Last weekend went fairly well with the Israeli Mauser in another reduced High Power match. The little tweaks I did since the last match helped tremendously, in particular the grip tape. But most importantly, my bolt speed has really improved. In both sitting and standing rapid fire, I had several seconds left over so I know now I can slow down slightly and get off better shots. My reloads with the stripper clips were quick and snag-free. The match was only a 50 shot match this month instead of the usual 80. Here is how it broke down:
10 shots standing 85%
10 shots rapid sitting 87%
10 shots rapid prone 89 %
20 shots slow prone 161% (80.5%)
Total 84.4% (Sharpshooter cut-off is 84%)
So looking at the percentages, I'm pretty confident that if we had done the full 20 shot stages as usual, my total percentage would have been much higher. I attribute the low prone score to the fact that I did not have a good zero having switched to a new load. (I dropped the powder charge thinking it would help with recoil. I don't think it made much difference with recoil, and actually the bullets are not well stabilized at the slower speed because the target holes were larger and ragged. That instability actually helped me gain a few points when the larger holes broke higher scoring rings!)
In the same match there were 12 other shooters using an AR-15, one M-14. Some of these were newbie shooters but I came in 7th place with the Israeli Mauser. There were also 4 shooters using Springfield bolt guns, although they used the 200 yard target for the entire match. Nonetheless, I beat two of them even with the different targets, and I suspect the other two if they had used the longer range targets.
I'm now fairly confident that a 89% (Expert class) score is an attainable goal in the near future. But as my readers know, for some time I've been gunning for a Sharpshooter score. It was quite a sense of accomplishment when the match was over. I have shot many Master and an occasional High Master score with the AR-15, but it's not the same. Something about shooting competitively with a 70 year old bolt rifle just makes one feel like, well, a Rifleman!
Perhaps the best part is the fact the other club members are starting to respect the old Israeli Mauser more and more. Especially those that can't beat me yet with their AR-15s, but even those who can are still impressed by what the old girl can do. I sometimes think that the expense of a good rifle intimidates too many from taking up this sport. Many of us are conditioned to think we have to spend thousands to have a competitive rifle. I don't think there is any reason why someone can't take an off-the rack Remington 700, that new Ruger Scout or something similar, and after figuring out an iron sights solution and trigger replacement, have a Master class-capable rifle for less than $1000.