Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Range Report - M1 Garand

The greatest battle implement ever devised.

- Gen. George Patton
I had heard the quote, of course, but hadn't understood why until yesterday. Regular readers know that my marksmanship is modest at best - I didn't grow up on a farm, or even shooting regularly. I'm pretty typical of the kind of fellow who would have joined up back in World War II: I've shot a rifle before, but not often or at range, and never for accuracy.

This rifle makes even a guy like me look like a good shot.

ASM826 was unbelievably kind enough to take #2 Son and me to the range yesterday, along with reader Dan. The big event of the day was shooting ASM826's Garand. While I'd shot the M1 a couple times, it was just plinking at one of the New England Blogshoots. ASM826 - as you'd expect from a former Marine - insisted on a more rigorous trial. Iron sights, at the maximum 100 yard distance that the range offered. I settled in, with Dan on the spotting scope, ready to watch me miss the danged target.

Careful loading the clip, as the bolt likes to eat the thumbs of shooters who let their digits linger in the breach during loading. The recoil from the .30-06 cartridges was surprisingly mild. Perhaps it was padding from the jackets warding off the February chill, but more likely it was the 11 pound weight of the rifle. Eight shots, and then we walked down to see if I'd gotten any rounds onto the paper.

Like I said, this rifle makes even a duffer like me into a decent shot. This is my grouping from the first time I'd shot a Garand at a target. Four of the eight in the ten ring!

Like I told ASM826 and Dan, you'll never shut me up about my marksmanship now.

Next was prone (seen below, posed for the camera). This was my first introduction to the shooting sling, discussed at length in Jeff Cooper's The Art Of The Rifle. You can see the sling looping between my upper left arm and my left hand. As a rifle n00b, I'd never done this, and was astonished at how it positively immobilized the rifle. I could completely relax my muscles, and the muzzle stayed on target.

This is even more accurate than shooting from the bench, it seemed. The iron sights were excellent - a pin-hole rear sight with a square front post. My eyes (sadly) are not as young as they once were, but the target lined up easily. ASM826 said to put the black circle of the target on the top of the front sight post when aiming, and this sure seemed to work well.

And so in 30 minutes of practice, I was well on my way to the skill set that an infantryman would need. Which is almost certainly the point - the way to take millions of questionable shooters and make them into soldiers who can storm the Atlantic Wall is to make it easy for them to hit the target. The Garand does that, superbly.

Thanks to ASM826 for taking the time yesterday to show just how easy it is to be competent at a basic level. I've a ways to go to shoot as well with this as Dad - after all, he got his "Expert" badge, back when he went to Uncle Sam's summer camp. But CMP (and who knows, maybe even Appleseed) are here for those of us who want to follow in the footsteps of the Greatest Generation.

Oh, and the standard disclaimer:
I'm not any kind of gun or shooting expert. I like shooting, and shoot a fair number of different guns, but I'm really a dilettante. Your mileage may vary, void where prohibited, do not remove tag under penalty of law.

I don't do scientific, repeatable tests. There's no checklist, although that's not a bad idea. I write about what I like and don't like, but it's pretty much stream of consciousness. Opinion, we got opinion here. Step right up.

I'm not a shooting teacher, although I do like to introduce people to shooting. Maybe some day I'll take the NRA teaching class, but until then, you get a dilettante's view. You'll get opinion here, but if you get serious about shooting, you'll want to get someone who knows what he's doing to give you some pointers. It can help.

And oh yeah, shooting things is fun.


Bob said...

Are you going to try and participate in an Appleseed in the future?

ASM826 said...

For those looking at Borepatch's target and making an assessment of his marksmanship, it's a standard "service reduced" target, the same one we use for Garand matches at 100 yds. He's certainly right about shooting, it is a skill that can be taught. There are marksmanship instructors at Parris Island that prove it every week.

(Did you get the impression he had fun?)

NotClauswitz said...

It's really a better (more fun) rifle to shoot off the shoulder - whether prone, sitting, or standing. Your sling position is a little low on that left bicep, you want it higher (as high as you can get) and wrapping around from the outside-in, towards the forearm to really immobilize it. Rapid-seated is a lot of fun. The hard part is actually slowing down your shot-pace so you use all the time available! :-)

Borepatch said...

Bob, I might. Need to do CMP first.

Dirtcrashr, you make good points, but can't harsh my mellow. ;-)

ASM826 said...


Anything wrong with his position/sling/sight picture is on me. I noticed the sling was low, but Borepatch is taller, with longer arms. When I set the sling on his arm it was adjusted for me and I didn't reset it. So, even where it was, it provided a very tight sling and he had to work to get the butt of the rifle in his shoulder.

If he'll come back, next time it will be full on. Shooting coat, record keeping, called shots, shooting from all three positions. I will have him ready to participate in a CMP Garand match.

This time it was enough to watch him shoot and grin like a mule eating briars.

He hasn't posted about Borepatch2.0's experience with the AR-15 yet either, or the target they took home for proof and bragging.

LSP said...

Great post - and good shooting.

Always good to get out and about with battle rifles of various kinds and the Garand's a great rifle.

Bob said...

@Borepatch: There's no requirement to do Appleseed with an M1; many do it with a Ruger 10/22. Massad Ayoob recently completed an Appleseed himself, you can see his review at his blog.

WoFat said...

I carried one of those heavy implements around for two thousand years, in Basic Training at Ft. Jackson.

NotClauswitz said...

No harshing here, just a minor technique refinement in the works.
My arms are long too, sometimes I use the canvas sling (instead of the Turner) because I can get it up high over the bicep on the outside of my coat and really cinch it around tight. My leather sling wants to slide down like that too, it's especially noticeable over a long string (like slow prone) when the keepers don't hold it up as well... So I'm addressing something I notice myself doing/happening.
A shooting coat will add 10-points to his offhand score. :-)
You can do Appleseed with an M1, since it's gas it's not like doing it with an '03 - talk about purple-shoulder!

Anonymous said...

I did Basic Training at Ft. Lewis with the M14 and thought that sucker was heavy, which just set the DI's to laughin' and sayin' I'd never've made it with the M1. By the time I got to AIT at Ft. Jackson and they gave us the M16 it felt like a Mattel toy.
Sure wish I'd been able to get my hands on an M14 after I got out, but I didn't even convince myself to acquire one of the abundant AR15's that were so cheap back in the late 60's.
Of course, when I got to SEAsia we all drooled over the Thompson that one of the guys in my squad had acquired. I'd have loved that, as my best scores were with Automatic Weapons. Guess I was just born to spray-and-pray. :^)
Glad to see you enjoyed your time with that relic. One of those might even make a decent shooter out of somebody like me.

Rob J