Garand Match

Our club hosts a local CMP sanctioned Garand match several times a year. The rules are fairly simple. You have to shoot one of the following weapons: M1903 Springfield, M1917 Enfield, M1 Garand, M1941 Johnson, or the M1 Carbine. The targets are normally shot at 200yds, but can be shot at 100yds with a reduced size target. The course of fire consists of the following:

Stage 1: 5 Sighting shots and 10 shots for record, prone position, slow fire, time limit 12 minutes.
Stage 2: 10 shots for record, standing to prone, rapid fire, time limit 70 seconds.
Stage 3: 10 shots for record, standing position, slow fire, time limit 10 minutes.

Sounds doable. For many shooters, the third stage is the heartbreaker. To do well, you have to consistently put your shots in a 5 inch circle, using a battle rifle firing surplus ammo, with iron sights. Slow fire prone shooting lends itself to this activity. A fair number of shooters can turn in scores above 90 (out of 100) on prone slow fire.

The rapid fire is tougher, and tougher still if you are using a bolt action rifle. The rules give you an extra 10 seconds, so the whole firing line gets 80 seconds to fire 10 shots. With a 1903A3, you load five rounds. When the line goes hot, you fire, work the bolt, reacquire the target, and fire again until the rifle is empty. Then you reload, and fire the second five. Eighty seconds. Same scoring as slow fire. As hard as this sounds, there are shooters whose rapid fire scores are higher than their slow.

Then the final stage. Standing. No slings, no supports. When you hold the rifle up, and sight in on the target, the front sight dances like Joe Cocker at Woodstock. You can’t hold a rifle still, your heartbeat and muscles will not do it. All you can do is reduce the motion, and direct it. I let the front sight oscillate in a small figure eight over the target center, and try to fire when it’s crossing the center. Sometimes that works. There are other techniques, but there is no perfect solution.

Turning in great scores on the first two stages often results in the disappointment of a couple of poor shots while standing, taking the promise of a personal best crashing into mediocrity.

I had fun yesterday.

Practice is the best of all instructors.
–Publilius Syrus


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