Chad Perrin: SOB

24 May 2009

The Five Month Rifleman Plan

Filed under: Liberty — apotheon @ 11:35

Occasionally, I hear reference to a “five year plan” (or sometimes a 10-year or 15-year, or maybe an even bigger multiple of five). People talk about how they plan to be mayor of a town, have half a million dollars socked away, get credited in a major motion picture, or otherwise achieve some significant mile-marker in a “successful” life, all within five years. They organize their lives around these five year periods, and sweat blood and bullets trying to make fate conform to their carefully laid plans. They usually fail, and when they succeed in reaching that goal, they usually regret something about it, but sometimes people hit the jackpot and all is well.

Musket

I never really had a five year plan. What I have right now is a “keep trying to improve on where I am now” plan, when it comes to my life in general. Sometimes, I have a one year plan in mind, or something else along those lines, but that’s a matter of trying to set goals for getting done with things that I think will help — not for reaching particular plateaus in a stairway to some secular, material heaven later in life. For instance, I might decide that I’m going to read all the way through at least one of a particular class of technical book every two months for a year.

I’ve also had a multi-year plan of sorts that wasn’t so much a goal-oriented plan as just a “Well, this is what I’ll be doing with my life for a while.” That was when I joined the Army. I knew my contractually obligated term of service in advance, so I knew I’d be in the Army that long, barring disaster. That’s not really anywhere near the same thing as the typical five year plan.

I have a one-twelfth size equivalent to a five year plan in mind now, though. It’s not quite the total life goal thing that you hear about in five year plans, of course, but it’s a significant, goal-oriented pursuit with specific steps along the way. This five month plan looks a little something like this:

10/22
  1. July: I intend to get a Ruger 10/22 rifle by the end of June. It’s a semi-automatic .22 rifle, suitable for varmint hunting perhaps, shooting beer cans for fun, and general rifle marksmanship practice. Once I put some Tech-SIGHTS and a USGI sling on it, it’ll be even more suited to rifle marksmanship practice. Through the month of July, I intend to practice with it quite a bit. After more than a decade out of the Army without any notable time behind a rifle, I definitely need the practice. I want to get back to the point where I can summon that “zen” state with a moment’s notice that let me hit 40 out of 40 targets in rifle marksmanship qualification when I was in the Army.

  2. August: I’ll keep practicing. I’ll save money. I’ll get an associate membership with the RWVA, or a similarly qualifying club. I’ll submit my order for an M1 Garand rifle from the CMP. My military service exempts me from having to participate in a formal marksmanship class to qualify for CMP purchases — since I already got a lot of formal marksmanship training in the Army.

  3. September: I’ll keep practicing. I’ll save money.

  4. October: I’ll keep practicing. I’ll save money.

  5. November: I’ll keep practicing. The CMP will probably get around to processing my order at some point this month, and they’ll charge me the money I’ve been saving. I’ll probably get the M1 Garand this month or the next (December).

M1 Garand

As soon as I have that M1 Garand, I’m going to try really hard to hie myself to an Appleseed Project shooting event and get some training (one can never have enough training) — and of course shoot the hell out of the Garand for the short time between when it arrives and when I can get to an Appleseed event. I might go to an Appleseed Project shooting event sooner, but there aren’t any scheduled near enough that I could just drive to it and back each day, so I have to make a Weekend Trip out of it, and that requires real planning. I figure setting it at the end of the five month plan will give me a reasonable time to get around to it, so that I’m highly unlikely to wuss out or otherwise fail to make it happen because it’s “too soon”, and “I don’t have a long range rifle”, and so on. This doesn’t preclude the possibility of attending an event sooner, with nothing but my little 10/22 or with a borrowed rifle of a more substantial caliber, of course. This is more of a “soft” deadline for attending such an event.

That’s my plan so far. It’s five months long. I’ll reassess at some point along the way, figure out whether the plan needs to be altered, and what to do next (assuming this goes roughly as planned). I’m open to life, though.

I think it was John Lennon who said that life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

7 Comments

  1. A buddy of mine recently went to an Appleseed. He said a lot of people there were rank beginners with nothing but a 10/22.

    So my suggestion: go to your first Appleseed as soon as you get your Ruger set up, spend those months practicing what they taught you, and go again when you get your Garand.

    Of course since you’re not a beginner, your plan is a decent one too.

    Comment by joo — 25 May 2009 @ 05:13

  2. While I had fired many rifles as a kid, I remember my joy and delighted on Easter morning one year when I found a Ruger 10/22 in the wood bin waiting for me (yes, my parents gave me a rifle suitable for varmint hunting on Easter… irony). I loved that rifle but unfortunately, when we moved to New Jersey, things that I never quite understood came up, and we sold all of our firearms (not sure if we needed the money, there were licensing issues, or what… I was too young to really understand). Years later, my mother bought my brother a 10/22, when he was 15 or 16. This really bugged me, because he had zero respect for firearms, no training, and no one worked with him on it at all. Basically, it was, “here Mr. Puberty and Testosterone, have a firearm.” This was the kid who scraped the orange paint off the tip of one of those “airsoft” guns; he and I had a disagreement once, he pulled that on me, and I reacted as if it was a real pistol (I’ve had a number of pistols put to my face, and I this point, I no longer wait to see if the person holding them is willing to shoot me, I go on a full body offensive).

    My brother was the model of why children should not blindly be handed firearms! He was storing it in a soft case in his closet, with things piled on top of it; I considered borrowing it to go to the rifle range, but I suspected that the barrel may have become damaged from being buried like that. I opened up the drawers under his bed one day to look for something, and I discovered that he had been storing the ammunition there, and the box has split open. This meant that there was .22 rimfire ammunition all over the drawer, again, with all sorts of garbage piled on top. I had this vision of him tossing something in the drawer and it landed just hard enough and at just the right angle for it to pop one off. With my luck, it would miss him and blow a hole in me in one of those freak accidents you hear about.

    A few years ago, I considered getting back into target shooting. I always found it peaceful and relaxing. I had a similar plan; get another 10/22 (or maybe a Mini 14, I liked the .223 round a lot growing up), spend some time with it, get to a skill level that justified spending more money, and moving up. I didn’t have an M1 in mind, maybe an AR15 or AR10. Somewhere along the way, I heard my wife mention that she would never feel comfortable with a firearm in the house, so I nixed the idea. I think her views have changed quite a bit since then (her work offered free CWP classes, and she had Dirty Harry fantasies), but now I really don’t have the opportunity to duck out of the house of 3 – 4 hours to go shooting. Maybe when my son is old enough to act responsibly and safely at a rifle range, I can take him like my parents took me. They were taking me when I was 5 or 6, and that seems like a age that might work for my son as well; he is just under 2, but he has a good head on his shoulders and I think that he would enjoy it.

    Thanks for bringing back these memories… rifle shooting with my mom and step dad, along with my stepfather showing me how to use a bow and arrow (my first compound bow was around that time too) are some of my really pleasant memories from childhood.

    J.Ja

    Comment by Justin James — 25 May 2009 @ 07:19

  3. joo:

    Thanks for the advice. I’ve heard that at some Appleseed events a 10/22 is all you need, because they only “simulate” longer ranges by use of smaller targets, not having the distance on the shooting range to do proper long distance shots, but at others they actually have long-distance targets on the second day that a 10/22 wouldn’t even reach with any accuracy. Of course, I think it’s possible to pay for only the first day, so maybe I could just do the first day of an Appleseed event. We’ll see.

    I still want to go to an Appleseed event with a 10/22 for day one and a Garand for day two after five months, though.

    Justin James:

    yes, my parents gave me a rifle suitable for varmint hunting on Easter… irony

    That’s hilarious. Was the irony intentional?

    I loved that rifle but unfortunately, when we moved to New Jersey, things that I never quite understood came up, and we sold all of our firearms (not sure if we needed the money, there were licensing issues, or what… I was too young to really understand).

    NJ is on the more-strict side of the divide in the US when it comes to firearms laws. It’s one of only 13 states that hadn’t become a CCW permit shall-issue (aka right-to-carry) state by 2006 (I don’t know about since then). As such, it may very well be a matter of licensing (or the money involved in licensing). As bad as New York City is, NY state is at least marginally better than NJ on gun laws, if I recall correctly.

    My brother was the model of why children should not blindly be handed firearms!

    Yeah, it bothers me when anyone hands something to a teenager (or younger) without any supervision or instruction that has the potential to take another’s life — guns, cars, knives, bottles of cleaning products, et cetera.

    I had this vision of him tossing something in the drawer and it landed just hard enough and at just the right angle for it to pop one off. With my luck, it would miss him and blow a hole in me in one of those freak accidents you hear about.

    You’d probably be more likely to get struck by lightning — but yeah, that doesn’t mean you should disrespect the ammunition. He clearly wasn’t taught to handle firearms safely.

    or maybe a Mini 14, I liked the .223 round a lot growing up

    It’s a great plinking round, and has decent range (unlike a .22), but is significantly more expensive to shoot. This is why I’m getting the 10/22 first — even though .30-06 is one of the cheapest rounds in its class, it still costs around ten times as much per shot to go target shooting. I do want to get a .223 at some point, but that’s going to be a much more expensive proposition even than the Garand, because the .223 I want is an AR-15. I suspect my familiarity with it from the Army is a big chunk of the reason I like that platform.

    Maybe when my son is old enough to act responsibly and safely at a rifle range, I can take him like my parents took me. They were taking me when I was 5 or 6, and that seems like a age that might work for my son as well; he is just under 2, but he has a good head on his shoulders and I think that he would enjoy it.

    From what I hear, Appleseed shooting events are great places for fun and learning all in one shot. You might want to go to one on your own or with your wife at some point (women get in free, apparently) to get a feel for it, then (after familiarizing your son with a rifle and making sure he’ll handle it safely) take the kid to an Appleseed event (kids get in free, too, it seems).

    Thanks for bringing back these memories… rifle shooting with my mom and step dad, along with my stepfather showing me how to use a bow and arrow (my first compound bow was around that time too) are some of my really pleasant memories from childhood.

    You’re welcome! I’m glad you got something out of it.

    Thanks for your comments. Your own experiences made for an interesting read, too.

    Comment by apotheon — 25 May 2009 @ 09:09

  4. Here in Yurp we use small bore .22 for target practice out to 100m but mostly at 50m. The large bore (.308) is used at 300m and occassionaly at 1000m on sniping courses. Aim (sic!) is to hit a head at 300m and a chest at 1000m (yes, Swiss military ranges use pop-up human sihouettes as targets). The 300m is iron sights, for the 1000m I have a 6x scope. The .22 50m target ten is the size of a thumbnail.

    Comment by Eunoia — 26 May 2009 @ 09:28

  5. I think I’ve fired something like one or two shots with a scope since I was about 14 (at the latest). Once I get myself into practice enough that I can be sure of my ability to hit a man-sized target at 500m consistently with iron sights, I’ll see about practicing with a scope at greater ranges.

    US Army ranges use pop-up silhouettes for M-16 qualifications, too — between 50 and 300 meters.

    Comment by apotheon — 26 May 2009 @ 11:24

  6. FWIW, I also spent a long W/E with a Kalashnikow (iron sights). Although rugged, it’s really a short range (200m) rifle. Has a characteristic loud crack noise though.

    Looking at Iraq sniping data, the best Iraqi sniper uses a Kalashnikow at short ranges (200-300 m) whereas US & Canadian troops hold the long range record (1.5 miles already!).

    My target rifles are Anschutz btw. I blogged fairly recently about my favourite free pistol (a TOZ35 for 50m, the ten is the size if a golf ball at 50m), photo at http://home.egge.net/~savory//stus_blog_pix/pistol_toz_35.jpg

    Comment by Eunoia — 27 May 2009 @ 12:17

  7. Looking at Iraq sniping data, the best Iraqi sniper uses a Kalashnikow at short ranges (200-300 m) whereas US & Canadian troops hold the long range record (1.5 miles already!).

    Possibly the most effective sniper who ever lived didn’t really go for long-range records. He hung out in the woods in the dead of winter (between -20 and -40 Celsius) and picked off Russian invaders in Finland using an iron sighted bolt action rifle — a Finnish variant of the Mosin-Nagant rifle. I speak, of course, of Simo Häyhä, the “White Death”, who piled up 505 confirmed sniper kills (705 total), more than 800 sniper kills if unconfirmed front-line reports are included, all in under 100 days. The man averaged at least more than 7 kills per day during that period. He was promoted directly from corporal to second lieutenant for his effectiveness immediately after the Winter War.

    Given his choice of weapon, it’s highly unlikely he got any kills anywhere near a mile away, but I’d still say he’s the most accomplished wartime sniper on record.

    My target rifles are Anschutz btw.

    That’s a good choice, by all accounts — but I’ve never laid hands on one, personally. Maybe some day, when I can afford to spend that much on a dedicated target rifle. Considering my preference is to practice with a pragmatic, “what I’d use if the fit hit the shan” or hunting weapon — or, in the case of something like a 10/22 or a Walther P22, something similar in design to such a weapon but cheaper to feed — I rather doubt I’ll ever spend more than $1000 on a dedicated target pistol, and even an Anschutz is somewhat outside the realm of my priorities right now.

    I tend to prefer getting a firearm for its own sake, then learning to use it effectively, rather than choosing a firearm for its target accuracy alone. Part of the reason for that is the fact that I doubt I’ll ever be anywhere near Olympic quality as a target shooter, so I don’t really care to spend a lot of time pursuing perfection in sport-only shooting skills.

    That certainly is an interesting looking pistol, though.

    Comment by apotheon — 27 May 2009 @ 10:41

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