With all the recent hysteria that Americans must be disarmed, it’s worth remembering that there is a program designed to arm Americans. From 1903 to 1996 it was directly run by the U.S. Army. Now it is a non-profit, called the Civilian Marksmanship Program, but it still receives the rifles from the Army. Military rifles, with bayonet lugs, firing a .30 caliber cartridge, sold directly to the public. Ammunition in crates, also sold to the public. The purpose of this is to promote marksmanship, particularly in America’s youth.
There are highly competitive shooting opportunities. Service rifle matches, M-1 Garand matches, .22 sporter matches, and more. Efforts to make rifles as accurate as possible have lead to specific rules limiting what sorts of things can be done to the rifle and to the ammunition to keep the spirit and fairness of the competition. There are rifles and ammunition made to close tolerances but still eligible for use. They are known as National Match rifles and Match ammunition.
I could not afford to buy a National Match Garand and Match grade ammo is spendy as well. But in an old ammo can of 30.06, I found two boxes of 1958 Match. Curiosity got the better of me. Maybe this was the Holy Grail of ammo, X-ring hits guaranteed, visions of Camp Perry, my name at the top of the list. Rather than have such a small amount laying around, I took it to the range. My most accurate service rifle is an old ’03. I took that and a Remington 700, set up at 100 yards, and shot a box of the ammo.
I’m not sure if I am happy or sad about the results. My handloads with Sierra 168 gr. MatchKings are more accurate. That’s good, because I can afford to make them. I could not afford to be scouring the country for old Match ammo. But it was a bit of a letdown, the ammo was not any more accurate than other old surplus ammo I have shot. Still, it was a moment of history, and for a few milliseconds, as those bullets traveled, all things were possible.