All Army Report, Part II: Rifle EIC Matches
One thing I forgot to mention in the first part of this report: even though I know that folks shoot at 600 yard targets with iron sights at Camp Perry and other High Power Matches, the thought of shooting at targets at distances over 300m without optics seemed crazy to me. Now I know that, not only is it doable, but even a schlub like myself can hit with half his shots out to at least 500 yards. Although I will add the caveat that the targets in this case were E-types (human torso) on a 6' square white background-ideal for shooting. For hitting an actual person against any sort of real-life background, I'd highly recommend optics.
During the rifle phase of the competition, we fired 5 individual matches plus two team matches. (Actually, I only fired the individual matches, since our team took 6 members, but only 4 shooters are allowed in the team matches, and, well, my scores placed me at number 5.) The most common course of fire, used for 3 of the individual matches and one team match, was the course used for the Excellence in Competition (EIC) match. This course of fire consisted started out at the 200 yard line with ten rounds, slow fire, off hand, at an F-type target. (Imagine a grand piano, viewed from above, butted up against it's mirror image. The silhouette itself made up the V, 5, and 4 rings, with the 3 and 2 rings extending out beyond onto the white.) After doing short-range marksmanship for the last year, getting into the off-hand position felt like sliding back into my comfort zone-I shot international-style 3 position rifle in college, and the boxer stance used for CQM always feels uncomfortable to me.
Off-hand is followed by 10 more rounds at 200 yards, this time sustained fire, standing alert to sitting (meaning you start out standing, but have to sit to fire), with one reload-the famous M1 Garand 2 and 8 rounds, in 50 seconds. One thing I discovered here is that the most popular variation on the seated position, the cross legged position, is awkward and uncomfortable for tall, lanky fellows like myself. I plan to try out another version, the crossed-ankle position, when we practice this weekend.
Next up is the 300 yard line, 10 rounds (2+8), sustained fire, standing to prone, 60 seconds. Target is still the F-type. Annoyingly, even though this is where I felt most comfortable, my scores here weren't as good as either position at 200. On the plus side, the post personal weapons range goes out to 300 yards, so I can practice (assuming I can squeeze in some range time, and get a sling.)
Finally, the big one. 500 yards, prone, slow fire, 20 rounds. E-type silhouette now, with 5, 4, and 3 rings. If you're not in the black, you're out of luck (and slightly over half the time, I was, although I got my hit percentage up to 50% in the last iteration.) And now, the wind really comes into play. Boy did it ever. My 50% the last time was mostly because the wind was mostly dead. McAndrews Range is 65 lanes wide, and once it warms up, quite breezy. And the winds aren't consistent. The flags on either end were almost never the same, and on one occasion, were even pointing directly at each other. When it came to reading the mirage, well, at the top of the berm, it went on way, another at the bottom, and sometimes a different direction at mid-range. Luckily, the winds were generally in the neighborhood of 10 mph or so, but the inconsistency was maddening.
As I alluded to earlier, my scores were no great shakes. 128 (out of 250 possible) on the first time, 123 the second, and 142 on the final match. Which put me about 40 points short of scoring points toward earning a Distinguished Marksman Badge (which requires 30 points, cumulative. 10 points are the max possible per EIC match). Any points at all earns a Bronze Badge, and 20 gets a Silver.
OK, this is taking longer than I thought. I'll have to cover the other two rifle matches-including my favorite, the Audie Murphy, in another post.