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Training with the Army Marksmanship Unit

My coach for the day, SP4 David Bahten
My coach for the day, SP4 David Bahten
photo by Liston Matthews

In the final analysis, it comes down to this,

Front sight


But there is so much more that goes into shooting a rifle accurately. The day began with signing in at the Oak Ridge Sportsmen's Association (ORSA) clubhouse. It was a cool, overcast morning, and I was in the first relay. We assembled at the 200 yard line, where I met my coach and mentor for the day, Army SP4 David L. Bahten, of the U. S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU). He and other soldiers in the unit had come to ORSA for the USAMU Mentor Match.

When you have been shooting as long as I have, you learn a lot over the years. But, I had never shot with heavy shooting jacket, feeling like I was wedged into a long-sleeved contraption that must be a cross between a straight-jacket and a corselet, with multiple buckles and grabby places all over its surfaces. But, you embrace the suck, and use this jacket, a shooting glove, and the M1907 sling, and shoot better than you would have ever thought possible with geezer eyes and iron sights.

The jacket and sling help you hold the rifle steady, and then its just the fundamentals of marksmanship, which again, are easy to list, difficult to put into practice consistently. In a previous report on an Appleseed Clinic, I mentioned the Natural Point of Aim (NPOA). Achieving this is just as important when shooting this (high-power) course of fire. Once you have your NPOA, then, as Bahten told me, take a HARD focus on the front sight. The target will be fuzzy.

Put that front sight in the middle of the target (if you are using the center-of-mass hold), and then apply a smooth press to the trigger. As I re-learned at Appleseed, the respiratory pause helps stop the front sight momentarily. Then, don't forget the follow-through. With the sixteen pound rifle, if you follow through properly, you will know where the sight was when the shot broke, and you can actually call your shots pretty accurately:

  • I got an X
  • Ten ring
  • Low left

But, if you don't follow through properly, you won't know where the bullet went until your target is scored.

There was a time when an espoused theory on war was that it would be done a long distance, with missiles, artillery, and various aircraft. The time for that type of combat has not come yet. The war in Afghanistan and Iraq has shown that boots on the ground are still a necessary component of an army. Another necessity is good marksmanship. It was gratifying to associate with a young professional soldier who is serious about being one of the best in his craft, and willing to pass his skills along to others.

War has always been with us, and short of the Lord's near return, will continue to be with us. Marksmanship skills for fellow citizens of all ages could, in the worst of circumstances, serve us well. The Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms. Skill acquired in their usage gives true meaning to it.


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A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. Proverbs 22:3 (NLT)

Disclaimer: The information and ideas presented in this column are provided for informational purposes only. Firearms, like cars, kitchen knives and life itself all can be dangerous. You should get professional training as part of any plan to use firearms for any purpose. I have made a reasonable, good-faith effort to assure that the content of this column is accurate. I have no control over what you do, and specifically accept no responsibility for anything you do as a result of reading my columns. Any action or lack of action on your part is strictly your responsibility.

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