a blast for the targets at 1200 yards and in, however.
For me, the big take away from this match was how terrain and wind changed vertical POI. From 6.5CM to 30 Norma, all of us on some stages saw elevations decrease by up to 2 MOA / .6 mil. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Not really due to twist direction and wind direction, but due to terrain. Head- and cross-winds were pushing winds up draws and canyons, which pushed our bullets upwards. After a few stages like this, the first shooter of the squad (aka wind bitch) would just state that he was taking a few of clicks out of his calculated elevation. Damned if this didn't work, especially when we shot from the tops of ridges, especially at targets high on another ridge, with a valley in between.
The second day of the match brought rain. Frickin' rain. Full Gortex-wearing rain. Scope, gun, and ammo covers rain.
The true long ball stage was 3 shots each at targets of 1500, 1800, and 2200 yards. I was 1/3 at 1500, with the 140 ELD-M bullet holding elevation well. Also 1/3 at 1800, again with consistent elevation. Wind was a challenge, as was the rain. At 2200 yards my scope was dialed to max, my reticle was at max, and I was holding bottom edge of the visible part of the scope. The spotter said my impacts were still 1.5 mils low. Interestingly, elevation of impacts were pretty consistent. This hints that the 140 ELD-M flies all the way to subsonic pretty well. But the bullet is done at such distances. Think area mortar fire, not precision rifle fire.
The familiarity with wind/terrain POI change helped a bit with the team match that Alpine & I attended the following week. As the AR shooter who goes first as wind bitch, I was able to tell Alpine a few times that we had an updraft which reduced elevation dialing by a few clicks. I don't think I had the confidence to make this call in prior years. I would have just blamed the higher POI on my sheep-dip shooting, rather than dealing with the environment.
Wind -- it's a learning experience.
I echo your thoughts on the NF 7-35. I now own two of them and my buddy owns four. It really is as good as you describe. It gives up a little FOV to the 5-25, but the image quality and having 10x on the top end if you need it is worth it IMHO. My only issue was getting it parallax free. It requires patience and playing around with the objective focus which was something I was not accustomed to at first. I already have plans for a third to go on my Vudoo V22.
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