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Thursday, 9 March 2017

Loading or You Move Around A Lot

Very few rifles I've used have had the capacity to hold more than one round at a time. As far as rifles and their accuracy is concerned the more moving parts they have, the less accurate they are likely to be. Similarly, the more parts of you that move about the less accurate you are going to be.

Apart from muzzle loading equipment, break barrel air rifles are likely to cause the greatest disruption to your position between shots than any other type of firearm. To load while in the prone position you need to bring the rifle towards you to reach the muzzle so you can break it open in order to cock it, this compresses the main spring. This requires some effort and I found jamming the butt underneath my chest provided the necessary purchase for me to pull down the barrel until it clicked to being cocked.

With the breach open and the barrel free from the main spring's pressure, my child sized fingers could pick up a tiny pellet to insert without the barrel springing back shut. The breach was not easily visible so developing a good feel for what you were doing was essential to avoid dropping the pellet or inserting it off centre (another reason for preferring .22). Once the pellet was properly in the breech the barrel could be flipped back shut and the rifle be one with you again before releasing the shot. Ultimately, being able to do this blindfolded is the aim.

I remember one day of shooting in our front garden next door to the boarding house, for which my dad was one of the masters, I had been out there for some time and was being watched by a couple of lads who were boarders. I was very conscious of their presence although they were behind me. I was thinking of every movement I was making while operating my rifle. Shot after shot after shot I fired and I wanted them to be fluid, slick and good. Party popper after party popper was knocked down with each and every strike. I heard one of them say "I bet he thinks he's training for the army". I doubt they had watched Carry on Sergeant, unlike me, because I knew you needed 'two of everything you should have and you're in'.  I'd already given up that dream because of my eye and I only ever wanted to play with tanks anyway. I have no wish to be shot at!

The loading process is repeated over and over as you work out the best way to do it and becomes more and more streamlined. It is essential to find a way where you cause the least disturbance possible to your position. Or, you develop a way that enables you to reconstruct the position easily and accurately. Practice does not make perfect, especially if you don't know what you're doing. Practice makes permanent. This is another reason why play is crucial. If you're playing you are happy to mess about, try something different, experiment with other ways, find out what's best. When you get precious about something you lose your flexibility. However, don't try fixing something that isn't broken.

If you keep your loading process smooth, compact and gentle you are less likely to cause disturbance to your position. Your original position is generally the best. From then on it's likely to get worse with each and every movement. You will eventually reach a critical point when your position, and this is my own special technical term, craps out. When you reach that point it's game over, get up, have a rest and shake it off, then start again.

Shooting freehand and with something like a break barrel rifle uses a process that creates shed loads of movement but with that a great deal of positional reconstruction. In target rifle when you're using a lot more kit for support and a bolt action rifle it is more about maintaining your optimum position through a perfected loading process. I always found it hilarious when a shooter would spend a few minutes shuffling their legs and other parts of their body around to compensate for changes in alignment that didn't happen having only moved their trigger arm to load. They then wonder why that shot missed having unwittingly crapped out a perfectly sound position.

I have to admit that the novelty of firing a rifle left me many moons ago. I do not imagine myself as John Rambo, I no longer imagine being charged at by a hoard of Zulus. I do not load and fire in a crazy manner as if my life depended on it. Many beginners do, especially if they're a CoD fan, and it's a very difficult thing to talk them out of doing. They can be bollocked out of it though, especially if the reload is unsafe breaking range rules or they damage the bolt, action or the ammo in the process. Remember that rule? Don't be a d***? Well, don't be.

Be aware of yourself, be sensitive to what you're doing. Every action you make does something, somewhere. You do not function in a bubble. Ultimately, you are connected, and in this instance, to a rifle. Understanding what you are connected to and realising how you can minimise negative consequences in the outcome makes you a better shooter. Things that are forced, break. Things that are rushed, go wrong. A lack of care, makes a mess. Try not to create disturbance. Find your flow and let it happen. There is peace in oneness.

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