Tag Archives: Camp Perry

M14s and M1As: From Magazine Dreaming to Camp Perry Competiing

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Dreams can come true! Here’s a story of a lifetime of fascination that culminated in the pinnacle of competition. READ IT ALL

camp perry m1a

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Steve Horsman

My first memories that took me down the path of firearms and shooting came in the 1970s. I remember looking at old gun magazines, specifically Guns and Ammo, all of the time. Most of those magazines were dated from the late 60s through the mid to late 70s. #CollectorItems

That was when my love affair with firearms and shooting started. I was a very young boy, not quite 10 years old. The Guns and Ammo magazines, for me, were just like the Sears Roebuck Christmas catalog. I remember looking through both and daydreaming about all of the stuff that I wanted for Christmas. I would study the pictures and read the articles, as I was dreaming about the guns that I wished I had and the hunting adventures I wanted to be a part of.

Hard to believe that that was nearly 45 years ago. #LifeMovesFast

M14 DREAM
During my younger years, there were several firearms that I was attracted to; obviously for how they looked, but mostly because of their capabilities and the history that surrounded them. One of my favorite guns was the M14 rifle, and my admiration of this rifle has never waned, even after 4 decades. Again, the sweet appearance is was what first drew me to it. It had classic lines that resembled the M1 Garand, but it had the more modern box fed magazine. I just wasn’t a fan yet of the M16 / AR16 rifle of that time, as it looked, dare I say, “cheap” to me.

As I got older, the desire to own an M14 rifle only grew stronger. What I didn’t know at the time though was that many of the M14s I was drooling over were (most likely) Springfield Armory M1As. Never in a million rounds, would I have imagined I would one day be working for “the” gun company.

camp perry range

DISPOSABLE DINERO
Jump to the late 1990s when I was finally able to buy my first M1A! It was a brand new Springfield Armory “Loaded” M1A Model. I was in M1A heaven! It had everything I wanted, and I loved that rifle. I shot it in my first and only (as of this writing) High Power match, and once at the Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun Match.

From the moment I got it, until the day a good friend talked me into selling it to him, it performed perfectly. If you’re like me, you know that it’s always hard to get rid of a gun — I had the original “Loaded” Model in my safe for over 10 years, and was always a proud owner. But in the end, I really wanted the flagship M1A Super Match.

As things often happen though, I bought not the Super Match, but the Springfield Armory Scout Squad model. Probably because every time I had the chance to shoot one of these guns, I started to like it more and more. At the time, it fit my needs for a battle rifle better than the Loaded Model did, and the Super Match was just a little out of reach dollar wise.

I still have that Scout rifle, and have “made it mine” by removing the Scout scope mount, and adding a wooden hand guard in place of the plastic one that comes stock on that model. That rifle is a tack driver and I can hit 10-inch steel plates at 500 yards all day long. #Gratifying

DREAM JOB
As life fast forwarded and my LE career was wrapping up, I was fortunate enough to become involved with Springfield Armory. (That little-boy-paging-through-gun-magazines’ dreams were definitely exceeded!)

I also found myself interested in shooting rifle events again. And, it just so happened that in January of 2015, my buddy Rob Leatham called and asked, “Do you want to go to Camp Perry and shoot the M1A Match with me?”

I immediately knew the answer, but wanted to play it cool. I called him back a few days later… or was it a few minutes later? And since Camp Perry was on my bucket list, and life moves really fast, and of course I wanted to go, I excitedly said, “OH YEAH! “ But then I tell Rob that the only M1A I have is my Scout, and I ask, “Can I use that?” He said I could, but also suggested that he had a few rifles that might be better; more accurate, and actually set up for High Power style rifle shooting.

Who am I to turn that kind of offer down?

Next thing I know, Rob and I are heading out to the range to begin zeroing his rifles so we can practice. Rob’s two rifles were basically Super Match set ups. He chose the really nice Camo Super Match and he loaned me the older wooden stock rifle. It was basically a predecessor to the current Springfield Super Match, and it was really accurate and shot awesome!

camp perry tower

After months of practice, we finally arrived at Camp Perry. I was humbled by the history of the place and duly impressed by the size of the ranges. I was told it is the largest shooting range in the country. It’s truly an amazing sight to experience!

Rob and I shot the match, and of course, he barely beats me! My guess is it had to be the rifle he shot, versus the rifle he “loaned” me to shoot! 🙂 #Setup

CAMP PERRY EFFECT
Thanks to Camp Perry, I was now really ready to get the M1A Super Match that I’ve always wanted, and upon my return, I promptly placed my order at Springfield. I got my rifle and, as advertised, it was awesome! I ordered the Camo fiberglass stock model and immediately took it to the range for zeroing. It shot every bit as well as I expected and anticipated — it was outstanding!

Fast forward to the Summer of 2018, and I make my way back to Camp Perry to participate again in the annual M1A event with MY Super Match. Needless to say, the Super Match shot great and I destroyed Rob’s score!* See, I told you he gave me the less-accurate rifle!

*Did I forget to mention that Rob didn’t actually shoot the match in 2018? 🙂

M1A MANIA
Joking aside, this year’s Springfield Armory M1A Match at Camp Perry had over 350 shooters — That firing line is another incredible sight to see! I spoke with so many other competitors while there, and they all said their love of the M1A rifle is the reason they shoot this match. Most stated too that they shoot their M1As at local High Power matches all throughout the year.

I also have several friends who currently shoot and have shot High Power rifle competition for many moons. In a nutshell, all of them have told me the same things about the beloved M1A:

It is extremely competitive.
It does very well in the high-power matches.
It holds its own against anything on the firing line.
Most prefer the lower recoil of the AR-pattern rifles — which is why they shoot them.

And without exception, whenever I go to the range and break out my M1As, I am asked by other shooters if they can look at my rifle. After they check it out, I usually get several questions, and most of them eventually tell me, “I’ve always wanted an M1A…

m1a

RELOADERS CORNER: The Value of Accuracy

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Can you take a focus on accuracy too far, or never far enough? Here are some thoughts on why better accuracy (really) matters…

Glen Zediker

dial indicator

Anyone who has ever read one of my books knows the extent of tickiness that can be involved in handloading. Competitive shooters also tend to get pretty wrapped up and sometimes entrenched hopelessly in technical rifle details. All these things we do are done in the hope of better accuracy: smaller shot groups.

Why bother with tickiness? Well, the answer (always) depends on the level of tickiness afoot and on the level of reward we get from it. No other answer makes any sense.

Accuracy always matters. If you do something different or new in the handloading process and see better shot groups, that no doubt was worth it. Ultimately, it was worth it. It might have been upgrading tools, experimenting with components, one or more case prep steps you hadn’t tried before. It’s still always a payback over the expense, time, and effort. But. It’s another level, attaining another level. It’s stepped up. I’ve compared all this to other endeavors where attaining that new level forever eclipses the old. But then there’s also the time and the effort. When I load ammunition, I consider its purpose. I do not turn case necks for ammo that’s going through my old SP1 on a Sunday afternoon of tin can hunting with my sons. For that, I’m interested in volume and function: the best way to load a lot of .223 Rem. with bulk-packed bullets and ball gunpowder, and with the fewest number of steps. We need a lot of ammo because we have eradicated entire species of discarded objects.

But, let’s for the rest of this assume that the sole purpose is the smallest group sizes we can get, day in and day out. That’s easier to talk about and make sense of, because, no doubt, there are factors that influence it, and I do know what they are.

I’ve always judged accuracy by group size. No shock. Most people do it thataway. I’m also way on more concerned with the worst group my combination shows me than I am the best group. Not everyone views that the same. When it gets down to it, though, I want to know what the worst shot I can anticipate might be because that information is very valuable in adjusting for the next shot. Now I’m talking about shooting for score in a tournament.

I picture a circle that outlines the group size I warrant for my rifle/ammo combination. For my own purpose of clarity, I call it “the accuracy cone.” This circle gets bigger the farther I’m shooting. Shots outside that circle need correction, shots inside that probably don’t. Yes, no, I don’t always launch a perfect shot. So honesty matters, objective evaluation of the shot break.

Group ilustration
You are always shooting a group! You might be aiming at one point but you’re shooting a group. The aiming point is really the center of the group. That’s a “zero,” by the way, or that’s how to zero, but this is straying beyond the levee here. This drawing is a representation of the importance of smaller group sizes. One of the biggest helps that great accuracy provides is that it’s clear when there’s need for sight correction, and when there isn’t. The smaller circle the ammo covers on a target face, the more defining sight corrections can be. If that’s not clear: A perfect shot break on a correct sight setting at 600 yards from a 1 MOA combination means that a shot 3 inches left, right, up, or down away from target center is still a “perfect” shot, even though the perforation point was imperfect. With a 1/4 MOA combination, we’re defining “perfect” with more certainty, because “imperfect” is anything outside 1 inch of target center. Follow? This isn’t just theory.

Mathematically-oriented people may tell you (and I understand this) that testing with 3-round groups provides accurate feedback of a round’s performance. It has to do with probabilities and such. However! I believe too much in luck, or as Buddy Dave calls it, “The Bullet Fairy.” Math-folk will further tell you that the more rounds fired the bigger the shot groupings will become. I’ve seen many instances where that wasn’t true, where the first two or three rounds defined the outer edge of what ultimately became a 10-shot group. I can’t argue with math, but I can argue with myself to the point that I want to see more rounds, and more groups, before I cook up a big batch of a component combination and call it good, or call it “match ammo.”

If you are a competitive shooter, better accuracy helps you get all the points you hold for. We can’t, any of us, ask for more than that. If you are a varmint hunter, it means a close miss may become a hit. The smaller the target the more it matters, or the smaller the goal area on a target is. Aim small, miss small. So let’s miss smaller… Examples can continue, and they might involve a trophy elk in New Mexico, or something even more important to stop in its tracks. It’s doesn’t really matter if the target is 10 feet away, or 10 yards, or 1000 yards, a more accurate firearm is a more effective tool. You can’t miss! Or you sure don’t want to.

accuracy cone
This equals that. Accuracy, on-target group size, is a “cone” that gets wider, expands across distance. A 1/2-inch 100 yard gun is not a 5-inch 1000 yard gun. It shoots bigger than that. However! A solid load-test group like this one David Tubb fired at 288 yards held up on down the pike at 1000. Tip: velocity consistency is a key to keeping a group together at extended distances.

LAST WORD
The value of accuracy is undeniable, but the value of time and effort and expense does indeed have a limit. No, I don’t do “everything” possible to my ammo to make it perfect. I have found a few things that really help, things that are reasonably (by my standards) good paybacks. Another tip: Get a good barrel! Honestly: that gets the most from whatever you do, or don’t do, to help the cause.

This article is adapted from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth HERE. For more information on that and other books by Glen, visit ZedikerPublishing.com