I had a blast (no pun intended) yesterday at the RWVA Range in Ramseur. Scoring was for information only, but if there had been a prize for “most improved shooter” I would have walked away with it, thanks to the efforts of fellow NoR Member Cabinboy, who took me under his wing and gave me the coaching I needed. The day went like this:

Mapquest told me it would take an hour to get to the range, and I believed them. They lied. Turns out it only took 40 minutes, and that was with a stop to ice down the cooler and get gas and coffee. When I arrived (20 minutes early), no one was there except fellow NoR Member cREbralFIX, who was also participating in the day’s event. We chatted while we waited for the “management” to arrive, and by 8:30 the place started filling up. We unloaded our gear and set up our posts. The folks attending this clinic had a wide range of experience and expertise. Everyone was helpful. The organizers of the event went out of their way to see that everyone had whatever they needed to get the most out of the day’s shooting. I’m loathe to name names on the internet, but you know who you are, and you were all great!

By 9:00, with everyone signed in, we had a quick review of Safety Rules and the itinerary for the day. Then we began with the Classification AQT. I was shooting my nephew’s Ruger 10/22, and scored a 30 (that’s three-zero, no typo). This drill was 8 rounds at 25 meters, 2 standing, 2 sitting, and 4 prone. Out of the 8 rounds, I did actually hit the paper (and 11″ x 17″ target) three times. Clearly, some work was needed.

The next step was to zero in our weapons, by which process we determined that mine was way, way, wayyyyy off. I felt a little better then about my poor showing on the Classification AQT. Because the sights on the 10/22 are difficult, if not impossible, to adjust, Cabinboy graciously offered me the use of his AR15 for the remainder of the day.

The AR15 without a collapsible stock is too large a weapon for me (by mine and Cabinboy’s estimate, about 4 inches too long). Because of this, I spent the rest of the day shooting from a prone position, with the barrel of my weapon propped because I had to stretch my arm to nearly parallel to the ground to hold the barrel up. This really helped a lot with my accuracy, but by lunchtime I was rather sore (my elbow raw, my hand cramping, and the front of my left thigh somewhat pi$$ed off at having to bear most of my weight while I was shooting). A RWVA member/organizer lent me a jacket to shoot in, which offered my elbow some protection as well as a shoulder pad.

Beginning around 11:00, we all took the four-stage AQT, described here. As I said, I did all my shooting from prone, and did not do the magazine changes described. I managed to improve my score to a 104. It seems I have a tendancy to crossfire (aim at the wrong target), a tendancy which increases as the target gets smaller. However, Coach Cabinboy was pleased with my groupings, and made me feel like my improvement was acceptable after only a half day.

After a short break for lunch, those who scored high enough on the AQT went to another range for more intensive training, while those of us who needed to stayed put and worked on our basic skills. The first drill after lunch was the Ball/Dummy drill. This drill is to determine if you flinch in anticipation of the kickback of the rifle.

Unfortunately, I got a call from home during the Ball/Dummy drill, and had to pack up and head out. But I learned a lot about being a rifleman, and I learned that I have a long way to go and need to practice, practice, practice to get there. I arrived home tired and sore, but I can’t wait to get back out there with a properly fitted weapon and try it again. I definitely will take this class again when it’s available.

Special thanks to Cabinboy for encouraging me to attend, and for all the one-on-one coaching while I was there. I can’t tell you how valuable that was.