The Hunt For Leg Points
The Hunt For Leg Points
by Stuart A. Leach a.k.a. “the Colorado Gray Fox”
Some thoughts on getting serious about earning the Distinguished Rifleman Badge
Shoot the service rifle, always the service rifle, nothing but the service rifle. Don’t distract yourself from really getting to know and love your service rifle by being unfaithful and messing around with other rifles.
Compete with the service rifle at every opportunity. At 200 yard reduced course tournaments you still shoot 40 or 50 per cent of the course of fire at the over the course distance. Training is training. The MR52 target (600 yd reduced to 200 yds) forces good NPA and sight alignment habits.
Shoot at as many different ranges as possible. This will get you accustomed to evaluating conditions and making better adjustments for wind, light, terrain, direction of firing, etc. For us Boulder County folk, that means shooting at Cheyenne, Laramie, Guernsey, and Raton, as well as Buffalo Creek and CRC. If taking a business trip or vacation by car, check to see if there is a match nearby during, before or after the trip. I shot in many places around the country by going in the weekend before or staying the weekend after an engagement. This also taught me to pare my gear down to the essentials.
Be sure to train and compete when the conditions are not optimal or comfortable. If you have trained and competed in tough conditions you have an advantage over those who can’t take it. Legs are not about whether you shoot a great score, they are about shooting a better score than others do that day. I recall a leg match being won with a score in the 380-range on a day when Cheyenne was using a log chain for a wind flag.
Schedule regular training sessions, and keep the appointments. Don’t just go shoot- complete a specific training program. Occasionally do special work if a problem develops or on weakest stage.
Do not fire sighting shots during training sessions. Commit yourself to your sight settings from the data book. This will force you to keep a better book, and be more aware of environmental conditions.
Know your base sight settings. Use your data book and plot strings of fire. On slow fires, plot by shot number, and look for patterns of change. This will tell you if you are losing your NPA part way through the stage. On rapid fires, plot the group, note the conditions, and record the sight settings that would have perfectly centered the group.
Use consistent loads. Load a lot of the same loads, and use them for practice and competition. Were I in the hunt for leg points with an M16 clone, I would use these loads:
Short range, e.g., 200 and 300 yards: LC cases, match prepped / Rem 7 ½ primer / 24.0 grains Alliant RL15 / Hornady 75 grain HPBT, mollied, seated to 2.25″ OAL.
Long range, e.g., 600 yards: Winchester cases, match prepped / Rem 7 ½ primer / 24.5 grains Alliant RL15 / Sierra 80 grain Match King, mollied, seated 10-15 thousandths off the rifling, as measured with a Stoney Point tool. Check throat wear every 500 rounds.
Propellant comments: 24 or so grains of just about any of the fine-grained mid-range propellants will do fine. Good results will be realized from RL15, Varget, Hodgdon 4895, Accurate 2495 or VV N140. Load short-range ammo with progressive equipment. Use thrown short and trickled up to exact weight powder charges for long-range rounds.
Don’t spend a lot of time and barrel life finding the perfect load. Shoot and dry fire a lot in order to focus on the big variable- the nut behind the buttstock. Improvements in personal performance will pay off better than slight equipment or ammo enhancements.
Match prep all cases. Size cases in a Redding die. Ream the flash hole with the RCBS tool. True the primer pocket. Trim all cases to same length. Deburr outside of case mouth with care- burrs affect alignment of the bullet with the throat. Chamfer the inside with a Lyman or similar VLD tool. Knowing no one on the line has ammo better than yours helps you focus on personal performance.
Load short-range ammo through the winter- a lot of it. Prep and prime long-range cases through the winter, so that all that is needed is to charge with powder and seat bullets during the season. Loading ahead allows you to preserve time for dry firing during the season.
Dry fire at home, and not just standing. Rapid fires in leg matches still start from standing, so practice getting down in a controlled manner, and building the position by the numbers. For sitting, once you are down with heels under knees, the numbers are:
- Front elbow inside the front knee
- Buttstock placed into the shoulder with the trigger hand
- Firm, high, handshake grasp on the pistol grip. Raise your head, sweep arm and hand up and out, then come back in to grasp the pistol grip. Let your trigger finger land naturally.
- Rear elbow inside rear knee.
- Head aligned behind sights by starting with underside of jaw on top of stock, then sliding cheek down side of stock to get eye-sight alignment.
In sitting, adjust NPA for elevation by moving front hand forward or back. If prep time was used properly, hand should already be in correct position. Adjust NPA windage by turning whole body around buttocks. Envision your body as being a gun turret.
Build a really tight, solid sitting position. Get boots under knees, build a tower of support that goes from ground through boots through knees through arms and hands to the rifle. Wear loose fitting trousers, supported by suspenders, so you can unbind your waist by opening the top button or two. Fasten top strap on coat as tight as possible, second strap loose, rest loose or not fastened at all.
Prone is similar. Front elbow, buttstock, pistol grip, rear elbow, head. Use drawing up/extending out trigger side leg to align windage NPA, scootch belt buckle forward/back for elevation. Test NPA before firing! Top strap tight, second a bit looser, rest are slack.
Barrel comments: M16 clone match grade barrels have a working life of 4000-5000 rounds. As a barrel nears the end of its life the number of X’s at 600 yards will go down, and the number of shots not on call will go up. Keep a rounds fired log in the data book. Make a chart with entries for date, shots fired and cumulative shots fired. Size to paste inside covers of data book. Don’t go to Camp Perry or state or regional championships with a barrel nearing the end of its life. Good idea to keep a drop in barrel & bolt combo on hand for local installation. Buy barrels from White Oak Precision or Compass Lake Engineering. Not a bad idea to have two uppers as identical as possible, except for age of the barrel. Rebarrel one each year in rotation, for use in serious competition. Use the other upper for training and local events; get it rebarreled to be the #1 for the next year.
Maintain the rifle and other gear regularly. Don’t let crud build up in the bolt carrier. Clean the undersides of magazine feed lips and tops of followers. Keep lenses of spotting scope clean and protected. Clean and lube the trigger regularly. Occasionally work a little boot dressing into sling straps. When sling keepers get loose, buy new ones or slit the stitching, overlap the ends an additional set of holes and re-sew saddle stitch style with dental floss and large needles. Once in a while use coarse sandpaper to roughen the inside of the long strap where it goes around the arm.
Contact Precision Shooting Magazine and obtain back issues with articles by Randolph Constantine and John Feamster on seeking the Distinguished badge.
Approach leg matches with the right attitude. Lack of sighting shots is not a handicap- it is a chance to show just how complete a rifleman you are! Glory in the fillip of the additional challenge! Align your mind! Cranial headspace matters!
If there is a team match or other leg warm up match, shoot it. Know what your rifle, your ammo, and you are doing that day.
At Camp Perry, shoot hard in the President’s Match, but also treat it as an opportunity to get local 200, 300 and 600 yards sighters for the National Trophy Individual fired the next day. Do a really god job on your data book on President’s Match day so you have good base sight settings for the NTI.
Camp Perry is barely 600 feet above sea level, and the lower altitude means more drag on the bullet. Talk to experienced CP shooters to see what elevation changes they have in their data books. Many find no change at 200 yards, but need to add a half-minute at 300 yards, and a minute and a half at 600 when compared with Colorado Rifle Club.
When claiming your firing point at the start of a leg match, team up with people you know will give good pit service, especially at 600 yards.
Don’t ever, ever, ever, no-never give up! Shoot smart all the way back! It’s an aggregate match. Shooters who think they can’t win because they are down 13 points after prone rapid are often right- because they then don’t try hard at 600 yards! Forty per cent of a leg match is at 600 yards. A lot of good things can happen for you at 600 yards, while a few bad things are happening to other competitors. I’ve won legs by X count, and have seen many legs won by only a point or two.
Make your luck, and Favor Center……